Friday, 31 December 2010

End of 2010 and Out With a Bang round up!

I can hardly believe that 2010 is just about over! As I'm starting this it's almost 6pm here in the UK, so 6 hours to go! I want to share a couple of my 2010 stats with you, but first up, a quick round up of my progress from Out With a Bang!

Out With a Bang is being hosted by The Bookish Type and Book Savvy and today is the final day of it. I listed the books I hoped to read for it, 4 in total, but I wasn't hopeful of completing my goals give how ill I've been the past week. I am however, happy with what I did manage!

I competed 3 of the four books I listed: Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend; Crave by Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns; My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey. I made it about 120 pages in to Rumors by Anna Godbersen before giving up because I'm just not in the mood for it right now. It's good enough, but historical rarely holds my attention and it isn't right now. Today I've had little bits to get done, and after another bad nights sleep it took me a while to wake up enough to read. But I did start Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey and I'm almost 100 pages in to it. I doubt I'll finish it before midnight because I've got plans with the family this evening, but I'm loving it and hope to finish it tomorrow morning (or if I don't get drunk, I'll just read it after midnight when everyone else has gone to bed!).

Overall, really pleased with my reading for the readathon!

Now, my own little 2010 stats. 2010 has been a very, very tough year for me. If you don't know, I suffer from ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have done for almost 11 years now. I've had ups and downs but 2010 has been the worst year I've had in a long time. I've gotten sicker and sicker, and the last two months in particular have been incredibly hard. Right now I'm at a very low point, physically and emotionally, so I'm hoping and praying that 2011 is much better for me. There have certainly been good moments as well, going with my besties to meet Richelle Mead in Febuary stands out, and my little mini holiday with my mom to the New Forest where I spent 3 days fussing 'wild' horses (and foals!!) does as well. And book wise, 2010 has been awesome!!

I've finished 157 books this year (in 2009 I managed 100, so I'm happy!!)
Reread 14 books in full.
Read 7 short stories/novellas (excludes shorts in anthologies where I read all of them)
Lost track of how many new authors/books/series I've found to love!!

2011 is promising to be at least as good, and quite possibly even better on the book front and I cannot wait for it!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!
I hope 2011 is a great year for all of you!

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Author's Website
Series? The Mockingbirds #1
Copy obtained: for review from UK Book Tours
Cover: 3/5
Rating: 8/10

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way - the Themis way. So when Alex is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds - a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

The Mockingbirds gets off to an intense, impressive start with Alex waking up naked in bed with a boy she doesn't remember. She's stumbling around, trying to get dressed and out of there, trying to remember what happened and panicking about exactly what could have happened. The confusion of emotions Alex is going through are very vivid and it almost feels like you're going through them with her. That intense and vivid writing continues throughout the book as Alex makes her choices of what to do and how she's coping with the aftermath of the rape.

I found The Mockingbirds very hard to put down. It's a very strong book both in writing and with the characters, most of whom I found to be really well drawn. It's brutally honest as Alex starts remembering things, and the roller coaster of emotions that go with the events. Even down to the littler details, like how she took different routes to classes to avoid the boy and wouldn't enter the cafeteria for lunch. I loved the idea of the Mockingbirds and how they worked too. I liked seeing Alex adapt and grow and stand up throughout the book and her reactions felt very real. It was hard reading at times because I got so wrapped up in Alex's emotions it felt like I was right there with her.

One thing that did bother me a bit though and stop this from getting a higher rating from me, is the lack of adult involvement. I can understands why Alex was adamant not to go to the police, although I wish any girl in real life facing the same situation would go to them. And I can understand her hesitance to speak up to any of her teachers as well, but I really wished she would have. I don't think it's the kind of thing where a student shouldn't find an adult to talk to. There is one scene in particular where there are a couple of teachers talking with Alex and another student after an incident in class and I would seriously hope that that is not a real portrayal of how any teachers at any boarding school would act now!

However, it is still a very strong book. I really liked how things worked out in the end and the roles various characters played, I won't mention details for spoilers sake but it was something I found very satisfying. It's a heart wrenching, powerful read and one I'd highly recommend! It is brutally honest and not easy as it doesn't hide any of the dark facts about date rape, but those are reasons to read it, not avoid it. This is a subject that needs to be talked about more, not less, so that girls who are raped don't feel that they can't come forward, so they can stand up and take their lives back.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Out With a Bang Read-a-thon Update #1

So the first day of the readathon is over (for me at least, it's 3.30am as I start this) and it went okay for me. I managed to read 2 books, although one is only novella length, before exhaustion kicked in and I gave up for the night. Why then am I blogging at 3.30am? Because I slept for an hour at 9.20pm, woke up, and haven't been able to sleep since. I hate my body, I'm soo going to be paying for this after I manage to sleep again... Anyway, what I've read:

Crave by Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns
I really liked this!! I read partially as an escape from my reality, which is life as a 'sick girl', having to be super cautious about everything I do and missing out on living a lot of the time as a result. The main character of Crave is a sick girl too and a very believable one. I could relate a little too well to the struggles and issues she faced, stopping it from being an easy read and instead becoming one that was a little painful for a the majority of it. That said, I still barely put it down. It's a good story with some nice twists and a real cliff hanger ending! Aside from the main character and love interest, the characters are a little bit flat at times and it could have used a little more explanation some times as well. But I did really enjoy it and I'm really looking forward to the second book! Rating: 8/10

Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend
This is novella length, but it is the first of a series. I really enjoyed it early on, but some of the later events didn't really work for me. I liked the ideas behind it all, but I sometimes found it a little too easy and sometimes it felt like it went a bit randomly off track, jumping from one aspect of the story to the other plot and back again. For me, the characters needed to be fleshed out better and not take everything so easily in stride. Still, it's a decent enough PNR novella, I may read the others at some point. Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Young Chieftain by Ken Howard

September 2010, Tamarind
304 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Children's, 9+

Summary from Random House Children's Books
Has life ever ganged up on you, hit you from behind and forced you to become a totally new person?
It happens to Jamie. The day his dad is killed. Suddenly, he and his mother must travel from their Los Angeles home to a remote Scottish island to bury him. Here, Jamie finds himself at the heart of ancient feuds where even his life is at risk. 

There's a mysterious, magical stone.
There's a secret place only true chieftains can find.
There's a huge struggle for power.

Will Jamie meet his fate or find his destiny?

I loved the concept of this book, the idea that Jamie would be caught up in all the drama among the chieftains. I wanted to learn more about the stone, and what made Jamie so special. I did get my answers in the book. Jamie was always up for an adventure, didn't want to be blindly obedient just because people told him what he should do. He stood his ground, explained to his mother in a way she would understand why he wanted to stay behind with his grumpy Scottish relatives while she went back home to LA. He showed maturity here, and great courage and bravery later on. Initially he finds everything strange, but he reluctantly gives life a go and finds he enjoys it. I wouldn't say he was 100% happy - his father was dead, there was an awful lot that his family weren't telling him. He certainly wasn't bored or mistreated - apart from when he gets left to die by the enemy.

Unfortunately the story didn't deliver as much emphasis on the stone and the other secrets as I expected it to. It took well over 100 pages before the stone got mentioned. It also took Jamie's dad a long time to die. For me the pacing was a little too laid back in places. I knew there was unease among the chieftains about who would next lead, but I felt there wasn't enough disagreement and ill feeling towards Jamie. I had thought that the fight for the next leader would involve Jamie more than it did, and would be fiercer.

The story was still very well written, and I loved the use of Scottish words and Hazel is quite a character. It's her dare that gets Jamie in trouble. Jamie's family are funny in their own way, and Jamie deserves the ending that he gets - he earned it. The truth of the secrets was pretty cool, and the characters which helped Jamie - especially Angus added hilarity to the novel.

I give this book a 6/10 - it's a good read in itself, just not quite what was I expecting.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Out With a Bang Read-a-thon list

Tomorrow begins the three day read-a-thon being hosted by The Bookish Type and Book-Savvy. I'm actually not sure how much reading I'll get done as I'm pretty sick right now, barely coping thanks to painkillers. But I'm going to try and get some reading done anyway, and these are the titles I'd like to attempt in the next three days.

Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend [Granite Lake Wolves #1]

Robyn Maxwell doesn't care that her brother has to cancel out on their backcountry ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she's deaf doesn't make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she's been craving. Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil's one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death. Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn't planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she's not aware she has the genes of a wolf. Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week--and his bed--is suddenly full. Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind...

Crave by Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns 

Shay has had a rare blood disorder since she was born. In fact, her mother married one of Shay’s doctors, Martin, who left his world-renowned leukemia research to try and figure out exactly what the disorder is and how to cure it. When she turns seventeen, Martin begins to give her new blood transfusions that make her feel the strongest she has ever felt. But she also has odd visions where she sees through the eyes of a vampire

Rumors by Anna Godbersen [The Luxe #2]

After bidding good-bye to New York's brightest star, Elizabeth Holland, rumors continue to fly about her untimely demise.

All eyes are on those closest to the dearly departed: her mischievous sister, Diana, now the family's only hope for redemption; New York's most notorious cad, Henry Schoonmaker, the flame Elizabeth never extinguished; the seductive Penelope Hayes, poised to claim all that her best friend left behind—including Henry; even Elizabeth's scheming former maid, Lina Broud, who discovers that while money matters and breeding counts, gossip is the new currency.

As old friends become rivals, Manhattan's most dazzling socialites find their futures threatened by whispers from the past. In this delicious sequel to The Luxe, nothing is more dangerous than a scandal . . . or more precious than a secret.

My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey [Drake Chronicles #1]
(and possibly book 2, Blood Feud, if I can)

The Blakes are rather different to your usual neighbours. They are vampires and some of the members of the family date back to the twelfth century. One of the children, Solange, is the only born female vampire known and, as such, she poses a direct threat to the vampire queen. Her best friend Lucy is human, and when Solange is kidnapped Lucy and Solange's brother, Nicholas, set out to save her. Lucy soon discovers that she would like to be more than just friends with Nicholas. But how does one go about dating a vampire? Meanwhile, Solange finds an unlikely ally in Kieran, a vampire slayer on the hunt for his father's killer.

Counterfeit Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Author's Website
Copy obtained: bought it
Series?: a novella set in The Otherworld, just before book #11 Waking The Witch
Rating: 8/10

"The first rule of a supernatural fight club? Don’t kill your opponent.

When the fighters come with lethal spells, werewolf strength and half-demon powers, that can be a lot tougher than it sounds. It’s hard to attract talent if they know they might not leave the ring alive. So when fighters at a California club start dying … it’s bad for business.

Witch detectives Paige Winterbourne and Savannah Levine take the case. Going undercover in the power-heavy arena of the fight club is a welcome change of pace for Paige, relegated to the role of The Wife as her husband struggles to find his place in his family’s Cabal—the corporate Mafia of the supernatural world.

As Paige is drawn deeper into new and dangerous corners of her world, she quickly discovers the greatest threat isn’t the killer in her sights. It’s something much, much closer to home. And this is one fight she can’t afford to lose."

Counterfeit Magic is a limited edition novella that Kelley has written for Subterranean Press, which includes a few, very beautiful, images inside to go with the story as well. This is the second novella she's produced this way, the first being Angelic, which had an even tinier print run. I never bought that one, but as soon as Kelley made mention of Counterfeit Magic back in the summer I ordered a copy. I'm so glad I did!

Counterfeit Magic is narrated by Paige as she and Savannah work to solve their latest case involving a death that seems to be linked to a supernatural fight club. Paige has never been my favourite character or narrator, but she has grown on me with each appearance and I enjoyed her more than ever here. Paige is smart and tough, but she's not a fighter, making her very different to most of Kelley's narrators.

While this is a very good short story on it's own, with a good plot and some nice twists, I enjoy Kelley's shorts more for the extra glimpse of the characters we get. The chance to see how certain people are doing and maybe see little things from a different point of view. That was very much the case here. Counterfeit Magic is set just before Waking The Witch, which is narrated by Savannah. It shows some things Savannah mentioned in more detail, and also gives the chance to see Paige's perspective of Savannah right before she takes the reins as narrator. I love the switch up and seeing the differences in perspective. The relationship between Savannah and Paige kind of fascinates me because it's not quite mother/daughter, not quite sibling, but somewhere between the two. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the two of them together, but from Savannah's POV, in the next full book, Spell Bound (out late July/early August 2011).

As with any of Kelley's books, you wouldn't have to read this to understand events in later books, but it does give that little bit of extra insight which I love. I did enjoy the plot with the case they were working on, although I felt it was left a little bit rushed and unfinished almost. But it did come secondary to getting to know the latest events in the characters lives for me, and in that respect, it's a fantastic novella!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

In My Mailbox [12]

IMM is a weekly post hosted by Kirsti at The Story Siren as a chance to share the books we've bought and received over the past week.

I know I said I wasn't going to blog this weekend, but I am making the effort for an IMM post because I got so many awesome books for Christmas this year! Something that virtually never happens because I buy too many myself. Plus a couple other things I can't help squeeing over ;)

But before them, books I've bought:
Counterfeit Magic by Kelley Armstrong - Goodreads
On Kindle (not pictured):
Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian - Goodreads
The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter - Goodreads
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate - Goodreads - this wasn't a present but a spare copy the lovely Nayuleska had and was kind enough to send me. Thank you!!

And on to Christmas gifts, starting with the non books ones:
Those are 2 of my favourite pressies this year, my St Vladimir's Academy hoody (Vampire Academy for those who don't know, avail from Arcane Vault. My poor mom had major drama getting this, and it only finally arrived on Christmas eve and all I could do on hearing the story yesterday was laugh at it all, like, seriously cracked up!! Oops!). I'm in love with this hoody because it's thick and warm and soft and Vampire Academy related!

The fluffy slipper boots are so awesome!! They're soooo soft and thick it's ridiculous. In the winter I'm always walking around downstairs with my regular boots on (think hiking/workman not heels ;) ) because of the freezing cold floors, but I won't wear slippers and with thick socks I just end up slipping across the floors. So sis decided to fix that problem this year with these 'boots.' Hard not to adore them, super soft, fluffy, warm and no slippage on the floors! Hurrah!!

And now for the far more interesting books:

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready - Goodreads
The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay - Goodreads
Masques by Patrica Briggs - Goodreads
Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs - Goodreads
My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent (UK version, I've got the US one already but it's so pretty!!) - Goodreads
My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey - Goodreads
Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey - Goodreads
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain - Goodreads
The Crescent by Jordan Deen - Goodreads - my review (I read a copy from UK Book Tours a while back and adored it, had to get my own copy!)
Signed US copy of Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs - Goodreads - my review

Simply put, an awesome haul this week that I'm now staring at and wondering how the hell I'm going to get through them all because I want to read them all 'next' (well, excluding the ones I've already read...)

So what did you get in your mailbox (or under the tree!) this week?  

Will now go back to hiding and blog silence as am exhausted and barely managed this post, see ya'll in a couple days :)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Little Break + Snow Bunnies

This is Sunny, my 5 year old baby boy

nomnom yummy plants...
Hey all, you may have already seen my little note off to the side, but in case you didn't, I just wanted to let you all know I'm taking a few days out for Christmas to relax and enjoy it (and recover from it!!). Also, this is an excuse to post cute pics of my bunnies ;) I will likely be checking comments, but there won't be any new posts until early next week and I probably won't be checking other blogs either.

I wish you all lots of good books under the tree, and a very happy Christmas!!

Much love,
Cem and the snow bunnies

This is Ash, my 10 month old baby girl.

2011 Most Wanted

Over the weekend I shared my top picks from 2010 for YA and adult books. 2010 has been an awesome year for books and 2011 promises more of the same! So here's some of the books I'm most looking forward to, split in to 4 groups with 5 titles each: 2011 releases I've already read that you need to, YA debuts, YA non-debuts and adult books. A bunch of these don't have covers yet as it's too soon, but I will share those that do!

Already Read
If these aren't on you 'Must Have' list already, they need to be!! (these are all YA by the way)

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand - this is a stunning debut and quite possibly my favourite read of the year. It's about angels, but it's really different to all the other angel books I've read of late. Refreshingly real and honest, as well as being beautifully written with fantastic characters! Publisher: HarperTeen (US) Date: Jan 4th 2011. Review // Goodreads 

My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent - Soul Screamers #4 picks up shortly after where book 3 left off and continues the story in spectacular form! I don't want to spoil anything for those not up to date with the series so I won't add more here, but if you've not yet tried this series, you need to! Very different to most YA's out there! Publisher: HarlequinTeen (US) Date: Jan 1st - official date, but may well be in stores already! Review // Goodreads // Rachel's site

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney - this is Kaz's debut novel, focusing on fae and dark magic and it's a really fantastic read!! I just finished it a couple of days ago and barely put it down. Some very nice mythology use as well as being a great story. Also, is that cover not seriously gorgeous?! Publisher: Random House Children's Books (UK), Flux (US) Date: Jan 20th (UK) Jan 25th (US). Goodreads // Kaz's site

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa - the third book in the Iron Fey series is unquestioningly the best one yet! It's heart wrenching, shocking, fantastic story telling and un-put-down-able. If you've not yet tried this awesome series, you need to! One of my most favourite reads this year. Publisher: HarlequinTeen (US) Date: Feb 1st. Goodreads // The Iron Fey site

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton - another debut book, also about angels. Very kick ass!! Lots of action, little romance, great characters and some great mythology as well. A really great read with lots of potential for book 2 to be even better! Publisher:  HarperTeen (US) Date: Feb 15th. Goodreads // Courtney's site

YA - already published authors
Simply put I want all of these (desperately!) because the ones that came before them are amazing!! So check out the 1st books in the series if you've not tried them yet! Because half the Goodreads pages for these don't have descriptions yet I'm linking to (and yes, I cheated and have 6th title here cause I couldn't narrow it further...)

If I Die by Rachel Vincent [Soul Screamers #5]
Publisher: HarlequinTeen - Date: Fall - Goodreads // Rachel's site

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready [Shade #2]
Publisher: Simon Pulse - Date: May 4th (US) June 1st (UK) - Goodreads // Jeri's site

Shadowspell by Jenna Black [Faeriewalker #2]
Publisher: St. Martin's Press - Date: Jan 4th - Goodreads // Jenna's site

Crossed by Ally Condie [Matched #2]
Publisher: Dutton - Date: late 2011 - Goodreads // Matched site

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa [Iron Fey #4]
Publisher: HarlequinTeen - Date: late 2011 - Goodreads // The Iron Fey site

Defiance by Lili St. Crow [Strange Angels #4]
Publisher: Razorbill (US)/Quercus (UK) - Date: April 19th - Goodreads // Strange Angels site

YA - Debut Authors
While all of these sound very different, I want them all for the same reasons. They all sound fantastic and several of them are getting great early reviews that are making me want them all the more!!

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Random House - Date: April 26th - Goodreads // Tessa's site

Divergent by Veronica Roth 
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books - Date: May 3rd - Goodreads // Veronica's blog

Entangled by Cat Clarke
Publisher: Quercus (UK) - Date: Jan 6th - Goodreads // Cat's site

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Publisher: Greenwillow Books - Date: Feb 22nd - Goodreads // Leah's site

Possession by Elana Johnson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster - Date: June 7th - Goodreads // Elana's site

Like all the YA's I'm hungry for from already published authors, I'm after these titles because they're all the next book to my favourite series!

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning [Fever #5] - I NEED ANSWERS!! (sorry, but shouting is valid there, read the series, you'll get it)
Publisher: Delacorte Press - Date: Jan 18th - Goodreads // KMM's site

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews [Kate Daniels #5] - More Kate and Curran. Enough said ;)
Publisher: Ace - Date: May 31st - Goodreads // Ilona's site

Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead [Georgina Kincaid #6] - the final chapter for Georgina, I think it'll be a bumpy ride!
Publisher: Kensington (US)/Bantam (UK) - Date: Aug 30th - Goodreads // Richelle's site

Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead [Dark Swan #3] - Goodreads - war is coming for Eugenie, and it's going to be a heart wrenching ride, I just know it!
Publisher: Zebra (US)/Bantam (UK) - Date: Feb 22nd (US)/March 31st (UK) - Goodreads // Richelle's site

Spellbound by Kelley Armstrong [The Otherworld #12] - Savannah and Adam get together? At last? Pretty please?! (Note: this is strict speculation/hoping/wishing on my part!!
Publisher: Random House (Can)/Dutton (US)/Orbit (UK) - Date: Aug 4th - Goodreads // Kelley's site

And I'm cheating once more and throwing another one in the mix on this list, except I can't just list it because there aren't any details yet. Rachel Vincent, one of my favourite authors, has a new adult title, the first of a new series, coming out in the Fall and the tiny tidbits she has shared, along with knowing (and loving) her writing style mean I'm very anxious for this one as well!!

Phew. Okay, now, that is a teeny tiny glimpse at my 2011 wishlist, and I've not bothered adding already out titles (of which there are many as well). What books are you most excited for in 2011?

Notes: all dates are what is currently listed on Amazon/Goodreads and some may change at later dates. Covers may also change. All covers shown are US versions, apart from The Iron Witch, Shift, Iron Crowned, Spellbound and Entangled (which is a UK only release at present).

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Nayuleska's Book Recommendations for 2010

Okay so today's post is cheating a little. I haven't quite got a book review prepared, and I'm in the middle of an awesome morning working on my wip (just written a whole chapter!). So I'm have copied and pasted my ten recommended reads of books I've read in 2010. The original post was over on Enduring Romance, but as the author I'm happy to post it here too!

I am not creating a 'top ten' list. I look at books as belonging to levels, rather than lists. There are numerous levels, and the following books are only a handful that I believe everyone should read this year (or next year...two of the books aren't out until Jan/Feb). I've included links to my reviews for further

First up on the list I am quite happy to put first (only because she put it last on her list). I genuinely adore SUGAR RUSH by Kimber An. This Young Adult book has everything that's cool for me. Go and read it to find out about the sewing machine incident. This is Kimber An's awesome year!

Next up is THE MOCKINGBIRDS. I read this as part of blog tour, and will definitely be getting my own copy. It's a powerful Young Adult book, and hands down is at the top level of books. It's a tough read, and quite emotional, but explores a sensitive subject in a way that can hopefully help other victims cope.

Now I have a joint entry, WHEN I WAS JOE and ALMOST TRUE by Keren David. These children's books deal with inner city knife crime well, as well as self-harm. Like Kimber An, this was Keren's debut year as a published author. A third book will be out in 2011 - but not the third in the series, it's a standalone book.

I'm majorly cheating on this book - it isn't actually out until 20th January 2011, but I have already read it. It is an awesome Young Adult Paranormal book. THE IRON WITCH by Karen Mahoney, is about a girl who has magic infused in her body. This affects how she lives, for she tries to hide it from the world. A faerie world where she has to face the monsters that killed her father and gave her her gift. It is Kaz's debut novel, and she is also an awesome person.

I stumbled across this next Young Adult book, IT HAPPENED TO NANCY by Anon when a friend asked if I wanted to review something for World AIDS day. I said yes, and this book has really touched my heart. Nancy gets AIDS after being raped (she was seduced first). This is her diary, transformed so other teens can learn from her mistakes. It deals with every single symptom and feeling she endures as the disease progresses.

Although this next one can be classed as Young Adult (although I'm not sure how since the protagonist is 26 years old...) it is predominantly a Dark Urban Fantasy. It is super awesome, and the first in a trilogy. BLACK SWAN RISING by Lee Carroll ticks every box for me. If you love books with a strong female lead, secondary characters whose loyalty is often debatable, great plot twists and scenes of magic that take your breath away, then go read this book.

Time for a Paranormal Romance novel, BOADICEA'S LEGACY by Traci E Hall. I loved Traci's WILD MAGIC, (part of a series), but her latest book rocks! Imagine being given a gift/curse from an ancient warrior queen, which affects who you can marry. Ela spends most of the novel running away from a creep who has serious possession issues. It has the right mix of action, a strong willed protagonist, laughter, danger, a hero with faults to work on and a sleazy villain.

Coming up next is a Graphic Novel (aimed primarily at girls, but it appeals to all ages). MO-BOT HIGH, book 1 (yes, there is another coming!!) by Neill Cameron. Asha starts a new school, where students battle each other using robots conjured up from mobile phones. Asha has to learn how to use the Mo-Bots because a bully is eager to put her through her paces. I want every girl in the world to own this book, it's that good. It's even got a character with my real name - and her Mo-Bot is really cool!

I love all of Maria V Snyder's work, but her latest one is her first Young Adult, dystopian book. Get ready to be surprised by INSIDE OUT. This unputdownable book ticks many boxes on my What Makes A Great Book List, and adds boxes that I never knew existed. It comes out in January 2011, with the sequel coming out in February so you won't have to wait long to find out what happens next. (I read the ARC really early - the day it arrived.)

Eeek, I really need to wrap things up now. I wish I could list every book I've read, but I can't. I'd like to thank Cem for letting me post each Wednesday. It's fun getting to know her and share the book love with another person. I look forward to an equally awesome 2011, and I hope you've all read great books this year.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

How To Ruin series by Simone Elkeles

I loved Simone's Perfect Chemistry and then adored Leaving Paradise, so of course I had to try her How To Ruin series as well. The three books are pretty different to her others, for starters because they're only told from the girls point of view. I honestly wasn't too sure if I'd get on with this series, but having loved her other books so much, I was very willing to give them a chance. Turned out, they're every bit as awesome as her other books and very enjoyable reads!!

The main character is Amy, a 16 year old who is very insecure but pretends otherwise. She's the result of a one night stand and her father has never been around. Her mom is a serial dater and Amy has never truly felt like she belongs anywhere. She is a fairly bratty city girl who hates the idea of being away from civilisation.  So when her father suddenly takes her to meet his family back in Israel, at what is basically a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere, she's more than a little put out!! But that trip changes Amy and starts her out on a whole new path.

I love how Amy develops over the course of these three books, along with her relationships with those around her, her friends, boyfriend and her parents. The books almost made me cry a few times, much to my surprise and they're certainly emotional roller coasters. But there are so many laugh out loud moments as well!! I could barely put any of the three books down. Amy is very good at making mountains out of mole hills and creating drama when none is required. But it's all a defense mechanism. Amy's so often doing the wrong things for the right reasons, and its easy to understand why she is how she is.

I found Amy really irritating to start with, but by the end of book one I loved her. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the side characters as well, although a few of them are a little flat at times. Plot wise things sometimes get a little bit crazy, but it's all so much fun and so well told that it's hard to care. Most of it has a serious side as well, there are moments that really tugged at me emotionally, and those moments easily make up for any of the parts that are a little less than great. Romance plays a pretty big role in the story, it's perfectly played with simmering tension and some very steamy kisses.

I'd recommend all of Simone's books because they're all fantastic and these were no exception! If you've tried any of her books and loved them, you should love these too. If you've not tried her books yet, then these are as good a place as any to start!

Series overall rating: 8/10

Book 1: How To Ruin a Summer Vacation
"Moshav? What's a moshav? Is it "shopping mall" in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I'd be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home."
Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, "moshav" is not Hebrew for "shopping mall." Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.
Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She's got a serious grudge against the "Sperm Donor" for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he's dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she's never known, where she'll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she'll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom with seven people all summer - no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone...
Goodbye pride - hello Israel.
Book 2: How To Ruin My Teenage Life
What's a girl to do when EVERYONE is conspiring to ruin her life???
My name is Amy Nelson-Barak and I'm seventeen years old. Here's my life right now: new step-dad, new step-sib on the way, new living sitch with my real dad (resulting in annoying new neighbor boy). Real boyfriend inconveniently living in different country (Israel). Forced entry into job market due to small misunderstanding re: my dad's credit care plus romantic indiscretions of one very irresponsible (but adorable) dog.

Book 3: How To Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation
Guess who's jetting off to the Holy Land this summer!
Yes, it's me - Amy Nelson-Barak. I've volunteered for ten days of military training in Israel with my friends. The Sababa brochure said it would be a "fun" summer experience. Okay, so I didn't sign up to prove I'm not a princess...I did it to surprise my hot Israeli boyfriend stationed at the same base.
Too bad nobody told me:
  • It's hot in the Negev, so hot your makeup melts off and you get under-boob sweat spots.
  • You can't sleep until 11 a.m.
  • You shouldn't kill bees with your flatiron - don't ask.
  • Peeing in a hole isn't easy (when you're a girl) - double don't ask. 
When I find out our team leader is my boyfriend Avi, I'm totally psyched...until I learn he has to treat me like all the other recruits. Can you say OY YEY!

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Soul To Steal Trailer

Earlier Rachel Vincent posted the trailer for her new Soul Screamers book My Soul To Steal. It's the forth book in the series and if you've not started it, you really need to!! It's official release date is Jan 1st, but it's looking like it'll be in stores tomorrow in time for Christmas!! (In the US) So go buy! Also, I totally love this trailer! So spooky and very fitting. Below are some links to my reviews of some of Rachel's books, including MSTSteal!

Review - MSTSteal
Best of 2010 - YA books - Soul Screamers #3 My Soul To Keep
Best of 2010 - adult books - Shifters #5 Shift & #6 Alpha

Faefever and Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Welcome to my non-review for Faefever and Dreamfever. Why a non review? Because it's mostly just a gush about why I love the whole series. I reviewed books one and two very recently and honestly, it's kind of hard to write reviews for these two now as well. In part because I'd just be repeating myself over and over, but also because I don't want to give anything away. So instead, here's a fairly general gush fest over these two awesome books instead. But if you are after more specifics, try my reviews for Darkfever, Bloodfever or check out KMM's site here for more info on all her books. Vague spoilers for the previous books, nothing specific.

I'm kind of at a loss what to say about these two books because I just want to say 'LOVE!!!' over and over about them. The third and fourth books in the Fever series build on the first two perfectly. Things are getting darker for Mac and the rest of the human world. She doesn't know who she can trust, if anyone. But she's no longer the kind of spoiled brat who thinks she can just paint her nails and pretend nothing is wrong.

Mac has grown with every page and I completely adore her now. She's gotten so much stronger! I love how Mac is playing the various people around her against each other, because the only person she really trusts is herself. Everyone has their motives, and Mac's main one is revenge. She's also determined to stop the Fae from taking over the human world, whatever that means doing. I love how Mac's no longer letting everyone push her around. She knows she needs help from the others, but she isn't waiting on it. Mac's gotten pro-active in her fight for survival and proving herself to be smart and capable in a crisis.

I think what I love most about this series though, is how I can't guess anything that's going to happen. Through both books there are very few answers. And hundreds more questions. I want answers, I need them, badly! But at the same time, I am thoroughly enjoying every moment of not knowing. Of being surprised time after time about everything, characters, the world, what the characters are really after. KMM sure knows how to tell a story!!

Through both Faefever and Dreamfever there is vast expansion of the world KMM has created, but never over doing things to the point where it gets too complicated or ridiculous. It all just fits. It's dark, scary and intense. I couldn't put either book down. The combination of a world that vivid and Mac's completely engrossing narrative makes the whole series incredibly addictive, something I felt in Darkfever and Bloodfever, but which is taken to a whole new level with Faefever and Dreamfever!!

I mentioned in my Bloodfever review how much I adore Barrons. That's only grown with these two books. I am surprised and delighted that four books in to the series, with only the final one to come, that we still know basically nothing about him! Through Dreamfever in particular, we start to see more of him. But really it only adds to the questions rather than answering them. Also, he's too damn sexy for his own good!

I am really looking forward to answers in Shadowfever. About Barrons, about Mac, the other sidhe seers, V'lane, the outcome of the Fae/human war, everything. But I wouldn't have changed one moment of the lack of answers through the first four books. I've found this series completely refreshing for the true mystery it holds, as well as for it's fantastic plot and world building. And while I crave more of Mac and Barrons (together in whatever way, because they're just as sexy and charismatic together on the page when they're fighting) I also love that there is so little romance, and what there is can barely be called that! This isn't a love story, it's a story of revenge and discovery. And it's a hell of a story!

Faefever had a killer cliffhanger which had me grabbing for Dreamfever instantly. And Dreamfever has a cliff hanger to rival it. I am beyond glad I came so late to this series with barely a month now until the final book releases. I am sad it's a journey that's almost over, but I also can not wait to discover the ending! I've no doubt there are more shocks in store because this series has been full of them so far, building more and more with each book. Faefever and Dreamfever were an emotional roller coaster, with Mac in so much danger and trying to stay strong through it all. I have no doubt that will also be the case with Shadowfever, but I say bring it on! I can't get enough of this series and if you've not read it yet, you really, really need to!!

Rating for Faefever and Dreamfever: 10/10

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Best of 2010 - Adult

Yesterday I was talking about my favourite YA reads of the year, today I'm talking about my adult favourites. This list was very easy compared to the YA one because I haven't read very much adult fiction this year. I unintentionally ended up very YA focused. So here's a rare adult spotlight for me:

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews [Kate Daniels #4]
Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews [The Edge #2]
Why? Kate 4: Because Kate and Curran kick serious ass!! Oh, you wanted a serious answer? Okay. Because the Kate series has awesome world building, a kick ass protagonist who definitely doesn't need any saving, very well developed characters, brilliant use of mythology and a very strong story. It's dark, gritty, funny, smart and all around awesome and book 4 is no exception. If you haven't yet started this series, you must!! (and if you don't think book one is much, keep going because I promise you that books 2-4 are amazing!!) And I'm throwing Bayou Moon on to the list because it's just as awesome, with a broken hero to adore and a girl who knows how to use her sword! Very nearly as awesome as Magic Bleeds. Couldn't get enough of William!
Reviews: Magic Bleeds, Bayou Moon

Shift & Alpha by Rachel Vincent [Shifters #5 & #6]
Why? Same reason Rachel's YA My Soul To Keep hit my faves list. Flawed characters at their very best. I love the werecat world Rachel's created, I love that she doesn't sacrifice realness in her characters attitudes for sake of the story. These two books make for a great set up and final chapter of the Shifters series! Lots of action, heartache and a seriously fantastic ending! Dark and gritty, and once more a protagonist who doesn't need a guy to do the ass kicking for her! Also, one very hot werecat who's name starts with J makes the whole series worth reading...
Reviews for the series: #1 Stray, #4 Prey, #5 Shift, #6 Alpha

Waking The Witch by Kelley Armstrong [The Otherworld #11]
Why? I have loved seeing Savannah grow up through the course of the series and now seeing her take the lead and get to narrate is awesome. She's sassy, smart and a lot more vulnerable at times than I'd expected. Magic blended with PI work while Savannah attempts to prove herself. Another great story with yet more expansion of an already vast world! One of Kelley's best Otherworld books to date! Watch out for that cliff hanger though ;)

Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland [Kara Gillian #2]
Why? Paranormal detective fiction with a very real edge to it. I love how Kara is very much a normal person, worrying about her weight, trying to hold her own and prove herself as a cop in a mans world, only she's got a little paranormal punch as well. I should throw book 1, Mark of the Demon, on the list too because I only read it this year. Both books are excellent with a great story and a paranormal twist that blends in beautifully.
Reviews: #1 Mark of the Demon,  #2 Blood of the Demon

Changeless & Blameless by Gail Carriger [Parasol Protectorate #2 & #3]
Why? Lets see: Victorian London, steampunk, a sexy werewolf and one of the most entertaining main characters I've read! The books are sassy and smart and I love the growth of the story through books 2 & 3 on the romantic front and on the general preternatural one. Very funny, very brilliant and a must read on any list. Can't wait for the next ones!
Reviews for the series: #1 Soulless, #2 Changeless, #3 Blameless

All the above are new releases this year, but there is one series I'm new to (very new, I just read them a couple of weeks ago) which hasn't had a new release this year, but absolutely needs to be on this list because it's one of the very best series I've read and had an almost instantaneous place on my favourites shelf!

Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Why? One word: AWESOME. I'm completely cheating here because none of the books were released this year and it's 4 books instead of picking one. But oh well! I am very much a late comer to this series with the first 4 books out, Darkfever, Bloodfever, Faefever and Dreamfever, with just the final book, Shadowfever, due out in January. But it's one of my favourites! Very dark, very funny in places, very little romance, a spoiled girl who learns to kick some serious ass, an addictive narrative, a guy who very little is known about but is one of the smexyish characters I've read (Barrons), erm, okay, that's probably enough for here. You get the idea yes? Just read the series!!
Reviews for the series: #1 Darkfever, #2 Bloodfever, #3 Faefever & #4 Dreamfever