Wednesday 31 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. Here's the synopsis:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Imagine if she hadn't forgotten the book. Or if there hadn't been traffic on the expressway. Or if she hadn't fumbled the coins for the toll. What if she'd run just that little bit faster and caught the flight she was supposed to be on. Would it have been something else - the weather over the Atlantic or a fault with the plane?

Hadley isn't sure if she believes in destiny or fate but, on what is potentially the worst day of each of their lives, it's the quirks of timing and chance events that mean Hadley meets Oliver...

Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it."

Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to reading this one! And already it sounds like it's just begging to be a movie. It has a really long title (it shall henceforth be known as TSPOLAFS) and I'm totally digging the UK cover, I usually go for the US hardback copy of a book but I'm going for the paperback in this case. I'm hoping this is a thought provoking and thoroughly heart warming read :)

TSPOLAFS is published on 5th January, 2012. I know what I'll be spending my christmas money on!

Tuesday 30 August 2011

The Hunger Games Teaser Trailer

You know how much of a Hunger Games fangirl I am, right?! Well, I've been anxiously awaiting any sign of a trailer for the movie that comes out next year and a teaser trailer has just been released. I heard it was premiering on a music awards show in the States and I woke up today with my first thoughts being, I must see it! It's not very long at 1 minute and 6 seconds and personally I was a little disappointed with it but only because I wanted so much more! What do you think?

Monday 29 August 2011

Nightshade Review

I feel I should start this review with a massive apology to Andrea Cremer who is the author of Nightshade. I remember when I first heard about the book, how much I wanted to read it and how I entered every contest I could find to win an ARC. I think it was a Haiku contest on Andrea’s website that won me the book I wanted and also introduced me to a style of Japanese poetry I’d never heard of before. I’m not sure what happened next but basically it got buried in my TBR pile. It’s also possible that I had been reading a lot of wolf stories at the time and wanted to read something different thus leaving it for a while but to my detriment, I never went back. I even bought a finished hardback of Nightshade for myself (this is without reading it) and gave a UK paperback copy to my sister (who loved it by the way). I’ve felt guilty about it for some time now and I swear, with every book I pick up next to read, lately Nightshade has been calling to me, demanding to be read. I finally gave in and read it in one sitting and then promptly kicked myself for waiting so long. Here’s the synopsis:

“Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?”

What a fantastically strong first chapter Nightshade gives us. It set things up really nicely although I didn’t know where the story was going to go at that point. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable with the school situation – the way the humans cower before the wolf packs and no one mixes outside of their own group. I did get used it though and I guess you might say that this has always been the case though and teenagers have always hung around together in packs of some kind or another. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and I do admit to finding this slightly difficult at first but I quickly became accustomed to who was who and what pack they belonged to. This is the part where I admit to having a crush on Ren from the start. The sexual tension between him and Calla oozed off the page and I bought right into it. Shay started off as an unwanted inconvenience that quickly turned into a distraction for Calla, an alternative to Ren that she’d never really considered. Ren and Shay are very different characters and yet they have similarities. They’re both strong characters but for all his bravado and alpha status, I see a vulnerability in Ren that endears him to me. Shay is one brave mofo for challenging Ren for Calla’s affections and whilst that too is endearing, I fear my heart is already taken.

The whole book is a ticking time bomb, building up to the union between Ren and Calla. This union has been arranged since they were children and so there was never any choice in it. Surrounding that of course is the war between The Searchers and The Keepers which is embroiled in history and forbidden texts. Calla feels like she’s never had a choice and suddenly, she is presented with Shay who opens up all kinds of possibilities to her. Needless to say that the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, one that will have you reaching for the sequel in a heartbeat.

Nightshade is a fantastic debut novel that is sexy, dangerous and alluring. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ve already picked up the sequel, Wolfsbane. If you haven’t started reading this book series yet, pick it up. NOW. Trust me ;)

Nightshade was published on 19th October, 2010 in the US and 28th December, 2010 in the UK. To find out more about Andrea Cremer, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday 27 August 2011

The Taker Review

In a nutshell, The Taker by Alma Katsu is an epic love story and even epic is not big enough of a word to describe this book. It’s already been released in the UK and has gone on to its second printing since publication. With its imminent release due in the US, I am certain that this book will achieve the same amount of success, if not more over there. I actually got this book for review a while ago now and also saw it at BEA (Book Expo America) being handed out to book bloggers. Although the main character is twenty years old (kind of) , I would not consider this a Young Adult book, rather an adult book that crosses over into the YA world, a novel that will appeal to older readers within the Young Adult market. When I first started reading this book, I expected it to be a straightforward love story that spanned across time and place but of course there had to be a twist to the tale and I hadn’t quite figured out what that might be. Never in a million years, did I imagine the story would be about unrequited love, the kind of love that is unfulfilling and borders on obsession, the kind of love that has the potential to destroy everything. Here’s the synopsis:

True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . .

On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption.”

How can you not want to read this book after a description like that?! The Taker is narrated by Lanore or “Lanny” and the book flits between the past and the present quite nicely. We learn of her history as she relays it to Luke, a doctor who is treating her in the ER after she is brought in covered in blood. The reader is taken on a journey through Lanny’s life and her everlasting love for Jonathan, the boy she fell in love with as a child. The words trials and tribulations don’t quite cut it and to be quite honest, I’m struggling to find the right words to describe the book. It was a fantastic read and one that lingers for some time afterwards, indeed I am still thinking about it. The book cover, both in the UK and the US is beautiful and the content is astounding, especially when you consider that this is a debut novel. That part blows me away. The Taker really captivated me and I was thrilled to discover that this is the first book in a trilogy.

What I found the most interesting was the title of the book. When I read a book, I play a little game with myself which consists of trying to figure out why the title was chosen in the first place. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it takes a little investigation. When I realised why the title was used, I thought it was incredibly clever because whilst you might assume that it relates to one character, I don’t think it does. I think each of the characters could be considered a taker in one way or another and I can’t wait for you to discover that for yourself.

I thought all the characters were wonderful but my favourite (and you might find this strange) was Adair. I thought he was wonderfully complex and I suspect that we still don’t know everything about him. He may be cruel and somewhat sadistic at times but I believe he has the capacity to love. I’m still trying to figure out what it means to Adair though and whether it is really love or not. Uzra was another favourite as there was something ethereal about the way she floated in and out of scenes like a ghost. I also admire the fact that she never submitted, she never went willingly. I realise that might sound a little cryptic but I’m trying not to give everything away.

Lanny’s love for Jonathan was steadfast and uncompromising. I think she was blind to his flaws and this most certainly did them both no favours in the long run.

I had a feeling I would like this book but it turned out to be a completely different story to the one I was expecting and you know what? I think I loved it more because of that fact. It was interesting and different and definitely not predictable. This book is epic in proportion and I really hope to see it on the big screen one day or even as a TV series as it deserves this kind of recognition. I’m passing on my copy to my sister and buying a hardback for myself. This is an astonishing debut novel and like I said, the first of a trilogy. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where the story is going and feel like I’m on this journey with the characters. There’s no turning back now and I wouldn’t want to anyway, I’m definitely here for the duration.

The Taker was published on 14th April, 2011 in the UK and will be published on 6th September, 2011 in the US. To find out more about Alma, please click here to visit her website.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Wildefire Review

Every now and then a book comes along that makes you stop and go wow, I *HAVE* to read that and Wildefire by karsten Knight was that book for me. I mean, how many books do you know that feature a kickass Polynesian Volcano Goddess, right? I had the pleasure of meeting Karsten briefly at BEA this year and although sadly there were no ARC’s, a friend stepped in and gave me hers :) And even though several pages were loose and kept falling out, it didn’t matter to me. I was finally reading the book I had longed to read since I first heard about it. Here’s the synopsis:

“Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behaviour escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smouldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.”

One of the best things about Wildefire (besides the humour) is the mythology and I really enjoyed learning about the history behind Gods and Goddesses. I thought the book opened with a bang and ended with a bang but Karsten made us wait a really long time to discover what Ashline could do. I never expected it to be a journey of discovery or rather a rude awakening more like and I look forward to seeing her discover more of her powers in subsequent books.

Ashline is definitely a strong female character but I thought at some points in the book, she came across as arrogant. I’m not sure if it got lost in translation but at one point Colt is talking to her about going on a date and when she accepts she says something along the lines of “time to join the big leagues”. I thought that sounded a little arrogant, like she was “all that” and he should be lucky that he is taking her out. With regards to Colt, I was wondering all the way through WHY he was attracted to Ashline, especially as she was verging on being mean to him in the beginning but he kept coming back for more. Was it purely her looks? Does he like a challenge? Does he have his own agenda? What I thought Ashline lacked was vulnerability and this is precisely why Eve (Ashline’s older sister) was my favourite character in the book. I liked the idea of putting a super power in the hands of a troubled teen and watching the chaos that ensues. She exuded a lot of flawed logic and thinks she can bribe Ash into loving her and running away with her if she promises not to hurt people. I thought Eve was the most believable character – she showed both a strength and a vulnerability which shined through the writing.

The secondary characters were interesting, especially her school friends who turned out to be Gods and Goddesses alike. Whilst I absolutely loved the sense of humour and witty one liners pouring out of this book, a lot of the voices sounded similar however and it would have been nice to see more distinction there.

Despite this, I have to say that I did really enjoy the book and after a particularly bad day at work last week, I was very grateful that reading Wildefire took me away from everything for a little while. And let me tell you that the ending will BLOW YOU AWAY and it’s one of the best, most shocking endings I’ve read for a while.

Overall, this is a promising debut novel from Karsten and I look forward to reading the rest of the series which in my eyes can only get better.

Wildefire was published on 26th July, 2011. Thank you to an incredibly kind friend and fellow blogger who gave me her ARC. To find out more about Karsten and his books, click here to visit the website. Karsten is also active on facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. After reading both Nightshade and Wolfsbane back to back recently, this week's pick is Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer. Here's the synopsis:

"Is true love worth the ultimate sacrifice?"

Um, yeah. That's it. From what I can understand, the synopsis for this book is pretty much under wraps and I can understand why, this being the final book in the series and all where everything comes together and gets resolved. I understand that there will only be a limited number of ARC's for Bloodrose and I fully realise I have no hope in hell of ever seeing one but I've already pre-ordered my finished copy and I will be marking the day in my diary! My phone will be switched off, I will have wine and tissues (in case they are needed) and I shall have a "do not disturb" sign on my bedroom door. I guess I'm lucky in that I didn't have to wait for Wolfsbane to come out so I read Nightshade and Wolfsbane back to back but now, ARGH I've got to wait for Bloodrose and January can't come soon enough! If you're keen to read the first chapter of Bloodrose, YOU CAN RIGHT NOW here and OMG you definitely want to although be warned, it will whet your appetite even more for the third book. Bloodrose is published on 24th January, 2012.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Stealing Phoenix Review

When I read the first book in this series, Finding Sky which I reviewed here, I seriously hoped that it wasn’t a standalone and thought that there was a lot of potential for the other Benedict brothers to come to the forefront and be the main protagonists in their own books. I’m happy to report that this is indeed what is happening and I couldn’t be more thrilled. In both books so far, I’ve absolutely loved the mix of US /UK influences and references and I lapped this one up. Here’s the synopsis:

“Yves' story.

This is about getting you out...I'm stealing you.

Phoenix belongs to the Community - a gang of thieves with paranormal powers. Yves Benedict - an American student visiting London - is her mark. But Yves turns out to be more than just a target. He is her destiny. Her soulmate. But the Community owns Phoenix's past and it wants her future too.”

Stealing Phoenix has a very strong beginning that throws you right in the middle of the action and there was even a reference to the London Olympics in there which I thought was a really nice touch. As if you didn’t know already, I’m definitely a romantic at heart so I just eat up the idea of soulfinders and I am DEFINITELY adding Yves to my list of literary boyfriends. Okay, he might have an unusual name but he is damn near perfect - he’s got the looks, the brains, the family loyalty, he wants to protect Phoenix and he’s got money. So what’s the flaw? I don’t think there is one. Yes he’s good looking but bashful with it and doesn’t realise what effect he has on other women. He is a little bit geeky but I don’t consider that to be a flaw and I love me a geek.

I really liked Phoenix’s fiery spirit, that survival instinct inside of her that pushes its way out all the time. She had a really cool gift that I would not mind having but I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

It’s nice that Sky and Zed made an appearare in the story; they’re just not the star attractions in this book. And I loved how the Benedict family came together when they needed to. It reminds me of the movie “While you were Sleeping” when Sandra Bullock’s character is introduced to this heart warming family and wishes she could be part of it. Secretly, I think I wouldn’t mind being part of the Benedict family but let’s just keep that between us.

I thought this was a brilliant story, one that I couldn’t have predicted Joss would come up with and she certainly kept it interesting and entertaining whilst introducing us to a bigger plot line that I’m sure will crop up again in the future. Of course, now I’m wondering which brother will be featured next and I CANNOT WAIT to find out. More please.

Stealing Phoenix is published by Oxford University Press on 1st September, 2011. Thank you to them for sending me an ARC to read and review. To find out more about Joss Stirling, please click here to access her website.

Sunday 21 August 2011

A Long, Long Sleep Review

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is a beautiful book from the outset and one that has been getting some pretty positive reviews so far from what I’ve seen but this book and I battled from the beginning. I spent the first 100-150 pages struggling to get into the story for various reasons and have to admit that I almost put it down. I carried on reading because I don’t quit books easily and with all the positive press, I had to admit that maybe I was missing something. And then as if by magic, everything clicked into place and I started really enjoying it to the point that I’ve been bawling my eyes out for the past fifteen minutes. You certainly don’t elicit THAT kind of reaction if you didn’t enjoy the book. Whilst I wipe my tears, I give you the synopsis:

“Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.”

The first thought that sprung to mind when I started reading this was that it reminded me of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and I suspect a lot of people will make this comparison as the story features a girl who wakes up after spending 62 years in stasis but that’s really where the comparison ends and let me tell you that these stories are completely different. Sleeping Beauty also comes to mind as in A Long, Long Sleep, Rose is woken with a kiss which actually sounds quite romantic until you realise that in reality it’s actually more like mouth to mouth resuscitation. I also drew comparisons with The Terminator when I realised that Rose had a killer robot that won’t ever stop coming after her. Regardless of these comparisons, I do actually think that the story stands on its own merits but I bet you’re wondering why I struggled so much in the beginning? I think it was being thrown into a completely new world that wasn’t all explained right away and took some time to get used to. Not only is the lingo different but I also became confused about the difference in age between Rose and Xavier as it kept shifting. At first I thought that it was a mistake as I was reading the ARC and then I got a bit creeped out about it and the potential love interest connotations. Finally, a friend helped me realise what was happening and that it was indeed correct. Thank you Zoe! Then I realised that I had I just kept reading a little further, I would have discovered that revelation for myself!

As for the killer robot? During their first encounter, Rose doesn’t tell anyone and hides in the sub basement where apparently this futuristic and presumably intelligent robot doesn’t think to look. And then the very next day, she goes to school. Now, granted she is taking some kind of ant anxiety pills to suppress her emotions after all she’s been through and I understand the need for routine and all things familiar to make you feel safe but DAMN GIRL, I would be getting the hell out of there ASAP. Obviously she doesn’t watch scary movies. Later on, she tells us that she thought it was a dream or something and we realise that the robot is not all that it seems but still!

Anyway, so yes I started getting into the story and I loved how we learned about Rose’s past narrated to us through a series of flashbacks. My heart grew for Xavier and all that Rose had lost. If I’m honest, I was quite devastated in the end. This is a truly heartbreaking but beautiful debut novel that I’m glad I stuck with otherwise I wouldn’t have known that. And the end? Oh. My. Goodness was I bawling. Well done Ms Sheehan. Well done.

A Long, Long Sleep was published by Candlewick Press in the US on 9th August, 2011 and by Gollancz in the UK on 18th August, 2011. Thank you to Gollancz for sending me an ARC to read and review.

To find out more about Anna Sheehan, click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

The Eternal Sea Review (and win books!)

By now, I’m hoping that you’ve read my gushing review of Angie Frazier’s first book Everlasting here and have hopefully read the book yourself so as not to encounter any potential spoilers. And by now you will also have realised how much I LOVED Everlasting and how I read it in three hours and then immediately picked up the sequel. One of the good things about not reading a book on or near its publication date is that if you leave it long enough, then you don’t have the enduring wait for the sequel. So whilst I was kicking myself for not reading Everlasting sooner, I’m glad I didn’t have many months to think about the book until I got to read the next one. The Eternal Sea picks up where Everlasting leaves off. A world where Camille has chosen Oscar and he is living and breathing, a world where they are living in Camille’s mother’s house until they can figure out what to do next, a world where Oscar has gone a little weird and is doing what I like to call “an Edward”. What, pray tell I hear you ask is “an Edward?” Dear readers, I am referring to Edward Cullen in New Moon when he does the most idiotic thing a person can do and that is to tell the object of their affection that they don’t love them in order to protect them *head desk*. Never mind Oscar, I still love you even when you’re being a doofus. Basically, Camille and Oscar learn that the adventure is not over yet and just to make things a little interesting, guess who’s found his sea legs and ventured halfway across the world to make sure Camille is okay? Oh, hello Randall. Here’s the synopsis:

“Romance and adventure are just around the corner . . .

After the thrilling journey that led Camille through the dangerous discovery of love, secrets, and a magical stone that grants immortality, Camille has everything she wants. She's escaped the men who wanted her dead, and now she is ready to build a new life with Oscar, her one true love. But things are not to be so simple. Oscar is acting strangely, and before they can even board a ship from Australia back home, to San Francisco, Camille learns that the journey is not over. If she does not follow the magic of the curse of Umandu, her life and Oscar's could be in grave danger.”

This time around, they set sail for Egypt but do not be deceived, before they’ve even set off on the journey; the path is fraught with danger. We’re introduced to the likes of “couriers” who to put it mildly, aren’t very nice. And what about the sudden arrival of Randall, I hear you ask? Well, it’s only a matter of time before the shit hits the fan so to speak. And you know what? All in all, it turns out that beyond the riches and businesslike manner, he’s actually a decent guy once you get to know him and he truly loves Camille. And this is somewhat of a conundrum as I found myself torn (like Camille) between them both. Personally, I think Oscar has the edge but still! He may be acting a little weird, but he’s still fiercely protective of Camille and will not let her come to any harm even if it costs him dearly.

The Eternal Sea introduces us to some new characters besides couriers such as Captain Starbuck (was Angie drinking in a certain caffeine selling establishment when she thought of this I wonder) and Maggie, a stowaway onboard The Eclipse, a ship hired by Randall to take them on the next leg of their adventure. Everyone is connected to the stone in some way, some of which comes as a big surprise. In Everlasting, we were introduced to Camille’s half brother Samuel and in this book; we begin to get to know him better although I’m sure there’s still more to come.

I really enjoyed the fact that the story took us back to the ocean for a little while before resting in the bustling city of Cairo. I also enjoyed the mysterious dreams that overtook Camille on the journey and how they bled over into the real world. And let’s just say that having two guys fight over you? Two guys that you love? SWOON CENTRAL.

The Eternal Sea has somewhat of a devastating ending but I do not believe all is lost. I have faith that things will be okay and I’m hoping (read: desperate) to see that in the next part of the trilogy as Angie has definitely left things open for a third book. I just hope that the book gets written as I hear that Scholastic are not lined up to publish the third book. I do hope (read: beg) they reconsider.

The Eternal Sea was published on 1st June, 2011. Thank you to Angie Frazier for sending me an ARC that I won in her contest. To find out more about Angie and her books click here and for a direct link to her blog, click here. If you want to WIN a SIGNED copy of both Everlasting and The Eternal Sea (I'm actually quite jealous!) then please leave me a comment with your name, e mail address and country where you live. This contest is INTERNATIONAL and the winner will be chosen at random. Deadline is 31st August.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" which is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is The Mephisto Covenant AKA the book I missed out on getting at BEA by Trinity Faegan. Here's the synopsis:

"Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

So first off, what a beautiful cover!! But even better, I think the story sounds intriguing and I love the idea of someone trying to win you over which pretty much guarantees a SWOON FEST. The mythology sounds really interesting too and I'm looking forward to reading this one :)

The Mephisto Covenant is published on 27th September, 2011.

Monday 15 August 2011

Everlasting Review

Besides sci fi, my favourite kind of movies are the Indiana Jones adventure style and so when I found a book that could be compare to the aforementioned, I knew I was going to love it. So, I bought this book and you know what I did then? I STUPIDLY and also accidentally let it sit on my shelves, buried under a bulging TBR pile for an entire year. Now that Summer has come back around, I’ve been attending a lot of sailing events (I live by a marina in a major UK port city) and am surrounded by boats and seagulls most of the time. I decided I wanted to read a book that featured boats and sailing as well as having a Summery feel to it. Simultaneously, I’ve also been thinking about reading my own books lately and what I mean by that is books I’ve bought for myself because I wanted to read them and not just review books. With that in mind, Everlasting by Angie Frazier seemed like the perfect choice and so earlier today, I was delighted to take it off the shelf in a “you have been chosen” kind of moment. What started out as an intention to read the first chapter before I got dressed and attended to the mountains of housework that needed doing turned into a three hour marathon and I finished the book. I’m pleased to say that WOW, I was right. I did love it. A LOT. Everlasting is set at the tail end of the 19th century so I guess you could call it historical fiction but it’s not stuffy or boring or uninteresting. It’s truly an adventure story full of secrets, romance, an ocean voyage and ultimately a mythical treasure with a devastating power. I think the synopsis will say it better than I ever could:

“Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.

Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.”

What to say about Camille other than the girl is more prone to head injuries than Bella Swan. I thought she was a fabulous protagonist and I don’t envy her position of having to marry a man she doesn’t love to save her father’s business. On top of that, she is drawn to Oscar, a sailor who has grown up with her on the many voyages she has taken with her father throughout her teenage years. And it’s quite clear that he is more than a little taken with her but he knows his place in society and what could he offer her anyway? All of these issues pale in comparison of course when the ship goes down and Oscar and Camille begin their adventure. I really enjoyed Camille’s adventurous spirit in a society where going barefoot is not becoming for a lady. I love the fact that she would rather sail around the world with her father than take her rightful place in society with her betrothed, Randall. To be fair, we don’t know a lot about Randall and neither does Camille as they’ve never really gotten to know each other properly. Their relationship is built more on stolen moments as they rarely get the chance to be alone to talk. She longs to feel desire for him but unfortunately, his kiss just doesn’t do it for her. Yikes.

Enter Oscar, the handsome, rough and ready sailor who Camille has known for a few years. Being on multiple ocean voyages together affords some time spent talking so really Oscar has the advantage here. They’ve watched each other grow up for the past few years. What do I love about Oscar besides his strong physique earned by working on ships? As an aside, I’ve noticed this more and more about boys that work on boats *fans self*. Anyway, Oscar has a fierce loyalty towards Camille’s father who really has been a father figure for him. I adore the fact that Oscar protects Camille to the nth degree and would literally lay down his life for her. He’s strong, loyal and intelligent but he’s not perfect. He has a temper and can be stubborn for sure. But as I’m sure Camille would agree, it’s pretty hard not to love him.

I also enjoyed Ira’s character as the brash Australian con artist. In my head, I was picturing Bryan Brown (the Australian actor who starred in Cocktail) and was surprised to find out albeit not until the reading the sequel, that Ira is twenty years old. So now, I’m trying to picture a younger version of the guy who plays Jason Stackhouse because I know he is Australian.

I don’t want to say TOO MUCH about the plot for fear of giving things away but let’s just say that along the way, there is added motivation to get to the treasure before the bad guys and Camille has got some pretty tough choices to make. Let’s just cut to the chase here okay? I thought Everlasting was bloody brilliant and I’m happy to gush about it. I challenge you not to fall in love with the characters and get swept away not only in the romance but also in the pure adventure of it all. It may be a perilous journey, but you’ll be glad you went along for the ride.

Everlasting was published on 1st June, 2010. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t wait any longer and get to it! To find out more about Angie and her books click here and for a direct link to her blog, click here.

Sunday 14 August 2011

The Near Witch Review

I suspect like most people, I started following Victoria Schwab before her book was even published. I read a snippet of her writing, decided that it was beautiful and that I needed to keep an eye out for her so to speak. I didn’t think I would get an ARC of The Near Witch as living in the UK often has its disadvantages where US authors are concerned but I met a lovely lady from Disney Hyperion at BEA who promised me she would send me a copy, and I believe it came on my birthday which was great timing *grin*. I expected to read another paranormal book about witches but what I got was a major flashback to my childhood love of fairytales. The Near Witch is a fairytale through and through. Set in a little village called Near which is surrounded by moors, it may as well be called Anywhere. Near is along the same vein as “Wall” in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust which in fact is extremely clever as it could be of this earth and it could be in some fantasy land, it doesn’t really matter. Although, the very mention of “moors” has me thinking of England and I can’t help that so I chose to set the book there in my head. The main protagonist is Lexi, a teenage girl with a fierce loyalty to her family and much love for her little sister Wren. Her late father used to tell them tales of The Near Witch and she regales in repeating it to Wren who often requests the story before bed. A mysterious stranger arrives in town the same night children start disappearing from their beds and you can guess where fingers are pointing. But Lexi suspects there is more to this stranger than meets the eye and with the help of the two sisters (i.e. the two old witches left in the village) she works to unravel the mystery of the missing children and find out what the stranger has to do with it.

What I absolutely loved about this story is that Lexi is a normal girl. She does not have any special super powers, she doesn’t have a lost family heritage and she doesn’t stick out in society as anything extraordinary. She could be you or me. That’s not to say that she isn’t intelligent, imaginative, loyal and willing to see good in people and perhaps these are the greatest gifts of all. She is willing to find out more about Cole, the stranger at a time when most people want to string him up by the neck. Lexi is willing to ask questions first before shooting the blame in his direction. Cole is a troubled soul no doubt but Lexi (the girl with no special powers remember) DOES seem to have power over him as she slowly captivates him.

The novel is littered with secondary characters, two of my favourites were indeed the sisters and I kept imagining the sisters in Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. I also enjoyed Lexi’s mother whose strength which was thought forgotten, shines through at pivotal moments.

Victoria’s writing is simply beautiful, breathtaking in fact. It’s very dreamy and lyrical and I would say that she does the most elegant dance with words. The way she describes the wind turned it into a character of its own and I never imagined that there was so much to say about one aspect of the weather. I feel like I have been taught a valuable writing lesson.

This book is not unputdownable, rather I think it is designed to be read slowly and steadily. It’s a book that you look forward to reading, a book that you would be begging your older sister to read you before bed if you weren’t old enough to do it yourself! The Near Witch is the first book where I’ve seriously considered buying the audio book, for the sheer enjoyment of having someone read it to me but don’t tell anyone!

The Near Witch is a beautiful debut novel and a refreshing read in that it’s so different from a lot of what’s already out there on the shelves. If you love fairytales like I do, then this is definitely the book for you.

The Near Witch was released on 2nd August, 2011. Thank you to Disney Hyperion for sending me an ARC. To find out more about Victoria, click here to visit her website. She is also active on facebook and Twitter.

Friday 12 August 2011

What makes a good Summer read?

I’ve been pondering the question “What makes a good Summer read?” for a while now and have come to the following conclusion: is it just me or do you think books have to be read at certain times? For example, would you read a creepy book in the Summer? Would you read a book set on a beach in Winter? See where I’m going with this? Personally, I prefer to leave creepy reads for the latter half of the year when the skies are grey and overcast, when the days are shorter and I can immerse myself in the best atmosphere for the book. Equally, I prefer to read books set on beaches in the Summer, again for the right atmosphere.

Here’s an example for you. I’ve just finished reading Forever by Maggie Stiefvater and I think I picked the perfect day for it – it was an overcast and blustery Sunday and it was the PERFECT time to read the book. Had it been streaming down with hot summer sunshine, I don’t think I could have read it. I’ll give you another example, I’ve wanted to read Sea by Heidi Kling for about a year now and I see it as a summer book. I mean it’s set in Indonesia and the synopsis says that it’s a perfect summer romance! How much more summery can you get, than that?! Now last year, I missed out on reading it over the Summer and before I knew it Autumn and Winter came upon us. In my mind, it was too late to read it. So, now that Summer is here again, it’s one of the books I plan to read this month.

So all in all, what makes a good Summer read? Number one, the setting. It has to be somewhere hot, a beach house, a resort, a foreign country, a forest, hell it just has to be Summer or feel Summery. Number two, I prefer a little romance whether this is first love, holiday romance or true love. Number three, let’s not forget one of the most important things – a good story and believable characters. There are plenty of fantastic books out there and I’ve got a couple lined up for the Summer and hope you have too :)

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Fury Review

Fury by Elizabeth Miles reads like a typical high school teen movie script and whilst the back of the ARC said that it was the perfect YA crossover novel, initially I disagreed. I just didn’t think that it had the depth required to appeal to the crossover market although having thought about it for a while, I may have been wrong. Because, whilst you might think some of it is superficial, as we all know it’s what’s lying beneath the surface that counts. Here’s the synopsis.

Sometimes sorry isn't enough....

“It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.

Em and Chase have been chosen.”

Fury is based around the Greek and Roman mythology of the Furies, a group of three sisters who dish out punishment to anyone breaking the rules of society. But what right do they have to do this? And should it really be an eye for an eye? What if the person affected has forgiven the wrong doer, does that person still get punished? These are the sorts of questions I was asking myself when I read the book. I’m not sure that I got a lot of answers to be honest and I should say at this point that the ending of a book normally answers the sort of questions that have been building in your mind but I found myself just asking more questions which undoubtedly means that there is at least one more book on the cards.

In Fury, to be quite honest a lot of the characters are not particularly likeable but then you’d have a hard time understanding why the furies came after them if they were all sweet and innocent. Now I certainly do not condone cheating but I can understand how things just happen, things that you didn’t necessarily want or ask for so I’m willing to cut Em some slack for lusting after her best friend’s boyfriend. But there’s a whole world of difference in liking someone and doing something about it. That’s all I’m going to say.

Chase was actually my favourite character. I liked the idea that he came from the poorest part of town but was still accepted into the popular crowd, mostly because he was good at football I imagine. I thought he was a little misguided in some of his actions but I harboured no ill will towards him.

The furies were stereotypically portrayed as beautiful, mean girls but we didn’t really find out a lot about the history behind them and so I’m hoping we get to know more in future books.

I should also make a note about the structure of the book at this point, I particularly liked the idea that the story was broken down into three acts, which reminded me of a play or Greek tragedy if you will. As you know, there’s a lot of books around at the moment about Gods and mythology so why should you read Fury? Fury blends mythology with the contemporary and brings it bang up to date making it accessible to all. It was an enjoyable read and ultimately thought provoking for me. Fury is a book to make you think about the consequences of your actions, take responsibility for your choices and ultimately remind you that karma is not just a bitch, but THREE evil bitches and they’re comin’ for ya.

Fury is released on 1st September, 2011. Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC. You can find out more about Elizabeth Miles and Fury here. I'd also recommend you take a look at the newly launched UK Fury site here where you have a chance to win some Fury goodies!

Waiting on Wednesday

So you may have noticed that it's a little quiet on the blog at the moment and this is simply because it's been quite stressful in my personal life at the moment. Reviews are coming though! But as always, I don't miss out on "Waiting On Wednesday" which is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. Here's the synopsis:

"Lauren Oliver captivated readers with Delirium, the first book in a thrilling dystopian trilogy in which Lena Haloway dared to fall in love with Alex and escape the cure, the government-mandated procedure that renders a person immune to the disease of love. Lena and Alex staked their lives on leaving their oppressive society, but only Lena broke free.

Pandemonium continues Lena’s gripping story. After escaping from Portland, Maine, Lena makes it to the Wilds and becomes part of an Invalid community, where she transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance. A future without Alex is unimaginable, but Lena pushes forward and fights, both for him and for a world in which love is no longer considered a disease. Swept up in a volatile mix of revolutionaries and counterinsurgents, Lena struggles to survive—and wonders if she may be falling in love again.

Full of danger, forbidden romance, and exquisite writing, Lauren Oliver’s sequel to Delirium races forward at a breathtaking pace and is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes action of The Hunger Games and the bittersweet love story of Romeo & Juliet."

So I'm sure I don't need to tell you just HOW MUCH a) I want to read this b) I hope that Alex is okay and c) Lena and Alex find their way back to each other somehow. After the cliffhanger we were left with in Delirium, I've been desperate to continue reading Lena's story and I wait with baited breath! Pandemonium is a very special book to me because I won a contest with my suggestion for the book title and I just hope that it's as good as, if not better than Delirium. I have every faith that Lauren will deliver but we'll have to wait until 6th March, 2012 when the book is released to find out what happens.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on...hence the title. This week's pick is Fever by Lauren Destefano. Here's the synopsis:

"Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever."

Oh, I can't wait to read this!! I really enjoyed Wither which I reviewed here and I'm excited to see what is going to happen next. I love the idea of a twisted carnival and I can't wait to see what tricks Vaughn has up his sleeve to get Rhine back to the mansion and most importantly, I want to know WHY. What makes her so special that he has to get her back? Is it simply that his son has requested it? Or is there something more sinister going on? Fever is not published until February, 2012 but I'm guessing that it's going to be worth the wait. And if you haven't read Wither yet? Go read it now!