Saturday, 26 February 2011

In My Mailbox [20]

While you're here, don't forget to check out my YA Contemps Giveaway!! Ends next Sunday!!

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Another super stressful, horrible week, but with an awesome haul of books. What's with that?

For review
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Thank you Random House!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Thank you Lynsey, UK Book Tours!

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw
Long Reach by Peter Cocks
Need by Carrie Jones
Massive thanks to Clover from Fluttering Butterflies for these!! She is super sweet and her blog is awesome, so you should all go follow her :)

River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Break by Hannah Moskowitz
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
Iron Crowned by Richelle Mead
Pretty bad Things by C. J. Skuse
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Rhamin by Bryce Thomas (this was random, hadn't heard of the book before, but author was signing in WHSmiths when I was there the other day, it involves wolves and he said a slight paranormal edge, so I happily bought it.)

Seeing how I'm barely managing to read a book a week right now, I think it's well past time I went on a book buying ban. Cause seriously, anything not for review will just be sitting there for months. Although I want to read them, I just can't right now.

What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, 25 February 2011

All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz

All You Get Is Me site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought hb
Publisher: Harper Teen
Released: Dec 2010
Rating: 2.5/5

A summer of love, loss and justice.

Things were complicated enough for Roar, even before her father decided to yank her out of the city and go organic. Suddenly, she's a farm girl, albeit a reluctant one, selling figs at the farmers' market and developing her photographs in a ramshackle shed. Caught between a troublemaking sidekick named Storm, a brooding, easy-on-the-eyes L.A. boy, and a father on a human rights crusade that challenges the fabric of the farm community, Roar is going to have to tackle it all - even with dirt under her fingernails and her hair pulled back with a rubber band meant for asparagus.

I really liked the sound of this book, and I was very taken by the cover as well, so I was looking forward to reading it. It started out pretty well, Roar (short for Aurora, but no one calls her that) is pretty easy to like and her narrative is soft and inviting. The set up, city girl now living on a farm in the middle of nowhere and what that entails, is well drawn and I found myself wishing I was actually there several times.

But, a lot of the story didn't work for me quite as it should have. There are a few chapters, particularly early on, where they are Roar's retelling of what went wrong in the city, why she and her dad left. Which were okay in themselves, even if I did feel they slowed the forward movement of the story down, but it turned out there was little relavance to them. Yes, they explain where Roar is coming from, what she's like, and how much she's changing. But honestly, there was just too much. It didn't all need to be in there and most of what I needed to know I learned from just a few short paragraphs within those chapters. It just slowed things down without giving any real extra insight.

I also feel that overall, the book didn't seem to have a real focus. In theory, the focus is on Roar and how she's growing up and adapting to her new life, what it means, and falling in love for the first time. But there is a big sub plot as well, involving her father and what he's working on. Instead of creating an added intensity and something for Roar to be dealing with or involved in though, it seems to just kind of happen. Things flick between that and her romance and the other little things going on leaving just the surface scratched on most accounts and not really getting anywhere deeper.

I liked Roar, I liked some of the side characters as well, but the romantic storyline fell somewhat flat as well, and I didn't much like Roar's best friend Storm either. It's not a bad book by any means. It certainly has some good descriptions of farm life, and as I said, I kept wishing I was there. But while the story was strong enough that I wanted to finish it, I was left feeling kind of disappointed and unsatisfied. I think had the big secondary plot had more depth given to it, or had it been left out and the focus been left purely on Roar and her romance, I'd have preferred it. It's still a reasonable book though and I'm sure there are those who would enjoy the lighter read more than I did.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A Little Quieter

Hey all, this is just a quick explanation post. I have been struggling a lot of late, with a lot of things, and now it's affecting the blog. I had hoped I could just carry on reviewing and posting and that maybe it could be one stable in my life right now, but to be honest, it's become another stress and not a help. I've been struggling to read much lately and finding it more stressful because I keep thinking 'I need to read so I have content' and such. And that isn't healthy, certainly not for me, not right now.

I'd been doing well with posting usually 6, sometimes 7, times a week and having posts prepped and such. But I can't keep that pace up, it's just too much for me. Which kinda sucks really! So things are going to get a little quieter again, probably for a couple months, with 3 or 4 posts a week. But as usual, most of those will be reviews. ...providing I've managed to read enough to review. If I haven't, then, well, it'll probably just mean fewer posts. I'm sad about that, but I've gotta take care of me first, certainly right now. I hope that sooner rather than later I can return to more frequent posting, but right now this is what I need to do and I hope you all understand that and stick with me anyways.

I love my blog and reading and I want to get back to it being a fun escape, not a stressful one!

...although, if anyone would be interested in guest posting anything to help me out for a little while, I'd really appreciate it!! If it's related to YA or paranormal books, it should be suitable. Can be something new, or something you've posted yourself before, I'm pretty easy about these things. Email me at cemsbooks(at)gmail(dot)com if you're maybe interested in helping. Thanks!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gladiator: Fight For Freedom by Simon Scarrow

This is the first book in a brand new series! I'm rather eager for the next one.

3rd February 2011, Puffin
Hardback, Review copy
Children's (12+)

Summary from Penguin

Rome, 61 BC
RECRUITED as a gladiator, young Marcus Cornelius Primus faces a new life of brutal training, governed by strict rules, as he learns the skills of an elite warrior.
But Marcus cannot simply forget his past. His father lies murdered by soldiers and his mother has been kidnapped and forced into slavery. Marcus is determined to find his father's old commander, Pompeius the Great, to seek justice for his family and set his mother free.
Yet, unbeknown to him, Marcus is hiding a life-threatening secret. And if the Romans discover it, there will be no escape . . .

I've read and enjoyed a Roman historical from Simon before (The Legion). I was eager to read a series set in a similar era for younger readers. In some ways I preferred Gladiator. I think there's a little less emphasis on description of weapons/politics/who's who. That's not to say there isn't any description - there is, but just enough to keep the reader informed and intrigued, not so much that I started to skim read.

One great thing about the book is that it takes a while for Marcus to be in a position where he becomes a gladiator. I kept thinking 'this is it' only to turn the page and find it was it. And when the moment came it was hard hitting, especially when he got separated from his mother. His desire for revenge lands him in a little bit of trouble, but actually much less than I'd expected. He has great courage within him to keep pursuing his goal, even when the future gets bleaker and bleaker. He isn't stupid, he knows not to rush into some fights, although he still does have the impatience of youth. I adore how the book ends, and the kind of life that waits Marcus. If anything he will be in more danger than he was while training to be a gladiator. It was pretty tough with the risk of death he flouted the rules. He nearly did die when someone set him up with a crime. Plus he makes an enemy within his class without even doing anything.

Possibly the one thing which I both love and hate equally, is the secret that Marcus is hiding. Little is spoken of it until near the end. Even then, nothing gets revealed (either that or I really missed something!). I really hope there is further revelation in the next book, although I'll be reading it for more than that reason alone. From the summary I would have thought that I'd find out at least part of the mystery in this book.  Overall I really enjoyed the book. There's plenty of action (not all of it pleasant, definitely a good book for blood-thirsty readers), and a great deal of character development. The level of detail in the historical environment is high, and clearly shows Simon knows this area of history. Bearing in mind that not a lot is revealed about his secret, I give it a 9/10.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting

Kimberly Derting's site
Series: The Body Finder #2
Copy obtained: bought, hb
Publisher: Harper (US)/Headline (UK)
Release date: Feb 15th (US)/March 17th (UK)
Rating: 4/5

The missing dead call to Violet. They want to be found.

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered - and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationships seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging in to Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

The Body Finder was one I wasn't sure I'd like, but I got sucked in straight away and loved it! So I was really excited to get my hands on book 2 and because I'm an impatient person, I couldn't wait for the UK release and bought the US one which released a month earlier. I am glad I did, but Desires was not quite what I expected.

Desires of the Dead takes place a few months after The Body Finder and for Violet things are more in the realm of normal again. But not for long. There are basically three plots to Desires, all twisted together. One involves Violet and Jay's relationship (and all the issues with Jay's new best friend), one involves a body Violet finds and the FBI who get involved afterwards, and the third involves someone stalking Violet. The third one, I had figured out very easily, early on, so it lacked a lot of the intended tension, especially considering the where it went and the place it held in the story.

I really enjoyed the developments with Jay and Violet's relationship. They've been best friends forever, now they're a couple and I'm glad things aren't all plain sailing. That Violet struggles to deal with their new dynamic, despite being completely sure she loves him, is something I found real and the whole of that particular plot was something I found very engaging. If a little heart wrenching at times! I also thought the FBI side of things played out well. I liked the ideas it brings and the possibilities as well. Plus, the two agents involved are both really well drawn characters. There's still a fair few secrets there to be unveiled I'm certain!

The three plots tangle together, one affecting the next and does make for a really good, reasonably fast paced read. I did finish it in a day. But something I loved about The Body Finder was how unpredictable it was. The ending of that one was pretty shocking because I didn't see it coming. I found it very easy to guess what was coming throughout Desires and that was a little disappointing. However, I do love Violet, and Jay. Reading the continuation of their story was very enjoyable and I certainly felt Violet's anguish as she tried to figure out the right things to do, both with Jay and with everything else. I was impressed with how she handled certain things, but other times I half wanted to smack her and tell her to wake up. While her parents do play a small role in Desires, it's not as strong nor are they are as obviously present as they were in TBF, something else I found a little disappointing. I preferred The Body Finder, but overall, I still love Desires of the Dead. It's a different ride than TBF, still emotional, but not quite as dark or creepy. I'm very excited that there will be two more Body Finder books because I'm really curious to see where things go after the events of Desires!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Monday Wrap Up [7]

Welcome to my weekly wrap up!

Before I go anywhere, for those who just catch the top part of this message: Check out my YA contemps giveaway!! It's open internationally, 2 winners, and a choice from 12 books! Go, go, go! ;)

Okay, now to last week. Last week sucked. A lot. For lots of reasons, but mostly because on Friday one of my babies, Sunny (one of my rabbits) got dangerously sick and spent a night at the vets. Very nearly lost him so spent all weekend very stressed out and worried. He's improving lots now, but still not completely better. Check up at the vets today, fingers crossed all goes well. Topped off a spectacularly bad weekend with a twisted knee, will make life interesting for a few days, anyways...

What I Read
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - took me Monday - Friday to finish it because for various reasons I was too sick/busy/worried to read, but it's good!
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting - preferred book 1, The Body Finder, but still a very good read.

I knew 5 books this week would be pushing it, but that was kinda pathetic. Stress and exhaustion = no reading.

What I Posted
Tuesday - Review - Outside In by Maria V. Snyder [Inside Out #2] rating 3.5/5
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday - Love Story by Jennifer Echols
                   - What does it take for you to drop a book? - Some interesting comments, love to hear more!
Thursday - Review - Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan, rating 4.5/5
Friday - Review - Half Moon by Jordan Deen [The Crescent #2] rating 4.5/5
Saturday - YA Contemps Giveaway! - 2 winners, 12 books to choose from.
Sunday - In My Mailbox - last week sucked, apart from the books!

What I'm Posting This Week
Good question. Reviews for Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting and All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz, and...I've no idea what else. I'll come up with something. Maybe. I'm exhausted from the super stressful weekend and I plan on this being a quiet recovery week. I don't plan on being around the blogosphere or twitter much this week, but I'll try and catch up some next week.

What I'm Reading This Week
River Marked by Patricia Briggs (should arrive today, so it's up next!)
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
Hoping this week is a little better for reading than last week was, but given my current state, I'm sticking with low goals.

Actually, just hoping this week is all around better than last week!! I'll be more confident of that if the vet doesn't find cause for Sunny's problems. *fingers crossed* Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

In My Mailbox [19]

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by the awesome Kristi over at The Story Siren.

This week has sucked in every respect pretty much, apart from where books are concerned. It was unexpectedly awesome for books!

The Iron King by Julie Kagwa - Goodreads
From MiraInk, it's an exculsive edition hardback and it's all glittery. So pretty!! 

Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland - Goodreads
Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland - Goodreads
Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland - Goodreads
Won from Wicked Lil Pixie, they're all signed and what Diana wrote made me laugh on a very bad day:
Click to see bigger
So massive thanks to Nat and to Diana! So very happy to have signed copies of these because I adore the series!

For Review:
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter - Goodreads
Stay by Deb Caletti - Goodreads
Wither by Lauren DeStefano - Goodreads
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott - Goodreads
Thanks to NetGalley and S&S Galley Grab for these titles!

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer [Kindle version] - Goodreads
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting - Goodreads
Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delany - Goodreads

Shameless plug: while you're here, why not check out my YA contemps giveaway! Open internationally, 2 winners, choice of 12 awesome books!!

What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, 18 February 2011

YA Contemps Giveaway!!

Giveaway is now closed!! Winners will be announced soon.

I've always been a girl more interested in paranormal, but lately paranormal and I have been on a break. It's not permanent, nor should you worry ;)

I have though, read some seriously awesome YA contemps on this break, and so I'm going to giveaway some of them! I like some element of choice with giveaways as great giveaways where you already have the book, is kind of a shame I think! And from my little poll that was running this week, more people agree than disagree, which makes me feel better about holding the giveaway like this! I'm offering a choice from the books listed below. They are all books I've got, read and love. Some new, some old. Some are focused on romance, others on tough subjects. All are awesome!!

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Nature Of Jade by Deb Caletti
Wild Roses by Deb Caletti
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
The Earth My Butt And Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Yep, 12 titles to choose from! I tried to narrow it down more, but I failed. I shall leave that to the winners ;) Hopefully though, there is something for everyone there!!

There will be TWO winners who will each get their pick of ONE title from the above list!

You MUST fill in the FORM below to enter! Only required details are a name (or alias) and email address to contact you if you win.
Extra entries ~ Follower + 1 (old or new)
                       Tweeting about the giveaway + 1 - can use this phrase: YA Contemps Giveaway from @CemsBooks 2 winners! Choice of 12 books! Open int'n closes Mar 6th
So you can have a maximum of 3 entries. I'm keeping it very simple for all our sakes ;)
While you're free to spread the word as much as you like (and it's appreciated!!) only one tweet will count.

Other Details
~ Must be 13 years+ to enter
~ Open internationally as long at Book Depository ships to you!! PLEASE check this list first if you're not sure.
~ To enter you MUST fill in the form below, comments do not count as entry, but are appreciated! I'd love to know what you think you might choose if you win!
~ You don't need to be a follower to enter.
~ Giveaway closes 6th March at midnight UK time. I will pick the winners via and contact them on the 7th, and announce it here on the blog as well.
~ For more details please read my contest policy.

Half Moon by Jordan Deen

Jordan Deen's site
Series: The Crescent #2
Copy obtained: bought on Kindle
Publisher: Black Rose
Released: Jan 2011
Rating: 4.5/5
Spoiler Warning!! Contains spoilers for previous book!!

"I'd been a fool for coming here with them, and one would come to save me. The world that hid in the shadows of humanity was full of enemies."
Faced with death, Lacey Quinn ran away from the only family she'd ever known. That...was just the beginning.
As the decision she's made sinks in, Lacey struggles to fit in with the pack and find the key to bonding with her werewolf soul mate, Brandon. But, lies can only be concealed for so long.
Adjusting to a powerful new best friend, a twelve-year-old roommate with a nauseating Barbie fetish, and a lost love that won't stop haunting her dreams, she knows she has no hope of having a normal future - ever again.
After a long talk with the dead mother she never knew, and an almost deal-breaking night out with Brandon, Lacey starts spiraling into the underworld - a place where all things are possible and everyone is out to kill her.

With mysterious legends of witches and sorcery marring her past and clouding her future, she quickly learns - werewolves aren't the only ones lurking in the woods...waiting to claim her powers for their own.

The Mares? Well, they are the least of her worries.

Half Moon is the second book in The Crescent trilogy. I really enjoyed book one, The Crescent and I was very excited to read book 2 and discover how things went from the semi-cliff hanger ending. I did love this book, but it was not an easy or fully enjoyable ride.

I really enjoy the extensive world building in these books. There's a lot discovered and explained in Half Moon and I liked getting to see more of how some things work. I loved getting to meet some new characters as well, and get to know others better. There is the addition of one new character, Brea, who I really loved! She's got a spark and how she is with Lacey is something I just thoroughly loved.

What I didn't enjoy, is the love triangle. This is not fault of writing though, this is my personal, growing, hatred for them. If they're well written I can sometimes get on with them or at least put up with it. If they're not, or I have a particular, serious dislike to one of the guys involved then I struggle to read them because I just don't enjoy reading what I see as the girl being a little of an idiot for liking said guy. This one is odd because it's a combination of both. It's well written and well handled, and I really dislike one of the guys involved. So reading it wasn't enjoyable and a couple times I did put the book down and walk away because I was getting very irritated with Lacey's attitude towards both guys and her actions as a result. But because it's well written and because I was so engrossed in the rest of the story, it usually took me less than 10 minutes to get back to it because I needed to know what was going to happen!

It was clear early on that something was going on. I couldn't figure it out, maybe I should have figured it out sooner, but I didn't. And I loved it! The twists and turns along the way are great. I got so mad at Lacey sometimes, but I just wanted the best for her as well. I really hated some of the Armana's at times. For people who claim to be the good guys and want to help, they're not very good at it! But, again, I ended up kind of loving how it all works out. I really enjoyed all the confliction and how Lacey grew and learned to fight back through this book. I think there is still a lot to come from her, but she did end up really impressing me through Half Moon.

This is a great follow up to The Crescent. No, I didn't love all of it, I didn't enjoy reading parts of the love triangle. But it's very well done and it is a great story! I felt so bad for Lacey at times and wanted to protect her from some of the events she faced. Things got very intense towards the end and left me wanting the final book, Full Moon, right now!! Any earlier misgivings I had with the book were fully made up for with events towards the end. If you like werewolf books, you need to check this trilogy out!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan

Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought, pb
Publisher: Graphia
Released: Oct 2009
Rating: 4.5/5

Saturated self-portrait: Blake, a nice guy, class clown, always trying to get a laugh, not sure where to focus.
Contrast. Shannon, Blake's GF. Total. Babe. Marissa, just a friend and fellow photographer. Shannon loves him; Marissa needs him. How is he supposed to frame them both in one shot?
This is a slightly strange book in some ways, but it's completely fantastic! It took me a little while to get in to it, but once I got used to Blake's voice, I was hooked. Blake is 15, happy to have a very hot girlfriend in Shannon, and then one photo changes things. In his photo class, he and Marissa talk a lot and as normal, he shows her some of his work he's done before the teacher asks for it. In one photo is a woman, that woman, unknown to Blake, is Marissa's mom. From there things start falling apart. Blake realises Marissa needs him, but Shannon wants him. And he's caught between the two, unsure how to manage either one.

I love the reality in this book. Blake's clueless innocence about girls; how he struggles with Marissa's situation not really wanting to be a part of it, but wanting to be a good friend; how he struggles to deal with Shannon and Marissa together. Plus I love his family, that there is a strong parental role and a solid relationship with his older brother as well. I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters in this story, they're all really well drawn. Marissa's story is one that's gritty and real as well, even though we only see it through Blake's eyes.

The whole book is a strange balance of humor and serious. It's very serious in some aspects dealing with some tough subjects, particularly in the second half. But I lost count of how often I laughed out loud as well. And maybe even more surprising was the way I could go from laughing out loud at something that was said or happened one moment, to aching for Blake or Marissa the next. Like a snap of the fingers, I was the opposite emotion. And it's not harsh or jarring, it just works.

Flash Burnout is wonderfully written. Smart, careful, so funny and very, very honest. It's surprisingly brutal in some respects, and surprising in general. It was not what I expected, but I found it very refreshing for that fact. The tension builds and builds right up to the end. There are some surprising twists, a few very unexpected choices. The characters grow through the book, learning from what happens to them and it's fantastically done. And the ending...just wow. Completely unexpected, and yet it fits perfectly! I loved this book so much. It kind of broke my heart. Flash Burnout is excellent read and I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What Does It Take To Drop a Book?

This is something I think about from time to time. I am someone who rarely fails to finish a book because I think if I've started it, I should finish it. If I'm not enjoying it, then my thinking is 'it might get better' so I carry on. I'm trying to make myself give that mentality up a little, in some cases because I know I can waste a week on a book I don't enjoy at all, when I could have read 2 or 3 other really good books instead.

With series, I find it very hard to drop them. I rarely drop a series once I've started it because a part of me wants to know what happens. And if it's a series that has gone down hill, then I keep reading in the hope it improves and because I still want to know what happens. If the first book of a series isn't great, but I like parts of it, 9 times out of 10 I'll carry on with it, and most of the time it pays off because several series suffer from a weaker first book and grow stronger, in my opinion.

Not so great but...
One of the stand out series that always comes to mind when I think of that 'meh' first book issue, is the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Book one, Magic Bites, is not great. It's got it's moments, particularly towards the end, but it is nothing to really shout about. Book 2, Magic Burns, is better. Much stronger all around and a much more enjoyable read. Book 3, Magic Strikes...freaking hell perfect!! It's a seriously awesome book in every respect. Perfect tension, fantastic, engaging story, excellent character growth and some just awesome individual scenes between Kate and those around her. Book 4, Magic Bleeds, is on the same level, if softer for it's different focus, but it's equally as good as Strikes in my view. worth it!!
Had I stopped with Bites, I'd be missing out on one of my top favourite adult series. Had I not given the good elements of Bites their second chance with Burns, I'd have missed out big time and I am so, so glad I haven't!! I hear of those who didn't think too much of Bites, like me (I think I read it over a month or so between other stuff) and didn't give Burns a try and I wonder why, when so many other people (because I know I'm not alone in this) consider Bites a bit of a weak book and yet the rest of the series very good and well worth the time, I wonder why they won't give it another chance. Maybe let themselves be surprised.

I don't get why people drop a longer series after one weaker book. This is not a criticism, none of this post is, I just simply can't understand it because to me, it makes no sense at all.

I know not every book or series is for everyone. I'm glad of that because it'd be very dull if it were true! But some times I read comments about dropping books because they're only okay and I honestly wonder why. What's made them drop it? What's made them think book 2 would be a waste of time? Or a different book from that author would be a waste of time? If I hadn't picked up Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are after not liking her first book, I'd again have missed out on an exceptional book.

Yes, sometimes carrying on with a series or trying something else by the same author doesn't work, and I don't like it any more than what I already read. But I have found that the majority of the time I find something better, something to like more or love and it becomes something I'm very glad I did. So I will continue to carry on trying stuff after so-so books.

What does it take for you guys to drop a book, or series? Are you someone like me who finds it really hard to DNF or drop them? Or do you do it regularly? What is it that will make you decide if book 2 of a series is worth a try? I'd really love to hear all your thoughts on the subject!!

Waiting on Wednesday

 Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, highlighting the books we're eagerly anticipaiting.

I rarely do these any more, but the cover and description for this one just went live last week and I can't resist sharing it here.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Release date: July 19th
Genre: YA contemp romance

Erin Blackwell is headed to college in New York City to study creative writing and earn a living as a romance novelist. Her grandmother has other plans: she approves of the college, but she wants Erin to major in business and then come back home to Kentucky to run the family’s famous racehorse farm. There is no way Erin will agree. Studying in New York and writing her way into a career is her escape from the farm and the family tragedy that happened there. So Erin’s grandmother decides Erin really will live life as a starving artist. She takes Erin’s future job running the farm, her inheritance, even her college tuition, and gives them all to Hunter Allen. 

Hunter has lived on the farm for years. He’s Erin’s age, he’s the stable boy, and he’s the romantic dream of every girl in her high school. But he was involved in the family tragedy. Erin has always given him a wide berth. And he’s a slick opportunist. She’s furious that he fooled her grandmother into giving him Erin’s birthright and sending him to Erin’s college. 

At least she’s free of him in her creative writing class. So she pens a story that has haunted her lately, in which the horse farm heiress at the very first Kentucky Derby starts a forbidden affair with the lowly stable boy. Unfortunately for her, the day she’s sharing this story with her New York classmates, Hunter walks in. He’s switching to her class. And after reading about himself in Erin’s story, he writes his own sexy assignments that lure Erin into dangerous fantasies about what could have been between them, and what might be.

Lets see: a favourite author, horses, dreams of NYC, dreams of being a writer, a kinda bad boy stable hand and a messy love story? Um, can I have this yesterday please?!!

I love all of Jennifer's books, but one of her previous books, Going Too Far, is one of my favourite YA's full stop. So I'm desperate for this new book from her to fall in love with! I also love the cover. So simple and clean. All her 'romantic dramas' have the same feel to them cover wise, and it's something I really love, it's beautiful. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Outside In by Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder's site
Series: Inside Out #2
Copy obtained: e-ARC from NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (US) / Mira Ink (UK)
Release date: Feb 15th (US) March 18th (UK)
Rating: 3/5
Spoiler Warning! Spoilers for book 1, Inside Out ahead.

Me? A Leader? Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew. That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion - between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again - while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there's outside and then there is Outside. And something from Outside wants In.
Outside In picks up shortly after where Inside Out left off. Chaos seems to reign as Inside attempts to sort itself out after the discovery of all the extra space and the revolt to take control from the Travas'. But that is the least of the problems as things start to blow up. Someone seems intent on destroying Inside, and something Outside, wants in. Trouble and danger is coming from every direction and Trella is less sure than ever about who can be trusted. 

I completely loved Inside Out and so I was very excited to get my hands on Outside In early after that ending. I wish I could say Outside In lived up to expectations, but it just didn't for me. I loved Trella in Inside Out, but here I found her very irritating. She took a very definite step back from the stronger girl she'd become through book one and spent a lot of time running from responsibilities and reality. I can understand some of her fears and why she was like that, but it went on too long and I got very frustrated with her. 

I think my irritation with Trella and her personal issues made the plot feel like it was moving a lot slower than it actually was early on. As the action took over from the personal issues, that's when the story picked up for me. I didn't find the pacing as smooth or constant as Inside Out, because as soon as the focus was back on Trella and more personal issues, I didn't really want to know, until she started growing up again and dealing with things. Through the first half of the book it seemed like it was a constant switch, action/Trella physically hurt, then emotional angst and back again. The second half of the book was much stronger, plot wise and character wise. It was faster, smoother and a lot more intense. 

The ending though let it down for me again. The last two or three chapters felt rushed, and then very neat as everything got tied up. Too neat for my tastes. Overall it's still a decent read. There is some good action and I do love Riley! He is my favourite character from both books. I love his strength and passion, and he's very smart too. I did really enjoy his interaction with Trella, even when I didn't like her, because it was intense and honest. I just found that it was lacking compared with book one. I found this very easy to walk away from and it actually took me a few days to finish it. It does have some great moments, and a reasonably satisfying conclusion, but I thought a lot more of Inside Out. Still, if you read that, you'll want to read this one, you may well get more out of it than I did if you can look past some of Trella's actions.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Monday Wrap Up [6]

Welcome to my weekly wrap up post!

Last week was interesting what with all the kerfuffle of bloggers being ragged on and authors...not being smart. Plus real life stuff made it fun as well. Totally exhausting week, but pretty good too, I did manage to survive my parents being gone okay! Though, I didn't get as much reading done as I'd have liked.

What I Read
All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz - finished this one up last Monday. I liked it, but it fell kinda flat for me.
Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz - my second 5/5 rating for 2011. It broke me, but it's so freaking good!! Releases in April and I'll review it closer to that. But trust me, pre-order this one!!
Red Glove by Holly Black - ah Cassel. I love you! I love the Curse Workers and all the bad decisions and that Cassel isn't really a good guy, but kinda has his heart in the right place. Good read! Another April release to review closer to the time.
Half Moon by Jordan Deen - the second book in The Crescent trilogy and it's fantastic!

...and now that it's all laid out there and I realise I read 4 books the past week (give or take) I realise I actually did manage to read a fair bit. I think I'm just feeling overwhelmed by my giant TBR stack and my desperate desire to half it!!

What I Posted
Tuesday 8th Feb - Review - Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers.
Wednesday 9th Feb - Review by Nayuleska - Lies by Michael Grant.
Thursday 10th Feb - Review - The Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller.
Friday 11th Feb - eARC Review - One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen.
Saturday 12th Feb - In My Mailbox - two weeks worth.
Sunday 13th Feb - Why I Do This - a very long post about why I do this!

What I'm Posting This Week
This week I'm reviewing Outside In by Maria V. Snyder, Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan and...probably Half Moon by Jordan Deen as well, but this isn't quite for sure yet! I will also, for a change, be participating in Waiting On Wednesday this week. I was bored a few days ago and prepped the post cause I wasn't awake enough to read or write a review, so WoW post it is!

What I'll Be Reading
I will not give the brush off this week! This week, I have a reading plan. It consists of:
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (starting today)
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Secrets and Shadows by Shannon Delany
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong ambitious plan, and I don't even have my hands on Desires or Secrets yet! And they probably won't get read in that order. Still, at least I'm starting to get back in to knowing what I want to read next! Should be a good reading week, if I'm well enough to read lots.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Why I Do This

There has of late, been a rash of negativity flying around about book bloggers. None of it is new, but there has been more of it lately and I find it somewhat disheartening to see all book bloggers thrown under one hat. So I thought I'd take this time to tell you guys a little of why I do this and how it's changed my life.

I started this blog as a personal one originally, very sporadically used. Then a giveaway from a favourite author asked people to post about her upcoming release or why we loved the series or something like that, online as our entry for it. So I did and it just clicked that hey, that'd be a great use of the blog, talk about what I'm reading. I never ever thought it'd grant me the huge privilege of ARC's or free swag or any such thing. Hell it never occurred to me that, that could happen! There are two reasons why I kept going and turned this in to what it is now, and while some may argue with my second reason, they are both equally important to me, and sometimes it can depend on the day as to which one is more important than the other as well.

My first reason is my love of books. Simple. I love talking books and the blog gives me somewhere I can do that in depth rather than a 30 second 'oh my gosh I love this!' or 'I didn't like this' etc to people who actually don't give a damn that I'm reading or what I'm reading or if it's any good. I can talk about the books I love away from people who give that look because I read about vampires and werewolves and alike. Instead, I can talk with others who love similar books. And share with them the excitement of a new found book to love, or an upcoming release that I can't wait for. I love sharing in the excitement of books with others simply because I love them.

The second reason is this: it gives me something to do. I am lucky when I can get out of the house for 6 hours a week. I can go a month, quite easily, with barely leaving the house for more than a couple 5 min trips for milk, and not seeing anyone but my family (well, and the postman I suppose!!). But with the blog, I have something I can do, something I can focus on and work on. And without time constraints. I can take it easy when I'm having a bad day and do nothing or I can do more on the better days. I can work on it in the hours I feel best in the day, no matter when they might be.

Working on the blog has been such a blessing for so many reasons. I have met some really wonderful people, some of whom I'd class as real friends. I've found support and help when I've needed it and a place where I can just be me and not the sick girl who can't go out. I don't mean to sound snotty here because this is just a simple fact: you cannot understand how much that one thing alone means without being stuck, physically unable to do things for a long time. But that I have this blog to work on, to share with others, to be able to come and rave about my favourite books and maybe help others become fans of them as well ... it just means everything to me.

I've been so lucky to be granted the huge privilege of ARC's at times, and each one is a gift I'm very grateful for. The majority of books reviewed on here are still ones I've bought myself and I'd be perfectly happy if it had remained that way or if it returned to that state because I know those ARC's are precious things and I have no claim at all to any of them, ever. They are a gift and I treasure them.

I love being a part of the book blogger community. I'm not denying there are those who have earned that darker reputation, but the majority I've come across have been open and friendly and inviting. I used to wander in book stores trying to find titles that looked good and often struggled to know if they were something I'd really like. Now I hunt through favourite blogs, check IMM's, and come across hundreds. I don't think there are many days where I'm not adding something to a wishlist. Virtually every book I buy now is because I found it online somewhere, either recommend through a review on a blog or featured in an IMM (which is such an awesome way to thank publishers/authors/etc for the books given freely, and a great way to share in the excitement of what books are around or coming out, I've found mountains of books thanks to that alone). I have to laugh when people question if book bloggers sell books, because yes they do. I know because I buy books because of other blogs! Not all book blogs sell books, but plenty do. It's not something I set out to do, to sell books, but I certainly hope that people have bought books on my recommendation because I want as many people as possible to fall in love with them just as I have.

This blog has been such a positive for me through a couple very hard years. Recently, as my best friends and family know, I had a crashing low and a minor break down. But through that, I've clung to this blog as my safe zone, because my illness doesn't matter here. It's given me a chance to find others who adore the same books as me and join in that awesome, giddy experience of emotions on finding a new book that you just click with. It's added hundreds of books to my wishlist, had me reading books I wouldn't have touched before, and shown me that there are plenty of like minded readers out there! Some of those I've met through this I'd love to give big hugs to should I ever meet them in person.

But, at it's heart, this blog is simply me sharing my thoughts on what I'm reading. Because I love to talk books. I love books. I love reading them and buying them and I get sad when I can't do those things or if I can't talk about them. I spend hours working on various blog things a week. I love that feeling of accomplishment it can give me that I can't get anywhere else right now. Things are better for me having this blog, because I can talk to my hearts content about books here, and don't have to annoy my family with it! I read more than I ever used to, despite already being a pretty big reader, and I love that as well. I have been able to talk with authors about their books, and I've never not gotten a little giddy that they'd be willing to talk with me. Authors are my rock stars and for them to be willing is just a little crazy to me. But, at the end of the day, this blog, these reviews, they are for me and other readers. Me for my sanity, and my passion for reading. Readers, so that maybe I can bring new fans to my favourite works.

This got far longer than intended, I thank you if you stuck with it. I shall finish with another big Thank You. To everyone who has commented on here, shown me support and friendship, given me positive response (or constructive criticism!) and helped me make this blog better. And to my fellow bloggers, Thank You for showing me hundreds of new books to love!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

In My Mailbox [18]

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

I swear there was going to be a vlog this week, I filmed it and everything, but effing YouTube wouldn't upload it and I've no idea why. *sigh* Also, this is two weeks worth cause I didn't do an IMM last week.

For review:
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - Goodreads
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon - Goodreads
Thanks to UK Book Tours!

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong - Goodreads
From Lavender Lines, thank you so much!!
I also won a signed Desires of the Dead poster from the lovely Candace too! But I don't have a pic of it.

Take Me There by Carolee Dean - Goodreads
Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers - Goodreads
Where I Belong by Gwendolen Heasley - Goodreads

Bought on Kindle so not pictured:
Nightshade by Michelle Rowen - Goodreads 
Half Moon by Jordan Deen - Goodreads

I am so excited to read all of these books!! Many, many thanks to those responsible for the Tour books and prizes!! ♥

What was in your mailboxes? (Feel free to leave links in comments)

Friday, 11 February 2011

One Hundred Candles

Mara Purnhagen's site
Series: Past Midnight #2
Copy obtained: e-ARC from NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release date: Feb 15th 2011
Rating: 4/5

It's taken a long time for me to feel like a normal teenager. But now that I'm settled in a new school, where people know me as more than Charlotte Silver of the infamous Silver family paranormal investigators, it feels like everything is falling into place. And what better way to be normal than to go on a date with a popular football star like Harris Abbott? After all, it's not as if Noah is anything more than a friend….

But my new life takes a disturbing turn when Harris brings me to a party and we play a game called One Hundred Candles. It seems like harmless, ghostly fun. Until spirits unleashed by the game start showing up at school. Now my friends and family are in very real danger, and the door that I've opened into another realm may yield deadly consequences.

One Hundred Candles is the second book in the Past Midnight series, picking up a couple months after the end of it. I really liked Past Midnight, despite a couple issues with the main character. I ended up enjoying One Hundred Candles much more!

Charlotte has grown up a bit I think, and she's gotten stronger, despite still not being particularly confident. She's not burying her head in the sand the way she was in Past Midnight and it made her much more likable for me. I loved seeing a little continuation on the side from various plots from book one, particularly relationship based and I like how the issues Avery and Jared face haven't been ignored, but also aren't over done. The snippets we see of what they're going through now fit in just nicely without excessive description. I actually found myself really enjoying how Charlotte's romantic life developed as well. I love Noah so much, I was a little disappointed at the idea of there being another love interest, but how everything plays out is actually very well done and it's a love triangle I don't hate for a change!

I really enjoyed the main plot in One Hundred Candles as well with the different disturbances and how they linked up with the game early in the book. I found myself getting in to it very quickly and I easily finished it within a few hours. It's not a particularly long book and it made for a good afternoons reading! I liked the twists and some of it I didn't see coming. I also really enjoyed the extension to the world building. I think there is still more to learn about Charlotte's world that she herself doesn't know right now. I really felt for Charlotte with certain events and particularly towards the end, there is a heartbreaking moment and I was tearing up a lot! Overall a really good read, well paced, some beautiful, moving moments and great characters. I'm really excited for book 3, Beyond The Grave (out Sept 2011), to see what happens next! I've never been the biggest fan of ghost stories, but I'm loving this series!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Series website
Series: The Eternal Ones #1
Copy obtained: UK Book Tours
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Released: July 2010
Rating: 2/5

Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

I really wanted to like this book. I liked the ideas of it, it sounded a bit different to most of what I read and I thought it would make a nice change. It started out alright, although it took me several days to read about 60 pages because I was so sick, but then I started improving and was able to read more. And I realised just how slow it is to actually get anywhere to start with. Haven doesn't even meet Iain until halfway through the book, and then things start happening very quickly, but Haven can't make up her mind if things are good or bad and who the bad guys really are. Not to mention making a couple of very dumb decisions because Iain is hot and says the right things.

I don't mind books confusing me when it's hard to figure out what's going on. I do mind when it's because of a constant back/forth where things are one way, then they're the other but there isn't any real evidence of which way things really are. I got so tired of Haven that I almost didn't finish the book, and probably wouldn't have if not for having had 2 DNF's right before it (unheard of for me!) and not wanting to make it a third.

The thing is, this isn't a badly written book, nor are the ideas bad. I actually really enjoyed the premise and learning all about how reincarnation works in this story. How Haven discovers things and I really enjoyed the set up of her being in a small town and the issues involved there, along with the issues in her home life. Plus, I really loved her best friend Beau, and I also found myself really enjoying the small role Leah, a girl from Haven's school, plays as well. I enjoyed the flashbacks to Haven's previous life and seeing some of that play out and how it mirrored current events. But Haven and her attitude were too much for me. I didn't get on with her at all and once I was out of my flu haze, and paying attention to more than the words on the page, I was kind of annoyed that it took so long for Haven to actually get anywhere.

A lot of promise for sure, and a book I'm sure plenty could get on with very well. But it didn't work for me despite some very good moments, and some very interesting world building. I won't be bothering with the second book.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lies by Michael Grant

This is the third book in the series, the previous two are Gone and Hunger.

September 2010, Egmont
Hardback, review copy
Young Adult (there is a content warning in the earlier two, because there are dark themes, lots of violence and cruelty).

Summary from Egmont

It happens in one night: a girl who died now walks among the living, Zil and the Human Crew set fire to Perdido Beach, and amid the flames and smoke, Sam sees the figure of the boy he fears the most - Drake. But Sam and Caine defeated him along with the Darkness – or so they thought.
As Perdido Beach burns, battles rage: Astrid against the Town Council; the Human Crew versus the mutants; and Sam against Drake. And the prophetess Orsay and her companion, Nerezza, are preaching that death will set them all free. As life in the FAYZ becomes more desperate, no one knows who they can trust.

Something I read this book thinking it would be the end of the series. Having just reached the end, I can say I was wrong. There's a fourth book! Nooo! It felt like it was so close to ending in Lies, and then it didn't.

Lies is actually quite different to the previous two books. The first two I would class a Young Adult Horror. I re-read the first one prior to reading the second. The second is so terrifying for me that I can't face re-reading it. It is that scary. Okay, I probably should mention that I generally prefer not to be petrified by books/films. But the series is so interesting! It's amazing how the children take sides, how they fall apart a little, how they figure out how to store food, to ration food and medicine, to form a system of law that doesn't always work. I'm digressing. Lies doesn't have that much horror in it. It felt like quite a light read, until I came to amazing revelations that will blow your mind away when you read the truth of The FAYZ. There was definitely more introspection by Astrid and Sam. They both reach the same conclusion in the end, its just unfortunate that Astrid takes so long to get there. Due to all the pressure he's under, Sam takes a step back and doesn't help as much in this book.

There are thankfully few mentions of flying sn*kes. There are still some pretty sick and twisted children in the FAYZ, both those who are talented and those who aren't. It's a prime example of how power can go to a person's head. There are quite a few hand to mouth moments. Equally, although I see the need for it to be a slightly tamer book, I think I was a little disappointed it wasn't more like its predecessors. I couldn't read books like this all the time - I always have to have a light read afterwards. But in a way I love it that I get scared so much. The ingenuity behind what happens in the FAYZ is awesome. I read the previous two books, and had a few ideas of what could be going on, but then the truth is revealed. Unfortunately most don't hear about the truth, and don't believe it when they do hear it.

I really liked how the normal children were ganging up against those with powers - rather than it just being those with powers fighting against each other, it demonstrated that people can view something as a blessing when other people view it as a curse. There were plenty of heads I wanted to bang together just so they would quit being stupid and work together to create a good life for them. Unfortunately mob thinking spreads very quickly, which means events spiral out of control. And it can be alarming how quickly the children cling to the hope the Prophetess provides. There's no way of knowing if she speaks truthfully. Or why she's accompanied by a girl who was barely mentioned in the previous books. As for the people coming back from the dead - that proves useful in a few cases, but the reason why they came back chilled me quite a bit. Where's the hope in the FAYZ if the enemies don't stay dead? Where will it all end?

I'm really looking forward to Plague, which will undoubtedly have more impressive plot twists.

Oh, the other cool thing about Lies....a quote was used from one of my reviews for the previous books! I'm in the comments section at the beginning. That was a nice discovery.

I lied (quite fitting with the title!). There is one more cool fact about the book. You see the electric blue on the cover? Every page edge is tinted that blue! I keep finding myself looking at it and smiling.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Courtney Summer's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought, pb
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Released: Jan 2010
Rating: 4.5/5

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

I am so, so glad that I bought Some Girls Are despite not really enjoying Courtney's first book, Cracked Up To Be. I wasn't going to, but so many people talked about it and recommend it, and Courtney's new book, Fall For Anything, that I thought I'd get it and give it a try because I know that just because I don't like one book/series from an author, doesn't mean I'll dislike all their work. And this is one time where it's really paid off because Some Girls Are is a fantastic book!

Regina was one of the popular ones, one of those dreaded Mean Girls, best friend to the top of the tower, Anna. But now she's frozen out. Everything Regina's done to other students in the past is being done to her. She's caught between fear, a desire to fight back and the knowledge of just what those girls are capable of. What she's capable of.

I was hooked pretty much from page one of Some Girls Are. It just grabbed me and didn't let go, I finished it easily within a few hours. It's heart breaking really, very painful reading, for many reasons. Regina is such an odd character to me, not because she's not drawn realistically, because she is. But because I did feel very bad for her, the things she was going through, how she was suffering. And yet at the same time, I kind of hated her too. Because of some of the things she's done, how she handled certain situations (in the past more than what we actually see). There was this constant internal conflict going on in my head trying to figure out just how I felt about Regina. The winning emotion though was pain. It's such a painful journey for her. It's kind of hard to understand why she was as she was, one of that 'Fearsome Fivesome' and yet, completely simple as well. But if it can be considered as such, it's the only 'simple' thing about this book.

It's so complex, one thing after another, one twist, one action changing everything over and over. Regina attempting to figure out how to survive high school with people who really hate her, surrounding her, how to connect with those who she'd previously 'ruined' in a similar way. It's so real, and so emotional I was in tears repeatedly but I barely put it down because I needed to know what happened next. I needed to see if it could get worse, because surely it couldn't...but it did. Some Girls Are is an intense, thought provoking read. It captures the harsh realities of both sides of that popular/un-popular high school social structure extremely well and how bullying can destroy lives with a few well placed words. There were times when Regina was struggling to breathe through her panic, and I felt almost as bad. It was just that intense! There's a little romance involved, but it's every bit as conflicted and confusing as everything else going on. And I loved it. How Regina's relationships with those around her develops over the course of the book is just excellent. It's such a painful book, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this story. Fantastic work and now I'm really excited to get my hands on Fall For Anything and any future titles from Courtney. Just awesome.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Monday Wrap Up [5]

Welcome to my weekly wrap up!

The past week has been very up and down for me, but I did at least manage to get a reasonable amount of reading done through it. This is what I read:
Hate List by Jennifer Brown - finished it last Monday. Intense and caused a fair few tears, but very good.
Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan - loved this! It's hilarious and dark, a little strange but fantastic.
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers - wow. So painful, but completely brilliant!
All You Get Is Me by Yvonne Prinz - currently reading. I'm a little over halfway, will finish it today. I'm liking it, but not loving it at this point.

And on the blog:
Tuesday 1st Feb - Review - Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton [Angelfire #1]. I loved this book! Lots of action and a little romance, or, the potential for it anyways.
Wednesday 2nd Feb - DNF Review - small notes on why my double DNF books from the week before didn't work for me.
Thursday 3rd Feb - Review - Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells [Sabina Kane #3]. Unexpectedly awesome! Funny, heart wrenching and left me wanting lots more!
Friday 4th Feb - On a more personal note... - I confess a secret love...
Saturday 5th Feb - Review - Hate List by Jennifer Brown. Painful, heartbreaking read, but very, very good.

Coming up this week
I'll be reviewing Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen, and The Eternal Ones by Kristen Miller. I'll also have an IMM post at the weekend for sure because I didn't post on this weekend, I was just too exhausted. So it'll be two weeks worth of books to share.

Reading wise...
Well, there are a lot of books I'd like to read this week. But I have quite a lot going on, and my parents are going to be away from Tuesday til Sunday, which means I'll be having to do all those daily things that normally I don't have to. Which to most, would be nothing, to me, means a hell of a lot because it pretty much takes all my energy to do all those daily things of feeding the rabbits, loading/emptying the dishwasher, making sure I have 3 meals a day (cereal becomes the staple because I just don't have the energy to cook), etc. So while I'd love to manage another 3 or 4 books from my TBR this week, its not going to happen. So instead of stating what I'd like to read, I'm not going to. I'm just going to see how I'm doing each day and do what I can with it.

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown's site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: bought pb
Publisher: Little Brown
Released: Sept 2009
Rating: 4.5/5

"The list was my idea. I didn't mean for anyone to die. Will you ever forgive me?"
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Val was as shocked as everyone else - but, despite her own serious injury, she's implicated in the crime because of the list. The list she and Nick made of people they hated. The list Nick used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating the rocky relationships with her family, her former friends, and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place, and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

There is a comment from the author in the back of this book which states that while most would say that this is a book about a school shooting, for her it's about Valerie, it's Val's story. And, having just finished and still in tears, I read that and went 'no kidding!' because that's exactly how I felt about it. Yes, it starts off about the shooting, but within a couple of chapters it wasn't about that for me, it was about a girl who loved, who had something terrible happen to her, and is lost in a sea of confusion and desperately trying to find a way out, feeling unable to turn to anyone. I can relate to that, being lost in confusion. I felt so much for Valerie as she tried to deal with what happened, what it means for her, what is says about her and the role she played in it all.

There is no question this is a powerful, thought provoking, tear-jearker of a book. The descriptions, the power to the flashback scenes of the shooting itself actually made me flinch when the gun went off. I cried for Val as she realised what some people thought of her. I was proud of her as she took steps forward. I ached for her almost the whole way through the book. Val is far from perfect, but that just makes her all the more real. I like how she's so conflicted about events and herself; how she learns and grows through the book from her own views changing; the pressure and hurt from her broken family and the others in the school around her. Not to mention the therapist. I love all the adult involvement in this book! Not all of them are nice characters nor are they all trying to help Val, but they're there and play a very real role and add a presence so often wrongly missing from YA novels.

I found Hate List very hard to put down, and if not for certain issues, I think I'd have easily read it in a single day instead of two. It's paced perfectly, with such well drawn characters and descriptions of the mess of emotions and reactions that really got to me. I got kind of lost in Val's journey and I was sad to get to the end of it. But I do love where this story ends. I won't spoil it for those who've not read it, but I do love it. A heartfelt, powerful book. I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed reading it, because with something dealing with such raw, broken emotions, so much pain, it's hard to enjoy it. But it is excellent reading, and I love it. I'm so glad I read this book, and I think it's one that could maybe help teens who are struggling, or parents of teens who a struggling. With bullying, family issues, life in general as much as anyone who has had to face such a tragedy. And it's certainly a book I'd highly recommend.