Monday, July 30, 2012

Facebook-style Recap of BLOOD SONG by Rhiannon Hart!

I have an absolutely BRILLIANT guest post for you guys today, and one that is certain to set your giggle-o-meter in motion. The amazingly talented Rhiannon Hart, author of BLOOD SONG and the soon-to-be-released sequel, BLOOD STORM, has put together an awesome Facebook recap of Blood Song, in light of Blood Storm's release.

You don't need to live in the heart of Pergamia to be in the know of what goes on in Princess Zeraphina's life, thanks to the handy invention of Facebook, we can spy on the stubborn Princess and the oh-so-infuriatingly sexy Rodden from every corner of the world. So read on, freshen up your knowledge on the events of Blood Song and then run out and grab yourself a copy of Blood Storm, set to hit shelves 1st August!

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Blood Song Facebook Recap
Warning: does contain spoilers for Blood Song
Warning: laughter will ensue.

Add: Goodreads


I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me.

When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Owl Post #9

Inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, Owl Post allows me to excitedly share all the yummy books I get in the mail each week! Owl's are much faster and more reliable than sneaky postmen, and the common way for magical folk to send and receive letters and parcels. Yes. I went to Hogwarts. Be jealous.


SQUEEEE!! I am ridiculously excited to start this. Loved the Nightshade series and this looks like it has the potential to be equal (heck, if not more?) amazing. 

This was an unsolicited review copy. I haven't read the first book in the series, nor have I actually heard of the series. But! I looked it up on Goodreads and Brodie like the sound of it. Will definitely check it out at some point.
 
This is an Aussie tv show that I've sort of half paid attention to in the past, but really got into during season 3 So I'm catching up on the first two season from my library. Only a couple of episodes in so far, but can I say: LOVE? So fun and addictive.

What have the owls delivered to you this week?
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DON'T LEAVE JUST YET!

I wrote a "Team" post for the weird, the wonderful, and 2012's answer to the likes of James & Sirius, Fred & George.... Sarah & Lauren! The post? Defending James Potter in Team James vs. Team Snape! So you know that means I'm DEMANDING YOU GO VOTE FOR JAMES, right? SO GO VOTE FOR JAMES, ALREADY.  And check out the amazing posts both girls have shared over the month for their Potterthon!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson

Author: Sarah Alderson
Release Date: August 2nd 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Add it: Goodreads
Thanks to: the amazing Simon & Schuster for the review copy!
Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit, which somehow is managing to track their every move. Whilst Alex is determined to keep Lila safe and her ability secret at any cost, Lila’s only thought is of finding a way back to California so that she can rescue her brother and mother from the military base where they’re being held.

Struggling to control both her growing power and her deepening feelings for Alex, Lila decides the time has finally come to stop running and start fighting. Together with Alex, Demos, and the people she’s come to think of as family, Lila plans not just to save her brother and mother, but to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for.

But the plan requires Lila to return alone to California, make friends with the enemy, and to risk losing everything - Alex, her family, and even her life.

It's no secret I love Sarah Alderson and her crazy addictive novels, so my expectations were high for Losing Lila... but apparently not high enough, because this book blew me away far more than I was anticipating! Sarah did not waste any time in delivering adrenaline-pumping chase scenes, run-ins with crime lords and SKINNY DIPPING all within the first 50 pages. Given what happened at the end of Hunting Lila, Alex and Lila are on the run from The Unit. They get involved in some crazy shit. They then meet up with Demos and the team again and get involved in more crazy shit. And so the cycle goes on until you're about to burst from the epicness of it all. Secondary characters like Jack, Suki, Nate and Key shine just as brightly as Lila and Alex. We get to explore their personalities on a far deeper level, I can't explain how much I grew to love them or how often the likes of Suki and Nate had me giggling!

Despite how much I clearly loved this book, there was one major element that I hated and she goes by the name of Lila Loveday. I adored her in Hunting Lila, we shared a similar goal of wishing to attain the gorgeous boy she loved since childhood. But now that she has him, she goads the reader with her ability to admire Wakeman's naked body, glistening with water under the oh-so-flattering-to-his-marine-issued-abs moonlight; or else feeling his hot and steamy breath in her ear. THEN she has the nerve to recount these memories in her mind, thus taunting poor, mind-invading Suki with what Suki can't have. What. A. B*tch. WORST CHARACTER EVER. ZAP HER WITH A PSY GUN! BZZZZ. *zaps her with a psy gun*

*cough*

Well, alright, maybe that's just my insane jealousy talking. Apart from that small non-issue, I loved Lila so much more this time around. I swear, every single character has been 90% amplified with pure, undiluted AWESOMENESS. Lila really blossoms into one damn badass heroine. She's growing into her abilities and testing her limits with surprising results. She's just as stubborn and independent as ever, and making risky, but admirable sacrifices for the ones she loves. I understood her every decision, her every emotion and not once did she disappoint me. Put simply, this girl ROCKS.

I was aware of every rippled curve in Alex Wakeman's beautiful chest before cracking open this stunning sequel, but clearly this marine is a master at deceit, because either I was hopped up on hormones while reading or Lieutenant Wakeman got a HELL OF A LOT SEXIER. As the ever intelligent (but not the author, they're just so equally awesome they share a name) Sarah pointed out to me while reading, it's likely because he's a more willing participant in the relationship compared to the first book. Which means Alex is doing just as much of the tongue waggling as Lila. Even amongst the non-stop action, there is enough steam rising from the pages to alert your local fire department five blocks away. But unlike your standard air-polluting house fire, this is one steam-fest you're begging to inhale more of.

What I especially loved about Losing Lila is that there is never a lull in the story, it's go go go from beginning to end. There is always a plan in motion or sneaky twist lurking around the corner to constantly keep you wide-eyed and alert. I said it about Hunting Lila, but it bears repeating: this will make an AMAZING movie. The tightly woven plot doesn't even need to be re-written for script, everything leaps off the page in HD visuals, just grab a camera and press shoot. Sarah so effortlessly draws you into Lila's shoes, so you're experiencing every bump, blast and sensual touch along with her.

Losing Lila is EVERYTHING I hope for in a novel: toe-curling romance, high-octane action scenes, shocking twists and laugh-out-loud humour. This is, without question, Sarah Alderson's best work yet. I hope she returns to these characters one day in the future, because I am so not ready to part ways with them. If you've yet to read Hunting Lila, I HIGHLY urge you to run to your nearest bookstore and grab a copy of the sequel. And if you have read it already, regardless of whether you liked it or not, bump Losing Lila to the top of your wishlist because you're in for a delightful surprise.

5/5 Golden Apples!


Be sure to tune in for the amazing Losing Lila Blog Tour, to begin August 2nd!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Author Interview: Katie McGarry - Pushing The Limits


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9mr8t7XDQwY/T_7gQrn7GxI/AAAAAAAADI0/GWTlR2yB6dk/s1600/0812+Pushing+The+Limits+FINAL.JPG Oh, you've heard of that little ol' book that's generated quite the buzz lately? Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry has been cementing a name for itself, with incredible reviews by some of the best bloggers in the 'sphere. Today, thanks to the too-amazing-for-my-lowly-mortal-words, HarlequinTEEN Australia and Morey Media, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to pick Katie's brains!

So whether you've read the book or are pawing at the screen every time you see the cover posted, read on to find out more about the author who has everyone talking. I especially love her answer to the last question!! Aww! <3 (And thanks to the awesome folk on twitter who helped inspire a couple questions!).
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 Introducing the lady of the hour... 
KATIE MCGARRY!



Was it difficult channeling the differing personalities/emotional baggage with Noah and Echo or did writing from each perspective come easily to you?

Katie: Echo and Noah were definitely challenging characters to write. Their hurts became my hurts and I often cried while writing them. At the same time, the two of them could make me laugh, especially when they were together. Echo and Noah have unbelievable chemistry and I love their banter.

Some writers are strict with plotting, others let the story flow naturally. How did Pushing the Limits develop? Was it all planned from the beginning or did anything take you by surprise while writing?

Katie: I plotted Echo and Noah’s journey. The ending happened as planned, but there was a pivotal moment in the book I had plotted that Noah adamantly disagreed with. I spent days trying to get him to do what I wanted, but he dug his feet into the ground and gave me writers block.

I eventually gave in and let him go where he wanted. I’m glad I did. Once Pushing the Limits has been out for a bit, I hope to let my readers know what Noah refused to do.

So often counsellors and social workers are painted in a very stereotypical light and it's true, there are some less-than-stellar ones out there, but there are also some gems like Mrs. Collins. I love that the approach you took with her! Did you consciously set out to write her this way? Was she modelled on anyone you know?

Katie: Yes, I purposely wrote Mrs. Collins they way I did. She isn’t based upon anyone I know. If anything she is bits and pieces of adults in my life that listened to me and helped me out when I was a teenager.

Will we be seeing lots more contemporary from you or do you have any plans to tap your fingers into other genres?

Katie: Right now, I’m a contemporary type of gal. I’m currently working on revisions for DARE YOU TO, a companion novel to PUSHING THE LIMITS. DARE YOU TO follows the story of Beth, a secondary character from PTL.

What are some of your favourite good girl/bad boy romances? (fiction or movies!)

Katie: Casablanca is one of my favorite movies and I love anything by Simone Elkeles.

Do you go for the seemingly "bad" boy who can push your limits in real life, or do you prefer the "good" guy?

Katie: Funny you ask. When I first met my husband, I thought he was the bad boy. He was mysterious and his outside appearance screamed that he’d be problems for me. As we got to know each other and as we eventually fell in love, I discovered that he actually is the “good” guy. Honestly, he’s the best.

Find Pushing The Limits and the author extraordinaire herself at:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9mr8t7XDQwY/T_7gQrn7GxI/AAAAAAAADI0/GWTlR2yB6dk/s1600/0812+Pushing+The+Limits+FINAL.JPG
SO WRONG FOR EACH OTHER...AND YET SO RIGHT.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins--the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket--explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Winners + random stuff!

HELLO YOU! *waves madly in your face*

Soooo. I'm ridiculously behind on a lot of things lately (books, reviews, posting, commenting, the works) and this may possibly continue this week aswell, but I will hopefully be on track again shortly!

I have a new layout coming soon! It's not quite finished yet, but I hope for it to be up in a week or two. Lately there's been a lot of plagiarism issues raised in the blogosphere and just recently, this scary post surfaced, so I just want to cover all my bases here with images. Plus I need regular refreshers or I get sick of looking at the same thing :)

Before we get to the lucky, lucky winners, I highly urge you all to go check out THIS POST by the amazing, let's-cover-her-in-wax-so-we-can-keep-her-forever Sarah because it is freaking BEAUTIFUL and I think says what we all feel about this incredible community we're apart of. <3

Also: I started Losing Lila today and damn! I'm... what? 43 pages in? And ALREADY there's chase scenes and guns and mafia and superpowers and SEXY SWOONY MOMENTS BETWEEN ALEX AND LILA. Just saying. #BRODIELOVES

And now, dun dun da...  WINNERS!


ARC of WHITE LINES by Jennifer Banash:

Copy of SILHOUETTE by Thalia Kalkipsakis:
Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds

Congrats, ladies! I'll be emailing you shortly for your details :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo


Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: July 2012 (AUS/UK) | June 5th 2012 (US)
Publisher: Indigo (AUS/UK) | Henry, Holt and Co. (US)
Add it: Goodreads
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Alina Starkov is an orphan. She's scrawny, plain, an apprentice mapmaker and has been pining for her best friend, who's too busy chasing the skirts of other girls to truly notice the one who's been by his side since childhood. After a journey into the deadly Shadow Fold, a terrifying stretch of pure darkness where monstrous creatures known as Volcra fly the skies, Alina discovers a power within her that could be the saving grace Ravka needs. Powers both rare and which compliment those of the formidable Darkling. Together, they can destroy the Shadow Fold that has brought devastation to their world for so long. But Alina begins to learn that unleashing the true potential of her gifts is not as black and white as it seems.

She's taken to the royal court where she's to hone her abilities. Surrounded by Grisha - men and woman blessed with supernatural talents - Alina is now one of them, but she doesn't feel it. She struggles in the beginning to fit in, to break through the barrier blocking her powers. She was a character I found really easy to like. She made mistakes, has plenty of flaws, but what I love is that she learns from her errors. Character growth, I adore! She can be shy, yet so strong in spirit. Brave, but sometimes naive. She was balanced and relatable, and showed clear change by the end of the novel. I think things are going to get a WHOLE lot messier and complicated for her as the series goes on, particularly with what happened at the end...

The Darkling. He consumed this book (hell, he consumed me). Whether he's on the page or not, he still leaves a lingering trace of darkness so you won't, you can't forget he is still there, waiting in the shadows. He is a fascinating character, with frighteningly delicious appeal. I'm equal parts attracted and horrified. Just like Alina, I couldn't help but fall prey to his dark seduction. Power is both an attractive and intimidating thing and The Darkling is all about power. There are moments throughout the novel where Bardugo has you doubting, or hooks you in so completely that there is no doubt... but still, you're SO EFFING UNSURE. And this is probably all vague, but I don't want to spoil anything! I just love that I still don't know with him, that he's playing on my mind days after I've finished. The Darkling had this ability to pull at both the light and dark within me. I wanted to know how human he really was, yet there was a part of me that also wanted to see just how bad he could go.

MAL. Oh, Mal. Bardugo excels at making you believe one thing and then grabbing your heart with her icy hands and twisting it 180 degrees clockwise. Initially, I wasn't overly impressed with Mal. I liked him, no doubt, but was I waving his team banner? You mean while The Darkling pierced me with those cool gray eyes? Hell no. I was entirely on Team Darkling for much of the novel... Until. Mal showed his true colours and CUE THE SWOON, READERS. This beautiful, loyal, brave, intelligent, sweet boy is the polar opposite of The Darkling. He's so... so... NORMAL. In that heartwarming, I-want-to-snuggle-by-his-side-forever kind of way. I never should have doubted you, Mal, and no amount of apologies will ever be enough. I am holding my breath and hoping, wishing, praying that Mal and Alina have a happy ending by the end of the series because when they are together, there is no competition, not even from The Darkling. But if they don't... Mal can come live his happy ending with me?

Yet, despite my unwavering love for Mal, there is still a dark cloud hovering over me and I can't help but shiver in excitement when it whispers promises of changing the world. Mal stole my heart, but The Darkling branded my soul. Perhaps the soul is worth more than the heart, but when that brand is as dark as The Shadow Fold, I'm not entirely sure if it's a good thing...

Those teenage boys in fiction who are loose with their words and their pants, who send so many into a flutter with their bad, bad ways, know nothing of what it is to truly walk the dark side. Hands down, The Gathering Dark wins the award for having the best villain. A villain you despise and fear is worthy indeed, but a villain you despise, fear.... and yet can't stay away from? The one that has hold of your heart and can reign it in at any time he pleases? That is the scariest kind.

Bardugo has brought a wonderfully entertaining Russian-inspired world to life with magic and power, seduction and love, and brilliantly crossed the lines of light and dark in one gut-wrenching moment that knocked my heart out of alignment. The Gathering Dark will bring about a whole mess of conflicting emotions and despite how much it made me rip out my hair in the last quarter, I GODDAMN LOVE IT.

5/5 Golden Apples!

Add it: Goodreads

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Owl Post #8

Inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, Owl Post allows me to excitedly share all the yummy books I get in the mail each week! Owl's are much faster and more reliable than sneaky postmen, and the common way for magical folk to send and receive letters and parcels. Yes. I went to Hogwarts. Be jealous.


I also have a copy of the first book, Shattered Dreams, I just haven't had the chance to read it yet. But psychics? Visions? Mystery? Brodie intrigued!

Definitely a surprise review copy, since I think this was released very early 2011? Unfortunately I won't be reading it. I gave the House of Night series a try ages ago and it was not for me!

I NEED TO HURRY UP AND READ DESIRES OF THE DEAD!! I loved The Body Finder, but for some stupid reason, I haven't read the sequel yet, even though I've owned a copy for ages. This can be my motivation :)

I read, reviewed and LOVED this last year. I own a copy already, so I'll likely pass this one along.

I really loved Blood Song, the first novel in the series; it's by an AUSTRALIAN author, it's FANTASY and it's FANTASTIC. So now finally the sequel is here! I can't wait to meet up with Zeraphina again and mmm yes, Rodden too ;)

Who ISN'T grabby hands for the sequel to Hunting Lila?! Oh, there's some of you out there who haven't read the first book yet? Hmm. I see. I've been reading some amazing reviews for Losing Lila and I'm also participating in the blog tour next month, so squeee! I'll be reading this soon! MORE LILA/ALEX <3
SO EXCITED!! Hannah's debut novel, Saving June, was amazing, so I have REALLY high hopes that Speechless will be just as incredible.

What have the owls soared the skies to deliver you this week?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Author: Katie McGarry
Release Date: August 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Add it: Goodreads 
SO WRONG FOR EACH OTHER...AND YET SO RIGHT.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins--the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket--explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

The rave reviews are what pushed me over the lim... edge (see, I'm not TOTALLY lame!). After so many readers proclaimed this as one of the best YA books they've ever read, there was no possible way I could let this book slip by me. I had to see what all the fuss was about! Though I can't quite say it lived up to the massive hype for me, I still absolutely enjoyed the intense rollercoaster Katie McGarry took me!

Echo Emerson and Noah Hutchins are both as messed up as one another, and it's their troubles that pave the road to their consuming romance. Told in dual narrative, Pushing the Limits really digs deep into the heart of both it's main characters, bringing to light every painful scar, both on body and soul. Echo's struggling with repressed memories of the night she almost died, a tainted reputation at school and her infuriating family. Noah's the bad boy with hidden heart, screwed over by the welfare system and desperately longing to put his family back together. Both are a wreck, but discover that love may be the glue to mending the pieces of their shattered lives.

I did have a few issues with Echo and Noah, and I think that's what stopped me from falling in with 99% of the blogosphere who loved this beyond words. Yet in saying that, those issues are what made them so real, so human. Flawed, troubled teens, and that's what I love to see in books. Characters that come alive, warts and all. Noah's overwhelming desire to gain custody of his brothers really spoke volumes about his love for his family. He may give off the bad boy stoner act, but at heart he's a very sweet guy. His intentions come from a good place, though at times he frustrated me with his lack of realism. He wasn't viewing the situation logically in what he could provide his brothers and his rigid determination to do what he thought was right had me wanting to reach through and shake some sense into him. But anything less probably wouldn't feel authentic, given his trust issues with the foster system. And he did make me a little emotional in a scene toward the end with his family!

Echo is undoubtedly an emotional mess and what's worse is she can't entirely remember why she got that way. The memories of that ill-fated night with her mother have been buried deep, only peeking out in flashes and the painfully clear scars slashed across her arms. There were times, particularly with her friends and her father, where I wished she'd just stand up for herself and tell them to f*** off! I wanted her to be strong, be bold, be the girl she was around Noah, who didn't take his crap. Her friends, with the exception of Lila, can hardly even be called that. Clare pissed me off, caring only about her reputation and the effect Echo might have on it. I don't understand why Echo even bothered with her and especially with her ex-boyfriend, Luke. But I can understand that she just wanted normality. For so long she's been alienated and she's dealing with all this emotional crap in her life, she just wants to fit in again.

Though I didn't always love them (I did love their therapist, Mrs. Collins!), I really enjoyed Echo and Noah much more as they grew over the course of the novel; as they pushed and inspired one another, as things grew more out of control and secrets unearthed from the dark; as sparks flew, hearts broke and desires tipped over the edge. I'm really happy with the way their story concluded and I'm eager to see what Katie McGarry has in store for the companion novel!

Pushing the Limits is without question, an addictive read. I was tossing up between a 3.5 or 4 rating, but even though I had a few niggles with the characters and there were times where I wished the drama was dialed down a notch, I couldn't stop reading until I finished. Something kept compelling me to turn those pages again and again, and that's one of the vital things I ask for in a book. One I can't pull away from. Brimming with emotions, Pushing the Limits does to it's characters exactly what the title promises and whether you love them or not, you can't help but fall along for the ride.

4/5 Golden Apples!

Add it: Goodreads

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Authors: Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (AUS) | HarperTeen (US)
Add it: Goodreads
Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don’t know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans—until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy’s heart.

Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh—a boy with a very unusual family history.

Will Mel’s staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose... Team Human?

...team human
Mel is adamantly, 150%, she'd-tattoo-it-to-her-forehead-just-to-prove-a-point TEAM HUMAN. So when her best friend suddenly falls for the handsome, but irritating (and ever so boring) new vampire in school, Mel is FAR from happy. Catherine is all aflutter when Francis enters her stratosphere, but what sets this apart from your standard issue insta-love is that you're meant to roll your eyes and slap your forehead in exasperation over how moony-eyed Cathy is. Team Human takes elements we see in popular vampire fiction and shines them in a humourous, entertaining and at times, touching light.

Mel is snarky, combative and can often be downright rude. She doesn't possess much tact and while at times her abrasiveness could be annoying, there's no denying this girl's got fiyah. It's so interesting to read from the best friend's perspective, rather than the girl who's swooning over the brooding new guy. She provided a refreshing perspective and I could totally understand her fierce need to protect her friend. I mean, Cathy had barely known Francis for... TWO WEEKS?! And she was making some preeeettty dumb choices big decisions.
...team vampire
Becoming a vampire is a greatly-coveted honour for many humans, but it's certainly not without it's risks. That's why there are plenty of strict measures in place to make sure the human is absolutely certain of their decision, because if the transition is not successful? BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINNNNNSSSS! More commonly referred to as: zombification. Or death. Or not adapting well to vampirism and going craaaazy. If Francis were the celebrity-immortal promoting Vampirism, I think the number of humans lining up for the change would be greatly reduced.

Francis is annoyingly pompous with zero sense of humour and steadfastly holds onto his 18th century views. He also has a rather pointy stick up his butt. Mel is a bit of an amateur detective and so offers to help her friend, Anna, in finding clues regarding her father's disappearance. But what happens when Mel begins to connect dots between the real reason Francis has enrolled in high school and Anna's mystery? Could she possibly hit the jackpot and not only solve the case for her friend, but treat Cathy to the I-TOLD-YOU-HE'S-A-CREEPY-FREAKISH-VAMPIRE-BEAST victory dance?

...team kit
Kit was probably my favourite character in the book! His origins were the most intriguing; he grew up entirely amongst vampires, which gave him a tainted view on his human origins. He was so adorably clueless in all things relating to Human Socialisation. There were some moments shared between him and Mel that made me laugh, because his warped view on humanity is primarily thanks to his weird vampire family and some ever so reliable tv soap drama. Kit needed some human-world experience and he got that with Mel. In return, he gave her some food for thought regarding her vampy prejudices. I like how they both enabled one another to see past their preconceptions about humans and vampires and maybe even show Mel (and the reader) that ol' Francis ain't so bad. Maybe.

Theirs was far from the Cathy/Francis romance. They developed a really sweet, endearing bond that hinted at something more and felt far more believable in it's growth.

...team vamun/humpire?
Team Human cleverly manages to maintain elements of parody throughout the novel, while still firmly carving out it's own unique story with surprising emotional depth. Sure, I wasn't always cracking up laughing at the humour, but that really depends on your own sense of what's funny. I found Team Human a thoroughly enjoyable and fresh vampire-themed novel, perfect if you're looking for something fun, fiesty and engaging to shake up your TBR. The only thing left to ponder now is: Are you Team Human or Team Vampire?

humans FTW!!!
3.5/5 Golden Apples!

Add it: Goodreads

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July releases to sell your soul for! Muahahaha

Damn, are there some amazing new books coming out in July or what?! Including one of my favourites of 2012, INSIGNIA, which I'm ridiculously excited for you all to get your sticky palms on. I'm not hoping you will buy/borrow a copy, I'm demanding it. So go. Now.

But if you won't take my word for Insignia and the other yummy books coming out this month (don't bother apologising, I'm already offended), read on to see what a few of those crazy cool bloggers in the 'sphere are saying. Some of the below selections are ones I LOVE, some I'm just DYING with WANT to read already!

July's gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme List:

Insignia by S.J Kincaid
Steph from Poetry to Prose says: I love characters, sure, and I grow attached to them, but what I encountered here can only be compared to what I felt with the trio in Harry Potter: inside jokes, familiarity, and a sense of belonging. There were so many moments where I burst out laughing due to their antics (this book is FUNNY!) and even more moments where I began to dread the end of the book. - read her review.
What I say: There wasn't one thing alone that I made me love this book, it was a multitude of AWESOME, all blended together to form one of my new favourite reads. The action and imagination, war and cleverness, comedy and personality; it will appeal to boys and girls, reluctant readers and those with too many books on their to-be-read pile. It has something to suck everyone in. - read my review.

Cold Fury by T.M Goeglein
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Melissa from i swim for oceans says: With twists, turns and an ever-unraveling plot, Cold Fury clutches you in the throes of a life-and-death adventure at breakneck speed. You’ll have to hold on tight because it’s one heck of a ride. - read her review.
What I say: Goeglein's writing leaps off the page in a way that is so easy to visualise. Packed tight with a thrilling mystery, explosive action and a heroine who you'll be cheering for until the very last page, Cold fury is an addictive novel. - read my review.

Shadows by Paula Weston
Goodreads | Fishpond | Book Depository
Sam from Realm of Fiction says: What I appreciated most about this book was how astoundingly unpredictable it was. I had a few guesses brimming about certain characters, but never really did hit the nail on the head. There are some great twists lurking within the plot and all of them aid the complexity of the story. After the closing revelations, I am desperate for a sequel. - read her review.
Danielle from ALPHA Reader says: Rafa and Gaby steal the show – or I should say their chemistry steals the show. Their quips and sharp wit come out like claws the moment they cross paths – but their biting repertoire masks a lot of lustful curiosity and delicious possibility. - read her review.

Fearless (Elementals 1.5) by Brigid Kemmerer
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
What Sarah from saz101 says about Hunter: Storm isn’t entirely Chris and Becca’s story, there is another boy very much involved, in the way of Hunter, ‘New Kid’ at school. He’s fascinating, mysterious, and he has a story as heartbreaking, intriguing and important as Chris or Becca’s. He plays a large and important role in Storm, and it feels as though his part may only just be becoming clear. - read her review.
What Kai from Amatersu Reads says about Hunter: Hunter, on the other hand, is a character I still have mixed feelings about. He's got this air of mystery that seems to cling to him all the time and that's one of the reasons why people take interest in him. I still have reservations over him as a character though, he can be a foe or a friend and what frustrates and makes me like him the most is his ability to make the readers come up with conclusions about him, but nothing is really certain. - read her review.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
Zoe from The Zoe Trope says: That her characterisation is deft and beautifully subtle! And her main character – the eponymous Seraphina – was a fascinating, complex and unique creation who captured my heart with her resourcefulness and bravery! - read her review.
Jillian from Goodreads says: There are moments ripe for smiles and laughs, for surprise and gasps, for melancholy expressions and contemplation...and all of it is done in a straightforward yet thoughtful narrative that can't help but play with your heartstrings. - read her review.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
What Mimi from Mimi Valentine says: Tiger Lily is raw and beautiful and heartbreaking and sad. It took my heart, squeezed it into a tiny little ball, then let it fly. Because if you've seen Peter's story, then you know how Tiger Lily's end — and it doesn't end well. But I promise that her story is well worth the read! - read her review.
Kathy from A Glass of Wine says: The ending is bitter sweet and brought both tears and a sad smile. The story packs an emotional punch. A vividly written tale about growing up, falling in love, and finding your own path in the world.  A tale for all those who have fallen in love with Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the idea of Neverland. Just don’t be surprised when you fall just as in love with the girl with the crow feather in her hair. - read her review.

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Asher from Paranormal Indulgence says:  I plowed through Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard in less than a handful of hours and part of the reason, besides the characters, is the paranormal aspect of the plot. Zombies coming up out of graves are enough to scare the petticoats off of these Victorian damsels but give them wicked speed and a yen for flesh and blood? Yeah, well, you can expect lots of running around in sheer bloody panic. - read her review.
Blythe from Finding Bliss in Books says: The characters—especially Eleanor—were top-notch and were flawed in their own little ways, but they were still strong, amazing and extremely likable. Right off the bat I knew that I would like Eleanor; she’s stubborn, self-reliant, witty and strong. She knows what she wants, when she wants it, and won’t take no for an answer. - read her review.

Which July releases are you frothing at the mouth to finally get your hands on?!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Silhouette by Thalia Kalkipsakis

Author: Thalia Kalkipsakis
Release Date: July 2012
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Add it: Goodreads
Scarlett Stirling is hardworking and fiercely ambitious. She loves the blisters and the strict regime of her dance classes at the National Academy of Performing Arts. Her life is measured and balanced. Perfect.

But when Scarlett meets charismatic musician Moss, she enters another world – a world without restrictions – and is swept up in a heady whirlwind of sex, drugs and celebrity. Spread thin between her commitments and her desire to be with Moss, Scarlett pushes herself to the limit, unaware she’s playing a dark
game.

Silhouette is not just another dance book. This gritty young adult novel follows the strong and determined Scarlett as she navigates her way from the safe, structured Academy into the adult world of commercial dance.

Thalia Kalkipsakis (Go Girl, Girlfriend Fiction) explores a cut-throat industry, where talent and ambition are paramount, and one mis-step can cost you everything.

I know nothing about the dance industry, and my own dance skills are limited to me swaying back and forth looking like a drunken ape (bar the grunting, I swear). Thankfully, my lack of rhythm did not cause for any confusion as Silhouette thrust me into Scarlett's shoes, dancing her way from strict, over-achieving student-dancer to a young girl, besotted and falling off the wagon. On a daring risk, Scarlett snuck into an audition with her best friend Paige, to star in a film clip for the gorgeous and talented musician, Moss Young. An audition that pays off... but not just for the dancing role. She's caught the wandering eye of handsome Moss. And she likes it.

Scarlett is an incredible dancer; top in her class and the envy of her classmates. She also has a determined and stubborn streak. I can't say I always found her very likable, but Kathy raised an great point not long ago about character likability. They don't always need to be likable for you to enjoy them, but have intriguing qualities that compel you to keep turning those pages. I think it's because I could see she was making stupid decisions at times and I just wanted to reach through and give her a good shake by the shoulders. But I find characters who force a reaction, rather than have me feel nothing, make for a good book.

Everyone knows who Moss Young is. A famous musician with the looks to match his seductive voice, Moss lives the fast-paced life of fame, sex, drugs and alcohol. Scarlett can definitely relate to his need to be more, because second best isn't good enough. He needs to shine, he needs his music to be perfection. I can understand how she - how many girls - could be lured in by his smoking hot looks and lulling words, but I wish there was more depth to the connection between them. At times I just struggled to grasp how a "Baaaaaabe" and sexy smile could so quickly derail a girl in every aspect of the strict dedication she once held for her dancing.

But at the same time, temptation is hard to resist. Especially for someone who's never really had time to stop and give it a second glance. I was a little torn over this aspect of the book, because I can TOTALLY understand the scenario, it does happen all too often in real life; young girls getting swept under the spell of the older guy who makes them feel special. But for a book, I just would have liked a tiny bit more from this downward spiral to make me emotionally invested.

Don't mistaken my few issues for a book I didn't enjoy, though. Silhouette is fast-paced and addictive. You'll easily zoom through the pages in one or two sittings, intrigued to see just how far Scarlett is willing to push herself. She thinks she's still in control as she tries to balance her everyday life and the rollercoaster that Moss is taking her on, but to the reader and eventually her friends, it's painfully clear that the more she falls into the wild-side of lust and addiction, the closer she comes to ruining any chance of a career. Her studies fail, her dancing slips and her body isn't reacting the same as it usually does when she comes to class with a hangover. Plus she's at odds with her mother over secrets long kept hidden. Can she pull herself out of this hole before she falls right through it?

Silhouette is another fantastic addition to Aussie YA contemporary that will appeal to dancers, non-dancers, and those that enjoy a descent into the dark side and the struggle to maintain control. It seems so many Australian writers love contemporary and it's a good thing to, because they're brilliantly talented at it.

3/5 Golden Apples!


Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Booktopia | Fishpond

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WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF SILHOUETTE!

Thanks to the incredible Hardie Grant Egmont, I have ONE copy of SILHOUETTE to giveaway to Australian and New Zealand readers! Just fill out the form below for your chance to win :)

Open to Australia and New Zealand residents only
Ends  July 18th 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

WHITE LINES: Cover Reveal, Excerpt, Interview & GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to the amazing Putnam Juvenile and author extraordinaire, Jennifer Banash, I have a VERY awesome post to share with you all! First up is the gorgeous cover reveal of WHITE LINES, Jennifer's contemporary YA novel being released by Putnam in April 2013. If that's not enough to get your clicky finger rushing to preorder, then the chapter excerpt most definitely will!

Jennifer has also been sweet enough to answer a few questions for me (and is a total tease where Julian is concerned!). Once you've devoured all of that EPICNESS, then of course you're GOING TO WANT TO WIN AN ARC, RIGHT?!


A gritty, atmospheric coming-of-age tale set in New York’s Lower East Side

Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream—she has her own apartment on New York’s Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when her real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream.

The sounds of the city grate against Cat’s nerves, she shrinks away from human touch, and can barely think the words “I love you” even when she feels them. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father who’s found happiness in another woman, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But then someone comes along who makes her want to stop escaping her life and actually live it, only she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control. Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.
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Q&A WITH THE AMAZING AUTHOR, JENNIFER BANASH!


White Lines clearly deals with a lot of heavy issues. Did you ever get emotional while writing Cat's journey?
Very. It was an incredibly hard book to write in a lot of ways--so much so that it took the better part of three years.

Name one characteristic you admire most about Cat?
She's a survivor. Even though she deals with so much abuse in her life, she keeps going.

Can you tease us with any hints about this Julian guy we meet in the excerpt? I'm intrigued already!
Well, he and Cat are going to run away to a magical island populated by faeries and wizards, where Cat will wear lots of floaty dresses and Julian will wear a loincloth. Not. You'll have to read the book!

How did you react when you were told White Lines was going to be published? Did you do anything to celebrate? (Congrats, by the way!!)
Thanks! I screamed for about five minutes straight, had a glass of pink champagne, then promptly fell asleep :) Negotiations had been going on for a week before I got word that it sold, and it was an incredibly tense and stressful time. I was just so relieved that the book sold to the editor I so desperately wanted, Stacey Barney at Putnam.

When the zombie apocalypse hits, which three books would you risk your tasty flesh to rescue before running for your life?
All of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books--but that's more than three :) I adore those books and read them over and over again---they never get old.

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EXCERPT FROM WHITE LINES

THREE
  
I’M SITTING ON THE STONE STEPS at school, pretending to en­joy an apple that I bought from an Asian grocery a few blocks over, when all I’m really thinking about is how long I have left until I can go home and start getting ready for the club, every stroke of makeup on my skin sliding me further from daylight. I tongue the white flesh and sink my teeth in, wishing the ripe fruit was the tanned blond head of one of the salad girls.
Since Manhattan Prep is housed in a brownstone and has a population of only one hundred students or fewer in the entire school, we don’t have a cafeteria. Or a prom. Or dances. Or phys ed. Instead, the Park Avenue girls buy salads at a cafeteria next door and sit in the glass atrium picking at their wilted greens, retouching their lip gloss with sticky pink wands. Even though we are all essentially weird in some way— after all, this is a school for kids who have gotten into some kind of trouble—it’s not enough to banish cliques completely. We still have the same bullshit categories as any other school: the jocks, the popular girls, the nerds. And the untouchables.
Like me. It goes without saying that nobody wants to have lunch with the weirdo who goes to clubs all the way down­town every night, so I sit on the steps and try to pretend that it doesn’t matter, when really, I’d do just about anything to have a friend here. This silent admission makes my cheeks flush with shame. How can I be so weak? Even at Nightingale, I only ever really had Sara, her blond curls hanging over my shoulder, elaborately folded notes tossed at my feet during study hall. Somehow, it was almost enough. But here, with no one to talk to day after day, the loneliness creeps in like an old friend I no longer want to know. Worse yet, it wants to make small talk. Oh, it’s you again? How’ve you been?
Across the street, Julian, the new kid, sits on the curb in front of Ray’s Pizza, a slice dangling from one hand. As he brings the pizza to his lips, the cheese falls off in one giant greasy slide to his lap. Julian has long dark hair that hangs to his shoulders and looks as if it hasn’t made friends with soap or water in days. His skin is the color of café au lait, and there’s something about the tilt of his eyes that makes me think he’s vaguely Asian. He wears jeans so tight that I’m sure years from now he’ll be sit­ting in some clinic with his frosty blond wife, stammering that he has no idea WHY they’ve had such a difficult time starting a family. All I know about Julian is that (a) he sits right across the aisle from me in history class, and (b) he transferred from Dalton last week after some kind of scandal involving his ex-girlfriend, and (c) he’s totally into the Ramones. He doesn’t talk to anyone, and never raises his hand in class, just stares down at his binder and scribbles what looks like pictures of Transform­ers on the cover with a black pen.
Julian finishes scraping melted cheese off his jeans and looks up, an irritated expression clouding his face. When his eyes meet mine, I feel a rough shock of recognition between us and raise my apple core in a kind of demented greeting, the air suddenly as thick as pudding. Julian tosses me a curt nod and promptly goes back to stuffing the rest of the slice into his mouth, gnawing hungrily at the edges of the crust, watching me all the while. Even though I love staring, and I think that generally other people’s lives are way more interest­ing than TV, I feel uneasy as Julian’s eyes lock on to mine. My face burns as he chews the last bite and brushes his hands against his black jeans before walking toward me. I turn the apple core over and over between my palms, my heart careen­ing in my chest as he approaches, glad that my hands have something to do even if the core is damp, sticky, and turning browner by the minute. As Julian moves closer, I can’t help but notice how he shakes the hair from his eyes with one ex­pert, jagged motion, how his hazel eyes change from green to brown in the light His skin is smooth and slightly bronzed, as if he’s just returned from some exotic locale. He tilts his chin in my direction defiantly, his eyes flicking coolly over my body, taking me in.
“See something you like?” He raises one dark eyebrow, and I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust, which is what always happens when someone potentially interesting talks to me in the real world—especially if that person happens to be a guy. And up close, Julian is definitely interesting—though it makes my stomach churn spasmodically to even think the word to myself. People are dangerous, unpredictable. I know this implicitly, and every time I come into contact with them, I become a caged animal, a panther pacing back and forth behind steel bars, wary and agitated.
“Yeah,” I stammer, turning redder by the second and wish­ing that a manhole would just open up and swallow me whole. I look down at my black boots and scramble for something to say, my brain a jumble of images, none that entirely make sense. “Your pizza—I was just . . . hungry.”
The minute the words leave my lips, I know they are the truth. My stomach begins to growl loudly as if in agreement, and I look up into Julian’s amused face and laugh, my voice echoing in the street, too loud, even with the noise of a pass­ing bus belching a thick cloud of black smoke. As the sound vibrates through me, jolting me into the present, I realize that it’s been forever since I’ve laughed at something legitimately funny or awkward without being prompted by the ingestion of some mind-altering substance. Still, I can’t quite turn off that ever-present voice inside my head, the one that holds up an in­visible hand to stop me from going further, from moving closer.
People are dangerous . . .
“Well,” Julian says, laughing along with me and holding out a hand, “that’s remedied easily enough. C’mon.”
I stare at his hand, the long fingers, and look into his eyes, which I can now see are flecked with gold. I toss my apple core to the concrete and take hold of him, ignoring the voice that begins, even now, to protest more loudly, whispering like a flock of ruffled birds, Don’t touch, don’t trust. I draw a deep breath and follow him blindly across the street, unsure of where I’m being taken.


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WANT TO WIN AN ARC OF WHITE LINES?!

Be among some of the very first readers to get your hot little hands on a copy of this April 2013 release! The incredible team at Putnam Juvenile are offering one lucky reader their very own ARC! Enter my giveaway below and then check out Jennifer's blog for the other fabulous bloggers offering more chances to win!

Open internationally
Ends 18th July 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Owl Post #7

 
Inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, Owl Post allows me to excitedly share all the yummy books I get in the mail each week! Owl's are much faster and more reliable than sneaky postmen, and the common way for magical folk to send and receive letters and parcels. Yes. I went to Hogwarts. Be jealous.


 I borrowed a bunch of mythology books from the library ages ago and this was the one I liked the most. I only got to read parts of it, but it has TONS of content and very detailed, so I decided I needed my own copy!

Also known as Shadow and Bone in the US. I have been DYING to read this! When Sam, Sonia and 560 other bloggers are all singing it's praises, it HAS to be something special, right? Not that you can see in the crappy photo, but the cover looks so pretty in person!

I took to twitter and asked the most vital question: Should I catch-up on this series? Well... the love for these books was overwhelming! I cannot believe there are so many fans, yet I haven't picked up a single book to read. SHOCKING, BRODIE. I will get on these soon!

Was not expecting this at all, since it's not my usual read. But it has some great early reviews and I love me an angel book. I hear this is a spin-off from one of Gena's other series? Think I can easily read this without having read those? Also: Cover. Mmmm!
Contemporary. Bad Boy. Troubled Guy. Touching romance. Really? How can I say no to that?!

I was planning on seeing the movie anyway, but I wasn't sure whether to read this before or after.  Lisa convinced me to wait until I after the movie. Which means... Chris Hemsworth, dear? I'm coming to a cinema near you real soon! Well... not technically near you, but near your rugged huntsman.

What did the owls bring you this week?
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