30 September 2012

That's a Wrap - September 2012

The last wrap-up post I did was in July - I completely skipped August because I was right in the middle of a reading slump, which only let go of my brain in the last two weeks or so. Therefore, it was a really awesome surprise to see just how much I managed to read in September!

This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Taduesz Borowski
Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater (my review)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater (my review)
A Suitable Husband by S.B. Lerner (my review)
Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig
Breathe by Sarah McCrossan (my review)
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel
Sundered by Shannon Meyer
Matched by Ally Condie
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Hater by David Moody
A Woman in Berlin by anonymous

Total books read so far in 2012: 143
Total pages read so far in 2012: 39,992

My goal of 150 books / 50,000 pages for 2012 is looking pretty healthy! How are you doing with your goals for this year?

Showcase Sunday #7

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea and it's all about sharing the books we've received in the last week - bought, begged or borrowed! 

I didn't think I had many books this week, but then I started looking through my e-readers....ooopsie!

For review

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord (Random House via Edelweiss)
Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse via Edelweiss)
Taking on the Dead by Annie Walls (BB blog tour)

Gossamer by Lois Lowry
The Plagiarist by Hugh Howey
Left Behind (No Shelter #2) by T.S. Welti
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
And because they were available as a bundle and I couldn't resist:
Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Last Week on The Aussie Zombie
My reading list including the breaking of my reading slump - huzzah!  
On Top Ten Tuesday I realised just how many series I own but have never finished - shameful! 
I revealed the cover of the third book in the Protector series by M.R. Merrick, Release.
I gave five stars to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, three stars to the audiobook of Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles and a disappointed two stars to Sarah McCrossan's Breathe *sad face*.

Coming Up Next Week
My reading list pushes me closer to my Goodreads goal for 2012, reviews of Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, and A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, my Top Ten Tuesday of 'older books' and my first Waiting on Wednesday post!

What new books are prettying up your shelves this week?

29 September 2012

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan

Expected publication: 2 October 2012 by Greenwillow

Pages: 400 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Publisher

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

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

My Thoughts

If I saw Breathe displayed in a bookshop, I'd pick it up. If I read the synopsis, I'd trot right over the cashier, hand over my hard-earned cash, go home and start reading straight away. It looks good, it sounds good, so it MUST be good.

However, I struggled to enjoy Breathe. I'm not adverse to multiple POV stories, however the flashes between Alina, Quinn and Bea were so fast that I struggled to keep up with exactly who was narrating and when, although it was also essential to the story to show all their experiences. Yep I realise I'm being completely contradictory.

The characters are probably the part I struggled with the most, overall. Alina isn't a likeable character - and when she does a pretty radical 180 and suddenly cares deeply about everyone I couldn't work out why, or when, this miraculous change of heart actually happened.

Quinn is a sterotypical stupid rich boy who is best friends with a smart, caring girl but doesn't realise it, and instead crushes on a girl that doesn't seem to have any redeamable features.

Bea was pretty much the only main character that I actually liked because although her family was not as rich or influential as Quinn's, she's clever and kind.

Breathe is a believable world as a possible scenario of what could happen if we continue to treat the planet like a big dumping ground, and the idea of a world with no trees, no flowers and living on synthetic foodstuffs is pretty disturbing. The science is well explained, and the world of the dome, and the outlands is very well built, with far more showing than telling.

And although all the ingredients for a tension-filled, action-packed book are there, I had trouble buying into the whole menacing vibe - it felt more like the trio were a bunch of naughty schoolkids that would be grounded, not that their lives were in danger.

Overall for me, Breathe is a book that had so much potential and some good features, but the lack of care I had for the characters, the fact that I could have lazily read the whole 400 pages in 4 hours and the confusingly fast POV switches just left me underwhelmed.

28 September 2012

Cover Reveal: Release by M.R. Merrick

Release (Protector #3) by M.R. Merrick

Expected Publication: 10 December 2012


After uniting the shifters and calling in reinforcements, Chase has to face his toughest challenge yet: learning to control his emotions. But as tensions rise and his powers grow, controlling his emotions becomes the least of his problems.

Terrorized by a multi-shifter who is hell-bent on turning him, Chase questions just how far he’s willing to go to stop his father. Meanwhile, Tiki’s virtuous nature has placed him in the middle of Vincent’s past, leaving Chase to oppose a senate of vampires and defend a demon he hates.

Trying to balance his friends, his enemies, and his inner demons, Chase is left searching for answers about the Mark, his destiny, and where he can find the next soul piece. Stopping Riley is his top priority, but as more obstacles arise, he finds himself doubting all the decisions he’s made - especially regarding Rayna.

One thing is for certain: Chase has finally realized that he doesn’t know anything. The light doesn’t always quell the darkness, the monsters don’t always stay in the shadows, and the past doesn’t always stay in the past - sometimes, the demons inside are the hardest to fight.

Oooooh purple, and castles and lightning!  I love the dark stormy feel of this cover!  Now, I must read this series (hides from inevitable stone throwing and abuse hurling).

27 September 2012

Audiobook Review: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Published: 21 June 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 369 (hardcover) / 9 hrs 3 mins (audio)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic

Source: Own Library


'It is never what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophies are always different - unimagined, unprepared for, unknown...' What if our 24-hour day grew longer, first in minutes, then in hours, until day becomes night and night becomes day? What effect would this slowing have on the world? On the birds in the sky, the whales in the sea, the astronauts in space, and on an eleven-year-old girl, grappling with emotional changes in her own life..? One morning, Julia and her parents wake up in their suburban home in California to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth is noticeably slowing. The enormity of this is almost beyond comprehension. And yet, even if the world is, in fact, coming to an end, as some assert, day-to-day life must go on. Julia, facing the loneliness and despair of an awkward adolescence, witnesses the impact of this phenomenon on the world, on the community, on her family and on herself. 

My Thoughts

If you've ever had to get up in the middle of the night to catch a flight, you'll know how disorientating it is to have to get up at 3am - you tell yourself that you need to go to bed at 8pm the night before, but the sun is still up and you can't sleep, so you stay up until 10, or 11, and then hate yourself for it when the alarm finally goes off.

In The Age of Miracles however this becomes the reality of life, with the rotation of the earth slowing, nights and days become longer and longer and everyone has to adapt to a new way of living.

As an almost obsessive apocalyptic fan, I had high hopes for The Age of Miracles, but the books is very different than I thought it would be. More of a coming-of-age story than a tale of the apocalypse, it's told through the eyes of 11 year old Julia who is also struggling friendships, boys and her parents relationship which seems to be falling apart.

Particularly interesting for me though was the theory of 'clock time' that the government institutes, and causes a direct clash between those that live by the clock, and those that live 'traditionally' - sleeping when it's dark, awake when it's light. As the days and nights become longer, the lives of the two groups become more and more distanced from each other.

I did have a few issues with the writing itself - it's very lyrical and full of quotable lines, but that doesn't ring completely true for a story with such a young protagonist, and nor did it satisfy my world-building cravings - I wanted more of what was happening in the wider world and the global effects of the change.

I think if it had been written from a different perspective, I would have enjoyed this one a lot more, but the audiobook version was particularly engaging - I'm not sure how it would translate in written form, but I fear it would be far too slow moving for me.

If you like coming-of-age stories in a unique setting I think this could be the book for you. But if you're looking for a fast-paced post-apocalyptic romp it may be a little disappointing.

The Audiobook Version: The narration really highlights the lyrical language of the book but not to the extent that I had to really focus on listening. Of course, I had to listen, but audiobook listeners will understand what I mean - the story washes over you rather than allowing you to zone out and miss key points in the storyline. The narrator, Emily Janice Chard, did an excellent job of narrating an 11 year old girl whilst keeping a mature tone.

26 September 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Published: 10 January 2012 by Dutton

Pages: 313 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Realistic, Contemporary

Source: Own Library

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

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

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

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

My Thoughts

I bought this book a few months ago, but it took me a while to build up the courage to read it. Reading about cancer is a difficult thing for me to do, as cancer has touched my own life several times and the subject hits pretty close to home. But upon seeing nothing but glowing reviews for The Fault in Our Stars, I knew that I had to read it.

Both Hazel and Augustus are fantastic characters - perfectly suited to each other, their personalities are both smart and sarcastic, a combination that I love. Hazel's negativity is sympathetically portrayed - in a girl that isn't living on borrowed time it would be irritating, but for someone that has lived with a spectre over their head for years, it's understandable and refreshing - anyone that lives with a ticking clock would struggle to be positive and sunny all the time.

I particularly enjoyed the trip to Amsterdam that they took (the mention of the town that I live in had me tickled pink), because I knew the places they went to and the experiences they had were pretty close to reality. Those trees in autumn really screw with my allergies.

John Green writes a simple story, but keeps the focus on the characters and their experiences, both good and bad. The Fault in Our Stars is nothing if not a page turner, and I challenge anyone not to care deeply for the characters, and to keep their emotions in check whilst reading this.

As a book about battling cancer, it's not all fun times and puppies, but even the sadder moments are written sympathetically, without being condescending. And although this was a difficult book for me to read, I'm so glad I overcame my fears and took the plunge.

25 September 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

My Top Ten Unfinished Series - I have a very bad habit of buying a whole series before I've even read the first book, just based on the synopsis, but I've been very lucky in that most of the series I do this with I actually do like. These are all series that I either own in full or intend to buy the remaining books asap.

1) The Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo
Zombie Fallout - read
Zombie Fallout 2 - read
Zombie Fallout 3 - read
Zombie Fallout 4 - owned
Zombie Fallout 5 - owned

I've read books 1 and 2 twice, and book 3, but I've never gotten to books 4 and 5 - they haunt me every day!

2) The Autumn series by David Moody
The first three books were great, and then I got distracted by many other zombie series.....

3) The Deadlocked series by A.R. Wise
Deadlocked - read
Deadlocked 2 - read
Deadlocked 3 - owned
Deadlocked 4 - owned
Deadlocked 5 - owned

I love this series, and I'll be reading the next book very soon - promise!

4) The Joe Ledger series by Jonathan Maberry
Patient Zero - read
The Dragon Factory - read
The King of Plagues - wishlist
Assassin's Code - wishlist
Extinction Machine (expected April 2013) - wishlist
Code Z (expected April 2014) - wishlist

With the fourth book being published earlier this year, and books 5 and 6 coming out in the next two years, plus a whole bunch of 'in between' stories, the fact that I loved the first two books hasn't gotten me anywhere near to being up-to-date on the series. I need to re-read the first two again, and then I'll be set!

5) The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander - read
Dragonfly in Amber - read
Voyager - read
Drums of Autumn - 1/3 read
The Fiery Cross - owned
A Breath of Snow and Ashes - owned
An Echo in the Bone - owned

I own the whole series, but I've only read books 1, 2, 3 and part of 4 - and now if I wanted to finish the series I'd have to re-read the whole lot and they are all so long it's completely overwhelming....

6) The As the World Dies trilogy by Rhiannon Frater
The First Days - read
Fighting to Survive - owned
Siege - owned
As the World Dies Untold Tales Vol. 1 - owned
As the World Dies Untold Tales Vol. 2 - owned

THIS bugs me no end - I've read book one twice, and I'm making a promise RIGHT now, that I'll finish the series by the end of 2012!

7) The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth - read
The Dead-Tossed Waves - owned
The Dark and Hollow Places - owned

After the first book left me completely underwhelmed, I put books 2 and 3 to the back of my bookshelf and tried to convince myself they weren't really there.  But I've bought them, so I will read them...eventually.

8) The Paranormals trilogy by J.L. Bryan
Jenny Pox - read
Tommy Nightmare - owned
Alexander Death - owned

Another one I'm ashamed to admit to - I loved Jenny Pox, and I have the next two books on my Kindle, but still haven't got to them.

9) The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
The Strain - read
The Fall - owned
The Night Eternal - owned

I really enjoyed book one on audio, then the narrator changed for book two which completely threw me off.  But I will go back to them because the first one was deliciously creepy.

10) The Morningstar Strain by Z.A. Recht
Plague of the Dead  - read
Thunder and Ashes - read
Survivors - owned

I read the first two books in the series before I learnt that the author had passed away. More than two years after his death, the third book was released after being finished by Thom Brannan. I'm planning on re-reading the first two and reading the third in the next few weeks.

So, that's my list of unfinished series - and now I want to go and finish them all!  Which series are lurking on your shelves unfinished?  Have you finished any of these series?

24 September 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #26

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.

Could it be true - could my reading slump be over?!
Books read last week:
Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel
Sundered by Shannon Mayer

What I'm Reading This Week:
Matched by Ally Condie
Flowertown by S.G. Redling
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (audiobook)
Taking on the Dead by Annie Walls

What are you reading?  Anything here catch your eye?

23 September 2012

Showcase Sunday #6

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea and it's all about sharing the books we've received in the last week - bought, begged or borrowed! 

Revived by Cat Patrick
Matched by Ally Condie
Crossed by Ally Condie
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (won from The Bookish Outsider)
Shift by Em Bailey
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
Ten by Gretchen McNeill
The White Forest by Adam McOmber

Bloggers mentioned: Christina from A Reader of Fictions

Link me up lovelies!

22 September 2012

Ashley & Kat review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Hollowland (The Hollows #1) by Amanda Hocking
Published: 6 October 2010

Pages: 312 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombies, Young Adult

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

"This is the way the world ends - not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door."

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way - not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

So here we have it - Kat & Ashley's first ever dual review. Don't forget to go and check out Ashley's blog The Bibliophile's Corner

Our Thoughts On: The Characters

Ashley: Remy is such a badass. If ever I were in a zombie apocalypse, I would make sure to put her on my team. Aside from being a badass, I loved Remy because of her slightly crazed determination to get to her brother. As the oldest sibling with three younger sisters, I know what it's like to do anything to protect. In terms of killing zombies, no, not so much. But I definitely connected with Remy on this sibling level. My only frustration with her is how long it took for Remy to realize that she is actually allowed to care for other people. She spends the majority of the book telling herself she has to be strong, emotions only make her weak, and that her only focus should be her brother, Max.

Harlow is not someone that I would picture surviving the zombie apocalypse. She wears lace, skirts, and combat boots. I do commend her on the choice for choosing combat boots over some strappy sandal. I am still trying to decide if I like Harlow or not. On the one hand, she is a thirteen year old girl who wants to maintain some sense of normal in this otherwise not so normal world. She looks up to Remy and knows that without her, she would probably die. But on the other hand, I have a hard time liking her optimism. Well, maybe denial is a better word. I just wish Harlow would have been a bit more mature.

Lazlo is a former rock star. He is good looking, charming, and completely useless. The first year of the zombie apocalypse, he was in an underground bunker. While I can't really blame him for not being a decent fighter, I suppose when you haven't been trained at all, it's not really your fault. Aside from being a failure at fighting, I really did love him. While he does understand the gravity of the situation, he chooses to use humor and smiles to make those around him at ease. He is definitely the yin to Remy's yang.

Blue is another person I want on my zombie killing team. His wonderful med skills and fighting skills would come in handy. So far as his role in this little team, he was very much the quiet leader. Remy is the badass, loud leader, but Blue was the voice of reason. Without Blue, Lazlo would not have made it as far as he did. By the end of the book, Blue is very much my favorite character.

Ripley, the lion. Yes, there is a lion. I feel like I don't really need to explain how freaking brilliant this is. She fights, mauls, and eat zombies. And is immune to their virus. Brilliant.

Kat: Take one tough zombie-killing chick, add a rockstar, a doctor, a teenage girl and mix in a lion (yes, a LION!), and you've got the characters of Hollowland. As unlikely as this bunch seems, they work together well as a group of characters.
Remy is hardcore, no doubt, and you could almost say she borders on heartless, but if you were surviving the zombie apolcaypse, becoming emotionally detached is going to be inevitable at times. After all, for Remy, survival is her number one priority. But despite that harsh side, I did like her as a character - underneath the tough-girl there's a girl that just wants to find her brother and protect her friends.

I did think it was disappointing that we didn't get to know Blue better, and instead the focus was more on Laszlo, who I actually didn't really like, nor did I understand what the attraction was between him and Remy - he came across as a bit of a stereotype at the beginning and I think that kind of killed any potential I had to actually like him but he did start to redeem himself a little by the end.

Our Thoughts On: The Plot

Ashley: The only issue I have with the plot is that from the beginning, we as readers are asked to be 100% behind Remy in her search for her brother. As an older sibling, I was more than able to. But I can see how this might be problematic for other people. The entirety of this book is Remy doing whatever it takes to get to the new military location where her brother might be. However, Remy and her little group get thrown into some pretty interesting situations that they are forced to deal with. But at the end of the day, Remy is still only concerned with Max.

When it comes to relationships, they all start out as convenience relationships but each turns into something real by the end. The romance between Remy and Lazlo seemed a little weird at first, but I slowly warmed up to very much the same way Remy warms up to it. The relationship between Remy and Harlow I really enjoyed because by the end, they have bonded to an almost sister-like relationship.

The ending of this book was predictable for me, but I still enjoyed seeing everyone's actions leading up to it. That being said, I still wanted to shake Remy when she made her choice.

Kat: As far as zombie books goes, Hollowland is pretty fantastical. I'll talk more about the zombies themselves later, but they are different to the 'usual' zombies, and although that was fascinating at times, at others I really had to work to suspend my disbelief. Everything moves along at a fairly quick pace, and there's a huge variety of things going on - religious fanatics, marauders, military, scientists and settlers.

There are some deaths of seemingly key characters, but certainly not at the level I'm used to in zombie books. (Whoa I sound like I wanted more people to die! Ok maybe I did...)

Our Thoughts On: The World Building

Ashley: The world building in Hollowland was very much like every other zombie world. Not to say that this is a bad thing. Survivors battling in a desolate world, military folk having fortresses against zombies, etc. So while the world of Hollowland was not original, I still appreciated it. I do wish there would have been more explanation of the how the zombie virus started. Maybe I'm weird, but I like seeing the downfall of humans in zombie books. I like seeing things go out of control so that I can see humans struggle to bring it back under control.

Kat: OK, I have to get this out of my system - I had problems with the zombies. The disease is caused by lyssavirus (of which rabies is a strain), which sounds plausible, but the zombies are

a) evolving, becoming smarter and eat each other (and dirt!)

b) the recently turned ones are fast (28 Days Later style)

c) at several points they are disposed of by less than traditional head-shot means.

There's one particular scene in which Remy slashes a zombie across the throat and he stops to regain his composure (so to speak), before resuming his attack - call me a traditionalist, but I like my zombies to be non-stop, pain-and-emotion-free types. In Amanda Hocking's defence, I can see how this could possibly be part of the storyline in later books, so I'm trying not to judge it too harshly.

Otherwise it's a pretty standard zombie-survival kinda story - group of people trying to avoid being eaten whilst searching for someone/something/somewhere.

Our Final Thoughts

Ashley: Overall, this is an enjoyable read, perhaps not the most wonderful execution, but the moments that were great made the whole book great.

Kat: I did enjoy Hollowland - it's an interesting plot with a lot of potential for the next book/s in the series and the characters are fun and unique. Despite some questionable editing (I found several grammatical/spelling errors that were quite jarring in their obviousness), and a few points that upset my zombie traditionalist tendencies, I can see the wider appeal - a kick-ass heroine, freaky scary zombies with brains and a lion. Yeah, I still can't get over the lion!

Our Rating:
Ashley gives it 4 out of 5
Kat gives it 3 out of 5 

21 September 2012

Review: Deadlocked 2 by A.R.Wise

Deadlocked 2 by A.R. Wise

Published: 9 December 2011

Pages: 77 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Read my review of Deadlocked 1 here

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Part two of this series picks up immediately after the end of the first. David's wife, Laura, is forced to take over the protection of their family as the boat travels out into Hailey Bay, away from the zombies. However, the boat's pilot plans to dock back in the overrun city to rescue his own family, which will put Laura's in jeopardy.

Laura is forced to overcome unimaginable horrors as the zombie apocalypse explodes around her, but it is the evil intent of the humans around her that present her greatest challenge. The reader is taken far beyond the edge of their seat as Laura pushes forward to the inevitable end. No one is safe in a world where the dead hunt the living.

My Thoughts

As soon as I finished the first Deadlocked novella I immediately went and bought the next 3 in the series, and book 5 as soon as it was available. I love a good, hardcore zombie tale, and this is a series that definitely hasn't disappointed me so far.

After the first novella in which David witnesses the beginning of the zombie outbreak and goes through every terror imaginable to resuce his wife and young daughters, the perspective shifts to that of his wife, Laura. As she fights to protect her daughters not just from the undead but the humans that are starting to take advantage of other survivors, she endures some pretty hairy situations, but never gives up on her goal.

To put it simply, Deadlocked 2 is the story of the incredible lengths a mother will go to in order to protect her child. Emotional, action-packed and perfectly gory, Deadlocked 2 is the perfect example of how a zombie novella can really work - the characterisation is perfectly balanced with the zombies, and at the end, I couldn't wait to get to the next installment.

Deadlocked is a series that I truly enjoy and highly recommend to any zombie lovers, or even as a first foray into the world of the walking dead!

20 September 2012

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

Published: 2 April 2009 by Penguin

Pages: 201 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis (Goodreads)
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... 

My Thoughts

The last time I read a book at the end of a 24 hour read-a-thon it was a fun read but nothing mind blowing. And when I'm getting to the stage of needing to prop my eyes open with toothpicks, I choose books that I think will be a quick, easy read. Although If I Stay was a quick read, it wasn't necessarily an easy one....

If I Stay is a book that seemed simple when I read the synopsis - but within the first few pages I realised that this would be a book that I loved - Mia's family are simply fantastic, and I loved that she wanted to be with them as much as possible. Their banter, their personalities and their bond as a family really had them under my skin. And throughout her tragedy, and her inner fight, flashbacks to her life before the accident, both with her family, and with the boy she loves, really cemented all the characters into my heart. The scene with her grandfather in the hospital particularly got to me.

As a character I really liked that Mia was different from the stereotypical YA heroine - with a passion for music, for her family and a not-always-perfect relationship, it was easy to like her and to sympathise with her story.

This book also made me stop and think about the situation that Mia found herself in - how difficult her choice was, and that no matter which choice she made, someone was going to be hurt whether it was herself or her friends and her family. If I Stay also made me think about how much family really means, but also that good friends, really good friends can become just like family to us.

The pacing is spot on, and not at any time did I find myself wandering off into mind space - every time I put this book down, I was itching to pick it up again just to find out what happened next.

Emotional, compelling, touching, I enjoyed If I Stay so much that I immediately bought the sequel, Where She Went, on Kindle and read it all in the same sitting.

19 September 2012

Review: A Suitable Husband by S.B. Lerner

A Suitable Husband by S.B. Lerner

Pages: 318 (paperback)

Published: 30 May 2012

Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Author

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

In 1930s Poland, the economy is crumbling, the government is in chaos, and Jewish groups argue over how best to deal with the worsening situation. Among them are the Guardsmen, daring and organized young Zionists who are determined to start a new life in Palestine.

A Suitable Husband brings this vibrant period alive with the story of Bianca Lieber, caught between the pressure to marry Alex, the intelligent but staid doctor presented by the matchmaker, and Wolf, the intrepid Zionist leader who can help her get to Palestine. 

My Thoughts

I love historical fiction, particularly stories set around 1940s Europe. A Suitable Husband is set in 1930s Poland, a period that also had my interested piqued, but not a setting of any other books that I can remember reading.

A Suitable Husband is the story of one young woman, Bianca, her family and friends, and the struggle of Jews in Poland during the 1930's. Told from different POVs - primarily Bianca, her mother and her brother, A Suitable Husband delves into the politics and discrimination of that era, as well as age-old family dynamics - the mother that holds the family together, the daughter who dreams of an education and the son who is unsure of which path to take in life.

S.B. Lerner takes the story of a family living through difficult times and magics it into a wonderful mixture of political difficulties, coming-of-age and family sagas.

The characters are vivid and endearing, particularly those of Bianca, torn between doing what is right and what her heart wants, and her mother, Danka, who is determined that her children will have the best life she can possibily provide for them, all the while fighting to keep them safe from the changing attitudes of the Polish people towards the Jews.

And in the midst of a family saga there is also a fascinating look into the Jewish plight in 1930s Poland and their fight to belong, to be independent or simply to build a life for themselves in the face of terrible discrimination.

A Suitable Husband grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let me go until the end. There were parts that felt a little rushed towards the end and the ending took me a little by surprise and although it wasn't what I expected, I did think it suited the book and the characters perfectly.

18 September 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish People I Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

My Top Ten Eleven Bookish People

With Book Blogger Appreciation Week recently ending, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to spotlight my favourite bloggers - because who is more bookish than a book blogger?!

Christina of A Reader of Fictions because she has the best one liners and always makes me laugh

Vicky of Books, Biscuits & Tea because shes an absolute sweetheart.

Celine of Nyx Book Reviews because we have awesomely similar taste in books and she's awesome.

Kayla of Bibliophilia, Please who is wonderful, random and makes me smile.

The ladies of Talk Supe because although our book tastes are vastly different in the most part, we have similar thoughts on the books we do share in common and they have excellent man-candy covers every week!

Karin of My Life - she's super sweet, always replies to my whinging Twitter messages and can talk books until the end of the world (or the zombies come!)

Melissa of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf because she reads even more varied books than I do and I love discovering books I would never have come across on her blog.

Nikki of Foil the Plot because I love her combination of book and movie reviews.

Ash of Smash Attack Reads who helps me find dozens of fabulous books to read.

Karina of Nocturnal Book Reviews because she always has something interesting going on!

And last but definitely not least, Ashley of The Bibliophile's Corner - my fantastic associate reviewer who is also incredibly patient with my terrible organisational skills!

It'd be so amazing to sit down and talk to all of these fabulous ladies, and if you're in need of some new blogs to follow go and check them all out!

17 September 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #16: Blogger Relations

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

Blogger relations: Are there blogs you visit and comment on because you like their style, voice etc.(maybe you even converse with the blogger on Twitter & Facebook) but those comments are never reciprocated on your blog?. Do you get a bit offended or do you understand that they may be busy? Or do you comment just because you like a post not expecting anything in return?

I have something of an addiction to visiting other blogs and I love commenting whenever I have something of substance to stay. I literally check my GoogleReader three or four times a day to see what's going on. But I do admit that I sometimes get a little bit miffed when I leave multiple comments on a blog and never ever receive a comment from them on my own. It may sound a little bit childish, and I know how busy bloggers are, but if I'm taking the time to visit them often, maybe they could take the time to visit me.....

At the same time, I don't want people to feel that just because I comment they have to come and comment on one of my posts - I want people to comment because they WANT to. And I'll admit that at times I do visit people that have commented on my blog, but may not leave a comment just because I have nothing of substance to say about their posts.

Commenting is a great way to show appreciation for each other, it makes us feel good when someone leaves a nice comment, or gets us thinking with a thoughtful comment, but I admit that when I get a really generic/spammy type comment, I won't visit that person - cutting and pasting comments all over the place doesn't add any value.

And to anyone that rarely comments because they don't have anything of substance to say? Just do it - even if its to say something like 'oh I want to read that book and your review has made me even more excited to read it' or 'I read that one but I didn't really like the main character' - these types of comments aren't meaningless :-)

How do you feel about commenting on blogs? If you're a blogger, does it bother you if you post a lot of comments on someones blog and they never come to visit you?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #25

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. 

Wow it's been over a month since I last did an It's Monday post, but I love doing them so I'm bringing it back! I'm not going to tell you everything I've read over the last month, but here's what I read last week:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review to come)
Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater (my review)
A Suitable Husband by S.B. Lerner (review to come)

What I'm Reading This Week
As always, I'm half way through a few books, all of which I hope to finish reading this week!
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Lovely Green Eyes by Arnost Lustig
Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel

What are you reading this week??

16 September 2012

Showcase Sunday #5

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea and it's all about sharing the books we've received in the last week - bought, begged or borrowed! 

This is two weeks worth of books as I missed last week!  

Letters From the Inside by John Marsden
Outpost (Razorland #2) by Ann Aguirre (won from For What It's Worth - thank you!)
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Flowertown by S.G. Redling
Eden by Matthew Plourde
Love in the Years of Lunacy by Mandy Sayer (thank you Atria Books via Edelweiss)
Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
Isolation (Partials #0.5) by Dan Wells
The Siren of Paris by David LeRoy
Red Rain by R.L. Stine (thank you Touchstone via Edelweiss)

And a big thank you to everyone for their kind words during my blog break this week. I'm feeling refreshed and ready to rock this blogging thing again :-D Love ya all!

15 September 2012

Blog Tour Review: Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of Pretty When She Kills by Rhiannon Frater.

It was only last week that I reviewed the first book in the series, Pretty When She Dies and jumping back into the series so quickly really had me pumped to be reading book two!

Pretty When She Kills (Pretty When She... Trilogy #2) by Rhiannon Frater

Published: 7 September 2012

Genre/s: Horror, Vampire

Source: Blog Tour

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Amaliya Vezorak never believed in happy endings…

When Amaliya harnessed her necromancer powers to defeat her greatest enemy, she believed she had finally found a happy ending with Cian, her lover and the master of Austin. That happiness is short-lived when the vampire ruling over San Antonio attempts a takeover of Austin in order to capture Amaliya and use her power for his own devices.

To make matters worse, Samantha, Cian’s ex-fiancée, is seeing ghosts, the untested vampire hunters of Austin are running scared as a supernatural war looms, a mysterious man is hunting Amaliya with the help of her one time lover, Pete, and Rachoń, the Summoner’s favorite progeny, appears to be out for revenge.

When Amaliya’s grandmother, a powerful medium, experiences terrible visions that reveal there is another necromancer vampire and she is crying out for help, Amaliya realizes happy endings do not come easily…

My Thoughts

This day is a very important one in my reading history.  It's the day when I finally proclaim that I will no longer avoid vampire books, that I actually LIKE reading vampire books and that Rhiannon Frater is now firmly in my lists of favourite paranormal AND zombie writers.

Pretty When She Kills is a fantastic mixture of vampire, witches, dhamphirs, necromancers and several other paranormals, coupled with larger-than-life characters and an action-packed storyline with allegiances, betrayals, romance and lovey-times.

Amaliya makes a huge progression as a person in Pretty When She Kills - no longer giving in to her flight mode at the first sign of trouble, she pushes her self-doubt aside and stands up for the people she loves, even if it means putting her own life at risk.  Although I loved her in the first book, I loved and respected her by the end of this one - she is the kind of character that I would love to sit down and have a beer with and just pick her brains.

Cian is one hot vamp, Samantha is an awesome foil for Amaliya and we're introduced to some awesome new character that I immediately wanted to learn more about.   The dialogue is gritty and real, and the pacing is absolutely perfect - enough time to absorb what is happening without feeling bogged down by detail or dialogue.

The plot is full of twists and turns as new characters are introduced, old characters reappear and one of my favourite things about Ms. Frater as a writer is that she isn't afraid to kill off favourite characters.  Pretty When She Kills is more than just an entertaining story, I finished feeling I had also learned things about the characteristics of paranormals, parciularly some of the lesser-explored areas.

Pretty When She Kills is also an incredibly creepy tale - I was almost afraid to read it at night in some parts because it got so far under my skin.  This is paranormal/horror as it should be!

Hot on the heels of reading the first book in this series, Pretty When She Dies, plunging back into Amaliya's world felt seemless.  The characters, which were big and bad and fabulous in the first book are back bigger and better, and the intensity is wratched up more than a few notches.  I can't wait (although I'll have to!) for the third book in the series.

And if you want to enter to win the awesome blog tour grand giveaway prize (and it is AWESOME), you can do so over at The Bookish Brunette

14 September 2012

September New Release Giveaway Hop

It's that time again, the New Release Giveaway Hop for September is here!  Hosted by BookTwirps and Refracted Light Reviews

Up for grabs this month is one of the following books - available internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country for free.  

Something New
Ten by Gretchen McNeill
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Henry Franks by Peter Adam Salomon
Frozen by Mary Casanova
Or Continue a Series
Outpost (Razorland #2) by Ann Aguirre
Flesh & Bone (Benny Imura #3) by Jonathan Maberry
Dearly, Beloved (Gone With the Respiration #2) by Lia Habel
Shadows (Ashes Trilogy #2) by Ilsa J. Bick

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 September 2012

Review: The Promise by Lesley Pearse

The Promise by Lesley Pearse

Published: 19 January 2012 by Michael Joseph

Pages: 503 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction, Romance

The Promise is the sequel to Belle (my review HERE) - this review may contain minor spoilers if you have not read Belle.

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

Synopsis (Goodreads) 

London, 1914. Belle Reilly finally has the life she's dreamed of thanks to a devoted husband in Jimmy and the hat shop she's wanted to own since she was a child. But as the storm clouds of World War One begin to gather, Belle's already turbulent life is to change in ways she never imagined possible. — When Jimmy enlists in the army and leaves for the battlefields of Ypres, her world is shattered and she realises she can no longer stand by and watch, she must volunteer to help the wounded. But her work as a Red Cross ambulance driver in France throws her into the path of Etienne, the enigmatic man who played a significant role in her childhood, and Belle finds herself torn agonisingly between forbidden passion and loyalty to a good man.

But the past returns to haunt her present in other - more unpleasant - ways and Belle's character is put to the test like never before. Can she survive this most brutal of wars with her spirit intact? And will destiny finally lead her to lasting happiness even while war rages all around?

My Thoughts

As soon as I finished reading Belle, which I really enjoyed, I got my hands on a copy of The Promise - I had to find out more about Belle and see what her future held, particularly as The Promise is set during World War I.

Picking up almost exactly where Belle finished, The Promise continues the story of Belle's struggles upon her return to England after being kidnapped and sold into prostitution as a teenage girl, her budding career as a milliner, and her time as an ambulance driver in France during the war.

There is far more romance in The Promise than in Belle, and although the story line is in parts slightly predictable, it's still an emotional, harrowing read, and a real page-turner. Lesley Pearse is a straight forward writer which works well with this story - the pace is excellent, and her storytelling really puts the reader in the time and place the story is set.

One thing that I found a little bit disappointing after Belle, was Belle herself - in the first book she is a much stronger, determined character, and at times in The Promise I was just waiting for her to wake up and get back that fire that had carried her so successfully through the first book. However the other characters, old and new, still play a major part in the story, and there are some very moving scenes, particularly in the second half of the book.

The ending of The Promise plays out almost exactly how I suspected it always would, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a touching and emotional journey getting there.


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