31 March 2013

Showcase Sunday #31

Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

Lucid by Adrienne Stolz and Ron Bass
Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth
Beautiful Unbroken by Mary Jane Nealon
Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin
When We Wake (When We Wake #1) by Karen Healey
Falling to Earth by Kate Southwood

And I completely jinxed myself because after saying it was beautiful and sunny, a few hours later it was snowing again....

Ebooks
Smoke (Burned #2) by Ellen Hopkins (thanks to Margaret K. McElderry Books)

What did you get this week?

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30 March 2013

Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

The Hallowed Ones (The Hallowed Ones #1) by Laura Bickle

Published: 25 September 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 311 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

Synopsis

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? 

My Thoughts


Religion in books is something I'm usually very cautious about - I don't mind it as a plot device, but there's a fine line between that and having the author's opinions feel like they are being shoved down my throat, so I was a little hesitant going into The Hallowed Ones, but also intrigued - I find the Amish infinitely fascinating, and the synopsis really got me thinking - if the world did end, what would happen to people who are isolated from the world, either by choice or circumstance?    

Luckily, I didn't find the religion in this book to be too much for my tastes, however I would warn anyone that finds religion in books uncomfortable to be fully aware before grabbing a copy of The Hallowed Ones - as the Amish themselves are religious, there is a lot of discussion about God, the Bible and the will of God when it comes to determining fates of people and the world, but I never felt that it was overly preachy.   Yes, some of the characters are therefore annoyingly oblivious and seemingly stupid, but it's also understandable, and Ms. Bickle approached it with enough explanation that it didn't make me feel frustrated, rather more sympathetic.

Katie is open about the fact that she is a little bit more rebellious than she should be, and it shows in her actions.  However, despite some naivety, she's also strong, capable and pretty sensible when it comes to figuring things out.  And once she meets Alex, she really becomes a memorable character, standing up for what she believes in and dealing with the aftermath of a particularly gory attack by the creatures without becoming an unrealistic action-woman.

Once I finished The Hallowed Ones, I realised that in terms of plot, not a huge amount had actually happened - yes, the world seems to be in the midst of an apocalypse, there are some scary arse monsters hanging around and the local 'witch doctor' of sorts has taught Katie more than a few tips and tricks about the monsters, but everything is pretty much confined to the settlement with little to no information about the wider world.  However, the intricacies of the Amish lifestyle and religion and the spooky isolation of the setting really kept my attention.

The second book in the series, The Outside, is scheduled to be released in September 2013, and I'm intrigued to see where Katie's story goes next.

29 March 2013

Audiobook Friday #16: Review: Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Originally published: 1987

Pages: 956 (paperback)

Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic, Horror

The Audio Version
Published: 11 May 2011 by Audible, Inc.
Length: 34 hours and 22 mintes
Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte

Synopsis


In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets; Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station; and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan's gifts. But the ancient force behind earth's devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself.

My Thoughts

I first read Swan Song in 2011, shortly before I started blogging, and I was completely blown away by it.  I read the whole 956 pages over the space of just one weekend and I've always wanted to go back and re-read it, so when the audiobook was on sale a few months ago, I had the perfect excuse to go back and experience it again.

The characters are numerous, but there are only a few real key players in Swan Song - the good, the bad and the terribly ugly.  After her mother breaks up with the latest in a string of loser boyfriends, Swan finds herself at a lonely gas station when tensions between America and Russia ends in nuclear war, and in the subsequent nuclear winter, travels across the country in the company of Josh.  Swan is a character that is impossible not to love - she's calm, serene and intrinsically good, Josh is the friendly giant, who will do anything to protect Swan from the various evils that emerge in the human survivors around, and Sister is the former alcoholic with a sad past who is on a journey without knowing the reason or the destination.  By the end of such a marathon book, I knew and loved all of them.

By focusing on just a few key characters so intensely, Mr. McCammon has ensured that they are all the complete package - and if you love to hate baddies, there are baddies aplenty in the pages of Swan Song - from the insane to the megalomaniacs who see the end of the world as the perfect opportunity to have their own kingdoms, no matter what the cost.

Good world-building is an important element in any post-apocalyptic story, and in Swan Song the world building is second-to-none - bearing in mind that the book was originally published in 1987, there are no extraordinary technologies, and instead characters survive just on wits and their ability to scavenge.  As a horror novel, there are some very intense, confronting scenes that have some gore but it avoids falling into the slasher category as the scenes are well written rather than resorting just to shock tactics.

There are also a few paranormal elements that creep into the story, and although they are not the key focus of the book overall, it adds an extra element that made this more than the standard post-apocalyptic fare.

Although slightly predictable in some parts, the plot is fast paced and still kept my attention the second time around, even though I knew what the outcome of the story would be.  I really like the way that the author ended a story that can never really be concluded due to the complexities of the plot, but worked perfectly for me and I finished it once again feeling very satisfied with the experience.

Swan Song is a post-apolcayptic horror at it's most entertaining - it's intense, dark and spine chillingly scary.

The Audio Version

Tom Stechschulte has narrated an impressive array of books in the post-apocalyptic genre and his voice is perfectly suited to the story - dark, intense and at times incredibly creepy.  The only thing that I was missing was individual character dialogue really standing out, but overall the narration was a perfect match.


28 March 2013

Blog Tour Excerpt: Release by Nicole Hadaway

Release by Nicole Hadaway
Publication date
: January 4th, 2013 by Visionary Press Cooperative
Genre: Adult Paranormal Fantasy
Purchase from Amazon

Synopsis:
“The ends justify the means”...

For vampire Miranda Dandridge, using her supernatural abilities to rescue children from impossible circumstances is her means to be a part of the human world that she loves so much, despite the atrocities of WWII.

For doctor Ben Gongliewski, saving his fellow Jews from the horrific death camps is an end for which he risks his own life every day, hiding his Jewish heritage while feigning loyalty the SS.

Neither Miranda nor Ben expects to find love in World War II Europe, but that is exactly what happens as they work for the Resistance. When the war draws to a close, it seems like the vampire and the doctor are free to start a future together. But just how far the Nazis will go to further their own evil ends?

Desperate times make for ruthless men as loves and lives are threatened, but, Miranda and Ben know that their world cannot go to hell, not by any means…

Excerpt

There was no way Neil was going to get messed with tonight. He hadn’t made it through this war, with its air raids, rations, and the threat of Nazi invasions only to meet his end by some crazy on a back street of London. No sir, not tonight. Especially not on New Year’s Eve. 

Neil made two moves at the same time. He turned to run – he was a pretty fast runner, and had kept in shape. He also pulled out his pocketknife, and opened up the blade. He didn’t want to get into a fight; it had been ages since he’d been in one, and with his right hand, he was well aware of his handicap. But just in case…

Neil’s foot had barely touched the pavement when he was stopped dead in his tracks again, as there was now another man, who must have been standing behind him this whole time. A blonde man this time, with pale skin, yet very dark, almost black eyes. A Nazi – oh my God, they’ve made it here! He thought in a panic. Before he could think of his next move, the man opened his mouth and, speaking English without any accent asked, “Hey Cray – how much longer? Daylight’s not too far away,” he called out.

“Awww, Denny, relax! They’re on double daylight savings time here,” an amused voice called out from behind Neil.

Neil heard a whoosh of air and before he could turn around, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He followed the hand on his shoulder, and found himself staring into pale blue eyes. Eyes that seemed to bore into Neil, forcing him to drop the knife, which he’d been holding out poised to strike. The man reached over with his other hand and took the knife, tossing it to the side, saying, “You won’t be needing this, friend. We’ve our own ways of getting your flesh and blood.” 

Neil knew he should have been afraid – he was afraid – but he couldn’t move; for some reason, he was rooted to his spot. One side of his brain screamed fight, fight, fight! But another part of him just wouldn’t allow it. Maybe it was because he knew the man was strong and he could feel that his shoulder might break from the crazy man’s grip.

It did break. Neil heard a loud snap! and felt the pain shoot forth from his shoulder down his arm and across his chest. Through the pain, he thought he heard someone say, “Sorry chum, but I like it when the marrow gets into the blood, with the adrenaline. Makes it tastier.” 

Neil tried to scream, but something was at his throat, almost strangling him. He felt the fire of his shoulder meld with the burning at his throat. All he could do was look up, into the street lamp, and into the white light that quickly engulfed his entire body.
About the Author

As a lawyer, Nicole Hadaway knows all about bloodsuckers and deals with the devil. She currently lives in Texas where she pens such tales involving the supernatural, featuring her heroine, the vampire Miranda Dandridge.  Website ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook.

27 March 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #24: Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon


Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday showcases the books we're lusting after. Get ready to load up your TBR!


Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon

Expected Publication
: 9 April 2013 by Soho Teen

Synopsis

17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
17-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…

All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving.

Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.


Why I'm Waiting

This synopsis really grabs my attention - paranormal fantasy time-travel possible-dystopia? Consider me curious....

What are you waiting on this week?

26 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recommend the Most


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

It takes a lot for me to recommend a book to someone - I'm always pant-weeingly nervous they will hate it and never talk to me again, let alone take another recommendation from me!  So I've broken this weeks list into categories because I like to really know what kind of book someone is looking for before I recommend anything.
Horror Hounds
Under the Dome by Stephen King

First Foray Into Zombies
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Zombies for Veterans
Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Historical Fiction Hoarders
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Post-Apocalyptic All-rounder
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Dystopian Distraction
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Australian Epics
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

My Teen Favourite

Unlikely Romance
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Heart-Stomper
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Which books do you recommend the most?  Any recommendations for me?

25 March 2013

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Expected Publication: 2 April 2013 by Amulet Books

Pages: 400 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal

Source: Publisher for Review

Synopsis

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.


My Thoughts


From the moment I read the synopsis of In the Shadow of Blackbirds, I knew I had to read it. Historical-romantic-ya-viral-paranormal-fiction? Yup, this had my name all over it, in big pink sparkly letters. And when I received my copy and saw the presentation of the ARC, I was even more excited - the black and white photographs really add another level of spooky-realism to the book.

It's not often I talk about covers (not that I don't love awesome covers mind you!), but I think it's important to mention just how closely the cover ties into the story. It sometimes feels like covers are made pretty just to grab our initial attention, without being completely relevant to the book, but in this case it is definitely integrated into the story, and I had to keep closing the book to look at the cover again.

Mary Shelley is a very unique character - fascinated with electricity, she's brave, smart, loyal and curious, all of which added up to make her a very endearing character, and she really helped to bring all the genre-elements together in a cohesive fashion. Her friendship-come-romance with her childhood sweetheart, Stephen was so beautifully written it really felt like they were characters made to be with each other.

The plot itself is beautifully twisty, and I was hooked from the first page. Throw in some spiritualist photographers (which absolutely fascinated me) and a seance, along with descriptions of the Spanish Influenza's impact on the city, and everything is beautifully tied together. Having so many genres and sub-genres in one book and having them work in harmony is no mean feat, and Ms. Winters has done an exceedingly good job with In the Shadow of Blackbirds - nothing feels like it's thrown in just to get attention.

I was completely immersed in 1918 America - the descriptions of the Influenza, the horrors of the war and the returning soldiers, the desperation of people to have one last contact with their loved ones through whichever means necessary.

The writing is straightforward, but fits perfectly with the time period, really evoking a sense of being in the world that Mary Shelley inhabits. Although her characters are a little less than conventional, Ms. Winters makes them all work very well together.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds completely surpassed all of my expectations - Cat Winters' debut is absolutely magnificent.

24 March 2013

Showcase Sunday #30


Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

So, remember how last week I'd been restrained with my book hoarding accumulating addiction?  Yeah I kinda fell off the wagon quite spectacularly this week, but hey, it was fun!
I have no idea why my video is stretched, nor why I appear to have had an accident with a fake tan truck, it's probably because I uploaded with low-quality - d'oh!

Ebooks
Don't Turn Around (PERSEFoNE #1) by Michelle Gagnon
Don't Look Now (PERSEFoNE #2) by Michelle Gagnon (thanks to Harper Teen)
Twinmaker by Sean Williams (thanks to HarperTeen)
Undercurrent by Paul E. Blackwell (thanks to HarperTeen)
Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
No Angel by Helen Keeble (thanks to HarperTeen)
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinniss (thanks to HarperTeen)
Blackout by Robison Wells (Blackout #1) (thanks to HarperTeen)
Ebooks/Audiobooks Not Shown
Deck Z by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon
Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton (thanks to Flux)
Insomnia (The Nightwalkers #1) by J.R. Johansson (thanks to Flux)
Hopeless (Hopeless #1) by Colleen Hoover (thanks to Atria Books)
Sold by Patricia McCormick (thanks to Tantor Media)

Paperbooks
Requiem (Delirum #3) by Lauren Oliver
The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Empty by Suzanne Weyn
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Alborn
Me, Him, Them and It by Caela Carter
Tankborn (Tankborn #1) by Karen Sandler
Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks as annonymous
Fragments (Partials Sequence #2) by Dan Wells
Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke
Idlewild (Idlewild #1) by Nick Sagan
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie
The Dinner by Herman Koch


What's new on your shelves this week?

23 March 2013

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Published: 5 January 2012

Pages: 482 (paperback)

Genre/s: Contemporary

Source: Own library

Synopsis

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.


My Thoughts

When I put Me Before You in my Showcase Sunday post a couple of months ago, almost every comment was about how emotional this book is. I'm not the most emotional reader so I was a little cynical going into it, but I also take what other people say about books seriously, and prepared myself...

The first thing that struck me about Me Before You was Lou. She's quirky, kind and has a snarky sense of humour that I absolutely loved. She's the kind of character that I wish was real so I could spend time with her, digging through her closest, or even just sitting down in the pub with a wine and a packet of chips and listen to her talk. It's rare that I find a character that I feel so connected to, but with Lou it was an almost instant click. Along with Lou, I also felt immediately drawn to Will - Jojo Moyes really puts everything on the line with her characters and he was no exception. Forced to live a life that is so very different to the life before his accident, his pain and frustration at being so dependent on other people to simply live through each day was palpable.

This is an intensely readable book, and I got through it in just two sittings - I just couldn't stop reading because I desperetely wanted to know what was going to happen next and how this story could possibly rip my heart out and stomp all over it. With characters that feel so incredibly real, in a situation that is possible for any of us at any moment in time, it felt like I was part of their story too.

So, did I cry? I finished this book in bed late one night, tears rolling down my face. But not just because it stomped all over my heart, but also because I found it incredibly uplifting to see characters come to life so vividly, to grow and develop and explore things about themselves that didn't seem possible at the beginning.

I loved loved loved this book and I'm completely aware that I've pretty much blathered all the way through my review, but it's really a book that I'd recommend to any reader, anyone who loves being taken on an emotional rollercoaster, and anyone that wants to experience characters that feel like real, likable people.


22 March 2013

Review: High Moor 2 - Moonstruck by Graeme Reynolds

High Moor II - Moonstruck (High Moor #2) by Graeme Reynolds

Expected Publication: 27 March 2013

Pages: 354 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Horror, Paranormal

Source: Author for review

As the second book in the series, this review may contain spoilers of the first book - my review of High Moor.

Synopsis


The people of High Moor are united in horror at the latest tragedy to befall their small town. As dawn breaks, the town is left to count the cost and mourn its dead, while breathing a collective sigh of relief. 

John Simpson, the apparent perpetrator of the horrific murders, is in police custody. The nightmare is over.

Isn't it?

Detective Inspector Phil Fletcher and his partner, Constable Olivia Garner, have started to uncover some unsettling evidence during their investigations of John Simpson’s past - evidence that supports his impossible claims: that he is a werewolf, and will transform on the next full moon to kill again.
However a new threat is now lurking in the shadows. A mysterious group have arrived in High Moor, determined to keep the existence of werewolves hidden.

And they will do anything to protect their secret. Anything at all…

My Thoughts

High Moor was one of the first books I read for my blog, way back at the end of 2011, and it's stuck with me since.  I love a good horror story, and High Moor was also my introduction to the world of werewolves - and not the friendly kind that live in paranormal romances.  Along with the delicious horror of the story, it was also the way that Mr. Reynolds bought the location alive that impressed me so much and so I was really excited to see how the story continued.

Beginning with a chilling prologue that perfectly sets the scene and the feel for the whole book, High Moor 2 - Moonstruck pulled me in right from the beginning.  I didn't make any attempt to refresh myself with the plot or characters, and without need for a major recap, everything came flooding back as I read through the first few chapters.

There are a variety of characters, but the focus is around two main groups, and one individual, John Simpson.  I was happy to see characters from the first book making a reappearance, along with some new, and intriguing characters that really bought an extra dimension to the story.

As with the first book, the location really comes through in the telling of the story - each setting is easily visualised without needing large passages of description, and writing action scenes are obviously Mr. Reynolds' forte as they are fast-paced yet easy to follow and the atmosphere is perfect - dark and creepy and exactly how I like my horror stories.  

High Moor 2 is not for the faint of heart - with werewolves like these, there are several bloody fight scenes and a very dark atmosphere that makes this a true horror story.  There is a lot more that I would love to say - I don't want to spoil it for anyone that may be interested in reading this series, but there are also other elements that added an extra dimension to the story and really have me curious as to where things will go in the next installment.

I love reading horror, particularly from UK-based authors, and Mr. Reynolds is now firmly one of my favourites, and I can't wait to see what he writes next.

21 March 2013

Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Published: 12 February 2013 by Philomel Books

Pages: 352 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Historical Fiction

Synopsis:


It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Ruta Sepetys' first book, Between Shades of Grey when I read it last year, particularly her characters and storytelling and Out of the Easy's historical-fiction element really appealed to me, so not long after my copy arrived, I sat down to try out the first chapter and was immediately captivated by both the characters and the setting.

The characters are what really make Out of the Easy a great book - Josie is kind, strong and smart, Willie is the tough but kind madam with a nose for business and common sense and there's a whole bunch of other kooky, loveable characters, particularly Willie's chauffeur Cokie, and Josie's friend Jesse, the local mechanic.  I really enjoyed the dynamic between Josie and Jesse in particular, it was very natural and sweet without being overdone and progressed in a very organic way.  The only character that I really didn't understand was Josie's mother, and her motiviations - but it felt like she was intended to be quite wishy-washy and flighty.

Along with the characters, I was captivated by the descriptions of life in New Orleans in the 1950's, and the personalities of the characters really made everything come to life - from the ladies in the brothel through to the gangsters that lurk in the shadows, Out of the Easy really made me feel like I was there with the characters.  

The actual plot itself is quite meandering, and where there could perhaps be menace and tension its a little too laid-back to really get the adrenaline pumping, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, and by the end I could really appreciate being able to just sit back and enjoy the characters and setting.

Out of the Easy was a book that I devoured in just two sittings and by the time I finished I was almost a little sad that I wouldn't find out what happened to Josie, Jesse and her friends after the end of the book.  I'd unhesitatingly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, coming-of-age stories or books that have wonderfully real characters in a setting that jumps off the page and pulls you right in.

20 March 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #23: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday showcases the books we're lusting after. Get ready to load up your TBR!


My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

Expected Publication: 2 April 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 304

Genre/s: YA, Realistic Fiction

Synopsis

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.


Why I'm Waiting

Honestly, just based on the cover I probably wouldn't have taken a second look at this book. Not that it's a horrible cover, it just didn't grab my attention, but once I read the synopsis I knew I wanted to read this - I can't get enough of YA realistic fiction and this one sounds really intense.

What are you waiting on this week?

19 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread


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

I could completely cheat this week and just say everything that is unread on my shelves, but that would take away all the fun.  These books are ones that I either pre-ordered or rushed out to buy the MOMENT I realised they had been released and then never got to them - some are very old and a couple more recent.  

Need more time people, more time!

Article 5 (Article 5 #1) by Kristen Simmons - on my shelf since 5 February 2012.  
As soon as I read the synopsis for Article 5, I pre-ordered it on Kindle.  It arrived promptly on release day and has sat there ever since.  I still haven't bought the second book in the series, of which I'm quite proud, but it looks like it may be waiting for some time yet.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer - on my shelf since 2 February 2012.  
There is no excuse for this, really.  Another Kindle pre-order that still sits, unopened, where it landed.

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray - on my shelf since 6 January 2013.  
A more recent arrival, but after all the gushing reviews I had to get a copy.  It was hideously expensive and yet it's still unread....

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth - on my shelf since 19 May 2012.  
I quite enjoyed Divergent, and then got caught up in the hype and pre-ordered Insurgent.  At least I know there are other people who haven't read their copy yet, so I don't feel SO bad ;-)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness - on my shelf since 23 January 2012.
I only started reading YA at the end of 2011, so this was one of the first books that I became obsessed with getting my hands on.  Don't worry though, it's got book three (random!) to keep it company on the unread shelf....

Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu - on my shelf since 12 February 2012.  
Yet another Kindle pre-order - I see a pattern here, maybe I should start pre-ordering in hard/paper back, they seem to stand a better chance of actually being read.  

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff - on my shelf since 6 January 2013.
A recent addition but one that I'd been relentlessly stalking the early reviews of.  Even the 'Kindle' excuse won't work here as I have a paperback copy.

Rage Within (Dark Inside #2) by Jeyn Roberts - on my shelf since 27 October 2012. 
OK, hands up who else goes out and immediately buys the next book in a series and then gets distracted?  That's exactly what happened with Rage Within - as soon as I finished Dark Inside, I bought the Kindle version of Rage Within, and still haven't read it.

Survivors (Morningstar Strain #3) by Z.A. Recht - on my shelf since 19 June 2012.  
I've owned a copy since June 2012, but actually put it on my wishlist in November 2011 when it was announced as an upcoming publication. I have a legitimate excuse for this one - I want to re-read the first two books, plus I'm a little scared of reading it after the reviews weren't that stellar....

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard - on my shelf since 6 January 2013.  
I was slow catching onto this one, but I read lots of awesome reviews and then tracked down a beautiful hardback copy.  That's still on my shelf.

Wow that was a difficult, and slightly embarrassing list.  Which books are still waiting for you?

18 March 2013

Book Blogger Confessions: Blog Design


Hosted by For What It's Worth and Midnyte Reader, Book Blogger Confessions is a bi-weekly feature where bloggers confess all about blogging or bookish topics.

I haven't participated in BBC for a while, but I felt like I was missing some discussion posts so I'm going to participate regularly again.

This week's topic: What is important in design for the blogs you follow? What features/elements do you appreciate? What are big turn offs?

Blog design is a very personal and varied thing - there's the minimalists, the colour lovers, the DIY and the professionally designed. I love the variety of blogs and especially the ones that have their own unique designs to make them more memorable, but there a few things that I always look for when I'm checking out new blogs:

- Easy ''follow'' options - there's nothing more disappointing than finding a cool new blog and not being able to find how to follow them, or only having GFC or Linky as an option. Having as many options as possible mean that I can follow you however I like - RSS and Twitter are my personal favourites.

- Too many widgets - they make the page slow to load, hard to find what I'm looking for and just distract me. Widgets can be cool but they shouldn't overshadow the actual content.

- About Me pages - I love knowing more about the person (or persons!) behind the blog, it makes it a more personal experience.

What key things do you look for when you find a new blog?

17 March 2013

Showcase Sunday #29



Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

Oooo look at me being all restrained again this week.  It's like calm before a storm (or avalanche).
Reign of Blood (Reign of Blood #1) by Alexia Purdy
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Croak (Croak #1) by Gina Damico (audio)
String Bridge by Jessica Bell
This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker (thanks to Soho Teen)
Thin Space by Jody Casella (thanks to SimonPulse)


How was your week?

16 March 2013

Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Expected Publication: 19 March 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 352 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Mystery

Source: Publisher for review

Synopsis

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?


My Thoughts


Imagine disappearing from your life for three years and when you come back, you don't remember even being gone, let alone where you were. Angie finds herself in exactly this situation after she is kidnapped whilst on a camping trip and the next thing she remembers, she's standing in front of her house three years later.

Angie's homecoming is emotional and awkward - her parents and friends have moved on and she doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin, and everything is made even more difficult by the fact that although everyone wants to know where and who she has been with, Angie cannot remember.

It's not hard to feel a huge sympathy towards Angie - she's a completely lost soul who doesn't fit into her life anymore and feels like she was only missing for a matter of hours, not years. But as well as being lost, throughout the story she is also incredibly brave and wants to move on with her life and be a normal teenager, which makes it really easy to like her. However, I found her family to be quite inconsistent - her mother swerves between involved and understandably over-protective to seemingly completely unconnected, and there are several family-related plot lines that didn't feel resolved.

The plot is dark and creepy, and a real page turner as Angie discovers more and more about exactly what happened to her during those three lost years, and I really liked where Ms. Coley steered the story - there's no sugar-coating events and everything that Angie experiences is written with a great deal of care and consideration. However, I did find the writing style to be a little clunky and uncomfortable until I was almost half-way through the book - it felt like there were far too many ''Angie said'' and ''Angie did'''s for the story to flow smoothly.

Pretty Girl-13 wasn't an easy read, and there were several moments that took me by surprise, but overall it was an intriguing and creepy read. It's a good mystery and quite shocking in places, but the inconsistency of Angie's parents, unresolved plot lines and the awkward writing didn't always sit well with me. 


15 March 2013

Audiobook Friday #15: Review - Gemma by Meg Tilly

Gemma by Meg Tilly

Published: 1 October 2006

Pages: 271 (paperback)

Genre/s: Contemporary

Audio Version
Published: 1 January 2008 by Meg Tilly
Narrated by Meg Tilly
Length: 7 hours, 18 minutes

Synopsis

After Hazen Wood kidnaps 12 year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. 


It is only Gemma's childlike resilience and fertile imagination that protect her from the worst of the abuse she suffers. And in the end, the healing power of unconditional love gives Gemma the courage to speak out against her abuser at last - reclaiming her dignity as a human being.


My Thoughts

I hate to start a review with a warning, but I feel I need to - this is a graphic, explict, disturbing book.  Meg Tilly holds nothing back, so if you are easily upset by child sexual abuse, please seriously consider whether this book is for you.  On the other hand, if you are a reader of 'tough issues' books, this is a book that will stretch you to the limits.

Gemma herself is the bright shining light of this book - right from the beginning I adored her stream of conciousness ramblings, positive outlook on life and infectious enthusiasm for whatever took her fancy.  Despite her rough upbringing, she herself glosses over the sadder parts of her life, instead focusing as much as possible on good, safe things.

It's when Gemma is kidnapped by Hazen Woods that things take a truly dark turn.  Told partly through Gemma's perspective, and partly through Hazen's, Gemma uses her imagination to escape from the terrible reality of what is happening to her.

I won't give away the ending, but it was tense, emotional and ultimately a story about the power of love, positive thinking and facing up to demons to build a better, stronger life with more than a bit of hope for Gemma's future.

This is a tough book, there's no doubt about it, and there were times that I nearly had to stop reading and step away to recover my own emotions.  But I am very glad that I read it, and although I can't with any kind of concience use the word enjoyed, it was in the end a rewarding read through which I 'met' a character that I truly admired, and discovered an author who tells a story with such passion and love that I can't wait to read more of her work.

The Audio Version

Gemma is probably the best audiobook that I've listened to in the past year.  Meg Tilly doesn't just read her story, she tells it with such passion and emotion that it's hard to believe that it's not Gemma and Hazen telling their stories.  Such is the level of narration that you can almost hear the tears, the anger, the panic from both characters, but most particularly Gemma and it endeared her to me even more.

14 March 2013

Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks #1) by Miranda Kenneally

Published: 1 December 2011

Pages: 281 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary

Source: Own library

Synopsis

What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?


My Thoughts

I have to start this review with several disclaimers, and some possible offense (all meant in good fun, I swear) to fans of American Football.  I've never watched a game of American Football, nor do I have any desire to.  Australian's have their own game of football - and we often make fun of the American version - our players don't wear any padding, and as I understand it, play a far more physical game.   And I LOVE Australian football - I've gotten up at 6am on Sunday's to watch finals (for me, that's a whole lot of love).  So going into Catching Jordan, I was a little bit wary of the fact that the plot is set around a sport I have no interest in or understanding of.  So if I haven't offended you yet, read on ;-)

I'll fully admit I completely skimmed over all the football references in Catching Jordan.  And perhaps this is why I didn't enjoy the book as much as everyone else in the world appears to have - it could be that I missed something elemental to the plot or character development that a reader who likes, or at least understands American football would have picked up on.

As far as contemporary YA goes, Catching Jordan worked in some ways for me, and in others it fell a little short of the mark.  I'm not the most open-minded person when it comes to contemporary YA, and most of my reading of that genre is 'issues' books, and whilst Catching Jordan talks about the issue of females in sport, and the difficulties they face in gaining acceptance from some men, and women, it doesn't go completely into the dark depths of sexism in sport.

One thing I found very difficult to swallow was the relationship between Ty and Jordan.  Yes, I get that he was cute, but for a girl who seems to pride herself on being on the of the boys and not easily swayed by attractive boys, Jordan was pretty easily distracted, and hooked in by him.  And I didn't like Ty much at all - I found him to be possessive, un-charming and a bit of a dick. 

Although Ms. Kenneally gives some background information that hints at why his behaviour was a certain way, I didn't find it excusable, and I lost a lot of respect for Jordan as a character that she couldn't see through the flimsy excuses.

What I did love about this book however, was the embracing of a girl being one of the guys - I loved Jordan's interactions with her friends and teammates, and to me those relationships really felt genuine and believable.  I also enjoyed Jordan's changing relationship with her father, the quiet support of her mother and her own journey as she started to realise the realities of life.

Catching Jordan was a fun, quick read, that despite my complete lack of knowledge of the game of American Football and a relationship that pissed me off, I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.  I'm never going to be a contemporary YA lover, particularly where there are no intense, dark issues involved, but I did enjoy this quite a bit.

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