16 December 2013

I'm Leavin' On a Jet Plane - And a Blog Hiatus

You know that holiday I've been banging on about forever?  Well, in six days time I'll be sitting in the airport, equal parts stressed and excited, waiting to board my flight to Hong Kong.  From Hong Kong I'll fly onto Sydney, arriving about 9pm local time on December 23rd and then spending at least 30 minutes in a hot shower before laying down for the first time in more than 24 hours.

Early Christmas Eve we fly to Tassie, where I will spend Christmas with my family for the first time in six years!  

We'll also be visiting Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef and Melbourne for a few days, and then flying back to Tassie for my middle brother's wedding before making the trek back to Europe.  

25 days, 10 flights, 4 hotels, and more than 56 hours sitting and letting someone else do the driving (errr, flying) is going to be intense, crazy busy or completely offline, so I had to make a decision on what to do with the blog.  I played with the idea of just scheduling enough posts to make it through a month, and I probably could have done it, but it doesn't feel like the right thing to do for me.

So I've decided to take a hiatus - a proper, long, scheduled hiatus, so that I can enjoy my vacation, not worry about replying to things when I should be spending time with my family and boyfriend and enjoying my holiday, and also hopefully coming back refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things.

Therefore, this is my last post for 2013.  I hope everyone has a fantastic, safe, happy Christmas and New Years, and I'll see you all when I'm back on January 19th!!

15 December 2013

Showcase Sunday #66

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.

This week I received the most awesome Christmas present from my wonderful friend, Karin.

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken 
She-Wolves by Helen Castor
You Are So Undead to Me (Megan Berry #1) by Stacey Jay
And POPCORN!  because I am obsessed with it - there's nothing I love more than curling up with a good book and a big bowl of salted popcorn.

Thank you Karin xxxx  I hope your present arrives soon!!

And then I had this ridiculous panic moment that I thought I didn't have enough books to choose from on my ereader for my holiday.  Which is completely ridiculous but I felt better afterwards ;-)

Ebooks Purchased
All That I Am by Anna Funder
The Mammoth Book of Apocalyptictic SF by Mike Ashley
The Righteous by Martin Gilbert
The Passing Bells (Passing Bells #1) by Phillip Rock
Life During Wartime by Lucius Shepard
A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead
The Detainee by Peter Liney
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Rift by Walter Jon Williams
The Compound (The Compound #1) by S.A. Bodeen
Ancient Enemy by Mark Lukens
Rag Men by Rocky Alexander
The Thetis Plague by Mark Onspaugh
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
Morgan's Run by Colleen McCullough
Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall
Savage Utopia (Savage Utopia #1) by Margaret Tanner

Have a fabulous week!!

14 December 2013

2013 End of Year Book Survey

 Every year, Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner has an End of Year Book Survey.  I did it for the first in 2012 and loved it, and now it's back again!

Yes, it's not quite the end of the year, but I'm going on vacation in a week so I won't be around for the last two weeks of the year!

Best in Books 2013

1. Best Book You Read in 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - it sounds wierd to say my favourite book of the year was the one that made me cry the most - but the fact it was the ONLY book that made me cry this year probably explains it further.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Survive by Alex Morel

Everything about this book screamed ME.  But I was so disappointed in it, I even wrote a letter to the book about my disappointment.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I'd never even considered reading Shadow and Bone until Daisy convinced me (whilst in the middle of a bookstore no less) to try it.  And I lurrrved it!

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Second year running that a Levithan book is my most recommended.  It's just ... beautiful.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - I read all three books in the trilogy this year (sadly, not as a binge read), and it's one of the best dystopian series I've read in a long time.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Elizabeth Wein - both Code Name Verity and especially Rose Under Fire were just amazing - historical fiction with strong female characters for the win!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo - I very rarely read fantasy - it's just not my thing.  But Bardugo made me forget I was reading a genre I don't usually like.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes - I was so captivated by it, that I read it on my phone whilst walking.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee - I'm dying to re-read it before reading World After, and waiting until next year (I have a wierd rule about not re-reading books in the same year) is KILLING ME.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale - because it's kooky and matches the book perfectly.

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Roar from the Under the Never Sky series.  Do I really need to explain this?

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - because I cried, big sobbing cried, when I read it, and I'm not a crier when it comes to books.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - it's been on my TBR for years and years, and I finally got to it in 2013.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

''You can give words, but you can't take them.  And when words are given and received, that is when they are shared.  We remember what that was like.  Words so real they were almost tangible.  There are conversations that you remember, for certain.  But more than that, there is the sensation of conversation. You will remember that, even when the precise words begin to blur.  How you gave, how you received.  How close you felt to this other person, how remarkable this closeness was.  The sharing of the words becomes as important as the words themselves.  The sensation stays with you, attaches you to world.''

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: Swan Song by Robert McCammon (856 pages)
Shortest: Last Suppers: Final Famous Meals from Death Row by Ty Treadwell (152 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  I did NOT expect what happened to happen and I was quite shocked that it did!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Max and Sylvie from Golden Boy by Abigal Tarttelin - despite all the complications of their relationship, and the ups and downs, it was just a super sweet relationship that made me happy.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, which was pushed on me by Judith at Paper Riot and I LOVED it.  And then immediately pushed it on other people!

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

This answer actually really surprised me - nearly one third of all my books read in 2013 are Contemporary Fiction.  Considering I'm a huge horror/dystopian lover and historical-fiction always draws me in, I'm in shock.  Obviously my tastes are continuing to change!

22. Best 2013 debut you read?

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch - I absolutely adored this book, and I can't wait to see what Emily writes next.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Anatomy of a Boyfriend (Anatomy #1) by Daria Snadowsky - because it was so open and honest about being a teenager and having your first relationship.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - the only one that brought me to tears.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin - the only reason this isn't my 'pushing' book of the year was because I only just read it, but this book deserved so much more attention.  Check it out!

Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I KNOW!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

The Haven by Carol Lynch Wiliams - it's been on my radar for about 18 months, and although I'm a bit dysopian-overloaded, I'm a fan of Lynch Williams' work and really intrigued about this one.

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? 

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen - another one that has been on my wishlist for ages, this sounds super cool - I love genre mishmashes when they work!

 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014? 

Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin - I've enjoyed this series so much, and I'm intrigued to see how it ends!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014? 

I'm looking forward to coming back from my hiatus in January and being refreshed and ready to blog.  And to visit more blogs and commenting - I love reading other blogs but sadly fell out of the habit of doing it.  Prepare for comment avalanches in 2014!

12 December 2013

Review: Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

Fire and Ash (Benny Imura #4) by Jonathan Maberry

Published: 13 August 2013 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 537 (paperback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Zombie

Source: Own library


Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they've found the jet and they've discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it's not. Benny's best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves? In the fourth book of the thrilling and emotionally charged Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is about to begin...

My Thoughts

Straight after finishing the third book in the Benny Imura series, Flesh and Bone, I started reading Fire and Ash.  It's quite rare that I binge read a series anymore - blogging tends to make it a bit too much of a balancing act, but once I had the momentum going, I really wanted to find out how this series ends.

As with the other books, Fire and Ash picks up pretty much immediately where the prior book left off.  Benny, Lilah, Nix and their new friends, Riot, Eve and Joe, have found Sanctuary, where monks tend to the humans dying of diseases that would have been easily cured prior to first night, but the scientists are isolated from the survivors.  This in itself poses an interesting question because more people are dying of disease than being bitten and rising from the dead - how quickly and severly would diseases such as TB, cholera and typhiod decimate survivors in any apocalyptic scenario once the stockpiled medicines and treatments run out?

I have mentioned previously that all the Benny Imura books follow a similar formula - what I didn't realise until reading Fire and Ash are that books one and two are closely linked, as are three and four - but the transition between books two and three is actually the biggest directional change in the whole series.  This helps break up the feeling of rinse and repeat, and also allows more room to expand on the two major scenarios of this series.

The major introduction in Flesh and Bone is the religious zealots who believe that murder of the human race is the only answer to the zombie problem - and in Fire and Ash their intentions are really notched up a level - in both books I had a macabre fascination with them, but particularly in Fire and Ash I was shocked at the lengths they were willing to go to in the name of their cause.

Relationships continue to develop and change as they did in Flesh and Bone, but in particular, Benny and Nix begin to reevaluate their relationships as adults rather than teenagers, and are incredibly mature and measured in their approach.  For me, this is the biggest arc in the growth of the characters - a theme that began with book one and ends perfectly in book four.  Looking back and realising how the characters have grown, changed and adapted both physically and emotionally is bittersweet but also a great example of how Maberry can develop characters from immature teens into independent young adults.

I was once again excited to see Joe Ledger reappear in Fire and Ash and take on a far more pivotal role.  By doing this, Maberry has also got me excited to continue the Joe Ledger series itself - I was reminded of how much I enjoyed Joe as a character as well as being curious as to whether the tie-in runs in both directions.  Joe is an extra bonus for Maberry fans, but it's definitely not necessary to have read the Joe Ledger series to appreciate him as a character.

Fire and Ash is pretty much non-stop action, and it definitely kept me entertained all the way through.  The fight scenes are particularly intense in relation to the rest of the series, and it also reflects again the growth and evolution of the characters.

The reason behind the zombie plague is touched upon for the first time in Fire and Ash, and there is also a lot more delving into the long-term plans of the survivors and the science that started to emerge in Flesh and Bone is finally explained in greater detail, and it makes for fascinating reading.

I'm quite sad to say goodbye to Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong, but I really enjoyed the journey I took with them, and seeing them grow.  This is a series that has it all for zombie lovers - there's lots of new zombie ideas, great characters and action scenes that keep all the books flowing but without sacrificing some of the other aspects of the storyline. 

10 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My Winter TBR

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

Ah Winter...I love to hate you.  Although there is the added bonus of long evenings curled up with blankets and the heating on full blast to make up for the cold days.  My TBR list for winter is a bit of an odd mix - next year I'm challenging myself to read 25 books that have more than 500 pages, so I'm intending to start with a bang...

The Big Books

Under the Dome by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King

Shadows (Ashes Trilogy #2) by Ilsa J. Bick

Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant

Fragments (Partials Sequence #2) by Dan Wells

Upcoming Releases

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

The Binge Read I've Been Holding Out For

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee

Soooo apparently winter also means reading 'dark' books for me!

What's on your Winter TBR??

09 December 2013

Review: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

Published: 10 September 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 464 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery

Source: Own library


They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

My Thoughts

When I first saw reviews of The Waking Dark popping up, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.  Horror is (perhaps obviously) one of my favourite genres, and I like them dark, spooky and intense.

The Waking Dark jumps straight into the story - jumping through the stories of the teens on the 'killing day' as they witness people they know murder each other in a variety of ways - from the more predictable through to more 'unique' methods.  Each scene is intense and are used to introduce the characters and their personalities as they react in different ways to the chaos around them.  

Wasserman's writing style is unique, and works very well - there are long run-on sentences and the language is very descriptive, but rather than slowing down the story, it actually makes the reading more frantic and addictive and builds the tension perfectly.   The plot itself is very Stephen King-esque although I felt that the characterisation of Wasserman is actually slightly stronger as they are all unique and easily discernible from each other, which is something I often struggle with when there is a larger cast of key characters.

True 'horror' in Young Adult literature is something I haven't been able to find very often - to be honest I usually find them to be quite watered-down and a little too happy-ending-ish.  But The Waking Dark isn't a book for the faint hearted - there is a lot of violence, but it's chilling rather than just shock-value.

The only thing that didn't really work for me was the ending - although I liked the resolution it felt a little too neat and I had some questions that weren't completely answered enough for me personally.

This was a difficult review for me to write as there is a lot that happens in The Waking Dark, but I really don't want to ruin the surprise for anyone that reads it, but I will say that this is one of my favourite horror stories this year - it has an old-school horror vibe but a with a modernity that I really appreciated.

08 December 2013

Showcase Sunday #65

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.

TWO WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!!  Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Physical books purchased
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee
World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee
Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant (I realised after filming that I'd mentioned this one last week, but I'm too lazy to redo the video!)

Ebooks purchased (damn you Cyber Monday!)
Glow (Sky Chasers #1) by Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge
Titanic: The Long Night by Diane Hoh
Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1) by Octavia E. Butler
Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
900 Miles by S. Jonathan Davis

For review
Enders (Starters #2) by Lissa Price (thanks to Delacorte)
Wicked Games by Sean Elin
Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum
Fan Art by Sarah Tregay
Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Have a fantabulous week :-D

07 December 2013

Review: Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry

Flesh and Bone (Benny Imura #3) by Jonathan Maberry

Published: 11 September 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 469 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Zombie

Source: Own library


Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.

And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

In Flesh & Bone, Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Lou Chong and Lilah the Lost Girl are pitted against dangers greater than anything they've ever faced. To survive, each of them must rise to become the warriors Tom trained them to be.

My Thoughts

Quite often when I read a series, I find that my interest starts to wane as the series goes on - it's almost like I've completely invested myself in the first books and by the time we roll around to number three I'm feeling a bit tired and jaded and just want to find out how the whole thing ends already.

However, the Benny Imura series has had the opposite effect on me.  I enjoyed, but didn't love, Rot and Ruin, and Dust and Decay had me a little more charmed, so I was curious to see where Maberry took things in Flesh and Bone and whether the upward trend would continue.

Flesh and Bone begins shortly after the end of Dust and Decay.  Benny, Nix, Chong and Lilah are on the track of the jet they saw flying overhead earlier in the series, determined to find out what is really out in the Rot and Ruin.  The action begins straight away as Benny finds himself in a rapidly decaying (yep, I totally went there) situation alone, and the first new character of the series is introduced in rather dramatic fashion.

Introducing a new character halfway through a series can be hit-and-miss because the long-term characters are so much more familiar, but Maberry brings in a completely unexpected character which makes it far more interesting and emotionally compelling.

The Benny Imura series has a familiar theme in pitching the teens (the good guys) against a range of characters who have completely different intentions (the bad guys) and although it could get a little stale having the same formula, Maberry's imagination saves the day.  The bad guys in Flesh and Bone stomp all over the previous baddies in the series and are far more frightening than even than those in Dust and Decay.  These guys are completely crazy and so far removed from normal human behaviour that I was completely aghast at what they were actually trying to do.

Maberry is very good at developing characters and relationships in the midst of action scenes, and Flesh and Bone is no exception.    There are two couples in the awesome foursome, and both are developing along with the characters and the series itself and I love that it all fits together so well.  All four are becoming braver and stronger physically, but they also develop emotionally and start to  have more insight into themselves and relationships which endeared them to me even more

For fans of Jonathan Maberry there is one awesome thing that happens in Flesh and Bone that was completely unexpected but I totally loved it - and that is one of the characters from his other series pops up as a recurring secondary character.

This series continues to go from strength to strength, growing the 'old' characters and introducing new characters for a fresh perspective - I'm going to be very sad to say goodbye to Benny and the gang.  

05 December 2013

Review: Parallel by Lauren Miller

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Published: 14 May 2013 by HarperTeen

Pages: 419 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Source: Publisher for review


Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.

My Thoughts

Parallel is the third 'parallel lives' book I've read in 2013 - it's a concept that I find fascinating and it seems to be a way to build a love triangle sneakily.  Because all three that I've read have this particular quirk, I'm probably becoming a little more aware of it but strangely, it hasn't bothered me in any of them.

Abby is a curious, driven character and although her single-mindedness in knowing what she wants her future to be could be irritating, Miller uses vulnerability to make her more likable.  I honestly could have completely despised someone that was so sure of herself, but it's more of an outward surety, and her inner conflicts makes her much easier to relate to.  

Miller explains the science behind Abby's lives quite well - it's perfectly balanced between enough information without being overwhelming, and the explanations although astrophysical are straight forward enough to understand without needing to know a great deal about the subjects.

I've mentioned that Parallel has a love triangle of sorts as Abby has relationships in both parallels, but they don't really come into play until the second half of the story.  This gave me a feeling of being far more invested in Abby as a person rather than trying to discern which of her relationships I liked better.  And unlike the other two books I've read along the same lines where I knew from the first moment which relationship I liked better, my feelings changed during the course of Parallel - although by the ending I was wondering WHY I was so conflicted.

The ending is a doozy - it's the kind of ending I personally love because it leaves enough of the story open to decide how I want it to end, but was still left feeling satisfied.

03 December 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I'm Dying To Read

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

In the End (In the After #2) by Demitria Lunetta

I really loved the first half of In the After - and that the relationship was more of a sisterly bond than a romance was a huge plus for me.  Lunetta's series is much more science-fiction than the usual dystopian, and I enjoyed that element a hugely.  I can't wait to see what happens to Amy in In the End!

After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum

Although I wasn't the biggest fan of Plum's Revenants series, I really enjoyed the first book, and her unique imagination really captivated me.

I mean, it's about a girl who was brought up thinking the rest of the world was an apolcalyptic wasteland and then *dum dum dummmmmm* it wasn't!.  I'm so curious about this one....

The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa

I loved the first book, enjoyed the second one, and through both I was a huge fan of both Allie and Kagawa's world-building.  Although I'm not the biggest fan of vamires, I can't wait to see how this series ends.

The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

I'm almost over getting excited for dystopians, but I loved Lynch Williams' The Chosen One, so I'm super curious about how she writes a dystopian world.  Plus with several books in prose, I'm hoping the writing will be gorgeous.

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Young Adult Science Fiction!  And it's set in outer-space, with hints of post-apocalyptic story lines, and I've heard whispers that there's polygamy.  I am so excited for this one.  And it's PRETTY.

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West

I don't need to explain this choice to those that have read Pivot Point.  To those that haven't - you should get on that.  One of the best parallel-lives themed books I've read, ever.  Oh, Trevor!

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen

Oh hello Downton Abbey, science-fiction, post-apocalyptic-y sounding book with influences of The Selection.  WAIT.  Scratch that last bit, I'm going to pretend I never saw that comparison.  However, the rest sounds awesome, AND it's already been on my wishlist since October 2012.  Release, already!

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

Still shrouded in mystery, no cover, no real synopsis, but I loved Winters' In the Shadow of Blackbirds so I'm going to continue stalking this one mercilessly.

Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin

I really like this series because it's pure post-apocalyptic - there's no dystopian government that caused the world to collapse, it's a natural disaster with loads of survival elements.  I'm so curious to see what happens next and how the series ends.

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Desir's Fault Line was probably one of the best YA realistic fiction novels that I read in 2013, with shocking honesty and flawed characters.  Although Bleed Like Me is about a destructive relationship that already makes me feel edgy, I'm excited to see what Desir does with this storyline.

Argh this list made me so excited for next year to just BE HERE ALREADY.  What are you looking forward to reading in 2014?

02 December 2013

Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2) by Laura Bickle

Published: 3 September 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal

Source: Own library


One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

My Thoughts

The Hallowed Ones was one of my surprise reads for 2013 - it kind of snuck under my radar for a while, then I was hesitant to read it, and then I really enjoyed it.  I love when a book sneaks up and makes me second guess my initial reactions, and I was definitely looking forward to reading The Outside.

The Outside picks up shortly after the ending of The Hallowed Ones, with Katie, Alex and Ginger travelling north, where they believe their best chance of survival will be in the wilds of Canada.  There are brief recaps of what happened in The Hallowed Ones, enough to remind me what had happened, but it's not overdone - the balance is perfect.

The vampires in this series are particularly scary as they use psychological tactics on the human survivors rather than only pure violence which adds another aspect to the storyline as they try and resist the calls of loved ones to join their ranks.  

I struggled to love Katie as much in The Outside as I did in The Hallowed Ones.  In the first book she is openly rebellious without being bratty, but in The Outside although she is brave and thinks strategically, at times I felt she was almost hiding behind her beliefs.  It's admirable that she sticks to them so consistently, but to me it just didn't feel like she was allowed to grow as a character as much as if she had weighed up the pros and cons and made the smart decision.  Alex also grated on me a little - he relates a lot of what is happening to mythology and although for the most part it is interesting, at times it felt a little like overkill.

One of my favourite parts of this series is the relationship between Katie and Alex - it's not all smooth sailing, there's no insta-love or unrealistic 'die for you' scenarios - and in fact during large chunks of the book it almost fades into the background as they focus on what they should be focusing on - survival.  They also don't let their relationship cloud their judgement on what is the smart thing to do - and although they are realistic in what they can achieve, they are aware of their own limitations, all of which was very refreshing and atypical to some Young Adult dystopian literature.

Although I didn't enjoy The Outside as much as I enjoyed The Hallowed Ones, I think Bickle made some brave choices in taking the story in a different direction than I would have expected, and having realistic relationships and characters that although not perfect, are interesting and stand out from the crowd.

01 December 2013

Showcase Sunday #64

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.

This week has been super-busy at work - I'm starting to stress out now my holiday is exactly three weeks away - SO MUCH TO DO!

But we did have my boyfriend's work Christmas party on Friday night, which was fun if a long trek there and back.  The food was nice, but there wasn't really enough of it (strangely, the coach driver didn't suggest a stop in at a McDonald's drive through on the way home, but it would have made him the most popular guy EVER), lots of drinking, a fair deal of dancing and I met some lovely people.  Now I ache and am totally feeling my age!

Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid - it was cheap on Kindle.  And it sounds kinda cool.
Parasite (Parasitology #1) by Mira Grant - finally!  I've ummed and ahhhhed about this one for ages, but I think it's going to work for me.

For Review (thanks to Harlequin Teen)
Forever (Temptation #3) by Karen Ann Hopkins - strangely, despite the fact that I didn't like the second book in the series, I've been thinking about the third book for a while, and I'm hopeful this one will be better.  Plus then I've finished another series!
Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison - I enjoyed her book New Girl, so I'm intrigued about this one.

How was your week?  Any good parties, celebrations etc.?


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