31 July 2012

Cover Reveal: Rua by Miranda Kavi

Isn't this g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s? I love the colours, because Purple rules!

Book Details:

Rua by Miranda Kavi
Expected Pub: September 3, 2012

A girl with an unknown destiny.

A boy from a hidden world.

When Celeste starts at a new school in a small, Kansas town, she hears whispering voices, has vivid nightmares, and swarms of blackbirds follow her every move. She is oddly drawn to aloof Rylan, the other new student who has his own secrets.

The exact moment she turns seventeen, she wakes to a bedroom full of strange creatures, purple light emanating from her hands, and Rylan breaking in through her bedroom window.

He knows what she is . . .

Intriguing and deeply romantic, RUA is page-turning YA novel with a supernatural twist.

Author Bio:

Miranda Kavi is a YA and Urban Fantasy author. She has worked as an attorney, an executive recruiter, and an assistant in a biological anthropology lab. She loves scary movies, museums, and is hopelessly addicted to chocolate. She lives in the Houston area with her husband and daughter.

Author Links

This cover reveal was brought to you by the letter B - the fabulous Bookish Brunette Blog Tours!
BB Book Tours

30 July 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #24

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.

What I Read Last Week
Slow week again!
Eyewall by H.W. Bernard
Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

What I'm Reading This Week
My Zombie My by Jack Wallen
Burn by Heath Gibson
Want by Stephanie Lawton

So, what are you reading this week?  Any tips for me to get my reading game back on?

29 July 2012

The Sunday Session #14

Man, I've been on holiday for four days and read ONE book so far. My dreams of kicking my TBR's arse is not going so well. But I can only keep trying!

New Books

The Testimony by James Smythe
Angel by Mary E. Kingsley
Threads That Bind by Brant Williams

And with the announcement there will be a fourth book in the Jenny Pox series, I realised I still needed books 2 and 3 to read!
Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan
Alexander Death by J.L. Bryan 

For Review
Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins (thank you HarlequinTeen)
Frozen by Mary Casanova (thank you University of Minnesota Press)
Speechless by Hannah Harrington (thank you HarlequinTeen)

Last Week's Stuff
Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Review: Walking With Zombies by Ian Woodhead
Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Feature: Christmas in July
Feature: It's Monday, What Are You Reading #23
Giveaway: Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop (ends 1 August)

Next Week's Bits
Ummmm....I'm a tiny bit disorganised, so I'm not sure yet. Oops.

Let me know what you got this week!

28 July 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Expected Publication: 31 July 2012 by HarlequinTeen

Pages: 384 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary

Source: Publisher for review

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (Goodreads)

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

My Thoughts

Contemporary YA and I have a rocky relationship - more often than not, I find them to be cheesy, unrealistic, or I just cannot connect with the characters. So I was more than a little wary going in to Pushing the Limits.

The characters, coupled with an intense story-line are what really made this book for me. I thought Echo was a great female character - smart and witty, yet vulnerable, with some pretty intense personal issues, and Noah, the bad-boy-on-the-outside with a heart of gold and a determination that was nothing short of admirable. The supporting characters - social workers, Echo and Noah's friends and family were all realistic in their actions and there was no cookie-cutter perfection.

Katie McGarry writes in such a way that you can't help but be completely sucked into the story - it's addictive, realistic and heart-breaking, all at the same time.

The plot of Pushing the Limits is incredibly well thought out - Echo's difficulties with her father and step-mother were realistic, and the gradual revealing of both Echo and Noah's stories kept my attention, and broke my heart, all the way through the book.

Only one thing stops me from giving this book five stars - some of the cheesy, cliched lines that, although they didn't dominate the dialogue, made me inwardly cringe a few times. But on the flip side, there were also some parts that made my cynical heart melt.

Pushing the Limits ends in just the right way - a great reflection of the character's growth, whilst being realistic - it wasn't a neat little package, but definitely wrapped things up nicely.

27 July 2012

TGIF - Christmas in July

It's Friday! And that means it's TGIF at GReads!

And this week's TGIF is: Christmas in July: If Santa were to come down your chimney in the middle of summer, which books would you want him to leave for you under the tree?

There are very few books that I endlessly stalk until their release date, but there's always a few exceptions. And this is the one that I'd consider selling my soul for:

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake

I loved Anna Dressed in Blood, and I've been eagerly awaiting the release of the second book ever since reading Anna - the good news is, this one is released on August 7th - only 10 days away!

Which books would you harass Santa for?

26 July 2012

Giveaway: Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Colorimety it's the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop. Yep, summer is FINALLY here in the Netherlands, and about time too! What better thing to do on those hot days than laze around with a good book.

So I'm giving away one book of choice from The Book Depository, up to a value of EUR 10.00
. Just enter via the Rafflecopter and hop through the other blogs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25 July 2012

Review: Walking With Zombies by Ian Woodhead

Walking With Zombies (Zombie Armageddon #2) by Ian Woodhead

Published: 8 July 2011

Pages: 108 (ebook)

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Stockholm Club.

Have we got a special treat for you tonight! We’re privileged to have with us, a highly talented county and western singer, all the way from exotic Birmingham. I know that you’ll give the lad a fantastic Yorkshire welcome.

Don’t forget, the first drink is on the house.

Now before all you geriatric parasites slouch over to the bar and start making your way through my alcohol, I’d just also like to mention that there is a chance that some of my staff may turn into flesh eating zombies as the night wears on.

In fact, I think I can confidently predict that most of you will resemble jackal stripped zebra carcasses before the dawn sun makes an appearance.

So please enjoy tonight’s live entertainment and drink like there’s no tomorrow. Let’s face it; you ain’t going to be seeing it.

Despite attempts to quarantine the Breakspear housing estate, the infection has somehow spread further into the city. Whole neighbourhoods are falling to the undead plague.

On the outskirts, the staff and customers of the Stockholm Club have no idea that the moaning dead are slowly shambling towards them

My Thoughts

I read The Unwashed Dead, the first book in the Zombie Armageddon series by Ian Woodhead last year, and I really enjoyed the setting and the grimy goriness of Mr. Woodhead's storytelling. So I was more than excited to start reading Walking With Zombies.

Set in the North of England, with regular-joe kind of characters, and some seriously gross zombie action, I was hooked into the story right from the beginning. As a short book (almost novella size), it's almost essential to jump straight into the fray, but Mr. Woodhead does it in a way that also gives the characters a chance to shine.

From mummys-boy Dominic, to the truly screwed up Talbot, and a slew of characters that fall victim to the undead horde in any number of creative ways, all the characters are realistic and easily distinguishable from each other. The dialogue rings completely true, and there's a real feeling of a gritty northern town. Although the story jumps between several characters, it works very well as a way of both introducing characters and showing exactly what is going down around the town.

Walking With Zombies is not a continuation of The Unwashed Dead, it is more of a parallel story, set mostly in and around the Stockholm Club, and has even more of the zombie craziness than the first book - along with some pretty unique ideas on infection and spread of the virus. Several pop-culture references made me smile, and some truly stomach-turning scenes made me wince.

I devoured this book within a couple of hours, and I can't wait to read the next one in the series.

24 July 2012

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard

Published: 24 July 2012 by HarperTeen

Pages: 400 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Paranormal, Steampunk

Source: Publisher for review via Edelweiss

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (Goodreads)

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

My Thoughts

I'm going to start this review with a disclaimer. From the synopsis of this book I had a very different expectation than was the reality. This is not really a book about zombies at all, but more of a steampunk mystery that includes spirit-hunters and necromancers.

Because of that expectation, I didn't really start to enjoy this book until somewhere around the 200 page mark - I found the first half, although it starts with an actioned-packed scene, wasn't really going anywhere. The main character, Eleanor, spent a lot of time investigating and trying to find out where her brother was, whilst trying to avoid the slightly (ok, more than slightly) annoying Clarence.

Eleanor herself was a good main character with a balance of bravery and smart-arsedness, but not of the arrogant kind - more of a slightly rebellious teenager who still wants to do the right and proper thing as much as possible and as the book progressed I liked her more and more. I enjoyed the blossoming romance between Eleanor and Daniel, and he was probably my favorite character of the whole book.

The writing is fairly straightforward, if a little heavy on the exclamation points, and the formality of the dialogue was realistic to the timeframe, if some of the relationships (such as that between Clarence and Eleanor) progressed much faster than would have been normal, or socially acceptable in the 1870s.

In the end, I did enjoy Something Strange and Deadly, and probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't started out with different expectations. If you enjoy reading historical mysteries with a bit of steampunk and romance thrown in for good measure, I'm sure you would enjoy this one.

23 July 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #23

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.

I haven't done one of these posts for a few weeks now - but I've finally read enough to make it worthwhile!

Books Read Last Week

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (my review HERE)
Walking with Zombies by Ian Woodhead
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Wave by Will Mara
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

What I'm Reading Next Week
Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien
Big Frog by Rob Badcock

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

If you're participating in It's Monday, leave me a link, or just tell me what you're reading!

22 July 2012

The Sunday Session #13

Finally, things are getting back to some kind of normal - so much that I could actually finish reading more than one book this week - and as of Thursday I'm on holiday from work for two weeks! Two weeks of just slobbing about the house, reading and sleeping - oh man, I can't wait!

New Books
A Suitable Husband by S.B. Lerner (thank you to the author)
Deadlocked 5 by A.R. Wise
The Last Pilgrims by Michael Bunker
Land by Theresa Shaver
Dies the Fire by S.M. Sterling

Last Weeks BitsReview: Wanted Dead or Undead by Angela Scott
Review: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Review: Timepiece by Myra McEntire
Review: Ping by Susan Lowry
Discussion: What About the Nice Authors
Discussion: Blogger Obligations
Feature: Review Copy Clean-Up

Don't forget to check out the July New Release Giveaway Hop (ends July 31)

What's Coming Up Next Week
Reviews of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard and Walking with Zombies by Ian Woodhead.

Leave me links, I'm finally back to full Sunday Session-ism, yay!

21 July 2012

Review: Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Published: 17 July 2012 by Knopf Doubleday

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Publisher for review

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More Info: Chris Bohjalian's website

Synopsis (Goodreads)

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the “Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

My Thoughts

Hands up who's heard of the Amernian genocide during World War I? I certainly hadn't, so when I learnt that Chris Bohjalian's newest book drew from both his own Armenian background, and the Armenian genocide, it instantly had my attention.

Told in alternating POVs and across two timeframes, The Sandcastle Girls is set in 1915 Syria and 2012 USA, as an author seeks more information on her grandparents, Armenian Armen and Bostonian Elizabeth and the atrocities of the Armenian genocide, something that was hinted at, but never spoken openly about. Unexpectedly, there is also a dip into the horrific failure of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign that really hit home with me as an Australian.

This is a gripping, emotional, intense read that took me on a journey through a part of history that I, ignorantly, know very little about. The writing is languid yet intense, and sympathetically tells a shocking story, whilst encompassing a love story that seems improbable but is completely believable.

The characters are so varied, yet so connected to each other that there was not a single POV that I didn't enjoy as much as the others - from the main characters through to the damaged girl, Hatoum, the German engineers, the outwardly calm yet inwardly broken Nevart - all were vivid, realistic chacters.

The Sandcastle Girls is certainly not a book for the light-hearted, and there were times I literally had to step away from it to stop my emotions boiling over - the plight of the Armenians is incredibly heartbreaking and at times gruesome. This is a book that will stick with me for a long, long time, and if you have any interest in this subject at all, I can highly recommend The Sandcastle Girls.

20 July 2012

Review: Wanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott

Wanted: Dead or Undead (The Zombie West Series #1) by Angela Scott

Published: 19 March 2012

Pages: 220 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Zombie, Western, Romance

Source: Author for review

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More Info: Angela Scott's blog

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Trace Monroe doesn’t believe in luck. He never has. But when a fiery-headed cowgirl saunters through the saloon doors, wielding shotguns and a know-how for killing the living dead, he believes he just may be the luckiest man alive.

Trace wants to join "Red’s" posse, but she prefers to work alone—less messy that way. In order to become her traveling companion, Trace has to agree to her terms: no names, no questions, and if he gets bit, he can’t beg for mercy when she severs his brain stem. He agrees, knowing only that Red is the sharpest shooter he’s ever encountered. The fact she’s stunning hasn’t escaped his attention either.

What he doesn’t know, is that Red has a very good reason to be on top of her game. She not only has the answer for how they can all outlive the plague taking over the wild, wild west, she is the answer.

My Thoughts

When I saw this book was a zombie western romance, I was a little bit wary. I love zombies, but romance isn't my thing and I don't think I've ever read a western in my life. But I'm nothing if not adventurous, so I decided to give it a try, and I'm really glad that I did.

Told in alternating POVs of Red, a beautiful loner with a tragic past, and Trace (also known as Cowboy), who first encounters her in a wild west saloon, Wanted: Dead or Undead tells their story as they move through the country, looking for a safe haven from the zombie hordes. As their relationship moves from unwilling on Red's part, to friendship and finally love, picking up Wen and two children on their travels, Trace gradually discovers more about Red, and the secret she works so hard to hide.

I liked all the characters in this book, all are well drawn and likable, and it's impossible not to cheer for them as they make their way through some pretty hairy situations. And it's a very well written story - Angela Scott has a knack for making her words come alive on the page.

Probably my favourite part of the book, however, is Red and her secret. It's something I've seen only a few times before in zombie books and it's done exceedingly well here - but if you want to know more, you're going to have to read the book!

Although romance is really not big on my list of favourites, the romance between Trace and Red feels very natural and unforced - there's limited cheesiness and some pretty tender moments. I also enjoyed the Wild West setting - as I said earlier it's not something I've read before, but it does bring a whole new facet to zombie killing! Wanted: Dead or Undead is an enjoyable read, with some unique points, and I'll be definitely checking out the next book in the series!

19 July 2012

Review: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Timepiece (Hourglass #2) by Myra McEntire

Published: 12 June 2012 by EgmontUSA

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Paranormal

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More Info: Myra McEntire's website

This is Book 2 in the series, my review may contain spoilers (you've been warned!).  You can read my review of Hourglass HERE.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

A threat from the past could destroy the future. And the clock is ticking...

Kaleb Ballard's relentless flirting is interrupted when Jack Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, timeslips in and attacks before disappearing just as quickly. But Kaleb has never before been able to see time travelers, unlike many of his friends associated with the mysterious Hourglass organization. Are Kaleb's powers expanding, or is something very wrong?

Then the Hourglass is issued an ultimatum. Either they find Jack and the research he's stolen on the time gene, or time will be altered with devastating results.

Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their unusual powers to find Jack. But where do they even start? And when? And even if they succeed, it may not be enough...

My Thoughts

Following directly from the first book, Hourglass, Timepiece mixes things up by switching POV to Kaleb (cue hysterical girlishness), the bad-boy-with-a-good-heart from Hourglass.

I've got mixed feelings about Timepiece - although I did enjoy the new POV, I really missed Emerson. Her 'replacement' of sorts is her best friend, Lily, who made a couple of smaller appearances in Hourglass, and although she grew on me as the book progressed, she just didn't have the same page-presence as Emerson.

Although the plot moves along at a pretty quick pace and is easy to follow, I just didn't feel the tension or that any of the characters were in mortal danger from the baddies, and again the parts that I was most intrigued about, the rips, were more of a sideline than a real focus of the story. However there are new powers explored which did grab my attention - I won't tell you anything more but they certainly gave me food for thought!

I'm struggling here to find anything more to say about Timepiece other than it's a fun, quick read. The characterisation is good, the plot is solid and Myra McEntire has a writing style that really drew me into the story, even when I wasn't getting exactly what I wanted.

18 July 2012

Review: Ping by Susan Lowry

Ping by Susan Lowry

Published: 29 June 2011

Pages: 158 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic, Virus

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Amazon)

Kate is a young artist who fears she may be the only survivor of a terrible plague. Snowed in and alone for months, her belief that a young boy is contacting her telepathically gives her a reason to hang on until the snow melts. No longer certain of her sanity, she nevertheless decides she must somehow locate and rescue the small child. Instead she finds Jack, a handsome doctor with a secret past who wants her to have his baby and repopulate the earth. Kate’s life gets ever more complicated as she is torn between Jack and the voices in her head.

My Thoughts

Ping begins with one of those great fears of humanity - a super virus runs rampantly through the population in a short period of time and 99.99% of people die a horrible, painful death. Kate, who lives a normal life with her husband, also contracts the virus but manages to pull through, finding herself utterly alone in a world devoid of people and animals.

As she struggles to survive, alone but surrounded by the ghosts of her husband and neighbours, she starts to hear voices - a young boy, a nameless woman, in her head, and after months of isolation, sets off to the south in search of her telepathically connected friends.

The idea behind the story of Ping is a good one, but it needs some work. There are huge jumps in time, which are OK, but they aren't noted with headers like 'three months later', it's a sudden and disconcerting shift that only reveals itself a few paragraphs into a new chapter.

When it comes to characters, they are pretty standard - Kate is not exactly outgoing or brave, and tends to fade into the background, particularly after she meets up with the woman she has been telepathically connecting with - although that particular character says 'sweetie' so many times it becomes grating.

I understand that this is Ms. Lowry's first book, and it is a good attempt - with some polishing it could have been an excellent story.

17 July 2012

My Opinion - What About the Nice Authors?

It seems that 2012 will go down in book blogging history as the year that everyone got their knickers in a twist, forgot their meds or simply sniffed far too many marker pens.

But with all the bullshit, what about the authors who do the right thing?

Now I believe I'm in the minority when I say that I don't mind authors commenting on my reviews of their books - provided it's polite and appropriate of course. And I have to share a recent experience I had with an author, that's gone a long way to restoring my faith in the author-blogger relationship.

I posted a review of a book that I didn't particularly enjoy. And when I woke up the following day, I had an email saying the author had left a comment. It may be a sad reflection of the current hate-hate situation that my heart automatically sank and I felt a little ill. Was this going to be the dreaded snarky or downright nasty comment that I've so far managed to steer clear of?

Well, colour me surprised, the comment was mature, respectful and level-headed. The author thanked me for my review, acknowledged that I made some good points and offered me a copy of the second book in the series if I wished. A few days later he commented on a discussion post, again in a mature, respectful way. I emailed him and said I would take him up on his offer to read the second book in the series.

If you think I was surprised the first time, here's the real :-O moment. He didn't email me back with the book - he read my review policy, WAITED until I was accepting ebooks for review again, and then submitted the request through my review request page, despite the fact that he actually had my (non published) email address.

THIS is the kind of behavior that authors who want to have a good relationship with bloggers should use as an example. Respectful, polite and non-assuming. And what did this cost the author? Nothing. What does he gain? I'm going to read that book, for better or worse, and review it honestly.

And all of this just adds to my pissed offedness about the whole current arsehole author trend - because instead of us being focused on the authors that do the RIGHT thing, these dickheads with overblown egos and exaggerated senses of self importance are getting all our attention.

Bottom line? Play nice. Respect each other. Don't be an arsehole.

16 July 2012

Review Copy Clean Up - August

Two of my favourite blogging ladies, Celine at Nyx Book Reviews and Vicky from Books, Biscuits and Tea are hosting another fabulous Review Copy Cleanup in August, and this time around I'm joining in the fun!
What is the Review Copy Cleanup?
''Vicky and I were getting swamped in review books. We decided to make it all a bit more fun and are challenging you all to read your review copies with us! Clean up that big pile of books this August and join the Review Copy Cleanup. During the month of August we will host a number of Twitter parties and mini-readathons, to motivate ourselves and other participants! So if your review pile is getting out of control as well, make sure to join us on a quest to clean up our review copy pile and to have some fun in the process.''
The Guidelines
- The challenge runs from 1 to 31 August
- To sign up, just fill in the Mister Linky below. Link to your sign up post directly please! The Linky is the same for both our blogs, so you only have to sign up once
- The sign up is open until 15 August 2012
- When you post your sign up post on your blog, either include the challenge button with your post or link it back to this article so that people know where to sign up. Thank you!
- Every book you received for review counts towards the challenge, both ebooks and hard copies, including all genres and lengths
- You don't need to follow the two hosts in order to be able to sign up for the event (although it's appreciated)
- Feel free to use the #RCCleanup hashtag on Twitter for your RCC related tweets or join in the Twitter party at http://tweetchat.com/room/RCCleanup and meet lots of awesome bloggers (:
- The dates of the readathons and Twitter parties will be announced closer to the RCC

So if you need some added motivation to get through those review copies, click here and sign up!

Shockingly, I already have a lot of my August reads lined up (check the organisation!)
Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon
TapOut by Eric Levine
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
Guantanamo Boy
Dearly, Beloved
The Assault
Code Name Verity
Ashen Winter
Barely Alive

Book Blogger Confessions #14 - Blogger Obligations

Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Tiger's All Consuming Books and For What It's Worth - every second Monday book bloggers spill the beans on some juicy book blogging questions!

What do we owe publishers and authors? If we accept ARC’s do we “owe” anything to them or just an honest review to our followers? As book bloggers are we obligated to do more than just review books? Post covers – participate in book tours – host guest posts - promote authors?

Accepting a book for review is making an agreement with the publisher or author - books are given to me in exchange for my honest review. And there are some authors that I'm more than happy to work with to give them additional exposure and publicity.

Cover reveals, book tours, guest posts - well I can take them or leave them personally. I don't feel any kind of obligation to do more than what I've agreed to, which is review.

Will I do additional 'publicity' for books I love or authors I enjoy? For sure - Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, announcing cheap deals, new cover designs, new books in the series - if I'm excited about something coming up, I'll tell every man and his dog about it, but I don't feel comfortable doing this for a book I haven't read, or (even worse) a book I didn't even like. And maybe then I'm taking this from professional behavior to personal behavior, but in the end I started this blog to talk about books I love, not to be a publicist.

What do you think our obligations as bloggers are?

15 July 2012

The Sunday Session #12

It's that time of week again! So, after another busy week (are you sick of this story yet, because I am?!), here's my weekly round up.

Last Week on the Blog
I participated in Once Upon A Read-a-thon and did abysmally!
Review: Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Review: Necropolis Rising by Dave Jeffrey

New Books
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Both books have very similar titles, which I only just realised!

What's Up Next Week

Book Blogger Confessions - Blogging Obligations

Reviews: New World: Chaos by John O'Brien, Timepiece by Myra McEntire and (hopefully!) The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Oh yeah, and the July New Release Giveaway hop started today! The link is in the sidebar!

I hope you've had a great week - leave me a link to your round up or book haul and I'll stop by!

Giveaway: July New Release Giveaway Hop (Int)

Hosted by Book Twirps and Refracted Light Reviews - it's the July New Release Giveaway Hop!

It's July and summer is finally here (well, supposedly, it's been miserable in the Netherlands but whatever!), and what better way to spend the summer than reading a brand new release!

One lucky winner will win one of the books listed below, shipped from The Book Depository - so this giveaway is open to anyone in a country where TBD ships for free! The giveaway is open until midnight on 31 July 2012 EST.

Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

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14 July 2012

Review: After the Virus by Meghan Ciana Doidge

After the Virus by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Published: 1 June 2011

Pages: 300 (e-book)

Genre/s: Post Apocalyptic

Source: Review copy via BookRooster

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

After the virus decimates 99.9% of the world’s population, and all traces of humanity along with it, Rhiannon and Will are forced to move beyond their past fame, fortune, and personal demons to rescue a mute girl from the clutches of two warring cults. 

My Thoughts

What would happen if a virus decimated most of the worlds population, leaving the remnants of humanity to fight it out over territory, food and women? After the Virus takes a popular idea and gives it a unique twist by taking two formerly famous people and throwing them together in a world torn apart by greed and desperation, with some freaky Infected thrown in for good measure.

Opening with a tense escape scene, as Rhiannon flees her captors who are using women as baby-machines, we are introduced to a strong, haunted character who underneath a sarcastic shell, is really just looking to survive quietly and away from the violence that seems to follow her wherever she goes. I really liked Rhiannon - getting inside her head, and the way that she fought for the people she cared about, all the while dropping snark bombs like they were going out of fashion. There is also a thing that she does early in the book that immediately endeared her to me.

The romance between Will and Rhiannon felt natural and realistic, and they complimented each other perfectly, with Rhiannon's self-projected hardness, and Will's calm, dedicated nature.
Whilst not exactly zombies, The Infected, and the way that their 'handlers' sustain them, is truly terrifying, particularly how far some of them go to keep them 'alive'. Although some scenes in After the Virus are shocking in the depravity of humankind, it is a plausible scenario - do we really know people would react to the disintegration of law and order?

After the Virus sucked me in and didn't let me go - the writing was great, the characterisation excellent and the plot kept me on the edge of my seat.

Memorable Quotes
''He was a hundred feet below: naked, hairy and fishing. Weren't two of those three illegal?''
''Life made you get your hands dirty; life was vengeful if you tried an easy route.''

13 July 2012

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass #1) by Myra McEntire

: 14 June 2011 by Egmont USA

Pages: 387 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Paranormal

Source: Own Library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More Info: Myra McEntire's website

Synopsis (Goodreads)

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

My Thoughts

The cover of Hourglass is undeniably pretty. And the synopsis doesn't sound that bad either - ghosts, a dark mysterious guy, time travel?

Seventeen-year-old Emerson has a difficult past, her parents were killed in a tragic accident, she suffered a series of halluciations and was sectioned after concerns over her mental health. Upon her release she is sent to live with her brother and sister-in-law, and her brother seeks help from Michael, who belongs to an organisation dedicated to helping teens.

I really liked Emerson - she was sarcastic, smart and courageous, although at times it was more stupidity than bravery, but that made her more likeable as she isn't perfect. Her personality reflects her troubled past - her sarcasm is a defensive wall and her habit of latching on to anyone that shows her attention is a side effect of missing a large chunk of her teenage years.

My biggest issue with this book was Michael - yes, Emerson goes a little ga-ga over his looks, but he has the personality of a wet fish. That was caught three weeks ago. There was no point in Hourglass when I felt any time of connection, sympathy or admiration for him - he was simply a catalyst for Emerson, nothing more.

The supporting characters really needed some more fleshing - Emerson's best friend fades in and out of the story, rather than being a big part of Emerson's life, and the baddies are not really all that threatening. The exception to this rule is Kaleb, who Ms. McEntire has written perfectly - the bad-boy-because-of-trauma character with a smart-arsed but endearing attitude, who just needs a good woman to take care of him - typical but not cliched.

I also found the lack of creepiness from the ghosts quite disappointing, as there was some potential for some serious freaky moments that just seemed to be glossed over. This would have given the book more body and a more wide-ranging appeal.

The storyline itself is fairly simplistic and easy to read - there is some science behind the time-travel abilities that some characters possess, but not enough to bog down the story. The writing is the same - simplistic but effective, and Hourglass is a quick read.

Despite my reservations over some of the main, and secondary, characters Hourglass was an enjoyable read.

12 July 2012

Review: The Loners (Quarantine #1) by Lex Thomas

The Loners (Quarantine #1) by Lex Thomas

Published: 10 July 2012 by EgmontUSA

Pages: 416 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Publisher for review

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school.

My Thoughts

Remember high school? Yeah I hated it - I was one of those kids that never really fit in anywhere, not smart enough to be a nerd, not tough enough to be a freak and not cool enough to be popular. So when I read the synopsis for Quarantine: The Loners, I was immediately drawn into the idea.

Quarantine: The Loners dives straight into the action, with an explosion and the death of all adults, the kids are quarantined by the government and pretty much left to their own devices - food and supplies are dropped in on a regular basis, but there isn't a whole lot of solidarity going on - instead the kids split up into gangs and try and gain enough control to survive.

The pace of Quarantine: The Loners is pretty much non-stop - there are some flashbacks to life before the quarantine, but the vast majority of the story takes place in the present. For a book of over 400 pages, I read this over the space of two days because I just had to read 'one more chapter' to see what happened next.

Mr. Thomas doesn't shy away from some pretty intense scenes - this is a violent story, and not everyone makes it through each skirmish between the gangs, and the deaths and injuries are pretty grisly, but that does add to the realism.

I did have some issues with the timelines - there are jumps in time that aren't really easily identifiable, and it's only after reading a few paragraphs of the next chapter that it becomes clear that a significant period of time has passed. Particularly frustrating is the jump between the quarantine beginning and the next scene - I wanted to know HOW the gangs were formed, how they came to claim their particular territories and the first days of adaptation and survival would have made for interesting reading.

Quarantine: The Loners is quite an 'insular' story - there is not much information on what is happening to the outside world, or what has happened to the families of the students, but I understand that Mr. Thomas' focus with this book was the actual politics and actions of the students, not on what was happening outside.

Like other books with similar ideas to this one (Battle Royale for example), there is a large list of characters, but there is a particular focus on the main characters that does make them more memorable. I did however at times find the two brothers quite hard to distinguish between, particularly during the scene where they meet Lucy.

Overall, I really enjoyed Quarantine: The Loners - it wasn't perfect, but it was an entertaining, nail-biting read, and I'll be looking forward to the next book!

10 July 2012

Review: Necropolis Rising by Dave Jeffrey

Necropolis Rising by Dave Jeffrey

Published: September 2010

Pages: 156

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Own library

Check it out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More info: Dave Jeffrey's website ~ Dave Jeffrey's Blog

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It took thirty minutes for the city to die. But for the inhabitants of Birmingham City, UK the hunger will last forever. The military has sealed the city. No one is getting in. No one is getting out. But Kevin O'Connell and his team of cyber-criminals have a job to do. A job that will see them receiving a huge payout if they succeed. Or a bullet if they don't. Once inside the confines of the city O'Connell and his team are about to find out that staying alive will prove to be just as difficult as staying dead ...

My Thoughts
Necropolis Rising has some unique points for a zombie book - mad scientists, bio-terrorism, bounty hunters, all in one book - should be any zombiephile's fantasy, right?

Unfortunately the focus of Necropolis Rising, for me, was just a little too Boys Own - heavy on military ops, conspiracy and loyalties that change more often than we change our socks, I spent most of this book either confused or feeling completely disconnected from the characters, who were all far too indistinguishable from each other. I wanted more zombies, and more character development - which is a big ask in such a short book, but Necropolis Rising could have easily accommodated another 50 pages to really pull me into the story.

But this is a well written story - despite multiple POVs, the action is intense and doesn't let up from the first page until the last. The story of Suzie and O'Connell is intriguing and real - this could have been a real heartbreaker with a little bit more flesh.

If you like some wierd science and conspiracy theory in your zombie books,  try Necropolis Rising - it just wasn't to my personal taste.

09 July 2012

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon - The Starting Line & Updates

Despite my spectacular failure in the last read-a-thon I participated in, I'm participating in Once Upon a Read-a-Thon, hosted by Pure Imagination, Reading Angel and Candace's Book Blog, despite the 73 bajillion other things I have going on at the moment.

Here are the books I'm hoping to read over the next three days:
Big Frog by Rob Badcock
New World: Chaos by John O'Brien
Timepiece by Myra McEntire
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

I'm probably being completely unrealistic, but if I can at least make a dent in this list, I'll be a happy bunny. Let's see if I can remember to post my updates this time ;-)

And if you're participating - let me know!  Good luck!

Day One: Ummmm.....
Pages read
Big Frog (4 pages)
New World: Chaos (13 pages)
Timepiece: (13 pages)
Total: 30 pages
Mood: I've got book-jump-itis!

Day Two: Better than yesterday - just!
Pages Read:
Big Frog (40 pages)
New World: Chaos (15 pages)
Total: 55 pages
Mood: Must focus!

Day Three: Just when I pick up the pace, it's over :(
Pages Read:
New World: Chaos (30 pages)
Timepiece (70 pages)
Total: 100 pages
Grand Total: 185 pages

Well it wasn't the greatest of read-a-thon achievements but I tried my best!

08 July 2012

The Sunday Session #11

Arghhhh such a busy week! Just when I think things are calming down, something else comes along. So this week is short and definitely sweet - just the new books!

I was SO excited when I checked my email first thing Monday morning and saw that I had won an Amazon GC from the AMAZING ladies at Talk Supe for their first year blogoversary giveaway. I have no self control when it comes to vouchers so the first thing I did was spend it, of course!

Won (Purchased with GC)
The Academie by Amy Joy
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Going Under by Georgia Cates
Hater (Hater #1) by David Moody

For Review
by Jonathan Mary-Todd (thank you Lerner Publishing via NetGalley)
Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth (thank you HarperCollins via Edelweiss

Twenty-One Locks by Laura Barton
Survivors (Morningstar Strain #3) by Z.A. Recht & Thom Brannan

That's it for me, very late on a Sunday evening - so link me up!

07 July 2012

Review: A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma

A Note of Madness (Flynn Laukonen #1) by Tabitha Suzuma

Published: 1 March 2007 by Definitions

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Mental Health

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

More Info: Tabitha Suzuma's website ~ Tabitha Suzuma's blog

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Life as a student is good for Flynn. As one of the top pianists at the Royal College of Music, he has been put forward for an important concert, the opportunity of a lifetime. But beneath the surface, things are changing. On a good day he feels full of energy and life, but on a bad day being alive is worse than being dead. Sometimes he wants to compose and practice all night, at other times he can't get out of bed. With the pressure of the forthcoming concert and the growing concern of his family and friends, emotions come to a head. Sometimes things can only get worse before they get better.

My Thoughts
If you remember a few months ago, I read Ms. Suzuma's book, Forbidden (you can read my review here) - which was the first book I've ever read that made me cry (not just a bit of moisture, full on tears!). Immediately I went to see what other work she had published, and picked up A Note of Madness, her debut novel.

I knew from the beginning this book would be another tough read, but it was so worthwhile. Ms. Suzuma writes with an intensity that is impossible to walk away from - I was incredibly emotionally invested in this book right from the beginning.

Flynn is the kind of character that you just want to reach through the pages and comfort, and as family and friends try their best to reach out and help him, I could feel their hopelessness and concern. As Flynn's mental health fluctuates, so does the pacing - as a reader I felt like I was right inside his head, experiencing his highs and lows, emotions and experiences.

It wasn't until I finished reading and read some more about Ms Suzuma herself that I found out that mental illness is one of her own personal struggles, which makes me love this book even more - it is truly a work from the heart.

If the subject matter of Forbidden is one step too far for you, I strongly recommend that you read A Note of Madness instead - it's emotional, compelling and you will be incredibly touched by Flynn's story.


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