Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

Release Date: 25th October, 2011

Publisher: Ace Books

Pages: 307pgs

The Story

There can only be one allegiance.

It's her time to choose.

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student is trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn't her only secret. For just as long, she's been in love with Kyol, the king's sword-master - and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she's captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

The Review

McKenzie Lewis is not your average young woman. Unlike most mortals her age, she happens to possess the rare ability of tracking Fae (also known as a Shadow Reader), and with this gift alone she is able to read the shadows of where the fae go after they leave a realm and be able to draw maps in order to track them down at a certain point and location. For almost ten years serving at Court, McKenzie has been using her so-called 'gift' to assist the king of all Fae, King Atroth, by tracking down rebel fae members who want to destroy his kingdom. But with McKenzie in love (like forever and ever in love) with the forbidden king's sword-master, Kyol, and with her being suddenly kidnapped by a man named Aren, a rebel fae leader, everything is going to change this one woman's journey forever . . . and possibly a whole kingdom.

Now I wasn't too sure whether to pick this book up or not, but I'm so glad I did. It was an enjoyable, tense and over-the-edge kind of book, and in the end it soon became a very surprising debut novel coming from the talented Sandy Williams . . . so be on the lookout for this author in the future. I didn't think I would like it - I admit that - but I did and I have no regrets whatsoever. Along with the writing lines of Jeaniene Frost and Richelle Mead, THE SHADOW READER is highly recommended by me. I think what made me fall in love with it even more than the storyline itself was McKenzie Lewis and her character alone. She was such a fierce, strong and independent young heroine, and those traits made it even easier to feel drawn to her character despite her personality and action faults. Trust me she has a list of faults, but I love her still for them.

When it came down to the love interests (c'mon you know there's always a love interest involved), you would already know I don't like love triangles anymore - in fact I hate them - unless they're written well and are justified for good reasons. In this book's case, the love interests were done extremely well in both senses and it was one of the best that I've seen and read in adult fiction. Sure the relationship complications frustrated me to a higher level but that's one of the main reasons why I thought it rocked my world, too. Talk about hot fae boys (two of them people)! First of all, I loved the connection between Aren (the rebel Fae dude) and McKenzie. They had great chemistry and had the same old yo-yo romance that could and would drive you mad because you just wanted them to kiss and get on with it. But . . . for some reason I pondered often why exactly they liked each other. It wasn't really explained in the novel. Aren is technically 'the bad guy' and often showed those bad traits of his but I felt it was a little underdeveloped in the romance section concerning Aren and I wanted some answers on why McKenzie was so attracted to him in the first place other than his hotness . . . they're great together but I don't know . . . there was just something missing in their spark. And after all, they've only known each other for a few brief weeks.

On the other hand, we have the sometimes-tense relationship between McKenzie and Kyol (the king's sword-master). Now THEY have a more believable relationship through my eyes than McKenzie and Aren ever did. Both of these characters, McKenzie and Kyol, have worked together for almost ten years straight and since a human and fae relationship is completely forbidden, both have tried really hard (especially Kyol) to keep their feelings unnoticed. For McKenzie, she has waited all those ten years to be with Kyol and I truly felt her pain. I mean TEN YEARS! Damn that's a very long time to wait for someone you love to love you. But by the time McKenzie returns from captivity and returns to Kyol, and by the time Kyol realizes his mistakes from keeping things from McKenzie that have now done a lot of damage control on their relationship, things aren't ever going to be the same between them . . . though I do hope in the next book they work it out somehow. I loved them together! While Kyol understands McKenzie needs to move on, but I don't believe he's ever going to give up that easy on her. A secret part of me hopes he doesn't.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can see it appealing to readers of all ages. With a lack of romantic scenes that I kind of hoped for, that still didn't stop me in wanting more and more of this book because it has some of the best actions scenes I've read so far this year! So yay for that! Anyway the bottom line is THE SHADOW READER is a must-read for Urban Fantasy fans and it's definitely something I would reread again and again!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

Release Date: 1st March, 2012

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 256pgs

The Story

After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world's riches but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans from jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human's life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she's done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she's inhabiting - and falling in love with the boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she's his again, and every moment she stays, she's putting herself and the people she's grown to care about in danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that's eluded her for centuries: true love?

The Review

A big thanks to Caroline from Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

Whenever I hear the word reincarnation I tend to be put off from a book straight away. It's not as if I hate the reincarnation element because I absolutely love the idea of true love spreading across thousands of years and witnessing those two lovers reunite into the modern day, but to me it's more about how many books are written about reincarnation (such as Alyson Noel's Immortal series and Lauren Kate's Fallen series) and how so many of them haven't been so swoon-worthy or amazing . . . however in THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER I was extremely impressed and as an end result, I have to say this book was probably my favourite reincarnation story so far! It was short. It was sweet. It was captivating. It was . . . awesome.

Seraphina Ames has walked the streets for over 600 years. At a young and vulnerable age, she had her life in the hands of the handsome and alluring Cyrus and he alone turned her into an Incarnate - a person whom remains young and lives forever all because of darkest secrets and magic of alchemy. But in order to remain immortal, every so often these group of Incarnates must switch bodies with another human being, while their previous body turns into ashes. For Seraphina, after all these years of changing hosts and living through many identities, she wants nothing more than to rid herself of the burden of taking so many innocent lives and to escape the possessive clutches of Cyrus . . . but it's easier said than done. And suddenly, when she finds her chance to be rewarded her freedom of death . . . everything changes when she 'accidentally' claims the body of another host and must soon take on this new identity of a mere stranger. With a loving family, a protective brother, different sorts of friends, and a new love interest found in the boy-next-door, this book will surely keep you there til the final pages.

One thing I enjoyed most about THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER was how fast-paced and well-written it was. It's very rare where I find myself reading short-length books, but in this case I should probably read more often. For this book in particular, writing-wise it was excellent, story-wise it was entertaining, and character-wise it was bloody brilliant! The writing wasn't overloading your mind with character histories and considering most reincarnation books tend to go overboard with their character histories and the days of switching back and forth from past to present, I'm thankful that this book slowed down in that. Same goes with the storyline - it may have flew by very quickly with the events that occured, but there was never a dull moment in them. Even the characters had their own individual personalities and it was easy to identify with them on a personal level . . . so a big well done to the author!

Thinking back to reading this book, there's hardly anything bad I would have to say in regards to this book, except for that damn ending of William's, the romance section, and the book's length! Regarding the ending, while I'd already expected something of a terrible cliffhanger to happen and 'kind of' saw it coming my way, but I was still shocked by it and I have no idea which direction the author will take us to next in the sequel because it was definitely a whoa moment for me. As for the romance parts, while it was all cutesy love and you can't help but loving those cutesy moments, but I was hoping for a little bit more developed evolving between Seraphina and her new leading man, but I'm sure this will be resolved in book two . . . at least I hope so since the ending ruined all that relationship to hell. Sorry guys, I can't tell you anything even though I'm dying to! And last but not least we have the book's length . . . if only it was longer because now I'm deprived of William's crafty creation! Thanks a lot Ms. Awesome Author! I really need to get a life someday folks!

Overall, what a splendid debut novel coming from the very talented Avery Williams and I'll definitely be on the lookout for great things to come from her. She's an awesome writer! Along the same lines of L.J. Smith's The Secret Circle meets Rebecca Lim's Mercy series, and with a new breed of immortals and a new kind of love found in the most unexpected places, THE ALCHEMY OF FOREVER will surely please many of its readers and it's a MUST READ for all! I recommend it in a heartbeat!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winners of Touch of Power!

Thank you to everyone for entering!

The two lucky winners of the Touch of Power giveaway are . . .

Katrina & Mary!

Congrats you guys! You totally deserve it!

Both of the winner's details have been forwarded to the publisher. Once again, congrats!

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Release Date: 17th January, 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 262pgs

The Story

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Every one wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature - or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

The Review

A big thanks to Sonia from Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy of this book!

When seventeen-year-old Delaney Maxwell falls through the ice and is submerged under deadly waters, everyone in the town thought she was dead and technically she was. For about eleven minutes. But as if fate gave her a second chance at life with those exact eleven minutes, Delaney wakes up from her week-long coma and not only do her loved ones - her parents, her friends, and even Decker who is her best friend in the whole wide world - have changed from her accident . . . but Delaney herself has changed as well - for better and for worse. And when she meets a new boy in town and sees things normal people cannot see, she'll soon be tested both with love and death, and a little something inbetween.

When I started this book, the first line I read was, "The first time I died, I didn't see God." If that didn't get your attention, I don't know what will. Now speaking of the first line, I absolutely loved the intensity of when Delaney is pulled underwater. To know she was going to die. To know the water was going to take over her entire body. But what I liked even more was how real the scene felt to me - as if I was there underwater with her - but it was also something that just cut to the chase and I love those sort of beginnings in novels. Something that just hits you with a bam rather than fluff around with unnecessary plot fill-ins. But with that being said, the only thing that fell flat for me was the characters and the mystery behind the storyline.

Delaney was a likable enough main heroine. She loved her family, her friends and basically anyone else who was about to be put in harm's way, and she was a teenage with plenty of realism added to her character depth. But she still possessed some unlikable qualities too. She can be a little selfish, a little bit of a mess, a little bit naive when the signs were clear enough to tell you someone was going to be trouble to begin with. However when it comes down to it, what made her standout and what made me like her even more was when she was with her bestfriend, Decker. Now there's a boy I didn't mind. Sure he may not have been the greatest sport of all fictional boys and might've done some silly things in his past, but to me, he brought out the best in Delaney . . . even if she didn't know it at the time. Now if only Delaney was aware of his feelings sooner in the novel! I just wanted them to kill already!!!! Anyway, you should know I'm always a sucker when it comes best friend romances. I can't help but love them.

But despite those little flaws in the two main characters, the character who really brought the story down was the new guy, Troy Varga. I just couldn't - at all - connect to him but the saddest thing was . . . I hated him. From the moment I met this creepy fella, there was just something about him I didn't like and for some reason he gave off the vibe of already being trouble, leading to me not caring about him nor what happens to his character. And then there's the mystery itself weaved in with Troy's character, which was also a disappointment. I was hoping for a catch-the-killer type of mystery and ending, where I see things that I don't see coming, but unfortunately I didn't get either of those elements. Anyway, while I would've liked more of a shocker mystery, a neater ending and something a little less-predictable, but the author still did a pretty good job in entertaining me and making me turn those pages to find out more!

Overall, I thought Megan Miranda's debut novel was a really good novel. It may not have been my favourite of all favourites in the young adult mystery genre, but it's definitely something you need to read at least once in your life. Suspenseful, engaging, fast-paced, and equally as brilliant as the likes of Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder and Laurie Faria Stolarz's Touch series , FRACTURE will have you hooked from the very beginning. Even in those icy cold waters that pulls Delaney under . . . because eleven minutes could - and will - change everything!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Release Date: 3rd January, 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 376pgs

The Story

Exiled from her safe home in the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria finds herself in the outer wastelands known as the Death Shop. If the cannibals don't get her, the violet energy storms will. There she meets a savage, an Outsider named Perry - wild, dangerous - who is her only chance of survival.

But Perry needs Aria, too, and they are forced into an unlikely alliance that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

The Review

With all the huge hype surrounding Veronica Rossi's debut novel UNDER THE NEVER SKY, it's very hard not to go out and buy it immediately, especially when your favourite blogger friends (you know who you are) WANT you to read it and see for yourself what they're talking about! After some umm-ing and ahh-ing, I finally bought myself a copy of the book and dove straight into the action. The hype wasn't wrong - not in the slightest way. With a strong and likable mix of dystopian elements, interesting and new technologies not seen before in the young adult genre, mesmerizing adventures in the deserts, UNDER THE NEVER SKY will sure not disappoint readers!

UNDER THE NEVER SKY is told in two perspectives of Aria and Perry, two teenagers set apart from two very different worlds, and it was also told in a third POV which I love reading lately. For Aria, she lives in a place - one where she's spent her entire life in - called Reverie, a closed off world away from the outside one, where lands have fallen victim to the Aether storms, a form of strange lightning storms that have destroyed everything in its path. After being falsely accused of a crime she did not mean to committ, Aria is banished from Reverie and left stranded to fend for herself on the outside of her world. With so little survive skills on her side, Aria must try and stay alive for herself, and for her mother that she fears is missing. Perry on the other side, unlike Aria, is one of the many members of a Tribe and he has spent his entire life in the Outside world. Gifted with the ability of super smelling senses (yes it's sad but true) and seeing more than what the human eye can see, he is among the most elite of people within his community and one of the most respected as well. But as Fate turns into the unexpected, leading these two teens to finally meet in the most strangest of all circumstances, everything changes for better and for worse.

At first I wasn't entirely sure what to think about Aria's character. Being a little confused by her world at the beginning of the novel, Aria tended to be a little headstrong and naive at times, more than I would've liked. However, as the story slowly progresses and becomes something much more than I originally anticipated, she soon became a very strong young woman, gave into her own and became someone you could and would admire. From a naive character to one learning about the outside world far from her own - where things are all about the survivor of the fittest involving cut-throat tribal members who like to throw knives around and not needing technology to dictate their lives - Aria managed pretty well for someone with no idea of their culture. Surprisingly too well, I thought. Then, of course, there's the one and only, Perry. He alone is mostly responsible for her change of heart.

Perry . . . Perry . . . Perry . . . He was a much tolerable character than Aria ever was. And a much more believable one at that. He's a sometimes-sexy-caveman (yes I just called him that but he is a caveman), he's sometimes-scary, he's sometimes-intimidating, and he's the kind of guy with the sometimes-sweet-complex personality, and I could completely understand why so many fans of this book loved Perry for what he is and what he stands for in his tribal community. His dedication alone is beautiful to read about and not to mention his not so much insta-love with Aria. But despite his perfections, the only thing I didn't seem attracted to was his 'smelling sensing' abilities. I don't know about you guys who loved him . . . but if I were to eventually fall in love with someone like Perry, I don't want a boy smelling me. Not offence but I'm not crack. I don't care if I smell like violets . . . it's just not acceptable. Moving past that, Perry was awesome and a non-fearless dude. He has my respect.

While I loved the book, another problem other than Perry's nice-to-smell-ya abilities, there was also a certain something that happened to Aria in the book. For those who've read this scene . . . you will know what I'm talking about here and I'm not the only one who thought it was strange. It was something that she wasn't told about (God knows why). Something about women's problems. Something that happens to every women every time of the month if you know what I mean (God knows why she didn't know this). When I read about it, I had to double check the paragraphs to see if that was what actually happen . . . and honestly . . . I didn't see the point of it. I didn't understand why Aria was never told about it. It was silly. Then back to Perry's smelling abilities . . . That. Was. So. Awkward. Anyway, when you look past those awkward moments within the book, you will fall in love with this book so much, along with its main and supporting casts. The supporting cast were great and I loved them all.

Overall UNDER THE NEVER SKY is an imaginative, interesting wild ride with plenty of great twists and turns that make you want want WANT to read more and more. And like every single reader I've come across, I too cannot wait to see what Rossi has installed for us next in the sequel! I'm sure anything she writes is bound to be EPIC!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Release Date: 21st February, 2012

Publisher: ATOM

Pages: 416pgs

The Story

Is true love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

In the final installment of the Nightshade trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Cremer creates a novel with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until its final pages. A dynamic end to this breathtaking trilogy.

The Review

A big thanks to Laura from Hachette for sending me a review copy of this book!

Despite the spoilers that have circulated the internet prior to me reading this book (yes thank you dear readers for that special early surprise of yours), I have to say the author, Andrea Cremer, had still totally surprised me in the way she handled her final conclusion to her bestselling Nightshade series. I mean, I loved the way she separated the book into different sections (water, fire, etc.) and how everything captured my attention from beginning to end just to find out what happens next, but dear Ms. Andrea Cremer why must you do what you just did in this book? Especially to me of all people. WHY? I knew it was coming, I knew there was a possibility of this certain "something" to happen to these lovely characters of ours . . . but man I felt kind of cheated even though I knew some of the spoilers before picking up and reading this book.

BLOODROSE picks up right after the previous book, Wolfsbane, and Cremer doesn't waste anytime whatsoever in continuing the fast-paced action sequences and the smexy sizzling sexual tension between several of the characters for all the right reasons, and I commend Cremer for always having the ability to entertain me. While that's good and all, but regarding characters I was a little concerned about them for the majority of the book and the choices they have made for others that I didn't necessarily agree with.

One of my concerns was the leading main heroine, Calla, herself. Throughout book one and two Calla had remained a tough-as-nuts strong and a fiercely independent young woman, however in this third installment I really disliked the way she juggled her personal relationships with her two potential love interests, Shay and Ren, and I often wondered why she did what she did with them. One moment she's kissing and staying inside Shay's room (I mean seriously come on), and the next she's switching her teams entirely and found almost kissing Ren. Which is basically torture for him . . . I understand why her heart is being split into two between two very different guys for two very different reasons, after all she has spent her entire childhood with Mr. Hottie-paws Ren and found new love with Shay that opened up all sorts of possibilities for her, but what I didn't understand was Calla's usual way of confusing the guy's minds . . . like becoming intimate with Shay right in front of Ren even though she has given the idea to Ren that he may still have a chance to be with her. Now that I didn't approve of and it was beyond cruel. But other than that small mishap on her part, Calla is much more focussed in this book than the others and even that much more determined . . . so for that I'm grateful for.

Look in some ways, BLOODROSE was a very well written book, with plenty of action and romance that kept you there reading on your bed in one sitting, and I love any book that leaves you anti-social for a few hours straight but . . . I disliked the ending. . . partially because I'm biased toward one of the main characters in particular and if you know my boy fictional teams well enough, you would know who I'm talking about here. While I do understand why Cremer decided to end the way she ended things in the third and final book, but I was more opened to an ending that was lovely and fitting for everyone, and unfortunately it wasn't what I wished for. The ending certainly concluded and tying a couple loose ends, but personally for me every single issue and circumstance was wrapped up far too easily and I wanted the main character, Calla, to have full closure and resolvement, and it was a pity it didn't turn out that way for all our sakes. A total bummer.

Without going into further detail, especially since I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't yet read this book or the series for that matter, overall I will give the author a fair shiny 4 golden stars despite my disappointments because Andrea Cremer did do a very good job with this novel and I was entertained on every high level possible. With a great continuation of the storyline (a little sad at times I admit), a fantastic and hilarious cast of characters, and with earth-shattering consequences, and heart-wrenching sacrifices that will pull some heartstrings of all ages, I highly recommend this book to readers of Unearthly and Vampire Academy! After all, this book was great because we finally get to see more of Ren . . . but oh . . . I wanted much more of him and less of nasty Shay (trust me there's a lot of rival alpha male pride going on between Ren and Shay and it's almost ridiculous at times)!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stefan's Diaries: Vol. 5 The Asylum by L.J. Smith

Release Date: 17th January, 2012

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 288pgs

The Story

The hunters become the hunted . . .

Driven from their hometown of Mystic Falls, both Stefan Salvatore and his brother, Damon, arrived in Europe looking for a fresh start. But Samuel, a wealthy and cunning vampire, has other plans for them. First he ruined Stefan's peaceful existence and now he's framing Damon for the most gruesome murders London has ever seen.

United against their common enemy, Stefan and Damon are stunned when they realize that the source of Samuel's rage lies in their past - tied up with the woman who forever changed their lives. Haunted by the memory of Katherine, the brothers find that their uneasy alliance is tested. Can they overcome their rivalry to defeat Samuel before he exacts his final revenge?

The Review

A big thanks to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

Unlike the other original books in The Vampire Diaries series, these ones are not written by L.J. Smith herself. Yet again this matter is a real disappointment for me but I don't mind it one bit. And, another thing to take on board while reading these books . . . they are supposed to be based on the television series however they do not match the show's past time events. So for some readers, you may find these books disappointing or rather confusing at times, especially if you're a hardcore fan of the popular TV show as I am. But it was still a great book!

STEFAN DIARIES: THE ASYLUM picks up where volume #4 left off (please note I haven't read the previous book before this but you can still read this volume without reading the others), and now the handsome Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon, find themselves travelling across Europe and while the events of this series may be found hard to believe at times or that it doesn't quite match alongside the TV show's events, but either way I found this installment very entertaining and quick. Just the way I like it. But my only complaint would be Stefan (since Damon is always going to be Damon and fun as hell), as he's always brooding over Katherine and much like what you see in the TV show, I just really hope Stefan forgets all about Katherine - like she never existed - because there's only so much I can take of his brooding. Too many man woes. Other than that, this was a really cool addition to the series!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book but it's hard to talk about it without giving away a few spoilers - especially for a short read - so I'll just leave it at that. If you're looking for something light and entertaining, dark, edgy, and engrossing, or if you're like me and love watching the Vampire Diaries and reading the books in general (ones written by L.J. Smith or not), then this new installment of the STEFAN DIARIES: THE ASYLUM will definitely be your kind of read!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Release Date: 8th December, 2011

Publisher: Philomel/Penguin

Pages: 336pgs

The Story

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger.

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, flodds, a boy with a steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must chose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

The Review

I wouldn't be the only one lying here when I say I was only attracted to this book because of its gorgeous cover (it's very gorgeous when seeing it in person) and of course with the small blurb mentionings of ghosts, reincarnation and some good old romance. What's not to like there? While all of these elements aren't exactly 'new' to the young adult book trend, but it was just enough to keep me interested in picking up this book and I knew what I was getting myself into. At least that's what I thought during the time of preordering the book. But despite the pretty cover and a decent-sounding storyline, and even the high star raving reviews that roam around the blogger world, the "oh-this-is-a-beautiful-cover-it's-got-to-be-good" saying can only goes so far and unfortunately I was quite disappointed. More than I'd thought I would be.

Within the first few lines of the book, everything was starting off great and Lenzi seemed like a real teenager whom I would eventually come to like. Her fear of the voices was something fun to read about but I desperately wanted a character where you, as a reader, wanted to know more about her. For her character, I didn't particularly care. Especially when her boyfriend enters the scene, then a stranger, and then having this big reveal of her being a reincarnation of a woman named Rose - someone known as the Speaker, who can talk and help hindred spirits find peace and resolution - you can only imagine there's a lot to take in. With the addition of slow pacing and boring dialogue, as you can see by what I've said above, it was really hard to like a book such as this one and its main characters, too. It was an interesting concept - I give it that - and I'm happy to admit that once the book flew past the halfway-mark, I eventually came to love the direction of the storyline but in regards to a whole book . . . it still doesn't mean it was the best. A real shame on the author's part because I saw a lot of potential.

I think one of the main problems of SHATTERED SOULS was the main characters and all their faults. They didn't connect with me whatsoever. Lenzi, the main heroine, started off great much like the storyline, but then she ended up being one of those fictional girls with silly insecurities and being oblivious to what's around her in her own reality, and I hate those girls. Then there's her musician boyfriend, Zak, whom was the most laughable thing ever. He was the kind of guy who wanted to get drunk, make out with his girlfriend on her father's grave while being drunk, and wanting to drive his girlfriend home while being drunk and well . . . let's just say he's the most depressing thing in the entire book. He was possessive. He was arrogrant. He was obsessed. He was jealous. He was a . . . complete jerk. Full stop. I saw nothing redeeming inside his character and what happened to him later in the book . . . well, he totally deserved it because I didn't like him one bit and he wasn't healthy AT ALL for Lenzi. Truly. Honestly. The only boy I slowly came to love was Alden, Lenzi's Speaker protector, and a fine gentleman he was. Sure he wasn't exactly the hottest thing around, what with keeping a lot of secrets and coming-and-going as he please, but at least he cared about Lenzi and treated her with some form of respect unlike someone we know. Still . . . the boys weren't exactly the greatest. However, what I did liked about it was the supporting characters, including Race and Maddi, whom you'll get to know a little bit more about when you read this book. You'll like them.

Overall, while looking over the constant teenage and spirit drama, SHATTERED SOULS wasn't exactly a 'boring' read but it was just something that was hard to finish at times. But not to worry readers, the book slowly redeems itself when you reach the middle section and get to the actual storyline and the ending itself. If you're a fan of romance, action, betrayal and loss, along with a little hint of ghostly-reincarnation-love, then you will definitely love this book without a question. It might not be for everyone - I admit that - but it's something you need to read for the sake of it and I can see it becoming a favourite read for younger readers.

The Rating 3/5 stars

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Note: I received an Australian ARC copy of this book (so the cover is different).

Release Date: April, 2012

Publisher: HarlequinTeen

Pages: 304pgs

The Story

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry's first wife, Persephone.

The Review

A big thanks to Gabby from HarlequinTeen Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

Honestly . . . where do I start with this review? There was so much love and high praises for Aimee Carter's wonderful debut novel, The Goddess Test, and I was really really looking forward to its highly-anticipated sequel as did everyone else who was craving for an ARC copy like I did! For those who've read my book review, you will understand my excitement. Unfortunately for the author, unfortunately for this book, and unfortunately for myself, I've never been so disappointed in a book in my life, especially a sequel to the first book that I loved so, so much. I hate saying it right now . . . I really do . . . but that's what happened to me and I wished I could turn back the clock and pretend I did love it, and that I never said the above things. *infinite cries* But I guess it just happens at the most unexpected times for a reader. And I think it happens to all of us at one point or another.

While the interesting mythology of GODDESS INTERRUPTED remained much the same as did in The Goddess Test and while I loved the direction the story was heading towards, however I had three major problems which had a greater effect on my overall book rating. The first would have to be Kate herself, the main heroine. Now in the first book I absolutely loved Kate and the young woman she had become, but I kind of felt in this book she lost way somehow. Both in strength, confidence and independence. All of this was caused by her constant whining. Where has my dear Kate gone? I get where Kate's insecurities were coming from, what with Henry being the cause of almost everything going haywire for her, but Kate needed to realize that Henry is the King of the Underworld and he too had a lot on his plate. He needs time to adjust to things as does she. I mean, after all, he's been alone for a very long time and had lost the person he loved the most. And still loves. Through my eyes, Kate needed to not put so much pressure onto him and allow him to go through the several steps in order to get used to things between the two of them if you know what I mean . . . but like I said before, the whining was one of those problems I had with Kate and made me feel . . . sad for her character.

The second major problem for me was Henry. Oh Henry . . . I really stuck up for you when people said they didn't like you and called you an Edwardian 'creeper'. Which you are not by the way. Much like with Kate's character, I absolutely, positively adored Henry from start to finish in The Goddess Test and I had very high hopes for him to get readers to fall back in love with his character in the second book. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of Henry. One moment he's there and I'm all giddy, then the next he's off trotting somewhere that left poor Kate jumping over large hurdles and leaving me crying and saying things like, "Where are you, you selfish hottie God?! You're wife is being hassled and almost-killed by stupid trolls . . . some husband you are!" Yes. I did yell those things. And no. There's no trolls in this book whatsoever . . . it's just a metaphor for meanie characters. Needless to say, Henry fell flat on his face in this book and I wanted so, so much more from him in his character development. I wanted scream. I wanted to smack. I wanted to cry. All because of him. But I still love you Henry . . . Hades . . . Henry . . . whatever you preferred to be called. Even though you were still in love with Persphone (I really loved Persphone I really did) and you were to blind to see what was right in front you . . . but I do forgive you Henry! For now at least.

And finally, there was a problem number three which was the actual events that occured in GODDESS INTERRUPTED and that so-called ending it delivered to me. Story-wise - it was fun, entertaining, edgy, and thrilling for all the right reasons, but everything happened so quickly. Literally. There was so little time for a small breather. Don't get me wrong here, I love a good old fast-paced story but I also like to have some events that leave me calm for a few minutes of reading, just so I can prepare myself for more action sequences that come later rather than hitting me with scenes of BOOM BOOM BOOM. There's only so much I can take of it. Then there's that ending . . . I must say the ending was one of the few things that did surprise me through the novel. Part of me thought this 'ending' was coming our way, but I didn't actually think it would happen. I mean whoa. Really? Really? I won't say too much but I was a bit on the fence about the ending . . . but it'll sure make an interesting turnpoint - that's for sure - and it will make me wonder what the bad guys - or rather the bad girl - has planned for the final installment.

Overall, despite my disappointment with this book it doesn't mean I didn't like it. The fact is . . . I did enjoy some parts and seeing some issues being resolved in this sequel and I'm glad for that. However there's still a lot of things that need answering . . . so I'll definitely be looking forward to reading the third book which I'm sure contains quite a lot of surprises and twists along the way for us readers. If you're a fan of Greek mythology or a fan of The Goddess Test, then I definitely recommend this book in a heartbeat. Just be aware it has a different feel - at least for me - compared to the first book in the series!

The Rating

2 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reckoning by Lili St. Crow

Release Date: 1st November, 2011

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 304pgs

The Story

The electric finale in New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series!

Nobody expected Dru Anderson to survive this long. Not Graves. Not Christophe. Not even Dru. She's battled killer zombies, jealous djamphirs, and bloodthirsty suckers straight out of her worst nightmares. But now that Dru has bloomed into a fullfledged svetocha - a rare, beautiful, and toxic to all vampires - the worst is yet to come. Because getting out alive is going to cost more than she's ever imagined. And in the end, is survival really worth the sacrifice?

Dru Anderson's not afraid of the dark.

But she should be.

The Review

To anyone who knows me and my reading habits (yes it's a habit), I've been a huge fan of Strange Angels series and of the author herself for quite some time. You can imagine to my surprise when I learned this book was to be the last of the series and you can imagine my constant pouting because of this realization. Having the idea of this series coming to an end with no more Dru's-badassness, no more Grave's-sometimes-fiery-and-sometimes-super-cute-temper, and having no more Christophe's-usual-protective-hotness . . . it's a sad world we live in. I knew the series had to end sometime in the future, after all the characters have been through a lot of rough patches in the past, but after reading this book I completely understand why so many of its readers were outraged by the ending. Well, I wasn't outraged per se, just more dissatisfied than I wanted to be. However, this little dissatisfaction hardly interfered with my liking of the fifth and final book.

For those fans of the Strange Angels series, you're already aware that Dru Anderson isn't your typical teenage girl. Over the last four books, she had a mother who'd died young, she was raised by her witchy grandmother whom wasn't exactly normal either, and she also had a father whom happened to hunt down the supernatural for a living. A job that ended up getting him turned into a zombie by a known enemy and was killed by Dru herself. Then of course, when Dru is being constantly surrounded by supernatural creatures, the true nature of Dru was soon revealed - and she's not exactly human either. Taking aboard of all these events in her life, Dru has been one of the strongest characters I know of in young adult fiction and one I've come to admire. She's not perfect, and that is certain, but she's badass to the bone when needed and we love her for it.

With familiar characters we know and love, the storyline remains intact with the same kickass action and plenty of banter to keep you on the edge of your seat. But like all readers of this series, you know Graves and Christophe - the two leading boys wanting to win Dru's heart and affection. And most of all her respect. But with so much happening in RECKONING, it's extremely hard to think about romance without the thought of being killed, but I'm one of those suckers (the un-vampiric kind of course) who loves some romance for our tomboy heroine, Dru Anderson. She needs some love you guys! There's no hidden confession when I say I was forever on Team Christophe. Don't get me wrong here, I love our Goth Boy Graves but Christophe was . . . my man. But whomever got with Dru wasn't the main concern for me since I like both of the boys. The main problem was . . . I was so frustrated with the boys themselves in this book than in the other installments. Graves soon became upfront with his feelings for Dru (finally!) but for whatever reason he still remained distant. There were reasons for this distance but damn him for confusing Dru and myself included. As for Christophe, as always, he was there for Dru (it's Christophe's way!) but while he's the same Christophe I love and adore, but there was one particular scene where he took Dru out for dinner and well . . . that scene was a little cheesy (with some things he said in particular) and maybe it's because he's in love for the very first time (not counting Dru's mother - yes, he was in love with her mother in another life) but whatever. I will discard that scene and continue to love him to bits no matter the cheese.

This now leads me to the question we're all dying for: Who wins? Who's the better man for Dru? I don't want to spoil it for you guys but all I can say is . . . . the ending was left in a way you - as a reader - can question and decide for yourself who wins. It angered me at first, this feeling of no real resolution in the romance department, but when putting some thought into it, the ending was actually quite necessary for this book series and I understand why Dru decided to do the things that needed to be done for her sake and for the sake of the guys, too. Still I was kinda disappointed. But you need to remember Dru has to nail the bad guy - the vampire king of all vampire kings - so she has plenty on her mind other than romance. So she's gets a bonus for having a clear thinking mind other than hot boys!

Overall, with a final farewell to this series, RECKONING continues with the same fast-paced sequences and pulsing-racing beats, leaving you readers with a bloody-fangtastic finale. While some things were left unsolved, readers will still enjoy this book and I highly recommend it. But oh Christophe . . . oh Graves . . . how you torment me so!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars

Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Kill by Heather Brewer

Release Date: 20th September, 2011

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Pages: 309pgs

The Story

You've heard Vlad's side of the story . . . now, it's Joss's turn.

With over a million copies already in print, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod is still sinking its fangs into new readers every day. Now, bestselling author Heather Brewer brings us the other side of the story, from the perspective of Vlad's former friend turned mortal enemy: vampire slayer Joss Macmillan. In five books that can be read alongside Vlad Tod or entirely on their own, Joss discovers his powers as the youngest, strongest slayer in history. And just in time, too: with all the vampires running rampant, he's going to need all the help he can get. This action-paced series will quench the thirst of even the hungriest veteran minions.

The Review

Like the saying goes . . . "There's are always two sides to every story" and in Heather Brewer's case of writing awesome books with awesome characters with each twists, readers should already know all about Vladimir Tod. A character we have grown to love over the number of years. But what about Joss - the mortal friend turned mortal enemy? Well lucky for us, in the first installment of the Slayer Chronicles series, FIRST KILL, readers will finally get the chance to see Josh's side of things in ways you would not expect to see them. But he's back better than ever!

Now I don't know about you minions out there, but while Vlad is a great character in the previous series, but I've always had a soft spot (well actually it was more like massive fangaling) for Joss and I was pretty giddy when I found out he was going to have his own spin-off series! It was a fangtastic idea on Heather Brewer's part to expand the world of Vlad's. Not only did the author do a great job in telling Joss's story - involving the trials and the several emotional struggles he'd endured in the past - but she also managed to write about the heart-breaking story behind Joss's character, where you got to see the glimpses of a more vulnerable Joss but also you get to see the reasoning behind why he's doing what he's doing . . . what he does best . . . and that is killing vampires.

Just like any other determined teenage kid, willing and wanting to prove themselves to others of a higher power, Joss is the kind of strong character you need in a series like this one. When he quickly learns about the world of vampire slaying and going through the strenuously emotional and physical trials - ones that seem nearly impossible for him to accomplish - in order to become one of the strongest and youngest slayers, it was so great in getting to know Joss and having him on the spotlight for a change. And Joss went for some pretty grueling stuff that made me admire him a little more than I did in the Vlad series . . . though I do warn you there was a certain "scene" that made me wonder if I was reading an adult novel cause it was . . . well, you'll see what I mean when you read the book for yourselves.

Overall I thought Heather Brewer (our author Auntie who has been a big inspiration to me and to many readers out there in the world) did a wonderful job in setting up Joss's story. While I enjoyed Vlad's stories and found their supporting characters more interesting than I did with FIRST KILL - which is always the case since it's the first series you'll always love before a spin-off series - but with so many questions left unanswered, twisty turns and with another four books to go in this potential spin-off series . . . it definitely has my curiosity going and I can't wait to see what Brewer writes up next!

The Rating

3/5 stars

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

Release Date: 9th July, 2011

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 344pgs

The Story

Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years partcipating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudelent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

The Review

A big thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a prize pack I won which included this book!

As a young adult author, I love Alyxandra Harvey's The Drake Chronicles and I'll read anything that has her name printed on it. When the news came round to say she was writing a young adult ghost story based in a Victorian society (a dear favourite era of mine by the way), I was absolutely thrilled to say the least and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. And not to mention it has such a beautiful cover, reminding me so much of Lauren Kate's Fallen covers. Now by the time I had the book in my greedy little hands, and rushed through the pages and came to the end, I have to say Alyxandra Harvey did an amazing job and the book was wonderfully written!

First of all, let's talk about the storyline. The plot - a great one at that - was thought out extremely well as it had just as many twists and turns that books are required to possess in order to keep you entertained, but it also had just as many romantic and haunting scenes that is a MUST in my book tastes. Another thing I came to realize while reading this book was that there was nothing rushed in the storyline, nothing that made me feel disappointed or found a 'lack of' in the characters themselves which came as a pleasant surprise since most young adult books have something missing in them.

One of the most important elements that stood out to me was the Victorian setting of HAUNTING VIOLET and the way it was written, both enriched with beautiful descriptions and handled with such realism that I could and would believe. While historical fiction may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is mine kind of flavour and for those who are not historical geeks, then you'll be surprised when you come to reading this book. With an essense of a Jane Austen novel, where women are controlled by their superiors and where men rule all, I regarded all of this Victorian society with great appreciation and I loved every moment of the descriptions . . . it was as if I was right there in the action and it was just . . . wonderful.

Now onto the characters. The main heroine, Violet, was my kind of gal. Seriously. She was strong both physically and emotionally. She knew what was expected of her for a girl of her age and in her society - to marry someone to give a young woman some worth in their lives. And of course, she stayed true to her beliefs throughout the novel and never faulted in those values. Despite her circumstances and her selfish and cruel mother, Violet remained strong and began to harness her ghost-seeing abilities with great courage and grace. What more could you want in a heroine? Colin on the other hand, the love interest in the story, is someone I loved completely. As soon as he entered the picture . . . I thought to myself, "Yup. You have me." My dear Colin is the poor boy whom cannot marry the girl of his dreams and he's the boy a mother in this era would definitely not approve of. Especially a mother who wants nothing more than money. But I could see through Colin without thinking of the 'poor' aspect. He's the Irish boy with a whole lot of heart. He's everything you want in a loving relationship. And he's a boy who will never walk away from the most difficult situations . . . even the ones involving ghosts. Damn. I want my own Colin too! As for the other supporting cast, the good and the bad, you'll enjoy the parts they play in this novel but more importantly you will love Colin because I can't praise him enough . . .

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed HAUNTING VIOLET and I recommend it to all who are already fans of Alyxandra Harvey or love a good old historical fiction with just the right amount of spiritual elements to keep you satisfied.

The Rating 4/5 stars

Friday, February 10, 2012

Deadly Little Voices by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Release Date: 6th December, 2011

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 343pgs

The Story

High school junior Camelia thought her powers of psychometr only gave her the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she's started to hear voices. Mean voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, and that she'd be better off dead. It's troubling development that has Camelia terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt with a suicidal history just moved into the family house. More torturing, ex-boyfriend Ben, who has similiar psychometric abilities, has been spending more time with their classmate Alejandra, even as her feelings for Adam grow stronger. Still, the bond between Camelia and Ben is palpable.

With the line between right and wrong fraying, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grasp on her emotions. She begins sculpting a beautiful figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone's in danger. But who is the victim? And how can Camelia help them when she is on the brink of losing her own sanity?

The Review

DEADLY LITTLE VOICES is the fourth installment of the Touch series and it's by far my favourite book in this series! Finishing the book in a matter of a couple of hours, I was pretty surprised with how much I enjoyed it considering the last installment Deadly Little Games had disappointed me on certain levels. Trust me though - this book will not disappoint fans of Laurie Faria Stolarz. She nailed this book!

Camelia, the main female protagonist, is gifted with the ability of psychometry or rather the ability to sense the future and what's going to happen within a simple touch. Being already an artistic girl and an avid sculptor, through her own artwork pieces Camelia is able to predict the future in a series of clues and this time round these 'clues' will lead her to help a young girl from her local high school whom is clearly in deep trouble. The question is: What and why is she in trouble? And whom is out to get her? But trying to convince a girl that she's in trouble is not the only problem she has because Camelia is now hearing vicious voices inside her head, and seeing things that could drive her into her own insanity. And then there's Ben - her 'kind of' ex-boyfriend whom she still has feelings for and a boy whom also shares her psychometry talents.

The thing I love most about Laurie Faria Stolarz's books - despite some of their predictability and the same likeness to the storyline of each book - is that she knows how to write a great mystery and she tends to write her characters with such realism and honesty that you can't help but fall even harder for. When it comes to Camelia's character in particular, while she can frustrate you at times, but she's someone I deeply care about and I truly want what's best for her own sake. For readers who were introduced to her the first book and after reading this book, you can clearly see that her character has grown so much throughout the course of the series and her whole fiasco with her now ex-boyfriend, Ben, I totally felt for the girl. She's a nice girl dealing with abilities beyond her own understanding and yet she has a love who isn't willing to make it work for his own selfish reasoning. Again, I feel for her.

Now let's talk about Ben. I fell for Ben from the very first moment I met him and yet he still remains to be one of the most infuriating boy characters I've ever met in my life. So how does one author continue to make me still be in love a character like HIM? Now that is a real talent! When Ben touches someone with his bare hands he can 'sense' their future and their deep and darkest thoughts etcetera etcetera. Unfortunately a few years back, Ben's girlfriend was killed and I guess that was the sole reason why he keeps people at a distance - Camelia most especially, in fear of his own touch powers and what they may do. While I understand his reasons, but damn he really wants to push your buttons however I do commend him when he told Camelia she deserves someone better than him. Because it's the truth. But I still kind of hope they remain friends or become something more . . . where Ben will finally realize that Camelia loves him and acts on those feelings rather than repel them as he has done for the whole series.

But to add further complications to Camelia's relationships, you have Ben's ex-best-friend, Adam, who also happens to be one of Camelia's potential love interests. Adam was first introduced in book two of the series and he had more of an appearance in the third book as well (he had a stalker you see so Camelia had to help etc). I admit, I didn't mind him as a secondary character and I liked having him around but I still was rooting for Team Ben. However, to my surprise, I loved Adam even more than I did in the third book and there's so much to love about him. But . . . I did feel sorry for him as Camelia used him most of the time in this book. I mean, Adam is the kind of guy who is always there to help and is always open with himself and with his feelings, and he's the complete opposite to Ben which is probably why I ended up loving him even more than Ben in DEADLY LITTLE VOICES. But despite the fact that he's the right guy she should be with, Camelia's thoughts and feelings continue to go back to Ben. I'm okay with that but I hope in the near end of this series, she'll finally end up with someone and be happy for once with just the one guy. As for me, I'll be happy either way her loves go . . .

Overall, DEADLY LITTLE VOICES still has a great set of characters, nice hidden twists and turns, a fun little mystery, along with a small blend of the paranormal. If you haven't picked up this series yet then be sure to do so! I literally can't wait to read the fifth and final book - who know where the characters will end up?!?!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Release Date: 4th October, 2011

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 342pgs

The Story

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRis.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago - and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

The Review

If anyone knows me well enough, they would know my love of Ireland and one day I will have to visit its beautiful world. So when I first saw the stunning cover and read the summary, and finding out the book was actually set in Ireland, I was literally bouncing in my seat and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of THE CARRIER OF THE MARK. However in due time, before the release date, I read many reviews concerning the book and there were quite a lot of mixed opinions. In this case, I decided to go into this novel without too many expectations. And that was a very good decision on my part.

Let's start with the storyline. It had a great premise. Being interested in the elemental magic of earth, water, air and fire, I thought it was a great direction for Fallon's debut novel and there were plenty of directions that she could have taken us to. Unfortunately for many fans of this book, while I enjoyed the overall reading but I found it was far too similar to Twilight.

Okay so I fear fans will attempt to hurt me by saying such a thing and honestly I don't like comparing a novel to Twilight - I just don't - because it just seems like the easiest thing to do. You know, blame the book apocalypse on Twilight and think every other book is not original because of Twilight. But it's just that the CARRIER OF THE MARK had the same thing happen again and again. Girl moves with dad to a new town. Girl meets boy. Boy goes "OH GOD it's a GIRL. I might catch a disease". Then after many avoiding attempts boy and girl admit out-of-the-blue feelings for one another (only after they talked once according to my count). Then boom a love fest hits. Then let's meet the family (cause you know how families always want to meet their son's girlfriend whom he's only been with for a day or so). Then there's powers. Then there's secrets. Then there's the whole evil vs good thing. And oh yes - there's forbidden romance. Look, the thing is all of these elements worked perfectly for this book and I can see why many girls swooned over it. But for me personally, I just felt like I was reading the same old cliche lines. Not to mention the sometimes-cheesy dialogue. Nonetheless despite some flaws it possessed, I thought the mythology had its own great uniqueness and it was probably the strongest point of the book in my opinion . . . so there's one good thing to be grateful for.

Now moving onto characters themselves. Like other reviewers, I believe Megan is another imitation of the likes of Bella from Twilight and Luce from the Fallen series. Poor comparisions I know and while Megan was a little easier to like as a main heroine and while I thought she wasn't going to be one of those girls, but then when her love interest Adam comes into the picture, all she does is pine over a boy who stares at her like a looney bin and a boy who doesn't say boo unless he's walking into a door or he has no choice but to say something in awkward circumstances. I don't know about you guys but I'm just tired. Tired of girls. Tired of their reactions to these out-of-this-world good-looking guys with secrets. Over it. Adam on the other hand was no different. Sure he was a favourite character of mine, but damn boy enough with the Victorian-esque woefulness. In the future, Adam should focus more on what he says rather than protecting Megan from powerful forces. At least Adam's family had some sense in them to say things meaningful than rolling-eyeballing like he did.

And then just when the book got better . . . the ending came. Ah, the ending. I understand the development of the characters, the mythology, and even the powers themselves, but when a bad guy is supposed to cause a great BIG scene and leave you wanting more of the sequel, it didn't hit me like that nor how I wanted it to. I felt like the book's tension was all for nothing. Sure, I get that it's the first book in the series but I wanted something more from it - more action orientated. But beggers can't be choosers I suppose.

When it comes down to CARRIER OF THE MARK, there were definitely some things that worked and where other things didn't. In the end, I don't regret reading the book and I liked the characters and the setting they were surrounded with. Readers might question what I've said above in this review but don't let me stop you in reading this book. It's very good. Well-written. Easy to adapt to. But hey, I'm not your typical teenage girl who swoons every time a boy wants to smother you will their hotness and makes romantic one-liners that you've heard all before.

All in all if you've read a lot of paranormal books like me and are looking for something different, then probably this book might not be for you. However, if you're a sappy-loving YA lover who doesn't mind the similarity to the Twilight-esque feel, then it's definitely a book for you. I'm still looking forward to reading the sequel of Fallon's - don't get me wrong - because the mythology was very interesting - a little confusing perhaps - but it was interesting enough to get me wanting the sequel this year!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Win 1 of 2 Copies of Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder!

Okay it's no secret when I say that I'm a HUGE fan of Maria V. Snyder (she's one of my favourite authors) and I'm absolutely in love with her newly released book TOUCH OF POWER. Action, romance, suspense and intrigue . . . it's all in there in that precious book of ours!

For my blog readers, I'm happy to announce that I'll be giving away two brand new copies of Touch of Power for your eyes and your eyes ONLY! So a special big thanks to HarlequinTeen Australia for this lovely opportunity!

To enter, simply fill out the form below and whether you tweet, facebook, blog, or do whatever it is you do while linking about this competition . . . I promise you a virtual hug and much love! hehe.

Unfortunately for my international readers, this competition is only opened for AUS/NZ residents! Sorry folks! My hands are tied. Anyway this competition closes the 22nd February 2012 so be sure to enter ASAP!

Once again, thanks HarlequinTeen Australia!

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Release Date: 18th October, 2011

Publisher: Puffin

Pages: 516pgs

The Story

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

The Review

I had a profound love for the author's first book, Beautiful Creatures. There's no denying about that well-known fact. It was adventurous, dark, gritty, magical and a powerful book of words written by two very awesome lady authors. They definitely had a winner there. However despite my confessed love of the first book, the sequel Beautiful Darkness (if you haven't read my review you can read it here) was pretty disappointing and it didn't live up to the much hyped-up debut novel that I loved so, so much. While BEAUTIFUL CHAOS is still in the same boat for me, however I enjoyed it a little bit more than the sequel and there were certain scenes and character lines that were beyond hilarious and it was much darker compared to the first two books which suited my taste in gothic-like literature just fine. And of course, this will please many fans of this young adult series.

Let's just get this straight . . . After the events of the seventeenth moon in Beautiful Darkness, combined with the crazy ordeal Lena had to face concerning the Mortal and Caster worlds, the title of BEAUTIFUL CHAOS suits it perfectly. With the town Gatlin suffering from mass destruction, heat, and deaths with little explaination, not to mention with Lena claiming herself as both light and dark, you can definitely say that chaos is how you would describe this book in one word because as you can see there's a lot going on this time round for the characters. But there's still a question that needs to be answered: How can Ethan, the main character, stop this destruction hitting his town? And trust me, the question that lies here will be answered by the time you finish this book.

Like in the previous two novels, Ethan Wate remains a fantastic protagonist. He continues to face down consequences caused by himself and his troublesome girlfriend, Lena, and he tends to cares about the people around him despite the many things that stand in his way of achieving particular things. If I had a boyfriend of any kind . . . it would be Ethan all the way and no one shall challenge me otherwise! He is perfection compared to most fictional boys I've read in young adult books. Mainly because he can do no wrong. Literally. Lena on the other hand, I loved her in the first book but my heart was stomped on several times in the sequel. She was going off the plot during that time (though I don't blame her because her mummy is evil to the bone and perhaps a little crazy than others) but she made me dislike her in many ways. She was acting weird, she was trusting the wrong people, she didn't care about Ethan nor appreciated him . . . you get what I mean. But surprisingly her character was really likeable in this third installment and a lot of her comments were pretty hilarious, especially when it came to Olivia - a girl you met previously in Beautiful Darkness.

Okay I hate to admit this to you all but I don't care about Lena in the way I care about Liv's (Olivia) character because she possesses the many qualities that every girl heroine should have in them. She's super smart, snarky with enough comebacks to throw out to you that will have you in happy tears and she often cares about people - strangers even - as much Ethan does in terms of wanting to protect them. So my heart is all for Liv and she's one of the few characters I wanted on the scene. Like . . . All. The. Time. Same goes with the character John Breed, the bad boy of the town and one you'd met in the sequel also. John Breed wasn't 'my boy' at first and I didn't particularly like him. But after this book he is one of my boys and it was great to see his character shine in a different light - in a more likeable light I mean. Without revealing too much, let's just say Liv has an unexpected love interest on her horizons and while I didn't agree with Ethan getting jealous over the fact of someone actually being interested in Liv (he has no right to get jealous by the way considering he didn't get with Liv like I wanted him to that bad, bad boy), but I'm sure readers will be giving the green light on Liv's new romance. I certainly have!

Overall, after skimming some boring parts of the book, I was quite pleased on how the events of BEAUTIFUL CHAOS had turned out. And don't get me started on the cliffhanger - one I saw coming but didn't want to actually happen but it kind of did kind of cliffhanger. Anyway, I highly recommend this book to readers who have already read this series so far. While the book had a slow beginning and while it never beats my love for the first book, Beautiful Creatures, but this third installment will entertain readers on all sorts of levels and perhaps will make you cry and laugh a little. Mostly laugh because there's these hilarious comeback scenes between Lena and Liv that was so awesome and they said things to each other that was so true as well and - well wait a second, you'll have to find out for yourselves. *smirks*

The Rating

4/5 stars

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter

Release Date: 11th October, 2011

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 400pgs

The Story

Now that she's settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen's determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about to die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie's quest for answers is quickly put on hold.

To make matters worse, just when she's about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts to pull away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie feels more conflicted than ever. Her weekend with her mom should have been the just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Someone from the dark side of the supernatural world has plans for Kylie - and it'll take all her resources to get back to Shadow Falls alive . . .

The Review

If you haven't read my review of the first book you can read it here. Much like other fans of the Shadow Falls series, I've been waiting for what feels like ages for this sequel and you could imagine to my surprise when I saw it waiting on my doorstep. I immediately devoured it. Now ever since finishing Born at Midnight I couldn't wait to see what happens to the characters and what direction the author, C.C. Hunter, would lead us towards. While I believe AWAKE AT DAWN wasn't up to the high standards of its predecessor and didn't necessarily excite me as much as the first book, but believe me it was still worth the wait and it takes an interesting turn for the better.

AWAKE AT DAWN shortly picks up after the first book's events. Kylie is currently in a relationship with Derek, the hot Fae guy readers have grown to love, and she cares for him a great deal throughout the novel. But like all love triangles presented in young adult fiction nowadays, this young girl still hasn't made a true commitment to him because she has those complicated feelings for another guy in her life - that guy being Lucas, the hot werewolf readers can't help but swoon over and want more of. Kylie is frustrated at this point in the sequel (I know what she's going through) because Lucas left her behind and she continues to have him appear in her sexy dreams. Yes, there are sexy dreams in this installment and I love it. Then adding onto these complications, no one has any idea what supernatural "creature" Kylie is and when a ghost appears out of nowhere, they warn Kylie that someone will die without her help. So now it's up to Kylie herself to piece together the clues and determine who she is, who she should date, and who she needs to save before their untimely death.

Unlike in the first book, for me I felt AWAKE AT DAWN wasn't all about the supernatural elements and it was rather focused on relationships: Her relationship with her parents, her relationship with her two supernatural best friends Della and Miranda, and of course her relationship between the boys Derek and Lucas. On a whole each one of these relationships were well written and I'm glad Kylie's character remained likeable throughout the course of the book and despite her understandable reasons for being whiny at times . . . but damn talk about the teen angst and there's something I like to call the relationship 'yo-yo factor'.

The reason why I loved Born at Midnight more than this sequel is because there wasn't so much confusion in feelings (at least not to an overwhelming extent) but there was plenty of intensity in this book when it comes to the Lucas and Derek 'feelings'. Honestly, I don't know why Kylie is so conflicted with her feelings?! Clearly both guys care about her and it's even clearer to see whom she should be with without giving it too much thought. *whispers* Lucas. Don't get me wrong, I love Derek and the way he respects and takes into account of Kylie's feelings instead of his own, but I'm tired of him always forgiving her for her unstability. If you plan to keep a girl away from yourself for a little while and decide what's best for you for your sake, that means staying clear for good until the girl you have feelings for sorts out her own problems first. That's what Derek needed to do. As for Lucas, while we didn't get to see much of him in this book (insert saddy face) until the last half, but I love Lucas so much that words cannot describe how truly awesome he is. He's back and better than ever everyone! He's probably the only reason why I want to read this book so much, especially with the way things were left in the first book. I mean, who doesn't love a hot werewolf who won't give up until he gets the girl he wants. It's just so . . . dreamy. *smirks*

While I was a little disappointed in this novel, but I still enjoyed every single moment in AWAKE AT DAWN and now I have to do some more waiting to get my hands on the third installment of this great series. If you're one of those readers who has yet to read Born at Midnight, then I strongly suggest you pick up a copy at your local bookstore or buy online because it's the perfect read containing everything you love in a YA paranormal story - one that will continue to keep you entertained until you fall over with exhaustion. Literally.

The Rating 4/5 stars
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