Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #54

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

United We Spy (Gallagher Girls #6) by Ally Carter
September 5th 2013
Find it on Goodreads

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever. (from Goodreads)

Words cannot begin to describe how much I need this book. I absolutely adore the Gallagher Girls series, it's one of my favourites, and I am so desperate to find out how everything ends! Judging by the darker tone of the last few books, I'm guessing that some baaad things are going to happen, and I am terrified that one of my favourite characters might die (please not Zach!). I seriously can't wait until September. I want it now!

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, 21 June 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Released: June 4th 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
 (from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed The Testing while I was reading it and was definitely engrossed in the story. However, after I finished it, I started to think of all the things that just didn’t make much sense or seem believable. So I am sort of torn on how to rate this book. It was a great book to read but it had a lot of flaws that I can’t just ignore.

I’ll start with the good things. I was hooked from the start and finished the book in one day because I was so interested in finding out what would happen in the end. I never knew who to trust and was basically suspicious of everyone because after the things that happened during the Testing, not being suspicious would get you killed (though I think I was mostly intrigued by the people outside the Testing who tried to help Cia – I wondered how they were alive and what their motive was!). I also liked Cia, because she acknowledged her faults and tried to learn from them. She was very, very smart and she worked out that other people may be a lot more deceitful than her, so she had to alter her plans or ideas to account for people that may possibly betray her. Cia definitely had determination and absolutely refused to give up or to let everything she had done and all the sacrifices that had been made be wasted. I liked the fact that Cia and Tomas were from the same place as well because it means they had similar ways of thinking that were different from the people from other areas of the country (though will admit I never fully liked or trusted Tomas and the romance was okay but a bit eh) and the ending was one hell of a way to get people to want to read the next book.

However, there were a lot of problems. First of all, Cia’s father never seemed to want his children to get chosen for the Testing because of some strange dream-like memories he retained from his own Testing depicting horrific images and terrible things that he possibly had to go through before his memory was erased after the Testing was over (which was also so odd and yet no-one questioned this whole memory-erasing thing). You’d think that, to prevent his own children being chosen for the Testing, he would tell them about these memories beforehand. But no. The man kept it a SECRET until AFTER Cia was chosen. In what universe does this make any sense whatsoever? If he had told his children about these dreams/memories when they were young and warned them about how dangerous the Testing may possibly be, then they might not have tried so bloody hard to get chosen, would they! And he wouldn’t have had to put them at risk and spend the rest of his life worrying! Of course they might have written it off as their dad being paranoid or worrying too much, but he could have at least tried! Ugh it annoyed me so much. I just didn’t get it at all. Obviously there’d be no story if the dad had told Cia, but it just seems entirely unreasonable that he wouldn’t. “Oh I didn’t want to destroy your dreams” (me, paraphrasing his thoughts) – so destroying their dreams is worse than trying to save them from the possible horror that awaits, is it? Just what good did hiding this from Cia do? -_-

Another thing I had a problem with was that I just didn’t buy the world they were living in. The Testing was basically where all the smartest people from each area of the country were chosen to take part in the Testing where their abilities and aptitudes for career paths and further education would be evaluated. This, I could accept.  However, there was no justification for SUCH a vigorous, dangerous, horrific Testing. Why would anyone need to go through all of that when their futures would essentially consist of going to university and then do some research to build new things? If they were going off to fight in war, MAYBE I would get it. Not so they could become research analysts in charge of creating new eco-friend irrigation systems or whatever. What made no sense as well was the fact that it seemed like all the people who failed the Testing just got killed. KILLED. So many people died. And it made no sense to kill them! Just because they failed one aspect of the Testing – how could no-one else in the world possibly notice that all the smartest people were getting killed? And seeing as it was only the smartest people who got through to the Testing, wouldn’t killing off half of them just created a wider gap between normal and super-smart people? Only the best of the best survived – all the in-betweens were just killed off! Would this not just be counterproductive? They could still be useful in society! They could have just had their memories erased and then placed somewhere else! What got me as well was that the people taking the Testing didn’t even question where the failing participants were going at first, and then when they FINALLY figured it out they weren’t even that alarmed that all these people died until it was someone close to them dying.

Other things that seemed to make no sense/weren’t believable: A) in the beginning, ALL the girls, dressed up in their nicest, dressiest clothes for the Testing, except Cia, OF COURSE, who was the only girl to realise that the Testing may require clothes to move around in. So these girls were all smart enough to be picked for the Testing, but not smart enough to realise the Testing would require comfy clothes? -_-. I did not like how they were ALL portrayed as being silly with Cia as the only exception. They were all highly intelligent, so this just seemed absurd. B) towards the end of the book, there was this one guy (no name to avoid spoilers) who needed to cross a finish line to pass the Testing round, but he was highly injured, had a burst appendix AND was still a few miles away from the line with not much time left to get there. AND HE STILL MADE IT. He survived MILES with gunshot wounds and a BURST FREAKING APPENDIX, travelling by himself! How did he not AT LEAST pass out on the way there?

Overall, I had a bit of a rocky relationship with The Testing. I really do want to find out what happens in the next book, but there was just so much that annoyed me! I think I will have to admit though that my curiosity at this point is outweighing the unbelievable things, so I think I’ll give a three star rating. Recommended if you want an engaging and fast-paced book full of action to pass the time.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Review: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

The Rising (Darkness Rising #3) by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Atom
Released: April 2nd 2013
My Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Things are getting desperate for Maya and her friends. Hunted by the St. Clouds and a rival Cabal, they’re quickly running out of places to hide. And with the whole world thinking they died in a helicopter crash, it’s not like they can just go to the authorities for help.

All they have is the name and number of someone who might be able to give them a few answers. Answers to why they’re so valuable, and why their supernatural powers are getting out of control.

But Maya is unprepared for the truths that await her. And now, like it or not, she’ll have to face down some demons from her past if she ever hopes to move on with her life. Because Maya can’t keep running forever.
 (from Goodreads)

The end of another series! I did enjoy this trilogy a lot. While the ending was a bit iffy for me (I’ll get back to that later), I liked the book as a whole and will definitely be looking forward to reading more of Kelley Armstrong’s work.

A lot of things happened in The Rising and Maya and co. were still trying to survive the best they could. Add in Ash, a new character who I can’t say much about because of spoilers, and things were getting even more complicated. Ash was very overprotective of Maya and his opinion on what to do often differed to what the rest of the group wanted to do. He wasn’t the most amicable guy, but I liked him because he was genuine and honest and he was sick of being messed around by people. He was also pretty observant and clever and made a great addition to the group in my opinion.

Nicole, who I have never liked (and for good reason) got even worse in this book and yet I found her to be an interesting character. Kelley Armstrong did a good job of attributing this twisted sort of reasoning behind Nicole’s actions, and while I think she should have definitely have been punished and served her time for her despicable actions, I’m glad no-one in the group actually killed her or anything out of revenge because I don’t think Serena would have wanted that.

The romance in this book was very different to the previous two books, and I really enjoyed it. There were always hints that Daniel liked Maya as more than a friend, but it was explored a lot more in The Rising and everything just made me love Daniel even more! I was so happy to see his and Maya’s friendship develop and to see them become even closer. And when Maya finally realised what was obvious to everyone else, she was stuck with trying to sort out all her feelings. She definitely cared about Rafe, and while I was never a fan, I did sort of feel bad for him in the end. He obviously liked Maya and he was a caring guy - he wanted to protect his sister. But I’ve always preferred Daniel so I was kind of happy about the new development (which actually surprised me a bit because I don’t usually like love triangles). I also think Corey was a good friend to Daniel even if his actions were a bit misguided, and I thought that was sweet. Ash’s view on the romance stuff though, was quite hilarious.

One of my favourite parts of this book was seeing the Darkest Powers characters again. Chloe and Derek returned! Along with Simon and Tori and a few others. It was so great to see them again. Chloe was awesome as always and still not taking any of Derek’s crap, Simon’s sense of humour was still there and I was even glad to see drama queen Tori! I loved the way Maya and Daniel first ran into Chloe and Derek and the way they interacted with each other after that. Maya and Chloe seemed to form an uneasy kind of friendship after a while, but I think they could be great friends in the future! Derek was, of course, suspicious of everyone, but even he relaxed a bit at the end. I didn’t realise how much I missed these characters until I saw them again!

The ending was my main problem with this book. It seemed like a bit of a cop out. I just felt like after everyone being on the run for so long (especially Chloe’s group) and after facing so much danger and trying to get away from the “bad guys” the whole time, for it to be resolved in that just felt like an easy solution. Like giving in. I don’t know. I hear there’s going to be another series concerning another set of kids who were part of another project (don't quote me on it though!) – but it feels like the story in Darkness Rising was finished so I’m not sure if we’ll see more of these characters in the new series. Maybe if we did and something big happened I would be okay with the ending but right I get why it happened, and I’m glad everyone got to have some peace at last, but I didn’t love it.

Overall, I enjoyed the Darkness Rising series a lot and would definitely recommend it to supernatural fans. I didn’t love it as much as the Darkest Powers series and the ending wasn’t my favourite, but it was still a great trilogy, and I’m sad it’s over.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Winner of Insignia!

Today I'm announcing the winner of my Insignia giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered - there'll be more giveaways in the future, so keep an eye out for those. However, the winner of Insignia, lucky number 20 chosen by, is:

Congrats Aylee! Insignia will be on the way to you shortly :). 

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Review: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: February 7th 2013
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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 Goodreads)

This book in a nutshell:

Yes, it was awesome and possibly involved the best cons yet.

No, we did not find out Hale’s name (I’m getting desperate, Ally Carter. Winthorpe? Waterstone? Wayne? Wormtail? Warrington? WHAT IS IT?!)

I...adored this book. Like Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals, there was always that element of “will they get the job done?” and “can they really pull this off?” and “nooooooo way in hell”. But this time it was more personal. Hale was right in the middle of things; it was his grandmother who died, his family’s company at stake, his life in turmoil. He wasn’t exactly the best person to act rationally for this job. He wasn’t the Hale who’d laugh with Kat, making a cheeky or arrogant comment while grinning like he knew everything. No, this Hale was a slightly more broken man. And Kat’s real job wasn’t saving Hale was saving Hale.

While we didn’t find out Hale’s name (Warner? Wren?), we did actually find out a lot more about him and his family. Hale was actually rather close to his grandmother, something Kat had never known, and she was the only person he seemed to actually really love. Not only that, but it seemed he led a whole different like when he was at home, one Kat felt she just didn’t fit in with. It was very, very interesting to see this different side of Hale. It was a reminder that when he wasn’t off stealing something with Kat and the gang, he was actually the heir to a billion dollar company. He was living a different life, and it just made me realise that there was so much we didn’t know about him. I have to admit, I did miss the old Hale, with his charm and mystery. But there was something about this Hale that just made me much for him! I just wanted to hug him, I wanted Kat to hug him, I wanted him to freaking smile again instead of just pretending to. After everything that happened in this book, he must have felt so betrayed. He acted like a complete idiot at times, something you wouldn’t expect because, I mean, this is HALE, usually so composed...but I really couldn’t blame him for it. I don’t even know what I’d be doing if I were in his situation.

Kat, however, was not giving up on Hale. Kat was loyal. I loved her. I loved that she was willing to do anything, no matter how impossible it seemed. I loved the way her family teased her about her relationship with Hale...I loved that she accepted Hale, that she didn’t care about his money or business or fancy lifestyle. Kat was smart enough to know what she wanted and what she was willing to do for the people she cared about. She had known Hale far too long to fall for his pretences. God, sometimes I wish I could be as clever as these people. Kat especially – the Anastasia plan? Brilliant. And realising what was going on when it seemed to everyone else that everything was just fine and dandy? Amazing. Kat...Kat and Hale were like...I don’t even know. I just know you couldn’t have one without the other. Those two were just a perfect fit in the most imperfect way and I need there to be another book, and I need it now, and I need the clever banter and saucy humour they had before. I NEED THESE TWO TO BE HAPPY TOGETHER.

So plot, you ask? Don’t worry. Boredom is something that is impossible to feel whilst reading an Ally Carter book. The cons in this book...were just awesome. I mean, there were cons WITHIN cons. WITHIN OTHER cons. There were so many layers of lies and deceit, I don’t know how everyone kept their head. Especially at certain parts when it seemed like their plans had been discovered and everything was going wrong. There were plans, alternate plans, back-up plans, secret plans – plans everywhere! Honestly, some of these cons were so good, they almost had me fooled, even though I pretty much already knew what they were doing! And some of the things I just didn’t suspect AT ALL. If you want twists, this book will give you twists and then some. And the characters! Apart from Kat and Hale, the whole merry band of thieves was just so loveable. Honestly, I loved them all. From Uncle Eddie and all his wisdom, to sassy and smart Gabrielle who had the good fortune of being beautiful AND brainy (she was so smart she knew everything Kat was thinking...she was like her consciousness in human form!). From computer whizz Simon (a skill I have always envied) to Nick the supposed good guy who can never resist a heist (I did love Nick, he was always so reliable) to Angus and Hamish who were hilarious and devious and UGH. EVERYONE. Even Silas, who was new to this book, but adorably dorky for an old guy and someone you couldn’t help but take a liking to. I don’t know how Ally Carter did it, but she made me fall for practically her entire cast. She must have magical powers, it’s the only explanation.

Overall, it was freaking awesome. Slightly darker than the previous two books I think, there was less carefree humour and a bit more sadness. But I can’t recommend this series enough. Read it. Now. And if you’re already a fan and haven’t got this book yet...I believe some free time just appeared in your schedule. So go buy it! :D

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Tales from Planet Print #7

Tales from Planet Print is a feature on the blog. It centres around the daily lives of books here on Planet Print, and the sorts of things they get up to when they think no-one is looking. Each week involves different books and the different situations they get themselves into. At Planet Print, we believe all books are entitled to freedom and happiness. We stand for justice and we stand against shelving. Free books are happy books.

*I haven't done this feature in a long, long time. I couldn't possibly show all the books I've gotten since the last time I did it, so I picked a few that I got recently*

Goddess: Hello folks! And welcome to another episode of Books in Love, where the aim of the game is to find those single books out there the romance of a lifetime! I'm your host, Goddess, and today we have the lovely Crush on the show, looking for love! Tell us a bit about yourself, Crush.
Crush: Hi Goddess. Well, I'm Crush. I love travelling and trying new things, and I'm really interested in history and other cultures. I'd love to find someone special to share these experiences, and well, we'll see what happens after that!
Goddess: Fabulous! Well, now it's time to explain how the show works. Today, we have our three Infernos as potential candidates for Crush. Crush will ask questions to each Inferno to try and find out a bit more about them, and then the Infernos will also have a chance to ask Crush some questions! At the end, Crush will choose her favourite to go on a very special date to...Book Mountains! A magical and mysterious exotic location where our books are sure to find love.
Audience: Oooooooh! (some snickering in the background)
Goddess: Over to you, Crush!
Crush: Thanks Goddess. So my first question is to Inferno #1. What would be your ideal date and why?
Inferno #1: Oooh that's a tough question. Well I love long walks on the beach and winter snow and I'd have to say my idea date would be a picnic around a fire on the beach during the harsh cold of winter!
Crush: Oh...erm, that's unusual. Thanks for your answer. My next question is to Inferno #2. Why did you decide to come on the show today?
Inferno #2: I was told there'd be free cheesecake.
Crush: What?!
Inferno #2: Cheesecake. I was told there would be free cheesecake. I loooove cheesecake. I make cheesecake, I eat cheesecake. I even dream about cheesecake. So I came for the cheesecake. Do you know where the cheesecake is?
Crush: (ignoring Inferno #2 completely) So, Inferno #3, what do you look for in a partner?
Inferno #3: Well, it's all down to the individual really. I love laughing, so I look for a good sense of humour. I volunteer on a regular basis, so someone kind-hearted and empathetic would be great too. I'm not into looks so much. You shouldn't judge a book by their cover, you know?
Crush: Oh wow. That was fairly normal. Thanks for -
Inferno #3: Of course, my mother would have to approve.
Crush: Your - mother?
Inferno #3: Of course. I mean, if things got serious, we'd be living under the same roof. My mother isn't going to let someone she doesn't approve of live in her house. I bet she would even refuse to take us to the park and buy us ice-cream on Sundays. She might even take away TV privileges!
Crush: Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

Goddess: Well that's the end of round one! Time for a break.
Crush: Oh God. Why did I come on this show.
Sister Assassin: (to Goddess) We need to talk.
Goddess: You're not supposed to be on stage! Go back -
Sister Assassin: There's been a security breach.
Goddess: What? What happened?
Sister Assassin: Unknown books have entered the premises. Security team #3 are holding them back, but they might break through. We advise cancelling the show.
Goddess: Cancel the show? CANCEL THE SHOW? I think not.
Sister Assassin: I don't think you're aware of the risk. These books have shown aggression towards -
Goddess: And I'm sure security team #3 can hold them back until the end of the show. Run along now.
Sister Assassin: You are endangering innocent people; the contestants, the audience, yourself!
Goddess: The break is almost over, get off stage!
Sister Assassin: Fine, it's your funeral.
Inferno #2: Where is the cheesecake?

Goddess: Welcome back! It's time for round two, and it's time for the Infernos to be asking the questions!
Crush: (whispers to Goddess) Look, I am not interested in any of them, can't I just - 
Goddess: (ignores) Inferno #1, what would you like to ask Crush?
Inferno #1: Hi Crush! In your opinion, what is the best way to start a fire?
Crush: What? How would I know? Matches, I guess?
Inferno #1: MATCHES? Oh I am disappointed. So disappointed.
Crush: Oh no, what a tragedy, how will I ever live.
Goddess: Inferno #2, ask your question.
Inferno #2: Do you like cheesecake?
Crush: No.
Inferno #2: Never speak to me again.
Crush: Gladly.
Sister Assassin: (offstage) The books have passed security team #3 and are making their way to you, get out now!
Goddess: (ignores again) Inferno #3, it's your turn!
Sister Assassin: They're on stage!
Inferno #3: What would you give my mother for her birthday?
Crush: A restraining order.

Goddess: (pushed aside by unknown books barging on to stage) What? Who are you all? Why are you here.
Acid: (to Inferno #1) YOU. How dare you come on this show. How DARE you.
Inferno #1: (nervously) Acid! What are you doing here?
Acid: Did you really think you could burn down my house after I broke up with you and get away with it? 
Inferno #1: Look, it was an accident - 
Acid: Yeah, tell that to the jury. I'll see you in court, you crazy arsonist!
Noble Conflict: You think that's bad? When I went out with him, he used to take my stuff and bury it in the sand at the beach! I lost an antique ring that used to be my grandmother's - it was virtually priceless!
All Our Yesterdays: Well for our anniversary he took me to a glacier. A GLACIER. I almost pushed him over the edge but he had the return tickets in his pocket...
Crush: How has he had some many partners?!
Until I Die: Inferno #2 is infinitely worse. He was going out with me and my sister at the same time!
If I Should Die: It was awful! He accidentally sent my sister's birthday cheesecake to me instead, and that was when we knew. We both beat him up after that, but you never really get over these things.

The Rising and Summer: (drop kick Inferno #2 and Inferno #3 respectively) Kaboom!
The Rising: Inferno #2. I have been searching for you.
Crush: Oh God, what did he do to you? Date you and your brother at the same time?
The Rising: No, he stole my cheesecake.
Crush: Riight.
Summer: Inferno #3 is the worst of them all. His mother was practically in our relationship. She used to tuck him in at night! She used to chaperone us on nights out! She phoned up MY mother to ask whether I was a well-behaved child! She was everywhere. Sometimes I would wake up to see her watching me while I slept. It was the creepiest thing... Now she's not allowed within 500 feet of me.
Inferno #3: (groans face-flat on the floor) Don't insult my mother...
Summer: SHUT UP.
Crush: I think I'm going to call the police.
Goddess: We're still on air.
Inferno #2: (muffled) There's no cheesecake, is there.
Inferno #3: Mummy...

Books (in order of appearance):
French Kiss (Diary of a Crush #1) by Sarah Manning
Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini
Inferno (Chronicles of Nick #4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Inferno (The Divine Comedy #1) by Dante Alighieri
Inferno (The Divine Comedy #1) by Dante Alighieri
Sister Assassin (Mind Games #1) by Kiersten White
Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
Acid by Emma Pass
Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
Until I Die (Revenants #2) by Amy Plum
If I Should Die (Revenants #3) by Amy Plum

What did you guys get this week?

Many thanks to Atom, Bloomsbury, Leanna @ Daisy Chain Book Reviews, Macmillan, Random House (I have no clue how I got sent Acid - I don't review for RH and there was no press release! But thanks anyway :P) and The Works for their amazing discounted books.