Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Review: Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson

Losing Lila (Lila #2) by Sarah Alderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: August 2nd 2012
My Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit, which is somehow tracking their every move. While Alex is determined to keep Lila safe and her ability secret at any cost, Lila's only thought is of finding a way back to California so she can rescue her brother and mother from the military base where they're being held. Struggling to control both her growing power and her deepening feelings for Alex, Lila decides the time has finally come to stop running and start fighting. Together with Alex, Demos, and the others she's come to think of as family, Lila plans not only to save her brother and mum, but also to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for. But the plan requires Lila to return to California alone, and to make friends with the enemy - and in doing so, she risks losing everything: Alex, her family… even her life. (from Goodreads)

I had extremely high expectations going into Losing Lila, having absolutely adored Hunting Lila, and I can tell you now I wasn’t disappointed. Sarah Alderson has done it again, and I can safely say that Losing Lila was AWESOME.

Like with Hunting Lila, we were thrown into the action straight away – the first few pages were Alex and Lila running away, trying to escape from the Unit, and I remember thinking that they just couldn’t catch a break! Life must be hard when it’s spent constantly trying to run from the bad guys :P. What I loved about Losing Lila was that even though there was a lot of serious stuff going on and danger at every corner, Lila still retained her sense of humour and the book was still really funny, but it didn’t feel out of place – the humour really fit. I loved Lila’s sarcasm (especially when she was talking to Jack about Alex, I cracked up) and she was just as likeable and relatable as she was in Hunting Lila. She knew she needed help in this book and she wasn’t afraid to ask for it, but she was also getting a lot better at controlling her abilities and was actually more powerful than she originally thought. She also came up with some good plans and though her on the spot ideas weren’t perhaps the best, they were so funny (her nurse’s outfit idea was probably doomed from the start :P). Suki and Nate were also back and as hilarious as ever – I think they were my favourite from Demos’s group because they could lighten things up even during dark times and were just the kind of characters you couldn’t help but love.

Alex was...I don’t even know. I have no words. SKINNY DIPPING SCENE. I mean, wow. And various other amazing romantic scenes with Lila. They were just amazing together. And Jack’s anger at Alex was so amusing, I couldn’t help but laugh. Poor Jack (loved him so much), it seemed like everything was going wrong for him (and I felt bad for Lila’s dad too, the poor guy had to be deceived for his own safety and still thought his wife was dead). But the greatest part about Alex and Lila’s relationship was that they weren’t perfect – their relationship had a few problems (Alex was slightly overprotective, Lila was hot-headed and there were often some misunderstandings) – but even so, they worked so well together and I just loved reading about them. Every Alex/Lila scene was excellent and the complications that arose from Alex being Jack’s best friend added to the whole complex nature of their relationship.

There were so many twists in Losing Lila, oh my God. I didn’t expect any of it. I’m usually pretty good at guessing things, but either I had a mind-blank or there was a lot of unexpected stuff going on (and I’m thinking the latter). Seriously. There was stuff I never would have even thought of, even if I sat and theorised for hours! I read this book in one sitting, honestly, the characters and mystery and just everything was that addictive. And the way it was written was so clever too – the situation with Sara was great because I could understand exactly how Lila felt. Sara was Jack’s boyfriend, but the group weren’t sure whether they could trust her or not and Lila was unsure whether they should let her know about their plan. And I could understand why Lila was having so much trouble deciding – I had no idea whether to trust Sara or not! She seemed genuine, but then after everything that happened, would have it been wise to trust her? Like Lila, I didn’t know what to think. I felt really in sync with her.

I loved the ending and the way everything eventually came together. Most things were resolved, but there were some things left open...dare I say we have room for a third book? All I know is that if a third book were to be written, I’d definitely, definitely read it.

Overall, Losing Lila was a brilliant sequel to Hunting Lila and I can’t recommend this series enough. If you haven’t read the first book, pick it up now.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Crewel Blog Tour - Guest Post by Gennifer Albin

Hi everyone, hope you're all having a fab week. Today I have the lovely Gennifer Albin, author of Crewel, on the blog for a guest post! As Crewel is about Adelice, a girl who can weave time with matter, Gennifer has made a list of her favourite films that involve time-bending or shifting reality! Hope you enjoy the post :).

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Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: October 4th 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.

That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.

Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
 (from Goodreads)

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Gennifer’s Top 5 Mind-Blowing and Time-Bending Films

1. Inception - How much of reality is determined by the mind? Can you live a whole life in a dream? Did anything in this movie actually happen? And the visual effects are stunning!

2. Dark City - A sci-fi film with a very noirish bent. It follows a man who might be a murderer or who may be being set up in a world where guardians change reality every night. It’s funny that it’s likely one of the biggest influences on Crewel without me ever consciously thinking about it.

3. The Matrix - I saw The Matrix in the theatre and was instantly obsessed. I’m not such a fan of the rest of the series, but the entire concept was mind-blowing and the fight scenes, oh, the fight scenes. I wore a lot of patent leather that year.

4. In Time - So the metaphor in this is a bit heavy handed, but I really enjoyed how it played with the relationship of time and money and the Bonnie and Clyde vibe.

5. Total Recall - I haven’t seen the remake, but the original version of this based on a Philip K. Dick story is the reason we have movies like Inception now!

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Gennifer Albin has a masters degree in English from the University of Missouri, where she was an editor for Pleiades and The Missouri Review. She's the founder of the popular Connected Mom parenting blog and blogs about writing on her own website. Crewel was inspired by a painting by the Spanish surrealist painter, Remedios Varo. It is her first novel. (from Faber & Faber website)
Find out more about Gennifer:

http://www.genniferalbin.com
@genniferalbin
http://www.goodreads.com/genalbin
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Thanks so much to Gennifer for writing a fab post and being on the blog, and many thanks to Laura from F&F who organised everything. I hope you've enjoyed finding out more about Gennifer and Crewel! Do you like any of the films Gennifer listed? Which are your  favourites?

Don't forget to visit the next stop on the tour, Dark Readers, tomorrow, for another great post!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe (Breathe #1) by Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: October 11th 2012
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart. (from Goodreads)

The premise of Breathe was the main reason I was really excited to read the book – a world where oxygen was a commodity rather than an abundant element seemed like a great set-up for a dystopian story. I was rather impressed with the plot and the way Crossan managed to prevent the book from being preachy – the seriousness of what had happened to the environment was prevalent throughout, but I sort of expected it to come with a rant about global warming and human greed (think Maximum Ride 4 & 5 – I felt like I was being personally yelled at in those books for not taking better care of my surroundings!). Luckily Breathe wasn’t like that at all, and was more about the story and what was happening to the characters as they found out more about the sinister world they lived in.

Breathe was told in alternating chapters from three points of view. I was initially a little wary about this, but I think overall, the POV switches were done quite well. It was a little confusing at times, but I think having three different perspectives did add to the story because we go to see several places and characters within the same timeframe, which helped to explain what was happening.  Alina, Bea and Quinn were all very different characters, and I think Alina was probably my favourite, though Bea did grow on me. Alina was part of the rebellion, working against the government who were trying to prevent the replanting of trees, and she lost someone dear to her very early on in the book, and was suffering with guilt and grief throughout. She was not used to relying on people and so didn’t want to work with Bea and Quinn to begin with, but as time went on, she gradually came to trust them. I would have liked to have known more about Alina and how she came to join the rebellion in the first place – some things were hinted at, but hopefully we’ll find out more about her past in the next book.

Bea was almost the opposite of Alina to begin with, and had always been the type to follow rules and orders without complaint. Her family were Auxiliaries and could barely afford enough air to live on, so Bea was determined to go far in life so she could help support her parents. She started off quite a passive character, but began to speak up more as the book went on, arguing with Quinn and Alina about things she disagreed with, and I liked this character development. She was also completely in love with Quinn, who was a Premium and rich enough to get more than enough oxygen whenever he wanted, but Quinn was the typical clueless best friend who had no idea about Bea’s feelings. I did feel for Bea, especially when Quinn started talking about his attraction to Alina (he wasn’t purposefully being tactless, but dear God, he was oblivious to other people’s feelings) – she tried to stay calm but she couldn’t help being upset. She felt like a coward for not telling Quinn about how she felt, but she was too afraid to ever tell him because it seemed he had never felt that way about her.

Quinn...I have no words. He really was just an idiot. I didn’t dislike him, per se, but it was really hard to like him when acted so stupidly and did his “poor little rich boy” act. The way he treated Bea at the beginning – the poor girl! He did become more likeable when he was separated from Bea and started to really worry and panic, and a certain event in the middle of the book gave him a huge shock that I think changed his way of thinking, which I think helped better his character. I liked him more towards the end, though I think his relationship with Bea was slightly rushed and I don’t know when exactly he started to like/realised he liked her – one minute Bea was just his friend and he was getting all googley-eyed over Alina, next minute, he and Bea were inseparable. I would have liked a bit more development there, but at least he stopped acting like a moron, I guess.

I really liked the setting and world-building in Breathe, and while it was a bit far-fetched, it didn’t seem too implausible that such a future may indeed come to pass. I could definitely imagine a huge corporation trying to capitalise on that tragedy as well, so I think it was written pretty well. My only concern about it, however, was the science used to explain things. It was....questionable. Some parts more than others – humans being able to breathe in air consisting of only 6% oxygen? Really? I mean, I guess it could be possible at some point, but not just through the training and exercises they did – for them to adjust so quickly – especially going from an environment of such higher oxygen levels...eh. I don’t know if I can believe that. I feel like they acclimatised way too fast for it to be realistic. But, it wasn’t the worst explanation I’d see (by a long shot, I’ve read some books where the science behind what was going on was actually just impossible) so I’m not too fussed about it. Some people may find this slightly annoying, but I think it can be overlooked if you’re willing to carry on reading for the story and character’s sake.

Overall, I enjoyed Breathe (my love for dystopian books continues!) and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the sequel. Recommended to dystopian fans or those looking for a pretty unique setting/world.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Spark Competition Winner!

Over the summer The Spark ran a competition to find a young singer-songwriter, band or musician to create an original soundtrack to the official Crewel book trailer. The standard of entries was very high, but one track really stood out. The lyrics of fourteen year-old Roisin's O'Hagan's haunting song 'It's a Lie' allude to the themes of the book in a really intriguing way, and the music itself stays with you – everyone will be singing it to themselves for weeks!

You can watch the official trailer, created by artist Carolina Melis, here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sbIE7eg72s&feature=youtu.be and become a fan of The Spark in order to download the track for free here http://www.facebook.com/thesparkpage/app_160430850678443.


What do you think of the trailer? Are you excited for the book?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Explanations

Soooo. I haven't posted in a while. This was not intentional. I AM going to start posting regularly soon, I promise. It's just...well. Apparently degrees require a lot of work. Apparently I am somehow behind on reading already despite the fact I have literally been working almost every day while battling freshers' flu. Seriously. I now understand the pain of people who have done/are doing law degrees. The textbooks are...o_O. Anyway, I have plans to post things very soon! So expect reviews and also a blog tour post which will be coming up this month. I apologise for my absence and lack of comments. I know I really need to catch up with it all, I'm hoping to on Sunday, so fingers crossed. Hope everyone is doing well and sorry for disappearing on you all! The blogging shall continue! :P

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Review: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: September 6th 2012
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.

Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.

Blackwood is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America's oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance. (from Goodreads)

I didn’t know much about The Lost Colony before starting Blackwood (had to do a few Google searches), but the book was a definitely an interesting take on everything that happened. However, I found the story a bit confusing and hard to follow at times and feel like it didn’t live up to its potential.

Miranda was a character I had mixed feelings about. She was an outcast on Roanoke Island; people avoided her because they believed her bloodline was cursed, so she had no friends, no other family members (besides her alcoholic dad) to look out for her and was often teased by people who wanted to humiliate her. In short, she had a hard life. But one thing I didn’t get was that she didn’t do anything about her situation. When people mistreated her, she sort of wrote it off as “well, that’s what they do!” She just accepted their behaviour, which struck me as odd, as she seemed like the type of person who could have stood up to these people if she wanted to. I liked her curiosity, her love of the theatre and her nerdiness, but I wished maybe she had shown more emotion, more anger or hurt or anything – I think it would have made her more believable. I felt like throughout the book, I was sort of detached from Miranda and all the other characters – I couldn’t get much feeling from them, and so couldn’t feel involved in the story. That being said, I think Miranda’s reactions when she was with Phillips were quite realistic (apart from her forgiving him so easily)  – she overanalysed everything she did and got worried that things would become awkward between them and didn’t know how to act.

Phillips was an intriguing character. His ability to hear the dead was very interesting – sometimes the voices overwhelmed him so he couldn’t understand what they wanted, but other times they seemed to be whispering pieces of advice, trying to guide him in the right direction. The ability ran in the family, and I would have loved to know more about it and perhaps where it originated from. Being the son of a police chief, Phillips also knew a lot of things that most of the islanders didn’t, which helped on occasion when trying to solve the mystery. However, I found Phillips’s interest in Miranda a bit strange. He hadn’t seen the girl in years, yet suddenly had this strong desire to protect her? The relationship was a bit rushed, I felt like they didn’t really know each other well, and didn’t get why Phillips was so obsessed with helping Miranda. They never really even spoke when they were children, except for the incident when Phillips humiliated Miranda, so this rapid relationship development didn’t really work for me. I did enjoy their scenes together, don’t get me wrong – but it all happened too fast for my liking.

Plot-wise, I think the book started off strong but got confusing when the 114 people who had disappeared (just like in history) reappeared. I was confused as how their disappearance was viewed by the islanders – it was explained to us, but the regular citizens, the ones who weren’t in the know like us readers, seemed to just accept this disappearance and reappearance with no explanation. What were the citizens of the island told about the people who disappeared? Why did they so easily welcome them back with no questions? It wasn’t explained and I felt like this messed with the story, because there’s no way anyone would just accept such an event without wanting answers. I was also confused about what happened to the original lost colony – where exactly did they go? What happened to them? We were told very little about this, which affected the story later in the book, because I was wondering how on earth of all the things going on were able to happen. However, I did enjoy the way alchemy played a part in the story (though more explanation would have been nice) and thought it was very clever the way real people in history were included - it made the characters motivations and actions seem more real.

Overall, Blackwood had a great premise but I felt a little let down by the confusing nature of the story and the detached narration. However, I would recommend it people who like mysteries and who want something different and unique.

(Side note: the cover of this book is awesome. Very cool and clever, and relates to the book too. Love it!)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (Diviners #1) by Libba Bray
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 18th 2012
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.
(from Goodreads)

The Diviners is a big book. At just under six hundred pages, you can expect there to be a lot going on. While I enjoyed the story overall and think the supernatural elements were very, very intriguing, I personally felt there was just too much happening. Too many characters, too many separate stories, too many unexplained events – I felt like I was reading several, loosely connected books at once. It felt very much like the introduction to a series and less a book in its own right. Like we were being introduced to these (many) characters, but just so we could know who they were later on. However, that being said, I was interested to see how all the different things going on would eventually connect up, so I am looking forward to the book two and seeing what happens next.

Evie was the main character and the one the story was mostly centred around. She loved the flapper lifestyle and drinking and partying were her favourite things to do. To be honest, she was a bit much for me. I felt like all her characteristic were emphasised and exaggerated and she used so much slang when she talked – did people from the 1920s really speak like that? I could understand her desire to have fun and step away from the stiff rules and regulations but I don’t know. She seemed rather selfish and though she had this amazing power, the best use she could find for it (at the beginning) was a party trick for drunk friends at social gatherings. I got that she didn’t want to reveal that she was different because she was scared what would happen, but then she randomly flaunted her abilities to impress some people at a party! It was nice to see a young girl who didn’t like to conform and wanted to be her own person though, and she was fun to read about. I also think that she was a surprisingly caring person as well, and she did seem to value her friends, especially Mabel who she was very grateful to (though she felt guilty that she had feelings for Jericho, who Mabel also liked). As a main character, Evie was an interesting person to follow and get to know. However, I think we’d probably clash in real life :P. Her ability to read objects was very fascinating though. She could see images from a person’s life just by holding something that belonged to them, and thus could divulge their deepest and darkest secrets. The best part for me was when Evie held Naughty John’s item (Naughty John being the villain with his own creepy song which he sang during a kill that would completely freak me out if I heard aloud) and became deeply immersed the images she saw. She really pushed her power and the outcome was almost frightening. I’d really like to know more about Evie’s ability and the extent of her power.

There were a lot of other characters, too many to describe in depth, so I’ll just mention my general feelings about them. Jericho worked for Evie’s uncle, Will, who she had been sent to stay with. He didn’t speak much, and when he did, he was usually angry about something. His past, however, was something I didn’t expect at all and really surprised me (in a good way). He had suffered a lot and knew how it felt to be different, which I think is one of the reasons he warmed up to Evie. As a love interest for Evie though...eh. I didn’t really think the two worked well together. I much preferred Sam, who was a thief but who was also very funny and cheeky and loveable in that roguish sort of way. Sam seemed determined to win Evie over after leaving a bad impression (after *cough* robbing her *cough*) but his efforts seemed in vain as Evie really didn’t seem to like him much. However, I thought the way they insulted each other and exchanged quips was actually very funny and entertained me more than Jericho’s silent brooding. Sam was also somewhat of mystery, and seemed to be after revenge for something that remained mostly unexplained. Memphis and Theta were two other interesting characters; Memphis because of the way his ability seemed to have disappeared and because of his brother who also had a power, and Theta because her ability was dangerous. Theta had one of the saddest backstories, but she picked herself up and tried to get on with life, which I respected.

The romance between Theta and Memphis was sweet, though plot-wise, their story for me felt a bit disconnected as it never joined up with the main storyline and was left hanging. They both had abilities like Evie, and as a group they were all know as “Diviners”, but the Diviners never really banded together or even found out about each other, which was just a bit odd. We were introduced to all these Diviners, but they all had separate stories which never really connected. I really wanted Evie to find out that there were more Diviners out there, but nearly six hundred pages and nope. She had no clue. Then we were randomly introduced to yet another character at the end that remained nameless and I just started to feel like there were all these characters floating around with no purpose in the story yet, despite having just read a rather sizeable book. And because we had chapters from so many different perspectives, switching so often between the Diviners and Naughty John and Naughty John’s victims, it was a bit confusing and some parts really seemed to drag on. The plus side was that I was kept guessing throughout and never really knew what would happen next or what terrifying act Naught John would perform, and there was an ominous vibe maintained throughout the book – hell, I was creeped out by the first chapter! I would have liked more explanation about a lot of things (including exactly where Naughty John came from and how he was able to do the things he did), but I suppose I shall have to wait for the next book.

Overall, The Diviners was an enjoyable, eerie mystery with a great aspect but I felt it was maybe too long and was very slow in paces, and didn’t flow very well for me due to the multiple storylines. I would recommend it to people who like creepy supernatural mysteries and I will be reading the next book – but be prepared before reading this book, it is as long as it looks.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Update!

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't been around much this week - I just moved into uni yesterday, so there's been a lot going on. I'm at uni now and it's...very different :P. I do miss home a lot, but my room here is really nice (besides the fact the heating doesn't work) and the people I've met so far have all been pretty friendly. I'm sorry for the lack of posts and comments - a review should be up tomorrow, and I hope to catch up on reading other blogs soon after I've settled in. Was hoping to explore the town today, but it's raining so I guess I'll just have to stay in and watch a film!

Hope everyone has been having a great weekend :).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Throne of Glass Blog Tour: Playlist + Giveaway

Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Throne of Glass blog tour. Today I'll be sharing Sarah J. Maas's  playlist for Throne of Glass, along with an extract, the trailer and also a giveaway for UK readers! I hope you enjoy the post, and if you want to know what I thought of Throne of Glass, check out my review here.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: August 2nd 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.


In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?
(from Goodreads)

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Playlist for THRONE OF GLASS:

“The Great Migration”: James Horner: The Land Before Time (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture): http://youtu.be/Rd2r_QyheXU

If THRONE OF GLASS is ever a movie, I like to imagine that something similar to this track would play. Whenever I’d work on ToG, before diving into the first chapter, I’d actually listen to a few of these “opening title” type pieces. So, just imagine that when the music swells at the 1:50 mark, the title of the book glimmers/sprawls across a giant, dark screen.

"You Don't Dream In Cryo. ....": James Horner : Avatar (Music from the Motion Picture): http://youtu.be/JyC1Ffp6Ahc

This was my go-to track when writing the Endovier scenes at the beginning of the novel. The tone definitely sums up not only the atmosphere of Endovier, but also Celaena’s mood/mental state when Dorian and Chaol pull her out of the mines.

“Medley: The Hologram / Binary Sunset” and “Medley: Tales of a Jedi Knight / Learn About the Force” by John Williams : Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqOBU34aVrc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzczg3MreZg

I listened to these two tracks a LOT while writing the scenes in the throne room in Endovier, when Celaena first meets Dorian and Chaol (and then learns about the competition).

“Septimus” : Andy Brown, Ilan Eshkeri & London Metropolitan Orchestra: Stardust (Music from the Motion Picture). http://youtu.be/RMcc8TZvxXQ

This was my “traveling to Rifthold” go-to track. Whenever I hear it, I usually imagine an epic montage (and several scenes of Celaena being particularly miserable in rough weather).

“This Land” : Hans Zimmer : The Lion King (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_U4in8WeS0

One of my favorite parts in the novel is actually these two short scenes with Celaena and Dorian at the end of Chapter 6, when they’re camped in the foothills above Rifthold. Both scenes were inspired by this track, but particularly this line from the end of Dorian’s section: “Still, the image haunted his dreams throughout the night: a lovely girl gazing at the stars, and the stars who gazed back."

"Your Highness - What A Surprise!" and “The Girls, the Prince, and the Painting”: Ever After (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture): http://youtu.be/MS3-kAuE4DY and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5-e8ODRmLk

I used both of these for the two introductory scenes with Kaltain—the first, when Celaena overhears Kaltain talking under her balcony (…and there’s an “accident” with a flower pot), and the second, when Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian run into Kaltain in the castle halls.

“Watch the World Burn” : Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard : The Dark Knight (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRYKyhof6b4

I used this track when writing the scene with Celaena and the other champions meeting the king in his throne room.

“Night Fight”: Tan Dun: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgr2wQiqBpw

The music that inspired the initial sparring session between Celaena and Chaol in the training hall. Fits the scene perfectly.

“Tryouts” : Jerry Goldsmith: Rudy (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXNwTczi2ks

This track in general just inspired a lot of the training scenes (in particular, that initial run through the game park).

“Success Montage” : Danny Elfman: Wanted (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhDhvlkf4uc

Another track that I used while writing the training scenes, but especially for the scene when Chaol walks into Celaena’s rooms one morning and finds her doing chin-ups in her doorway. I hear this and imagine them running through the game park, or Chaol sitting on Celaena’s feet, keeping count as she does sit-ups. ;) I also used this during the scene when Celaena is sparring (AKA working out her frustration) with the wooden dummy, and Dorian & Chaol observe her from the mezzanine.

“The Goodbye”: Patrick Doyle: A Little Princess (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ_43AEuBYI

The inspiration behind Nehemia and Celaena’s first meeting (and music that I often turn to when writing scenes with them).

“Myotis”: Batman Begins (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://youtu.be/YPL9szloyX4

This inspired the Test when they climb the side of the castle (and Celaena does the crazy-ass leap to save Nox from falling to his death).

“Concerto No. 2 In C Minor Op. 18: II : Adagio Sostenuto:” Rachmaninoff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyStVGVW5a4

This is the piece that I imagine Celaena playing when Dorian comes to visit her rooms that first time.

“Chevaliers de Sangreal” ; “Beneath Alrischa” and “503”: Hans Zimmer : The Da Vinci Code (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5FyRZbqfeM ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptn1RdgohNU ;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMyT-Zuuy3w

The entire Da Vinci Code (and Angels and Demons) soundtrack actually inspired a lot of the scenes in the secret passages & Elena’s forgotten tomb.

“Atlantean Sword”: Basil Poledouris : Conan the Barbarian (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1on_N1R9vc

I imagine this playing when Celaena first enters the tomb and meets Elena.

View the full playlist at:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB86ADDCAD0C2FC1C

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Trailer:

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Extract:
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GIVEAWAY:
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To win a copy of Throne of Glass, just leave a comment with your thoughts on the post and include your email address (alternatively, if you would prefer not to give out your email address publicly, leave a comment and then email me at planetprint8(at)gmail(dot)com with "Throne of Glass giveaway" as the title, and make sure you include your commenting name). This is going to be a flash competition, so you only have one day to enter! Giveaway ends 23:59 September 19th 2012. Open to UK/Ireland only.
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More about Sarah J. Maas: -
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www.sarahjmaas.com www.sjmaas.livejournal.com www.facebook.com/THRONEOFGLASS www.twitter.com/SJMaas ------------------------------------------------------------------
Buy Throne of Glass: ------------------------------------------------------------------ Kindle/Paperback/Book Depository - - ----------------------------------------------------------------- Find it on Goodreads ------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------------------------- I hope you've enjoyed the post, and good luck to anyone entering the giveaway! Be sure to check The Book Addicted Girl tomorrow for the next stop on the tour!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

HarperCollins to publish The Dark Heroine by Abigail Gibbs


Press release from HarperCollins:

As the publishing industry continues to evolve in the face of the digital age, HarperFiction has discovered 17 year-old online sensation and debut novelist Abigail Gibbs, who has been posting The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire chapter by chapter on Wattpad.com. Having clocked up a phenomenal 17 million reads so far and amassed a huge global fan base online, this, crucially, will be the first time anyone can read the novel’s breathtaking ending.

Abigail Gibbs started posting her writing on Wattpad in September 2009, and overnight she achieved 95 reads and three fans. For the past three years she has continued to post chapters of her novel The Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire, on to the site and to date they have been read almost seventeen million times. Nearly 25,000 people have commented on her work and 91,000 people have voted for it, generating a truly global audience. None of her readers have yet to discover the breathtaking end to her novel which is now published in ebook and will be out in paperback format in October.

As Abigail embarks on her university career at Oxford next month; with a global book deal in hand and at the tender age of seventeen, she is an example of how the publishing industry is consistently driven to find new talent through exciting and unchartered channels. These channels are evidently driven directly by strong demand from the consumer and are in turn creating a whole new generation of writers.

Abigail Gibbs says: “From first picking up a pen to writing online on wattpad, I have always aspired to see my work in print and I feel extremely privileged to have such an enthusiastic and supportive team behind The Dark Heroine at HarperCollins. I hope my experience as a teenage writer will inspire young people everywhere to develop the craft, even in the face of pesky distractions like school!”

The Dark Heroine follows sixth-former Violet Lee, who is swept up in a bitter feud between humans and vampires which has lasted centuries after witnessing a bloody massacre in London’s Trafalgar Square, and who becomes political prisoner to the brutally charismatic vampire prince, Kaspar Varn. Feisty, fast-paced and racy, Abigail’s maturity is breath-taking and the unfolding romance between Kaspar and Violet is utterly compelling.

The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire was published by HarperFiction in ebook on 13 September 2012, with a paperback edition following on 25 October 2012.

Find it on Goodreads/Buy ebook/Pre-order paperback

Abigail Gibbs was born and raised in deepest, darkest Devon. She is about to start studying for a BA in English at the University of Oxford and considers herself a professional student, as the real world is yet to catch up with her. Her greatest fear is blood and she is a great advocate of vegetarianism, which logically led to the writing of her first novel, Dinner With A Vampire. At age fifteen, she began posting serially online under the pseudonym Canse12, and after three years in the internet limelight, set her sights towards total world domination. She splits her time between her studies, stories and family, and uses coffee to survive all three. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Review: Shift by Kim Curran

Shift by Kim Curran
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: September 6th 2012
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

When your average 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he’s not quite so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands. (from Goodreads)

I was pleasantly surprised by Shift! I wasn’t sure what to expect when first starting it, and to be honest, I had my reservations. I loved the sound of the premise, but I wasn’t certain if the execution would be good enough to pull the whole thing off (because usually books which involve changing reality can get a little complex and confusing). I can say now that Kim Curran pulled it off.

Scott was our main character, and he was just an ordinary, likeable guy who had no idea about his Shifter powers until they got him into trouble. I liked Scott a lot, he was funny, cared about his sister and when presented with the opportunity to learn to control his powers, he took it. And who wouldn’t? If you found out you had these life-altering powers, would you just sit back and ignore them? I think not. Scott decided to train with ARES, the government facility in charge of Shifters, despite not knowing a great deal about them (apart from what he’d heard from Aubrey, the girl who told him about his ability – and she didn’t exactly paint a perfect picture of ARES).  But in that situation, I think I would have done the same thing (though after finding out what the training actually entailed...perhaps not :P). And when he started training, he made friends with some of the other recruits and worried about them when everything went downhill.  He made remarkable progress, and I was very interested in why he seemed to be more powerful than the others. He was much older than the average age when Shifters’ powers manifested, yet he was somehow a lot stronger. The reason for this wasn’t explained, but I think we’ll definitely find out more in the next book, especially after that ending.

Aubrey was an officer at ARES, though she had no great love for it, and was the type of person that was pretty blunt but also thoughtful and intelligent. She had a difficult past and blamed ARES for what had happened and so she didn’t really want Scott to join at first, but she seemed to get along better with him after he did. I liked the scenes the two shared (some were funny but the serious scenes were also very well done and developed the relationship and story nicely) and while I suspect Zac, the leader of a rogue Shifter group, may have had some kind of past with Aubrey, I’m rooting for Scott and Aubrey all the way! For me, while Aubrey started off as kind of mysterious, I think by the end we knew quite a bit more about her. Her life may have been different, but she was still a Shifter, just like Scott, trying to find out what exactly was going on and who was responsible for the terrible things that were happening.

Shift didn’t have the strongest start, for me (as in I wasn’t pulled into the story), but Scott’s first shift was when things started to really intrigue me and get me invested in the story. I kind of guessed who the villain was, but I was still surprised by what was really going on behind the scenes and how Shifters were being used. I really liked most of the characters, including the other ARES recruits, Jake and CP (who was very funny, despite being a minor character), and Cain, the one in charge of training, who was sort of sadistic, yet somehow made me like him anyway! Benjo, the bad guy we meet fairly early on, was...I don’t even have words. The most comical yet horrific sort of bad guy I’ve ever come across. I imagine if I ever met him in real life, I’d shake/tremble with nervous laughter...

Overall, Shift was a very enjoyable read and I’m happy it turned out to be better than I expected. Definitely recommended, especially if you like books about people with strange powers!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Darkness Falls Paperback Release: Guest Post by Cate Tiernan

Hello, everyone! Today is the paperback release of Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (which I'm quoted in, by the way...just saying ;]) and to celebrate, I have the lovely Cate on the blog! She's written a fantastic guest post about how books are categorised - I hope you enjoy it! Leave a comment with any thoughts you want to share :) (and what do you all think of the new cover? I personally love it!).
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Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved #2) by Cate Tiernan
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: September 13th 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Nastasya has spent the last 450 years in darkness and bad behaviour, changing her name and travelling from town to town to avoid the repercussions, fuelled by the desperate desire to run from her past and avoid her immortal destiny. But you can’t run forever, no matter how hard you try, and Nasty has been at River’s Edge, home for wayward Immortals, for the last couple of months, learning about herself, her past and trying to carve out a future. A difficult task in itself, but made all the harder by Reyn.

Reyn, the first person to stir Nasty’s heart in… a long time. Tall, gorgeous, nauseatingly attractive… and the Butcher of the North, responsible for pillaging and killing hundreds of people, and whose family is responsible for destroying Nastasya’s family. Yet he is the one Nasty wants, above anyone else. If only fate hadn’t intervened to make it impossible. But can she turn away from the one person who truly understands her, the one person she loves?

And as she learns more about her past, and her heritage, Nasty begins to question whether she can ever really break free of the darkness, if she was born with it, will she ever be able to escape? And if not, why should she even try?
(from press release)

Cate's Post:

Paranormal. Fantasy. Contemporary. Historical. Weepies. Romance. Issue books. Mysteries. Suspense. Gothic. Horror. Science Fiction.

Aiiiieeeee! So many categories! What do they all mean? I didn’t really know, so I asked an editor. Her take was that Paranormal referred to a book that had certain elements, such as vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters, witches, magick, immortals, faeries, angels (fallen or otherwise), and ghosts. If a book was called Fantasy, it was set in a completely different world, whether that world was part of Earth or not (such as a secret faerie kingdom accessed through a cave, for example). Contemporaries are as they sound: set in current or recent times, having realistic characters and situations. Historicals are also as they sound: set in some period in the past (usually realistic and accurate and pertaining to our world).

“Weepies” are books where, whatever else is going on, the main focus is something tragic, like a main character dying. The main plot in Romances is getting two characters together, to have them fall in love and plan a future together. “Issue” books are books that explore a realistic and often difficult topic such as anorexia, abuse, etc. In Mysteries the main plot is that the characters are trying to solve a puzzle of some kind.

I can’t bring myself to read Suspense books, the way I can’t bring myself to watch super-suspenseful movies. They freak me out. I literally can’t stand the suspense. They’re books that are written to, well, build suspense, keep the reader on the edge of her seat, put the characters in perilous situations, and then boom! resolve everything and leave us trembling and wrung out.

Gothic and Horror are two different things. In Horror books, awful, scary things happen, they’re often quite visceral, and they’re supposed to scare the bejesus out of the reader. If you’re wondering, I can’t read Horror either, or see scary movies. I’ve never recovered from The Exorcist—I’m convinced it’s a documentary. It could all so easily happen to me. As a writer, I’m suggestible and have a rampant imagination. Horror is out. 

Gothic is different in that it’s both scary and suspenseful, but not necessarily horrifying. It tends to have a certain dark, wistful mood. It’s hard to explain.

Science fiction is a genre that relies on science or technology, and is often set in the future, or on another planet.

And it is of course possible to have any combinations of categories—a Gothic Mystery, a Contemporary Suspense, a Historical Romance, a Paranormal Contemporary . . . any combo is possible. It’s enough to make anyone’s head hurt.

For the longest time, I thought I wrote “books.” That was as far as I categorized them. Just books with interesting characters and exciting things happening. Books about teenaged girls and their families and their powers. Then I found out I wrote Paranormal, because my books have witches and magick and/or immortals in them. I was like, I write Paranormal?

Are categories useful? I think so—it lets me cruise one or two aisles in the bookstore instead of going up and down each one. However in some ways categories and definitions are a drawback: I’m sure there are terrific books I haven’t read because in general I’m not crazy about the category they fall into. And I’ve read a lot of mediocre books because they did fall into one of my favorite categories.

Likewise, I’m sure my books have sometimes not appealed to a reader because he or she doesn’t like Paranormal. There are times when a bookstore hasn’t bought my books because they were all full-up with Paranormal titles and didn’t want any more. Some readers have bought my books, loving Paranormal, and then been disappointed because I don’t write about vampires. So it’s kind of a plus/minus situation.

In general I’d like to encourage all of us to let categories be a fine beginning, but a bad place to end. Let’s challenge ourselves to try other genres sometimes—like Westerns, which I forgot to mention. Or Dystopians! Or Steampunk, which is kind of Gothic and kind of Historical and sometimes Romantic or Suspenseful . . .

Aiiiiieeeeee!!!
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What do you think? I agree that categories can be both a help and a hindrance! I used to avoid historical books like the plague until I was forced into reading one - and now I enjoy them so much more. But if I'd never read that one book, I would have missed out on so many great books because of my distaste for the genre. However, I, like Cate, can quite happily waltz past the horror section. Gruesome stories about possessed little girls who cut up people in the night are not for me...

Thanks so much to Cate for writing the post and to Emilie for organising everything! And if you haven't started the Immortal Beloved series yet, go read it now! 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #50


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

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter
February 5th 2013
Find it on Goodreads

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark.

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.
(from Amazon)

I'm dying to read this book. Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors, and the Heist Society series is AWESOME. Kat and Hale, they are both such amazing characters. And this book sounds different to the others because this time Hale is the mark and Kat has to save him! I hope it doesn't mess up their relationship (I'm scared, I really am :P). And Hale...when are we ever gonna find out his first name? Weatherby? Westfield? Warburton? 

What are you waiting on this week?

I also want to apologise for my lack of comments on other people's blogs the last couple of weeks. I've been really busy getting read for university and there's so much left to do still, but I will try to catch up soon. Hope everyone is having a fab week!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Review: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Publisher: Amulet
Released: May 1st 2012
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home. (from Goodreads)

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe was a fun read that touched on quite a few more serious topics but still managed to stay upbeat and funny.

Chloe was just enjoying a normal high school life until her guidance counsellor started interfering, her best friends turned their backs on her and she started mingling with school’s radio station, staffed by people who seemed less than happy to be working with her. I could feel for Chloe, because her own friend, Brie, had done something awful and now she was stuck alone, working somewhere she didn’t want to all because her guidance counsellor thought it would be a good idea for her JISP (basically, her project for the year). Chloe was a...talkative sort of character. She basically didn’t shut up, which was why she was such a good radio host. She was unsure whether the show would take off after Brie had spread all the lies about her, but she proved to be popular with the other students who liked her bubbly and open personality. I did like Chloe but I felt like she could get carried away with things at times which could affect other people. However, I think her supposed friends treated her so unfairly, and couldn’t help but side with her throughout everything.

Duncan, the fix-it guy who worked on the technical side of things, was the only guy who really seemed to accept Chloe from the beginning, which I think was why Chloe took a liking to him. He had a really hard life; his mum was a drug-addict who dated guys who were no good, his home-life was awful and he didn’t really know how to act around other people, except the people at the radio station, who were the only ones he seemed to really trust. He seemed a bit closed off and didn’t really talk much, but it was understandable. I thought the relationship between him and Chloe was quite sweet – he didn’t exactly know what to say to her, and was awkward but you could tell he cared.

Clementine, who was basically the leader of the station, KDRS, was another character I liked. Even though she could be harsh and bossy and even insulting at times, she really cared about the station and everyone who worked there. She seemed like the type who was loyal to the people she loved and before Chloe, she was someone Duncan could turn to and trust with his problems. By the end, I think Clementine and Chloe became friends (no matter how much Clementine would deny it), and I was happy they were closer after everything happened. Clementine, to me, would be a much better friend than Brie, who I just thought was awful. I know Brie was having problems with her family, but what she did was inexcusable. She spread lies, one that was serious it could have ruined someone’s life, with no regard for what would happen later and how many people they could get into real trouble. She completely turned her back on Chloe because of a stupid crown at some dance and because Chloe ignore her for a while. I would understand being mad for a week or so, but how could she be so angry over something like that that she would go through such lengths to make Chloe unhappy? And I don’t even know why Chloe was considering making up with her after all that she did.

Plot-wise, the book was a bit slow to begin with, but once Chloe had settled down at KDRS things began to get more interesting. I loved Chloe’s radio family, but I think some of the characters needed more developments, such as Haley, Fric and Frac who we really didn’t get to know at all. I think the story revolving around Chloe’s grandma with Parkinson’s was handled quite well, but I think Chloe’s grandma gave some weird sort of advice sometimes! I liked the way the serious topics were mixed in with the drama about the radio station and all the humorous things too, because it made the story have depth while still being funny and even light-hearted.

Overall, I really enjoyed Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe and especially liked the way the radio played a big part of the story. Recommended to contemp fans.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Second Blogoversary Giveaway Winner!

Hello everyone! Today I'm announcing the winner of my second blogoversary giveaway. Thank you so much to everyone who entered - I loved reading through the entries, some of which were hilarious, and I'm glad people seemed to have fun filling out the form. Thanks for making my second blogoversary awesome!

THE WINNER IS:

Michelle from Book Briefs! Congrats, Michelle. She has been emailed and the book she chose was Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter (good choice, I love that book!).

If you want another chance to win something, look out for more giveaways on the blog soon.

Hope you're all having a fab weekend!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Review: Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Defiance (Courier's Daughter Trilogy #1) by C. J. Redwine
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 6th 2012
My Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.

When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.

Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.
(from Goodreads)

I enjoyed Defiance a lot. I never thought fantasy and dystopia could be mixed together, but somehow it just...worked. I was really engrossed in the story and could feel how the characters were suffering and it was all just very cool.

I really liked Rachel. She was pretty badass, and could handle swords and knives, but she was also clever and could think on her feet. She could look after herself and used her wits to get herself out of tight situations, and I liked that she never gave up on her dad, even when everyone else thought he was dead. She was determined to find him, no matter what it took. Another reason I liked Rachel was because I felt her reactions were realistic. She was a bit reckless at times, but she was driven by anger and other mixed up emotions, so it was understandable. Plus, she was still furious and embarrassed about what happened between her and Logan two years ago, so she acted angry and aloof towards him, which I think was pretty believable – she felt humiliated, so who could expect her to be all polite and civil? To be honest, I loved all her interactions with Logan, from the beginning where they were arguing, to the end where they were in a relationship. And Rachel was just so likeable. I could understand all the pain and hurt she was feeling and I just wanted everything to work out for her! She was treated so unfairly by a lot of people and it seemed like it was just one bad thing after another for her.

Logan was another great character. I loved the fact we got to see from his point of view as well – in fact, the alternative perspectives worked so well in this book, I couldn’t imagine it being written any other way. I loved Logan’s point of view because we got to see inside his head – he was very smart; an inventor who worked with tech, a logical guy who liked to plan ahead and make sure of every detail. He was so cute actually, and sometimes awkward (which I just thought was adorable), but he seemed to really care about Rachel (and I loved seeing how his feelings for her slowly changed) and wanted to find her father just as much as she did. He was the apprentice of Rachel’s dad and having that job changed his life for the better, so he was immensely grateful towards Rachel’s father and everything he had done for him. His relationship with Rachel developed at a nice pace – not too fast, not too slow, and the chemistry between them was fab – there was so much tension and lots of awesome almost-kisses too! Logan’s internal thoughts were also hilarious at times, and made me laugh out loud at some points! It was funny seeing Rachel through his eyes because half the time he didn’t even realise what he thought about her, and was surprised by his own feelings. He did have more than a few faults though (I do always say perfection is boring, but some things about him did irk me a bit) – while he wasn’t forcefully controlling, he expect to get his way and for Rachel to just listen, and some things he said made me raise my eyebrows. But I’m putting it down to the environment he grew up in, because being an orphan and mistreated by so many people I guess it would be hard to escape the views and laws that were enforced. And at least he wasn’t as bad as the people who just blindly followed every rule without even thinking about it.

There were lots of other great characters too, including Oliver, who was Rachel’s surrogate grandfather and who  just so cool and funny and not the kind of person to beat around the bush (when he tried to have the sex talk with Rachel, oh my God, I laughed :P). I also liked Willow, a girl Rachel met later on in the novel.  Willow was blunt and always spoke her mind, which I loved, but was also very loyal to her brother and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.  The Commander, however, was despicable. He was a villain all right, but he tried to pretend like he was helping the people when he was just oppressing them. Women were treated so awfully, and he viewed them as second class citizens, not even worth of education. He was the type of person who didn’t care how many lives he took as long as he got what he wanted – he was responsible for undoing the equality people fought for so long and ugh. He was horrible. Throughout the whole book, I was just hoping that Logan and Rachel could finally punish him for all the terrible things he’d done.

Plot-wise, I loved everything that was going. There was so much I didn’t expect, I have so many questions and I already can’t wait to find out what happens next! The book was extremely well-paced and as a bonus, there was no cliffhanger! The world-building was great as well, I could really imagine how everything worked in Baalboden, and how even though most citizens seemed to accept the way they lived, there was this murmur of discontent among those who realised just how terrible and unfair the system was.

Overall, Defiance was a compelling read and I loved the combination of fantasy and dystopia. We got a government gone mad alongside a terrible rampaging creature that destroyed everything in its path – pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: August 28th 2012
My Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.
 (from Goodreads)

The premise of Speechless fascinated me because I personally just can’t imagine taking a vow of silence. I have this need to voice my opinion, and while I’ve never been interested in gossiping or secrets and the like, I don’t think I could keep silent, especially with all the abuse that Chelsea suffered. So that fact that Chelsea made this vow and actually stuck to it had me intrigued. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know how it would change her. And I just loved how her oath made her see things in a different light. I loved Speechless! Hannah Harrington is definitely an author to watch out for and I’m looking forward to see what she comes up with next!

Chelsea wasn’t really that likeable to begin with, but it was pretty clear that you weren’t actually supposed to like her. She was the queen of gossiping, well known for being unable to keep a secret and she didn’t seem like that great of a person, really. She just loved to poke her nose in other people’s business and got a kick out of announcing to the world the inner details of people’s private lives. It was only when her love of gossiping almost got a boy killed that she began to realise how what she did affected people. And that’s when the Chelsea I loved began to develop. When she tried to do the right thing, she was punished. She lost all her friends, her popularity from her old life and was hounded by people who now hated her. And she slowly came to understand that popularity wasn’t everything, and that people all had secrets and had their own reasons for keeping them. I loved Chelsea’s friendship with Asha (who was just awesome), because it was such a contrast to her previous “friendship” with Kristen. Kristen was demanding and had to have everything her way. She was like a dictator, she even managed Chelsea’s wardrobe. And she was a hypocrite that used people to her own advantage. Asha was the complete opposite, she liked Chelsea for who she was and she was funny and kind and just accepted Chelsea despite all the bad things everyone was saying about her. She didn’t find Chelsea’s vow of silence crazy or stupid at all and respected what she was trying to do. I loved Asha so much, she was quirky and such a nice person and I’d really love to have a friend like her! Chelsea was lucky she met Asha, I think, and being with her and Sam really helped Chelsea become a better person, I think.

Sam was another character I really liked, more and more as the book went on. He was concerned about Asha (who was his friend and co-worker) when Chelsea first started hanging out with her because he thought Chelsea might have been using her, but he was also surprisingly not very judgemental and didn’t just ignore or hate Chelsea, despite the fact she was part of the reason his best friend was in hospital. Obviously he didn’t jump up to be her friend, but he wasn’t mean to her either, unlike the people Chelsea thought had been her friends but who didn’t really care enough to stick by her. Sam just seemed really genuine and the kind of guy who really cared about his friends. He could be sweet too, and I loved watching his and Chelsea’s relationship develop. It was quite odd because Chelsea wasn’t speaking for most of it, but Sam seemed to understand her even without words and there was this...I don’t know, chemistry between them from the beginning! It was written really well, because while this chemistry wasn’t obvious and in your face, it was there. One of my favourite parts was the ice-skating scene – I could empathise with Chelsea there. Ice-skating is damn hard, and no matter what anyone says, some people just can’t do it (can you tell I’m speaking from experience? :P). Sam and Chelsea seemed to really complement each other and it was great to see how they slowly began to care about one another as time went on.

Plot-wise, there wasn’t too much going on, but it wasn’t slow and boring either. The book was mainly about Chelsea’s vow of silence; how people reacted to it, and how it changed her. I liked the way we got to see Chelsea’s growth and I think the way all the different characters played a part was very interesting. Ms Kinsey, Chelsea’s art teacher, was a secondary character, but she supported Chelsea’s vow and I really liked her (wish I had a teacher like that!). I think the only thing I could complain about was Kristen. I felt like she could have perhaps been a bit more developed or maybe we could have seen why she acted the way she did, because at the end we got a glimpse of a different Kristen, and I would have liked to have seen more of that. The ending also felt a little bit rushed, but other than those things, I really enjoyed Speechless, and I’m looking forward to what Hannah Harrington writes next!

Overall, Speechless was a fantastic contemp with a pretty original story. Definitely recommended, especially if you liked Saving June.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Interview with C. J. Redwine, author of Defiance

Hi everyone. Today I have C. J. Redwine on the blog, to answer some questions about her much anticipated book, Defiance. I hope you enjoy the interview, and if you want to know more, check out the links below!
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Defiance (Courier's Daughter Trilogy #1) by C. J. Redwine
Publisher: Atom
Released: September 6th 2012
Find it on Goodreads

Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.

When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.

Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.
(from Goodreads)

Q&A

Hi CJ, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a bit about Defiance? 

Defiance is the story of Rachel Adams who commits treason to escape her cloistered city so she can search for her missing father in the Wasteland beyond. The truth she uncovers brings her danger, heartbreak, and a new romance and also starts a war two decades in the making.

Why did you decide to write for a young adult audience? 

I love the incredible scope and variety in the YA genre, for one thing. Anything is possible. The adventures are epic, the emotions are compelling, and you can build any world you want. I also wanted to write YA because I remember not identifying strongly with the heroines in the books I read when I was a teen. They all seemed to have their lives so together and mine was such a mess. I wanted to read about characters who screwed up and didn’t have all the answers, and who got hurt or who hurt others, but who eventually found healing and redemption. So, I decided to write the books I wanted to read. ☺

How much research went into Defiance and how did you go about doing it? 

I researched as I wrote. I’m not a fan of research, mostly because I have a hard time concentrating on dry, boring facts, lol. I read one or two things and my brain instantly runs off, creating a story and leaving me skimming the rest of the page without really reading a single thing. So, as I wrote, I looked up the things I needed to understand for that scene alone. Sometimes it was the type of plant life my characters were traveling through. Sometimes it was a fighting technique. Most often, though, it was all the ridiculous, logical science that my character Logan so dearly loves. That boy almost broke my brain.

What do you find most interesting about the world you created in Defiance? 

The differences between the city-states. In Defiance, the reader is immersed in Baalboden and only hears bits and pieces about other city-states, but in books two and three we get more from the others. Each has a distinctly different culture from each other because the culture is determined by the personality of the leader. I found it fascinating to see what a city’s laws, holidays, and values would look for each leader.

Defiance alternates between Rachel’s perspective and Logan’s perspective. Did you find one harder to write than the other or could you easily switch from one to the other? 

I eventually got to the point where I could easily switch between the two, but Rachel almost always came easier for me. Part of that was because I initially wrote most of the book from her perspective alone until I realized that Logan had an equal stake in the story and needed to be heard. Part of it was because Logan’s logical, scientific brain is pretty much the opposite of mine.

If you could do any job in the world (besides writing), what would it be? 

Llama farmer. What? Llamas = awesome.

If you had magic for a day, what would you do? 

I’d pull a Mary Poppins and magically clean my whole house in five minutes. And then I’d use the rest of the day to magically travel to all the amazing places I really want to visit. Once I arrived, I’d stop time so I could linger and enjoy.

Can you tell us about any other projects you have coming up?

Right now, I’m finishing the edits on book 2 and am also co-writing a middle grade series that is kind of Grimm meets Howl’s Moving Castle.

Thanks for answering questions today, it’s been great to have you on the blog!
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Defiance by C. J. Redwine is published by Atom on the 6th September as a paperback original and an eBook, £6.99. To find out more, visit:



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Thanks so much to CJ and Atom for making this interview possible!