Thursday, January 31, 2013

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 359pgs

The Story

An new vision of knights, dragons, and the fair maiden caught in between . . .

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisite debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

The Review

SERAPHINA was one of those books I was really, really looking forward most to reading last year - there was no denying that. Just by the cover alone I knew I had to read this book because like most readers out there in the blogger world I have a weakness when it comes to reading a medieval type of book and pretty much anything containing dragons in them, so clearly I was hoping for a real winner here in Rachel Hartman's debut book, the first in a trilogy. But as much as I wanted to enjoy the story and take a delightful bite of this book with two very greedy hands of mine, unfortunately I was quite disappointed by this book as I couldn't quite feel the magic that others had felt in previous book reviews that I've read in the past.

Personally for me, the characters were the main problem here. Not that they weren't interesting enough, it was the fact that I couldn't quite keep up with the names of the characters and I couldn't quite place them in certain situations (knowing who is who and what they do, you know?), so that lead me to be really confused by the characters and I often had to refer to the character name list featured at the back of the book to check whether I got the right person or not. So in that case it was rather a pity about that. But in the other aspects of the book, while the light romance was 'just okay' for me but I couldn't feel myself immersing in the romances, the storyline and the overall relationships that people formed, so the only real thing that got me invested was the dragon mythology and like any mythology buff, I quite enjoyed that part and I wanted far more of it.

Overall, SERAPHINA is definitely a book I would recommend to readers of Throne of Glass and Firelight because this book contained some similar elements to those titles . . . elements I find you might enjoy more than I did myself. So even though I wasn't too excited about how the book ended, but I might consider reading the sequel in hopes it will improve my opinion of the series so fingers crossed for me!

The Rating
2 1/2 / 5 stars

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Echo by Alyson Noel

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 352pgs

The Story

Daire Santos has already saved her grandmother's life and her soul. But at a cost: the Richter family has been let loose in the Lowerworld. Daire and her boyfriend Dace Richter must work together to find them before chaos ensues and the balance between good and evil is destroyed. As their relationship deepens, Dace's evil brother Cade grows stronger than ever, building his power and forcing Daire and Dace to confront the horrifying prophecy that has brought them all together. It will leave Daire no choice but to claim her true destiny as Seeker, but only by making an unthinkable sacrifice.

The Review

A big thanks to Pan Macmillan for sending me a review copy of this book!

After loving Alyson Noel's Fated so much more than her other young adult series Immortals, which had fell quite short for me, there was still this great and sudden excitement swooping in when I began reading this second installment of Noel's newest series!

ECHO, the second installment of the Soul Seekers series, is centered around the very intense and  sweet blossoming relationship between Daire and Dace, and how they must find a way to put a stop to Dace's evil twin brother, Cade, who wants nothing more than to destroy them both and take over the world like most evil villains like to do. In the beginning of the book Daire and Dace's relationship is finally beginning to go somewhere until Cade slowly bides his time in making sure their romance does not last long and with him getting stronger by the day - with his brother growing weaker also - there is this undeniable truth that Cade might just succeed so Daire must muster all of the strength and love she can to put a stop Cade once and for all. But the question is . . . is she able to do it? Even if it means losing Dace in the end.

To put it simply, I loved this sequel just as much as the first book. Whether it had a lot to do with the sharings of POVs between our two main characters, Daire and Dace, or because it was a much darker storyline than the first book, I think what did it for me the most was that ECHO just had a much clearer storyline and it certainly answered a lot of my questions from the previous book, Fated, which was a very nice surprise since most series continue to baffle me with the details. Another thing to point out and without spoiling, what I enjoyed about this book was how we got to know and understand Daire - not to mention her own destiny - and seeing how her relationship develops more with Dace. I can't deny that those two are super cute together. Even though Dace's perspective was interesting and perhaps a little too . . . hard to connect with from time to time but I do love those two together and I really hope everything works out for them both in the next book because there are a lot of complicated events happening in the book and that's just beyond cruel. So cruel indeed.

Overall, ECHO was a very surprising sequel and I'm glad it lived up to my expectations. With a plot that grows darker by the second and with love trying to conquer all, I think many readers will enjoy this book and it's definitely one of my favourites coming from this author . . . like ever!

The Rating
4 1/2 / 5 stars

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Stone Demon by Karen Mahoney

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Flux

Pages: 336pgs

The Story

After being tricked into opening the doorway to the Demon Realm by Aliette, the Wood Queen, Donna Underwood is faced with a terrible ultimatum from the newly released demon hordes. They demand that the alchemists deliver the Philosopher's Stone, or their reaper storm will plunge the world into a devastating modern-day Dark Age.

Donna is sent to London, England, where she must complete her alchemist's training and learn how to recreate the Stone. But time is running out. Between facing the vengeful demon king, Demian, and collecting the Stone's elements, Donna realizes she must give her own life in order to succeed. And this time, even braving death may not be enough to save the world.

The Review

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

After loving the first book The Iron Witch and unfortunately not loving the sequel The Wood Queen as much as that first beloved book, I didn't particularly have any high hopes for this final book of the trilogy and I'm really glad I didn't set myself up for that because this book didn't do much for me. While entertaining in certain sections of the book along with some interesting mythologies and some interesting - and perhaps funny - dialogue exchanged between some of my favourite characters, but as far as the plot goes and as far as the ending went for all of the characters involved . . . unfortunately this book was a major disappointment and I'll only say lightly.

I think what had really affected my opinion of the book overall was the ending itself. It didn't feel like . . . well . . it didn't feel like anything really. I mean, I felt a bit cheated to be honest with you, especially from what I've read and what all of the characters have all been through to get to that final part of the book, however I do understand why the author did what she did but . . . it still left me disappointed. Sadly. Although the parts that I did enjoy was getting to know the main character's love interest, Xan, a bit more and learning more about his past and how he came to be the awesome Xan. But that part only went so far for me as well and as much as I hate to say this but . . . that's pretty much the only great thing about this book. *bows head down* Sorry to the author but it just wasn't my kind of book, even if I loved the first book so, so much.

Overall, don't let my review stop you in reading this final book because there are still some very entertaining things inside this book and there are several opinions that I've read that do not necessarily follow my own. So if you have already read the first two books, then I'm sure many of you will enjoy THE STONE DEMON regardless of this review as many fans of this series loved this book too, so please go and check it out to find out for yourselves!

The Rating
1/5 stars

Monday, January 28, 2013

Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 336pgs

The Story

Camelia Hammond's trying junior year of high school is finally over...but her troubles aren't. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island. Determined to put family - and boyfriend - drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork.

At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who is missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. She finds a blog by someone named Neal Moche, a psychometric who might have clues to Sasha's whereabouts. There is something familiar about Neal, and Camelia realizes how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.

But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers if she's to save her. Will the lessons Camelia has learned in the past give her the strength to do so?

The Review

Right from the very beginning I had loved this series - from the smallest of romances to the utter suspense of the mysterious storylines, I just loved this series because I'm such a sucker for any sort of thriller and mysteries types of stories. But, like with some other readers, I had also experienced some ups and downs with this series as well and had found the story to be too predictable at times. Regardless, I still found the fifth and final installment of the Touch series, DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS, to be by far my favourite of the entire book series and I'm glad I felt this way as it is sad - yet again - to say goodbye to another favourite series of mine!

DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS is equally intriguing as its previous installments, only this time round it had really laid down all of the cards onto the table. It really did. Not to mention the romance finally takes a primary focus of the book, which was great to read about as well as I've been longing for the romance to take control and play an important part to the story - not just come and go as its pleases. But as for those fans of the series who really needed a conclusion to the whole romance aspect of the storyline, we also finally get to see the actual conclusion between the whole Ben-Camelia-Adam love triangle saga and I'm sure many readers will be pleased by its ending to that saga . . . I certainly was because I literally kept going back and forth between both of the boys and it was really hard and hurtful for my shipper heart, okay? Hehe. But trust me here . . . you're going to love the final conclusion to it all.

Regarding the characters I thought each one of them - from the main characters to the supporting ones - had really shined in this book, more so than in the previous installments which was great because each of the characters have their own quirks and ones I admire them for individually. Sure when it comes to this book neither character was entirely perfect and the story may have been a little predictable in terms of what each character's own actions were going to be like, but I loved the characters back in the previous books and I still continued to love them in this final book as well.

Camelia for one, the main character, was someone that really improved for me in this particular book and as we finally get to know more about her past and what secrets have been kept for her for so long, I had actually formed some great respect for her and I loved the way she handled things (all the complications in her life) . . . even when she made a few mistakes too. But the shining star for me was Ben, one of her two love interests. Now for once, Ben finally got some of the spotlight and boy did I miss his character on the page. Honestly, even when some readers found him too creepy and too bad-boy-ish for his own good, but I've always loved Ben's character as he has always played a prominent role in this book series and despite his stubbornness in loving our Camelia . . . again I just love him to bits and wait until you read this book because he's amazing in it! I mean seriously . . . he and Camelia are just meant to be. Sorry Adam! I did love you once but you disappointed me way too much in this book.

Overall, DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS was exactly what I needed in this final installment of the Touch series and while it may have needed more oomph in the storyline, but I can't really complain here because I really enjoyed book in the end and I'm really sad to see all of the story - the mysteries and the heartache of Camelia's life - come to a beautiful end.

The Rating
5/5 stars

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blogspiration (3): Wrong Choices, Right Places


Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.




This is my third blogspiration post! I hope you enjoy this next quote!

Now I don't know about you guys but I've made some wrong choices - here and there -  in my life. But the main thing is . . . you SHOULDN'T have to regret them! In fact, I certainly don't because life is all about mistakes and learning to live by them, right? So when it comes to this quote in particular, I find it's all about unconditional acceptance and learning how to say to yourself, "Sure, I've made mistakes. It's not a bad thing. Use those mistakes to create something better for yourself." It really does help you!

As for these wrong choices leading to something greater and using an example of my own, when it came to my last year of high school I wanted to go to university straightaway after graduation but instead . . . I took a year off and another year off to search for something that I didn't know too much about (which can also be known as what I wanted to do with my entire life) which - according to what I wanted back in high school - wasn't my plan at all. Did I regret that decision I made? Maybe. Maybe not. I mean, maybe I should have done that course I got into after high school because I would have finished it by now but . . . I already made that choice in not attending university as of yet and I'm glad for that wrong choice I made because now, with me now attending university, I've learnt quite a lot about myself as a person and I'm much more mature now too . . . so my wrong choice ended up coming the right one for me and I'm thankful for it.

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this quote, at least to me, means we got to remind ourselves every once in a while of our own past mistakes and see how - once we experience them - our goals or whatever plan we lay out in front of ourselves doesn't necessarily always go our way and that's a good thing I reckon. Life isn't about getting everything you want and plan for (unless you're really lucky hehe) . . . it's about working hard to achieve those goals! For me and what I do constantly, I always go back to that WRONG CHOICE I made in the past - whether I like it or not - because it gives me a greater perspective of myself and allows to me to see where I want to go next.

So what about you? What inspires you today?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 288pgs

The Story

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning.

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

The Review

LEVEL 2 is one of those books with an interesting concept and you couldn't help but be intrigued by it and instantly grab it. While I found Lenore Appelhans's writing solid, unique, and quirky for the most part, but unfortunately I felt like something was majorly 'missing' in the plot and it just didn't live up to my expectations . . . as sad as it is.

As far as the plot goes, it was alright. Sure it may have been confusing at times and repetitive too (even a little slow here and there as well) as it switches back and forth between the past and present quite a lot, but it was still an alright read for me. As for the character side things, I thought Felicia was a great main character to have and placed behind this particular storyline setting but much like with the story itself, I just couldn't quite connect with her. Whether it was because of the lack of depth with her character or something else. . . I'm not entirely sure here. So I think the only highlight I found was the character named Julian, someone Felicia meets towards the beginning of the book, and whom was probably my favourite character out of all of them. He was the only one I found engaging and gave me reason to continue with this story, so it'll be interesting where his character fits in in the next sequel, Level 3, coming out next year!

Overall, LEVEL 2 is a good book worth reading and I'll still continue with this series despite not enjoying this book as much as I wanted to. With the world being really different compared to most YA books out there lately, I think anyone who is a fan of Beth Revis's Across the Universe or anything sci-fi-related will definitely enjoy this book!

The Rating
2 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Spider Goddess by Tara Moss

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 348pgs

The Story

It's been two months since Pandora English left her small hometown to live with her mysterious great-aunt in a haunted mansion in Spektor – the fog-wreathed suburb of Manhattan that doesn't appear on any map. With the help of her great-aunt and the beautiful – but dead – Lieutenant Luke, Pandora is beginning to understand the significance of the Lucasta family heritage her late mother kept secret from her. Pandora is heir to a great gift. And with that comes frightening responsibility . . .

Meanwhile, she seems doomed to be forever underestimated in the mortal world. Her fashion editor boss doesn't seem to know she exists. But New York needs Pandora's special gifts. There is a new designer in town, and her ambitions extend far beyond taking over the fashion world one knit at a time . . .

The Review

Having enjoyed the first book, The Blood Countess, I was really looking forward to seeing where the sequel would take us to next to. For the next book, THE SPIDER GODDESS, Tara Moss's second installment of her paranormal Pandora English series, it most certainly does not disappoint its readers. Highly engrossing, super fun, creepy and perfect for any paranormal fan out there, I think a lot of readers should consider reading this series because it's pretty awesome to put in one way!

I won't get into too much detail since I don't want to spoil the events that occurred in the first book, but the one thing that made me crawl was the spiders in this book . . . just like it was mentioned in the book title alone. Trust me, the descriptions of the spiders and how they were crawling on everybody in this book just had really freaked me out even though it's all fictional. I just hate spiders so it's a good job the main character, Pandora, is not afraid of them because I was. She's definitely braver than I am. But what I did love in this sequel this time round (apart from all those damn spiders) was how we learned much more about our main character and her family, it certainly does answer a few questions that I had from the first book.

Overall, THE SPIDER GODDESS was another great follow-up to the paranormal series of Tara Moss's and even though it is only part of a series I think this book can really stand alone just as well. Plotted with very strong female characters, interesting story turn-points, and some pretty cool mythology in the works, I'm sure many readers will enjoy this sequel as much as they enjoyed the first book in the series and I would definitely recommend it!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars

Renegade by J.A. Souders

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Tor Teen

Pages: 352pgs

The Story

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. 

Her memories have been altered. 

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. 

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

The Review

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

Before even reading the actual book, I thought J.A. Sounders's debut had something pretty special about it and that 'something' it certainly DID have indeed. It may have been strong towards the beginning of the book and may have fell a little flat towards the end of it, but there was still a great element there in the book to keep me reading it and that's all I can really ask for in a book . . . to make me WANT to read more!

RENEGADE was so . . . ODD. Good but mostly odd. Without going into heavy details over it, on a whole I really enjoyed this book but the only problem I had with it was the believability of the story (it was really hard to keep up with at times) and the love that was far too quickly escalating between two of the main characters. Now I know not everything has to be realistic but this book was run by a lot of psychotic villains who had no good reasons for doing so if that makes sense to you all . . . I just didn't understand WHY they were doing the things they were doing and caused a main problem for me in the book. As for the romance section of the book, that too was formed far too quickly for my taste and because of the quick romance it just didn't really allow time for the main characters to grow and make me like them but . . . what's done is done and I sincerely hope the sequel brings more of that development to a new head because I enjoyed this book and the concept it offered.

Overall, I thought RENEGADE may have been a really odd book but it still managed to bring some originality to the young adult genre, which was probably the reason why I gave this book a higher star rating. Sure it may not have been a great favourite book of mine last year, but I'll still be continuing with the series just to see what else happens next. So, if you want to read about a world that is - literally - underwater or something that is definitely unique and stands on its own without being compared to other book titles, then I would highly recommend this book! It's not perfect but it's very enjoyable regardless!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Blood Countess by Tara Moss

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Pages: 389pgs

The Story

Pandora English is no ordinary small town orphan. When she's invited to live with her mysterious Great-Aunt Celia in New York City, she seizes the opportunity to escape her stifling hometown break from her tragic past and make it as a writer. Things, however, are not what she is expecting. For starters, her great-aunt's Gothic mansion is in a mist-wreathed Manhattan suburb that doesn't appear on maps. And then there's Celia herself - a former designer to the stars of Hollywood's Golden Age - who is elegant, unnaturally young and always wearing a veil. Pandora lands a job at a fashion magazine and her first assignment is covering the A-list launch of the latest miracle cream, Blood of Youth. But something is not right about the product, nor Athanasia, the drop-dead beautiful face of the brand. It seems there may be a secret ingredient in Blood of Youth, a secret worth killing for...

The Review

I have been a small-time fan of Tara Moss's adult crime books so when I heard she was moving into the paranormal genre, I thought it would be really perfect for her. Now I've owned this book for a couple of years now and it's been sitting on my bookshelf for what seems like forever and I do remember reading some of the book but I never quite finished it due to a busy schedule of mine. However now, after finally reading and finishing it, I enjoyed it immensely.

THE BLOOD COUNTESS has a little bit of everything needed in a paranormal book - including elements of well-hidden conspiracies, century-year-old ghosts, intriguing vampires, and all sorts of villains with the unusual zombie here and there. It was all needless to say an unique read and was one I could see many enjoying as well.

While we are surrounded with plenty of entertaining and memorable supporting characters, but Pandora's voice, the main character, had stood out the most to me as she was a pretty easy-going narrator and one I had followed through with without too many troubles along the way. So personally for me she is someone who is relatable to everyone in one shape or form because she had showed such strength in the book and never gave up in the terms of her own survival, so I think because of that . . . many readers will love her, especially towards the end of the book where she shows the most courage.

Overall, THE BLOOD COUNTESS is very cleverly written and it's a great escape from Tara Moss's usual crime-fighting world. I would highly recommended this paranormal series to those fans of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight and Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Quercus Publishing

Pages: 518pgs

The Story

Alex has escaped from Rule - but what new horrors face her in the ravaged world outside?

Tom is safe - but what will he risk to find Alex?

Chris - how much does he really know about the terrible darkness of Rule? And what are his true feelings for Alex?

Ellie - where is she?

The terrifying follow-up to the hugely popular Ashes.

The Review

SHADOWS is the much anticipated sequel to Ilsa J. Bick's debut novel Ashes. After having read and LOVED the first book of the YA dystopian trilogy, I was super keen - not to mention super excited - in picking up the sequel because for one, I was dying to know what was going to happen next to our favourite cast of characters, and two, I desperately wanted to know whether all of them - if any - would manage to survive in the end and live to tell the tale in this very bleak world of Bick's. But given that it takes quite a lot to impress me, especially when it comes to sequels to some of my favourite book series, I just knew this one had a lot of expectations to meet up with and it surely did because (oh I hate to say this even now . . . ) I just didn't fall in love with this book nor did I have the same passion as I had for the first book, even when it did have its awesome guts and glory moments that I love so, so much!

Even when I'm still so conflicted with how I truly felt about this book, but what managed to keep me there was the characters alone. The ones I love and adore. Alex, our main heroine, is stronger than ever before and kick-ass in so many ways. Unlike the damsels in distress, Alex actually knows how to survive - to fight, to shoot, to adapt to constant changes and to live - and for those readers who had actually read the first book in the series and remember the character we had meet early on, Tom, readers will definitely be pleased to know that we finally get to know what happens to him and whether he's still alive or not. Trust me you don't want to miss out on his perspective because he was a sure delight to read about despite the dire circumstances he was surrounded with much like what Alex is surrounded with also.

As for why didn't love this sequel as much as the first, I can't really put my finger on it to be honest with you. Whether it had something to do with me finding the book lacking something at times or because it just simply didn't have the same feel as I'd experienced from the first book, I don't really know . . . but I think part of the problem for me had more to do with how the storyline unfolded and what actually happened in the book. Sometimes it was slowly-paced and other times it was really fast, so I guess for me the book, SHADOWS, had this up and down thing going on - something I didn't like - and there were certain events where I wanted an explanation for it already, rather than be left with having no idea of what was actually going on and wishing something good would happen for a change, you know? Yeah . . . I guess we'll see what happens in the next installment and see whether something good will actually come along for the characters and perhaps change their awful and 'uncomfortable' circumstances.

Overall, SHADOWS was a very promising sequel but it had a very different feel compared to the first book, Ashes. That 'different feel' is not necessarily a bad thing, it just was something that didn't compel me as much nor entertained me so. With plenty of blood and gore, fans of the dystopian genre and pretty much anything with an edge to it will definitely love this sequel no matter what, or if you have not yet picked up the first book in the series then definitely do so . . . it's a real hit!

The Rating
3/5 stars

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Pages: 517pgs

The Story

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love 

and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

The Review

Laini Taylor has done some pretty amazing things with her books. So when it came to her first book in her new YA series, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, it was the type of book that was set up as some sort of a mirage to its worshipers, a total masterpiece of work with crazy-beautiful storytelling, greatly detailed mythology, and with some pretty engaging, and imaginative characters, ones I just couldn't get enough of nor let go of. So with her second installment, DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT, I was so geared up into reading the second book after hearing so many amazing things about it and even though the author still does splendid things with her newest book release, but unfortunately I wasn't as amazed with it as I had been with the first book as sad as it is to admit it to you all.

I don't want to get into the storyline too much, but I will say the plot itself headed in a direction I wasn't expecting at all. It was a good thing and a bad thing. I mean, I totally loved certain parts of the book, but there were other things too that didn't quite capture my attention as the first book did non-stop two years ago. So if I had to point it all out - the things that probably impacted my overall opinion and rating of the book, it would have to be my problems with the pacing, the stories it told, the lack of romance and how confusing some of the events came to be, but again I won't get into detail of all that except that this sequel still turned out to be a great one despite a  couple of things here and there. It was enjoyable and that's all I really need, right?

Overall, DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT was another great book coming from the very talented author, Laini Taylor, and despite it not being my favourite book as of yet in the series but I'm still eagerly anticipating the third book  installment considering how this book ended.

The Rating
4/5 stars

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Bluefields

Pages: 386pgs

The Story

When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation. 

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy. 

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?

The Review

A big thanks to the author for sending me an ebook copy of this book!

V IS FOR VIRGIN is one of those books with a great 'feminine twist' to it. To put it simply for you, it's a book where every girl can find something to relate to - somehow in some way you can relate to it. It's quirky, it's sassy, it's witty, it's romantic, and it's just the kind of book that no one should miss out on because it's really original too and packaged into a nice, little entertaining read suited to everyone's tastes (but mostly to girls obviously when you judge the title)!

I think what I really admire about this author is her writing characters and making them fight for what they believe in, whether people tend to agree with them or not. And that's exactly what this book does: It stands up, takes courage and delivers a great message of an issue that is important to the common teenager without going beyond the borderline of it, and in the end, I thought this book really does inspire its readers especially with the characters who are - in their own right - role models to us. Even for fictional ones. They have this great power about them.

Valerie, the main character, was one of those role model types of girls. She was proud to be a 'virgin' and was proud to be leading a cause in the name of it all, and in hopes others would do the same as her. Honestly, what's not to love about that? What's so wrong in standing up for what you believe in and so strongly too? What's wrong with being a virgin? That's right . . . nothing. This book took courage in that and I loved how I got swept up by it all. As for Valerie's love interest, Kyle Hamilton, he too was quite a character to read about! I wouldn't go and say he was a swoony type of character but  rather I did quite enjoy his friendly banter and flirting when it came to Valerie, not to mention how everything ended up between the two of them . . . it was sure great and I know you're going to love these two characters too. They really have great quirks!

Overall, V IS FOR VIRGIN should be re-titled as B Is For Brilliance because it was such an awesome book just like Kelly Oram's other previous titles. With some memorable characters, great character one-lines and an overall great message spreading throughout the entire storyline, I think many readers will come to appreciate this book and needless to say be really entertained by it!

The Rating
4 1/2 / 5 stars

Splintered by A.G. Howard

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 384pgs

The Story

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

The Review

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

Alice in Wonderland is probably my ultimate favourite childhood book ever and it still remains so. As a very young child I was always the one wanting to be the Alice in Wonderland, whether it'll be living out her imaginative, fantasy world, or meeting some of the most outrageous characters out there, or simply being the one enjoying the many tea parties (even if I didn't like tea) with the Mad Hatter . . . so while I will read pretty much anything with Alice in Wonderland in a book or watch a film with Alice in it as well, but with that said, I still just couldn't get into this book no matter how much and how hard I tried to. Really, I did try.

Even with the majority of readers loving this book, SPLINTERED, I think what lacked a lot for me was the uninteresting characters and how the storyline was very similar (and pretty much same old, same old with Alice loosing her marbles) to my favourite video games American McGee's Alice and its sequel Alice Madness Returns, with a slight few hints of Tim Burton's own Alice in Wonderland film creation, which turns the once so beautiful and lovely place of Wonderland into a complete, utter bleak and disastrous, ugly place. So while I do applaud the author for the great details that she managed to put into her own piece of work - very beautiful details mind you - but I felt no real connection to this book which is sad to say considering I was very much looking forward to this particular title based on the many high praising reviews on it. But in the end . . . I guess that's what happens to readers now and again . . . some will love it and others not so much.

Overall, SPLINTERED wasn't necessarily a bad book but rather it wasn't the kind of book I longed for nor greatly loved. But don't let this book review stop you because there are so many readers out there that had loved, raved and non-stop praised this very pretty book up! So if you're a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland I can definitely guarantee most of you will end up loving this book, even if I didn't. It just depends what you want from a remake of a classic book!

The Rating
1/5 stars

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lullaby by Amanda Hocking

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 290pgs

The Story

Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she's ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who's devoted to helping her find her sister—and who's immune to the girls' dark powers. 

While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life. Gemma's powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new "sisters," the harder it is to resist entering their magical world. It's a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she's plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs. Just as she's drifting far away from her old life, Harper and Daniel find her...but no one can deny how much she's changed. All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she's become something else entirely—and will they still love her once they learn the truth? 

Prepare to fall under the spell of Lullaby, the second book in the Watersong series from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

The Review

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

LULLABY is the second installment of the Watersong series. In Amanda Hocking's newest adventure, the story resumes from the end of the first book, Wake, where Harper attempts to deal with the aftermath of Gemma's attempt in running away with the monstrous siren creatures - the three girls Penn, Lexi and Thea - and how she desperately wants to come up with a plan on how to save her younger sister from becoming one of them. But with her relationship being constantly tested with Daniel, a boy she is slowly starting to fall for, and with her obsession in searching for her sister, there are still so many obstacles that she must go through before finding Gemma. And as for Gemma herself, the clock is ticking for her own human life as she is slowly becoming one of the Siren sisters. But when her new, violent nature begins to rise beneath the surface, she too must figure out a way to get away from the siren girls once and for all, and return home to her family and her boyfriend, Alex, who is the person - the only person - who can make her stay human.

Now I didn't mind the first book, Wake, but it wasn't necessarily a favourite book of mine from the author. But what had improved this time round in the sequel and what had made me like this story even more than the first was finally getting to know Harper as a main character (aside from her younger sister Gemma), a character who was an okay one for me in the previous book but wasn't exactly an engaging one for me at the time. Another thing that improved was seeing another side to Gemma and one away from her family and new boyfriend, and I must admit it was great seeing her new siren nature coming out to play . . . gotta love the evil natures of an innocent character who is slowly becomes well . . . nasty. I know I am cruel. And as for the sirens themselves. . . the SIRENS are just so awesome. Plain and simple. Awesome. Whether it's the mythology or the way they want to lure people into the kill, I love everything about them and they get even better in this installment and much crueler too, so I was very happy about that.

While I won't get into the major details especially with those readers who have yet to read the first book in the series, but I will say the ending to this particular book was a total killer! I mean, I totally saw it coming my way but it was a damn right KILLER I tell you! Overall, LULLABY was a major improvement to Wake and I'm now very excited to get my hands on the third book, Tidal, which I'm sure will bring everything out of the water once more so bring on more siren action for me please!

The Rating
4/5 stars

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blogspiration (2): Never Stop Fighting


Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.




This is my second blogspiration post! I hope you enjoy my next quote!



I love, love, LOVE this quote by E.E. Cummings! I can relate to it so much like all of us individuals. To me, this quote means it's hard to be yourself nowadays because the world is constantly trying to change you - sometimes for the better but others times for the worse too - and beat you down while it's at it.

So instead of allowing those people (whoever they are and the obstacles they may throw at you) to drag you down and become something you are NOT, this quote can help guide and inspire you as all it's trying to say is . . . you should never be nobody else but YOURSELF. Stay true to who you ARE and you will get by no problem. Life is always going to be a continuous battle - for you and me both - but why not fight it with the one person you know best? YOURSELF. There's a reason why we are made differently and teach others in our own special way so never stop fighting!

So what about you? What inspires you today?

The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Double Day

Pages: 416pgs

The Story

A stunning blend of romance, horror and magic.

For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It's all she's ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose - she's protective of the magic, and is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. But one morning while Mab is attempting a particularly tricky spell, she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise a few personal demons of his own. He experiences Mab's magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But soon, secrets that were kept from Mab by earlier generations of blood magicians are revealed, and she and Will are drawn back together, united against a dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.

The Review

Blood Magic was one of my favourite books from 2011 and I was really looking forward to reading this sequel, even though I was quite disappointed to find out that it was not a continuation from the characters we met in the first book of this YA series but rather a continuation with newly introduced characters and an entirely new story instead. THE BLOOD KEEPER may not have beaten my love for Tessa Gatton's debut book, but there was enough there in the sequel to keep me entertained - with blood (trust me there's lot's of it and boy I loved it), romance, spells and all sorts of deadly things hidden beyond our reach, it's all there for witchy fans out there like myself.

THE BLOOD KEEPER, unlike its predecessor, takes quite some time in getting use to as it builds gradually with the storyline and with its characters. Even with it being rather slow in pacing and with me not being entirely sure about the book itself and where it's heading, I still managed to connect with the book on a whole and it gave me enough time to get the feel of the book . . . eventually. To make up for the slowness it would have to be Tessa Gratton's beautiful writing, the way she makes you feel the heat of Kansas and the chills when the blood is being smeared in - and on - dozens of places . . . it was needless to say a joy to read and one I take pleasure in reading.

Regarding the new set of characters, they may not have been a huge favourite of mine but I still enjoyed their own tales that were told to me. Told in two perspectives we get to meet the characters, Mab and Will, along with some extra special chapters which are told in another perspective of letters by Evelyn and Arthur. Mab was a great character to have in the backdrop of this Kansas setting. She was quirky, confident, comfortable in her own skin, and was someone just so content with her life, even one full of unspeakable magics and dark things of the past. She was just a blast to read about!

But I think - all in all - my favourite character out of everyone would have to be Will, the love interest of Mab. Will was someone who was the complete opposite to Mab, an element that was so cleverly used and yet one that I loved the most as these 'opposite ends' complemented the two characters very well. But unlike the confident and bright Mab, Will is pretty uncertain about his life and he always seemed lonely to me. But when Mab comes into the picture . . . it somehow changes him and I think for the better. I guess the thing I loved most about Will's character, without spoiling too much here, was that he was the character that I felt was so real to me - you know, believable.  He's someone I think readers will instantly connect with in some way and I hope you do connect with him because he's definitely a terrific character to have in this story. He kind of reminded me of the other leading boy in the first book of the series, Blood Magic, Nick, so if you have read the first book you will definitely enjoy reading about Will also. Especially if you loved Nick like I did!

Overall, while meeting the new and the old characters of this series, I truly felt THE BLOOD KEEPER was the perfect addition to the series. It may not have captivated me from the start like Blood Magic did, but when you overlook the slow pace and the less-favorable set of characters you're still left with an intriguing storyline and one you must finish until the very end!

The Rating
4/5 stars

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Pages: 307pgs

The Story

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention - but it's Gemma who's attracted theirs. She's the only they've chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all - she's carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He's always been just a friend, but this summer they've taken their relationship to the next level, and now there's no going back. Then one night, Gemma's ordinary life changes forever. She's taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she's forced to choose between staying with those she loves - or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

The Review

After finishing Amanda Hocking's Trylle series, a series that I enjoyed immensely despite some of its critics, I was really looking forward to seeing what else the author would put up onto the reading table. Wake, the first of a new young adult trilogy, was a very promising start to a series and even with the smallest of flaws I was still entranced by the entire tale weaved together by some beautiful oceans, cutesy romances and some of the most deadliest of mythological creatures known to us all.

Now unlike the author's previous series, WAKE is told from two points-of-view by two sisters, the youngest sister, Gemma, and her slightly older sister, Harper, who couldn't be anymore different to one another. However, the tale is mostly focused on Gemma, an aspiring sixteen-year-old Olympic swimmer whom is caught up in a deadly scheme by three insanely beautiful-but-strange girls that are new to the small seaside town, Penn, Lexi and Thea. These three girls may seem innocent at first, but unknown to most, these strangers want Gemma for one purpose and for one purpose only, one that you will find out about soon enough. But when Gemma wakes up one morning - scratched, bruised, alone, and wrapped in a gold fishing net, and when people within the small seaside town begin to disappear and be found dead, it's up to Gemma, her sister, and some possible new love interests for both of the girls to figure out what's going on . . . before Gemma becomes something wrong and monstrous.

Okay I'll go ahead and say it! I wasn't necessarily blown away by this title compared to Hocking's other YA series and because of my own reasonings, but I did get sucked into the story regardless. What stood out for me in this book personally was not the romance but the friendship and the overall relationships that were shared between the two sisters, Gemma and Harper, and I loved how those two interacted with one another and with me getting to see what sisters are really like under one roof. A secret part of me admits, since being the only child, wished I had this type of sister kinship in my life because I love reading about it!

When it comes to the characters, Gemma and Harper can easily be depicted as being different for obvious reasons and more so in their personalities than anything else. Harper, being the oldest sister, was much more likable and I could see much of myself in her to relate to since she was the one being the strongest, the most head-strong and just the kind of girl who thinks before she acts. Gemma, on the other hand, was the impulsive sister, the one who is a bit more selfish than most and was too often caught up in the moment than one should be, leading her into some pretty dangerous situations. But on a whole, I loved these two sisters and I really enjoyed their own sets of adventures along the way. The same goes with the villains of the story, Penn, Lexi, and Thea, the newbies in the town.

Ahhhhhhhh, these three girls were my favourite part of the book. There was something so wrong about them and yet so right at the same time too. I mean, by reading the plot and learning about Penn, Lexi and Thea as you go along, it was pretty darn obvious what they were from the very beginning, but do keep in mind they are not what you first might believe them to be and once all of the mythology is out in the open (myths that are a little confusing at first), you will soon begin to be mesmerized by these three strange girls and desperately wanting to know more and more about them and what exactly they are up to. Trust me here: You feel like you should stay away from these girls and yet you just . . . can't!

But unlike the girls in WAKE, what I struggled with the most with was the romance introduced to the storyline and it was probably the reason why I didn't give this book a higher star rating. The romance kind of ruined it for me to be honest with you all, it really did. Both sisters, Gemma and Harper, have their own set of romances throughout the book but that's the thing . . . romances are supposed to knock you on your feet and fly banners for the boy's teams, but for whatever reason I found the romance was too bland and too insta-love for my liking, more so for Gemma's love interest that happened far too quickly. Hmm, I guess you will have to be judge of it yourselves when you come to read this book and see what you think in the end of it.

Overall, while I wasn't totally amazed by WAKE but with a heart-stopping ending and so many questions left imprinted on my mind, I have to say I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of its sequel, Lullaby, which is out now!

The Rating
3 1/2 / 5 stars
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