Wednesday, 29 December 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday #8

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Raising Demons (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins
April 1st 2011
(UK cover, title and release date)

*Note: Summary contains spoilers for the first book
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she? (from Goodreads)


Abandon by Meg Cabot
April 26th 2011

New from #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, a dark, fantastical story about this world . . . and the underworld.

When Pierce first sees him, she thinks he is a murderer. She's right about one thing -- he does take lives. But not in the way she ever imagined. Pierce is drawn to the dark stranger even as she tries to uncover the mystery surrounding the tragic death of someone close to her. As she gets closer to the truth -- and the stranger -- unexpected secrets are revealed, even in her own heart.
(from Goodreads)

*Note: "Raising Demons" is the UK title for "Demonglass", the second novel in the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine...

So, as another way to avoid revision (it's getting ridiculous now, I really ought to start) and forget about work in general, I borrowed the movie "Easy A" from my friend and spent an hour and half curled up on the sofa with chocolate (German chocolate - no idea why I have this but it was really good) and other unhealthy snacks, watching it. I absolutely LOVED it. I haven't seen a teen movie in such a long time, but this was awesome. Funny, sarcastic and just great to watch. Loosely based on "The Scarlet Letter" (which, coincidentally, is the book everyone is studying in English class), Easy A focuses on Olive, a nobody-turned-harlot after several (false) rumours about her spread around her high school. Olive decides to use these rumours to her advantage - and I'm gonna stop there to avoid spoilers ;). But I really loved Olive - she's hilarious and you can tell that under all the sarcasm she is just a nice, normal girl trying to adjust to this strange new situation. And Emma Stone, who played her, is a new favourite actress of mine.

I know this a completely random post (though it IS book-related - "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, yeah? Okay, so technically I haven't actually read it, but that's beside the point...), but I just wanted to express my new appreciation for this film. For anyone who's seen it - what did you think? Too contrived? Too unrealistic? Or did you love it like I did? And for anyone who hasn't seen it - I definitely recommend it. And now, I leave you with this:


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

*A review for Chicklish, which can also be viewed here.

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1) by Jenny Han
Publisher: Puffin
Released: June 3rd 2010 (first published May 5th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Children's)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Some summers are just destined to be pretty.

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along
. (from Goodreads)

The Summer I Turned Pretty begins with Belly's arrival at Cousins. Belly lives for the summers. Every year she longs for summertime, longs to return to the beach house, to see Susannah and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah again. And now she's back, she's there, but everything is different. Conrad is still her crush and Jeremiah is still her best friend, but the boys are acting differently. Something has changed between them, and Belly knows that this year will be the summer she will never forget.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is exactly what it appears to be; a great summer read. But it's also so much more. It was so engaging that I couldn't put it down, and I felt as if I were part of this book, as if I knew the characters exactly as Belly did. The book is broken into chapters of past and present, and I have to say I loved the flashbacks. I thought they really helped build up the characters and helped explain why Belly loved the summers so much - we could really see into her mind and understand her thoughts and feelings.

As for the characters themselves, I have never been so torn before. Usually when there's a love triangle (or square in this case), I know from almost the beginning the person I favour and the person I want the main character to end up with. Not the case with this book. I liked all the characters, every single one, but it was so difficult to choose which boy I liked best. I found myself being pulled into whatever direction Belly was going at the time; I felt what she felt and I experienced her confusion and hurt about each of the boys. Conrad is the dark and mysterious one; he's quiet and moody, but we know from Belly's flashbacks that he can be nice and caring too. Jeremiah is the cute and funny one, always trying to make Belly laugh and always the kindest to her; he's the only one who's ever really paid her any attention. Even Cam; he's the new guy and Belly hasn't known him very long, but he's sweet and understanding, and I grew really attached to him too. I felt bad for the way Belly treated him, actually, towards the end, but I guess I could understand why.

My favourite character of all was probably Susannah. She was ill, but tried to be strong and happy for the sake of her family, and I thought it took a lot of courage and personal strength for her to do that. I liked the way she seemed to understand what Belly was going through, and I also loved the friendship between her and Belly's mum. I felt Belly sometimes treated her mum unfairly, and so I liked it when Belly discovered something surprising about her during a discussion with Susannah, and I hope that the relationship between Belly and her mother is something is explored more in the sequel.

In conclusion, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a great summer read full of love, laughter and sadness, and I enjoyed every part of it. The ending was left open so I look forward to the reading the next book in the series – I can’t wait to see what happens between Belly and the boys and Susannah. I'd recommend this book to fans of Sarah Dessen or Sara Manning, or to anyone looking for a quick and thoughtful read.

In My Mailbox #7

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

I haven't done this in a very long time, but I thought I'd show the books I got over Christmas. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and had time to relax a bit! 


Gifts from various friends/family members:
Drive Me Crazy by Erin Downing
Betrayals by Lili St Crow
Jealousy by Lili St Crow
The Legacy by Gemma Malley
You Wish by Mandy Hubbard
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Pink leather-look notebook (the paper inside is like parchment - makes me feel very Harry Potter-y)
Absolution by Jennifer Laurens
White Cat by Holly Black
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (soooo excited about this - I loved Percy Jackson)

Can't wait to get started ;). I was supposed to get Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins as well, but there was a problem with the delivery (probably the eight inches of snow we got) and it got cancelled :/. Still, this lot should keep me occupied for a while! 
 

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Review: Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Released: March 14th 2004
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Mara Valentine is in control. She's a straight-A senior, a vegan, and her parents' pride and joy. She's neck-and-neck with her womanizing ex-boyfriend for number-one class ranking and plans to kick his salutatorian butt on her way out the door to Yale. Mara has her remaining months in Brockport all planned out, but the plan does not include having V, her slutty, pot-smoking, sixteen-year-old niece — yes, niece — come to live with her family. Nor does it involve lusting after her boss or dreaming about grilled cheese sandwiches every night. What does a control freak like Mara do when things start spinning wildly out of control? With insight, authenticity, and a healthy dose of humor, Carolyn Mackler creates an evolving Type A heroine that every reader will recognize — and root for. (from Goodreads)

Mara is a strict vegan. She's taking college classes, she has early acceptance to Yale and she's a virgin. Mara thinks her life is going just fine, until her niece V, who is only a year younger than her, moves in and everything changes. V is Mara's total opposite. She's loud, she's rude and having a good time is number one on her priority list. Mara doesn't know how to handle her, and lately she's having trouble concentrating on anything at all. She keeps dreaming about grilled cheese sandwiches, and other things that are off limits. But with the fight to become Valedictorian and to achieve the highest GPA in the school, Mara doesn't have time to sort out her problems. What's a girl to do?

I started reading Vegan Virgin Valentine knowing nothing about it at all. I didn't read any reviews for it, so I had no idea what to expect. I ended up liking it quite a lot. Mara was a character I could relate to; it was easy to understand why she was so stressed out, and I could see that she was struggling to juggle all her classes and extra-curricular activities, as well as the difficulties she was experiencing to stay vegan. I liked how Mara wasn't perfect; she broke out in spots occassionally and said stupid things sometimes, just like other teenagers, and all of this made it feel more realistic and believeable to me. I liked the way she was so determined, and how this was both one of her strengths and weaknesses - her determination meant that she felt she always needed to be in control, something that she found progressively harder with each day.

I liked the way V and Mara's friendship developed; they started off as almost-enemies and ended up actually caring about each other. I thought V balanced Mara out a bit, and they were both quite funny characters with their own quirks and flaws. V seemed quite tough on the outside, but was really actually quite understanding underneath.

Though I liked James' character, I wanted to know more about him. He was very sweet and charming, but I felt like I didn't know much about his character except he was twenty-two and owned a coffee shop. I also felt the same way with his relationship with Mara; I wanted to know why they both liked each other and what made them want to be together. I also thought that Claudia's character could have been explored a little more, though I did like her and thought she was pretty fun.

Another thing I enjoyed was the relationship between Mara and her parents, and how Mara started off not minding all the phone calls and check-ups and ended up bursting out a bunch of secrets she'd been keeping. Mara felt like her parents only had her to make up for her older sister's failures, so I thought it was funny when Mara's mother had a chat with her about this, because it was something Mara really didn't expect. I thought that perhaps her parents would have been a little more shocked by her outburst, but I'm glad that everything worked out in the end. As for Aimee, V's mother and Mara's sister, I definitely understood why V sometimes resented her, and I was pleased that V got to do something she enjoyed for a change.

In conclusion, Vegan Virgin Valentine was a quick (could've been longer in my opinion - I wanted to know more!) and entertaining read and I'm very happy I read it. Recommended.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Review: Glimmer by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Glimmer (Zellie Wells #2) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Publisher: Self-published
Released: November 1st 2010
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Zellie Wells' life is changing. Her relationship with Avery is growing stronger every day, but their parents are still giving them ultimatums and trying to keep them apart. Her newly discovered powers have all but disappeared. Benjamin, another young Retroact, is back and has brought with him a painful shared vision and a troubled past. While working together to figure out what the vision means, Zellie discovers that Benjamin is a worthy friend and mentor. If only he could keep his hands off of her-if only she wanted him to... (from Goodreads)

Zellie has recently discovered she’s a Retroact, and it’s not long before she discovers the identity of the boy who hijacked her rewind. Ben: a male Retroact, rare and unique and in full control of his powers. Zellie doesn’t appreciate having to listen to this guy tell her what to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures and soon enough everyone is in danger, and time for complaining is over. Zellie has to protect the people she loves, before it's too late.

Glimmer is an exciting follow-up to Glimpse, which further explores the world of Retroacts. Zellie learns more about her powers in this one, and we also learn a lot more about the male Retroact, Ben. Ben, I have to say, was just awesome. I mean, as much as I love Avery, and Avery and Zellie together, Ben just made me laugh so much. And he had this secretive side too which made me even more curious about him – plus I absolutely loved the way he teased Zellie. I think Zellie and Ben made quite an interesting pair, and I think Ben’s influence made Zellie even more determined than she was before. He was a more experienced Retroact in some ways and I think Zellie’s jealousy about that was realistic and well portrayed; she wasn’t whiny but you could tell Ben's control over his powers annoyed her. And Zellie isn’t the only jealous one – needless to say that Avery isn’t too happy about the situation either. I think Zellie has been through so much already, but wow, Glimmer just puts her through so much more. She has to deal with devastating loss, she’s forced to stay away from Avery (it was so awful! Poor Avery, I think I missed him just as much as Zellie did), she’s got to learn new powers – there’s just so much to do in such a short space of time. And the revelation towards the end – I was really not expecting that.

One thing I really enjoyed reading about was the relationship between Zellie’s mum and Avery’s (dead) dad. Their situation was strange to say the least, especially with the baby on the way, and I’m not too fond of either one of them, but they just seemed so happy together, despite all the obstacles between them, and it kind of gave me hope that Zellie and Avery would be able make it, against all odds. Zellie’s dad, however, seemed intent on keeping the two apart (though who can blame him really, after what happened? I have to admit I did laugh a bit at his reaction to finding Avery and Zellie alone together). Of course, Zellie wouldn’t stand for this and found a way of communicating with Avery despite the restrictions her dad had set out. I really liked reading the notes they wrote each other and thought the teen voice came across really clearly.

In conclusion, Glimmer was a great sequel to Glimpse and I really enjoyed finding out more about the world of Retroacts (especially concerning what happened to the male ones). I’d recommend the Zellie Wells series to anyone who enjoys a mixture of paranormal, comedy and romance and I look forward to reading the next book in the series!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Review: Penitence by Jennifer Laurens

Penitence (Heavenly #2) by Jennifer Laurens
Publisher: Grove Creek Publishing
Released: April 29th 2010
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Seeing good and evil spirits is a gift Zoe guards with her life. Despite her guardian angel's disappearance, Zoe forces herself to accept that she still has a purpose-but how does she carry the weight of her brother's drug abuse, the hardship of living with an autistic sister, and a best friend who's obsessed with a guy who only wants Zoe? She's never felt more alone. When a mysterious spirit appears, Zoe thinks she has a new guardian angel. Instead, her brother's addiction worsens, her parents are on the brink of separation, and her best friend tries to kill her. The spirit she thinks is her new guardian isn't there to protect her: he's out to destroy her family and seize Zoe's soul. . . for Hell. Will Matthias' return mean that he is Zoe's guardian angel again? Or is their love the reason the jaws of Hell now gape open? (from Goodreads)

Penitence begins with Zoe waking up in hospital. She's been torn away from Matthias and Paradise, and finds herself in a hospital bed surrounded by her family. She’s survived the accident, but things aren’t the same. Matthias is gone, but he’s been replaced by someone else – someone Zoe doesn’t know she can trust. Just when Zoe thinks things can only get better, she’s proven wrong. Temptation isn’t the only sin, after all.

I absolutely adored Heavenly, but I can safely say that Penitence exceeded all my expectations. It was just everything you could hope for in a book; suspense, action, romance and then some. We’re introduced to a new(ish) character, Albert, and I think even though I knew there was something odd about him, he definitely intrigued me. There were tons of questions I wanted Zoe to ask him, but he’s a sly one and managed to avoid answering most things directly. And this just made me want to know even more! Especially after Matthias’ reaction to finding out Albert had spoken with Zoe. And speaking of Matthias, I think I loved him even more in this book than I did in the previous one. And that is saying something. His old-fashioned expressions just made me laugh and the way he was with Abria – ahh.

One character that I was wary about though was Weston. After the events of the first book, I started this one not liking the guy at all. And no matter how many times he apologised and despite the evil spirits that were influencing him then, I just couldn’t forgive him. But as the book went on, I actually find myself kind of feeling sorry for him. There was just something about his desperation to be forgiven that made me feel so bad. I could understand why Zoe had decided to give him another chance, and even though I was trying really, really hard not to, I found myself quite liking him. Which just shows how amazing the writing is; you can’t fight against it! However, there was definitely an issue with Weston, and that was Britt. Britt was never my favourite character to begin with but she is way, way down at the bottom of my list of favourites now. I think I sort of suspected Britt would fall out with Zoe but I never imagined it would be to this scale. Britt, to me, is almost as villainous as Albert, because she used to be a friend and it’s always harder to stand up to friends than it is to enemies (little Dumbledore quote there :P). I have no idea what’s going to happen next between them but it’s definitely going to be interesting.

As for Wes and Zoe’s relationship – well all I have to say is poor Matthias. As much as I enjoyed getting to know Wes more I couldn’t help but think of Matthias the whole time and how he must have been feeling. Zoe’s going to have to decide what she wants soon enough and I have a feeling the choice isn’t going be very easy.

Last, but most certainly not least, there’s Chase. I think I may be a minority here but I really love Chase. His crush on Zoe, though unrequited, is so adorable, but the thing I like most about him is his inquisitive mind; he’s always asking questions, trying to learn more and delve into unknown areas. He can be a bit tactless at times, but I don’t know, there’s something sweet about him.

I feel like I haven’t portrayed its awesomeness enough, but in conclusion, Penitence was amazing. I recommend the Heavenly series to anyone and everyone, and I can’t wait to get started on Absolution!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sorry!

I realise I've been absent for oh, what, about a month now. I'm truly, truly sorry. I know this is a poor excuse, but I've been just been bogged down with schoolwork and I barely have any free time anymore. Truth is, I'm going to have to take a break from blogging for a while until it all dies down a bit. I will be posting randomly, but nothing near as regularly as I used to. And I know I'm extremely behind on reviewing, but one day, in the distant future, I will get the reviews I owe out. I promise :p. And I will try and comment on other blogs more often too. So it's all a bit depressing, but to end on a high note, here's something I hope you'll all like. For a limited time only (until October 22nd) you can read the first three books in Michael Grant's Gone series for free online. If you haven't heard of this series, I strongly recommend you start reading now! It's about a world where everyone over the age of fourteen just vanishes inexplicably. Trust me, it's intense reading. Click here if you're interested!

I hope everyone's enjoyed their weekend :).

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Three Mini Reviews

Note: If you haven't read book one, the reviews for the second book will contain spoilers for it. Similarly, if you haven't read book two, the review for book three will contain spoilers for both books one and two.

Evernight (Evernight #1) by Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released: March 4th 2010 (first released in US May 1st 2008)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bianca wants to escape.

She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.

But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed. (from Goodreads)

The first half of Evernight started slow for me, but I absolutely loved the second half. I thought it was a bit strange how we discovered the whole vampire secret (I knew this book was about vampires before I started it so it wasn’t really a surprise for me), but I loved the fact that it was the girl who was the vampire in this one, and that the guy was the human love interest. It made a change from a lot of the other vampire books out there and I thought the concept was more original. I must admit, as soon as I read that Lucas’ hair was “bronze” I immediately thought “not another Twilight clone”, but I was wrong. So very wrong. Evernight is packed full of action and romance and I found myself really connecting with the characters. I actually liked Bianca, she had a mind of her own and she wasn’t afraid of confrontation. I liked Lucas as well, and I thought it was very interesting to see his side of story later on in the book after Bianca discovered his secret – it really helped give insight into his life and how he had lived for so many years. One character I really loved though was Vic, he was hilarious and always so happy and funny; I think I smiled at every scene he was in. Anyway, I really liked Evernight and I’m glad I had the two sequels to read after I had finished!


Stargazer (Evernight #2) by Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released: April 29th 2010 (first published March 24th 2009)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The vampire in me was closer to the surface...

Evernight Academy: an exclusive boarding school for the most beautiful, dangerous students of all—vampires. Bianca, born to two vampires, has always been told her destiny is to become one of them.

But Bianca fell in love with Lucas—a vampire hunter sworn to destroy her kind. They were torn apart when his true identity was revealed, forcing him to flee the school.

Although they may be separated, Bianca and Lucas will not give each other up. She will risk anything for the chance to see him again, even if it means coming face-to-face with the vampire hunters of Black Cross—or deceiving the powerful vampires of Evernight. Bianca's secrets will force her to live a life of lies.

Yet Bianca isn't the only one keeping secrets. When Evernight is attacked by an evil force that seems to target her, she discovers the truth she thought she knew is only the beginning. . . (from Goodreads)

Stargazer was an excellent follow up to Evernight. In this one, Lucas and Bianca were separated and they had to sneak out to see each other. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded, and Bianca had to pretend to be in a relationship with Balthazar to be allowed to leave the grounds, much to Lucas’s dismay. There were quite a few arguments in this book and I liked the fact that Bianca and Lucas fought because it showed that not everything is fine and dandy all the time and that relationships are never always perfect. I actually felt it helped make their relationship stronger once they had resolved everything, and I also liked how Bianca at least questioned love and how much she loved Lucas instead of blindly following uncertain feelings like a lot of characters in other series. I liked Raquel a lot more in this book because we learned all the horrible things she had been through, and we also got to see a more caring side of her. I also like Dana, she seemed like a fun person and she did what she could to help Bianca and Lucas. I also loved the ending of this book and Bianca’s reaction to her parents’ secrets, and I felt like Bianca was forced to grow up quite a lot and become a stronger person.


Hourglass (Evernight #3) by Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released: July 8th 2010 (first published March 9th 2010)
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
 
Bestselling author Claudia Gray’s Evernight series continues. In Hourglass, Bianca and Lucas have found a way to be together. But it means lying to the people who care about them the most.

After escaping from Evernight Academy, the vampire boarding school, Bianca and Lucas seek refuge with Black Cross, the elite group of vampire hunters led by Lucas’s stepfather. When Bianca’s close friend—the vampire Balthazar—is captured by Black Cross, Bianca knows she has to do whatever it takes to save him. But at what cost

Hourglass, the third book in this gripping vampire series by the author of the New York Times bestseller Stargazer, has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s books runaway successes. (from Goodreads)

Hourglass was probably my favourite of the series so far because so much happened. I loved the progression of Lucas and Bianca’s relationship and I thought it seemed quite believable. The second half of the book was almost the complete opposite of the first; to begin, everyone started out so happy and by the end everything was just in tatters. I was so happy we got to see more of Vic in this book because he was definitely my favourite character, and I actually started to like Ranulf quite a lot too; his odd ways of speaking and strange actions were kind of endearing, in a way. I enjoyed finding out more about wraiths as well and I liked the fact that Lucas and Balthazar had to put aside their differences to help each other.  I also somehow liked Lucas even more in this book because he really cared about Bianca and was willing to do anything to protect her. Most of their scenes together were really sweet and adorable. And even though Bianca did something stupid (you take Modern Technology! Come on! Everyone knows about email tracking!) I could understand why she did it, because she was so confused about who she was becoming and she just wanted to let her parents know that she was okay. I also guessed what was going on when she started to feel dizzy, but that whole part of the book was so engrossing, and towards the end, when Lucas though she’d gone...it was so sad. And the ending! Wow, cliff-hanger at its finest. I’m desperate to read Afterlife now after all these revelations!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Some Ramblings

So I'm sure everyone has heard about banned books and censoring; the topic has been circulating the blogosphere over the past few weeks. I recently read an article about it, and it was talking about the difference between the UK and the US. It was really interesting and I have to say I didn't realise that so much censoring was going on. It doesn't happen as much in the UK apparently; for example, I only just found out that Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was on the "banned book list" - I had no idea before last week, because I've seen this book in every library I've ever been to. Anyway, I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the topic - what are your feelings towards censoring?

For anyone who wants to read the article I mentioned, click here.

In other news, I'm sooo tired. I've been up late every night for the past couple weeks doing homework - who knew school could be so demanding! And it's freezing. Absolutely freezing. It honestly feels like December, any UK-er can vouch for me. I've been wearing so many layers every day to try and keep warm. And another thing - Christmas decorations have already started to appear in a few shops, as well as all the Christmas stock. It's not even October yet! I went into Topshop the other day and they were playing a Christmas song. I was thinking, "What is going on here?"

TV-wise, I am seeing Jedward everywhere. It's not even funny. And I really don't like what they've done with XFactor this year; raising the age limit means there are now no good singers in the over 28s category! Plus they let two boys I never even heard sing go through to judges' houses, and then put the actual decent ones together to form a group? What? Anyone else thinking this show has gone downhill? I'm much preferring Merlin at the moment.

So that's what's been going on with me! Feel free to let me know how you're doing in the comments. And if anyone wants to explain the main themes and concepts of The Merchant of Venice and Dr Faustus, please do! Otherwise I have this ominous feeling I'll be relying on SparkNotes this year...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

In My Mailbox #6

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.

I've been absent for a while, so I'm just going to show all the books I've gotten over the past few weeks.


For Review:
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (not pictured)
Burning Secrets ARC by Clare Chambers
Fame School: Trick or Treat by Cindy Jefferies

Borrowed:
Evermore by Alyson Noel (from the very awesome Dwayne @ Girls Without a Bookshelf)

Swapped:
Major Crush by Jennifer Echols (with the wonderful Michelle @ Fluttering Butterflies)

Won (huge huge thanks to the lovely Stephanie @ Curling Up by the Fire for these):
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter (Zach <3)
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

Gifts (many thanks, Jennifer!):
Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens x 2 (to be donated to libraries) (not pictured)
Pentitence by Jennifer Laurens (not pictured)

Possibly-won-but-I'm-not-entirely-sure-where-exactly-it-came-from-see-my-WoW-post:
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (thanks Penguin!)

So that's my haul! What did you guys get?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Review: The Mosts by Melissa Senate *some spoilers*

The Mosts by Melissa Senate
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Released: June 8th 2010
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Madeline finished freshman year at Freeport Academy just as invisible as when she started. But after a summer in Italy with her sophisticated aunt, she returned as a sophomore with cool clothes, European attitude, and a hot new boyfriend, Thom.

Maddie's part of the in crowd . . . the Mosts. Her best friend, Caro? Most Beautiful. Her other friends, Fergie, Annie, and Selena? Most Stylish, Most Hilarious, and Most Hot, respectively. And Madeline? Most Popular. Her life is great.

While it lasted.

Now Thom's moved to California-so Maddie's no longer the girlfriend of a popular guy. The guy Caro likes only has eyes for Madeline-can you say social suicide? And a group of misfits at school are begging Madeline to help make them over.

Madeline knows there's a fine line between being a Most . . . and being a Not. She doesn't want her status to change . . . but what if she doesn't have a choice? (from Goodreads)

Madeline is a Most. Most Popular to be exact, and her best friend is Caro, the girl who's voted Most Beautiful ever year without fail. However, before her freshamn year, Madeline was a nobody. Invisible. It was a trip to Rome that transformed her, and her rise in the social hierachy was mostly due to her popular boyfriend, Thom. But now Thom is moving to California and Madeline has a reputation to keep. Not only that, but people from the "Not" list are actually offering to pay her to help them become more normal. Madeline could do with the money; plane tickets to California aren't cheap after all. And she's desperate to get away from her friends - the weirdness between her and Caro is getting worse and worse, and Sam isn't helping either. Why does he keep staring at her...and why doesn't she mind?

The Mosts was a meh book for me. I didn't really like it, but I didn't hate it either, and it had some good qualities that made it readable. I liked the concept, the idea of having a "Most" list and a "Not" list, and I liked the way that Madeline stopped really caring about who was on which list by the end, which showed some character growth. I also liked the "Not" interns; Joe and Elinor were my favourite characters because although they were over-eager and desperate to be noticed, they were sweet and kind of endearing too and I felt so bad for the way they were treated at the beginning. I'm glad they managed to feel more confident and at peace with themselves by the end, and I also liked the fact that Sabrina, Madeline's sister, refused to change herself for anyone, and felt comfortable in her own skin, even though she made the "Not" list every year.

I also quite liked Madeline's mum and Mac; they seemed like they knew what was going to happen but they wanted Madeline to experience it for herself and learn from her mistakes, so they didn't ever tell her what to do, they just let her figure it out for herself. There was also a Harry Potter reference (a calf named Hermione) which, as a huge HP fan, I appreciated very much. I actually liked the fact that Madeline lived on a farm, and I thought it was funny the way she complained about it yet also found it hard to imagine leaving her family and living somewhere else.

There was, however, a whole bunch of stuff I didn't like. For example, the rest of the characters. Madeline was shallow, but more so than a usual teenager, and she was too obsessed with popularity, I just couldn't relate to her at all. I understand she was meant to be this way to start off, but by the end she hadn't really changed that much. And her relationships were totally unbelieveable. Thom, who seemed like a nice guy to begin with, spent about half an hour explaining to Madeline that they were not breaking up, and that the long distance thing would work for them etc etc. He left with tears in his eyes. A week later, they're both over each other! I found this so unrealistic, Thom got over Madeline so quickly, after telling her he loved her too. If they supposedly loved each other, would they really give up on their relationship in less than three weeks? After being together for two years? There was no love, I really wish it hadn't been mentioned because I just felt like their relationship was ridiculous. If they were just boyfriend/girlfriend no mention of "love", I could have accepted it. But love. That damn word. They had to say it. I know long distance doesn't usually work out, but come on. Thom seemed to get over it in a matter of days, and I felt like the fact that he got a "new" girlfriend so quickly as well was just to make him seem like the bad guy to justify the fact that Madeline wanted to be with Sam.

And Sam, dear me. Didn't like him. First of all, what was his problem? His best friend anounces he's moving and suddenly it's okay to stare longingly at his girlfriend? No! At least wait until the guy has moved already, seriously. Madeline gets all this stick for breaking the "girl code", but Sam totally breaks the "guy code" by going after his best friend's ex, and he gets off scot-free. He's supposedly a "nice" guy too. I know this because Madeline described him as nice so many times I was starting to refer to him as that in my head. And we never found out why he was nice, or how he was nice, we were just told that he was. Plus, I don't even get why Sam and Madeline liked each other, except he was "nice" and they were both hot. What else? Their relationship was based purely on those two things. They barely even knew each other (they didn't seem to talk about much). Which is why I once more thought it was ridiculous when "love" was mentioned again. Really. Had Madeline learnt nothing? Because I'm pretty sure that if Sam had announced he was leaving for California, the same thing would happen all over again and they'd both get over each other quickly. Because really, why was Sam so different to Thom? He wasn't. So saying they loved each other wasn't something special because Madeline said it to Thom too. And look what happened.

I haven't even started on the other characters yet. Caro, Fergie, Annie - all horrible people. Avery, acted like she hated the Mosts, but really just wanted to be one and wanted to rule the school. She was commended for "standing up" to them (she didn't really in my opinion), and then she got the popularity she always wanted. Okay then.

I'm going to stop because I think I've said enough. It does seem like there's more I disliked than liked so you're probably wondering why I still gave a three. The reason is because The Mosts was an okay book, it kept me occupied and I didn't want to put it down thought the characters sometimes annoyed me, so I'd still say it's worth reading. Maybe you'll have better luck with it than me. Read it if you liked Mean Girls (but who doesn't love this movie :P) or Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.

"Waiting On" Wednesday #7 + OMG

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Absolution (Heavenly #3) by Jennifer Laurens (I finished Pentitence a week ago and it was awesome. A review will be up...eventually :P)
October 1st 2010

Zoe’s secret is out. And the powers of Hell are ravenous to claim her soul. Her brother, Luke, knows her secret: that she sees both good and evil spirits. Her boyfriend knows. At least Matthias is her guardian angel again. But now Hell’s most ruthless leader will stop at nothing to have her soul.

Albert, Matthias’ father, is relentless in his hunger for Zoe. He wants to destroy Matthias and will use Zoe to do so.

The battle between Heaven and Hell tests everything Zoe has. As she witnesses everyone important in her life suffering, she’s brought to the ultimate choice: will she sacrifice her soul to save the ones she loves? (from Goodreads)


Afterlife (Evernight #4) by Claudia Gray
March 8th 2011

The fourth book in this electrifying vampire series has all the romance, suspense, and page-turning drama that have made Claudia Gray’s Evernight books runaway successes.

Having become what they feared most, Bianca and Lucas face a terrifying new reality. They must return to Evernight Academy, Lucas as a vampire and Bianca as a wraith. But Lucas is haunted by demons, both personal and supernatural. Bianca must help him fight the evil inside him, combat the forces determined to drive them apart—and find the power to claim her destiny at last.

Readers have fallen in love with Bianca and Lucas, and they will be thrilled to read this exciting conclusion to their romantic adventure. (from Goodreads)
 
So those are my picks for the week. As for the "OMG"...guys. I got Beautiful Darkness in the post. Beautiful Darkness! I don't even know why I have it - it was in a big box from Penguin, but I wasn't expecting it for review, and it wasn't a book I'd won either. I did win The Eternal Ones from Penguin a few weeks ago but never received it. Maybe there was a book change and that's why I have Beautiful Darkness? I don't even care because I'm so excited and happy! Penguin, I love you. Expect a review soon :P.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

I'm back...I'm back FROM the future...

I am so sorry for being AWOL this week. Just started school again and I've been trying to get back into the whole waking up at the crack of dawn routine. But I'm back now, and I will be posting up reviews/participating in memes soon! I'm not gonna lie - school will be taking up a lot of my time and I am putting it first, in front of blogging. So that may mean I won't be able to post as often, but fear not! That's what weekends are for, right? :P Hopefully you'll all stick with me - and expect a follower giveaway some time soon as well (nearly at a hundred - I love you all <3 :]).

And for those of you who didn't get the Back to the Future reference...shame on you :P. It's one of the best movies of all time (and it's back at cinemas for a limited time in October! I'm so excited, definitely going to see it).

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend so far!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Review: She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Released: September 2nd 2010 (first published May 25th)
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When having money is all that matters, what happens when you lose it all?

Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends -- friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's new low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.

But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money? (from Goodreads)

She's So Dead to Us starts with Ally Ryan moving back to Orchard Hill. She should be happy - she gets to see all her old friends again, gets to go back to her old school and do all the things she did before she left. But she's not happy. Because Ally Ryan is public enemy number one in Orchard Hill. It's all because her dad lost all their money and the money of her friends too in a bad investment, and now none of Ally's friends will speak to her. Ally thought leaving Orchard Hill was hard - turns out coming back is even worse.

I really loved She's So Dead to Us. Throughout the whole novel, I was thinking, "Finally!" Finally a heroine with some guts. Finally some realistic teenagers who act in a realistic way. Finally a romance that is actually believable. Finally!

She's So Dead to Us is narrated by two characters, Ally and Jake. I absolutely positively loved this. The contrast between points of view was so different it made me laugh. Really. Ally was a feisty character, but also just your typical teenage girl trying to get along with life. I thought she was really strong and she didn't let the horrible things people had done get to her. She voiced her opinions and wasn't afraid to stand up and defend herself, and I thought she showed real courage at times. I thought she acted very much like a teenager would today; she could be shallow, yes, but so can everyone at times. She recognised when she was being silly or stupid and I liked how she knew she wasn't perfect, and also how she compared herself to the old Ally, the one who lived in Orchard Hill before. She started to realise that the old Ally maybe wasn't the nicest of people, and I think this helped her become a better person. She could be a little naive at times (break into school for a party? Really, you bought that, Ally?) but I guess if I were her I’d want to believe in my old friends too; plus, she did learn her lesson after that.

Jake, on the other hand, was a typical guy. I don't know how Kieran Scott nailed it so well, and I'm not a teenage boy so I can't exactly vouch for the realism, but Jake's was probably one of the most believable male POVs I've ever come across. I actually liked the swearing because it just made everything seem all the more realistic, and the way he thought about Ally was just so funny. There were points where I could not keep a smile off my face. I loved Ally and Jake’s interaction with each other, and I felt like the more they got to know each other, the more they liked each other – no love at first sight, no “I’d die for you”s, nothing overdramatic; just a real relationship. It was so refreshing to read about a romance that didn’t rely on some underlying danger to push the two characters together.

There were so many other things I loved about She’s So Dead to Us; the Twilight insult...I mean reference, the consequences of Shannen’s evil pranks, the way Ally both loved her mother yet was annoyed at her for being weak and wanting to “reclaim” her old life...so many things. I really liked Annie, Ally’s new best friend; she was funny, quirky and always there for Ally, and I liked David too though I felt so bad for him and I do wish Ally hadn’t treated him the way she did. I really enjoyed the plot as well. I thought the book was well-paced, hilarious at times (the grey pages with the random conversations on them had me laughing so much, possibly the best part of the book), generally quite funny and full of lots of drama. Towards the end, you could tell something big was going to happen, and I had this knot in my stomach from anticipation, wondering what was going to happen next. By the time I worked it out, my palms were sweating and I was just waiting for the reaction and aftermath – oh the drama! Lovely, lovely drama. And the last page – wow. Kinda wasn’t expecting that. Really need to read the sequel; it’s already on my wishlist!

Overall, She’s So Dead to Us was a witty and engaging novel and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of drama and who maybe wants a change from all the paranormal.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday #6

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers #4) by Rachel Vincent
January 1st 2011

YOU WANT MY SOUL AND MY BOYFRIEND?

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can’t just pretend nothing happened. But “complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people’s fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn’t above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

I DON’T THINK SO. (from Goodreads)


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
December 2nd 2010

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.  (from Goodreads)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

That Anxious Feeling

So some books were supposed to be delivered yesterday, but the package was too big to fit through the letterbox and no-one was home to collect it, so the postman left that little red slip telling us that he'd taken the package back to the post office. I didn't have time to pick it up today so I asked someone else to do it for me but it turns out they didn't have enough time either. Now I feel kinda anxious. I know it's stupid - the books are there, at the post office - but I feel worried. What if they get stolen? What if they get lost? What if they decide to get rid of them? What if the place burns down during the night? It's the same every time I miss a delivery. Anyone else get this feeling, or am I alone in this weirdness? It bugs me to no end, I wish I could get over it. But my books are my precious.

Oh how I wish the postman had just left them with the neighbours...

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
UK Publisher: Puffin
Released: February 4th 2010 (first released November 11th 2009 by Little Brown)
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything. (from Goodreads)
 
Beautiful Creatures starts off with the introduction of the town Gatlin. Ethan Wate, Gatlin resident and our narrator, is desperate to leave, to get out of the place he's lived his whole life. He's tired of the same thing every day, tired of the gossip and tired of everyone knowing everyone else's business. But when Lena Duchannes, or "Old man Ravenwood's niece" as most people refer to her, moves to town, Ethan begins to think that maybe things in Gatlin are looking up. Until he realises that Lena, the girl he shares an inexplicable connection with, has been branded an outcast. No-one will speak to her except Ethan, and as he learns more about Lena, he starts to understand the danger that comes with spending time with her.
 
Beautiful Creatures is an intriguing novel with a very interesting concept. I loved the setting - I could easily picture Gatlin in my head, and I enjoyed reading about the people who lived there, and their views of society. I liked the male point of view; it was nice to see how Ethan looked at things and what he thought about. He didn't really seem like your regular teenage boy, to be honest (unlike his best friend, Link), but I guess that was the point - Ethan wasn't like all the other guys in Gatlin. I also liked any scene Link was in; he was kind of the comic relief of the book, and he always tried to help Ethan the best he could.

Lena was a curious character; immediately after she was introduced you could tell there was something different about her. I liked that she was headstrong, and that she tried to ignore the glares and whispers the the town sent her way. I also liked learning about her past; which is explored more later on in the book once you find out what her secret is. I thought it helped us understand how torn Lena felt and the continuous panic she experienced as her birthday came nearer and nearer. Other characters I liked were Amma, Macon and Ridley. Amma spoke cryptically, and it was obvious she knew a lot of secrets; even if she wouldn't admit it. I liked how, after everything, she still helped Lena in the end because she was doing it for Ethan; which showed how much she cared for him even though it didn't always seem like it. Macon was a character that filled the whole "looks can be deceiving" thing, and though he lied to Lena, I could understand why he did, and it really proved how much he loved his niece and what he was willing to do for her. Ridley was something else. I didn't like her, really, but I felt sorry for her. I could almost understand why she did the things she did, and I felt bad for her towards the end, even after the terrible thing she tried to do.

One complaint I have is that I thought the novel was overly long. Sometimes I found myself skimming some paragraphs and descriptions because I felt they were unnecessary, and were just dragging out some parts. I was also a bit confused towards the end; it was never properly explained how Ethan and Lena could be together after the Claiming, and it was also unclear if Ethan remembered what happened. I guess this will be explained in the sequel, but I was left frowing after I had finished, trying to work out what happened.
Overall, Beautiful Creatures was an enjoyable novel with an intersting premise. I would recommend it to fans of paranormal, and the sequel is now on my wishlist :).

Sunday, 5 September 2010

In My Mailbox #5

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.


Bought:
Evernight by Claudia Gray
Stargazer by Claudia Gray
Hourglass by Claudia Gray
Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

Traded (with the lovely Carly):
Rich and Mad by William Nicholson
The Star Shack by Lila Castle
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Gracia & Margaret Stohl
She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott
The Mosts by Melissa Senate

So I've very pleased with my haul this week! What did you guys get?

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen (Fallen #1) by Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Released: November 19th 2009
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her. (from Goodreads)
 
Fallen begins with Luce arriving at Sword & Cross, a reform school she now has to attend. As soon as Luce sees Daniel Grigori, she has this strange feeling that she's met him before. She feels a pull towards him, and even though he seems intent on ignoring her, Luce is determined to find out more about him. With the help of her new friend Penn, Luce begins to uncover secrets that perhaps are better left forgotten.
 
Fallen is definitely one of those books that draws you in from page one. I liked the setting - I thought Sword & Cross was described pretty well and there was an eerie feel about it from the very beginning which helped build up the foreboding atmosphere. I also liked a lot of the characters, Arriane being my favourite because she was probably the funniest and most confident of the lot. I loved her first meeting with Luce - she was charismatic and made me smile, and I decided right then and there she was the best character so far. I also liked Penn as well, because even though she was the only "normal" person at Sword & Cross, she still had a lot of quirks that made her really interesting (like her ability to kind of sort of hack into a library system :P). I think Miss Sophia was a pretty good character too - charming yet devious and above suspicion. Another character I liked, a very minor character though, was Callie, Luce's friend from her old school. Her phone calls and letters were hilarious and I thought she was a really good friend to Luce. She also gave insight into Luce's life before "the accident", which I think helps us understand Luce better and get to know her more.

Another thing I enjoyed was the interaction between Cam and Daniel, particularly during the "truce". It was interesting to learn the opinions they had about each other, and it made me question what happened in the past to make them think like that. I was also very intrigued by Roland, a recurring minor character, especially after what Arianne said about him towards the end. She said something about him I really didn't expect, and I'd love to find out more about him and his past - I hope this is explored in the sequel.

However, I'm not going to pretend that this book didn't confuse me. Half the time I was thinking, "Whaaaaaa?" I'll start with Luce. With her supposed 4.0 GPA and superior intelligence, I can't fathom why it took her so long to figure out Daniel's secret. It wasn't exactly difficult, just Googling his last name would give most of the answers. Plus, the way she acted around him made me cringe. It was like she had no self-respect - I mean, I get the guy is good-looking and all, but apart from that, Luce knew nothing else about him. At all. But she was acting like some lovesick princess. I felt embarrassed. And then she went to meet Cam, who she also knows nothing about, not once, but twice! Even after what he did the first time. I know she was just trying to sort out the issue but there was a better way of doing it than meeting a dangerous man alone in a secluded area. And Daniel - [spoiler, highlight to view]the whole kissing thing confused me a little bit. If he knew that Luce would die if he kissed her, and it happened hundreds and hundreds of times before, I don't get why he didn't leave Sword & Cross immediately after he realised Luce was there. Why did he think that he could resist her in this lifetime when he failed to every time before?[end spoiler] I can't really complain too much about Daniel because I did like him - I thought it was sweet the way he was so protective of Luce after he realised she'd survived the kiss, but one thing I found annoying about him was his constant "you wouldn't understand"s. Pretty patronising.

Another thing is that hardly anything is explained. I know this is going to be a series, so I understand why this is, but the ending just felt really muddled to me. I barely understood what was happening, or why it was happening either. My copy of Fallen had an extract from Torment in it, which I read as well, and now I'm really eager for this sequel, mostly because I want to know what the hell is going on.

Despite my complaints, I did enjoy Fallen - like I said before, it was very engaging and I felt like I was a part of the world that Lauren Kate had built. I'm looking forward to the sequel and I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Hush, Hush or Twilight.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Book Bargains

I thought I'd share with you some of the fantastic book deals I've found on the internet over the past week. They're mostly all from the same website - Red House Books - which has a whole bunch of great reads at discounted prices. And whilst this is a UK website, they do ship internationally if you order the book(s) over the phone or by mail (see the help page for more details). So everyone wins! :P

All three books in the Evernight series so far for £7.99. I actually ordered these and they arrived today - three books for under £8!
Pretty awesome deal, don't you think?

Click here.

The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld for £7.99. Again, that's three books for less than £8. That's about £2.66 each. A bargain if I ever saw one.

Click here.

The Inheritance Cycle series for £9.99. These are the paperback versions (here) but The Works are doing a boxset of the hardbacks for the same price (here).






Wings & Spells by Aprilynne Pike for £6.99. I haven't read this series yet and I really want to - seriously, if I had enough money I'd buy ALL of these books. Actually, I'd buy all these books and then some, and then I'd sit in my house as a recluse until I finished reading them all :P. But I'm a bit broke so I had to stick to just the one set :). Doesn't mean you have to though! Two books for the price of one ;).

Click here.

The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine, £1.99 each or three for £5 at The Works. So that's less than £2 per book either way. Can you say cheap?

Click here.
 I hope you've found this useful! Let me know what you think :).

Winner!

And the winner of the copy of Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens is:

Pink Panther!

Congratulations! I have emailed you and you have 48 hours to reply before I pick another winner.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and look out for more giveaways soon!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

"Waiting On" Wednesday #5


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly even hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating


The Kid Table by Andrea Seige
September 14th 2010

It's there at every family event. A little smaller, collapsible, and decked out with paper napkins because you can't be trusted with the good ones. But you're stuck there. At the Kid Table. Because to them- to the adults- you're still a kid. 

 Ingrid Bell and her five teenage cousins are in exactly this situation. Never mind the fact that high school is almost over. They're still eating mac and cheese with a toddler. But what happens when the rules change? When Brianne, the oldest cousin, lands a seat at the Adult Table, the others are in shock. What does it take to graduate from the Kid Table?

 Over the course of five family events, Ingrid and her cousins attempt to finish childhood and send the infamous table into retirement. But as Ingrid turns on the charm in order to manipulate her situation, the family starts questioning her motives. And when her first love comes in the form of first betrayal (he's Brianne's boyfriend), Ingrid is forced to consider how she fits into this family and what it means to grow up. (from Goodreads)


Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
January 4th 2011

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees. . .

 Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn't easy.

 Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place, at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

 As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make--between honesty and deciet, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny? (from Goodreads)

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Books for Trade

So I've got a bunch of books that I don't read anymore, so I thought I'd put them up for trade and see how it goes. If there are any UK bloggers out there interested, just email me at planetprint8(at)gmail(dot)com and we can discuss! Most of these books are pretty old, but you never know :P.

Books I'm willing to part with (all in good condition, more details on request):
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (this is a new copy that has an extract from Delirium in it)
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
The Mosts by Melissa Senate
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Glee: The Beginning by Sophia Lowell
My Desperate Love Diary by Liz Rettig
My Now or Never Diary by Liz Rettig
Ruby Parker: Soapstar by Rowan Coleman
Ruby Parker: Film Star by Rowan Coleman
Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
The Switch by Anthony Horowitz
The Deadly Dare Mysteries (3 books in one) by Malorie Blackman
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
Children of the Lamp: The Akhenatan Adventure by Philip Kerr
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
Private by James Patterson

I also have a bunch of CDs I'd be willing to trade (for either other CDs or books) but I might as well admit now that they kind of suck (...) so I'm not going to list them here due to embarrassment :P. Just email me if you'd like to see the list.

Some books on my wishlist:
Need by Carrie Jones
Eon by Alison Goodman
Evermore by Alyson Noel
Drive Me Crazy by Erin Downing
The Hollow by Jessica Verday
Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It by Adam Selzer
Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord
You can view the rest here

Feel free to contact me! Sorry this is only for UK bloggers, but I can't afford to ship internationally :/.

Review: Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Glimpse (Zellie Wells #1) by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Publisher: Orange House Press
Released: In paperback, May 9th 2010 (first published April 20th 2010)
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Zellie Wells has a devastating crush on Avery Adams, the son of her mom’s high school sweetheart. At her sixteenth birthday party, held in the basement of her dad’s church, she finally finds the courage to talk to him. Turns out, the devastating crush is mutual.

As Avery takes her hand and leads her out onto the makeshift dance floor, Zellie is overwhelmed by her first vision of his death; shocking because not only are they both covered in his blood, but they’re old, like 35, and she is pregnant.

Afraid to tell anyone about the vision, (she’d just be labeled a freaky black magic witch, right?) Zellie keeps the knowledge of Avery’s future to herself and tries to act like any other teenager in love. When they get caught on their way to a secret rendezvous by her mom and his dad, they are forbidden to see each other.

Convinced that their parents are freaking out unnecessarily, Avery and Zellie vow to be together no matter what. They continue their relationship in secret until Zellie learns that their parents are just trying to prevent her and Avery from suffering like they did. The visions are hereditary, they’re dangerous, and if they stay together the visions will come true.

Now Zellie must choose between severing all ties with Avery, like her mom did to prevent his father’s death, and finding a way to change Avery’s future. (from Goodreads)
 
Glimpse starts off with Zellie Wells daydreaming about her crush, Avery Adams, whilst waiting in line for communion. Zellie has liked Avery for ages, but she’s sure he can’t be interested in her. But when Avery appears to reciprocate her feelings, Zellie is ecstatic. Until she has a vision of his death that changes everything. At first, Zellie is content with ignoring the visions. Nothing bad will really happen, right? But after a while, Zellie has to face the fact that being with Avery will lead to his death, and there’s no way she can stop it. Will Zellie be able to let go of the guy she loves?
 
Glimpse is a fast-paced and thrilling novel with a very unique concept. I was intrigued by the premise from the very beginning – the idea of having visions of the future is something that has always interested me. Zellie was a great character; I liked how she was sure of herself and confident, yet was prone to embarrassment and spacing out as well, which made it easier for me to relate to her. She could be a bit shallow at times but I thought that made great reading because I thought she was funny too, and I laughed out loud at some of the situations she got herself into. Zellie’s not your typical pastor’s daughter and I really liked that about her. I also really liked her best friend Claire; I think they made a great pair and their friendship seemed real and easy – I could easily imagine seeing them at my school or out in town.

One thing I really liked about Glimpse is that not only do we hear the story from Zellie firsthand, but we also get to read about it in third person from Avery’s point of view. I think this really helped keep the book flowing, and it also gave us insight into Avery’s mind and what he was thinking. This means that we as readers find out a few things before Zellie and Avery do, so we get to formulate theories and ideas about what might happen next, which I think really involves us in the story. We also get to know Avery a little better; we discover how sweet and caring he is and how he gets just as embarrassed as Zellie does, and I found myself able to empathise with him more because of this. The connection between Avery and Zellie is very intense – there are definitely a lot of sparks flying, and they feel inexplicably drawn to each other. Whilst I think that perhaps the “I Love You” s were exchanged a bit too soon and their relationship progressed quite fast, I definitely understand why they felt so strongly about one another, and I loved the way Zellie’s mum and Avery’s dad reacted to the situation – they knew history was repeating itself and they felt powerless to stop it.

However, Glimpse isn’t just a love story. There’s a fair amount of action involved, some of it quite shocking – at certain points I felt my eyes glued to the page, unable to stop reading. There’s also a lot of learning going on; Zellie has to learn how to control her powers, and this was one of the parts that interested me most. I loved finding out about Zellie’s history, and discovering all the things she could do with her powers. Aunt Hazel was a quirky character, but also quite serious, and I enjoyed her interaction with Zellie and her sister Melody. But Zellie doesn’t just learn information, I think she grows emotionally too, and I thought it was very big of her to forgive her mother towards the end, even though she was still upset and angry. Even though I think Zellie should have told about her visions earlier, I think she makes up for it later on in the book and really begins to understand the seriousness of the situation.

The character who intrigued me most though was definitely Ben. He made a short and surprising appearance, and there are now a lot of questions surrounding him. I’m really eager to find out more about him – waiting for the sequel is going to be torture!

In conclusion, Glimpse was an exciting read, and I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Glimmer, and I would recommend this to anyone who liked Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready or The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.


For Review:
Hush Money by Susan Bischoff (already reviewed - thanks Susan!)
Glimpse by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (thanks Stacey!)

Bought:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (FYI, I'm not reviewing this. It'd be near impossible for me, I'd end up writing ten pages)
Fallen by Lauren Kate (I feel like I'm the only person in the blogosphere who hasn't read this yet)

I'm happy with what I got this week. What did you guys get?

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Review: Hush Money by Susan Bischoff

Hush Money (Talent Chronicles #1) by Susan Bischoff
Publisher: Self-published
Released: August 3rd 2010
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Be normal, invisible. Don’t get close to anyone. Kids with psychic abilities tend to mysteriously disappear when they get noticed. Joss has spent years trying to hide. Now she has an unasked-for best friend, who is the victim of an extortion plot by the school bully, who used to like Joss, who is best friends with her long-time crush, who is actually talking to her. Life just got more complicated. (from Goodreads)

Hush Money starts off with Joss back in school after the “disappearance” of a classmate, Krista. Everyone knows Krista was taken away because of her Talent, but nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody ever likes to talk about Talents. Joss has been trained to be invisible, to blend in as much as possible. She avoids speaking in general and she doesn’t have any friends. But Kat, another student in Joss’s year, is determined to change this. And once Kat starts talking to Joss, other people begin to as well, like Joss’s long-time crush, Dylan. Joss soon realises she can’t go back to the way her life was before, but the fear she has always had still remains. What would happen if anyone found out she had a Talent?

Hush Money is an engrossing, fast-paced read. It’s told from two points of view; Joss’s and Dylan’s, and this dual narration is one reason this is such an engaging book. Hush Money is never boring because the switching of view-points keeps the story on track and moving forwards. I loved reading from both perspectives; I enjoyed Joss’s because it gave me a chance to relate to her, and it also helped build the back-story of the town and Talents. I liked Joss’s awkward first interaction with Kat – it’s easy to see that she’s not used to speaking to people because she’s been avoiding them for so long. I also liked how we got to see Joss become slightly more confident with each chapter and how she began to feel less uncomfortable around people than before. We were also given insight on Joss’s home life, which helped explain why Joss was the way she was and really built up and fleshed out her character. However, I also loved reading Dylan’s point of view, mostly because he’s a boy and it was just so interesting to get into his mind. I think his perspective was portrayed pretty realistically and it was definitely enlightening to see the course of events through his eyes. I liked his constant doubt about Marco, and how he was torn between doing the right thing and staying loyal to his best friend of so many years. One thing that really made me love Dylan though (besides the leather jacket :P) was the way he saw Joss, and the thoughts he had about her. He was protective, even from afar, and caring in a sweet yet dedicated way.

Other characters I liked were Kat and Heather. Kat’s very feisty and doesn’t take crap from anyone, and I thought she made a good friend for Joss because they sort of balanced each other out. Heather intrigued me because she has certain rules she abides by which I think make her a very decent person, but also kind of mysterious and almost wise.

Plot wise, Hush Money has the right amount of action, conspiracy, humour (four words: Dylan and Joss’s dad :D) and danger, and while there isn’t a lot of romance, I really appreciated the fact that this wasn’t one of those books where the characters fall in love after five minutes and then spend every waking moment together. The only problems I experienced were a few formatting issues and a few grammar errors, plus the use of a lot of ellipses toward the beginning, but I have no complaints about the story itself. The ending was a bit sudden (no cliff-hanger, just ended quite quickly) for me, but now I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series because I’m anxious to find out what happens next.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed Hush Money and I’d recommend it to anyone who liked Hex Hall or the Darkest Powers series (though there are no werewolves in this one!).