Friday, August 31, 2012

Shadow Bound by Rachel Vincent

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Mira

Pages: 448pgs

The Story

If you live in the dark long enough,

you begin to forget the light . . .

Kori Daniels is a shadow-walker, able to travel instantly from one shadow to another. After weeks of confinement for betraying her boss, she's ready to break free of the Tower syndicate for good. But Jake Tower has one final job for Kori, one chance to secure freedom for herself and for her sister, Kenley, even if that means taking it from someone else . . .

The job? Recruit Ian Holt - or kill him.

Ian's ability to manipulate the dark has drawn interest from every syndicate in the world, most notably an invitation from Jake Tower. Though he has no interest in organized crime, Ian accepts the invite, because he's on a mission of his own. Ian has come to kill Tower's top Binder: Kori's little sister.

Amid the tangle of lies, an unexpected thread of truth connecting Ian and Kori comes to light. But with opposing goals, they'll have to choose between love and liberty . . .

The Review

Over the years Rachel Vincent has become an auto-buying author for me (seriously, I own all of her books and I'll continue to buy them) because I love every single book she brings out - whether it'll be her adult or her young adult series. After loving her first installment of her new adult Unbound series, Blood Bound, and after knowing she was about to write another sequel that follows closely after the first book's events, I just couldn't resist in ordering her new book and boy it was sure worth the wait!

SHADOW BOUND was so edgy, gritty, intense and completely raw to the bone just like the main characters who were being stripped psychologically and emotionally as we'd divulged into this powerful fantasy-like storyline. To be honest with everyone, this new Rachel Vincent creation is one of the best adult series I've ever read in a long time and there's just something so addictive about the world-building which I find myself constantly drawn to. I don't know how this author does it. Seriously . . . I'm envious of her writing talents and the perfection in her writing alone because this book right here blew my mind - literally - and it was just so damn perfect. I was a little wary of the sequel changing POVs, as the previous book was told by different character perspectives, but all of those worries flew away when I began reading this delicious tale!

So, what was the best part of the book? Hellllllloooooo, it was the main characters of course! The first being the main character Kori, whom has endured so, so much in her short life-span. At times it was so heartbreaking reading about how she lived her life - still lives if barely - and even though her thoughts are mostly consumed by the darkness and true human pain . . . she's still an amazing woman able to push through the boundaries of imprisonment and a world full of bloody crimes and deceit. Some would say Kori was a pretty badass chick with some badass attitude, but she was more than that to me. With her life filled with nothing but misery, Kori has managed to keep her sister out of danger for all of this time and she's someone who will always come on top. I just adored her and hated those who wanted to break her into pieces. Hands off my Kori, bad dudes!

The second main lead is our hottie Ian, who was just as imperfect as Kori was (don't worry imperfections have their high perks when it comes to this leading man) and at the same time he was equally adored by me too. For the beginning of the novel, Ian was dead set in wanting to kill Kori's younger sister but instead he ended up falling in love with Kori. How can you not love a man for doing so? When it came to Ian, everything about him from his killer instincts to his serious attitude made me fall harder and harder for him because honestly . . . he was the sweetest thing on earth, especially when it came to Kori. Plus they were a match made in heaven. Perfect for one another. I just loved the way he wanted to protect our Kori, how he understood her right from the very beginning, and how his personality was changing to a more softer side . . . really you can't blame a girl like me for loving someone like him, right? He was an absolute gem through my eyes!

Overall and without giving away major plot points, SHADOW BOUND took everything I know about Rachel Vincent's Unbound world to a whole new level and blew everything out of the water! Literally! Full of bloody, badassery, danger, romance, some cussing (Kori you are the Queen of it), drinking, fighting and some really, really heated sexual tensions, there's no doubt in my mind when I say that a lot of readers will want a taste of SHADOW BOUND because it's a lustful treat if I do say so myself! Best book . . . EVER!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Pages: 341pgs

The Story

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion.

But danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine's twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can't seem to elude Rhine's father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion . . . by any means necessary.

In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano's harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

The Review

If any of my readers have read my book review on Lauren DeStefano's debut novel Wither, you would know how much I adored it. Not only did I want to marry it (I know that's illegal in most cases and can only exist in my dreams, well, as far as I know) but I also thought it was one of the best stand-out books for 2011 and one I wouldn't forget in a long, long time. With FEVER being the second most anticipated installment of The Chemical Garden trilogy, the sequel had a lot to live up to in expectation-wise and while I firmly believe the book had its nice, rare moments now and then, and also answered a couple of my questions from the previous book, but unfortunately this book was yet another disappointing sequel that was more a filler than a thriller!

FEVER picks up immediately after Wither finished off at, with Gabriel and Rhine narrowingly escaping the mansion. Normally at this point of the book, readers would rejoice for this attempt of freedom and hope for the best for these two main characters, which I wished for in the beginning of this sequel since Gabriel and Rhine deserved some true happiness for once in their short lives. Even briefly. But instead of cherishing those happy moments together, their new freedom collides with something much worse than they first expected - strangers capture the two of them and forcing them into a carnival brothel under the fierce woman known as Madame. Appropriate name, right? Faced with a situation that so terrifying and unable to find an escape, Gabriel and Rhine will need to make a plan as soon as possible before Rhine's father-in-law catches up to them first!

The problem I had with this book and the main reason why I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would, if not at all, was mostly due the abrupt events that occured throughout the book. Again and again. Take for example the Madame's carnival brothel, which was rather a very different direction and setting for a young adult book . . . I must admit. While it offered a similar situation that Rhine had experienced in the previous book, Wither, where Rhine was kidnapped and forced to marry a boy with several other wives and forced to do many things against her will, however I found in this book in particular, adding a brothel was a little bit irrelevant and quite unnecessary. I don't know why it was suddenly introduced but I think it was merely a shock factor to add to the storyline - you know, to drive the book further into the dark side of this crazy new world even though there was no clear purpose for doing so. I might be the only reader here who'd thought about this when it came to FEVER but that's how I felt. Even when I was reading more and more of this book, other events that I found were quite unnecessary just kept coming around the corner. But when it comes down to it I get why the author did what she did, but there was far more shocking plot twists rather than further book progression in the storyline, which, as you can see, didn't appeal to me.

In addition to the dragging and slow-pacing plot of the book, the characters - ones of which I adored and was obsessed with from Wither - had also lost the initial spark that I'd previously felt. In the first book, Wither, it was all about the main character and her relationships with her sisters, and it was even about her estrange relationship with her new husband whom I found also appealing in a strange, weird-ish sort of way. I mean, with every single one of the characters there was this strong pull towards them - this strong connection I felt no matter the evils they'd possessed. But as push came to shove and in mix with rushed events, in FEVER the book just didn't allow me to reconnect with those beloved characters. Rhine, for one, was in this strange daze for the majority of the book and not even my beloved character Gabriel who goes along with her was using his head . . . after all . . . he was drugged out most of the time too. Yes, really he was. He was. Drugged. So with many other 'interesting' characters introduced, I just missed that same old feeling I had with Wither and I really hope there's enough love for this series to go around when it comes to the third and final book in the trilogy. I hope until then it will win me over!

Overall, no matter what I've said above in this review, FEVER wasn't a bad book. Not at all. Certainly there was certain things lacking in the storyline and didn't appeal to me, but the prose of the book was still beautifully written as done in Wither and for sure it might not have been my favourite book in the series, which was a real shame since I had high expectations and all, but . . . the ending finished off with a bang and I'm definitely still looking forward to the third and final book Sever which I'm sure will sway me back to Team Wither once more!

The Rating2 1/2 / 5 stars

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fury by Rebecca Lim

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 384pgs

The Story

Heartbreak. Vengeance. Fury.

Mercy is an exiled angel cast down to earth and forced to live out thousands of different lives for her own protection. Betrayed by her eternal love, Luc, Mercy burns with fury. The time of reckoning is here and now she must wage open war with Luc and his demons. Ryan's love for Mercy is more powerful than ever, but loving an angel is mortally dangerous. As their two worlds collide, Mercy approaches her ultimate breathtaking choice.

Hell hath no fury like Mercy . . .

The Review

Fury is the fourth installment of Rebecca Lim's original and most captivating YA angel series Mercy. In this final book our main protagonist Mercy, an exiled angel cast down onto Earth and made to live throughout many different of identities, has finally managed to break free from her neverending curse that has plagued her immortal life for thousands upon thousands of years. She can finally be herself for a change. After learning the truths behind her curse and where she came from, Mercy now understands who she is and what she needs to do in order to seek justice against the one man responsible for making her life hell. But how can one exiled angel who is slowly growing into her own powers possibly face down one of the most powerful and unearthly men of the Underworld . . . Lucifer himself? Her beloved Luc.

For those fans of the Mercy series so far, readers would already be aware of the many complications when it came to our main characters and the relationships they shared since Mercy's identity kept on changing with each book. After all, it's really hard to develop relationships in Mercy's case, especially romantic ones, when her lives are switched non-stop. But despite those up's and down's, the romantic relationship - the main point of the storyline for me - between Mercy and her human love interest, Ryan, were the kind of couple we just wanted to see end up together no matter where some hell was rising from because honestly . . . their new love had never really gotten the chance that they deserved.

However, for many readers you will be very pleased to know that Ryan plays a much larger role in this final installment and has more interaction with Mercy herself, unlike what we've read previously in the other books, where we've only saw a few glimpses of him here and there. I know . . . finally, right? But as I continued to be amazed by Rebecca Lim's storytelling right from the beginning, I'm also very happy to say that I've been a pretty eager reader when it comes to this YA angel series. Sadly from third installment, Muse, I was a tiny bit disappointed by it and while I loved this final book and all, but it wasn't perfect and it wasn't how I wanted it to all end. Just expected more somehow. But with everything closed off towards the end, that's all you can really ask for in the conclusion of a great book series!

Chracter-wise everything was pretty spot on! Since book one, our main heroine Mercy has always been the character unsure of what to do and she's forever been forced to live our another person's life in order to complete her cursed life cycle. Her punishment. Her protection. But down the track and several books later, Mercy is much more than that same old forgotten girl that we used to know. In this finale installment, Mercy has finally become far more human - but in her own way, which makes her a completely lovable character for me. Her mere determination and her courage was something we all want to strive for and I love her because of it.

The same goes with Ryan's character, Mercy's human love interest. I've been always intrigued by Ryan from book one and I was dancing over the hills (that is if hills were made available to me which they are not during this time because I don't have any green hills around my home) when I was reading this book and finally seeing how the author made him apart of the book this time round instead of being on the sidelines. It was a proud moment to say the least. Much like with Mercy, Ryan has also grown as a main and a supportive character. From the first book he was a broken boy desperately looking for answers, but in this installment he's someone . . . I don't know the correct words but . . . he was someone who fought against the impossible and with it he became this fearless human boy. He may have been lovesick throughout this whole book, but hey, we're talking about a gorgeous exiled angel here, right?

Overall, while this wasn't the type of conclusion I expected from the final Mercy book and while it wasn't necessarily my favourite of all four, but I still firmly believe that FURY was written to perfection and I'm one happy fangal to have been allowed to read Rebecca Lim's fine work because she managed to take a simple storyline and make it into her own, leaving her readers with a crazy-ass smile on their faces!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Poppy

Pages: 304pgs

The Story

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorced dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancee and her kids. The fiancee's son? Whitley's one-niight stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great. Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who iis just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother . . . at least, not yet. It will take all three of tehm to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

The Review

Whitley Johnson's constant partying and flirtatious nature has certainly earned her quite a reputation around her fellow peers. But just when she's ready to escape on her only vacation with her sometimes distant father . . . things that were supposed to be so damn perfect end up turning into her worst nightmare ever! Not only does Whitley find out that her father has an almost too perfect fiance hanging off her every word, but she also finds out that she has a new pair of step-siblings in tow, and one just happens to be Whitley's one night stand from a party she wishes - and wants - to forget. But when Whitley begins to make some unexpected friends (even though she doesn't "do" friends) and when she begins to fall so helplessly in love with her soon-to-be stepbrother, Nathan, things are about to become even more nightmarish than she first anticipated!

Once again this talented young adult author has offered up yet another complicated, saucy teen heroine in her third book, A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE. Now I've been a fan of Kody Keplinger for quite some time now, what with her fantastic debut novel, The Duff, which was my favourite book of hers, and her second novel, Shut Out, which was also another superb read for me and for many readers I know. Some of the things I love most about Keplinger's writing is how imperfect her characters are, how she gets teenagers and all the many forms we seem to come in, how she continues to challenge her readers with some of the most daring subjects from sex to your ordinary friendships, and even how authentic these characters seem to be. For her third novel, I wouldn't go far to say it was my favourite of all of her books, mostly because I couldn't relate to her main character, but regardless of that fact, I can see many others relating to this book . . . a lot in fact and it was definitely a fun summer read for me.

Whitley Johnson, the main character, was needlessly to say a very complicated, rude, reckless, sometimes-stubborn and a sometimes-over-the-top young woman, whom has obviously lost her way somehow. I mean, let's face it - she's a complete and utter mess. Personally for me, Whitley is the kind of girl I would stay well away from in high school and that was probably a good thing in my books. I think the only reason why I didn't enjoy this character as much as I wanted to was because I couldn't relate to her at all. At all. She's so unlike me in so many ways: I'm not a partier, I'm not flirting my way through every guy I meet that gave me some of their attention and I'm certainly not a drinker. But despite those qualities in Whitley, that still doesn't mean she wasn't a fun nor a likable character. Because in all honestly she was - at least when we finally got to know her for her and learn the reasonings behind why she's acting out the way she is. So not to worry readers, you'll still love this main character despite her flaws!

As for the supporting characters, I thought they totally stole the show in this book. Nathan for one, the love interest and Whitley's soon-to-be stepbrother and whom she slept with prior to knowing he was going to be that soon-to-be step-brother of hers, was completely adored by me. He was utterly sweet, he was caring and he was nerdy . . . just like me. Sure, it was kind of weird witnessing his and Whitley's relationship grow into something far more than it should have considering they're going to be related by marriage and all, but I loved that forbidden aspect to their characters and it suited them. I mean, who doesn't love the forbidden no-no side? Even Nathan's little sister was such a delightful little treat . . . she was so, so sweet too. Even Whitley's soon-to-be stepmother was a great character to add in and cause some tension under one roof, and heck, even Whitley's actual father was a great character to add some further complications despite him always forgetting about Whitley and how she felt about his new living situation. Again, they were all so great!

Overall, like any book come across, it's always risky to write about taboo subjects and some really heavy issues for those young adults who read them, but for some reason Kody Keplinger's third novel, A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, could get away with murder no matter what topic it explores and I love this writer for being able to do that and put a shock to your system! That's the whole fun part for me! So, if you're already a fan of this author like I am or have yet to find that perfect summer read with a great, refreshing teenage voice, then be sure to give this book a go ASAP!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Soulbound by Heather Brewer

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Dial

Pages: 394pgs

The Story

What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him . . .

Meet Kaya, a young woman with the powers to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken . . . and blood is the strongest bond of all.

The Review

For most of her life, Kaya, a young Healer, has lived in a village with her two parents and life couldn't be any better. But when vicious creatures attack the village one night and kill her best friend in the process, everything will change for this young teenage girl, especially since she lives in a world of Barrons, Healers and those of the Unskilled. With her parents being ex-Barrons and narrowingly escaping from their rightful duty, branding them as traitors, Kaya is sent a letter inviting her to attend Shadow Academy to be trained properly as a Healer and be bound to another Barron - her life's main purpose. But Kaya wants to be more than a simple Healer; she wants to fight side-by-side with the Barrons and wield her blade . . . to not be helpless as everyone claims her to be. And with two new boys soon entering her life, one being her bounded Barron and the other one not, Kaya will need to decide once and for all where her true loyalites lie and to find out what exactly it is that she is truly fighting for.

I've been a faithful minion of our Auntie Heather Brewer for quite some time now and SOULBOUND turned out to be one of her best books to date. My favourite of hers EVER actually! Firstly, it was absolutely fantastic, and secondly, it was more than I could possibly ask for from Heather Brewer because I was highly entertained by this book. So entertained! It was action-packed and mysterious, dangerous and intense, romantic and surprising, and it was just your kind of book with some typical fantasy but with all the right amount of elements to make it its own and I can't wait to get more from this series!

Kaya was a perfect heroine in my eyes! She was someone you could easily identify with and she was also someone you would immediately like since she has the 'Rose-Hathaway-from-Vampire-Academy-badassery-type-of-personality' which I'm sure many of you readers will be very, very happy to hear about. I mean, seriously . . . she reminded me a lot of Rose in so many ways. Kaya is completely stubborn, she's super smart and she's ridiculously sarcastic, and she's everything I love in a main heroine. Then, of course, there are other characters too in the book and whether you like them or not, love them or hate them, I was still quite pleased with the romantic love interests in the story, no matter the frustrations that seemed to come along with them.

Trayton is the sweet but gentle type of boy whom happens to be the Barron Kaya will be bound to for life and I loved the connection he immediately shared with Kaya, and how much he actually cared for her. However, I wouldn't go saying they were perfect for each other. I mean, nothing can ever compare to his mysterious and handsome competitor, Darius, whom offered so much more to the storyline and considering the cliffhanger I was left on . . . I SO want more from his character! Now like any other bad boy rounding the corner and captivating the heroine, here we have the second love interest - this silver-haired boy that barks out every order and whom happened to be the one who'd saved Kaya the night of her arrival at the Academy. Unlike the sweet Trayton we love, Darius on the other hand is this fiery fighter who lives and breathes to take charge at every possible moment and while Kaya continues to struggle to trust him but somehow and some way . . . she can't help but be connected to him. Oh Darius . . . I adored him completely and obviously I'm waving his team banner in the air right now! Reminding me so much of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy's Dimitri character, it's no wonder why so many other fangals like me are left swooning over this young fellow and I want more and more and more of him! Clearly.

Overall, SOULBOUND has left me with a lot of questions and my head is still reeling over the ending, so I definitely can't wait to get my hands on its sequel! So be sure to pick up this book when you can so we can speculate together on what happens next!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Monday, August 20, 2012

Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 352pgs

The Story

What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you are? And what if to discover your true self, you were not sure you'd survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other's arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it's the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could job their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they're in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town's perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything - not the death of Marshall's mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse's family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship . . . but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love - and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

The Review

GLIMMER is a young adult story about two main characters, Elyse and Marshall, whom wake up naked in a bed together with so little memory of their everyday lives, their own identities and how they even ended up there in the first place. With one thing leading to another, in order to piece together their lives - not to mention their past memories - these two teens are forced to investigate themselves by roaming the streets, meeting strangers who seem familiar to them somehow, and try and live out their ordinary lives to regain what they have lost. But the question is: How did they lose their memories and how are these two teenagers's fate tied together? Is it just a mere coincidence or . . . is there something far more sinister that is responsible for their lost memories?

This book had immediately caught my interest when I first heard about it. I mean, the glossy cover is really beautiful and eery and all that, but the plot was what grabbed me because it sounded beyond amazing and it was something that also sounded original too. After all, two teenagers losing their memories? Talk about awesomeness! And then, having this mystery included and these two teenagers trying to get their memories back in this very unfamiliar place of a creeper town . . . I was totally sold on that alone! As much as I wanted a Stepford Wives storyline in a young adult book setting with zombie-like citizens, unfortunately this book was not at all what I expected. First off, I didn't realize ghosts would play a large part of the storyline. And secondly, the way this book had ended, I didn't see the end to play out anything like that! At all. Anyway, despite those small factors and while this book is so, so weird but in a so, so good sort of way weird, and since I love my mysteries and being on a casual trip (trust me this book will leave you really trippy hippy if you know what I mean), but I still managed to enjoy the book but not in the way I wanted to. Still . . . it was good.

The best part of the book for me was the two main characters in GLIMMER, Elyse and Marshall, and how the book chapters alternated between the two of them, back and forth. Not only do we get to know these two main characters together - as an awesome mystery duo - but we also have the opportunity to get to know them individually as your average people too and learn what's the deal with their loss of memory. It most certainly helped me figure out the puzzle with these two different perspectives. Now with me already being all for the alternative chapters with characters, I only like alternative POVs if they're written right and in this case I found that they were written at their best because it never failed in impressing me and while it took a little while for me to warm up to these two characters but, much like the storyline, I eventually did come to like them and it was because of the two different perspectives we read about and the book might not have delivered as well for me if it wasn't written in the way it was, you know?

Overall, even when I sometimes got confused with certain events that happened in the book and while it didn't exactly WOW me like one would expect from such an awesome storyline, however I still thoroughly enjoyed GLIMMER considering it's a standalone novel and being totally . . . weird. But hey, everyone loves some weirdness in their books, right? Since this is my first Phoebe Kitanidis novel, I'm happy to say it won't be the last. With GLIMMER best described as Stepford Wives meets something along the lines of Bourne Identity-minus-the-spy-slash-gun-action and more so The Ghost Whisperer, I can definitely see plenty of readers loving this book - even one that will make you trip and question absolutely EVERYTHING!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 375pgs

The Story

I'm pushing aside

the memory of my nightmare,

pushing aside thoughts of Alex,

pushing aisde thoughts of Hanna

and my old school,




like Raven taught me to do.

The old life is dead.

But the old Lena is dead too.

I buried her.

I left her beyond a fence,

behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, 'Delirium'. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

The Review

PANDEMONIUM is the second installment of Lauren Oliver's Delirium series. For those who have yet to read the first book, this book is set sometime in the distant future, where love is viewed as a disease and all young people are cured for it so they can no longer feel love. However, the last time we saw the main character, Lena, she was on the run after narrowingly escaping her so-called perfect and 'cured' society, and she's now living her life in the wilds. While her mind will never forget a boy named Alex, someone she loved dearly and whom was captured, she is trying her best in surviving the outside world and all sorts of trouble that soon comes her way: New dangers. New rules. New society. New love.

Now I'm happy to say that I was really, really surprised by this sequel. Not only was this book far more enjoyable but it also exceeded my expectations. Delirium, the first book in this YA trilogy series, was an okay read for me but it didn't really offer anything special to me despite its received high praises. But in this sequel's case . . . I'm officially back on board with this series. PANDEMONIUM had everything of a reader's dream - a fast-pacing plot, non-stop action-packed sequences, a few little surprises I didn't see coming, and also some new characters that entertained me at their very best. Sure, the only thing I struggled with was the switching of the past and the present scenes, which wasn't a favourite method of mine, but it was nonetheless thrilling and captured my full attention!

Concerning the characters, I was yet again surprised by the detailed of them and the depth Lauren Oliver pulled them through. Lena was an okay main heroine in the first book, but I wasn't a fan of her. Since then and since reading this sequel, I've completely changed my mind about her. Shocker, I know! Lena this time was much more stronger and she had a much thicker skin when she began fighting for what she truly believed in, and while she continues to miss Alex with all her heart and soul, a love interest from the previous book, she still manages to push through everything and continue living her life the best it can be. For now at least.

The same goes with another introduced character, a boy named Julian, whom is also another possible love interest for Lena's future. For those readers who know me well, I'm not a huge fan of love triangles unless they are written perfectly and in the way I like them to be written. Though in this sequel, I think Lauren Oliver did such a great job in handling this upcoming love triangle ahead of us. For sure, Alex may not be present at all in this book, so it was completely understandable why Julian was introduced to offer some complication and some heartache for our Lena, but while Alex was a great love interest and opened up our Lena to the real world, I still couldn't help myself in adoring Julian despite his own issues he presented to us. By adored, I mean . . . I think I like him even more than our man Alex or rather they are both on the same playing field now and I'm - like right now - struggling whom to like more than the other. Though I have to admit, Julian was really refreshing and I loved how he helped Lena through her grief . . . so of course I couldn't help but love, love, love him! Yes, as you can see, I can't stop gushing about him!!!

Overall, PANDEMONIUM was the redemption of a book series that I was so desperately looking and it was also a sequel worthy of all the high praises it has been given recently. If you weren't a fan of Delirium like I was, than this sequel will most definitely change your mind as soon as you start reading the book and with a shocking cliffhanger being delivered towards the end of the book . . . it will have you gearing up for the final installment, which won't come sooner enough! Argh!!!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 372pgs

The Story

Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don't know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans - until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy's heart.

Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh - a boy with a very unusual family history.

Will Mel's staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose . . . Team Human?

The Review

A big thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me a review copy of this book!

I didn't go into this book with any expectations other than already being a fan of Sarah Rees Brennan's writing and having the small idea that this was going to be a spoof of the vampire genre, which will always be fine by me. You know, the light-hearted sort of spoof book that will made you laugh at certain points and take other things seriously. In this case, it was definitely a fun book and I can see why so many readers enjoyed reading it in one sitting, though it was also the type of book I wouldn't go say 'Wow, this was brilliant'. To be honest with you, I didn't take this book very seriously at all, but it still remained an alright read for me in the end.

The premise of the storyline did put me off quite a bit. First off, the book was really different but in an interesting kind of way. Some examples include, vampires are out in society - which are most common in storylines - and are known to the world, then there's humans who can apply for licenses to transition into vampires, and finally, there's also a slight chance that a transition can go wrong for a human and they can either die or become a zombie . . . so like I said before, this book was pretty interesting. However, the problem I had with the majority of book was the predictable side of things. I don't mind guessing halfway through a book about what's going to happen and other whatnot, or even guessing with how things are going to end, but I found everything just too predictable. I wasn't exactly surprise with how the book was tied up, which was another pity on my part. But again, it still was an okay read.

As for some other problems, as much as I hate to say it, it was the characters also. Ah, the characters. The supporting ones didn't have a great affect on me and I found that they didn't have any personality in them, which was rather hard to win me over with this book. I mean, I love to love the supporting characters, you know? They are part of the fun and all. But honestly the best thing in this entire book would have to be the main character, Mel, whom was the only character I actually liked and partially cared about. Mel was funny. Check. Mel was spunky. Check. Mel was stubborn. Check. Mel was kickass. Check. Mel was totally against the idea of her friend dating a vampire (think of Jessica from Twilight and her finding out about Edward and the Bella's vampire/human situation). Check. Yeah . . . Mel was a ball full of fun. She wasn't perfect - that was clear in this book - but I liked her which was the important thing here.

Look, when it comes down to it, TEAM HUMAN is either going to win you or lose you from the beginning, so I would still recommend giving this book a chance to see where you will end up. It might not have been my favourite vampire book as of yet, but it was a good and an entertaining one, especially for a quick read.

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frostbite: The Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon and Emma Vieceli

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 144pgs

The Story

The drama and romance continue in this 144-page full-color graphic novel adaptation of the second Vampire Academy novel, Frostbite, which was overseen by Richelle Mead and features beautiful art by acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli.

The Review

FROSTBITE is the second installment of Richelle Mead's bestselling YA series Vampire Academy, only, unlike its original book form, it is a graphic novel and one of the best I've read in graphic novels so far! So, if you're considering buying this graphic novel than I would strongly recommend that you read the actual book series prior to starting this graphic novel since some minor details are left out from the books in this rendition. Anyway, I absolutely loved the first Vampire Academy graphic novel released last year because it's yet another Richelle Mead creation being brought up onto the table and honestly who doesn't want more of Richelle Mead's VA world? I, of course, certainly want more of it and I adored this new book as it turns out!

There's just something special and so captivating in Leigh Dragoon and Emma Vieceli's work, and I love how much effort they have put into their own interpretations of the Vampire Academy world, not to mention in a much shorter form. For them personally, I think it would really tough in trying to create something where millions of readers are eagerly awaiting for their favourite YA series to turn into a graphic novel and I thought they did the best job they possibly could in doing so! While I had trouble in liking the depiction of Rose and Lissa's characters, since that's not how I imagined him, and even the really 'buffed-up' Dimitri was not my Dimka, however in this second piece of artwork of FROSTBITE, every other character has improved in the looks department and the scenery is just so beautiful and so much in detail . . . so once again a very well done job on the artist's part!

Now like most readers wanting to get their hands on this graphic novel right here, while Dimitri is in our mists and we love seeing any piece of nakedness coming from him, but what we were most looking forward to was seeing our chain-smoking, ridiculously-good-looking, witty-comebacking boy Adrian and once I saw his face come up onto the fine glossy pages . . . he was exactly how I imagined him in the books and boy was he handsome! And once you add the same scenes from the book - ones filled with action, romance and a lot of complications as expressed and remembered from the book series - and not to mention adding a very hot looking Adrian AND a smexy Dimtri . . . everything was just . . . AWESOME in this graphic novel! Absolutely everything!

Overall, the FROSTBITE graphic novel was more than I thought it would be and it will certainly not disappointed us obsessed Vampire Academy fans! It's fast-paced and gets straight to the itty bitty details that we so desperately want to relive from the book series, and I'm sure you'll want this baby up in your VA collection without a doubt too!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Pages: 417pgs

The Story

Everything Aoife thoughth she knew about the world was a lie. There is no Necrovirus. And Aoife isn't going to succumb to madness because of a latent strain - she will lose her faculties because she is allergic to iron. Aoife isn't human. She is changeling - half human and half from the land of Thorn. And time is running out for her.

When Aoife destroyed the Lovecraft engine she released the monsters from the Thorn Lands into the Iron Lands and now she must find a way to seal the gates and reverse the destruction she's ravaged on the world that's about to poison her.

The Review

THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN is an absolutely breath-taking sequel with a beautiful descriptive prose and some very delightful steampunk elements added onto the storyline to satisfy any sort of reader out there. With so much love and high praise for the author's first YA book, The Iron Thorn, there's just something otherworldly about Caitlin Kittredge's dark world and it's no matter why she's become a favourite author of mine!

Now I won't talk too much in detail over what happens in this sequel as it would spoil many things as seen and read from the previous novel The Iron Thorn, but the main heroine, Aoife, is one of the best heroines in the steampunk fantasy genre and she's also a very stubborn one at that. In the best possible way of course. From the first book to this next one, I found Aoife has grown so much into her own and while some readers - including myself - may not agree with every single action and decision she makes, which can lead her and her gang of friends to all sorts of trouble, but I respect her for many reasons and in the end she's just trying to do everything she can to keep those she loves safe. With Aoife being a great heroine and all, it partly comes from her being in the company of Dean, the boy we had met from the previous installment and one whom we love dearly. Now Dean had totally stolen the show for me compared to every other character we meet along the journey! Every word, every action and every small affection he shows for our leading lady, Aoife, Dean is - to put it simply - one of the best love interests ever and while Aoife may not always let him in . . . into her heart . . . but boy, this boy right here has a heart of gold and I just want more of him! He's never willing to give up a fight and I love him for it!

Overall, readers who are already familiar with Caitlin Kittredge's work - adult or young adult - will find that it's no real surprise that THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN was a deeply engaging novel and is the perfect addition to the Iron Codex series. And boy, with such a heart-breaking and over-the-top ending that this sequel successfully delivers to us, I have to say the author knows how to really step up the game and I'm really, really looking forward to reading the final installment of this series, which I'm sure is going to blow my mind immediately!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 266pgs

The Story

Dark myths, medieval secrets, intrigue, and romance populate the pages of the first-ever teen series from #1 bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous - and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurences across Europe, in this year - the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can't inherit any of her father's estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft - and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

The Review

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

CHANGELING is the first book in Philippa Gregory's new YA historical trilogy, The Order of Darkness. Set in Italy, 1453, it follows the characters, Luca Vero and Lady Isolde, two seventeen-year-olds whose fates cross at the Abbey of Lucretili, a Roman nunnery and whose lives will intertwine and change forever.

Having read a few of Philippa Gregory's adult historical novels in the past, like many readers are already aware of, this author is the Queen of Historical Fiction and she will remain so in the future. However, when it came to her very first young adult novel of a new trilogy, which surprised me as I was so used to her adult books, sadly I found this book right here turned out to be not what I was expecting it to be. While I love a good old historical book whereas others do not so much, especially in the young adult genre, but what I struggled with, in this book, was having so much to take in from the storyline and there were far too many religious aspects involved that often prevented me to get hooked on this book. You see, I'm not exactly a fan of religious things that can overwhelm a story. But moving past that, the good thing is both the storyline and the pacing itself eventually got better as the book came together towards the end, so there's some bonuses in that.

Concerning all of the characters, some were likable enough but what they lacked was a reader's connection to them. Personally for me, I found the supporting characters were much more well developed compared to the primary ones which is quite unusual as the main characters are the ones that are supposed to shine. Still . . . every character was likable in the end. More so Lady Isolde whom was the strongest among them all and highly intelligent. Although, I expected something more from her character and perhaps a romantic interest to be seeked through the other main character, Luca, however I think this will be further explored in the next sequel which I guess leaves readers to only wait, hope and see what happens in the future.

Overall, CHANGELING was very entertaining but it lacked in certain strengths that would've make me fall in love with this book and its historical, fantasy elements. While I do prefer Gregory's adult novels to her first young adult novel, however many readers will love this book and it's the perfect introduction to a new historical trilogy!

The Rating

3/5 stars

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Pages: 303pgs

The Story

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake.

Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough - especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily - just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

The Review

A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

After seeing the cover so many times around the internet and reading more about the storyline, I was so very eager to get my hands on this book. When my request was accepted on netgalley I was straight away reading this book and I have to say . . . I'm really, really impressed. There's not a terrible lot of mermaid books out there - at least not ones that have surprised and entertained me - but I have to say this book right here certainly did all that. Because I absolutely loved it!

Amongst the dangerous lake waters, a deadly family secret has been kept for several years and sets up a very dark, gritty storyline about mesmerizing mermaids whom are hell bent on getting their revenge. For Calder and his purely evil sisters, they survive merely on preying upon the life forces of those people that cross their path in the lakes and in theh oceans. While it may seem enough to survive on, but for these beautiful mermaids they hunger for far more than human life forces. In fact, they want to seek justice for their mother's death that happened many years ago and when the family responsible returns to the lake, Calder must use his good-looks and wicked charms on Lily, the daughter of the father he wants to kill more than anything. Problem is: He's slowly falling in love with her and his sisters will do just about anything to make him think twice of it.

What I loved most about LIES BENEATH was how uncomfortable and unpredictable this book had made me feel. You loved it. You hated it. You loved it all over again. You hated it. And yet you wanted more of it! There were so many conflicting emotions happening throughout this book. For example, the main character, Calder, was supposed to be the main hero of this mermaid tale and yet he wasn't exactly how you would define your traditional 'hero' to be like. Like how many other readers felt from previous reviews that I've read, I too felt like he was more of an antagonist than anything else, which was rather a different take for a hero and a method in which the author was most successful at. I mean, let's face it you guys . . . he's a murderous merman forced to use trickery and deceit in order to get what he wants when he wants using all means necessary. By this, he uses the girl Lily as his bargaining chip to get to her father. But even though you should hate him for playing our Lily, but in the end you just can't help but be captivated by him as well and loving him for being such a trickster.

While Calder was a perfect character and even though you hated his sisters for the majority of the book (even though you secretly find them mysteriously cool), but I really enjoyed Lily's character the most. I loved how she questioned every single one of Calder's motives right from the beginning and why he was suddenly interested in someone like her. She was a smart girl that one and I totally loved her! Another highlight for me in character-wise was the relationship that Calder and Lily shared which was a strange one at thtat and may have happened a little too fast for my liking. However, on a whole, I still loved reading about the struggles Calder was facing when it came to Lily alone. After all, he desperately wants to kill Lily's father to revenge his and his sister's mother's death, but there was still just . . . Lily - the girl he was opening his cold heart to. And, as this new relationship begins to blossom, unfold and become something of the unexpected, everything from love to the storyline to the damn-right surprising ending it offered us . . . everything about this book, LIES BENEATH, was everything I was looking for in a mermaid tale and about time too! It was SO twisted but in the best possible way!

Overall, LIES BENEATH was such an engaging YA debut novel coming from a very talented and a very entertaining author, Anne Greenwood Brown. The whole mystery surrounding a debt of a mermaid is something every mermaid fan must read this year and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the upcoming sequel which is slated for sometime next year, one that will feature Lily's POV this time round so I'm very excited for that!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Penguin Australia

Pages: 313pgs

The Story

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs . . . for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could livie for a long time (what that means), Hazels lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

The Review

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS is one of the most heartbreaking YA books I've ever read. At least in this short while. You see I'm not a big crier when it comes to books nor movies, and it's sure a very, very rare thing to get me to weep over something so . . . fictional. But when it comes to this book and after taking everything in that I've just read as I write this book review, I have to honest with you and say some very salty tears coming from the depths of my inner soul were shed as I finished the last few pages of this book. It was just so SAD. I don't understand how John Green can do this to ME of all people!

I don't know where to begin with this review. I mean, everything from the splendid writing to the darn right hilarious humour shared between these two ever-so-wonderful main characters had straightaway gotten my full attention and John Green completely nails it not to mention owns this book of his! As he should. For sure, there's nothing fun in witnessing and reading about two teenagers dying and falling in love at the same time, but there's just something magical in Green's writing and you're suddenly escaping from the cancer spreading in their bodies, and you're soon on this wonderful journey of self-discovery and learning about how to truly embrace life for what it is. Because that's exactly what these two kids, Hazel and Augustus, do. They take the time they have left and just LIVE.

Without going into too much detail with the storyline because some ugly tears will be involved, I have to say the main characters - hell even the supporting ones - were so bloody fantastic and so realistic too! At first when I started to read this book, I kind of expected these group of teenagers to go through their several stages of depression as they dealt with their own illnesses, but it went completely the opposite way for me which came as a nice surprise. The thing is . . . they weren't your typical sick kid. They didn't act like it at all. In fact, they acted just like you and me. Like people from your old local school. Like people you waved to down the street. Like people you give a friendly nod to. Like people you smile at as you pass them by. It was a nice feeling that. But the two shining stars were, of course, our two main leading characters, Hazel and Augustus. Now they are a category all of their own. Unique. Original. Awesome. Real. For Hazel's character, I absolutely adored her like so many other readers did. She was a realist like me. She took what she could get and lived with the consequences. Finally a realist heroine! Because of her personality and her cute attitude towards life, there was no time to feel sorry for her and her illness, because all I wanted to do was read more and more about her relationship and bond with our boy Augustus Waters. Now that girl and that boy deserve each other! Full stop. Oh Augustus Waters . . . how you make us fangirls swoon. Sure, Augustus had his flaws but he was true perfection. He was like Hazel's other half and I guess that's why I loved most about him. Like Hazel, he too was going through so many rough patches and yet all he wanted to do was be with Hazel and live through her dreams and that made him the happiest boy on earth just to watch her face smile again. Yeah . . . that boy and the mention of his name will always leave a smile on my face. How you author's ruin me! Really how could you!

Overall, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS must be read by everyone and anyone no matter your age differences. This contemporary YA book has left a huge and lasting impression on me. It's a book with its perfections. It's a book with a certain edge to it. It's a book with its flaws of humanity. But when it comes down to it . . . it's a book about two teenagers lives, Hazel and Augustus's, who are just your average kids looking for some hope in the most unexpected places and while they may be fictional on paper, but they are the kind of characters that teach you something in your own life and are the kind who will forever stay in your hearts.

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 368pgs

The Story

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Gold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life - a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina isi whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looking and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

The Review

SHADOW AND BONE was one of the most anticipated YA books this year of 2012. Review after review, five stars after five stars, I've read nothing but amazing things for this debut novel, and combining those reviews with such a beautiful, dark, mesmerizing and an enchanting book cover into the hyped-up book world, it's no wonder why so many had such high praises for this book alone because it was one of those rare but beautiful gems that I was happy to announce was an absolute pleasure to read!

Leigh Bardugo's writing for starters is absolutely gorgeous and it completely stands all on its own as it was meant to be. I admit, at first, it took me a little while to warm up to her Russian naming system since it did get a little confusing at times, what with all the different spelling and pronunciations making your tongue tie. However, once we learned more and more about this wonderful world and the characters the author manages to weave through this dark, itty-gritty world of hers, you will soon become so invested in everything the book throws at you and be left wanting more of it. I sure want MORE! When it comes down to it, this book was truly spectacular - the details themselves and the complexity of the hierarchical structure made everything else even more amazing than it already was! So I'm impressed. Really, really impressed.

The storyline was amazing and all that, but it was the characters that had really done me in. In addition to her amazing storytelling skills, the author has this wonderful way of working emotional depths into her characters in order to make your own heart ache along with them. Take for example Alina, the main heroine, whom was one of those characters that made me feel for her in every step of her journey that she takes and she was honestly the shining star of this russian-inspired tale, and all my high praises and love go straight to her without question. She deserves them. Her courage and her strength that she had to muster in order to surive in this world of hers, it really only goes to show what a great heroine Bardugo conjured up . . . because I loved our Alina to bits. Girl crush, anyone?

All of the love and high praises also goes onto Alina's two male leading characters, the sweet-but-overly-protective-best-friend Mal and the mysteriously-handsome-but-brutal-man known as the Darkling. While most readers would automatically assume this was going to be yet another love triangle offered up in a young adult book, but through my eyes . . . it wasn't necessarily your typical love triangle, even if it's a planned one for the future books. I mean, I can't really see one developing or going anywhere if that but boy oh boy I really do hope so. The two male leads were absolutely loved by me and while these potential love interests enter Alina's life at different points in her life, but I can understand why she's battling over her own feelings for them. Mal, an orphan boy Aline has spent most of her life with, was such an honorable young man and one of the sweetest fictional boys ever. I yearned for him to love Alina like she deserved because I just KNEW something was bound to happen between them, but on the other tip of the scale, I was also glad that their relationship grew later in the book. It defined them more in that way.

And then of course there's that nameless man only known as "the Darkling" and my god he is one sexy creature of the darkness. The Darkling was one of the most intriguing characters I've ever come across this year. He was sexy, exciting, dangerous, ruthless, and hella scary with all little things inbetween. I knew I shouldn't trust him like Alina felt at first, but at times I was questioning myself on whether I should trust him. He was SO convincing in a sinner way. There was just this allure about him where you knew he understood Alina in ways Mal never could, but my god . . . I have no idea whether I should be on Mal's team or on the Darkling's team despite him being casted as the 'villain' in the book. Gah! One thing is for sure readers . . . expect many surprising things, especially when it comes to these very too-hot-to-handle boys. They're so perfect.

Overall, Leigh Bardugo's SHADOW AND BONE was such a brilliant debut novel and offered up so much more than I thought the book was willing to give me. And, as much as I'm sadden by this book ending for the time being, but I know this book will hold a special place in the hearts of many high fantasy and historical fiction fans, even those ones whom adore the steampunk genre because this book right here had all three elements which I love and adore to bits! So, go grab it NOW!

Also, a big thanks to the publisher, Indigo, for sending me a review copy of this book which has a different cover and is called The Gathering Dark for the AUS/UK readers. While I already own the hardcover of the US title, but I have to say it's still a real treat to have both of the covers on my bookshelf!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Monday, August 6, 2012

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 496pgs

The Story

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing - but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away - not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith's dying magic has wrought - Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he feared: a true servant of Valentine's evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace's friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved - and that the fate of the Shadowhunter's future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell - a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace's soul. She's willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhutners in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

The Review

Having been extremely disappointed in Cassandra Clare's previous novel, City of Fallen Angels, you would know from my review that the events not to mention the characters were crazy and ridiculous. In other words I was less than thrilled to read her fifth installment of The Mortal Instruments series, however as I read more raving book reviews, saw the gorgeous cover in person and flew right through the pages of this continuation of one of my favourite YA fantasy series, even to my surprise I found this novel not only proved how much of a better writer Clare has become but it also placed a little bit more faith into myself when it comes to this series alone because CITY OF LOST SOULS was such a vast improvement which made me very, very thankful for! Phew!

I won't get into any major details regarding the plot because it's . . . well . . . rather too hard to explain to you, especially to the new readers and since I don't want to spoil things. But everything that had happened in the actual novel was awesome and equally as thrilling in every possible way, so I had no problems in that department. So instead of boring you with small little details, I'll just get straight down to the point of the characters themselves.

Firstly there's Jace and like always he isn't quite himself in this new installment, but that comes as no huge surprise to me since he's a very complexed character which I'm sure many of you are already aware of by now. While there are plenty of Jace fans out there and while I do have some respect for his character and sympathize with everything he's been through, but quite frankly I don't care about Jace at all now. At least not like I used to. I mean, of course I love him to bits because he's damn right hilarious and a little bit of a romantic at heart - not to mention a fiery little fighter - but I'm quite tired of his character and his personal "issues". Really tired in fact. Now along with Jace, there comes our central and sometimes misjudged character, Clary Fray, whom personally for me is an up and down character for most people, and let's just say she isn't a favourite character of mine either in all honesty. After all, time and time again, Clary has made many stupid decisions throughout this series and I never had any real respect for her, only, to my surprise, something changed in this book for her character. For once, I gradually came to like her (I know what the hell?!) because her decisions were right instead of always wrong, but just when I liked her, towards the end she only proved me right again when she made another stupid decision after another . . . but then she made another right decision . . . so again, she's an up and down character that you'll either love or hate her for. But the point is . . . while she still remains a non-favourite character of mine, but I have a lot more respect for her, at least more than I ever used to have which is good since she's come so far in this series!

With the two main characters out of the way, what I love most about Cassandra Clare's book's and her writing is her supporting cast aand the variety they always seem to come in. Simon . . . Isabelle . . . Alec . . . Magnus . . . Maia . . . Luke . . . Jocelyn . . . heck even Sebastian were fantastic as always and they were the main reason why I loved this book so, so much more than the previous installments. I mean, despite the complications in this series (trust me there's plenty of them in this particular book with all emotions running high) but what never fails to change is the larger role the supporting characters seem to play and the fun factor they forever bring to each and every single book in this series. For once, as far as I can see, the supporting cast isn't faded into the background . . . they actually DO something to keep the action flowing rather than SIT back and wait for Hell to freeze over. Take for example in CITY OF LOST SOULS, the supporting cast seemed to have taken the lead in the storyline and were productive in finding ways to save our Jace and Clary from Sebastian's evil plans, and clearly the spotlight was totally stolen by Simon and Sebastian - and my Team Malec of course - which was a great turn especially at this point of the series because their characters developed into something much more than I originally hoped for, so thanks again Cassandra Clare for writing these delightful supporting cast of characters and allowing them to grow into fine, fine characters at that!

Now before I end this book review, I won't even mention a single word about my Malec since I'll probably burst into tears over them but moving on . . . as for those people whom hated with absolute passion over Sebastian's character, the one we first met in the third book City of Glass and made the whole Jace/Clary relationship go out of whack, I think everyone will soon change their opinions about him. At least a little while. I mean, for sure, Sebastian (or rather Jonathan) is still the same old ruthless-demon-spawn-of-a-young-boy who will always have tricks up his sleeves when it comes to Jace and his sister Clary, but I'm one of those few whom absolutely love him and appreciate him as a character. I know . . . I know . . . you probably think I'm crazy for saying this right now but I've always loved Sebastian. Always! He's the total package in a villain. He's mysterious, he makes you sympathic towards him at certain times, he makes you question his loyalities and his motives, he makes you laugh, he makes you forever on edge when he appears . . . honestly what's not to love about him? And trust me here folks . . . he rocks in this book because you know he's bad but you are always captivated by him and wanting to know what he will do next. I just love him, okay? He's a total evil-doer!

Overall, there's so much to say about CITY OF LOST SOULS and yet so little space to express all of my feelings and emotions that are currently running through my mind right now. But with every character, every scene and every action leaving you on the edge of your seat to a point of no return, not to mention beautiful little references to Clare's Infernal Devices series (I mean you are so killing me here with mentionings of Will and the Clockwork Angel necklace), this fifth installment of The Mortal Instruments series was a true delight to read and it was a fine book to prepare me for the last book in this series, Heavenly Fire, which is coming out in a few years time. Man oh man how will I cope until then, huh? I mean, c'mon what's going to happen to my MALEC!!!!!!!!!! *infinite cries* That's for another time folks . . . !!!

The Rating 4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, August 3, 2012

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 416pgs

The Story

24 meets the X Files in the biggest teen blockbuster of the summer . . .


Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Meanwhile, Janelle's father, special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device - one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets - and keep from falling in love with him in the process . . .

The Review

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


These numbers right here are the very first thing you see when you start reading this book and with every chapter, instead of a clever 'witty' title name or having the simple use of chapter numbering, a countdown begins to tick away until the end of this book. Yup that's right, there's a countdown which is pretty awesome and I was straight back to the good old days of the tv show 24! So to not disappoint my readers, UNRAVELLING runs exactly like 24 in so many ways what with its fast-paced storyline, thrilling adventures, addictive and interesting chararacters, and not to mention there are a whole lot of "WHAT THE HELL?!" moments occuring. . . so there's honestly a lot to like about this book and its sci-fi-ness which happens to be one of my favourite genres of all time, especially in young adult!

In Elizabeth Norris's debut novel UNRAVELLING, seventeen-year-old Janelle is almost like every teenager in town: She has the perfect family, a good paying job and a super-hot and popular boyfriend to boot. However, despite her seemingly perfect life that she lives, with her father working for the FBI and with her curiosity getting the better of her, she soon discovers something really big and catastrophic is about to happen in less than 24 hours and without her even realising it, the countdown begins to set in motion after she is hit by a truck that appears out of nowhere. And everything - everything including her life being 'mysteriously' saved - all leads back to the loner boy from her local high school, a boy named Ben Michaels, and it's up to Janelle and her new friends to unravel the secrets, the mysteries and even the whole masterplan of what could be possibly the end of the world.

UNRAVELLING was not the book I was expecting. To be quite honest with you I didn't really know what to expect from a book such as this one except that everyone I know has been praising it up and since I'm a huge sci-fi book lover I was suddenly on the bandwagon and so eager to read it too. But as much as I hate to say this, I wasn't overly impressed with this book. From the start I was going "yeah, yeah, this is an okay read for me" but there were other times too where I was a little bit unbelieving with some of the events involving the FBI and I was also a little bit bored by the storyline itself, simply because there wasn't enough sci-fi elements to keep me really, really interested. I mean, of course there is some sci-fi in this book but it wasn't the type of sci-fi I was looking for. That's not to say that this story wasn't enjoyable, because it was in certain aspects. The author, Elizabeth Norris, after all builds up some interesting company for her main lead, Janelle, and the events weren't as predictable as I thought they would be, so I was really entertained by that part of the book.

On the plus side of things and for our leading female heroine, I'd thought Janelle was a great gal to have behind this type of setting and I loved the similarities she had shared with one of my other favourite heroines from the past, Veronica Mars. With her being smart, resourceful, tough-as-nails, sometimes witty and with a tiny smidge of naiveness about her, I actually found Janelle was someone you could easily relate to on a general basis. Sure, her actions and her motivations for doing certain things weren't the least bit rational but I loved the way she would always want to protect her younger brother, Jared, and her parents as well, which I know - if I were in her shoes and in her current situation - that I too would do the same thing as her, so I loved her character for that.

Alongside Janelle on this crazy journey of hers, there was also the enigma of the love interest, Ben Michaels, whom was probably my favourite character in the entire book. I mean his other friends were pretty cool, but Ben had really cut it into my hottie books. Without revealing too much about his character arc (because that would spoil everything in the storyline) I will say the thing I loved most about Ben was how the author had written him in - you know, when the author continually makes you question whether or not you should trust this particular boy or not and I love those types of boys and their mysterious ways. Sure, it's clear to everyone that Ben is hiding something important from Janelle (it's so obvious) but all in all I trusted him, and by the end of the book I was 'kind of' in love with him. Heck, ditch Janelle already and give me a book all in Ben's POV right now . . . yes, yes thank you Elizabeth Norris! *wink wink* Loved him!

Overall, UNRAVELLING may not have been the book I was expecting nor did it exactly blow me away in the way I hoped it would, but it was good enough to make me still want to read the sequel and it'll be interesting what happens next in the life of Janelle and Ben considering what happened at the very end.

The Rating 3 1/2 / 5 stars
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