Monday 31 December 2012

2012 Wrap-Up

Hey, everyone!

New Year's Eve has finally arrived, can you believe it?  I can still remember it being the end of last year.  2012 has zoomed by and proved the Mayans wrong in the process, something I would gladly like to rub in my brother's face.  But I'm too nice for that.

So anyway, I thought I couldn't possibly let this year go by without some sort of bookish tribute, especially since I'm in my first year of blogging.  The past six months have been truly amazing, and I would like to thank every one of my readers for being so supportive and giving me reason to carry on with this wonderful hobby.  I'd also like to thank you for being so understanding as to why my posts have been so sporadic the past couple of months.  You guys are all amazing.

OK, so.  Moving on to the books.  Not all of these were published this year, but they've made my top reads of the year.

Top Contemporary

Beautiful Disaster -  I really didn't expect to even like this one, let alone love it.  I'd seen the mixed reviews, and I saw how similar it was in ways to 50 Shades, which I absolutely hate - but somehow Jamie McGuire stunned me with her book.  Things that I usually don't approve of she turned into a somehow addictive read.  By the end of it I was very thankful I had bought a copy.

Pushing the Limits - I can't believe I put this off for so long!  I literally only finished it a couple of days ago and I can tell you, this is one story I am not going to forget.  It was so emotional and so just completely ripped at my heart.

Best Dystopia

Blood Red Road - I loved the risk that Moira Young took here with the language.  It really reinforced the idea of a backward, dystopian society, and the book overall was very unexpected in the way every aspect of it was way above average.
Insurgent - I think most of you will agree with me when I say that Veronica Roth's writing is out of this world.  'Nuff said.
Best Paranormal

Nevermore - Nevermore takes an original gothic turn, based on Edgar Allen Poe, and I simply adored the plot that Kelly Creagh has created here.  Not to mention Varen, of course. ;)

Black Dawn -  Rachel Caine never ceases to amaze me with her astounding ability to write a series this long.  Usually when I get several books into a series I find myself bored, but it seems to me that Morganville has only been getting better.  And I'm sorry, but I just have to mention Shane.  There's no Morganville without him. *swoon* Ahem.  But seriously, all four of our friends are fabulous, and they only keep growing throughout the series.

Best Sci-Fi

Ultraviolet - I read this early this year and I can still remember how shocked I was at the twist.  This book is not quite what it seems, and highly compelling because of it.
Unravelling -  Another book with a twist!  I seriously did not expect to read what I did, and I have to commend the author for coming up with such a plotline.  Janelle and Ben totally hooked me as characters; Janelle has unbelievable strength of character, and Ben is a really sweet guy.  After the ending, I can't wait to read the next one.
Special Mention
Crewel - Crewel is quite an intriguing mix of dystopia and sci-fi, and I couldn't do this post without mentioning it.  The ideas behind this...are amazing.  Having the ability to actually see time and matter?  Being able to manipulate it?  Gennifer Albin did a terrific job in bringing these new ideas into YA; I couldn't help but have high expectations for Crewel, and those were more than met.

Best Couple

Usually I don't do favourites because it's just impossible to choose when there are so many fantastic options.  But honestly, Pushing the Limits affected me.  A lot.  Noah and Echo are so broken, yet they're perfect for each other.  And they help each other heal.  Out of everyone, every character, these are the two people who I most wanted to support and who I most fell in love with.
So those are my top-reads for the year!  I can't wait for all the amazing releases 2013 has in store for us; it looks to be a brilliant book year.  What did you fall in love with?
Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday 28 December 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: Mira Ink
Released: 31st July
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

'The worst type of crying wasn't the kind that everyone else could see - the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes.  No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it.  A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that still survived.  For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.
"Come here, baby."  And with my words, Echo leaned into me: soft, pliant, broken.  "You're not alone," I whispered into her hair as I cradled her in my arms.  "You're not alone, because you have me."  And I love you, more than you could ever know.'

I sit here now, writing this, not bouncing and giddy with excitement, but quiet, stunned, astounded by the impact of the book that currently sits on the floor next to me.  It looks so innocent with its grey cover and the faces of Noah and Echo.  It pretends to be just a book, nothing more than a few hundred typed-up pages bound together.  Nothing more than paper and ink.  And yet, when you open it up to the first page, only seconds go by before that pretence is shrugged off and you become ensnared in world that, pretty soon, you have no desire to leave.

The story is simple.  Echo has scars on her arms from a night that she can't remember.  Overnight she turned from popular to freak.  Her father is a controlling tyrant and her stepmother's due to have a baby.  Anyone who knows anything refuses to tell her what happened. Noah is in foster care, separated from his brothers.  His parents are dead.  He'll do whatever it takes to get his brothers back.  Both of them want normal.  Both agree to help the other.  What neither of them count on is falling in love.

It sounds straightforward and yet it's anything but.  McGarry brings to life a world centred around two people who are broken beyond belief.  My heart bleeds for them both.  With everything that's happened to them in their lives they're left with almost no-one they can trust; the whole time all I wanted was to be able to cross the barrier between reality and fiction, look them in the eye and say, 'I'm here for you.'  I wanted to be there for them, to be one more person they could count on.  And that right there sums up what makes this author so amazing.  She has the ability to take two fictional characters and their lives, and make it all so real.  This reaction, this sense of wanting to support the characters, is something I've felt with few books, and never so strong.

Echo undergoes a massive transformation in the book, and the unfolding of it is both clear and a joy to see.  She flourishes from being this girl who avoids confrontation into someone who stands up for herself and goes after the life she deserves.  Her pain and frustration cut into me, yet her father remained oblivious.  Honestly, this man made me so angry.  All he did was keep Echo on a leash.  He didn't even try to understand what she must be going through and how she must feel.  Any love or affection was focused on her stepmother and the baby, meaning that Echo always came second place.  When I found out the whole truth of what happened the night Echo got her scars...I couldn't believe it.  Really I thought that the ending was too easy on them.  Echo went through so much and they barely suffered.  Her actual mother, too, was sadly pathetic.  Somehow Echo managed to be more than this despite her family: she still had strength, and this courage contintued to grow the whole way through.  Basically her entire character, everything she felt, everything she went broke my heart.

Noah Hutchins only filled me with more grief, more pain...more love.  I suppose when you look at him on the surface, he appears to be a bad-boy.  But he's really not.  And I'm not going to call him one.  This is a guy who, for most of his life, has only known pain and betrayal.  All he wants out of life is for his family to be back together.  I can't tell you how moving it was to watch him fight for his brothers, to see the relationship he had with them.  And like Echo, he grows tremendously.  He's intelligent, fierce, he has integrity; so many qualities which very few people outside of Echo see.  As for the relationship between them, it was...incredible.  The pacing of it was very well done and the chemistry between them was there in heaps.  They really do seem to complete one another, and help each other in ways no-one else ever could.  Theirs is the most complex, heart-breaking, heart-warming of relationships.

Somehow I've managed to write a coherent review, yet none of these words are adequate enough to describe how much I loved this book; none of them are adequate enough to fully explain what it is that makes this book so incredible.  Pushing the Limits honestly made a toy of my heart: it broke it, ripped it, glued the pieces back together, overfilled it with emotion, broke it again.  A book like that needs to be experienced more than just told about.  You need to fall in love with Echo and Noah for yourself; you need to love Isaiah, smile at Mrs Collins, hate Echo's father.  Only then will you see why this has succeeded in becoming my absolute favourite read of 2012, and one that will never leave either my head or my heart.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Review: Oath of Servitude

Title: Oath of Servitude (The Punishment Sequence #1)
Author: C.E. Wilson
Publisher: Self-published
Released: September 2012
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I first saw this I was somewhat hesitant, for several reasons.  Yet I have to admit my curiosity was also peaked when I saw that Wilson's plot centred around a foot tall pixie and a normal-sized guy.  Naturally the curiousity won out and, while it's let me down more times than I can count, this time it lead me to an enjoyable read.

Cailin is angry when she finds out that she is being sent to live with two humans for a year - this as punishment for breaking a few rules.  She must serve an Oath of Servitude, and her task is to help the human child; while 20 is considered more adult from a human's point of view, compared to a pixie's lifespan it's nothing.  She doesn't even know what she's supposed to do.  An accident in a game of baseball cost him his sight and now he spends his days in drunken isolation, neither his father nor his friends unable to get through to him.  However, after meeting Teague, her feelings begin to change, both about humans in general and Teague specifically.  At the same time trouble is brewing back home, threatening the stability of her family.

Cailin is, to coin Teague's phrase, 'spunky'.  She's not one for backing down; she'll say what's on her mind and she's not afraid to have a go at Teague.  Everone's tiptoeing around him may be what he wants but she's not about to give in.  Hers is quite a singular image to have in mind: pink hair dyed red (I guess pink hair just isn't cool enough for this pixie), pink eyes and one foot tall.  It was definitely interesting to see humans and our world from her perspective.  With her initial anger came fear, something that took time to get over, and her struggle to overcome it came across clearly.

Something I would have liked to see is more world-building in terms of where the pixies actually lived; the book mentioned they were in the forest, but then they each had their own room, they were in an actual constructed setting.  I wanted a clearer image of these two separate worlds: pixie and human.  I also wanted to know more about the Darkness, a form of punishment that effectively costs pixies their minds. The opening of the book, and also the end, became very repetitive because the horror of the Darkness was always referred to yet never actually explained.

The main question for me right from the start was: how could a relationship between a six-foot tall guy (or thereabouts) and a one-foot tall pixie possibly work?  Surprisingly, it did.  Their relationship, as far as Cailin and Teague's fathers were concerned, was only supposed to go as far as Cailin helping Teague get his life back on track.  And she definitely helped him do that..  Being blind meant he was not prejudiced by sight and even when he found out the truth he didn't completely lose it.  It was sweet to see him listen to Cailin and grow to respect her, and see her just be there for him and make him understand what he was doing to himself.  Her role transformed from unwilling helper, to a friend who genuinely cared, to someone who wanted to be with him but saw no way of it being possible under the circumstances.  Teague and his father Owen also have more to their stories than is let on, although Owen is the one holding the secrets.

Despite this appearing somewhat unpromising, I did really enjoy Oath of Servitude.  I haven't read a pixie book in ages and this one definitely kept me entertained.  It was admittedly a little frustrating - so much was alluded to but never explained.  I'm hoping that there'll be some well-explained answers in the sequel.  Still, I'm glad I gave this one a chance.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#20)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  Here's mine for the week - and, unbelievably, the year!   2012 has just flown by.

Title: If I Should Die (Revenants #3)
Author: Amy Plum
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: 1st May 2012

I will not lose another person I love. I will not let history repeat itself.

Vincent waited lifetimes to find me, but in an instant our future together was shattered. He was betrayed by someone we both called a friend, and I lost him. Now our enemy is determined to rule over France’s immortals, and willing to wage a war to get what they want.

It shouldn’t be possible, none of it should be, but this is my reality. I know Vincent is somewhere out there, I know he’s not completely gone, and I will do anything to save him.

After what we’ve already fought to achieve, a life without Vincent is unimaginable. He once swore to avoid dying—to go against his nature and forsake sacrificing himself for others—so that we could be together. How can I not risk everything to bring my love back to me?

Eep!  I haven't even managed to read the second one yet, but I still can't wait for this one.  Die For Me is one I fell in love with after finally deciding to read it around this time last year, and it's stuck with me since then.

If you have a post this week, be sure to link me up!  I hope everyone's having a wonderful holiday. ♥

Sunday 23 December 2012

Review: Crewel

Title: Crewel (Crewel World #1)
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: 16th October 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crewel is a book that stunned me with its originality and creativity; it looked at all the repetitive ideas out there, smirked and threw itself in the faces of weary readers.  The proverbial box is just a speck in the distance when it comes to Albin's imagination, something which I have no doubt many of us are grateful for.

In opening the book we find ourselves in Arras, a world where women called Spinsters are able to manipulate the very threads of the universe.  They can literally see time and influence the appearance of the world around us; they have the ability to both bring life and take it away, all done by a swift move of the hand.  Adelice is one such Spinster.  Having so far successfully managed to keep anyone outside of her parents from finding out, one accident brings the Guild come banging on the door to collect her.  Whisked away in a whirlwind of fear and uncertainty, Adelice soon realises that things are far more complex than they first seemed and her own reality far more sinister.

Trying to imagine Arras is not an easy task.  Albin presents to us this idea of there being threads that make up time and space and matter, and trying to picture this in your head can get very confusing.  Nevertheless, if you can picture something even approaching this concept, you find yourself stunned at how brilliant it is. We see three different perspectives of the world, pyhsically speaking: the first is basic, like looking at your room or a photo, nothing more. The second is through the eyes of a Spinster, seeing the different strands and colours blending to create shapes and forms, weaving themselves together as if to create a three-dimensional tapestry.  The third comes with the astounding plot twist.  Albin builds this world gradually so that it really is as if the reader is right there with Adelice, learning and seeing more about it.  The layers there are to Arras are truly astounding.

Adelice herself is a character easy to sympathise with.  The opening of the book sees her suffer greatly, and she has to deal with that all the way through.  She questions, challenges, thinks - in short, she is not a weak character.  Of course she forgets sometimes what kind of a world she's actually living in, and so makes mistakes; but these make her a realistic character, and are never infuriating.  This development is consistent across the characters, and each of these, too, are composed of layers.  Patton in particular is a good example of how views of right and wrong here are convoluted, and also how you can never really be sure who to trust.  The uncertainty I felt towards him kept me curious, making me doubly determined to keep reading; the conversations between him and Adelice also had me laughing.  Our protagonist is definitely one for humour, a quality I found very appreciable.

Of course there had to be something to mar an otherwise excellent read, and in this case it's the ever-present love triangle.  Unfortunately I felt the romance here let the book down.  There was something rather obvious staring Adelice in the face which she failed to notice until the end, and neither of the love interests, namely Erik and Jost, succeeded in tearing my heart in two or even forcing me to take a side.  Even now I couldn't really tell you who I prefer more.  In any case, it still wasn't that bad and Albin did manage to write it well.  There is a lot of scope for development in the case of Adelice's relationship, and reading about the love triangle was still entertaining.

The ending completely blew me away.  It is, without a doubt, the perfect opening for a sequel, and to say that it was unpredictable is an understatement.  I am very much excited to see where the author goes with this and I honestly can't wait to read the next one.  Enthralling, original and wonderfully complex, Crewel is an absolute must-read.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Review: Faded

Title: Faded (The Faded Trilogy #1)
Author: Chloe Miles
Publisher: self-published
Released: 24th August 2012
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Savannah's life gets turned around when she and three friends die in a car accident and find out that they're going to get another shot at life in exchange for helping a group of four teenage spirits.  Savannah and her friends are the new Chosen Ones, and they're going to work with the spirits against the Forces, another group of spirits - but these ones are rogue and determined to wreak havoc.  They're also looking for a new recruit: their eyes are on Savannah and they'll stop at nothing to get what they want.

What promised to be an engaging read unfortunately turned out to be something of a letdown.  What first struck me was that the narration was overly basic, making the story sound simplistic and general rather than honing in on the detail.  In fact it reminded me of the way fairytales are written or told for little children.  It didn't feel like I was watching a story unfold in front of me.  I didn't get to see things or find them out for myself; rather I was told everything, making it all seem flat.

Neither did I bond with the characters.  I didn't see any character depth, nothing that made me feel much towards them.  All the characters (except the Forces, of course) were nice.  They all have really good hearts, which is fine, but - there was no complexity.  I find that people generally comprise of several layers, but these characters were made up of one or two at most.  In addition to that, Miles seemed to want all of these characters to get along.  So for instance, Abigail, Savannah's best friend, doesn't like Madison, but they soon become fast friends.  Heidi, Miss Mean But Popular Cheerleader, realises the error of her ways after Madison helped her - for the second time - out of a dangerous situation.  It was too feel-good, too cheesy.  Plus there was the huge issue of Savannah, Madison, Abigail and Jackson accepting their situation so quickly.  The Forces themselves were not particularly impressive for an apparently evil group of spirits.

Likewise the romance wasn't realistic.  Faded is guilty of the dreaded insta-love and as soon as that happened, my tolerance for this book dropped even lower.  Sure, Hunter and Savannah are nice people/spirits, but I didn't really see why they loved each other.  What was it that made them special to each other?  I did, however, appreciate the easy conversation between them and the humour they provided.  Their's was a light, easygoing romance.  There was one stumble, but that was soon overcome and it continued on as before.

This book does warrant some credit.  The ideas behind it are good and it's a light read, ideal if you're looking for something like that. was too simplistic.  There was no development, no substance, no realism.  I desperately wanted to engage with the characters and the events, and found that I just couldn't.  Unfortunately this was one of those books that left me extremely unsatisfied.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Book Blitz: Excerpt, Special Offer & Giveaway: Snow White Sorrow

Hey guys!  Instead of my usual WoW post, I have something a little different for you this week.  Make sure you read the bottom of the post so you don't miss out on an incredible deal!

Title: Snow White Sorrow (The Grimm Diaries #1)
Author: Cameron Jace
Publisher: Akmal Eldin Farouk Ali Shebl
Released: February 2013

What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?

Sixteen year old Loki Blackstar is no Prince Charming. His mother is a ghost. His only friend is a red Cadillac that talks to him through the radio. He looks like an Angel but acts like jerk. No wonder he has been banned from Heaven, which is the least of his troubles. Loki needs a job to pay for school and support himself.

Still, Loki has a rare gift: He is a Dreamhunter. One of the few in the world who can hunt and kill immortal demons in their dreams so they never wake up again.

When Loki is sent to kill a sixteen-year-old vampire girl the locals call Snow White Sorrow, he is pulled into a magical but dangerous world. The locals believe the monster to be Snow White.

The real Snow White... living in the ruins of an ancient castle in a small town. She is described as horribly beautiful, terrifyingly enchanting, and wickedly lovely.

What he finds instead is a beautiful monster girl filled with rage and hurt, who has an epic untold story to tell of things such like why the Brothers Grimm altered the fairy tale, who the Evil Queen really is, where the mirror came from, and who possessed it.

Snow White has killed every person who has dared come near the castle where she once lived with the queen. Mysteriously, she lets Loki live, and whispers two words in his ears; two words that will change his life forever.

Excerpt from Snow White Blood Red
Dear Wilhelm Carl Grimm,
    She is not that giddy, naïve, and helpless princess she pretends to be. Please don’t let her fool you with her innocence if you see her sing to the birds in the forest. Resist her charm from bringing joyful tears to your eyes, and shield yourself from her devious beauty before she deceives you into wanting to kiss her awake. It'll  be a kiss of death. Your death. That’s how she fooled the Huntsman, Prince Charming, and me, her birth mother.
    I still remember the original script of the fairy tale, the one you wrote in 1812. It clearly stated that she was my own flesh and blood daughter. I don’t have the slightest idea why you altered it fifty years later.
    What was the point of turning me into an evil, narcissistic, and heartless stepmother, blinded by jealousy and envy of the young princess?
    For years, I have been looking forward to telling you the truth about her, but you were impossible to reach.
    I am glad I found your brother, Jacob. He told me that you wanted to tone the stories down so children could sleep better at night, instead of having nightmares about the Queen who sought to eat her daughter’s heart and liver.
    Shame on you, Wilhelm.
    You, of all authors, knew why I wanted to kill her. My actions were justified. I was trying to save my kingdom from her wrath, before everything we loved was destined to an end. The same way you had to rewrite the true fairytales after cursing us, so the War of Sorrows would end forever after.
    Night after night, and year after year, parents fed their children false bedtime stories, until your lies grew into inescapable memories. Your happily ever after lies, Wilhelm, shaped the so called fairy tale world.
    I wondered why you didn’t burn the original scripts, instead of rewriting them. You must have figured out that sooner or later someone would dig up the truth and expose you. Altering it was the smarter solution. You let children believe that the bites were resurrecting kisses, and that torturing glass coffins were made for sleeping beauties, waiting for a prince to come and kiss them awake.
    A wise man once said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he was someone else. You did the same with us, Wilhelm. You turned us into pastiches of the immortals that we really are, and made it harder for us if wanted to persuade the world otherwise.
    I know that you did it to save us from her. And I appreciate how you concealed our real names, or we would have ended up like Rumpelstiltskin, tortured by those who knew of his real name.
    But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why no one ever questioned why I was called the Evil Queen, and why I was never given a real name in the books.
    Was I so superficial to the world, so stereotypical and mundane? Why was I treated as if I were the monster of the week?
    You know what I think? I think that the world never got the time to hate me. It just wanted to hate me long before it met me.
    If I tell those who detest me about the true nature of their little princess, would they ever care about me half as much as they care about her?
    I know that deep inside, they adore me. They like the way I talk, walk, dress, and even the way I kill.
    They are just afraid to admit how much they love me. I am the Snow White Queen, strong enough that I don’t need anyone’s pity or love, because I am loved by the greatest and most majestic heart in the world:

Special Offer: until December 13th the prequal pack (all 6 prequels) are only 0.99c!  Click here.
Special Note: All "Likers" of Cameron's Facebook page will be notified of the exact release date, which is also when you will be able to get Snow White Sorrow for only 0.99 for only that 1 day.

The winner will receive a prequel pack in Kindle format - you do not have to have a Kindle to be able to read it, you just need to have one of these free apps.  This giveaway is open internationally.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 9 December 2012

PROMO: Frost Fire: Excerpt

Title: Frost Fire (Tortured Elements #1)
Author: Olivia Rivers
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 20th November 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

“Magic is just like love, Allai. It won’t wait for permission before it destroys you.”

Like sand in an hourglass, Allai’s future is dwindling away. She’s spent her entire life fighting the Mages who threaten humanity, and dreams of someday eradicating magic. But all it takes is an anonymous phone call for the truth to spill out: Allai is the one thing she despises most.

She’s a Mage.

Though ancient law mandates Allai’s death, she still has one last chance of survival. His name is Drake Rhaize, and he swears he can lead Allai to a sanctuary for Mages. Allai hasn’t seen Drake in years, but she remembers him as the Demon boy who used to hold her close and softly whisper that he’d keep her safe. But Drake has changed since then: He’s now suspected of murder, and has been out-casted for betraying his own kind.

While Allai doesn’t trust Drake, she has no choice but to put her life in his hands and hope he can get her to safety. Because Allai’s father has hired a pack of Demons to bring her back to him, dead or alive–and Demons never stop the hunt.

Seeing him was like reliving a perfect daydream and her worst nightmare at the same time. She didn’t know how to react. She didn’t know how to even think.
She knew Drake was the guy who’d tried to take her life. But somehow she couldn’t feel the right kind of fear toward him. She didn’t have that gut-wrenching, instinctual terror she’d felt toward Silas. Her fear for Drake was way more confusing, but she was slowly starting to decipher it:
She was afraid of learning the truth. Of finding out whether all those memories of him—of his comforting golden eyes and soft words—were real or not.
The thought threw off her footsteps, and she nearly missed the next step of the staircase. She slammed her foot down to regain balance. Her bad foot, of course. Because wasn’t that just her luck?
Pain ricocheted through her ankle, almost tearing a scream from her. But she held it back, biting her lip and only letting out a tiny whimper. Luke was going to have to look at her ankle and make sure it was only sprained, and not broken.
As if on cue, he appeared at the top of the stairs, his arms crossed and his expression turned down in a scowl. Allai read his expression and swallowed hard to keep her pounding heart in place. How could he have found out about Drake so quickly?
Allai gripped the banister, her nails digging into the smooth varnish. She had to tell him. She had to just blurt everything out and pretend she’d had no intention of keeping Drake’s predicament a secret.
“Allai,” Luke said quietly.
She hobbled up a few more steps and didn’t reply. She just focused on the plush carpet covering the steps, trying to dig her good foot into it to keep from slipping. All she had to do was open her mouth and say some simple words: Drake Rhaize is out by the border. Go catch him. It should have been easy.
But it wasn’t. 

Saturday 8 December 2012

Blog Tour: Review: Any Other Night

Title: Any Other Night
Author: Anne Pfeffer
Publisher: Bold Print Press
Released: 19th May 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leaving his best friend Michael alone at the birthday party of his crush Emily to go and talk to her, Ryan has no idea what's about to happen.  When he gets home he finds out that Michael never made it that far - instead he died in a car accident.  Ryan is haunted with guilt, made worse by the fact that Michael wanted to tell him something just before he walked away.  The secret is more shocking than he could have imagined and Ryan determines to do the right thing by Michael and take on the responsibility that came with it.

On the face of it, this book looks like it's just about Ryan's attempt to get Emily to fall as in love with him as he is with her.  This perception was certainly stronger when the book was titled Loving Emily.  But like so many other readers, I find the new title so much more apt, because this book is about far more than just their relationship.  It's about love, loss, building new relationships with people, guilt, surviving and moving on.  It takes a complex issue and deals with it exceptionally well, and this made it a very compelling read.

Ryan is surprisingly mature for a sixteen year old boy, even before he finds out what Michael got himself into.  I really appreciated reading from his perspective.  He comes from a wealthy background, but he's much more down-to-earth than you might expect, and his character goes through a lot of growth.  He feels guilty about his best friend's death even though it wasn't his fault, and this helps drive his actions.  But apart from that, he's a genuinely good guy who wants to help out and doesn't like shirking responsibility; he doesn't seem to mind taking on something that had nothing to do with him in the first place and he becomes a really admirable character.  His attempts to reconnect with his parents despite their obliviousness and continual absence was moving.  Emily was a likeable character and, although not as strong as Ryan, I could still see where she was coming from.

Despite a possibly unremarkable appearance, Any Other Night, once you open it, reveals itself to be a complex, emotional story that refuses to let go.  It's always wonderful being unexpectedly surprised like that, and I'm definitely glad I finally got the opportunity to read it.  I look forward to seeing what else Anne Pfeffer comes up with.


Wednesday 5 December 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#19)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  Here's mine for this week!

Title: Notes From Ghost Town
Author: Kate Ellison
Publisher: Egmont USA
Released: 12th February 2013

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it's only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There's a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there's a good chance she's losing her mind completely--just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn't really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It's the only way she can save herself.

Summary taken from GoodReads

Well, colour me intrigued.  Ghosts?  Murder?  A question of sanity?  This one appeals to the corner of my heart that really enjoys Miss Marple and the marvellous Poirot.

What about you?  What are you waiting on this week?

Monday 3 December 2012

Cover Reveal: Deeper We Fall

Title: Deeper We Fall
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
Released: 12th January 2013

Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to try and forget the night that ripped her life apart.

Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.

Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face.

Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen. He loves "To Kill a Mockingbird" as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible.

The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. She must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache.
Author Bio
Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Riven Blog Tour: Character Interview

Hey guys!  Today I'm delighted to be helping Alivia Anders celebrate the upcoming release of the third and final installment in the Illumine Series by taking part in this tour.  I recently read Illumine and Obumbrate, the first two, and can honestly say I really enjoyed them!  Please do go and add them to your to-read lists.

Today we have a special guest!  Readers and reviewers, I introduce to you...Kayden!  Who is he, you ask?  Well, read on and you'll find out! :)

Hello, Kayden! First of all, loving the name. It’s amazing having you here. Why don’t you start by telling readers a little bit about yourself?

Come now, darling, I don’t like to kiss and tell. Well, I don’t like to kiss and tell often. Perhaps I’ll make an exception, just for you? You can call me Kayden, the ever-infuriating demon continuously bothering dear Essallie. She’s quite the silly, hot-headed girl.
What does it feel like to be summoned, physically and emotionally (let’s pretend for a moment you have a heart :P)?
If I had a heart, I would imagine summoning would induce what your mortals refer to as a heart attack. Demons are comprised solely of our essence; to mortals, it appears as a smokey substance. Summoning us forces our essence through various timelines, planes, and realms as the incantation drags us to our calling point. It’s rather gut-twisting. 
When you’re not hanging around with Essalie, teaching her to handle her fire, playing with fire yourself by constantly taunting her and generally making your presence known, what do you do with yourself?
Come a little closer, what I do in my spare time isn’t for the prude to hear. Although, on occasion I’ll taunt Ari for amusement. He’s quite the hot-head himself.
What do you think of Essalie? We won’t tell if you don’t want her to know.
I briefly wonder if you would tell her, not that it matters. She’s a silly girl, an unfortunate with a time-bomb running in her tiny mortal veins. I feel pity for her. She’ll never have the ‘normal’ mortal life you humans so desperately search for.
She keeps asking how you do that thing where your arm disappears and it comes back healed. For the record, that’s a very cool trick. Are we ever going to find out how you do that?
All in the essence, my dear.
You have some demons of your own (pun intended). Do you think you’ll ever be ready to share them with Essie?
My past is not something to touch upon. Some demons, even ones I could handle without qualm, are best left to the past.
Of course you have your own agenda when it comes to her, but what are your thoughts generally when it comes to Nephilim, the reasons they exist and the powers they have? What about the way they’re treated? Would you prefer it another way? Have your thoughts changed over time?
By the standard definition, Nephilim are half-angel, half-mortal creatures, damned and vile. At least, that’s what we have given the mortal world to use and feed their wild imaginations. Nephilim, and their true destiny, is to restore and maintain the balance between mortal and supernatural, and remove those who cannot keep themselves quiet among the supernatural world. I have seen both sides of how the Nephilim have been treated, and how they treat those around them. It varies from one to the next, but overall most Nephilim carry a natural ability to see the better of the world, instead of feeding into the negative. I do believe that every Nephilim should carry a balance of light and dark within them; the last pure Nephilim I met, Lucy, was tragically murdered in battle, because she believed even the blackest of hearts could find redemption.
Without wanting to spoil anything, do you see a way out from what is, at the very least, a dire situation at the end of Obumbrate?
Most definitely. Can’t guarantee we’d all survive with all our limbs, though.
What do you think of Ari?
Charming little hormonal child. He would do good with a little time to grow-up.
If you knew you were going to die soon, how would you spend the time you had left?
Assuming I could actually, fully, completely die? I’ve always held a fond admiration for the beach. My final moments would be filled with sand, sun, and perhaps a lovely blonde-haired woman.
Last question. If you had to pick one eye colour to stick with, which would you go for?
Black. You can’t tell what someone is thinking when their eyes are black; all you see is darkness.
Hmm, he certainly makes a good point there! Although I imagine it would be disturbing actually looking at them. ;)  Kayden, folks! *He disappears in smoke after giving a lazy smile*

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#18)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights any upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on!

Title: Splintered
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: 1st January 2013

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Summary taken from Goodreads

Doesn't this sound like the perfect way to start your reading list for the new year?  An original take on a timeless classic...with a gorgeous cover you can just stare at once you're done.  I've loved every adapation of it I've watched, including Alice, which is a darker version with Andrew Lee Potts doing a fabulous job with Hatter; Martin Short is another favourite, a much different interpretation.  I'm looking forward to seeing the equivalent of the Mad Hatter, if indeed there is one, as he's one of my absolute favourite characters.  Hilarious and insane - what's not to love? :D

What about you?  What are you waiting on this week?  Link me up!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#17)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  This week for me it's:

Title: The Weight of Stars (Songs of New Asgard #1)
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: 2013

First book in a new series which presents an alternate history of the U.S. in which the country was founded on elements of Norse religions, and gods walk among humans, with some maintaining powerful positions in the government. Book one follows two teenagers who embark on a cross-country search for a missing god. As the kids travel through the United States of Asgard they encounter “smalltown zealots, trickster gods, and sadistic field trolls.”

Summary taken from Goodreads

Now, I know there isn't a cover for it yet, and no definitive release date, and only a basic synopsis at the moment, but does that make this any less exciting?  I don't think so.  If anything, it makes it more so because there's more anticipation.  I love the idea of having a superpower's history rewritten, love the idea of it being based on Norse mythology.  And, seeing as there is no cover, it was the title that first attracted me.  'The Weight of Stars'.  It sounds almost poetic, quite deep and mysterious, calling my name.  2013 hurry up already!

What about you?  Does this sound like your kind of read?  What are you waiting for this week?

Saturday 17 November 2012

Review: Lacrimosa

Title: Lacrimosa (Requiem #1)
Author: Christine Fonseca
Publisher: Compass Press
Released: 21st March 2012
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lacrimosa is one of those books you have to bear with before the story becomes truly engaging and you feel sufficiently invested.  I spent a lot of this frustrated with what I was reading and inwardly groaning at how far I was from the end; it seemed to drag on and I think at one point I was tempted to just stop reading.  But some parts of it were good, and if the level at which the ending was written was consistent, this could have been great.

Nesy is a Sentinel, a level of angel whose job it is to vanquish the UnHoly.  Professional, detached, determined, Sentinels don't feel emotion, and Nesy is the best there is.  But all that changes when she's forced to take the form of a 17 year old girl in order to confront Aydan, her latest assignment.  Things get complicated when the two of them realise they know each other from their human lives.  With the additional problem of Azzaziel, the Dark One, leader of the UnHoly, Nesy needs to decide: either do her duty and cast Aydan into hell, or ignore her duty and suffer the consequences.

I mentioned before that I found this frustrating.  Exceptionally so.  So much of it focuses on the romance.  Those of you who know me know how much I love my romance - so what's the problem?  Well, the insta-love for one.  I didn't see what either of them saw in the other.  And I found it incredibly repetitive.  There was this constant back and forth with Nesy - one minute she'd resolve to kill Aydan and beg the Council for another chance, the next minute she'd see Aydan and her resolve would crumble.  Aydan would flit between succumbing to his hunger for souls and wanting it to end and be strong for Nesy.  What I ended up reading for the most part was this confusion of emotions, and eventually it grew to be tiresome.

Nesy is meant to be a 500 year old warrior, yet I saw little evidence of wisdom or experience that she surely should have picked up.  I would have liked to see greater contrast between how she usually acts as a Sentinel and how she's affected by this assignment.  She did eventually toughen up, however, and start to use her intelligence; she did finally do her best to fulfil her duty, even if it was a the pushing of the one person who, in normal circumstances, would have pleaded for the opposite.  Her failure to kill Aydan went from being the result of her emotions to Azza's interference, a much better excuse.  I did feel sorry for Nesy, for what she went through when she was human and the betrayal she felt after discovering a certain truth.  This girl does have a lot of pain in her and it's hard not to feel that at some point.

The book is split between her and Aydan's point of view, so I would have expected more insight to him.  Mostly he focused on Nesy, but there were clear signs of his struggle to cope with the Beast.  I never did figure out if that was literal, some force within him, or just a metaphor for his hunger.  I would have liked to see more contrast in his character too, but I did grow to appreciate his willingness to sacrifice himself and feel the pain he suffered.  Azza as an evil being wasn't as impressive as he could be - using this nickname even after his identity was revealed didn't exactly help - and the secondary characters fell flat too.  Zane, Nesy's apparent best friend, I found quite annoying and didn't seem to possess any best friend qualities; Cass was overly sympathetic and seemed quite happy to invade Nesy's heart for someone who was supposed to be her friend.

Yet for all that, there were parts that were worth reading.  I enjoy reading angel/demon stories generally.  I liked seeing this different side to angels - they appear kind, beings that help humanity, yet they have a habit of invading thoughts and opening up your soul.  Even one of the Council harbours a secret.  The ending was well done, bringing some much-needed action.  If you like reading about angels, I would still give this one a go, but do be prepared for the relationship between Nesy and Aydan.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Blog Tour: Review & Interview: Life on the Edge

Title: Life on the Edge
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Publisher: Astraea Press
Released: 3rd January 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Skating is Emily's life.  Unless she can be on the ice every day, she isn't happy. Pairs skating is just a new way of skating and achieving her dream of being in the Olympics.  More than that, both she and her partner Chris want to get gold while they're there.  Their coach is Sergei, much younger than average and with a past he's not inclined to share.  With his help Emily and Chris have the gold medal in sight, but then a problem starts to develop: the feelings between Sergei and Emily.  Somehow the two must keep it a secret and work past the obstacles if either have any hope of achieving that goal or keeping their careers.

This was a really engrossing, entertaining read.  I've only watched a couple of skating films; to be honest I'm really not a sports person in any shape or form, yet I enjoyed reading about the competitions, the rehearsals, this constant journey the characters are on to stay on top and live their dream.  I wanted them to get high scores; I wanted them to get that gold medal.  It also gave me a whole new appreciation for how difficult it is to be part of a sport as a career, and just how much it takes.  I'm very admiring of people who can do something like skating, because it takes a lot of skill and practice. I know as I sat there the whole time reading it I was thinking that I could never do something like that; my awful hand-eye co-ordination wouldn't allow for it and I'd probably be too afraid of all the falls, both physical and metaphorical, I'd have to take.

Emily fights past that fear.  Every time a competition comes up she becomes incredibly nervous and anxious, yet she does her best to get past that and let herself be the best that she can be when she's on the ice.  Her passion and determination really comes through and that made her an admirable character; it made it easy to want good things for her.  Even when she'd committed herself to a relationship with Sergei, she was still fiercely determined to get the medal - this girl always had her eye on the prize.

I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.  I admit I did have a bit of a problem at the beginning.  It wasn't insta-love - I just want to make that clear.  It's more that Comeaux just relates it more generally rather than going into detail for a couple of scenes.  Through Emily she stated that they met several times, had lengthier conversations, and then they came to realise they were growing to have feelings for each other.  This wasn't exactly a major problem, though, and I was soon engrossed reading about the ups and downs in their relationship, scared on Emily's behalf about the trouble they might get into.  Sergei is sweet and respects Emily's morals; at the same time he pushes her to do better when she's skating, knowing exactly what she's capable of.  His past is a sad one, though perhaps not as different or shocking as you might hope.

Comeaux has created a wonderful set of characters here.  Yes, Emily and Sergei are the main ones, but from Chris, who's funny and supportive and generally just really likeable, to Courtney. one of Em's students, who's like your adorable little sister, to Em's roommate, to her parents...all of the characters had their own personalities and voices.  This is also not one of those stories where the author clearly has no idea what they're talking about.  It's extremely obvious Comeaux has done her research, and it creates a very strong, believable story.  Life on the Edge is a brilliant balance between skating and romance, between plot and characters, and I can definitely recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether or not you're a sports fan.


Hi Jennifer!  First I’d just like to say, welcome to the blog. It’s great having you here. J

So, your wonderful book, Life on the Edge, revolves around ice skating.  What first got you interested in the sport?

Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been watching skating on TV since I was a little girl, and I was always fascinated by it. We don’t have any rinks near my town, so I’ve only skated once in my life (just last year!), but I love watching the sport any chance I get. I think it’s the perfect combination of sport and art. 

Emily is an incredibly determined character – of course she has to be with all the competition, and has to struggle through all the nerves.  Is there any of yourself in her?

 There is a little bit of me in Emily! I am very competitive just as she is, and we have many of the same core values. She’s a much, much better athlete than I am, though. I’ve never been good at sports!

Me neither!  You set the book so that it would encompass a particularly memorable year.  What was the purpose of that?

 I first got the idea for the story about eight years ago, so I pictured the events happening around the 2002 Olympics. Even though I didn’t start writing the book until a couple of years ago, I wanted to keep the story in that time period. I liked the idea of Emily and Chris competing at an Olympics on home soil, and I also wanted them to be able to compete at the National Championships in Boston (Emily’s hometown), which were held in 2001.

Did you know what was going to happen and outline the story, or did you just sort of figure it out as you went along?

I first wrote the story just for my sister and a few friends to read. It started out as sort of a serial – a never-ending story where I’d just keep adding chapters. After about a year of writing, I decided to edit what I had into a publishable book. I had way too much material and did a lot of cutting and rewriting. After many changes, it all came together! So, I didn’t go through a conventional book-writing process J

What was your favourite scene to write?

 Ooh, I had a lot of favorites, but one of them was the Tokyo nightclub/hotel scene because I love writing flirty dialogue and showing the chemistry between Emily and Sergei.

What have been the top highlights of your writing career?

Meeting readers online and making so many new friends has been a big highlight. I had no idea what to expect going into this new adventure, and it’s been amazing to meet so many wonderful people. Hearing people tell me they love the characters and can identify with them has also been so wonderful. 

Do you have any upcoming releases or projects you’re working on?

The sequel to Life on the Edge will be released in a few weeks! It’s titled Edge of the Past and will continue Emily and Sergei’s story. You can find out more about it on my blog! I also just started working on the third and final book in the Edge series.

Thanks for agreeing to take part in an interview, Jennifer! :)