Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club


Author: Elizabeth Eulberg 
Release Date: Already on shelves 
Publisher: Penguin Australia

Love is all you need...or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut. 

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows - no more. It's a personal choice...and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born; The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways...which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like...

Ye be warned: By the end of this novel you are guaranteed to be singing along to The Beatles songs in your head. And there are plenty of references to the band sprinkled throughout the novel that you can't help but appreciate, no matter your level of love or non-love for them. I'm not really a fan, but I still can't get "With A Little Help From My Friends" out of my head!

That said, it doesn't matter if you're a Beatles fan or not - this is a fantastic contemporary novel that you can't help but be sucked into from the first page.The main thread that weaves together Elizabeth's debut novel is friendship. And what a refreshing change of pace it was! Penny Lane (yes, named after a song from The Beatles.. didn't pick up on that until she told the reader LOL) has had her heart broken for the very last time. No more boys. No more dating. Ever. Well... for the remaining two years at McKinley High School. She's sworn off being jerked around by the evil creatures known as males and so forms her own no-dating club - The Lonely Hearts Club.

It doesn't take long before she starts gaining members, even those who were initially skeptical or else mortified of the idea of no-dating eventually came around. What then formed was a beautiful group of friends who supported each other, laughed together, cried together and shared their own personal stories of how the opposite sex has wronged them. What was so inspiring about this book was the message it brought across. Of friendship, of individuality, of not letting your life be dictated by a guy or your feelings for a guy - not ditching your friends, your dreams, your goals, your interests or giving up what makes you YOU. The girls gave up boys and gained not only an inspiring support network of friends, but a greater sense of self.

As the Club grew in size and stability, soon some of their rules become complicated. Because the one thing that drew them all together, the evil jerkiness of the male species, began shining the spotlight on some of it's more respectable young bachelors. Penny in particular is conflicted by the nice boy gene - she swore off boys, founded this Club that has become an integral part of her life and made such amazing friends because of it, but now she's falling for her friend, Ryan Bauer. And he's made it quite clear the feeling is reciprocated.

There are bumps and hurdles along the way, but as with life, everything grows. We all learn and grow and while Penny started the club believing that all guys pretty much sucked, she finds herself slowly regaining her faith in them and realising they won't all break her heart.

I recommend this book to all girls (and you guys out there too!) - it's warm and inspiring, funny and sweet. It encourages you to put yourself first, never to ditch your friends for any guy, no matter how hot he might look. And it shows us that no matter how badly the breaking and stomping of your heart, it's pretty darn strong. It will survive, it will go on beating and the next guy that comes along might just do more nurturing that stomping.

 Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Waterfall

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine where you can spotlight a book you're giddy with excitement to read so other people can be giddy with excitement :)


Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Released: February 1 2011
Publisher: David C. Cook Publishing

Lisa Tawn Bergren's new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn't have to fear a vampire's bite but must still fight for her life. 

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidentally finds herself in sixteenth-century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. 

Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the sixteenth-century—and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another


Definitely excited for this one! I absolutely love Italy, time travel, ancient history and it goes without saying, Italian hotties :D Seriously, how can a book go wrong with that combination of elements? Waterfall is the first in the River of Time trilogy - I found the cover art for the next two novels on Lisa's website. They all look gorgeous!


 What's your Waiting on Wednesday pick?

Happy Australia Day!

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!


To any and all Australians out there, I would like to wish you all a Happy Australia Day! January 26th marks the date when the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove in 1788 and is used to celebrate what's great about being Australian.



Despite being a a day of fun and partying, which many use as an excuse to get drunk, play cricket all day instead of working and of course, fire up the BBQ - it's a good time to remember a great number of Australians are currently suffering the devastating effects of the recent floods to pass through Queensland. Those of which are still sweeping their way through other parts of the country. Watching the coverage on the news has been heartbreaking. Yet in the midst of all the chaos and fear, the bravery and selflessness of so many Australian's came to light. Australia isn't perfect, we have crime and prejudice and whatever other injustices just like every country, but in times of need our spirit is one and we band together to help each other. This is why I'm proud to say I am Australian. Plus.... we're kind of awesome. You know it's true ;)


So in honour of Australia Day, I thought I'd spotlight some Aussie goodness in the bookin' society. The sad fact is, I haven't read all that many Australian YA novels. I have plenty in my TBR pile, but I still haven't gotten around to reading them. Shame on me!

Most of the Australian (or written by an Australian author) books I've read are either middle-grade ones when I was in Primary School (I loved Paul Jennings and Morris Gleitzman) and adult novels in High School. A particular Australian favourite was Bryce Courtenay - you should definitely check him out if you read adult fiction!


However two Aussie YA novels are recent standouts for me are:




Stolen by Lucy Christopher - AMAZING. Brilliant. Will play with your mind and emotions. Just wow.
Good Oil by Lucy Christopher [My Review on Goodreads] - I really loved this, it's a beautiful coming of age story that everyone should read <3

Some Aussie novels I'm excited to get my hands on:




Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
Tomorrow When The War Began by James Marsden (still haven't watched the movie yet! Must. Do. Soon)
Fury by Shirley Sarr
Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James
Mercy by Rebecca Lim

What Aussie books (either written by an Australian author or set in Australia) are you looking forward to? Have you read any standout Aussie novels? 

And if I have any Aussie readers out there, are you doing anything special to celebrate?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review: The Lost Saint

 


Author: Bree Despain
Release Date: Already on shelves
Publisher: Egmont USA


A family destroyed. A love threatened. An enemy returns.

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with he werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace's relationship with Daniel is put in danger -- in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her -- not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

Bree Despain delivers sizzling romance and thrilling action in the heart-pounding sequel to the The Dark Divine
  
Warning: Contains spoilers for those who have not read The Dark Divine.

I really should have reread The Dark Divine before starting it's sequel - It's been ages since I first read it, so to be honest I was a little 'huh?' in the beginning thanks to my memory failing me. Fortunately, my confusion was short-lived!

At first I thought this was going to suffer the new trend gripping many YA sequels where after finally getting together at the end of the first book, the guy withdraws in the sequel with no explanation, girl is confused as to why he's pushing her away and their relationship is in tatters. Okay, so maybe that DID happen. But do not let that deter you, because the fast-paced plot laced with action, danger, intriguing mythology and all that yummy emotional angst totally makes up for it.

In The Lost Saint, Grace finds herself battling the raging wolf within as it tries to overcome her. She made the ultimate sacrifice in order to cure Daniel in The Dark Divine and now she must deal with the result of her actions. The Divine family is way out of tune with the perfect harmony it was sang to - with Jude gone, their mother is either smothering or else completely withdrawn, their father is gone for long periods of time as he chases up wild leads on finding Jude and Grace is on the brink of near-wolfing out. Charity and Baby James are probably the only ones who still resemble some form of normalcy, but of course they're affected by the discord in their family.

Grace and Daniel are okay for a little while... but *sigh* nothing stays rosy in fictionalville. We're introduced to a new character, Talbot, who I had totally pegged from the start.... but he did end up surprising me in the end. You're not really sure whether or not to trust him - he's an Urbat and comes along after Daniel suddenly withdraws from Grace. He and Grace start training in secret (our heroine is becoming quite the kickass she-wolf), trying to help her grasp hold of her powers so she can protect herself and fight against the monsters.  He's not interested in her taking it slow and finding 'balance' like Daniel had first tried - he throws her straight into battle with demons. True, she's growing stronger, learning to unleash the power within... but at what cost? As her powers strengthen, so does the wolf within.

While I was frustrated with both Grace and Daniel for not having enough trust in one another to reveal what they were each up to - I have to say, any irritation I held totally melted away with a certain scene toward the end. All I will say is AWWWW! Something incredibly sweet and heartbreaking goes down in the midst of all the action and general life-threatening ordeal that made me want to run into the book and hug Daniel. But no time for that Brodie, we have an awesome action-packed ending to attend to!

The ending was great, everything come to a head and while I had quite a few of the revelations predicted early on, a couple of things did surprise me. Also, CLIFFHANGERS ARE NOT MY FRIEND! *tears at hair* Why do authors do that? End the book on such a "nooo!" moment and then 'goodbye, the end, now you can wait a year to find out what happens next, buahahaha'. Not cool, Despain. The ending did remind me of something in another YA werewolf book, but I shan't reveal which since it's a nasty spoiler.

I liked this one even better than the first and am counting down the days until we can conclude this fantastic trilogy!

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Glass House (Morganville Vampires #1)

 
 
Author: Rachel Caine
Release Date: Already on shelves
Publisher: Penguin Australia

It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows - one that will spill out into the bright light of day. 

Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn't have the right connections - to the undead who run the town. 


When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Hew new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood...

I know, I know - another vampire book, right? As if there aren't enough of these bloodsuckers lining our bookshelves? Well, personally I'm not really sick of them. When you have authors like Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy series) who bring a whole new take to the vamp mythology, it's easy to still remain intrigued!

Glass Houses is the first book in the Morganville Vampire series. I have to say, I quite enjoyed it. I was really debating whether or not to give it 3 1/2 stars or 4... but in the end I settled on 4. It's a fast read (when you're not majorly slacking off on your reading duties by watching dvd's), Rachel's writing is easy and addictive - one of those books that you get sucked into and before you know it, you're halfway through already.

Claire Denvers is a 16 year old brain-child whose book-smarts have scored her a place in college. Despite being so young, her parents agreed to let her go, provided she enrolled somewhere reasonably close to home. So say hello to Morganville. It doesn't take long for Queen Bee of Texas Prairie University, Monica Morrell, to have it in for Claire. She and her loyal minions waste no time with empty threats and schoolyard taunts, they rush straight into the 'beating-up-and-pushing-down-a-flight-of-stairs' method... psycho much?!

After the brutal attack and seriously fearing for her life, Claire ends up renting a room at the Glass House, with residents Michael, Shane and Eve. I really enjoyed these characters, they were fun and entertaining and it's really easy to see yourself hanging around with them... or sharing a house while homicidal vamps roam the town and a nutcase cliche of girls are plotting your death. Morganville is basically run by the vampires - while the majority can't come out in daylight, they make up for those lost hours by getting their creep-on when the sun falls and fanging on poor college girls.

The story is fast-paced, withplenty of humour, witty dialogue, danger ahoy and some light romance which I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing develop more as the series continues. The vampire society is pretty interesting and some of the humans (namely Monica) are just as dangerous as the vamps. It ends on a cliffhanger though, so I recommend having the second book on standby when finishing this, because you'll get pissed if you don't. I sure did!

Now I need to hurry up and get my hands on The Dead Girls' Dance!

Rating 4/5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't you ever interrupt me while I'm reading a book!

I had to post this. A friend of mine tweeted me this link to a youtube video and said it made her think of me. I can't imagine why..... :P

All the while it's playing I'm laughing and thinking, "Dude, this guy is a little psycho"

"And he is so totally me."



I think it's a universal truth that you if you interrupt a bookworm while s/he's reading a book, they're going to bite your hand off (or worse!). Who else gets a little psycho when interrupted while reading? Any stories of wolfing out in sheer rage or leaving red imprints resembling a book spine on the perpetrator's face?

(I can't get that flipping song out of my head now! LOL)

Waiting on Wednesday: Luminous

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine where you can spotlight a book you're giddy with excitement to read so other people can be giddy with excitement :)

Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
Release Date: 7 July 2011
Publisher: Dutton Childrens Books
When sixteen-year-old Consuela discovers she can remove her skin, revealing a lustrous mother-of-pearl skeleton, she slips into a parallel world known as the Flow, a place inhabited by archetypal teens with extraordinary abilities. Crafting skins out of anything – air, water, feathers, fire – she is compelled to save ordinary people from dying before their time. Yet now someone is murdering them, one by one, and Consuela finds herself the focus of an intricate plot to end the Flow forever when all she really wants is to get back home, alive.

The cover is what first attracted me to this oddly brilliant book. How pretty is Luminous?? And the story itself... wow. Not only is it a beautifully unique addition to the YA market, but so cool! I haven't read any other story like it, which makes me incredibly excited to get my hands on a copy in July.

What book are you beating your head against a wall to hurry up and release already?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Winner + Book Shopping!



First off, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to every single one of my followers... new and old. The 'old' are new anyway! I'm blown away by the number of people the giveaway hop attracted, but then again, it's a giveaway... duh :) Anyway just wanted to say thanks for following and I hope you'll stick around!

In total there were 364 entries (including extra entry for advertising) and I'm now sitting at 274 followers. Okay, so maybe I'm sitting here with a big ol' dorky grin on my face, but it's only cause I officially love you all. My love can be scary and obsessive, but you asked for it when you came here ;)

Okay, enough rambling. Let's get on to what you've all been waiting for. The winner of my first ever giveaway is....

Drum roll please *beats drums*

Sherry Strode!! 
She chose a preorder of Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach.

YAY!! Congratulations, Sherry! I've already sent you an email, so please respond within 48 hours and I'll order your book. And to everyone who didn't win.... wanna hug instead? *comes barreling toward you with arms flailing*

Since I couldn't enter my own giveaway, I had to reward myself by visiting my new, all-time favourite book shop - Dirt Cheap Books. Seriously, I rave about this to anyone who listens. It's a new warehouse that opened here last month and they have DIRT.CHEAP.BOOKS! Every book is $4.99 or less. Yes, you heard right. Brand new books no more expensive than five bucks!! They're a huge warehouse and I think they get overstock and whatnot from publishers. They have a sale on now - 3 books for $10. Can you see why I love this shop??


So today I picked up:


The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (and boy can that book do a lot of damage - just over 800 pages!)
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
Legacy of Lies & Don't Tell: Dark Secrets 1 by Elizabeth Chanlder
A Dark Touch Novel: Shadows by Amy Meredith


And then in the mail I received two contest wins:


Linger by Maggie Stiefvater - thanks to Writers Block NZ.  I read it when it first came out but of course, needed my own copy!
The Lost Saint by Bree Despain - thanks to Suzanne Johnson. Can't wait to read this!

I've kind of been slack the past few days with reading - been rewatching Kyle XY season 2 (oh how I love this show <3). So I need to bury my head in the first Morganville Vampires book pronto!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A-Z Reading Challenge


This fabulous challenge is hosted by Steph from The Thoughts of a Book Junky! The mission? Read 25 books in 2011, representing each letter of the alphabet. The incentive: Uh, hello... to read some amazing books! But she's also giving away TWO, that's right TWO books-of-choice to a lucky participant.

Head on over there to pledge your loyalties to 26 yummy books!

Here are my choices, in alphabetical order *snorts* *yes, Brodie knows she's lame*

A: Across the Universe by Beth Revis  -  
READ IT ALREADY! [Review]  Oh yeah, I'm good. Hello there, one-step-closer-to-success, you're looking mighty fine today.
B: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
C: Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
D: Divergent by Veronica Roth
E: Enclave by Ann Aguirre
F: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
G: [The] Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
H: Haven by Kristi Cook
I: [The] Iron Witch
J: Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
K: [The] Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
L: Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
M: Mercy by Rebecca Lim
N: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
O: [The] Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith Review HERE
P: Possession by Elana Johnson
Q:
R: Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
S: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
T: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep
U: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.
V: Vesper by Jeff Sampson
W: Warped by Maurissa Guibord
X: XVI by Julia Karr
Y:
Z: Zombie Tag by Hannah Moskowitz


This is my very first challenge and what better way than to make all the letters of the alphabet feel some bookin' love? Well... nearly all. Poor old Q andY are a bit peeved off that I couldn't find them a suitable match. Any suggestions? They would most appreciate it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Across The Universe



Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 11 January 2011

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 
 
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming

Creepy and disturbing. Words I didn't expect to associate with Across The Universe before reading. Now? I can't think of a better way to describe the life that has become the norm for the inhabitants of Godspeed.

Something else I didn't expect before starting this book was the complex world Beth has created within the confines of one spaceship. I was not expecting it to be so huge, to have such an intricate society built - but then, they are set to be travelling for 301 years, so I should have expected something more grand than the spaceships we've seen in movies.

We are told this story from both Elder and Amy's perspectives - Elder, having grown up on the spaceship is next in line to lead the new generation on board the ship. Amy - cryogenically frozen on the ship centuries ago after her parents signed up to travel to the new planet and help make it habitable. Someone reanimated her early and now other frozen bodies are being murdered - who and why is doing it?

While the murderer may be the main mystery, it certainly isn't the only one and there are plenty more shocks and revelations along the way to  keep us on our toes.

I wasn't expecting such moral and ethical issues to be lingering under the surface of Across The Universe. It makes you think about right and wrong, control and power, choice and obedience. Godspeed is a scary world to live in. While the actual ship is huge, at the same time it's incredibly stifling. Everything is manufactured - rain, sunlight, the water is more than just 'recycled' and we're given a whole new definition to the word "fertilizer". it makes you appreciate how lucky you are to have the freedom of breathing fresh air, to look up and see the stars, to run and just keep running... not collide with wall that is literally the end of your world. They may be traveling across the universe, but the end of their universe can be seen with the naked eye.

One man holds all the power in Godspeed - after the "Plague" many years ago, a system was put into place where an "Eldest" leads the ship. Eldest is the one who will train Elder to become the next leader of their people. While I may love the character of Elder, I certainly DO NOT love Eldest. He's... hmm, I think this is a PG rated blog. I will refrain from saying what I think about him. His way of thinking and leading is so twisted and warped... yet at the same time, I can actually understand what he's trying to achieve. I don't agree or condone with his methods - I think they're sick and twisted and create a world so far removed from the original Earth. But I can understand why he believes it's the right thing. Doesn't make me dislike him any less though. His opinion is absolute and the inhabitants of Godspeed blindly follow along without question, without a doubt that this existence they're living is so abnormal.

Eldest expects Elder to continue on with his reign of control in the same way he's been leading. But Elder isn't like the people on the Feeder level, he thinks for himself. He and the permanent patients in the Ward at the Hospital are very much unlike the Feeder's of Godspeed. The Feeders are basically sheep. They follow, they obey. They just exist. No emotions, no opinion, they live and they breath and they work. They're considered sane. Those who rebel, those who think creatively - tell stories, paint art, are able to solve and analyse, think and feel for themselves are the crazy people. That's what centuries of brainwashing will do to you - give you a warped view of sanity.

But not everything on the ship is evil and twisted and fake. I love Harley, Elder's friend with a love of painting, koi fish and the stars. It's also worth mentioning that they have made scientific advances in their centuries travelling through space. Floppies - which are basically paper thin computer devices. Kind of like an iPad... but on a piece of plastic paper. If that makes sense! They have an easier solution to communicating with someone, although I think I'd much rather use a phone. And then there's their language - brilly, chutz and frexing are commonly used phrases. During and after reading, I realised I'd actually adopted 'frexing' as my new swear word LOL. I'm not an f-word person, so when in need of using it I come up with my own weirdo alternatives. Well now I don't have to, because Beth gave me a new frexing cool word!

The relationship between Elder and Amy isn't hot and steamy and full on - there is a developing attraction there, although I did see mroe coming from Elder than Amy. But I'm interested to see what happens in the sequel, not only between Elder and Amy, but how the ship continues after certain developments at the end of the book.

Some things were predictable - well, for me they were. I figured out a number of plot revelations early on in the story, although there were a few that took me by surprise. But the predictably did not deter me from thoroughly enjoying this story.

Overall, the hype surrounding Across The Universe before release, along with the beautiful cover, both lived up to expectations. The story within is fantastic - a fascinating and disturbing look into a society evolved entirely in space. This is one book you should add to your wishlist!

Rating: 5/5

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop!



Welcome to the 76th annual Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favour!

-----

Ah. Right. This isn't the place for a brutal game of 'let's fight 'til death and crown a lucky champion?' Huh. My apologies! Although you may be tempted to engage in brutal violence to get your hands on one of these babies.

The Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop is hosted by the ever wonderful, I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and runs from 14 January to 17 January. Just under 200 blogs are participating in the Hop where you can win some FAN-tastic prizes!

I will be giving away ONE of the following books to a lucky reader. The only requirement is that you be a follower, because I like using bribery to gain new minions. Extra entry for advertising somewhere.

To celebrate the bright and cheery new year, these are all 2011 releases. Some are already out, but there are a few preorders here. So depending on what you choose, you may have to wait until release before they're shipped out. I will be purchasing the winner's prize from The Book Depository, so please make sure they ship to you before entering!





(The official cover hasn't been released yet, but the ARC looks gorgeous!)

Giveaway is now closed. Thank you for entering!
  • Please use the form for your entry. Comments are very appreciated, but WILL NOT be counted.
  • Open internationally - provided The Book Depository ships to you.
  • Closes midnight January 17th. Winners announced shortly after.

Don't forget to check out the other fantastic blogs participating in the Giveaway Hop. There's tons of bookish prizes up for grabs! So what are you waiting for? Hop to it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Starcrossed

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine where you can spotlight a book you're giddy with excitement to read so other people can be giddy with excitement :)

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Release Date: 31 May 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen


In Starcrossed, which brings Greek tragedy to high school, a shy Nantucket teenager named Helen Hamilton attempts to kill the most attractive boy on the island, Lucas Delos, in front of her entire class. The incident proves more than a bit inconvenient for Helen, who's already concerned that she's going insane--whenever she's sees Lucas (or any of his family members) the image of three crying women appear to her.

The murder attempt does have an upside though, as it ultimately leads to Helen's revelation that she and the local heartthrob are, in fact, playing out some version of a weighty ancient love affair. (Said female apparitions are, in fact, the Three Fates.) So Helen, like her namesake, Helen of Troy isn't going crazy, she's destined to start a Trojan War-like battle by being with Lucas. This then begs the unfortunate question: should she be with the boy she loves even if it means endangering the rest of the world?

The second book in the trilogy, Persephone's Garden, follows Helen's journey to the Underworld, and the third book, Ilium, chronicles the final battle between mortals and the gods. 

WANT. NEED. NOW!! I have been lusting over this book for months. Ever since I first heard of the announcement that it sold to Harper Collins, I have stalked every inch of Google for any new info I could find. I have been eagerly awaiting the "Greek Mythology" craze to start hitting the YA scene and with books like Starcrossed along with The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, Abandon by Meg Cabot and Everneath by Brodi Ashton coming along this year and next, I think it could be big. I hope it is! 

Now how in the name of Zeus can I get my hands on an early copy??

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Preparing for the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse (#1)

In my attempt to be at least 20% original, I'd like to come up with some regular features I can post on the blog. Some may be extraordinarily lame, others may be so brilliant you'll combust just reading them. Feel free to give me any feedback as I kick things off!

You may be aware that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st 2012. And on that date, many people believe the world will end. Day of the Apocalypse. Some think it'll be a great cosmic shift in the higher conscious of humanity. Others consider worst possibilities, like the world may actually continue on as it is now. Me? I'm of those folk who believe the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us. I don't imagine zombie's have much interest in time (unless you count Human Happy Hour - free all-you-can-eat human buffet!), so the Mayan's didn't see much reason to continue documenting the days when humans will be nestled in the decaying tummies of our future Zombie Leaders.

It's not 2012 yet, but I think it wise to begin preparation early so we can act fast if a warning arises. Introducing my new monthly feature:

Preparing for the 2012 Zombie Apocalypse


Using only the books I've read in the last month, I will answer these critical questions should the Zombie Apocalypse call on us early.

December 9th - January 9th answers:




Zombie's are invading in mass numbers. Which 3 characters do I take on the run with me?
Sam from Hold Me Closer, Necromancer - He's a necromancer. He's still coming into his powers, but I trust in his abilities. Depending on the breed of zombie, maybe he can send the sucker back into the ground? Plus he'd make great company if he survives.
Patch from Crescendo - purely a strategical choice. If we survive the apocalypse, I'll need someone to repopulate the world with. What better way to rebuild our planet than creating hot, nephilim offspring?
Arriane from Torment - Okay, no other reason that I love her crazy, badass self. She's a fallen angel too, so I figure maybe she has a few tricks up her sleeve than can hep us out. If not, well at least I'll spend my last days having fun with my new BFF. We'll TP the zombies or something equally stupid.




Where would we hide out?  
Thanks to Good Oil, we'll be using Woolworths supermarket as our hideout. Do I really need to explain this one? It's the largest grocery chain in Australia. It's fully stocked with food, has basic medical supplies, they even sell some electrical items, so we can huddle up watching chick-flicks while the zombie's munch on the townsfolk outside.

What object or weapon would I take with me?  
Gold Dust. Dane's spaceship from Academy 7. From my knowledge zombie's can't fly, so it's perfect getaway vehicle.(Although I'm not ruling out the possibility that a zombie who devours a smart brain, might consider mating with an angel or a bat, giving us a hybrid flying zombie).

Who would I sacrifice to the zombies as a peace offering or attempt at distracting them while I run far away? 
The Lady from The Replacement. It'd be healthy for her to get a taste of her own medicine, what with the sacrificing innocent children and such.




Which one book from the past month would I save? 
Damn Brodie, you give me the hard questions! Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

Which author from the past month's books would I save? 
*bites fingernails* Can't I save them all? NO. Ack! Lauren Kate. So I'll be able to read Passion and Rapture. Can't leave me on a cliffhanger in Torment and then use the "But zombies are eating my publishers!" excuse not to release the books.

Do I think we'll survive? 
Hmm. Me, Patch, Sam and Arriane hiding out at Woolies while the zombie's attack the world. Well, it's not really an offensive plan unless you count Sam trying to send them back where they belong. We wouldn't run out of food and drink for a while, and we could getaway in Gold Dust if they broke through our non-existent defenses. So yeah, I think we have a chance. Jump in the spaceship, head off to another planet... and probably have our brains liquefied by aliens. But at least Patch and I can give the Nephilim plan a shot while travelling!
 ----------


How about you? Using only the books you've read in the last month, which characters would you want by your side when the Zombies attack? What book would you save? Do you think you'd survive? Would you save me???

Any suggestions for other Zombie Preparation questions I can relate to books?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Follow Friday #2



This week's question:
What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's blog?

Such a great question because I discovered a fantastic little gem the other day from Amaterasu Reads Waiting on Wednesday post and fell in love with it!

The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Release date: April 19 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails...


There's no official cover art yet, but The Story Siren received an ARC and this is what it looks like so far 
Gorgeous, right?!

How had I not heard of this before now?? Any YA book with even a hint of the Greek Gods or anything inspired by Greek Mythology and I bounce around in excitement while stalking Google for any information I can find about the book and the author. So you can be sure after reading the brilliant synopsis for The Goddess Test, I added Aimee on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, followed her blog and then gushed how I can't wait for release.

She's so nice, by the way. You should all go follow her and add The Goddess Test to your wishlists! I must sleep now, so I'll check out and comment on some Follow Friday blogs in the morning!

Goodreads: Author Profile
Twitter @Aimee_Carter
Blog: http://aimeecarter.wordpress.com/
Website: http://www.aimeecarter.com/
Facebook: Aimee Carter


To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { Parajunkee.com } and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. Follow our Featured Bloggers - not today.
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!  
  8. If your new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Academy 7


 Author: Anne Osterlund
 Release: May 14th 2009
 Publisher: Puffin


Secrets stand in their way, danger lurks in their hearts

Aerin Renning is a scarred fugitive, Dane Madousin a rebellious son of privilege. On the surface, they have nothing in common. But the two most competitive freshmen at Academy 7 share an undiscovered bond. Both harbor a dangerous secret that threatens their own destruction. And while their safety depends on their staying apart, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other. Even as unknown forces conspire to separate them, their competition turns to friendship, and their friendship to romance. Now not only their lives—but their hearts—are at stake. To survive, the two must unite all their knowledge, skills, and gifts to uncover a secret bigger than either could have imagined. A secret as big as the entire universe... 



This is one of the few.... perhaps only (my memory really sucks sometimes) science fiction books I've read. And loved every page of it. The cover art and synopsis don't really give much indication that this book is science fiction, but whether you're a sci-fi or not, this is a book for every fan of YA.

Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin are invited to attend the most-exclusive school in the Universe: Academy 7. They accept the honour, but both are running or hiding away from something - .harbouring painful secrets which they've tightly wrapped in an iron-clad prison around their hearts that in the end, can only be unlocked by each other.

Aerin desperately needs to blend in among the other citizens of the Alliance and hide the dark past she's running from. For a girl of such a young age, the past 6 years of her life have been a horrific ordeal. She can't afford to be found out, the consequences are extreme. But then, she didn't count on ever befriending Dane Madousin.


Danie is the son of the the General of the Alliance. Meaning his father is verrrry powerful. The father and son do not get along and despite Academy 7 having it's awe-inspired reputation, the General is furious when he learns Dane has accepted the invitation and is already a few weeks into his education. He has a bad grudge against the school for some unknown reason, something that adds to the developing mystery. Aerin and Dane quickly lead the pack among the students in terms of academics. The pair absolutely wipe the floor of any competition in combat class. Aerin in particular polishes that floor of Dane ;) That is one girl you do not want to mess with in a dark alley. It's no surprise they're paired up to be training partners.


Aerin is extraordinarily talented, her intelligence and fighting abilities far outstrip the majority of her classmates. But there's the times where she is absolutely clueless. In Debate particularly, Dane trumps her. Simple historical facts and that she didn't even know how to turn on a computer, when five minutes later she bypassed the entire security system on the very same computer. Dane notices and it's not too long after that he uncovers part of her secret.

The mystery develops at a comfortable pace. Anne Osterlund sprinkles clues along at various intervals - actually, I remember something she wrote about Aerin from Dane's POV, which I thought nothing of until we see a memory (called a Simulation) near the end of the book and literally a few pages before something big is revealed I had my "AH HA!" moment where I remembered what Dane observed early on and I was spot on. Okay, I'm making a big deal over nothing. It was one-word clue. But... I still figured it out before it was revealed :)

What I loved the most about Academy 7 was the relationship between Aerin and Dane. In a genre where there are quite a few books I've read where the girl and guy fall head over heels in love with each other before the 5th chapter, the pace and realism of which Aerin and Dane's relationship progressed was really nice. The transition from dislike, to rivals, to tentative friends, to a beautiful friendship hinting at something more to... well, I don't want to spoil the ending for you! Don't dive into this book expecting an explosive, hot and heavy romance. It's not that, it's much deeper. I love the way their connection to one another unfolds. At times it seems so fragile because the characters themselves are fragile, yet at the same time, they're incredibly strong. Much stronger than any of their classmates. Physically and emotionally.

They need one another to unlock the mystery of the past, their parents and what's really going on outside the Alliance. Along the way they learn to trust, to open the window to their souls so they other can see in. I loved the way it progressed and the ending was perfect. I am really, really, really hoping there's a book 2. I did a quick search on Google and read something about a possible trilogy, but nothing definite. A trilogy would be fantastic - a book for each year at the Academy? I want to see Aerin and Dane's story further explored!

I will definitely be checking out Anne's other books!

Rating: 5/5

Author's website: http://anneosterlund.com/

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Burn Bright

"Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine where you can spotlight a book you're giddy with excitement to read so other people can be giddy with excitement :)


Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres (Burn Bright #1)
Release Date: 1st March 2011
Publisher: Random House Australia

Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark

How awesome does this sound? Such an interesting and fresh idea. Plus the cover is all kinds of  crazy, weird, trippy gorgeous. Burn Bright is also written by an Australian author *hoots with aussie pride*, so I'm excited to see how this story shapes up. Lauren Kate blurbed it saying "Brilliant storytelling. Riveting and unforgettable". Can't wait to check this out!

Check out The Chemical Garden Triology website!

I'm sure you've all heard about the amazing 2011 debut novel from author Lauren DeStefano? No? Yes? Well let me give you a reminder.

Release date: March 22nd 2011


What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left



 Salivating, aren't you? And isn't that cover gorgeous?! Some eager fans have already made a fansite for Wither because they loved the book that much. The site is great! Head on over to http://www.thechemicalgardentrilogy.com/ and check it out!! They're also giving away some signed ARC's, so there's an added incentive. Not that you needed one ;)

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review: Crescendo


 Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
 Release Date: October 19 2010
 Publisher: Simon & Schuster



Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but atleast she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever and even worse, he's started spending time with Nora's arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Path hadnt been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feeling that he's hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperatly searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts



Crescendo picks up 2 months after Hush, Hush. Patch realises Nora is totally uncool after he meets a hotter-than-the-raging-pits-of Hell (his words, not mine) girl from Australia. So he dumps Nora, shacks up with the Aussie and the story switches back and forth between him saving his new damsel in distress, to her kicking the bad guys asses single handedly (she took on 6 angels and 10 nephilim AT THE SAME TIME). The girl (oh alright, so her name is Brodie) struggles with her identity, unsure if Patch prefers damsel or badass, so she gives him a taste of both. In the end, she and Patch live sexily ever after.
.....

What? WHAT?? Are you calling my bluff? Oh shut up. *shoots Nora daggers of jealousy*

So, Crescendo picks up 2 months after Hush, Hush. Everything is hunky, dory between Nora and Patch... FOR LESS THAN A CHAPTER. Cue tension, but not of the sexual kind. Oh there's still plenty of that through the story, but add in a healthy dose of frustration and anger and hurt. Patch is spending an awful lot of time with Nora's rival, Marcie Millar and he doesn't seem to be giving Nora a straight answer as to why. Their relationship grows very rocky in Crescendo between him devoting way too much attention on Marcie, troubles with the archangels and the threat that if they continue to grow closer, something very bad is going to happen.

But Crescendo isn't all back-and-forth between Patch and Nora and sexy kind-of make up scenes where they just can't deny the sexual current buzzing between them. Becca Fitzpatrick has thrown in a whole wingload of twists and turns and revelations, half of which I did not see coming! We delve further into the mystery of Nora's dad's death - hard not after she starts having visions of him. Most teenage girls don't generally see their dead parent reading a paper in a coffee shop.

We're also introduced to a new character - Scott Parnell. Scotty the Potty - childhood friend of Nora. Or Scottie the Hottie thanks to that growing-hot-syndrome which affects many teenage boys. But is he good or bad? There's a lot of mystery shrouding this boy and the reader isn't sure whether he's a Potty or a Hottie or maybe both? A guy can have a history of wetting his pants, grow into a bad guy and STILL be hot. We're left wondering about this boy right up until the end. And that is all I shall tell you!

We also see a whole lot more of Rixon this time around since he's spending plenty of time with Vee, Nora's best friend. Oh Vee. I love her. I loved her in Hush, Hush and I love her even more after Crescendo. That girl is crazy, funny, sucks at being a spy and has a totally whacked understanding of the term 'diet'. I kind of hope she's let into the loop with the whole Angel/Nephilim world surrounding Nora in the third book.

Okay, so I have to devote some time to Patch. Patch. Patch. PATCH! Oh I love me a slice of that Devil's Food Cake. Err... Angel's Food Cake. Right? Yeah, Becca Fitzpatrick knows how to create doubt. You know deep down he's a good guy.... but his actions and his habit of not fulling divulging certain details and all the mystery that oozes from his sexy pores fill your head with questions and worries and make it ever so tempting to flip to the back of the book just to make sure he and Nora patch (no pun intended) things up. Because while you're insanely jealous that the she's wrapped her tendrils around his heart again, it means he's a good guy! Good heavens that boy is sexy.

I should also make a note of the main character. Which isn't Patch *chides self*. Nora's a strong-willed, smart girl. She still makes some dumb decisions, but don't we all? She goes through a whirlywind of emotions between heartache, anger, love, frustration, jealousy, worry, fear, doubt... and that's just with Patch! Add to that the weird encounters with her deceased father, intensified rivalry with Marcie, problems on the family front and uncertainty over Scott. As the cover suggests, Crescendo is definitely about Nora.

I read a lot of mixed reviews about Crescendo which managed to delay my reading. Even after Precious from Fragments of Life that it was fantastic and awesome and I'd really love it, it was only yesterday that I finally dived in. And while I love her for making me realise that I, too, love this book, I AM SO FRUSTRATED!!! That cliffhanger! Why? Why? Flipping why?! Why do authors deliberately wish to torture us when they KNOW we have to wait MONTHS and MONTHS for the next book in the series to come out? You know,  think Becca gets a kick out of it. First she dangles Patch right in front of us with the knowledge we'll never get a taste and then she has us waiting and waiting for his scenes to finally appear in Crescendo and then kills us with a freaking cliffhanger. I love her, but I totally want to chain her up in a dungeon and sit in front of her reading book 3 before she's even edited and have Patch standing behind me seductively whispering all his lines from the book.
Maybe I shouldn't have written this review so soon after finishing? *sigh*

Overall, I think you can tell I enjoyed this book. I think I may have loved it even more than Hush, Hush... I think! Hush, Hush holds a special place in my heart. It was because of that book that I even began reading blogs at all. I first read the chapter excerpts on the Simon and Schuster website, went cr-a-a-a-a-zy fangirlish over a certain fallen angel. And then went searching for all information I could find. I remember I found a link to the Barnes and Noble First Look program on The Neverending Shelf (first blog I followed!) and managed to score myself an ARC of Hush, Hush before release. HAPPY ME!

Rating: 5/5! (I'm currently on the hunt for cool rating icons. In the meantime you're stuck numbers).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Review: Leaving Paradise




Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: April 1st 2007

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled.

After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak." Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.


I had high expectations for Leaving Paradise. Simone Elkeles wooed me over with Perfect Chemistry, sealed her fate as one of my favourite authors with Rules of Attraction and now, reading my third book to sprout from her genius brain, I'm 100% caught in the web of creative mastermind she's wickedly spun. Oh that woman knows how to wrap a reader around her finger.

Told from alternating POV's, we're introduced to Maggie Armstrong and Caleb Becker. Next-door neighbours. Childhood friends.Victim and Attacker. Caleb has always been in Maggie's heart, since the time they were kids. Maggie and Caleb's twin sister, were the best of friends. Caleb was the guy who never took a second glance at her, in a romantic sense.

Everything changed the night of the accident. Caleb was convicted of a hit-and-run - driving while under the influence of alcohol, he collided right into Maggie and drove off. The book starts one year after - Caleb is being released from Juvenile detention and Maggie is finally ready to return to school after having spent the last 12 months in and out of hospital, leaving her with a limp and horrible scarring on her leg.

Caleb and Maggie have both been secluded from their past friends over the year and as they try to return to some kind of normacly in life, they realise everyone around them has changed. Caleb's family has fallen apart and he holds a shocking secret that could change everything. Both start working the same after-school job for an old lady named Mrs. Reynolds, who becomes an important link in both their lives.

As the strong unfolds, we learn things aren't quite as black and white. We discover more about what happened the night of the accident, exchanges that happened between Caleb and Maggie beforehand and a shocking revelation that could change everything. The pair begin developing strong, genuine feelings for one another. Despite having caused this predicament for her, Caleb helps Maggie to become strong again. He gives her courage and helps push her out of the victim mindset, finally coming to terms with her life as it is now and moving on. She gives him forgiveness and breaks through to the real Caleb that few others bother to look at behind his tough, ex-con image.

He crippled her for life, she sent him to jail - but in the end they need one another to move on. Simone Elkeles has a way with writing her characters. She  makes you feel such a genuine connection with the story they're telling and engages you in a whirlwind of emotions so that before you know it, you've reached the end and don't know what the heck to feel. I was expecting the same kind of ending Simone has delivered in Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction, so I was a little surprised and saddened (in a good way) with how the story concluded. It's realistic and bittersweet and makes me wish it wasn't a public holiday today so I could storm into my library and demand they lend me a copy of the sequel NOW.

A story about forgiveness, finding strength, letting down your barriers and the extremes we'll go to to protect the ones we love.

Author's Website: http://www.simoneelkeles.net/
Twitter: @SimoneElkeles
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