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)