Wednesday, 30 March 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #13

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

*spoilers for first book in the series*

He's So Not Worth It (She's So Dead to Us #2) by Kieran Scott
 June 7th 2011

Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!

Have you recently been humiliated in front of your friends and family at your former best friend's birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humiliation by withholding some vital information about where your estranged father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper? People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Surprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it couldn't be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer! (from Goodreads)


I'm so looking forward to this book. I loved She's So Dead to Us, and I'm thinking the sequel is looking great!

Review: Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins

Raising Demons (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Released: 3rd March 2011
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

(summary and review contain major spoilers for Hex Hall)

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)

This will be a short(ish) review because I’m still in shock. Raising Demons...wow. I loved it, I did. I preferred Hex Hall if I’m a hundred percent honest, because there was more Archer and I liked the school setting. But Raising Demons was AWESOME. First, Sophie went to England. I live in England. Immediate awesomesness. Second, we got to see more of Cal. I actually didn’t remember who Cal was when I first started reading, but as I got into the book, I actually started to really like him. He didn’t play the whole want-her-but-can’t-have-her side of the love triangle, and he knew a lot more about certain things than I’d originally thought. He seemed quite sweet and caring as well, but not in that sappy, drippy, “thou art lovelier than seven hundred roses in the summer breeze!” way. That being said, he can’t even compare to Archer. Oh, Archer, Archer, Archer. I wish there was more of him in this book. I knew I liked him from the beginning of Hex Hall, and even though we found out he was a huge, lying traitor, I still can’t help but like him. Plus...his Eye tattoo is sort of cool. Because it’s just a reminder of how Sophie’s a demon, and how he’s a demon hunter and how the two being together is a doomed relationship, yet they can’t stay away from each other despite it all. I understood Sophie completely in this matter, and when they admitted that they wanted to be together...I just wanted to squeal with all my fangirly joy! There was this one scene when I wished I could just jump into the book and hug them both.

If we get right down to the plot, I sort of suspected one of the characters, and turned out to be right, but I did not guess the ending. At all. The cliffhanger...it’s huge. If you don’t like waiting for books, I recommend leaving this on you TBR pile until next year. Because the whopping big cliffhanger will make you wish you had the next book. But of course... you can’t have it for a long time yet (and you will mentally cry when you realise this).

Characterwise, Sophie was my favourite (well, apart from Archer). Her sarcastic comments really made this book for me. She just cracked me up. I know some people don’t like sarcastic characters, but trust me; Sophie had just the right balance of sarcasm and hilarity. I loved her whole personality actually; the way she was trying to build her relationship with her dad, her views on Archer and Cal, the way she interacted with Jenna and the new characters Daisy and Nick...she’s probably one of my favourite female characters in YA. We also got to learn a lot more about Sophie’s powers in this book – her control improved a lot with help from her father, and she also learnt a lot more about the history of demons, which I thought was interesting as well.

But the ending. I have to go back to it. Okay, I did, at the very end, start to think something strange was going on when name-I-will-not-mention-due-to-huge-spoilers said to Sophie that she and her father preferred the company of the enemy. And I guessed what this was about. But the end! I didn’t expect that! It was much huger than I’d first thought. Just...wow.

I realise this review is a bit all over the place. But once you read the book, you will understand. I need the next one. Now.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

In My Mailbox (#12)

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


For Review:
Defiance by Lili St. Crow
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Random:
Many, many university prospectuses plus free stuff from the stalls (badges, bookmarks, pens etc.)

So that's my lot this week. I went to a university fair on Tuesday, and basically just took a prospectus (and free stuff) from every stand I could find. I had to lug two bags full of them on the train and bus. When I got home, I felt like my arm was going to fall off :P. But I'm really happy with the books I got this week! What did you guys get?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire (Angelfire #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books
Released: February 15th 2011
My Rating: 4.5 starts out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.
(from Goodreads)

Ellie is just your average teenage girl, living an average teenage life. But on her seventeenth birthday, Ellie finds out she is far from average – she’s the Preliator. With her newly awakened powers, and under the protection of the bodyguard she doesn’t remember, Ellie must harness her new abilities in order to fight off the demonic reapers and save humanity from a war that could destroy the world.

Angelfire was AWESOME. I adored it. I’d wanted to read it ever since I accidentally stumbled across it on Goodreads months ago, and I can tell you, it’s been worth the wait. Ellie was such a great heroine; to be honest, I didn’t really like her that much to begin with - I found her a bit annoying. But as she took on her role as Preliator, and showed us how strong and determined she was, I started to connect with her more, and by the end, I was definitely a fan. There was no, “Oh dear! I have injured my delicate finger and am unable to move! Save me, man I met not two hours ago!” in this book. Ellie was a fighter, and didn’t rely on others all the time to get her out of a mess. She was also quite hilarious, and made me laugh out loud a fair few times. I loved her interactions with Will (<3); they could be so funny together, but the moment there was hint of danger, they stepped into fighting mode and worked together to defeat the bad guys.

And speaking of Will...wow. He had the whole brooding bad-boy tortured soul thing down to a tee (examples: awesome tattoos, cool sword, general badassery).  He came across as bit creepy to begin with (no wonder Ellie freaked out – I like the fact that instead of just following after the pretty boy she’d just met, she told him where to go), but after finding out who he was, he grew to become one of my favourite characters. His sole purpose was to protect Ellie, and he literally did everything in his power to make sure he would carry out this duty. I loved hearing the stories he would tell about all of Ellie’s past lives, and it made me so sad that she couldn’t remember all the time they spent together. The most heartbreaking bit though was this little scene at the end where Will and Ellie both discover something huge...I am so excited for the next book now it’s unbelievable.

Another character I liked, despite him working for the other side, was Cadan. He was very, very interesting. He had all the villainous qualities you’d expect from your typical bad-guy, but there were certain things about him, and certain things he did that have not yet been explained that made me question what his real motives were. The obvious hatred between Cadan and Will as well has also made me think there’s something else going on with him. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see!

There were certain aspects of the plot I found slightly predictable (I won’t spoil it for you), but the twist at the end made up for it, I think.  The only part of the book that got on my nerves slightly was Ellie’s stupid dad. He was, for lack of a better word, a total idiot. I didn’t understand what his problem was, and I wanted Ellie to stand up to him instead of just accepting his crap. But I guessed the reason why she couldn’t is because she remembered a time when he was loving, and cared for her. I just hope that in the next book we get to see Ellie either tell her dad where to get off or see them resolve their issues (what are the issues anyway? I really would love to find out what made her dad such a loser).

Overall, Angelfire was an amazing book with an intriguing premise. I can’t wait for Wings of the Wicked, the next book in the series, and I’d recommend this to people who liked the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, or The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #12

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

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
June 21st 2011

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although, maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate, Vi, are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them. (from Goodreads)

I loved Sarah Mlynowski's Magic in Manhattan series, so I can't wait for this! Plus, the cover is awesome.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

*This is a review I wrote for Chicklish, which can also be seen here.

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released (in UK): 28th April 2011
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. (from Goodreads)

Divergent was one of the best books I have read this year. I finished it at three in the morning, and instead of wanting to go to bed, I just wanted to sit there and read it all over again. I loved everything about it. The main character, Beatrice (later “Tris”) was such a brave and strong character. She knew that one decision could affect her entire life, could cause people to turn away from her, cause outrage and uproar. But she stayed true to herself, and she did what was right for her. And this is something I admired about her throughout the whole book. Even though she believed she could never be like her family in Abnegation (the faction of selflessness), later on, I realised that despite some of her actions, when it came down to it, Tris could be selfless. She could be brave. She wasn’t one or the other, but a mixture of both. She was “tough as nails” – but she had to work for it. She trained hard to become as strong as she was; she suffered trials to make her understand things she couldn’t before. But she wasn’t perfect – far from it. And I liked that. I liked all of her flaws and imperfections. I liked the fact that she knew she wasn’t pretty, but didn’t really care. I almost felt in awe of her at times; I know that if I were in her position, I would have chosen the easy way out, into a faction like Amity (peace).

Another character I loved was Four. Though I guessed what he was hiding from the beginning, I didn’t feel this ruined the story at all. He was a tough character to work out though; you could never really know what was going on inside his head. But I really liked him; his little jokes, the way he interacted with Tris, his strength, his fears – he was unlike any other male character I’ve ever read about. And, according to Tris’s mother, he was “handsome”. In italics. He had a very unique presence, and I loved watching the relationship between Four and Tris build. Even in the unlikeliest of places in the strangest of worlds, their relationship felt very real. Both sides had things they were scared of, and I think this just made it seem more believable to me. There was one particular scene towards the end that I found absolutely hilarious (as did many characters in the book) – and I liked how even at serious times, there was always room for laughter.

Tris’s mother surprised me. But in a good way. I’m glad we got to find out a little about her, and I thought she was a very interesting minor character. Tris’s brother, Caleb, was also very intriguing, though we didn’t get to know much about him. If I’m honest, I liked all the characters. Will, Christina...even the evil characters, I liked, because they each added so much to the story. And this brings me to the one and only problem I have with Divergent. Realising how the story was going to pan out, I knew the ending was not going to be fine and dandy. But certain things that happened really did upset me, and I can’t help thinking that the guilt of what she had to do is really going to affect Tris so much in the future. I didn’t dislike the ending, not at all, it was necessary for the story, and was well-done. But I can’t lie; somethings were a bit distressing. There was no shortage of death or violence in this book. There was no cliffhanger, however, so while you will be anxious for the sequel, the wait won’t be as torturous as it could have been had Roth decided to end the book earlier on.

In conclusion, Divergent was, quite simply, fantastic. I couldn’t stop reading it; the story was just so engaging and I wanted to know more about everything - all the different factions especially. Divergent was full of unexpected twists that only an Erudite could predict. I recommend to any fan of dystopian novels, and I eagerly await the sequel.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

In My Mailbox (#11)

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


RAK (Random Acts of Kindness):
The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

RAK is a feature created by the lovely Isalys and Vanessa at Book Soulmates, where bloggers sign up for the month's event and give gifts to each other - random acts of kindness! For more information, or to sign up (the March event is still open!) see here. I got The Iron Witch from the wonderful Vickie at ComaCalm! She's another UK blogger with a very awesome blog (which you should go visit). Thank you so much, Vickie! I love the cool bookmark too.

Bought:
Afterlife by Claudia Gray
Creating Your UCAS Personal Statement by Alan Bullock (it was £1! And I have no idea where to start so I thought it'd be useful)

And that's it! What did you guys get? In other news, I got my contact lenses yesterday - they feel very weird. I'm not sure I like them, I kind of miss the vision I had with my glasses. But I'll see how it goes. Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books (UK)
Released: January 6th 2011
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal. (from Goodreads)

Paranormalcy starts off with Evie, an employee like no other of the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA), finding and tagging a vampire called Steve. Evie’s used to missions like this; vampires, werewolves and even disgusting hags – she’s seen it all. But then Evie meets Lend, a newly captured paranormal unlike anything she’s ever come across. And Lend knows things about Evie that she doesn’t even know herself. Together, Lend and Evie begin to unravel the secrets behind paranormals and Evie’s own identity.

Paranormalcy was unlike any other paranormal/supernatural book I’ve ever read. This is for several reasons: 1) The first page was hilarious. The very first page. I read it once and just knew I would love this book and all the characters in it. That brings me to 2) Evie was awesome. She’s probably one of my favourite female characters since Mae from The Demon’s Lexicon series. She was laugh out loud funny, quirky – with her love of pink stretching far enough to have a pink, rhinestone covered taser called “Tasey” (somewhat contrasting with her strong and independent character), and last of all, she was smart. She worked out that Lend could be an asset from early on, and just went with it. No listening to IPCA commands, no protocol. She just did what she believed was right and I kind of admired her for that.

Now let’s move on to reason 3) I loved the relationship between Lend and Evie. Finally, what I’ve been waiting for! No rushed strangers-to-lovers antics going on here. Their relationship progressed at a steady pace; they started off curious about each other, then became friends and then took little steps forward before moving into new territory. I’ve been really fed up of reading about a couple who have literally known each other about a week and the L word has already been exchanged. Most teenagers don’t work like that. So reading Paranormalcy was just so refreshing. I loved it! I loved reading about how their relationship developed, and picking up the hints Kirsten White left us about Lend’s feelings towards Evie. It was great to see some normality amongst or the abnormality (you could have going to prom and fighting an unstable faerie all in the same scene), and the relationship between Lend and Evie was one of my favourite parts of the book.

Reason 4) Reth. Wow. I don’t even know where to start. He confused the hell out of me. I could never figure out what his motives were! Did he like Evie? Was he just using her for something? And what exactly was he hiding? All I can say is this faerie certainly made the book interesting. His character was a bit unbalanced to be honest, but he definitely had some sort of plan. And even though part of what he was doing was revealed in the end, I’m still thinking...whaaa? I’m hoping we’ll see a lot more of him in the next book. He’s got some serious explaining to do.

Overall, all the characters in Paranormalcy were brilliant and were important in some way. I found myself feeling sorry for Vivian despite the fact she was clearly insane, and I loved Lish (she was a mermaid! In an aquarium!). I also liked meeting Lend’s family (his mum was too cool. She had the whole speaking in riddles thing going on, because of course, the coolest paranormals never give you a straight answer). I also enjoyed the way the plot unfolded, with Evie desperate to discover who and what she was. You could really feel her struggle, and I felt like I could actually see what was going on in her mind.

In conclusion, Paranormalcy has been one of best books I’ve reviewed, and the sequel, Supernaturally, is already on my wishlist.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Happy Red Nose Day!

Happy Red Nose Day, everyone! For those who don't know what Red Nose day is, it's a day when people in the UK "do something funny for money" in order to raise money for charity - more info here. Most people donate by buying a Red Nose, you can see a picture of mine below!


Bit of a blurry, weird-looking picture, sorry about that! But I decided to buy a pirate one, seeing as I just reviewed The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook :P. His name, according to the label, is Captain Conk. I think I'm going to rename him Mad Bess Kidd (Mad for short). Because I just took this test, and that's what I got ;).

Hope everyone's doing great! And let me know what Nose you got if you bought one :).

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Too excited for words

I am actually too excited to post anything coherent. All I can say is if you liked White Cat by Holly Black, go check out this post @ Tales of the Ravenous Reader. Be warned - it will make you even more desperate for Red Glove's release.

*spoiler for those who haven't read White Cat - highlight to read*
I have gone from hating Lila to actually quite liking her (or at least not hating her as much). I didn't think that was possible.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Review: The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller

The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller
Publisher: Quirk Books
Released: April 1st 2011
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

He’s the most popular pirate in motion picture history—and now The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook offers his fans an insider’s guide to all the dirty tricks of the buccaneer’s trade! Complete with step-by-step instructions, helpful diagrams, and full-color photography from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, this nautical treasure trove arrrrrrrrrrrticulates such vital and colorful information as:

• How to Sail a Ship
• How to Survive Being Marooned
• How to Break a Curse
• How to Fight Six Angry Men in a Tavern
• How to Recruit a Crew
• How to Cope with Mermaids
• And much, much more!

Arriving just in time for Captain Jack’s long-awaited return in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, this fiendishly adventurous handbook is essential reading for pirate lovers, Johnny Depp fans, and all-around rogues and rapscallions of all ages.
(from Goodreads)

The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook is a must read for any fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Out in time for the upcoming fourth movie, “On Stranger Tides”, the Handbook is a witty and informative companion to the films, and is sure to leave you wishing to be a crew member of the famous Black Pearl.

The Handbook consists of six chapters, which are there to help you make the best decisions in order to become a successful pirate. With guides such as “How to Operate Underwater” and “The Fine Art of Being Somewhere Else”, your journey towards piracy (and we don’t mean the digital kind) will likely be a smooth one if you carefully follow all the instructions (and heed all the warnings – you don’t want to end up in trouble with Barbossa or Davy Jones!).

My favourite parts of the Handbook were the hilarious comments about the one and only Jack Sparrow, such as “In a peculiar way, Jack Sparrow might be considered something of a cross between a finicky cat and a finely dressed lady” (a comment my odd sense of humour particularly liked). Any lover of the movies will appreciate these references to the impulsive and sometimes dastardly acts of Captain Jack, pirate extraordinaire, and will find themselves inexplicably wanting to don braids and a tricorne hat (a style every pirate needs to be able to pull off).

The Handbook also contains some very funny illustrations which really made me laugh (cross-dressing pirates – who wouldn’t laugh at that?), and also a lot of diagrams, depicting things like “pirate weaponry” and “pirate hygiene (or lack thereof)”. With these colourful drawings and their amusing captions, you can’t go wrong! (Unless you really don't see the appeal of a sea-faring life, in which case, stay away from all pirates or prepare to walk the plank!)

In conclusion, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook is a great “swashbuckler’s guide” and is perfect for anyone who enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (or for any pirate wannabes out there who aren’t quite sure where to start). Make sure you read this when you have a lot of spare time, however; as soon as I was finished I had the sudden urge to watch all of the films again! 

Other titles in the series: The Indiana Jones Handbook, The Superman Handbook, The Spider-Man Handbook.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Two Mini-ish Reviews

Little Sister: A Vampire Novella by V.J. Chambers
Publisher: Punk Rawk Books
Released: February 13th 2011
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Ever since Jane Cassidy's big brother was killed in a car accident six months ago, she's been taking solace in watching cheesy vampire movies and yelling at the characters on the screen when they do stupid things. She can't control the tragedy in her own life, but in the movies, the characters can find ways out of the grip of death.

A chance meeting with Bailey Westfield, her brother's best friend and her childhood crush, catapults her out of her cocoon of grieving. Bailey's kiss makes Jane feel tugged under a rushing waterfall of cold, sweet darkness. She only sees him at night, and she longs to feel his icy fingers trace the outline of her jaw.

Jane doesn't realize that she's been (literally) sucked into the plot of a vampire movie. And she's not so snarky when there are teeth in her own neck.
(from Goodreads)

Jane’s brother Eric died, leaving her feeling alone in the world. She tries to escape her misery by watching vampire films with her best friend Danny, but even Robert Pattinson can’t make her feel better.  Then she meets Bailey, a boy who was Eric’s best friend before he died, and soon she’s sucked into world she’s only ever heard about in the movies. Jane begins to realise that maybe fact really is stranger than fiction.

Little Sister was a great novella, and was a nice change to your regular vampire story, due to the fact that it wasn’t afraid to make fun of itself and other cheesy vampire stories, and was very amusing. I liked the references to all the different vampire novels and movies, which were all very well-placed within the story and somewhat ironic, which made me laugh. I thought Jane was quite a funny character, because half the time she was making fun of the clueless characters in these books and films for not figuring out what was happening to them, when in reality, the same things were happening to her, and she was just as oblivious! I didn’t really connect with Bailey as much as I did with Jane, but I think it’s because the story was a novella, so there wasn’t really time for much description of backstory. I thought he played the tortured soul part quite well, however, and I liked his scenes with Jane. Daveigh was also a character I quite liked, and though I predicted what would happen with her, it was still good to read all the same, and I liked finding out more about her.

Overall, Little Sister was a nice, short read, which touched on a range of 
issues. If you’re looking for something short to read in-between books, I recommend you give this a go! 


Glee: Foreign Exchange by Sophia Lowell
Publisher: Headline
Released: February 17th 2011
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Can Rachel Berry rock a beret? McKinley High goes international and invites a French glee club to town – ooh la la! In this hilarious culture-clash story, Kurt gets an entourage, Finn falls for a new girl, and Puck realizes that some suave moves are lost in translation.

In this second original novel, you’ll get more mash-ups, more show-mance, and more Sue in a brand-new story officially approved by the creators of Glee.

Glee Original Novels – they’re almost as exhilarating as a slushie in the face!
(from Goodreads)

Glee: Foreign Exchange is a great follow up novel to Glee: The Beginning, and focuses on the arrival of French exchange students arriving at McKinley High. The book starts off with Mr Schuster announcing that members of a French Glee Club from Lyon will be attending McKinley for a week. Everyone is looking forward to meeting the new students, and their arrival stirs up a lot of excitement. Kurt meets his fashion soulmates, Tina connects with a shy artist and Rachel meets her French counterpart; Celeste, the beautiful star of the glee club in France. With new friendships and new rivalries, can the two glee clubs work together to pull off their best performance yet?

I really liked Glee: Foreign Exchange; the story is set halfway during season one and is a great addition to the Glee series. There were some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments in this book, and one of my favourite bits was when Puck was struggling to get the attention of Rielle, a French girl who didn’t seem to be interested in him. It was so funny watching him fail and not understand why – the line “Did his charm somehow not translate into French?” cracked me up! Sue Sylvester was her usual rude and demanding self, and her comments about Mr Schu’s hair just kept getting better and better. Brittany had a few of her famous one liners, and I also liked seeing jealous Quinn and Rachel get frustrated over Celeste, who all the boys seemed to be taking an interest in. If there’s one thing about Glee, it’s that the drama never gets boring.

Overall, Glee: Foreign Exchange was a fun, light-hearted book, perfect for fans of the Glee series. The next book, Glee: Summer Break is out in July, and is sure to be another fab read!

Review can also be viewed on Bookbabblers.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

In My Mailbox (#10)

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


For Review:
The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Thanks to Quirk, Chicklish & HarperCollins!

Bought:
Raising Demons (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins

Freebie (not pictured):
The Trouble with Spells (Of Witches and Warlocks #1) ebook by Lacey Weatherford (see how to get your own copy here)

That's it for this week! Not much, but I'm really happy :). What did you guys get?

Free eBook: The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford

The Trouble with Spells (Of Witches and Warlocks #1) by Lacey Weatherford
Released: March 9th 2011

Portia Mullins had always lived the life of a normal teenager, up until her sixteenth birthday. She is then informed by her grandma that she is actually a witch who is a descendant from a long line of witches and warlocks. After overcoming her disbelief she finds that being a member of the coven comes with one great perk in the form of the school's handsome bad boy, Vance Mangum. Vance and Portia have an immediate connection as a budding romance begins, only to be threatened by turbulent skies on the horizon as Vance's checkered past rears its ugly head to haunt them. Portia is forced to use her untried powers in defense of everything she loves in a desperate attempt to hold on to the one thing that really matters in her life. (from Goodreads)

The Trouble with Spells is the first book in the Of Witches and Warlocks series by Lacey Weatherford, and in order to celebrate the release of the second edition, Smashwords are offering a free ebook version for everyone to read! In order to claim your free ebook, follow the instructions below:


Lacey Weatherford is also giving us a chance to win a bound copy of the new edition on Goodreads, and you can enter that competition here.

Hope everyone has been having a good weekend so far! I'm trying to catch up with reviews whilst simultaneously writing an essay and waiting to watch the newest episode of Bleach :P. What have you all been up to?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Scorpia Rising Info & Trailers

Anthony Horowitz is the British author of the Alex Rider series, which chronicles the life of Alex Rider, reluctant teenage spy. The ninth and final book in the series, Scorpia Rising, will be released in the UK on March 30th 2011.

Scorpia Rising (Alex Rider #9) by Anthony Horowitz
Release date UK: March 31st 2011
Read the first chapter here.

Scorpia has dogged Alex Rider for most of his life. They killed his parents, they did their best to con Alex into turning traitor, and they just keep coming back with more power. Now the world's most dangerous terrorist organization is playing with fire in the world's most combustible land: the Middle East. No one knows Scorpia like Alex. And no one knows how best to get to Alex like Scorpia. Until now.

The chases have never been more intense, the fights more treacherous, or the risks so perilous to mankind. And this time, Alex won't get away.
(from Goodreads)

As you may know, I'm a huge fan of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, and I'm so excited for the release of Scorpia Rising (got my copy pre-ordered and everything), which is the ninth and final book in the series. I can't wait to see how it ends for Alex, and while I wasn't overly impressed with the eighth book, I'm sure this will be a great conclusion to the series. Here's all the info we know so far:

(from Wikipedia) It was revealed by Anthony Horowitz at the Hong Kong Book Fair that the British museum would be the first location for the book. He also revealed the tenth book, Yassen, will not directly involve Alex Rider, but talk about how Yassen became an assassin. He also mentioned that Alex would do something very bad intentionally in Scorpia Rising, which will be released on the 31st of March in the UK. Horowitz has written this in his blog:
SCORPIA RISING starts in the British Museum in London. Then it moves to a place called the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, in the middle of the Sahara desert, where we meet Khalid Aziz Al-Kazim who is without doubt the nastiest villain I’ve ever created. He worked for Saddam Hussein when he was fourteen. He graduated to Al Qaeda. Now he’s in business for himself. There are actually three villains in this book. One of them is what you might call an old friend – brought back by popular demand. The other is a teacher at an international school in Cairo which is where Alex is sent after an assassin in London tries to…but I mustn’t give too much away.
From Egypt we go to the River Seine in Paris where our old friends, Scorpia, are having a high-level meeting. Then we’re in Gibraltar. And finally – in Chapter 7 – we catch up with Alex in England. He’s fifteen in this book and you’ll see almost at once that everything has changed, particularly his relationship with Jack.
SCORPIA RISING has a very twisty plot with a lot of surprises, not all of them pleasant. A few more things… You will come across the Smithers’s last gadget and learn something about Smithers that you never knew before. You will see Alan Blunt in a completely new light. One character who has been in all eight previous books will die. The ending is fairly shocking. And when you get to the end you will be in no doubt at all that this is THE LAST ALEX RIDER BOOK EVER. (Well, I’m still going to write about Yassen and I do have one surprise up my sleeve, several years down the line – but this is the last in the series.) I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out. I think it’s the best of the lot – perhaps the best book I’ve ever written.
So, in order to get everyone excited for the release, Walker Books have started to release movie-style trailers for Scorpia Rising. The first two can be seen below, and the third and final trailer will be released in two weeks time.

Trailer #1


Trailer #2


Also, Alex Rider Insider are giving people the chance to win some Scorpia Rising temporary tattoos, as well as a cool t-shirt. To enter, watch the second trailer and email alexriderinsider(at)gmail(dot)com with the time the clock is counting down to. The closing date is Friday 18th March! This is an official Walker competition, so make sure you read the Terms & Conditions if you're going to enter.

So that's all from me! I hope you'll check out the AR series if you haven't heard of it - I mean, who doesn't want to read about a teenage spy? :P. As for those who are waiting for the last book like me, maybe these trailers will help make the wait seem a little less long!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: June 17th 2010
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen. 

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love -- or death -- and your dreams might be more real than your memories. (from Goodreads)

Prepare for gushing. Because White Cat was amazing. Not even amazing – ahmayzing. Absolutely brilliant. I haven’t loved a book this much in a long time. It was just so engaging! I said to myself when I started it that I’d read a little bit before I went to bed, but I ended up staying awake until half three to finish it. I literally could not stop reading. You find out one thing and you’re like, “What? How?” Then you have to keep reading for more explanations and ah – it was just so, so good. 

Cassel – he was the epitome of cool. I mean, even his name. Cassel. It’s just so cool. I don’t know how Holly Black made me like him, but I did. Even from the very start, even though he admitted himself he was a murderer that enjoyed the con too much, I couldn’t help liking him and rooting for him. He seemed so tortured yet at the same time he was hilarious. He wasn’t one of those whinging ones that was all “no-one understand me” all the time. I loved his humour, and he was really smart too with the way he pieced things together bit by bit (plus, where would we be without Google? :P). I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him at times – he’d been treated so unfairly, I just wanted to climb into the book and give him a big hug. And the ending, oh. I’ll just say that Red Glove cannot come fast enough.

Another character I really liked was Cassel’s granddad – he was in my good books ever since the beginning when he said to Cassel, “You don’t want to be some kind of useless pretty boy.” I burst out laughing at that (and keep in mind this was the middle of the night) and from that point on I started rooting for granddad too. He was so funny as well; you can see where Cassel inherited his humour from, and I loved a scene at the end where Cassel and his granddad had to work together. I can’t wait to see more of them in the next book.

*spoilerish paragraph - highlight to read* 
One character I didn’t like was Lila. She was so bossy, demanding and downright bitchy. I couldn’t understand why Cassel even liked her. She got on my nerves half the time! But though I didn’t really like her, she was a very interesting character, and of course, she was vital to the (totally awesome) storyline. So she had her uses, I suppose. And I did feel sorry for her, as well; I mean, who wouldn’t after all she’d been through? So I guess I could understand some of her hostility (but she was excessively annoying sometimes). The ending too...ah! 

Another character (who was more on the sidelines in the story) I liked was Maura, Philip’s wife. She kind of creeped me out, truth be told, but she was intriguing and her constant change in mood was so weird I really wanted to find out more about her. She was definitely one of those characters that stayed in the back of your mind, and I really hope we see more of her in the sequel, because I’m sure there’s more to her that we’ve yet to see.

The plot of White Cat is completely twisty-turny. You might think you’ve got something figured out, but you’re probably wrong. When Cassel finally realises his brothers are up to something, and they won’t let him in on it, he tries to find out what’s going on himself. And boy, you will be shocked at some of the things he uncovers. Be prepared.

In conclusion, White Cat was a megasuperawesome book that everyone needs to read. I really do recommend it to everyone, even if you despise magic books, just read it just so you can say you gave it a go. You never know, you might like it! Holly Black has just created such a fascinating world; the way she made curse-working such an integrated part of society was brilliant, you can really imagine such a world exists. It’s practically the same world with curse-working sewed into the fabric of its history. I am so excited for Red Glove, it’s unbelievable.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Late In My Mailbox (#9) + Ramblings

I was too busy drowning in work yesterday to post my IMM, but seeing as I haven't done it for a few weeks, I decided to just post it today instead of waiting until next Sunday.

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



For Review:
Little Sister: A Vampire Novella by V.J. Chambers (ebook, not pictured)

Gifts:
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (read this already and loved it)
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (just finished this and adored it!)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Won (from the amazing Jenny @ Wondrous Reads - thanks so much!):
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows collector's edition
New Moon UK collector's edition
The Demon's Lexicon alternate chapter
Angel and The Morganville Vampires tote bags
Simon Pulse, Angel, Lament (signed) and Fallen sample booklets
Awesome swag (and lots of it)

So that's what I got! So happy I finally got Anna and the French Kiss. Though at the moment, I'm reading Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers (nearly finished it - awesome). Anyway, I've been doing a lot of reading recently because it's been too cold to go out. It's freaking March and it's freezing! So today I wrapped up nice and warm with lots of layers and guess what - it's cool and sunny. This weather is just crazy. I'm looking forward to the days I can venture out not wearing a coat and scarf.

Anyway, I should probably do some more work. If anyone can tell me how Pride and Prejudice and The Yellow Wallpaper can compare (is it even possible?), please do. If not, I don't blame you. Because I can see no connections between these two stories at all...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

"Detour 2 Death" Blog Tour: Guest Post by J.R Turner + Giveaway


This morning, I'm an official stop on the "Detour 2 Death" blog tour. If you like supernatural/paranormal, or are looking for a great new series to enjoy, then read on!

There are worse things than death, but not at Marsden Memorial hospital.

Kaylee Hensler knows her best friend Davey is on the brink of death. She knows this because she’s a psychic. When she flees the girl’s reformatory to get to him, she has no idea the special sort of hell waiting for her.

Reapers are collectors and they come in many forms. In Feverland, the world created by Davey’s sickness, the red reaper goes by the name of Molok, an ancient evil with deep roots. In Shadowland, the dark side of the hospital, a black reaper promises torture and torment to lost souls. The white reaper is the most fearsome, giving Kaylee three days before he collects both her and Davey’s souls.

Kaylee has one secret weapon, one she doesn’t fully understand. Her abilities will betested, her loyalty betrayed, and her love misplaced. No one escapes Death.


I recently reviewed "DFF: Dead Friends Forever", the first book in the wonderful "Extreme Hauntings" series. Today, to celebrate the release of the third book, "Detour 2 Death", I have the lovely author of the series, J.R. Turner doing a guest post for us. I hope everyone will make her feel welcome!

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Liz, thank you so much for being a part of my blog tour!

When I first got the idea for Detour 2 Death, it was 2008 or thereabouts and I was in the middle of a major move. We bought our first home, an exciting time, but also a highly stressful time. I hadn’t yet written DFF: Dead Friends Forever, the first book in the Extreme Hauntings series. Little did I know how much Kaylee would take over my writing world.

I’ve written a series before, without a plot or any idea where the books were going, and that turned out to be a nightmare. I don’t recommend this. When I began the Extreme Hauntings series, I didn’t want to write one word until I had the whole thing planned out. So I sat down and plotted all six books in the Extreme Hauntings series. But, as life happens, things change.

Before I even began work on the second book, School’s Out 4-Ever, I became bombarded by imagery for Detour 2 Death. I saw Feverland, an epic desert of red sand and tortured trees. I saw the black side of the hospital, an alternate reality called Shadowland. Much of this came from a series of health events that fell upon my family. For two solid years I was engrossed in adding these tidbits and ideas, images, characters, all those little epiphanies I kept having, to this third book in the series.

By the time I sat down to write this book, I had sixteen pages of single-spaced notes and thoughts. This book, more than any other, really flew off my fingertips and onto the page. And still, there were so many surprise twists as Kaylee and Davey worked through each obstacle, that I felt like they were taking me along for the journey, rather than the other way around. I hope readers will feel the same sense of being transported when they read the book.

Thank you so much for having me here today. To show my appreciation, I’d very much love to give away a free ebook version of DFF: Dead Friends Forever. Please draw a name from the comments to find the winner!

Warmly,

Jenny:)
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Thank you Jenny! For those who want to enter the competition to win an ebook copy of "DFF: Dead Friends Forever", please leave your name/alias and email address in the comments. The contest will end March 20th. Anyone can enter!

Award-winning author J.R. Turner lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She began writing in high school, and after a decade working as a commercial artist, started her first novel in 1999. Aside from crafts, camping and cooking, she loves holidays. A favorite is Halloween, a combination of spooky supernatural fun and chocolate. Visit her at http://www.jennifer-turner.com to learn more!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Almost 100 followers/7 month blogoversary giveaway!

So, lately I feel like I've been a bit of a rubbish blogger: I have a ton of reviews to get out, my posting hasn't been regular and I just haven't had much time for it. In order to make it up to all you lovely followers, I've decided to give you some nice free books. I know I haven't reached 100 followers yet, but I'm almost there - and you know what they say, there's no time like the present! I also kind of skipped over my half a year blogoversary, so I thought I'd merge everything together to come with the "almost 100 follower/7 month blogoversary giveaway!".

One winner can pick one book from the following:




Afterlife by Claudia Gray
Defiance by Lili St. Crow
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

To enter, please fill in this form.

Giveaway rules:
- You must be 13 years old or over
- You must be a GFC follower (old or new)
- Please fill in the form only once, multiple entries will be deleted
- Giveaway is open to anywhere the Book Depository ships (check here to see if it ships to your country)
- Giveaway ends April 4th 2011

Plus, if the randomly selected winner happens to be from the UK, they will receive a mystery book (or two) from my own collection and some other goodies too, as well as their choice from the six books above. Sorry I can't offer this part to international followers, but shipping has become ridiculously costly :/. But, if I miraculously reach 150 followers, I'll make sure there are two winners for the Book Depository books!

And that's it, guys! Thanks for being awesome, and good luck!

*EDIT: Man, you guys are fast! I've reached nearly 150 already, so it looks like there's gonna be two winners!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Review: Dead Friends Forever by J.R. Turner

DFF: Dead Friends Forever (Extreme Hauntings #1) by J.R. Turner
Publisher: Quake
Released: October 31st 2008
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Skater Kaylee Hensler might not be Miss Popular, but there are some friends a girl can do without. When the decaying ghost of a murdered girl decides they need to be total BFFs, Kaylee will sacrifice the trust of her family, her swim coach’s respect, and any hope of a date for the Harvest Dance. And oh yeah… discover that super-evil entities are nothing at all like they are on TV or in the movies Aside from seriously bad attitudes, they not only like to kill…but replay the killing again and again for all eternity. To avoid that fate, she’ll have to rely on her wheelchair-bound friend Davey, the mysterious Madame Maggie, and the surprising depth of her own power. Will Kaylee survive, or will she become someone else's DFF: Dead Friend Forever? (from Goodreads)

Dead Friends Forever begins with Kaylee Hensler agreeing to go through an “initiation” in order to get a group of thugs off her back and let her skate where she wants without hassling her.  Kaylee doesn’t believe in ghosts, so going into the supposedly haunted Larson house should be a piece of cake. Right? Apparently not. Stepping into that house changes Kaylee forever as she desperately tries to uncover the secrets surrounding a young girl’s murder. But Kaylee’s own life is being affected – how is she supposed to explain the mess she’s in without her parents carting her off to the psych ward?

I really enjoyed DFF; I love ghost stories (when they’re not too scary :P) and DFF was a great mixture of paranormal and mystery. Kaylee was a very strong heroine and I was impressed with the resolve she showed throughout the book – she went through a lot of things any other teenager would have failed to cope with, but despite her doubts, and despite questioning her own sanity at times, Kaylee made it through and held a fierce determination that I haven’t seen much in YA today. DFF, though obviously aimed at a teenage audience, had a very mature tone at times in which I felt allowed us to really get inside Kaylee’s head and understand her personality. I really liked the ending of DFF because it wasn’t something you’d usually expect from a book written for young teenagers, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

Davey was a great friend to Kaylee, and a great character too. He believed Kaylee even when what she was saying sounded like crazy talk, and he helped her out as much as possible, loyally staying by her side and defending her when people started to spread rumours. I loved reading about the interaction between them both, and I suspect that maybe something might happen between the two in the future...though it’ll probably end up turning into something complicated knowing Kaylee’s luck. One of my favourite scenes in the book was when Kaylee and Davey went to visit Madame Maggie’s and got a tarot card reading. We got to find out a bit more about Isabelle, the girl who was murdered, and the kind of things Kaylee would have to face in order to help her. Maggie was also a very interesting character who knew a lot about the ghostly happenings that had been going on, a turned out to be a very helpful.

One character I wish we got to know more about was Will. He seemed to be different from all of the other boys in Jimmy’s gang, but he was only really in the first half of the book, and remained a bit of a mystery. Another character that intrigued me was Raphael. He was literally there only for a page or two but I have a feeling he’ll be back, and will be vital to the plot. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Kaylee’s parents were probably the only characters in the book I really didn’t like (even Winfield was better!), due to the fact they were so obsessive and clueless as to what was going on with their own daughter. I loved the scenes that featured Kaylee and her parents, however, because apart from revealing that they didn’t understand Kaylee half as much as thought they did, we got to see a more emotional side to Kaylee, and we could see how the lies were really getting to her. She was upset that she had to hide the truth from her parents, but angry that they didn’t trust her, and I think this definitely made us more empathetic with her and made her seem more real and believable.

Overall, DFF was an exciting page-turner that I couldn’t put down. The end leaves you in suspense a little, so I’m eager to get my hands on the second book to find out what’s next in store for Kaylee. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a thrilling paranormal read.

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The lovely author of DFF, Jenny Turner, will be doing a guest post here on Sunday, and I'll be featuring the third book in her fantastic Extreme Haunting series, "Detour 2 Death". There's also going to be a giveaway for you all, so make sure you check back!