Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Copy received for review from UK Book Tours with thanks!

"Junior high really stinks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers and no one to teach him, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a strange substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he realizes he has a much bigger problem: He’s being hunted by a vampire killer who is closing in . . . fast!"

Vlad Tod is half vampire, half human. His parents died three years ago, leaving him living with his aunt Nelly, who along with his best friend Henry, are the only ones who know Vlad is a vampire. As far as Vlad knows, there aren't any other vampires in the world. Then his favourite teacher disappears and his new substitute seems to know more about Vlad than he will say. And from there things just get stranger.

I've been curious about this series for a while, but I hadn't yet tried it because I wasn't sure I'd like it too much, despite an interesting premise. Humor and vampires don't always go well for me. I am a fan of angst. But I actually really enjoyed this! I liked Vlad almost instantly, the way he just takes being a vampire in stride, not stressing about it or what it means, aside from wanting to keep it secret of course. When it comes to cute girls though, he's very shy. Makes him seem very normal, it's cute and funny!

Eighth Grade Bites is a fun story with a semi-serious side. Vlad wants to know what happened to his parents, who died under very strange circumstances and who he misses very much. I just kind of loved the whole story. It's funny without being stupid, got a nice cast with potential to get better. I liked the twists and vampire lore aspects as well. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Rating: 7/10

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod are being released in the UK in 2011 from Razorbill, Penguin. Books 1 and 2 (Ninth Grade Slays) will be out in February, followed by Tenth Grade Bleeds in April and Eleventh Grade Burns in June. Books 1-5 (Twelfth Grade Kills) are already out in the US.

Monday, 29 November 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

Been three weeks since I've taken part in this, here's what I've been reading in that time:

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore [review]
Frostbite by Richelle Mead [reread review]
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa [mini review]
My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent [mini review]
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead [reread review]
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead [reread review]
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead [reread review]
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead. Yep. Have it. Read it, three weeks early! Am not allowed to review it until 7th Dec, so expect the review then!
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning [review]
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

I'm currently reading Lover Revealed by JR Ward [Black Dagger Brotherhood #4] which I'm liking.

Not sure how much I'll get through this week cause I'm physically and mentally shattered from riding on Saturday, but here's what I'd like to try and at least start:

You Against Me by Jenny Downham - Goodreads
Finding Sky by Joss Stirling - Goodreads
Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer - Goodreads

What have you been reading?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Here I am for the final time with a Vampire Academy book reread review! On the off chance you missed the previous posts, this is a part of Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge. Like for SK and BP, I'm skipping a discription, but if you're interested: Goodreads. Reread reviews for previous books: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise. And once more SPOILER warning!! Unavoidable BIG spoilers for all previous books.

It goes without saying at this point that the Vampire Academy series is one of my favourite and one of the strongest YA series out there. Books 1-4 are all fantastic and Spirit Bound was one I was once again very excited for and that fully lived up to expectations.

That said, there are parts of Spirit Bound that I had a very hard time reading. There are parts that made me laugh out loud, others that shocked me and left me breathless, and others that I just outright loved. While I didn't love or even like parts of Spirit Bound, I understood exactly why Richelle had things play out as they did and I was left very satisfied with the story as a whole.  Rose was not always the smartest girl in this book. She made a lot of spur of the moment decisions, based more on emotion than logic or sense, and she paid the price for it.  I wanted to shake her at times and tell her to wake up, to stop being an idiot and realise the truth.

I really enjoyed how some of the lesser side plots with various side characters played out as well. Nothing in this series has worked out easily for anyone, there are no easy answers or easy outs, and I love that! Actions have consequences and Richelle never ignores that. One of my favourite side characters from this series is Abe Mazur, and I was very happy to see more of him here in Spirit Bound and I'm more than a little curious to see what role he will play in the final book.

I loathe spoilers and to avoid leading ones here let me simply say that a lot happens in Spirit Bound. Several things from previous books are dealt with, at least particially, whilst still new questions appear. Spirit Bound is very different to the previous books as Rose and the others no longer students, but adults trying to find their way and place in the Royal Court. There is some great and unexpected character development throughout the book and the ending was shocking, a real smack in the face, leaving me hungry for more! It's a hell of a cliff hanger, though not quite the intensity of Shadow Kiss [book #3]. Spirit Bound was an emotional roller coaster. Rose may have been out in the world killing Strigoi, but it doesn't mean she's ready for everything she faces. I wish I had some certainty about at least a few things that could happen in Last Sacrifice, but the truth is, Richelle has surprised me with every book to date and I don't see Last Sacrifice being any different. Bring it on! Rating: 10/10

Reread Thoughts

First time I read Spirit Bound I kept putting it down and walking away because Rose was tearing me apart with her decisions and actions. It was that, or throw it at the wall. I did then and still do now, believe that it was completely in character for her to be as she was, but that doesn't mean it was easy for me to read or that I didn't want to smack her repeatedly, yelling at her that she was being an idiot. Rose doesn't show her pain or uncertainty. She wasn't about to get over what happened to Dimitri within weeks, but she wasn't going to stand around and pine either. She was pro-active, tried to move on because it was the 'right' thing to do, she was caught between hope and reality. Sure little things could have been handled a little different and still work to the same effect, but as I said, I felt what happened was entierly within character so I'm happy with it despite not agreeing with certain things!

This is the first time I've reread Spirit Bound because it was so hard to get through that first time. I wondered if I'd have such a strong reaction again, but actually, I loved rereading it probably more than I loved it first time around. It helped knowing what was going to happen and none of the uncertainty about whether Dimitri would be saved or not because obviously I already knew the answer to that one. The tension in the ending was almost as high as first time around, and the moment that almost did have me throwing the book at the wall (repeatedly) made me cringe just as hard as well. But the final two and half chapters = total love!!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

In My Mailbox [9]

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

Ick, terrible pic. Sorry!
For review:
Finding Sky by Joss Stirling - Goodreads
Eighth Grade Bites [Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1] by Heather Brewer - Goodreads
With thanks to Lynsey at UK Book Tours.

You Against Me ARC by Jenny Downham (thanks Clover!) - Goodreads

Matched by Ally Condie (finished UK version which is actually a gift for a friend for Christmas, but it's so pretty!) - Goodreads - my review

That's it for me this week, what was in your mailbox?

Friday, 26 November 2010

New Winner

The winner picked via Random.org for my 100 Followers Giveaway never came forward. Seeing as I've been pretty sick, they had an extra couple days to do so, but now I need to draw a new winner:

Linda H.!!

Linda has been emailed and has until next Tuesday to get back to me, or again I'll draw a new winner.

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

"MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…."

This is the first book in the Fever series, and it's been sat on my shelf for months. I originally bought it on recommendation from the fabulous @evilqueen21, aka Nikki, who has seriously awesome taste in books. But while I liked the sound of it, I liked the sound of others more and then more new books, and more, and months have gone by before I actually pick it up. Well that was a mistake wasn't it?!

MacKayla 'Mac' Lane is a blond, pink loving 22 year old who loves her small town, her parents, her sister and she's a little on the spoiled side. Then her world is destroyed and turned inside out with the news her sister, who was studying in Ireland, was brutally murdered. Grief stricken and hungry for vengeance she flies to Ireland determined to get the police to reopen the case and discover the truth. Instead, the truth finds her and she suddenly faces the fact that she is not what she believed. That the world is not as she thought. And she is in every bit as much danger as her sister was.

It took very little time for me to get sucked in and get to a point where I couldn't put Darkfever down. I just wanted to keep reading and reading. Mac's voice, the style of writing and the world building hooked me. Mac's voice struck a cord, but at the same time I found her so frustrating at times. Shallow, spoiled and bratty. But the writing kept me hooked even when she was being a bit of an idiot. Mac's shock and grief though, felt very real, very understandable. I think that more than anything gave her the substance she needed to not make me want to give up on her early on.

The world building is fantastic. There are great twists and turns, plenty of action, and plenty of gritty, dark scenes with the fae. It's so hard to figure out who can and can't be trusted, what matters and what doesn't. I felt like I was fumbling through the world right along side Mac. I thoroughly enjoyed her development over the course of the book, along with some of her sassiest moments. She may be seen by most as weak and helpless (and yes, she really is at times) but she's not about to get pushed around any more than she can help. Sometimes that bratty, spoiled nature was a very good thing. Something else I really enjoyed, and found surprising, is the complete lack of romance. There is a little casual flirting, but that's the extent of it. This is pretty strictly, for now at least, a story of a girl looking for revenge. It makes a nice change actually, for a young, pretty protagonist to not suddenly fall in love and focus on this amazing guy rather than what she's meant to be. I enjoyed the change of pace a lot.

If I'm being honest though, it takes a while for things to really start happening, despite there never being anything dull going on, and while I really liked most of the book (Mac's spoiled, over girly moments aside) I didn't love much about it. And yet I barely put it down. Darkfever has a very addictive feel to it, like it's just the warm up act for something special. I hear from Nikki and several others lately that the series does just keep getting better. That, along with the potential in this book and how it left me wanting much more, had me convinced that I wouldn't be making a mistake buying the rest of the series that's currently out (books 2-4) all together. Its the way Darkfever is written, the mystery and some of the character interactions that made this un-put-down-able for me I think, and I can't wait to read the rest! May just be on to a new favourite here!

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 25 November 2010

1st in Series Challenge 2011

The 1st In a Series Challenge 2011 is being hosted by Katy over at A Few More Pages, and it's a challenge I'm looking forward to! Very simple, to read a certain number (or more) books that are the first of a series. Any genre, any publication year, they just have to be the first book of a series.

There are four different levels for this challenge that each participant can choose from:

  • Series Novice: Read 3 books that are the first in any series.
  • Series Lover: Read 6 books that are the first in any series.
  • Series Expert: Read 12 books that are the first in any series.
  • Series Fanatic: Read 20 books that are the first in any series.
I've decided to pick the Expert level, 12 firsts. I would love to aim for the Fanatic level because the vast majority of what I read are series books, but I think I'd be being cocky picking it for my first year taking part. So I'm going to aim for the 12 and see how I find that!

The books I read for this challenge are likely to change, but here are 6 that are very likely to be read for it:

The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson [Sign of the Zodiac] - Goodreads
Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin [Jaz Parks] - Goodreads
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting [Body Finder] - Goodreads
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain [The Dark Divine] - Goodreads
My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey [Drake Chronicles] - Goodreads
Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready [WVMP Radio] - Goodreads

You don't need to be a blogger to take part in this challenge, and if you're interested, go check out the post over at A Few More Pages and sign up! 

Anyone else planning on taking part in this one?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Summary from Headline
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies – or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world...and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift, but now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer – and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling in love, Violet is getting closer to discovering a killer...and becoming his prey herself.

What first drew me to this book was the front cover. Look at how beautiful it is. The blue is rather striking against the black background. Having read the book, I think it's a good cover.

On with the story! The cover drew me in, then the prologue did. I mean, how many little girls find a body in the wood? Not many. And Violet stayed sane as she grew up. That's thanks to her parents, and also to Jay who is her best friend. Throughout the book there is a lot of romance slash anticipation about Violet and Jay's relationship. For me, I would have liked a bit more action regarding Violet's skills, but the parts about the two of them was quite sweet, especially near the end.

The most interesting parts of the book for me was when Violet's ability came into play. It's a pretty spooky ability to have, to locate dead people/animals. I was glad that her parents supported her, and didn't think she was a crazy lunatic. I felt it was good how she wasn't isolated at school, that she did have friends, and Jay knew about her ability. There wasn't an info dump in the book, Violet's background was filtered in throughout the whole story. I sensed she came from a loving home, which came alive when Violet was under threat from the murderer. I like books where the family is heavily involved in the protagonists life. I feel it adds a sense of realism, and makes a character more easy to relate to. I was scared for Violet as she started tracking the murderer down. I wasn't surprised when her family and Jay got angry when she went back on her word - her mistakes could cost her everything. I loved how much I cared for Violet, how scared I got when she went wandering off on her own. As for who the murderer is - that was a real twist in the story that I didn't see coming! I seriously hope that there might be more stories about Violet, because if she ever moved to a big city  her gift could be put to a lot of good use.

I give this book a 9/10.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Book #4 of the Vampire Academy series reread for Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge. SPOILER warning. I can't review this without MASSIVE spoilers for Shadow Kiss (book #3) sorry about that, but it's just not possible for me. So skip this if you've not read that far. Like my Shadow Kiss reread review, I'm skipping attempting my own summery of the book: Goodreads description. Previous reread reviews: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss.

Shadow Kiss was heartbreaking. It changed everything for Rose, because how could she not be seriously affected and tainted by what happened, or by the task now ahead of her? I know there are plenty of people who didn't like this book. They found it flat, or underwhelming, or too different, or many other things. That wasn't the case for me. I thought it was all handled brilliantly. In Blood Promise Rose is away from the Academy, away from Lissa, the man she loves is the thing he never wanted to be, and as far as she's concerned, it's up to her to save him the only way possible, by killing him and giving him true death. There is still some sass in her, but it's seriously tempered by her grief. Rose is still strong, still capable, but she's facing something bigger than she's ever faced before. She's barely 18, confused, broken and desperate to believe the reality she is facing, isn't true. And everything she does, every tough choice, every moment she hesitates, just....fits.

Rose's emotional state aside, there is still plenty going on. I love the change of scenery, seeing Rose out there in the real world, unprotected. We get to meet some awesome new characters, and some of whom I would love to see more of. I want to say which ones exactly, but I fear it'd be too easy for me to end up revealing spoilers, so I'll stay quiet. I thoroughly enjoyed Rose's interactions with the new characters. She learnt a lot from them, from seeing a different part of her world, outside the school. There is plenty of action still, especially in the second half, though I admit the first half does have a slower pace to it. I actually think that works in it's favor. For Rose to find Dimitri instantly would be too easy, then what would happen for the rest of the book? No, I think it works very well. There is a balance that had to be struck and I think Richelle got it pretty spot on. It gave Rose a change to explore her new surroundings and meet people who she needed to meet.

I lost count of the number of times I ended up in tears the first time I read this. I still cried repeatedly during the rereads. It's a heart wrenching book. There is fresh pain and grief, and memories of the better times. The contrast is startling, both brought tears. And every read of Blood Promise has left me feeling very conflicted. It's too painful for the book to be my favourite of the series, but it's a very important book and very well done. I am always left impressed, sad, and with a slight queasy feeling about the final couple of chapters. I think its the right way for the book/series to go, but they didn't, and still don't, fit comfortably with me for some reason. Rose just felt a little bit 'off' for lack of a better word. However, like I said, still the right direction for the series, maybe just a little sudden for me when I am still reeling from the rest at that point. The final couple of pages though, that last twist, I loved.

Overall, a fantastic book. Very dark, very painful, full of grief, but still brilliant. Left me desperate for Spirit Bound, wondering if maybe, just maybe, what I want more than anything could still happen. Rating: 9/10

Reread Thoughts - this hits spoiler territory, in a semi vague way.

Like with Shadow Kiss, my thoughts are pretty much identical to first time through. I love reading the flashbacks, Rose remembering happier times with Dimitri. They kill me because I know he's gone, but I love and treasure them as well because they're the real Dimitri. The guy I fell in love with right alongside Rose. They're what Rose should, rightly, cling to.

I still, no matter the rereads, can not stand evil, Strigoi Dimitri. It's brutal seeing him so twisted from what he was, and there's the point of those flashbacks, to show that a Strigoi is not the person they were. I completely understood why Rose wanted so badly for it to be him, why she let herself believe it for a while, but it was, is, hell to read it.

The one thing I've found rereading this that is really different, is that I was annoyed with the amount of time Rose spent in Lissa's head. Don't get me wrong, I like Lissa's side plot, and it's got important moments, but I've found that I just wanted to stick with Rose's story.

Oh, and on Adrian, I still do not like him. I know he cares about Rose, for real, and he's an important player plot wise. But I just can't bring myself to really like him. He's okay, and he has grown on me from Frostbite, but I still don't really like him and I can't particularly place why. I think he just rubs me the wrong way on a personal level with the smoking, drinking and some other things, because he's not the kind of guy I'd get on with in real life...

Monday, 22 November 2010

100 Followers Winner!

A BIG thank you to everyone who entered the 100 Followers Giveaway and helped spread the word. I'm surprised and delighted by the number of entires, and the new followers I've picked up via this. Makes me feel like I should be way more interesting and stuff...anyways, thank you to all of you, I wish I could pick more than one winner, but it's almost Christmas and this girl's bank account can't handle it. Winner picked by Random.org is...


Congrats! Lyan has been emailed and has 2 days to get back to me or I will pick another winner. Again, thank you to all those who entered, the support is very much appriciated :)

2011 Debut Author Challenge!

This is me signing up for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge! If you've not heard of it before, the idea is to read 12 debut young adult or middle-grade books throughout the year (although more is encouraged!). It's hosted by Kirsti AKA The Story Siren and you can find all the details about it over on her blog here!

Goodness knows there are a lot of great sounding debut's out next year, and Kirsti has a great long list of some of them on her site as well, just to help make things a little easier. There are a couple awesome 2011 debut's which I've already read, therefore won't count, in Unearthly by Cynthia Hand and Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, but here are some of the others I'm loving the sound of and planning on reading for this challenge:

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney - Goodreads
Entangled by Cat Clarke - Goodreads
Clarity by Kim Harrington - Goodreads
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes - Goodreads
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford - Goodreads
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton - Goodreads
Divergent by Veronica Roth - Goodreads
Possession by Elana Johnson - Goodreads
Die For Me by Amy Plum - Goodreads
Timeless by Alexandra Monir - Goodreads
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - Goodreads

And there will be others. Like I said, the list over at The Story Siren is very long!! If you're interested in  maybe joining in yourself, then you can check out the guidelines and sign up post or the FAQ's.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Top 5 Sundays - Vampires + Shifters

Top 5 Sundays is a weekly meme hosted by Larrisa at Larrisa's Bookish Life. Each week there is a vote for what the next week's topic will be, so head over there and vote!

This week was a draw for favourite vampires and shifters, so I'm picking 5 for each because I don't want to choose! (except, 5 for shifters was too hard...)

Vampires (in order, vamps aren't so hard for me)
5. Zsadist [Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward] - He's BDB. 'Tis that simple.
4. Rhage [Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward] - See above ;)
3. Angel [Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel] - Buffy should have chosen him ;)
2. Christian Ozera [Vampire Acadmey by Richelle Mead] - because he's hot, a smart ass, brutally honest and well, just awesome.
1. Dimitri Belikov + Rose Hathaway [Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead] - okay, so they're dhampir, not full vampires, but as they're two of my favourite characters ever, I'm saying they count for this one ;)

Shifters (in no order)
Jace (werecat) [Shifters by Rachel Vincent] - he had me from 'hello' ;)
Clayton Danvers + Elena Michaels (werewolves) [The Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong] - my first visit to adult UF was with Bitten, and they are still two of my favourite characters!
Mercy Thompson + Adam Hauptman (coyote shifter + werewolf) [Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs] - I love Mercy and Adam together and on their own, just awesome characters.
William (werewolf) [Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews] - a very broken hero that I adore.
Graves (werewolf) [Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow] - sweet, caring and strong. Please, pretty please, let Dru choose him...
Curran (werelion) [Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews] - okay so he's an arrogant bastard a lot of the time, but totally smexy and awesome as well.

In My Mailbox [8]

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

This is for the past couple weeks. As always, books have either been bought by me, received for review or won from giveaways.

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa [Iron Fey #3] - Goodreads
My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent [Soul Screamers #4] - Goodreads
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead [Vampire Academy #6] - Goodreads (review coming Dec 7th. Nothing will be said before then)

Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend [Granite Lake Wolves #1] (Kindle Book) - Goodreads
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook [The Iron Seas #1] - Goodreads
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen [Past Midnight #1] - Goodreads
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden - Goodreads
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning [Fever #2] - Goodreads
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning [Fever #3] - Goodreads
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning [Fever #4] - Goodreads
Reaper by Rachel Vincent [Soul Screamers short story - ebook] - Goodreads

Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman (signed) - Goodreads
My Soul To Keep by Rachel Vincent (signed) [Soul Screamers #3] - Goodreads

....yeah, I am once more crazy broke. Should not have gone on that book spree, but, well, I wanted it. *shrugs* It is my early Christmas pressie to myself as congrats for being done with all my Christmas shopping already...

What was in your mailbox this week?

Also a quick reminder that my 100 followers giveaway closes at midnight tonight UK time!!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Wednesday Reviewing

Hey all, just a quick message to let you know about a small change on the blog that will (I think) be happening from this week. The lovely Nayuleska from Nayu's Reading Corner has offered her time to post reviews here on my blog on Wednesdays. She's a huge bookworm as well as being lovely, with great taste in books ;) I hope you all enjoy reading her reviews here as I know I will! Also, you shoul check out her own blog if you have a moment as well. Many great reviews already there!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Reread of book #3 in the Vampire Academy series for Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge. SPOILER warning, this review contains some spoilers for the previous books. No spoilers for Shadow Kiss though. Previous reread reviews: Vampire Academy, Frostbite.

If Vampire Academy and Frostbite were un-put-down-able (and they were) I don't know what to call this one. Some series are falling off the tracks by the time they hit book three, characters changing beyond realness, plots not as strong as they were or feeling like they've lost direction. Not so here. Shadow Kiss is the strongest book of the series at this point.

Rose is changing, growing up, but she's also facing new, bigger dangers and changes she can't control. I loved Rose from page one of VA. She's a smart, sassy, rebellious, kick-ass kind of girl. No waiting for the guy to come save her here! But there is no doubt she's not quite the same girl she was at the start of the series. I really enjoy her development over the course of the book, how she reacts to certain situations and she realises things are not quite what they always seem. She shows a more vulnerable side, just a little, and it shows her confidence is really growing, without inflating her ego. She's more settled and sure of herself, even when she's feeling lost. Okay, that probably doesn't make any sense at all, but it's how I feel about her and I'm not sure how else to try and explain it.

There are some answers to left over threads from VA and Frostbite given here, as well as many new questions appearing. But it's all connected, to varying degrees, and heading towards a place where you know big bad things lie. Perhaps the most impressive part of this book though, is not the character development, the addition of a new key player or two, but that I knew what the outcome to the book would be, long before I read it, and it still shocked the hell out of me.

I was reading it and filled with a sense of dread that just kept growing because I was thinking this one big thing would happen, but also constantly telling myself I had to be wrong, because surely the author wouldn't go there. But Richelle did. And did it perfectly. I didn't want 'it' to happen, not even close, but I knew it absolutely had to happen, because otherwise, where would the series go? It changes everything for Rose, and ends the book on a killer cliffhanger, but there is no doubt for me at all that it's exactly what had to happen and that the book (and series) is that much stronger for it.

There are so many great elements to this book that all together make it awesome, I can't possibly manage to really give many, let alone all, of them justice. There's further exploration of the world; a deeper look at spirit and it's strength; more romance; lots of action; lots of careful, fitting character changes and development; and like I said, some big, shocking twists.

What else can I say? I adored every moment of Shadow Kiss. Vampire Academy is one of the strongest YA paranormal series out there. Nothing about it is typical or cliched. A spectacular story and equally spectacular continuation of the series! Bring on the rest of it! Rating: 10/10

Reread thoughts

Honestly, I know I had a lot (too much) to add in this section with the first two, but here, I really don't because I feel pretty much exactly the same about this book as I did the first, second and third times I read it. It never fails to make me cry, to tear me up inside, and have that sense that it really couldn't have gone any other way than what it did.

As always, I felt the foreshadowing was perfectly placed, not just for the final twist here, but for certain things that are still to come. The ground work for future events works just perfectly as well. The development of Rose and Lissa's friendship is fantastic. I love that it's so complex and not always straight forward or easy. Friends fight, that's reality, and Richelle doesn't ignore that or make the fights childish, bratty stuff. The problems they face are very real, very serious. Same goes for all romantic involvements. Rose and Dimitri. Well, what can I say past I still adore them. More than ever. The development of their relationship and the chemistry between them is quite possibly my favourite thing about this book. And that's saying something because there is a lot to love about this book!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Mini Reviews - The Iron Queen, MSTSteal

Couple of early eARC's from NetGalley/Harlequin Teen (thank you!) this week, full reviews will be posted closer to their release dates.

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Iron Fey #3 - out Feb 1st 2011 (US) - Goodreads description

I liked The Iron King [book 1], I loved The Iron Daughter [book 2], but this one...adored it!! I'm rarely a big fan of fey books, I find that more often than not, they just don't work for me. Book 1 of this series was enough to make me try book 2, despite a bit of disconnect with the story. So, so glad I carried on with it because this book is just fantastic, beginning to end. Meghan's troubles are a long way from over and I love how this all played out. The intensity and emotion to the story, along with the twists, was just incredible. The ending...wow. Amazing ending. But now I'm left with this desperate need to have book #4, The Iron Knight, Ash's story, in my hands right. now. Some how, despite not being much of a fey fan, this has become one of my favourite series. So if you're a fan of fey stories, this series should be a must read. Heck, it is even if you're not. Rating: 10/10

My Soul To Steal by Rachel Vincent
Soul Screamers #4 - out Jan 1st 2011 (US) - Goodreads description

Well. What to say? MSTKeep changed a lot, and it was a fantastic book, but I knew where the end was going long before I started it. What I really didn't know, was what would happen next. How Kaylee would deal with the events and where it would take her. Having (somehow) survived reading Rachel's seriously awesome but heart wrenching adult Shifters series, I knew this would be good, that she'd throw in some great twists and make one hell of a story. I wasn't wrong. This was just magic. I could barely put it down, despite being really sick and barely able to concentrate. It's beautiful, painful, smart and just plain awesome. Great character development and I adore the addition of Sabine (Nash's ex). The conflicts and rivalries really heated up. I'm so excited for If I Die (book 5, out late 2011) now, and it's hitting very close to the top of my must haves list for 2011. I liked this series from the start, but it was Keep that made me love it, and Steal has made me adore it. Pretty please though Rachel, do not break my heart all over again!? Please? ;) Rating: 10/10

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Hey all, wanted to post a little explanation about why the blog has been so quiet lately. I've picked up a lot of new followers lately and yet my post count has dropped pretty seriously, which isn't cool, I know. Its for a combination of reasons, one being I've read quite a few 2011 ARC's lately, and I'd rather wait until closer to release dates to post them, so I've had less in the way of new reviews to share, and when I'm not sharing many reviews, I don't take part in as many meme posts. I like meme's, they're fun and a cool way to see what others are reading/getting/think whatever, but they are something that should be strictly in addition to regular blog content.

The other reason is that I've been really ill lately. If you've been following me a while, you'll probably know I've got CFS/ME. To cut a long story short, it means exhaustion rules my life, along with muscle pains, headaches and brain fog, all of which stop me reading as much as I'd like, and lately have seriously slowed my reading pace down. All those things also make blogging hard for the same reasons. I know the cause for this recent downturn and it's one that truly sucks for me. I've spent the past week unable to leave the house, and not particularly caring because I couldn't face the idea of leaving either. That's not like me, normally I get cabin fever within a couple days, despite my body telling me it's not up to going out. Been a very, very bad week. The worst I've had in a very long time.

So between the two, I've been really quiet on here. I apologise for that, I wish like hell it was different, but it's something I can't help. I hope you'll all bare with me, I will get through this bad patch and reading/blogging pace will pick up again soon, because I love sharing what I'm reading and interacting with the various people I meet on here. For those who are sticking with me, don't forget my 100 Followers giveaway currently going on. Just a week left to enter now!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Frostbite is the second book in the Vampire Academy series, my favourite paranormal YA series. For Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge, I reread and reviewed *cough*gushed over*cough* book one a couple weeks back, now it's Frostbite's turn. As then, review first followed by reread thoughts (and again, total gush fest, sorry!).

Rose is heading away from the Academy for the day to take her Qualifier. A combined interview and exam meant to discover if she's got the potential to be a guardian. But when she and her mentor Dimitri, arrive at their destination they're met with horror. The guardian they were meant to meet, along with the family he guarded, are dead. Killed by a group of Strigoi. The attack shocks the vampire world, groups of Strigoi working together is almost unheard of, causing mass panic through the Moroi and dhampir world.

For Rose and her friends, there could be worse things than a mandatory ski trip, if it were as simple as that. Rose's long absent mother, a very well respected guardian, has just reappeared and it's far from a happy reunion. Dimitri, Rose's mentor and big time crush, is maybe getting involved with someone else. Mason, one of Rose's best friends, is making his feelings for her clearer than ever. Lissa's happier romantic life is grating on Rose's nerves. And the repercussions from the Strigoi attack are fraying tempers, unrest within the Moroi and guardian ranks are starting to show.

Like Vampire Academy, I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. It's a great follow up to the first book continuing Rose's training, her personal and emotional development, and also taking a deeper look at the way the vampire world works, some of the politics, and the unjustness which is causing unrest. While VA showed hints of how the Moroi society worked, it becomes a focus in Frostbite.

There is continued character development, most obviously with Rose, but with several other big players as well. Rose faces big conflicts in Frostbite, with her mother and Dimitri in particular. There is an ongoing intensity involving them both, it's hard not to see why Rose reacts as she does at times. She's still short tempted, acting first and thinking second. However there are times when she does think before she acts, or realises herself that she's wrong and deals with it, showing some real maturity. It's a work in progress, with many ups and downs, but I love being along for the ride.

Some new characters made for some interesting twists here, but I also loved getting to know some of the side characters better as well. Frostbite was full of surprising twists, I couldn't put it down. The ending is heart pounding and heart breaking. It made me cry and cry some more. It was raw, honest and hopeful, and despite the painfulness of it, beautiful. No cliff hanger ending, but it certainly left me wanting a hell of a lot more.
Rating: 9/10

My reread thoughts/comparisons start to stray in to spoiler territory, read at your own risk :)

First time through:
Rose: She's growing a lot, but feel really bad for her with Dimitri.
Rose and Dimitri: why are they fighting?! This is just plain wrong, painful really.
Rose and Janine: Kinda really hate Janine, though she's okay at the end I guess. Totally get why Rose hates her.
Rose and Lissa: get why Rose is jealous of Christian getting most of Lissa's time, but kinda love how she puts Lissa first even so.
Adrian: Don't like him. Kinda creepy, not looking forward to seeing more of him

On Rose: In my VA reread I stated that I noticed Rose's bratty nature more, or saw more why it bothered some people. I was paying a lot more attention to how she was behaving, reacting and what changes there were (or weren't) with her behaviour compared to VA. I do think she's grown a lot in this book. She is immature at times, but again, she's 17. It's expected. What I like though, is that she's trying. She thinks it, she says it, and she acts it. She makes some bad decisions, but acknowledges them, suffers from them. She also makes some mature ones, really showing potential, recognising things above and beyond what's expected of her.

On Rose and Dimitri: Wow. Talk about unbalanced. Dimitri over compensating, trying to be just her instructor, constantly putting her down harshly. Not treating Rose as an equal, or even as a student. Everything he says is meant to push her away, but the force behind it only proves he cares too much. Rose tries so hard to cover her hurt and loneliness with sass and attitude but unfortunately for her, it comes off as the immaturity Dimitri keeps throwing in her face because she is younger. Painful reading, and I wanted to smack Dimitri a few times, and yet I now think those moments were really vital.

In contrast, their togetherness moments were very tender and sweet, showing their love for each other and how well they understand the other and how well they fit together. This is not some casual attraction, things aren't always smooth going for them (never have been, but they've never had a real argument before this book either) but it's good for them. More real. And I think it shows strength and promise for the outcome of their relationship,

On Rose and Janine: Janine is not an easy person to like, but I honestly believe she loves Rose. She just doesn't know how to show it, she believes she's screwed up, but putting her duty first is the only thing that truly makes sense to her. They're so alike, it's easy to see why they piss each other off so much. I don't think Rose ever hated Janine though. She yelled and screamed and pushed because she wanted Janine to be her mom, not someone she sees once every few years.

On Rose and Lissa: Oh hell. Rose repeatedly stops herself from telling Lissa what's going on because Lissa is preoccupied with other stuff. The bond actually gets in the way because Rose can't help feeling what Lissa does and is very protective. She's got the 'they come first' drilled so hard in to her that bottling it up as she does is only going to make things explode. Lissa is just as bad. She never asks what's going on with Rose. She doesn't realise she's spending almost all her free time with Christian, being a bad friend. Takes two to make a friendship work, and they're both on the path to destruction.

On Adrian: I do not like this guy. - guess something things don't change with time ;)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which highlights future releases we're very excited about.

My pick this week:

Title: My Soul To Steal [Soul Screamers #4]
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: YA, paranormal
Publication date: Dec 1st 2010 [Aus] Jan 1st 2011 [US]

I'm really quite jealous that this is out earlier in Aus, because I'm really excited for this book. My Soul To Keep [Soul Screamers #3] was easily the best book of the series so far, I loved it. Very tense and lots of big things for Kaylee (the protagonist) to deal with (check out my review if you want to know more). I was so proud of how she handled certain things as well, is that strange?

Because of that awesomeness, I can't wait to get my hands on this and find out more. I'm not posting the description for it as it contains spoilers for MSTKeep that I don't want to spoil for anyone, but you can read the full description on Goodreads. Also, is that US cover not gorgeous??

And if you've not looked in to this series before, I highly recommend it. Details of the series plus a link to a free prequel can be found here on the authors site (click the book covers). Note: the books are in reverse order, so skim to the bottom of the page if you don't want to see descriptions for the later books first.

What are you Waiting on this Wednesday?

And while your here, why not check out my 100 Followers Giveaway.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Copy received for review from UK Book Tours. Thank you!

"In the beginning we were nine.
We left when we were very young, almost too young to remember. Almost. And now...
Three are gone. 
We are here to keep our race alive, which was almost entirely obliterated. We're just trying to survive.
Six are left. 
But we are hunted, and the hunters won't stop until they've killed us all.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
I am Number Four. 
I know that I am next."

I am not usually a sci-fi fan. Aliens are something I very rarely read. But this book has got a bit of hype around it, what with it being made in to a film and everything. So when it went up on UK Book Tours, I decided it would be a good chance to give it a try when normally I wouldn't have bothered. I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

Four, who for the majority of the book goes by 'John', is from the planet Lorien. He along with 8 others, who each have a guardian, travelled to earth about 10 years previous after their planet was attacked and destroyed by the Mogadorians. Four and his guardian Henri have been moving all over the US in that time, never staying in one place long, never making friends or attachments and leaving at a moments notice. Four knows, from scars branded in to his ankle, that he is number Four, and that Three is now dead. Three's death triggers their latest move from Florida to small town Paradise, Ohio. Four is fifteen, and his powers 'legacies' are just beginning to show themselves. It's a dangerous time for him and being next in line for death means he has to be more careful than ever. But his first day at his new high school introduces him to Sarah, and her ex, jock Mark. Hard to fly under the radar when one of the popular guys wants him gone too.

From the start I found Four easy to like, and oddly easy to relate to as well. I really liked getting to know him better and seeing how he changed over the course of the book with the new things thrown his way. The story itself isn't anything really new or stunning, but it is enjoyable all the same. It's got a few bits that reminded me strongly of the TV show Roswell (which, despite knowing its not great, I love) but enough is different to get me past that. Aside from Four, most of the characters aren't that well developed, and two in particular had far too small a reaction to learning the truth which annoyed me a fair bit. Even so, I liked most of the characters and enjoyed reading how they all affected Four in different ways, changing how he saw things.

I found it fairly engrossing and read the majority of the book in a day. I did have to consciously force myself through some of the descriptions of the other planets and life on them, but that's my lack of love for sci-fi showing, a personal taste rather than a specific flaw to the writing. The plot flows well, and whilst there isn't very much immediate action until the end of the book, I never found it got too dull. There were some twists I didn't see coming, though others were a bit predictable. The end was fairly intense and that's when Four's emotions really came though, oddly when some of the others were at their weakest. Lots of unanswered questions for the next book, which I hope does answer some of them, because there weren't a lot here.

Overall it's a fun read. Nothing spectacular about it in my opinion, but seeing as I didn't expect to like it at all, I'm pretty impressed. I really enjoyed it and I'm very much looking forward to book 2 (The Power of Six, 2011) and the film as well.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 8 November 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, what are you reading? is a weekly post hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

I've not done one of these posts for a few weeks because I've been going through a major reading slump, so I'd have just been repeating myself over and over. But now I seem to be out of it and have new 'planned reading' for the week. Here's a catch up of the past few weeks first:

Magic at the Gate by Devon Monk [review]
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer [review]
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead [reread review]
Boy's Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman [review]
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H. P. Mallory [review]
Delirium by Lauren Oliver [mini review]
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton [mini review]
Radiance by Alyson Noel [mini review]

And my plan for the week ahead (all links go to Goodreads):

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (currently reading, almost 1/3 through it and so far I like it).


Reread of Vampire Academy 2-5 [Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise and Spirit Bound] by Richelle Mead for Vampire Book Club's Reread Challenge (and also just because I adore them)

I doubt I'll make it to the end of Spirit Bound by next Monday, but once I start Frostbite, I will just be reading through the series til I'm done, ahead of the release of the final book on December 7th. (Can't wait!!!)

So that's me, what are you reading?

Mini Reviews - Delirium, Angelfire, Radiance

EDITED. So, Blogger is a bastard (sorry to any offended) Radiance WAS reviewed, but for some reason the review disappeared leaving just the description and the rating *grumbles* Being unable to remember it word for word, it's now shorter and worse, but it is at least reviewed again.

Yep, another of those Mini Reviews posts. Delirium and Angelfire because they were early eARC's from NetGalley and I am waiting til closer to release to post full reviews. Radiance because I don't really have enough to say about it for it to be a considered a full review, so I'm adding it in here instead.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
"Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love"
First in a planned new dystopian trilogy. I really liked this book. It's got some great ideas and it's well played out, but for a long while, despite liking it, I felt a serious disconnect with the main character, Lena. I don't know why, but I just didn't connect with her very well so while the writing and pacing was excellent, I found I could just put it down and walk away easily. I liked Lena, I just didn't connect with her. I did enjoy the story though, and I really didn't have a clue what would happen right until the end. I wasn't too happy about one particular thing near the end, but otherwise thought it was a very good read. I can't quite say I loved it because it wasn't until about 3/4 through the book that I really connected with Lena and it got really intense for me. That's when I struggled to put it down. Still, it's great and I recommend it. Oddly, it reads (or did to me) as a standalone right until the final chapter. With a couple minor tweeks I think it would make a fantastic standalone book. I'm still looking forward to book 2 though and suspect I could enjoy that a lot more, but I'd got no idea where this series is going. Rating: 7/10

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

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

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

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember."
Angel books appear to be taking over the YA UF genre right now. Not all of them good, but this is one of the great ones. I was hooked within a few pages and struggled to put it down. It's got a lot of action, and unlike most YA books right now it seems, it's got decidedly little romance. There is a romantic plot, but it's a long while before it really comes up. It's very intense when it does, and perfectly played, but it is a sub-plot, at least for the time being. I loved the action in this book, I loved Ellie (the protagonist) and how she learnt and dealt with the things she discovered. I love Will, her bodyguard. He's very hot, mysterious and has just about everything going for him. He kind of broke my heart at one point, but I still love him completely. Some great twists and the ending was really intense. I'm very excited for more in this series!! Rating: 9/10

Radiance by Alyson Noel
"Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley..."
Copy received for review thanks to Lynsey at UK Book Tours.
This is the first book in the spin off series from the Immortals one (book 1 is Evermore) focusing on Riley. This is amied at younger audience than the Immortals series, which I don't normally read, but as I liked the first couple books in that series I thought I'd give it a try. Sadly it didn't work for me. I liked Riley a lot in Evermore, but no so much as a protagonist. However, it's still a fun, sweet, cute read with a good cast and plot. Younger readers and those who enjoy younger fiction, will likely really enjoy it, it just wasn't for me. Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 7 November 2010

In My Mailbox [7]

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren as a chance to share what books we've recieved or bought the past week.

As usual, the following are books I've either bought or recieved for review. Check out the Goodreads descriptions for more details.

Eternal a YA anthology edited by PC Cast - Goodreads
Ghost Town by Rachel Caine [Morganville Vampires 9] - Goodreads
Radiance by Alyson Noel - Goodreads
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore - Goodreads

Quick reminder that if you want a chance to win a free book or 2, then you can enter my 100 Followers Giveaway for a $15 GC here.

Happy reading all! What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by HP Mallory

"Life isn't bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, She doesn't have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she's a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost's demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie's incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld's most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand."

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble is the first book in the Jolie Wilkins series. I read HP's other book, To Kill a Warlock [review], a little while back and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this one as well. It's got similar elements to Warlock, with a humor apparent from the start and a loosely formed love triangle. But otherwise they're really different. Jolie doesn't realise there is a paranormal world out there, despite being a little psychic. Rand, a warlock, opens her eyes to it and in the process brings her powers to the front making her the most wanted witch in the world. She's forced to leave behind her job and move to England with Rand in order to try and avoid the witch intent on owning her.

There is a serious side to this story, but at heart it's a humorous, light, fantasy verging on paranormal romance. I know I've said this before, but I'm not always a fan of lighter fantasy. I like dark angst, but like To Kill a Warlock, this was a lighter fantasy that I did enjoy. I found I couldn't always take the characters seriously, they were a bit too flaky and daft a couple of times, but I was still able to connect with the story.

I liked the plot, and the pacing, it moved along quickly with some really good twists. And some great laughs. I wanted to smack Rand a few times, and Jolie occasionally as well, but I still liked them and found them really growing on me by the end. One thing that annoyed me a little though is how Jolie doesn't think she's all that special or beautiful, that her best friend is the hot one, but how almost every guy is introduced as a potential love interest. I also thought the 'final showdown' came a little out of nowhere, rather than from the build up throughout the book which left the ending a little less than satisfying for me.

Overall it's still a good read despite my misgivings with parts of it. It's quickly paced, funny and it's got decent characters, even though they don't show their real depth til later in the book. I'm looking forward to book two though (Toil and Trouble, out Jan 1st 2011) as I think there is still a lot of unexplored potential in this book. I also think those who enjoy the lighter side to fantasy more than me will enjoy this a lot more than I did. And I still enjoyed it.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which highlights the forthcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW pick this week:

Title: Last Sacrifice [Vampire Academy #6]
Author: Richelle Mead
Release Date: 7th December 2010

I can't help it. I had to post this one now. I'd intended to wait another couple weeks for it, but rereading Vampire Academy a couple weeks back, and everything just starting to amp up about the coming release, I can't think about posting anything else as my WoW today. There is no description available for Last Sacrifice yet, Richelle and her publishers Penguin are keeping it very closely guarded (there are pseudo descriptions floating around though).

But it's Vampire Academy so expect it to be dark, gritty and have more of Rose's sass. I kind of hate speculating on what may happen because while there is plenty I'd love to see, and I've got my theories on some things, I know Richelle is going to throw a few spanners in the works. She's managed to surprise me with every book she's written so far. It's going to be a long, emotional roller coaster to the end of this series, and I'll be upset when it's over, but I can not wait to find out what happens!!

Rose and Dimitri forever.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pretty Pretty!! Magic Slays cover

Yep, that's right, the cover for the 5th book in the Kate Daniels series from husband and wife writing team 'Ilona Andrews' has been revealed. And it's sooo pretty!!! Looks!

Soooo pretty. Though I think that's a new model for Kate, I'm a little unsure on her. But otherwise, I loves!! Can't wait to get my hands on this and it sucks that it's not out til the summer next year (no date yet). The Kate Daniels series is just magic (no pun intended!). No question it's one of the best UF series around right now. If you get past a not so great book one. You wouldn't regret it, trust me!

Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman

This is the new novel from Malorie Blackman, author of the Noughts and Crosses series. N & C is my favourite YA series ever. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, and the most powerful book/series I've read. If you've not read them, I seriously recommend you do. I'm not sure how available they are outside the UK, but if you're struggling to find them, you'll get them easily via Book Depository, just as you will this one.

With as much as I loved N & C, I was very excited to read this new book from Malorie. Totally different, but it promised to be another powerful book. It delivered. Boy's Don't Cry is the story of a 17 year old boy, Dante, waiting for his A-level results to come in the post. He's planning on University and a career in journalism after that. But instead of the post, he's confronted with his ex. Who has a baby with her, his baby as it turns out. She asks him to watch her for a few minutes while she pops to the shops around the corner for some basics. Except, she doesn't come back, and Dante is left with this baby who is almost a year old to take care of.

It took all of a couple pages to hook me. Dante's voice, his panic, disbelief and the rest of the vast mixture of emotions, come across sharply as he's faced with this huge life changing fact. He is a dad. Dante lives at home with his dad and younger brother, Adam. His mum died several years before so it's just been the three of them for a long time, struggling to get by. The different relationships between Dante, Adam and their dad are complex and vividly realistic. Just as Dante's struggle to accept his daughter, and his relationship with her, is. The whole family dynamic is changed by the baby and although we don't get to see much of them before the baby as she's introduced in chapter one, it's still obvious that's the case.

Although the focus of the book is on Dante and what being a teen dad is like, the choices and decisions he faces, there is a serious subplot revolving around Adam as well. I won't go in to detail because I don't want to spoil anything, but lets just say that while he may get much less page time (there are some short chapters from his POV as well as Dante's), his story is just as powerful. More so at times actually I felt.

The whole book is just fantastic, extremely hard to put down. It's honest, stark, brutal, beautiful and yes, very powerful as well. I think it should be a must read for teens and adults of both genders. I don't know how many times I cried reading this book but it was several. Sad tears from me while reading is fairly common, happy tears are not. This book had both from me. I went from happy tears straight to sad ones at one point as well. Amazing, heartfelt book. As expected, one of my favourites of the year as well.

Rating: 10/10

Monday, 1 November 2010

100 Followers Giveaway IMPORTANT

I know of at least two people who submitted the form for my 100 Followers Giveaway today and it did not go through. Lucky for them they're people I chat with on twitter and it got noticed. If you entered today and aren't sure if the form went through, or want to be sure it did, feel free to email me at cemsbooks(at)gmail(dot)com with '100 Followers Giveaway' as the subject and I can check against the spread sheet data. I am really, really sorry about this, but it is out of my hands to fix it. I've already switched to a new form (old data still saved, will check and delete double entries) in the hopes that it solves the problem.

For those who've not yet seen the giveaway, you can find the details here.

Please Excuse the Mess [EDITED]

Blog backgroud/colors edit in progress. May mean things look...wrong or bad for the next hour or so, apologies!! Neat blog will be returned as soon as possible. Basically right now the 'edits' page of the blog design looks like something akin to this:

 Or maybe this:

And kinda this:

'this' by the way, is (in order) my living room/kitchen/living room at various stages over the past week. There is also dining room furiture in the kitchen as new flooring is going down in there as well. Joy. It's almost done now, thankfully, but it won't be as quick as the blog makeover *sigh*

EDIT: Okay, I've had enough. Done with editing colors for now. Opinions please? Do the text colors work? Too bright? Too dull? Not match? I know I can't please everyone, but if there is a big problem, obviously I want to fix it and keep my followers happy. Speaking off, 100 followers giveaway here!!

Book of the Month [3]

Book of the Month is a monthly meme hosted by Giota at Just Another Book Blog.

October has been very up and down reading month for me with a long reading slump but also some of my favourite reads of the year so far. Normally I would post a 'shortlist' with a winner afterwards, but I'm not capable of that this time as there are three outstanding titles which deserve it, so here are my three books of the month.
Matched by Ally Condie [full review] // [Goodreads] - a spectacular new dystopia book coming November 30th (US) // December 2nd (UK). It's got some romance, a lot of fighting the system; it's beautifully written and perfectly paced.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand [mini review] // [Goodreads] - released Jan 4th 2011. This is a stunning debut featuring angels, part angels, and one of the hottest guys I've come across. It's beautifully written, smart, real, funny and basically just amazing. You should totally have this on preorder already!

Boy's Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman [Goodreads]- the odd one out from this group of three for many reasons. First off, it's a UK release, it's already out, it's not fantasy of any kind and it's got a male protagonist, not a girl. Like the other two though, it's a truly fantastic read. It had me in tears many times, happy and sad ones. Happy tears from me with a book is not common, major points there. It's a powerful story about a teen dad that I think every teen, and adults for that matter, of both genders should read. Full review coming later today (or possibly tomorrow morning).

So what's your Book of the Month?

100 Followers Contest! [EDITED]

Contest now CLOSED! Winner will be announced tomorrow.

Important EDIT: I know of at least two people who've tried to submit their entries today (1st Nov) and it's not gone through. If you are uncertain as to whether it's gone through or not (you should get a message saying it has been) please email me the relevant details instead at cemsbooks(at)gmail(dot)com with '100 followers giveaway' as the subject. Please remember to include links for extra entries or they won't count!! Thank you and apologies for the issues, they're out of my hands.

Looks! I have 100 Followers!! I want to say a massive thank you to all of you for following, as I seriously didn't think I'd reach this day when I started. I love sharing my thoughts on the books I'm reading and I'm happy to know others find them interesting as well. I've also made some great new friends via this for whom I'm very grateful.

As a thank you, I'm offering up the chance for one of you to win a book(s) of your choice from Book Depository up to $15! (or alternatively a $15 GC to Amazon.com/.co.uk, winners choice). So if BookDepos ship to you, you can enter! Check the list here to be sure.

You must be a follower to enter this! As it's a thank you to my followers this is only fair.
Old followers + 4 entries ('old' is anyone prior to this being posted 1/11/2010)
New followers +2
Extra entries for blogging or tweeting this giveaway, or for adding my button to your side bar! Just be sure it links back here to this post.

Open until November 21st midnight GMT. I'll announce the winner here on the blog the next day and will have 48 hours to contact me.

You must fill in the form below to enter! Comments won't count as entry, but are always welcome!

Important EDIT: I know of at least two people who've tried to submit their entries today (1st Nov) and it's not gone through. If you are uncertain as to whether it's gone through or not (you should get a message saying it has been) please email me the relevant details instead at cemsbooks(at)gmail(dot)com with '100 followers giveaway' as the subject. Please remember to include links for extra entries or they won't count!! Thank you and apologies for the issues, they're out of my hands.

If you completed any extra early entries, I will add these on myself. They are saved and noted alongside email addresses that were left and will be checked against entries and added in before the winner is selected by Random.org.