Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Darkfever (Fever #1), Karen Marie Moning + GIVEAWAY

Title: Darkfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning (author website)
Release Date: Oct. 1st 2006 by Dell
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Darkfever lives up to its name. It's dark, disturbing, and, once making it past some initial issues, I read it compulsively, with a feverish intensity. Karen Moning creates a vividly imagined world, where monsters walk city streets, hidden in plain sight, and she's here to tell you that if you see faeries in the bottom of your garden? Run like hell.

From Goodreads:
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.

Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…

The Story

After MacKayla Lane's sister is brutally murdered in Dublin, far from her home in Georgia, Mac's happy, sheltered world falls apart. Her mother and father are crippled by grief, and the Dublin police have given up hope on the case. Naive and determined, Mac travels to Dublin to do what the police can't or won't do: find Alina's murderer. She quickly finds herself out of her depth, and rescued by Jericho Barrons. A man as frightening and dangerous as the monsters hiding in Dublin's shadows. Monsters straight from the folklore Ireland is famous for. Mac discovers she has secrets not even she knew, and Dublin's monsters are not half as benign as the fairytales claim...

Mac... Like the Burger

Dark, twisty, and seriously sexy, I wound up being utterly enthralled by Darkfever, but it took me a good third of the book to get to that point. A slow start was a small part, but my major stumbling block was rather singular: Mac. Our charming Southern belle is blonde, busty, and her fashion icon seems to be Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods. Think pink. Despite the plastic sorority-girl persona, Mac is tenacious and smart, but at first her narration grated at me, and her voice came off as patronizing. Her blend of naïveté and self assurance made it hard for me to connect with her, yet she's worth sticking with. The POINT is that Mac is naive and sheltered, and as she's forced to shed her Barbie facade, look her world in the eyes, and confront an uglier side to it than she ever thought to imagine, she reluctantly changes. She grows. Her optimism gives way to a darker version of herself, and her naïveté crystallizes and cracks into a more brittle, jaded outlook.

There is real character growth over the course of this book, for better or worse, and despite my earlier issues, I wound up quite liking the brunette-verses-blonde, dark-verses-rainbow version of MacKayla Lane. The naiveté and innocence became endearing, as it becomes clear she's clinging to it in a desperate attempt to hang on to a tiny part of herself, after everything she's lost. While certainly no action-chick, Mac is getting there by the end of Darkfever, and I saw shades of Kristy Swanson-esque Buffy in her: reluctant, smart-mouthed heroine, who's just as likely to kill the bad guy as she is to cry over a broken nail (hey, she even has the sickness and cramps when she gets too close to the bad guys!).

A Riddle Wrapped In A Mystery...

One of the aspects of Darkfever I enjoyed immensely was the banter between Mac and her mysterious and cryptic rescuer/mentor/bane of her existence, Barrons. I know what you’re thinking, but this is not a love story. It's not a romance. Far from it, though it's fairly clear where this will progress with time. Barrons isn't sweet. He isn't kind. He's compelling, and seriously frightening. He's not sexy or attractive so much as carnal and raw masculine power. To me, Barrons was like watching an accident: a strange cocktail of disturbing and frightening, but compelling in a way that wouldn't allow me to look away.

Sleep With Your Lights On:

Mac's growth, outlook and voice colour and guide us through Darkfever, but the real sparkling star is the world Moning has built within its pages. Vivid, dark and terrifying, the Dublin she's imagined exists alongside our own, its frightening secrets hidden beneath fey glamours, and the simple ability of the human mind to ignore what it can't quite grasp. The imagination that has gone into raising its buildings, paving its streets and populating its darkest corners with walking horrors is immense, and the creativity with which Moning has woven Gaelic folklore and legend in with her own twisted imaginings of the Fae creates something perverse and addictive. Uh, death-by-sex fey, anyone? The monsters in this world—both the fey kind and other—are scary, rattling, and wanting to sleep with the lights on.

The Verdict:

Nothing is as it seems in Darkfever. Not Dublin, not Alina's murder, not the enigmatic, compelling, frankly frightening Jericho Barrons, not even Mac herself. There's something deeply compelling, if not outright addictive, about Darkfever. While it ends without resolution, and I'm glad I have the rest of the series on-hand, it's certainly not in a dissatisfying way. Dark, twisty, perverse and sexy, Karen Moning has created a world dripping with menace, mystery and danger--one I can't wait to dive back into.

Books in This Series:

  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever

What's that, you say? Oh yes! The GIVEAWAY!

OK, I'll be publishing reviews for the rest of this series over the next few weeks, and to celebrate the fact that I'm feverishly addicted to the Fever series, I'm going to give away 2 copies of the first book in the series, Darkfever. You know, share the addiction. If you've read Darkfever, but you're still waiting on a copy of another book in the series? Well, I could be convinced to send you a copy of Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, or Shadowfever instead ;)

So, want to enter? Entry below the jump!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blogspiration (7): I'm Inspired by... Harry Potter!


Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

From source24.co.cc
This week, to shake things up a little, we're asking you a question:
What book inspires you?
What Book Inspires Me? I don't think my answer will come as a surprise, but I'm inspired by Harry Potter. The imagination, creativity, and the bits of wisdom and bravery throughout the amazing series gets me every single time, every single re-read. I'm inspired by the messages of love and friendship, to be more loving, and and a better friend. I'm inspired to value my family and friends even more, because who knows when the people we love could be stolen from us? Over and over again I'm inspired by the underlying messages of discrimination and classism, and the message that, anyone, no matter how small or insignificant, has the power and capacity for extraordinary change and good in the world.


More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hunting Lila, Sarah Alderson

Title: Hunting Lila
Author: Sarah Alderson (author website)
Release Date: Aug. 2011 by Simon & Schuster Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

I love books like this. Exciting books. And Hunting Lila is a debut every bit as exciting as its gun-fights and getaways. Sarah Alderson blends intrigue, superhuman powers and fast-paced action with romance, teenage longing and a pinch of heartbreak like a seasoned-master.

From Goodreads:
17-year-old Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friend, Alex, since forever. After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only people she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others out there just like her - people with special powers -and her mother's killer is one of them

Seventeen year old Lila Loveday has a rather singular talent... one she’ll keep hidden at all costs. After narrowly avoiding a mugging by telekinetically wresting a knife from her attackers, she flees London to the safety of sunny California and the only two people in the world she trusts implicitly: her brother Jack, and his best friend, Alex. Well, now Lila has bigger problems. Like keeping her other great secret safe: that she’s been hopelessly in love with Alex since the age of seven. Not to mention that Jack and Alex are working for a shady government organisation, or that they’re hunting the people who murdered her mother five years ago... people like her.

Lila, You’ve Got Me On Knees, Lila...

After her mother was brutally murdered five years ago, Lila was torn from her happy life in the United States, and relocated to London with her grieving father. In the space of weeks, she lost her mother, lost her brother and Alex, who remained in the States, and her mourning, absentee father is hardly there for her either. Not long after, her power manifested itself, and if she wasn’t isolated enough before, that seals the deal. She doesn’t have anyone to turn to—the two people she would are thousands of miles away—and it leaves Lila alone inside her head.

It’s that Lila’s so isolated, coupled with her introspective nature that allows us to get to know her so well. A great deal of the book is Lila, alone, with nothing but her overactive (and at times deliciously X-rated) imagination for company. Despite a first-person narrative, many stories don’t get quite so deep into the protagonist’s psyche, peel away quite so many layers of their paranoias and fears and give us such an intimate view of their mind. I loved getting to know Lila: her paranoias and insecurities and her imagination.

Lila is smart, independent, entertaining, and while she has a tendency to jump to conclusions and run from her problems (oh yes, the cover on this one could be straight out of the book—including the dress), Sarah Alderson (author/evil-genius) somehow makes this trait not frustrating, but wholly endearing. Lila is defined not by what she is, but by who she is. Despite an extraordinary talent, the book is, well, about her, not about what she can do. As Lila re-establishes her relationship with her brother, and with Alex, we start to venture out of her head a little... and then things get really exciting. I’m talking gunfights, explosions, and high-speed getaways on motorcycles. 

Alex

Oh my, Alex is more than a pretty face. Kind, caring, and a genuine good guy. As much as we like them, he’s not a bad boy, and it’s lovely. He’s the boy next door with Marine training. Lila’s been infatuated with Alex for years, but it’s easy to see why. He’s a lovely human being.

The tension between Alex and Lila is palpable. It crackles with electricity, and every casual touch, or innocent, friendly hug had me holding my breath. The intensity of feeling is thrilling and overwhelming, developed over a decade-long crush. The heat the two share aside, it’s so nice seeing a romance built on a real, genuine friendship. The two have been close as siblings for years, and seeing the pain and beauty of the shift to something more is beautiful to witness. 

Politics and Murder and Intrigue, Oh My!

Alderson has an extraordinary knack for writing mystery and intrigue and shady organisations with murky motivations. In Fated, it was an inter-dimensional war between two equally perfidious groups, and In Hunting Lila, the manoeuvring is about something much more familiar and far closer to home: politics, power, and money. Sarah keeps turning characters completely upside down. Her heroes and villains are hard to pin down, and I never know who to trust. 

The Verdict:

Hunting Lila has everything: action, intrigue, excitement and scorching-hot, incredibly sweet, romance. From its thrilling first chapter, to its satisfying, but slightly heartbreaking, conclusion, it held me utterly enthralled with its humour, slowly-unfolding mysteries, and remarkable characters. There’s a perfect blend of politics and paranormal, intrigue and romance in Sarah Alderon’s fabulous debut, and I’m invested and in-love with its huge cast of characters, and even fascinated by the ones I loathe. With the final page turned I’m still reliving fights and flights, breathtaking revelations and perfect first-kisses. I need the sequel, Losing Lila. Now, please?

Books in This Series:

  1. Catching Suki (#0.5) (2012)
  2. Hunting Lila
  3. Losing Lila (August 2012)

Want It?

Booktopia  |  Book Depository  |  Dymocks  |  Fishpond

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Slide, Jill Hathaway

Title: Slide
Author: Jill Hathaway (author website)
Release Date: 1st March 2012 by HarperCollins Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/Mystery
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

When I first heard about Slide, my thoughts went straight to Lisa McMann’s WAKE. While I believe it would appeal to fans of this series, Slide is a very different creature. I've heard quite a few favourable comparisons to Veronica Mars, and it deserves them. I can see the similarities: we have a smart, snarky protagonist, sharp witty dialogue, murder, mystery, and some pretty dark issues for a YA audience. But Slide is not derivative and, rather than being predictable, kept me guessing to the end. Exciting and fresh, Slide is utterly gripping and a total page turner. I loved this book.

From Goodreads:
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Can I just say Slide has some of the best cover copy I’ve ever read. I’d normally try and give you a quick synopsis of a book from my POV. But this? It sums it up perfectly. Are you hooked yet? Excited? Guys. You should be.

I liked Vee immediately. Her open and friendly voice and unique personality (and situation) make her fun to read.  From her pink hair, to her atypical taste in music (read: awesome taste in music), she’s different, she's not your typical teenager. Somehow, where Vee could easily have felt contrived, she didn’t once come across this way. To me, Vee felt real, and I loved her for being herself. This is a girl who’s suffered a lot in her life. She should be jaded, but she's not. She knows more than she’d like to about the nature of the people around her, and this, combined with the loss of her mother, and an absent father, have forced her to grow up. She cares deeply about her sister, Mattie, while not approving of the path she’s been taking, and despite knowing what they are capable of, has a great deal of empathy for the people around her.

It's the murder of Sophie, Mattie's best friend, that kickstarts the mystery driving the story of Slide. So many clues and threads, and pieces of information kept me guessing, and, like Vee, I truly didn’t know who to trust. Jill Hathaway has nailed the pacing of this book, and knows when to move it along; speeding it up, or slowing it down for a quiet, tender, human interaction. It's enthralling.

Riveting mystery and storyline aside, one of the things I loved most about Slide was the cast of characters, and the human interactions. Vee’s love and concern for her sister shines through in their tender scenes together. The tension between Vee and her best friend, Rollins, is palpable. My heart broke a little when I discovered a secret Rollins has been keeping of his own. I kept wishing that each one would reach out, and take a gamble on trusting one another. You could feel Vee’s ache for her father’s presence and support, and the need their broken little family had for him to be there. As the book progresses, characters like mean-girl cheerleader, Amber, and jock, ‘Scotch’, develop personality (for good or bad). I came to care for characters I didn’t even like, as Vee’s caring pulled me in. Slide has a perfect balance of funny and sad, touching and terrifying, and truly tender and sweet moments.

On top of this, Slide is beautifully written. Vee's left-of-field images and descriptions are gorgeously realised, her voice unique and refreshing. Hathaway shines a writer.

Slide, again like Veronica Mars, deals with some pretty heavy issues: suicide, substance use, date rape, death, loss and grief. These issues are handled well, but I could see some concerns with Vee popping caffeine pills like they’re candy, instead of her prescribed narcolepsy medication. I understand why, and none of these activities are glamorized. In fact, I thought  these issues are all handled well, but, for these reasons, this book is clearly for older teens.

The Verdict:

Simply put, Slide is everything I want from a book. Gripping and thrilling, exciting and achingly beautiful. It dragged me in and made me feel. From page one, Hathaway had me in her thrall and still, with the last page turned, hasn’t let me go.

Books In This Series:

  • Slide (March 2012)
  • Imposter (March 2013)

Want It?

Get it from Booktopia
Get it from Book Depository
Get it from Amazon

Slide was kindly provided by HarperCollins Australia via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, you guys!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox (11)


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!



I am SO. EXCITED. to read all of these books, so I've had a very nice week indeed, and there's been much squealing and happy-dancing when I get home in the afternoon and open the contents of the mailbox.

Also, this mailbox is now with 40% EXTRA AWESOME, thanks to the gorgeous, amazing, sweeter-than puppies-dipped-in-sugar, Celine St. Clair from from Forget Me Not! Celine is seriously one of my favorite bloggers--not to mention favorite people--and completely out of the blue, she sent me Carrier of the Mark and The Future of Us! Thank you thank you thank you Celine! ♥♥♥

From top to bottom:

  1. Carrier Of The Mark, Leigh Fallon
  2. The Future Of Us, Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
  3. The Alchemy of Forever, Avery Williams
  4. Dead To You, Lisa McMann
  5. Bittersweet, Sarah Ockler



So, what did the book faeries bring you this week? and, while you're here, would you like to win a copy of the AMAZING Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder?
Duh! OF COURSE YOU DO!
Aus/NZ only, sorry folks! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saving June, Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Release Date: May 1st 2011 by HarlequinTEEN Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

I sometimes feel it’s the stories that effect us the most, the deepest, which are the hardest to sit down and tell someone else about, and explain exactly why. Hannah Harrington's gorgeous debut effected me. It touched me. It reached into my heart and spoke the language of my soul—music. Saving June is beautiful. It’s a heart-breaking, heart-warming and poignant picture of loss and grief, love and friendship, and finding oneself and what truly matters.

From Goodreads:
If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Harper Scott is angry. A week before graduation, her sister, June, committed suicide, and left her alone to pick up the shattered pieces of the lives she left behind. No-one knows why, but everyone’s just so sorry.

Harper doesn’t know what to do, but she does know that, despite her overwhelming sadness and anger, she can do one last thing for her sister. June lived for one thing: California. She never made it. So Harper takes June’s ashes, and accompanied by her best friend and an annoyingly cryptic music-obsessed boy from June’s past, they head out on a road trip that will draw them together, tear them apart, and bring all three healing in the way they least expected, but exactly the way they need.

About A Girl

We meet Harper at her sister’s wake, a bit angry, a bit sad, and a lot numb. Harper deals with her pain in a way the people around her struggle to understand. She internalizes. People are expecting her to cry, to rage, but they can’t seem to figure out how to handle her way of grieving.

While she can be immature and selfish, she’s also incredibly selfless in the ways that matter. She’s not a people-person, and she can be cagey and aloof, but she’s fiercely committed to the people she loves. She’s self-aware in a way I loved. Harper’s a poster girl for disenfranchised youth, but she’s real, she’s authentic, and I loved her. I felt for her, my heart broke for her, and I longed to reach into the pages to her, and heal her pain in a way that ached in my chest.

This Boy

For me, the real star of the story was Jake Tolan. He has a bad attitude, a major chip on his shoulder, and the boy lives and breathes music. It’s Jake who provides the soundtrack to the life-changing road trip Harper, her best friend Laney, and he take on their way to see June to her final resting place. He’s fascinating. His motives for helping are murky, aside from some vague connection to June, though not sinister—just unclear. While not always friendly, the relationship that develops between Harper and Jake is intense and honest, and filled with electric tension. I’ll never listed to The Doors the same way again.

I Can Hear Music

It’s impossible to talk about Saving June without talking about Music. Music plays an enormous and intrinsic part in the story, but the innumerable references never feel forced or contrived. They feel as natural as breathing. This is a book with a soundtrack that tells as much of a story as its words. It adds enormous depth, and I was wrapt with the references to the bands that not only shaped my love of music, but my whole outlook on life. The Doors, The Beatles, Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel, Nirvana, The Beach Boys, Hendrix, and Bowie. And don’t even get me started on Johnny Cash (Seriously. Mention Johnny Cash. My husband will just roll his eyes).
“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
“Did you coin that one yourself?”
“Nietzsche did, actually. But it’s a common mix-up.”
“And you believe that?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Music and fiction hold so much in common. Both are waiting to reveal their secrets and meanings and melodies, waiting for someone to just open their ears and eyes to listen and see. A song tells a story in a way, with a raw intensity of feeling, that the written word sometimes loses, and a book can tell a story with a depth and scope that’s only present in the most magic and memorable songs. It's a rare book—or song—that does both. Saving June sang to me.

The Verdict (When The Music’s Over):

Saving June paints a raw, uncompromising picture of grief and loss. Its cover proclaims it’s an ‘incredible debut’, and it is. At times it feels like a literary anthem for disenfranchised youth, and at others, it’s light and fun. There were moments I found myself laughing at loud while still wiping tears from my cheeks.

It’s filled with such poignant moments and insights into grief, yet for all this talk of sadness and loss, it’s certainly not a depressing story. It’s about finding oneself, and the gradual journey towards acceptance. It gave me a sense of hope, and it’s more about finding healing—through friendship, love, music and sacrifice—than losing oneself to brokenness.

Saving June tore at me till I felt naked and raw and stripped completely bare along with Harper’s heart and soul. I discovered myself, as she did. I lost myself in song as I stared up at the night sky with her. I felt tiny and I felt lost and I felt like I was falling into a million shattered shards, only to be pieced back together in an indelibly different way. Sad and happy and somehow more whole and more real than I was before.
“There is so much beauty in just existing. In being alive. I don’t want to miss a second.”
Reading Saving June is like listening to that one perfect song—the one that moves you, makes you and breaks you. It’s beautiful. It’s life affirming. The world melts away, and it touches you in a way you can’t quite describe, but you can feel deep under your skin. I loved this book.
“This is the kind of music that changes people, the kind of music that changes the world. The same kind of music that changed me.”
An enormous thank you to HarlequinTEEN Australia for providing a review copy of Saving June!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In My Mailbox (10): The Very Belated Edition


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!



I've actually been meaning to post this for a week.... then Incarnate arrived and I had to re-photograph... then I STILL waited three more days.

So, this IMM is 66.66% thanks to the AMAZING Nina from Nina Reads. Do you know her? Follow her blog? Well, if not, may I point you in her direction? Nina is funny, cool, smart... she's like the perfect protagonist. The one we write all those gushing reviews about. True Story.

SO, a few weeks ago, I received a totally unexpected e-mail from Nina, letting me know I'd won a signed  copy of Fateful (It's signed! :O:O:O) in her giveaway! And, for no reason other than she's an amazing human being, she sent me The Catastrophic History Of You and Me toooo! I read it earlier this week, and I DIED... you know, from the awesome. I died from awesome overwhelment... is that a word? Well, uh, maybe I almost wish I died, because the magical purgatory the protagonist finds herself in? It's AMAZING. But, uh... I really *don't* want to die... I'm just. UGH! You know what I'm saying. This book? It's amazing. Also, I've officially used the word 'amazing' four times in this post so far... five, now. That's my cue to stop writing, and give you links.

From top to bottom:

  1. The Catastrophic History Of You And Me, Jess Rothenberg
  2. Fateful, Claudia Gray
  3. Incarnate, Jodi Meadows



So, what did the book faeries bring you this week?, and, while you're here, would you like to win a copy of the AMAZING Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder?
Duh! OF COURSE YOU DO!
Aus/NZ only, sorry folks! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3), Richelle Mead

Title: Shadow Kiss
Author: Richelle Mead (author website)
Release Date: Nov. 13th 2008 by Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

OH. MY. WORD.
I’m stunned.
Breathless.
Heartbroken.
... and... well, not speechless, obviously—I’m writing this—but struggling to find words. Shadow Kiss is shocking, exciting, and completely and utterly brilliant. Lots of people have said Vampire Academy really hits its stride come book 3. They were right.

From Goodreads:
Is Rose's fate to kill the person she loves most? It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason's death, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can't concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret .... She's in love with Dimitri. And this time, it's way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever...

My Thoughts Proclamation Of Adoration:

Wow oh wow. Whatever I was expecting from Shadow Kiss, it wasn’t this. Rarely is fiction THIS. GOOD. It delivers in so many ways I don’t quite know where to start. So maybe the beginning: we join Rose and co. back at St Vlad’s, trying to come to terms with the loss of a close friend. For all intents and purposes, life has returned to normal... but Rose doesn’t feel normal. She’s seeing ghosts, and even in this world, it’s not normal. Also, despite her normal brashness, her dark moods don’t quite seem her own...

We get to see bond Lissa and Rose share explored more deeply, and start to understand the repercussions this will have for Rose’s future—much like we explored the effects of Lissa’s power in Vampire Academy. Despite Rose being the protagonist of the series, this really felt like her book to me. She’s finally starting to question her future, and acknowledge what being a Guardian will cost her: basically, a life of her own. This stirs previously unconfronted feelings, and, while they clearly still love each other, the friendship between Rose and Lissa seems to shift a little in Shadow Kiss, soured by a little resentment. And I just have to add: Christian? Kicks ass. Well, Rose and Christian kick ass.

The political machinations deepen in Shadow Kiss, and we once again encounter the Ice Queen, who is taking an interest in Lissa’s future...and an altogether different interest in Rose. The power is shifting in the world of Vampire Academy, and instability and threats are now coming from more than just the Strigoi. Tensions are rising as some Moroi acknowledge they need to defend themselves... and others turn ugly to protect their power and the status quo. I love this aspect of the books. They’re deeply political, and while, yes, it provides intrigue, it adds interest and depth to this world. I loved watching Mead explore the class inequality and political games being played in the world she’s created.

And Dimitri. Oh, Dimitri. I almost don’t know what to say... the feelings Rose and Dimitri share grow to a point so vast they ache, and we finally see the two openly acknowledge—to each other—exactly how they feel about each other. There’s real hope for a future for them, but... Just but. It’s all I’m saying. I love Dimitri. I love Dimitri and Rose. And I love the deepening of their relationship in this book as they learn to truly trust and confide in one another. Rose openly acknowledges that she sees Dimitri as invincible—he can fix and do anything—and I adored watching them draw even closer as he shows a more vulnerable side to himself. These two just get each other on a level that is so poignant and satisfying, you can’t help but fall in love along with them.

The Verdict

I liked Vampire Academy. I really liked Frostbite. Words fail me when it comes to describing Shadow Kiss. The final quarter of this book is some of the best fiction I’ve ever read—utterly gripping and compelling, exciting, breathtaking, and, in the end, so overwhelmingly heartbreakingly. In Shadow Kiss, the Vampire Academy series really hits its stride, and I am officially a rabid fan. Sign me up to the club—I’m already making arrangements for my team t-shirt. Shadow Kiss delivers in every way—romance, action, intrigue, danger, sacrifice and loss. I’m sure I could write more, but Blood Promise is calling me. Just do yourself a favour: if you haven’t started VA yet, do so. You NEED to read this book.

Books in This Series:

  1. Vampire Academy
  2. Frostbite
  3. Shadow Kiss
  4. Blood Promise
  5. Spirit Bound
  6. Last Sacrifice

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blogspiration (5): Anne

“For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the outpouring of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.”
...If only she knew...
From Wellington Young Feminists' Collective

This is so bittersweet. Such a strange mixture of hope and sadness. There is so much power in the written word, and there is so much power in one 'small' human being... The moral? Remember that you are never insignificant.

What's Blogspiration? Find out below the jump!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Everneath, Brodi Ashton

This cover is just... perfection. It's perfect
for the book—the smoke and shadows?
They mean something... All I'm saying.
Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 2012 by Simon & Schuster Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

I'm fascinated by myth based stories—stories with an element of mythology, whether based around them or not. So once I got past Everneath’s gorgeous cover and read the blurb, I knew I had to read this one. I wasn’t disappointed. A beautiful, bittersweet tale interwoven with the elements of classic myth I love, Everneath is utterly enthralling and just waiting to get under your skin and into your heart... So it can break it.

From Goodreads:
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.


Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's.
..

Six months ago Nikki Beckett disappeared. Tortured by her mother’s death, the injustice that followed, and a heartbreaking betrayal, she allowed Cole, a gorgeous immortal ‘Everliving’, to lure her away with the promise of emotional oblivion. The place she was lured? An underworld called the Everneath—the home of the immortal Everlings, beings who sustain themselves by feeding on human emotions. While Nikki’s been missing on the Surface only six months, one hundred years have passed in the Everneath during ‘The Feed’—the time when each Everliving gorges itself on the life force and emotion of a human ‘Forfeit’, leaving the human an empty husk, sucked dry of every last drop of emotion. One thing pulled Nikki through—a face. The boy she loved. Jack Caputo.

With the Feed finished, Nikki returns to the surface, physically whole, but an emotional zombie. She has six months to try put things right with the people she loved. Six months to say goodbye. Six months to memorise every line of Jack’s face once more. Because the Everneath has not forgotten her, and in six months it will suck her back under, bleed her dry, and sentence her to a fate that makes her one hundred year horror seem like a weekend in Disneyland. But Cole hasn’t forgotten her, either. And he wants her to make a choice...

Nikki:

Nikki is a remarkable character. She’s fragile, but she's brave and strong in her own ways, and, despite some of her past actions, remarkably selfless. Everneath is really the story of her journey to redemption. She walked out on her life. She left the people she loves. She ran away because life was too hard, it hurt too much, and she needed to dull the pain—and hell, surely that's something we can all relate to. She knows her temporary return and inevitable depature will cause more pain, but she wants to make things as okay as she can with what she has left. She doesn't really believe she deserves to be forgiven for the pain she’s caused, but her journey towards discovering there is such a thing as redemption is a beautiful one.

There’s a profound contrast between pre- and post-Feed Nikki. We’re shown the lead up to Nikki’s time in the Everneath in flashbacks, and although she’s hurting, she’s vibrantly alive; she feels with violent intensity. Then there’s post-feed Nikki: drained of emotion in the Everneath, she at first comes off as detached and cold, but as her six months pass, feeling begins to return, and the story heats up along with her. Relationships become more tense, the pain of leaving becomes more real, and Nikki stops feeling like an actor playing a part in her own life. She becomes real. It raises the stakes and adds to the suspense.

A Bad-Boy Who's Black as...

Cole. Cole is an enigma. A (literally) heartless creature who feeds on the emotions and life-force of human beings to sustain his immortality, he’s compelling. For many readers, he’ll be the person they love to hate, but I found him fascinating. Everlivings are supposedly incapable of feeling, but Cole clearly feels something towards Nikki. He’s selfish, calculating, and certainly amoral, yet for all the cold indifference, hatred, and blame Nikki throws at him for her fate, Cole didn’t choose to lure her to the Everneath, rather, she begged him to take away her pain (though it could be argued he didn’t discourage this). Nikki blaming Cole for her situation is like blaming a for the addiction: she chose it, knowing the risks. Through flashbacks, we see a funny, mischievous version of Cole, without the jaded lens of post-Feed Nikki. I loved Jack. I loved Nikki, but I’m desperate to know more about Cole. What’s his history? What game is he playing? What’s his deal? Cole has a bigger picture—some of which is hinted at—but Everneath definitely isn’t his story—it’s all about Nikki and...

Holy Jack Caputo, Batman!

We could call this a love triangle, but there’s only one man in Nikki’s eyes: Jack Caputo. The boy whose face launched a thousand shippers, and got her through a hundred years of emptiness. Jack is beautiful. Patient, kind, sweet and unerringly faithful and determined. There’s a reason Nikki’s helplessly in love with him, and a reason so many readers have come away from Everneath feeling the same.

The Verdict:

While interwoven with threads of classic Greek and Egyptian mythology, Everneath isn’t so much a retelling, as it is a very modern story with a very unique take on the origin of mythology. It looks closely at where the myths we know come from, and within its own mythology, posits that they all have basis in fact, however wildly distorted over the millennia. And what are Greek myths if not tragedies populated with sympathetic, ill-fated heroes and heroines?

A sad, quiet melancholy air hangs over Everneath. It is not a happy story. Leaving me with a multitude of unanswered questions, but nonetheless deeply satisfied, Everneath is a beautiful, bittersweet, suspense-filled tale of love, loss and redemption. Dancing effortlessly between heartbreak, eerie mythology and sweet romance, Everneath had me utterly entranced, and after its shocking conclusion, I can’t wait for more.

An enormous thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of Everneath!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (13): Timeless, Gail Carriger

What is it?
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Timeless
by Gail Carriger (author website)
Pub Date: March 1st 2012 by Orbit

From Goodreads:
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

Sometimes it's fun just to read for the fun of it. And the fabulous Gail Carriger's steampunk/paranormal/historical Parasol Protectorate series is just that: FUN. Pure and simple. This is the last in the hilarious series, and while I'm sad to see it end, I'm excited to see where Carriger leaves it. Plus, following Timeless, Carriger has a companion series coming out, following a key character from this book. L'excitment!



GIVEAWAY!
While you're here, would you like to win a copy of the AMAZING Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder?
Duh! OF COURSE YOU DO!
Aus/NZ only, sorry folks! 

Win 1 of 2 Copies of Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder!

Yes! This beautiful cover could be on
YOUR BOOKSHELF! ... I know, right?
Keep calm, and enter the giveaway.
Guys, it's no secret I'm a MASSIVE fan of Maria V. Snyder. And it's even less of a secret that Touch Of Power was one of my favorite books of 2011 (it was tied for first place with Across the Universe and Shatter Me. Do you even KNOW how good those books were? This is saying something. Just sayin').

From Goodreads
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

So that being said, I am seriously excited to have 2 copies of Touch Of Power to give away, thanks to HarlequinTEEN Australia!

It's SUPER simple to enter. You get 1 'free' entry--no strings attached. If you want to Tweet, Like, Stalk, etc, well, you get extra entries into the draw. That's it!

The giveaway is only open to people with an Aust or NZ mailing address. Sorry folks! Once you've entered, peek at the bottom of this post for more opportunities to win! (brilliant link list thanks to Brilliant Brodie!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Million Suns (Across The Universe #2), Beth Revis

Title: A Million Suns
Author: Beth Revis (author website)
Release Date: January 10th 2012 by Razorbill
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopia
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star>

From the very first chapter of Across The Universe, I was hooked, and months later I was still haunted by the gorgeous writing, eerie stillness and quiet menace onboard Godspeed. So to say I had high expectations for A Million Suns would be a tiny bit of an understatement. As if I expected anything else from the brilliant Beth Revis--A Million Suns delivers without missing a beat.

From Goodreads:
Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

WARNING! WARNING! SPOILER, WILL ROBINSON:
From this point onwards, there are spoilers for bk 1, Across The Universe, but NOT for the book itself. Read AtU first. It's works better if you know nothing. Trust me.

While the first chapter of A Million Suns lacks the abject horror Across The Universe inspired in me, it's equally as shocking in an entirely different way. The quiet menace I mentioned from Across The Universe? It's gone, replaced with panic and unrest verging on chaos. Revis throws the reader right back in the deep end and doesn't miss a beat. Things on Godspeed are not as they seem, and tensions are high. With the removal of Phydus to control the ship's population, there are whispers of revolution, and Elder, while growing into a leader, is out of his depth and not in control. It doesn't help that the people he relies on to run the ship are keeping secrets; it adds to the confusion and mystery, while being simultaneously frightening. There's this scary idea that with each generation of leadership to pass, more and more of the ships purpose and history are lost. If something happens to Elder, what will happen to the ship? If something happens to Doc, who will provide medical care, and who will know the secrets of the Frozens and how to care for them? With the loss of Eldest, how much knowledge has been lost? Elder is struggling to maintain control... Meanwhile, Amy is tracing a series of cryptic clues across the ship that unlock secrets far more terrifying than the current political climate for Godspeed.

Across The Universe left Amy and Elder in a rather ambiguous place, and A Million Suns picks up from there. Amy is trying to forgive Elder. She has no one else on the ship in whom to confide or turn, and she desperately misses her parents, her life as she understood it. She's in constant danger as the resident 'Freak'. Rather than attaching herself to Elder, she considers her future and considers her options. Despite it being an easy choice, she refuses to jump into something 'more' with Elder. She asks herself what she wants and what she needs. She thinks, she considers, and I loved her for this.

I loved the shifting POV in Across The Universe, and I loved it again here. Both for the contrasting outsider/insider views of the workings of Godspeed, and watching Amy and Elder grow closer. The concern Elder feels for Amy is touching, but it's at odds with the responsibility and obligations he has to the whole population of Godspeed. Meanwhile, the reluctance Amy feels towards something more with Elder is beautifully done. Neither Amy or Elder are entirely forthright with each other, but despite hurt, complications, and a far bigger picture, Revis shows a slow, beautiful unthawing of each to the other, and when they start to work together, it's a beautiful thing... Before it all spirals back out of control. Both Amy and Elder grow in A Million Suns, and we saw more of themselves shining through. Both are very imperfect beings, and make more than their fair share of mistakes, and I found myself at turns loving and hating them. Amy's stubborn and headstrong, but this can turn to selfishness at times. Meanwhile, Elder is impulsive, and this gets him in hot water on more than one occasion.

The Verdict:

Things onboard Godspeed get ugly in A Million Suns. And messy. And stay as beautiful, twisty and frightening as they always were, while only increasing in menace and intensity. I didn't think it was possible to up the ante any further following Across The Universe, but Revis pilots her ship with the effortless ease of a pro. She gives us this brilliant balance between human emotion and fallibility, sweet romance and action and mystery.

Just as beautifully written, frightening and atmospheric as it's predecessor, A Million Suns ratchets up the mystery and intrigue to almost unbearable levels. Revis delivers a sci-fi come Dystopian masterpiece that will thrill fans and leave them desperate for more. Now... To figure out how cryogenically freeze myself so I can survive the year-long wait for Shades Of Earth...

Books in This Series:

  1. Across The Universe
  2. A Million Suns
  3. Shades Of Earth (expected 2013)

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