Parallel lives/universes seem to be an “it” thing in 2013 with at least 3 YA releases coming to mind and I for one am not the least bit disappointed because I LOVE the concept of alternative realities and fringe sciences.
Parallel definitely didn’t disappoint either I absolutely loved it and read it over a weekend, it was a really enjoyable book. Just imagine how confused and freaked out you would be if one day you were disappointed with the way life was turning out stuck in Hollywood shooting a movie, then the next day you woke up in a Yale dorm room with absolutely no idea how you could have possibly got there. This is just the start of the slippery slope for Abby our main character who soon discovers that just the simplest of decisions can have major repercussions in the future.
As the concept of the parallel universes and Abby remembering them is fairly complex there is a lot of science and theoretical conversations in this book between Abby, her best friend Caitlin and her academically gifted but kooky and discredited high school science teacher, and I believe these were really well handled. While at times you had to read a couple of pages carefully to fully grasp the concept, overall it was done slowly over the course of the book meaning that you weren’t overwhelmed and you really got a good chance to understand why everything was happening especially as you were being given live examples continuously too!
The characters themselves were fun Abby made some stupid decisions at times but these were all decisions I could imagine anyone possibly making in those situations and the great thing about this book is that you get to see how some poor choices can really alter your future. Abby overall was quite likeable and I enjoyed seeing her in different situations, my only complaint is that she seemed a little too perfect. For a girl who thinks she is nothing special she managed to act in Hollywood, be a brilliant marathon runner, get into an Ivy League school without really wanting to go and also row competitively that’s a lot of very varied talents. Her 2 besties Caitlin and Tyler were great as well and I really enjoyed the dynamics and blossoming love between them. Caitlin was just a great character - I loved her and was devastated at one point when a major rift grows between Abby and Caitlin I actually think I got a bit teary!
Sadly what was perhaps lacking in this novel was the relationships. Both Abby’s have a love interest and both were a little ho hum and though Josh definitely grew on me by the end as his story developed. Michael unfortunately just felt flat and I think possibly needed some more air time to make the reader connect with him. I’m going to leave it at that as it’s really hard to go into the relationships at all without spoiling some of the wonderful OMG moments at the end and trust me there are some great moments especially at the culmination where Abby has an epiphany which makes her realise it doesn’t matter what choices she makes some things are destiny.
“Do you believe in soulmates?” “Ask me tomorrow,” he says.
The last part that I think is really worth mentioning is how beautiful the descriptions of Yale are. I’m not from the US and I don’t really get this whole Ivy League college experience or anything but the descriptions and small tit bits of information given about Yale and North Haven gave me a definite yearning to visit, it truly sounds beautiful, homely - like putting on a nice pair of comfy socks on a cold winters day.
Overall I found this to simply be a great book and providing your willing to read some heavier information dense parts on time travel and parallel universes I believe readers will enjoy it thoroughly!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Parallel is released on the 14th May 2013. (less)
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self pity and pain."
I chose to read this novel back in January for the Dystopian Challenge and all I remembered upon opening the Kindle document was that it was post apocalyptic. Within a few chapters I started to get a real sense of familiarity to the story and characters and when I discovered that it was a Jane Austen retelling this made a whole lot of sense, there is a real Austen feel about this novel while still managing to spin a completely new and novel story.
The story is about 2 children – 1 rich, Elliot and 1 a slave, Kai. These two are born on the same day and form a strong friendship that overtime blossoms into love. 4 years prior to this book taking place, Kai leaves to try and make a better life for himself while Elliot stays behind, bound by duty to try to protect and look after the other people on the estate before her father’s disinterest drives it to the brink of ruin. Fast forward to today and Kai comes back, as the dashing and incredibly successful Captain Wentworth still hurt and angry about Elliot’s choice to leave him and ready to show her what a poor choice she made.
Elliot is a wonderful strong female lead, one who is self sacrificing, independant and who clearly cares deeply for others overcoming many societal predjudices. As one of the luddite nobitlity she takes her role as caretaker to the reduced (generations of people on which genetic experimentation went incredibly wrong) seriously unlike many of her society counterparts. The best part about her carefully constructed charactered is how layered she is. She chooses honor over love and underneath her tough exterior is pain, regret and a tinge of hopelessness. Mixed in with these many emotions are deep seated religious beliefs and fears about innovation, science and change making her a delightfully complex heroine.
Kai/Wentworth is a very typical Austen male love interest and while the arrogance has been toned down for a more modern audience I can still imagine many of his reactions wouldn’t sit well with teens today. His blind hatred to Elliot at the beginning of the story does seem to dissolve fairly quickly with very little reason, though many reasons why he should love Elliot are still shown to the reader. His character is given depth through the ethical dilemmas he faces while apart from Elliot with relation to science and innovation. The decisions and rational behind his choices definitely round him out making him more appealing and also add a extra layer of complicaton between himself and Elliot.
The many issues dealt with in this book make it such a very interesting read and I could easily imagine reading this story for a second or third time and taking very different messages away from it. From family drama, slavery, genetic experimentation, religious persecution and pitfalls of scientific innovation, there are many important questions to ponder as a reader and this book did a great job of painting everything a delicious shade of grey and never tried to sway your point of view one way or the other.
This is such an engrossing book, I finished it within a day and it’s probably one of the best written novels I’ve read since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If your looking for a book that makes you want to think yet still keeps you entertained then I can’t recommend this enough!(less)
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussion...moreFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussion of this one in our podcast next week as she's still reading it.
Anyone who listens to our podcast will most likely know that ever since attending PTA Live Brisbane earlier in the year I have been intrigued by this book, it ticked a lot of boxes for me. I had given up on having a shot at a review copy originally as I didn't see it appear on Netgalley but then to my delight about a week ago it appeared, I was approved and I started reading it pretty much straight away!
I'm happy to say that this one gets a big thumbs up from me, I really enjoyed it though I am hoping there is the possibility of a sequel as I had so many questions at the end that I want to know the answers to! So without going into too much detail I will give a quick rundown on what I really loved.
The Characters - I loved that this was told from a multitude of perspectives and they all wove together really well. Veronica was my favourite storyline but I also quite enjoyed the storyline of Bastian too though I wasn't sure at the end if he was a bit empty headed and selfish or had the potential of a noble alpha male type.
The Setting - I knew virtually nothing about Carnevale or historical Venice though it was very clear to me that this book had been thoroughly researched - there were lots of little details given that gave the story a richness of culture which I loved.
Book Layout - I loved that this book almost felt like a Shakespeare comedy. At about 60% through there is a scene where Bastion has this grand idea that is just so complex and ridiculous yet also highly inventive and entertaining that I could almost imagine it being on a stage.
What drove me mad? Argh the questions! I firstly can't tell if this has been set up to possibly have a sequel or not, it finishes like a stand alone novel but there were so many unanswered storylines. I must know what happens between Veronica and Luca! The story of Orelia's parents - I want more details I felt we only just skimmed the surface of the mystery. Angelique... does she eventually find true love? and the aftermath of Claudia and her brother Marco, I want to know more. I really hope there is a sequel to come I lost a lot of much needed sleep in the wee hours of the morning wondering about these things!
Anyone looking for something a little bit different to your standard love triangle YA book should definitely give this one a go and make sure you listen in to our podcast next week for a further discussion! (less)
Michael Glass didn't scream. Instead, he made a terrible keening noise in the back of his throat, arched his back, and began to flail violently inside his zipped-up sleeping bag. Fabric shredded under vampire strength, and insulation bulged out of the tears as he fought his way free, but even once it was off him he just kept… flailing."
Not even 5 pages in, and my heart was already hinting at the intense beating my emotions were going to get while reading Black Dawn. In the world of Morganville, Texas, Black Dawn is the twelfth book in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series.
I am a relatively new fan of Rachel Caine, having only powered through the entire Morganville Vampire series in the first week of June 2011 (and then eagerly anticipating the release of the then soon-to-be-released Bite Club!) New fan or not, the universe Rachel Caine has created continues to make the reader invest in the wellbeing of its characters.
Black Dawn does not begin quietly. In fact there are very few moments in the story where you are not fearing for one or more of the characters lives.
Claire Danvers describes the situation in Morganville best in the opening chapter:
"There were things out there in the world, things that vampires feared, and now those things were here. She was only seconds out of a very light, fitful sleep, but she knew that the nightmares had followed her effortlessly right into the real world. The draug. They weren't vampires; they were something else, something that moved through water, formed out of it, dragged vampires down to a slow and awful death."
Last Breath left us with the draug having infiltrated Morganville, feeding off the vampires and bringing a new fear to the towns inhabitants. Black Dawn continues right where Last Breath left us; in the middle of the pain and confusion that yes, the vampires in the Morganville Vampires universe do have a reason to fear for their continued existence. Claire, Shane Collins, Michael Glass and Eve Rosser are once again uncomfortably allied with Oliver, Myrnin and the other vampires to destroy the draug and try to save Amelie's life.
I could not choose just one hero from this book - Claire, Eve, Michael, Shane and a few surprise characters all brought their best baddassness to the fight. The dialogue between characters, particularly Shane and Michael, and of course Myrnin, had me laughing aloud (which may have gotten me a few looks on the train). It felt familiar to read their comfortable banter, and it was an enjoyable respite from the more intense situations dominating the storyline. While the main premise of Black Dawn follows the fight to survive the draug infestation, Rachel Caine absolutely delivers on the relationships between Eve and Michael, and Shane and Claire - and the complications that Myrnin presents.
As with Last Breath, we not only follow the story through the eyes of Claire, but other central characters Shane, Michael and Eve take us through their story fighting the draug, the political unbalance and the betrayals that will leave you on the last page anticipating the next adventure in Bitter Blood (Book 13 of Morganville Vampires)!
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Black Dawn is released tomorrow, the 1st May 2012.(less)
"I don’t want romance and stolen kisses and sweetness and hand holding. I want something so big it’s like two planets colliding, with an aftershock that I feel for the rest of my life."
Where to start with this book. This is not a run of the mill Young Adult novel and this is definitely not a stock standard paranormal. What this novel is, is hard to put down, it was eerie and suspenseful and showed the world from a completely different perspective.
The story centres around Abbie a lonely 17 year old who looks at everything from an artists view. She is romantically obsessed with he step cousin Kane who lives in the downstairs part of their house and until recently barely noticed her existence. When Kane arrives back from a surfing trip Abbie notices that while everything appears normal on the surface with Kane, something is just not right - there are shadows, there is blurred perceptions and a menancing feeling that just doesn't seem to go away.
I was worried going into this novel that this book would be wrought with Australian slang and cliches and was so relieved to instead discover a beachside town that could have been almost anywhere. While there was some references to Australian surf culture it in no way deterred from the story but instead enriched it showing a side to Australian life. I loved how connected this book was to the ocean and infact all the locations were well written and so very sensory I could almost feel I was there too.
Abbie was a fascinating character and her journey of self discovery was absolutely riveting. I loved the self portraits she took throughout the novel giving you clear glimpses of her personal growth and feelings it was such a different way of communicating with readers and I loved the impact it gave to the story. The back story of Abbie's family history was subtletly woven into the main storyline really letting you empathise for this young woman who just seemed so very isolated from the get go.
The horror element to the book was incredibly exciting and I spent 3/4 of the novel wondering if it was actually happening or if it was all in Abbie's head - all those internal musings and hints of otherworldliness just left you never really sure. The conversations Abbie has with her babysitting charge Joey and her imaginary friend Pinty were deliciously creepy and I'm still concerned for that poor 3 year old and what is clearly haunting her! Eagar also doesn't shy away from some truly violent horror scenes towards the end, I'm still reeling and horrified about the poor dog. I won't say more for fear of spoilers but I will say animal lovers beware some things in this novel are definitely what I would label as disturbing.
This novel definitely surprised me I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and I can't wait to pick up Kirsty Eagar's other novels now.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Night Beach is released today, the 26th April 2012.(less)
I’ve read a lot of Dystopians but Eden’s Root has to be one of the hardest I’ve read to date purely because of how very gritty and real this book is. Unlike many Dystopians where you get a vague idea that at some point in the past something went horribly wrong leading to a completely different way of life and governing body, in Eden’s Root you are there from the beginning experiencing with the characters in a breaking and changing world. The main character Fi by the tender age of 14 has already experienced some traumatizing life events including the death of her brother and father to cancers and also the knowledge that her mother is soon to join them. The rise of cancers is attributed to all the modifications science has done over the decades to our food sources leading to the eventual loss of all new planatation in 2033 when Fi must help her family find the Eden complex in order to survive. I have personally seen both my own mother and my father in law sucumb to cancer way before there time and this book hits frightenly close to home.
The actual world building was very well done, you really felt you were there and part of the chaos after the government involved the military and started to ration the food. The only problem I had was that the actual story was just too long and could have done with some editing, especially in the early parts with Fi’s preparation and training. This is a long book and it took me quite a while to get through the first third of the novel and I think this is one of the story’s biggest faults.
The characters are beautifully done. Fi is a great heroine even if she is only 13 at the start of the novel. While at first I found it a bit hard to believe that she was incharge of her “family” including the adults after awhile I really did accept it, at the end of the day some people really are born leaders and Fi is one of these. Now she really grows in this story partly because of her training and partly because of the changing world around her forcing her to tackle some real moral issues. While I could imagine that some people would be irritated with her thoughts and reactions to events I thought that they rang quite true because at the end of the day regardless of how the world changes having to be involved in death, rape, pillage and all those other awful chaos activities would not be easy.
Sean irritated me a little bit, he was a bit too passive agressive for my tastes but I really liked the character of Asher. Some reviews I’ve read has put both these guys in a love triangle with Fi but I never really saw any romantic connection between her and Sean. But then Asher carries a sword around and is totally awesome so perhaps I was a little judgemental :) The family itself was nicely done if a little bit too lucky when it came to adding new members that just magically had skills the group could use. I also wonder if it was realistic how well their rules and meetings would actually work in this situation – I think I would find it very hard to always take direction from a teenager personally and I’m not entirely sure if there wouldn’t be more tension in reality.
Overall even though it took me awhile to get into this story I really loved it and I think that anyone who enjoys Dystopians/Post Apocalyptic stories should add this to their to-read list – it’s a fascinating read!(less)
This story is told from both the perspectives of Ebony, a violet eyed teenager who until recently was home schooled and has never left the valley her parents farm is located on, and Jordon, a tough kid in foster care who has had one too many things go wrong in his young life. When these two meet for the first time there is an instant connection that changes both of their worlds as you discover about Ebony's past and her bond with Jordon.
I have never read this author before though she has a big fan base so I was really looking forward to giving this book a go. Hidden is marketed as a YA novel though I was quite puzzled by this at the beginning as it read more like a middle grade book to me, and what put me off completely was that the characters would use phrases that are definitely more adult like such as "wondering which girl he would be leaving the club with tonight". I felt that this was quite a contradiction and not a particularly good one, especially if young teens are going to pick this book up. As the story warms up, probably about a third of the way through, it definitely hits its stride and gets both interesting and settles into a more YA writing style.
Ebony was a frustrating character, she starts off quite interesting, there is something different about her and she knows that she hears better than your average person and has above average strength and speed. Her parents are quite closed off and wont tell her and for some reason she doesn't push them about it for years. When you find out about her back story you would expect her to become even more interesting and want to learn more about her past however instead she becomes a stubborn mule who is completely unhelpful and provides 90% of the conflict and barriers in the story. Definitely an unenjoyable heroine for the most part.
Jordon was more interesting however I'm not really sure where his storyline will take him for the remainder of the book series and I hope that they go into more details about the guardian/angel relationship as this seemed to be such a pivotal point in the book yet it was completely glossed over and barely mentioned again. There is some interesting back story about Jordon and his previous foster home experience that I found quite interesting and I'm not entirely sure what Adam Skinner's role is going to be for future books but I fully expect it to be fleshed out in the sequel.
I did really enjoy Thane and the angels this was the highlight of the novel and I'm glad that this is really the heart of the overall story. I quite liked Prince Luca as a baddy and Thane was wonderfully patient with both Ebony and Jordon. I'm looking forward to finding out more about Thane's destiny and the angel homeworld Avena! While I'm not the biggest fan of insta love I think the storyline does compensate in this case for Thane and Ebony and I am looking forward to some nice romance in the future books.
Overall this was a fast and fairly enjoyable read and though the book did have some flaws I would definitely pick up book 2 to find out what happens next. In saying that this definitely was not in the same league as the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand or The Violet Eden Chapters by Jessica Shirvington - both of which are completely brilliant angel series that I try to convince all friends to read.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Hidden has just been released on the 1st March 2013 and can be purchased via the links below. (less)
I loved the sound of this book from the synopsis, it was historical and it was also a fantasy book with dragons and beautiful gothic castles! While I did enjoy reading this book the entire time I just felt that something was missing, I wondered if this was a spin off of another book series or set in the same world as another book series at least. I wasn't surprised to discover that Shana Abe, while this is her first foray into Young Adult literature has quite a bit of experience writing adult romances and I guessed right, there is another adult series set loosely within the same universe.
The writing in this novel is beautiful though I felt that it left the main characters at times coming off as distant. Lora while sweet I never really felt sorry for her even though it would be tough living in a boarding school surrounded by wealthy girls. She was an interesting character however and I am interested in finding out more about her powers linking music with precious gems I found that really different and fascinating!
The two boys which make up your typical YA love triangle are both interesting though I do this this triangle is quite off kilter especially with how the book turns out. I'll be interested to see how Abe pulls off the romance angle in book 2. Jesse is all sweetest and light and theirs truly is a star crossed lovers romance. On the other hand there is Armand who is arrogant, rich and has an intense heat within him. Normally I'm more drawn to the arrogant alpha types in romances but I really loved Jesse and I think that his talents are fascinating and such a beautiful compliment to Lora.
The actual storyline is a little slow and if I think back, not that much actually happens. Abe is definitely playing to her strengths and this is foremost a romance with a smidgen of supernatural added in for good measure. If you are looking for a story that is romantic with some strong character building then I think you would enjoy The Sweetest Dark.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Sweetest Dark is released on the 2nd April 2013 and can be purchased via the links below. (less)
I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m d...moreThis review also features on my review site Tea in the Treetops
I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m desperate to read, fantastic books for the most part as I’ve gotten better at reading between the lines of book blurbs and other reviews at sifting out books I will generally like. What all these wonderful books and large to read piles mean its hat I have very little patience for books that I’m not enjoying. Unfortunately Side Effects May Vary is one of those books and after wasting a week procrastinating on and off reading this one and only getting to the half way mark, I’ve decided not to finish reading it.
My big issue with this book was how remarkably negative the entire reading experience was. The topic was negative, the characters were all negative, nothing good seemed to happen, even Alice going into remission managed to be an unfulfilling downer of an experience. This brings me to the character of Alice she was a horrible person, even for a “mean girl” she blew me away with how knowingly manipulative she was, how she willing to use people and then cast them aside, it was incredibly painful to read and I seriously did not care what happened to her in the end at the point when I decided to stop.
The actual writing of this book was well done and it flowed well, I actually liked the alternating chapters between Alice and Harvey as well as the then and now aspect which gave the book a patchwork narration style that added to the build up. It is a pity that the actual content just didn’t do it for me as I think Julie Murphy definitely has some talent and I will be interested in reading future books of hers which hopefully have a story that is less of a Debbie downer.
I’m sure this book will appeal to many people but for me I just think life is too short and there are just too many good books to waste time on something that I’m not enjoying! (less)
I wasn’t expecting much from this book other than a gorgeous cover after all the argy bargy and drama between book bloggers, the author and the publicist. I decided to give it a go anyway and to be honest I’m really glad I did! While this isn’t the most deep and meaninful book it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly in the same guilty fashion that I enjoy eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. You know your not really meant to be liking it but you can’t help but secretly love every moment of it!
Set in Illea which replaced the USA after a large and brutal war in the not too distant future, this book is about a 16 year old girl called America. America is selected as one of 35 girls to compete for the love and marriage of Illea’s crown prince in a large marketing reality tv type affair to give the people of Illea some live entertainment and distraction not unlike the ancient Romans did with the Colleseum. While most girls are honoured to be selected from their region to compete, America isn’t. America is already in love with a boy called Aspen and is not remotely interested in marrying the prince however accepts her selection because her family needs the financial aid and publicity it affords them.
While this is a Dystopian it’s the lightest one I’ve read yet and I hope that the sequel gives a bit more background information into this world. You are introduced in this novel to the caste system of Illea – the royal family being of Caste 1 and lowly servants being caste 6. America is a singer and is of Caste 5 still considered incredibly low on the totem pole and her family while gifted in the arts find it very hard to make ends meet between work. There is also information woven into the story as to how Illea is formed after effectively World War 3, however not much information is given about the rebels that pop up throughout the story – I’m assuming to keep everything dangerous and mysterious.
America is not a particularly easy character to like. She is pretty self centred and to be frank if I had been the prince I would have gotten rid of her at the very beginning - she is really quite mean to him and he just takes beating after beating by her. The prince is pretty wishy washy and really needs a bit more of a backbone. There were some glimmers of true leadership from him throughout the book and I sincerely hope we see more in the sequel otherwise this guy is going to end up being the most whipped King you could come across! The whole interaction between the different ladies competing was actually really well done even though there is the cliche mean girl who is kept in though absolutely no one likes her except apparently the prince. It really reminds me a bit of Gossip Girl meets The Bachelor and it doesn’t surprise me that this book has been picked up for a TV series.
Overall while the writing was a bit clunky at times and the main character was a bitch, this book was still pretty addictive and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If your looking for a light hearted read between episodes of Gossip Girl or Revenge I think this book would be for you!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Selection was released on 24th April 2012 so check out the links below to purchase it now!(less)
While I’m not the biggest fan of the vampire genre I was intrigued by the premise of The Immortal Rules. Vampires, Zombies all bundled in with a dystopian setting was enough to pique my interest and I’m so glad I read it – Julie Kagawa it turns out is a fantastic writer! Set approximately 60 years into the future, civilisation has collapsed, rabids (aka zombies) roam freely infecting and killing people while vampires now run the worlds cities taking blood donations from the city’s human dwellers in exchange for food and protection. In one of these vampire cities you meet Allison a human who detests vampires with a passion and would prefer to live near starvation, scavenging and stealing to survive rather then become a vampire “pet” or donate her blood. Through misfortune Allison ends up attacked and near death when offered a choice: die, become what she hates, a vampire.
What I love about this book is that you follow Allison on parallel journeys. The book is very much a traditional physical journey where she leaves the city she grows up in and meets up with human travellers who are looking for a fabled human city called Eden. Along with this physical journey the reader is also taken on an incredibly difficult emotional journey where Allison has to make some difficult choices and question the very essence of her beliefs. I love books that make you think, books with substance that really makes you ponder the characters handling of specific situations and this novel keeps you on the edge of your seat really blurring the line between good and evil.
The future Kagawa paints is bleak and incredibly well thought out. The first quarter of this novel sets the reader up with a solid understanding of how the world is now run; a group of vampire cities with human subjugates and rabids roaming free turning anyone in the wild into rabid fodder. You get a good insight into vampire politics, and while this isn’t particularly important for this novel I imagine this foundation will serve its purpose in future Blood of Eden books. Along with an understanding of the vampire cities you also get to spend time in “the wild”, life outside the city in a world fraught with danger and infectious creatures. Overall the world building is complex and vivid, it really enriches the readers experience as you follow Allison’s path.
The characters and their development also get a big tick from me. Allison is kick ass which isn’t too surprising considering the life she grew up with, survival of the fittest definitely rules the fringe of New Covington. She’s shows a lot of inner strength when faced with moral dilemmas and handles them incredibly well but not without subtlety showing you how much inner turmoil some of her choices has given her. Even though she is a monster you just can’t help rooting for her and her own moral code speaks for itself – vampire or not this girl has heart.
The romance between Zeke and Allison is built up at a steady pace and you really connect with them. There is no love at first sight rubbish in this book, instead it’s gradually built upon and by the time obstacles come between them you really want it to work out because the love seems so authentic and deserved. Zeke is a lovely character and a breath of fresh air from all the alpha male types that plague young adult novels. While I’m sure he won’t do it for everyone, his confidence and ability to trust and help everyone he meets in such a harsh environment just makes me want to give him a great big cuddle!
The end of the novel is fantastic and the entire story is wrapped up neatly leaving just enough openings to make the reader desperate to get their hands on the sequel. Overall this book really reminded me a lot of The Study series by Maria V Snyder. While it’s classified as Young Adult it in many ways seemed more like an adult novel and I think for this reason it will be a hit with both the YA and Sci-Fi/Fantasy crowd. If you swore never to pick up a vampire book again, this book is worth breaking that promise over. One of the best Young Adult books I’ve read for awhile and I think it’s worth being added to anyone’s to-read list!
Thank you Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Immortal Rules is being released on the 24th April 2012.(less)
"Our purpose on this earth is not one single event, an accomplishment we can check off a list. There is no test. No passing or failing. There's only us, each moment shaping who we are, into what we will become."
Sigh, what a beautiful novel. Hallowed is the 2nd installment of the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand and follows Clara, a part angel on her journey to fulfill her purpose on earth. This isn't a fast paced book, but the lack of intrigue and action is greatly made up by its solid characters and strong, well constructed relationships.
This book continues where Unearthly left off with Clara purposefully choosing to fail her purpose by choosing to save Tucker and now working out how to deal with Christian and the fact that he is also an angel blood. While dealing with that she also has her new relationship with Tucker and a majorly pissed off Black Wing who could return at anytime. The love triangle between Christian, Clara and Tucker is a very central part to this book but the triangle is done well - you can really understand and empathise with the wavering feelings Clara has throughout the book.
When I finished Unearthly I thought Tucker and Clara were absolutely perfect together, if you had told me that Christian was in anyway a contender I would have flat out laughed. Here I am now seriously wanting her to somehow magically get to have both guys because Christian didn't just grow on me in this book I totally love him - he is so perfect in such a completely different way to Tucker. I have no idea how this triangle is going to pan out but I think I'm going to be sad one way or another!
Aside from show casing a strong love triangle, Hand also delves deep into the mother, daughter relationship and I'm not sure whether its because I quite recently lost my own mother, but I found this relationship beautifully depicted. I found out when reading the acknowledgments that Hand was pregnant with her baby daughter while writing this novel and I think all those pregancy hormones definitely kicked in and helped her deliver a wonderful, emotionally driven story. I sincerely hope she has as strong a relationship with her daughter as Clara and her mother have in this book - I loved reading every minute of it even though it was so incredibly sad.
This is not an easy book to read at times, infact the depth of emotion and sadness that I felt in parts made this in some ways a hard read even though I rated it so highly. I wouldn't reccomend this to someone who is after something fun filled, this book definitely requires tissues though please don't let it deter you from an phenomenal series!(less)
I have to admit I was incredibly interested by this book the moment I read the synopsis. When I started the book I did so with some trepidation, I was really excited to read this it sounded like a book made specifically for me in terms of the genres and premise and like anything you build up often you find that you finally get to it and are severely let down. Hurray! Stitch was not one of these dissapointments I can safely say that especially about 60% through I was seriously going "OMG WTF I so did not expect that!"
Stitch starts out like a nice light fluffly paranormal - a young college girl haunted by the loss of her parents encounters a ghost and thinks she is falling in love. Sounds sweet and in all honesty I would have still probably enjoyed the story if it had stayed on that vein of thought. Somewhere shortly after the middle of this book however there are a number of bombshells that seemingly come out of nowhere and no longer are you in the middle of a paranormal romance, you are instead transported into a sinister post apocalyptic dystopian. This world of college classes and sorority friends? Not quite what they seem and I started to question where on earth is this book taking me next.
The story centers around our protagonist Alessa who picks herself up a year after her parents died in a car crash and goes to college. While at college she meets her best friend Jamie a fellow sorority sister and starts encountering the ghost of a young man. With Jamie's help she is on a mission to discover what happened to this man and find out why he is haunting her. Alessa is a very sweet young girl who has a real streak of inner strength which shows throughout the story by the way she handles the obstacles thrown at her. I really related to the way she coped with things, especially some of the big curveballs thrown in the middle of the book, I can't stand it when a heroine seems to barely bat an eyelid at a major gamechanger. There is strength and then there is the unrealistic, Alessa came across as strong, relatable and real and I really liked her.
Isaac was a lovely male lead and I can't wait to find out more about him in the next installment of this trilogy. He was smart but not an alpha male and there was no insta-love between himself and Alessa which was nice. As much as I was glad that this was a relationship that built slowly I did feel that the whole sparks flying/electricity and chemistry aspect of love was perhaps missing or maybe lacking is a better way of putting it. I'm hoping that we get more of that in book 2 as the scene is definitely set at the end of this book for a lot more alone time between this couple.
The premise of the world Durante has built was very interesting and while it incorporated many aspects that have shown in other post-apocalyptic novels none have woven so many different threads and ideas into one story in such a unique way. While you do get an insight into the new world order in Stitch, you are really left at the end of the book with more questions and desperate for more pages to magically appear. I'll venture a guess that the next book will fit much more squarely into the Dystopian genre as we uncover more behind the safe haven of Paragon and the process of Stitching.
Overall this was an easy book to like and read, and my biggest critique of the story would be that there was at times too much telling and not enough showing. That being said, this book has a lot of heart and I was really impressed with the overall editing and proofing quality especially as this is a self published novel. This really was a wonderful strong debut novel and I can't wait to read the next installment!(less)
This was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oa...moreThis was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a copy of Embrace!
"Did you ever think we would be anything other than unbelievable?"
I have had both good and bad experience with YA angel novels in the past. Firstly there is the Uneartly series by Cynthia Hand with I absolutely loved, then there are books like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which I would quite happily burn, and Fallen which I put down as DNF after struggling to get through the first 100 pages! I had first chosen to read Embrace at the beginning of the year when choosing books for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. Much to my surprise I discovered that Jessica Shirvington is in fact a fellow Aussie and this book has been out Down Under for quite awhile now! I was so keen to read it I broke my ebook only rule and actually purchased the physical book (sadly the ebook is NOT available in Australia along with many other wonderful YA books I’m desperate to purchase!).
Embrace is the story of Violet who has never particularly enjoyed her birthdays as her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. On her 17th birthday her mother had left her a gift including a strange letter hinting about faith and otherwordly concepts leaving her feeling quite confused. Shortly after turning 17 Violet discovers she is part angel and has to decide whether to forgo her angel heritage or “embrace” this side of her fully.
I really liked Violet as a character for the most part of this book. She starts off strong, self sufficient and completely relatable. It’s actually a nice change to have a girl who is fit and sporty as a central character for no reason other than she wants to be, I can’t really think of another main heroine who is like that. Through the book she gets quite ragey and spiteful which is out of character and at first I was puzzled by it then caught on that there were paranormal influences at work and this just worked for the story. Like any good heroine Violet isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, learns a lot and really grows into her new world as the story progresses while still managing to stay grounded in her normal day to day life.
Like so many Young Adult books there are 2 guys and I found both of them to be completely HOT, there is the quiet, reserved “good” guy Lincoln and then the dark mysterious “bad” boy Phoenix who both get quite a bit of air time. Now I’m sure there will be quite a few Phoenix fans out there but I must be drawn to the strong silent type or something because I swear if she ends up with Phoenix at the end of this quartet I will have to smack her over the head for her stupidity! For a bit of fresh air in a YA book there is actually some sex which is so rare these days I actually reread the scene because I was like “did she just do that… like really did she?!!!” Both of the guys really are more than they seem, their characters are definitely much deeper then just good and bad and this is what really made this story a great read. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Phoenix’s backstory in the future books.
I really enjoyed the angel mythology and premise of this world as well and can’t wait to find out more, the whole “Embrace” trials to accept your Grigori powers was really interesting and I will be interested to find out even more about the myhology in the remaining books of the series. I really liked how the whole Angel and Grigori lore was new to Violet as well and the information was given out in a way that didn’t make it too overwhelming – you just went on the learning journey with her as the story progressed.
Overall I found this to be a fantastic debut novel by a great Aussie author and think anyone with an interest in Angel or paranormal stories will appreciate this story!(less)
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing."
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
Wow, what a commanding start to a novel. That opening sentence hooked me in, it set the bar high and boy does Laini Taylor deliver! Daughter of Smoke and Bone tears down the common formula for paranormal romance and sets a new standard. Based in Prague you meet Karou the azure haired girl an aloof art student by day and mysterious errand girl for the chimaera named Brimstone by night. While she is human, Karou was raised by Brimstone and some of his colleagues in his workshop hidden “elsewhere” accessible only through portals disguised as doorways. Brimstone tells her nothing, everything is a secret and Karou is raised a lonely girl who feels separate from humanity and with no clue as to how she ended up under Brimstone’s care. All this changes when by complete chance she encounters Akiva on one of her mysterious errands and her world starts to come apart.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. I’ve never been to Prague but I desperately want to go after reading countless descriptions of city scenery this being one such example:
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet."
Along with the beautiful descriptions of Earth, Taylor introduces Eretz a world filled with Angels and Demons and torn viciously apart by war. You can visualise this alien land so well through the story and even though the book is laden with descriptions and explanations it at no point takes away from character development.
I loved the character of Karou. She was smart, clever, witty with just a hint of sorrow. You got a real sense of her inner strength even though she is fairly reserved – definitely not a flashy heroine! I was a bit worried by Akiva initally - I thought he was going to be a little too heartless and cold to me. There is nothing I like less than a girl who fawns herself over a complete asshole. Thankfully he wasn’t like this at all and as the story progresses you really appreciate how he is actually flexible and willing to grow.
The relationship that develops between Akiva and Karou could have so easily crossed the line into creepy and unrealistic but instead its authentic and innocent. You find yourself wanting it to work out for them against all the odds. Taylor shifts this story between both their perspectives and it really helps strengthen the realism in their growing love for one another. It’s hard to go into their relationship without giving too much of the story away but you do believe that these two are destined to be together and to do great things for the fate of 2 races and 2 worlds.
I also loved the fact that there is no clear cut good and evil in this book and that war isn’t anything to be glamorized instead its something that literally consumes both sides and everyone loses out:
"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?
While this sounds like a standard Young Adult romance it truly isn’t. The story changes about half way through when Karou learns the answers to just a few of Brimstone’s secrets and it almost feels like you are reading a different novel. This is not a story of happily ever afters even if it started with a fairytale beginning. This is a story that sends you on a whirlwind of all sorts of emotions, from grief, love, shock, betrayal and tragedy. It leaves you out of breath at the end and in complete awe. I was unable to contemplate starting another book for a good week, it took me that long to digest it.
I find myself recommending this book to everyone I know. While the story resolves itself and leaves the reader feeling complete, the ending is still a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for 2nd novel – Days of Blood and Starlight to be released in late 2012. I read this book in January 2012 and I won’t be surprised if in December this year I still list this as one of the best books I read in 2012. This book deserved its 5/5 stars and then some.(less)
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover that this was originally written years ago on fictionpress and has only more recently been edited and published by a professional publishing house – it’s beautifully written and really packs a punch! This is one of those Young Adult novels that really gets it right, the world building is simply brilliant, I loved this war torn land and can’t wait to find out more about the magical elements that have been driven underground. The characters and character development is handled well and the writing is filled with witty banter. Even though the book is 400 odd pages it’s a fast read – highly entertaining.
This is the story of Celaena a teenage girl who also happens to be the most feared assassin of Ardalan. At some point prior to this book taking place, Celaena is betrayed and caught and the book starts with her imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier where prisoners are sent to work to the death. Where most prisoners die within mere months, Celaena has managed to last a year so far without breaking her spirit. Enter the handsome prince Dorian who gives Celaena a chance at freedom if she will compete as his contender to become the King’s champion against other criminals all desperate for pardons and a fabulous salary. Things start getting scary when something starts killing off competitors one by one and Celaena is determined to find out and stop whatever it is before it comes after her.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Celaena, I just found her so relatable. She was strong, intelligent and confident and not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. She was also scarred and vulnerable with a traumatic past that is continuously alluded to in the story – it just made me want to give her a great big hug. There are elements of a love triangle in this novel but it’s a weak one – romance is definitely not a major part of this story it just enhances your understanding of the characters and gives you an insight into their personalities. The crown prince Dorian is well done, given his background as a pampered ladies man he could have been so unlikeable but he is witty and the flaws just give him room for growth and he definitely grows during this novel. The other love interest is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend Chaol, who is the strong silent type. Now this is a man I think many women would get behind, behind that tough battle strong exterior is a vulnerable man just waiting for the right woman to love him and make things all better. I will be very surprised if this isn’t who Celaena ends up with in the end though I’m sure many would disagree with me!
The world of Ardalan is beautifully depicted and I really need to go and read all the prequels that Maas released to see if you get further information into the wars and loss of the magic in the world. I’m also interested to find out more about the assassins’ guild that is mentioned numerous times when hearing about Celaena’s past.
There is simply so many hints and references given in this beautifully told story that I just can’t wait to see where things head in the future sequels. This was a wonderful fantasy story I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Throne of Glass is released on 2nd August 2012 and I most definitely recommend you pre-ordering your copy!(less)
“You’re crazy,” said her best friend, Angela, as the bell rang to signal five minutes before the first class on the first day back at school. “They said that about all the great visionaries.”. “You know who else they said it about?” Angela demanded. “All the actual crazy people.”
Every now and then you come across a book that completely blows you away and this is what Unspoken was for me. It was fun, witty and incredibly entertaining, it was a breath of fresh air in amongst a heap of super serious paranormal YA books. With a witty gothic vibe this world will just blow your mind with memorable banter between the characters and a super fun storyline that I challenge anyone to find boring!
The main character Kami is just brilliant - she is witty (I'm sorry in advance for how often I'll be using this word in my review), unstoppable and completely comfortable with being seen as a little bit crazy by the rest of the quaint small town Sorry-in-the-Vale. In fact all the characters in this book are wonderful, quirky and refreshing just making you want to find out more about them. Even the tiny characters have a real sense of completeness about them for example Kami's younger brothers the shy and serious ten year old called, Ten and the ADD manic lemonade addicted Tomo only a few sentences of air time yet you still feel a real sense of family and insight into their personalities. Her school paper project that has brought together a completely random group of personalities and created a sense of camaraderie is also wonderful and I especially love Angela the very gorgeous yet completely lazy side kick who is dragged along (never kicking and screaming as that would be too much effort) on all of Kami's escapades in exchange for cooked meals.
While it looks like there is going to be some major love triangle action happening in this book, romance isn't really that large a part of the premise and what romantic tension is included is well handled and uncliche'd. Jared is wonderful, complex and your never really sure if he is just a bad guy or a flawed softy hidden under a tough guy complex. I was erring on the side of a softy until he did something that left me a bit shocked at the end of this novel. There is some great chemistry between him and Kami which is further complicated by their mental link and I really really hope that these guys overcome all obstacles and manage to get together!
The other male lead Ash is your typical knight in shining armour hero type... or is he? Again this is another well multi layered character who doesn't stick to the standard YA cliche and I must say the date that Ash and Kami goes on had me giggling my head off - I just loved it! Jared you are a naughty naughty boy :)
Throughout the story you feel this ominous sense of evil with the Lynburns which is built from the get go and I wasn't dissapointed with how things ended up but boy what a cliffhanger! I really hope book 2 comes out soon because I'm dying to find out how things resolve. This is just a wonderful wonderful book and I think there are very few readers who wouldn't enjoy this one - the only reason it doesn't get a 5 star rating from me is that the ending is a little sudden, I like my books with a bit more wrap up then what we got in Unspoken.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Unspoken has just been released on the 11th September 2012 and can be purchased via the links below.(less)