Thursday, 31 January 2013

Audio Review: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins

Spoiler warning! This is the 3rd and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy and will contain plenty of spoilers for the first two books. If you haven't read them then look away now! You can read my audio review of The Hunger Games here and Catching Fire here.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Author: Suzanne Collins. Website
Narrator: Carolyn McCormick. IMDB
Published:  1 September 2010 (Scholastic Audio)
Format: Audio download
Running time: 11 hours, 43 minutes
Audible: Audio download
Waterstone's: MP3
Book Depository: CD

Source: Borrowed from e-library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. 

Audio Review:
I've been listening to the whole Hunger Games trilogy on audiobook as a way to re-read the series, and I was so excited to get to Mockingjay, the final installment.

What struck me about listening to this book in particular was how well the narrator managed to get across the fear and turmoil each of the characters was feeling. Both Katniss' inner monologue and the other character voices were spoken with such emotion. This is a book that really packs a punch when it comes to certain emotions and the narration really added to that.

Like the previous books, I found listening to the book made me focus on some of the smaller details that I missed on my initial reads. The books are so fast paced and addictive that it's easy to get carried away and miss things. In the case of Mockingjay, I really appreciated some of the atrocities that took place in a way I didn't the first time round. Listening to it at a much slower pace (McCormick's reading speed is quite gentle) made me even more horrified at what was going on.

I think of all the audiobooks, this is by far my favourite. I didn't really have any niggles or problems with it as I was so absorbed in the story. I'd highly recommend listening to this trilogy and in particular this book. It brings the story to life and makes everything that bit more real. A thrilling end to a gripping trilogy.

Audio Rating: 5/5

Plot Review: 
As this was a re-read, I was already aware of the plot of Mockingjay, but there were plenty of moments I'd either forgotten about or were just as exciting second time round. The book starts out with the reader learning of the destruction of District 12 and discovering more about the mysterious District 13.

What I really like about Mockingjay is that it feels completely different to the previous two books. Whereas they relied on the Hunger Games to provide the action and main plot, this book steps away from the completely and turns to the harsh realities of war in the real world. It makes for a different structure and a more powerful story.

Collins has really succeeded in highlighting the effects of what has been happening in Panem. Every character is showing some sort of scar from the events of the past few months, whether it be physical or mental. I thought the mental distress of several of the characters was handled really well and demonstrated clearly just how horrifying and traumatic war can be.

What I loved about Catching Fire was the imaginative ideas used in the arena, and in Mockingjay all the imagination is channeled into the way of life in 13 and more information about the Capitol. All those ideas of things we see in the arena are even more terrifying in the real world. There were some truly powerful ideas and moments that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

There's a great focus on the characters, their loyalties and their roles in the war. I thought it was really interesting getting a look at these characters we've come to love in such a troubling situations. It really tests them and shows their true colours. Everyone gets their moment to shine, or highlights why they're not as perfect as they seem. I thought it was great how everyone's story gets wrapped up in some way, whether that be good or bad. There were some heartbreaking moments for me as the war starts to take its toll.

It's a phenomenal end to the trilogy but I liked that not everything was made to be happy and perfect. I liked certain elements of the ending and how certain questions were answered but there was still so much to think about once you've finished. It's a book that stays with you for a long time.

Plot Rating: 5/5
Books like this: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review: Shift by Em Bailey

 Shift by Em Bailey
Author: Em Bailey. Goodreads|Facebook
Published: 7 May 2012 (Electric Monkey)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
"There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she'd even started at our school. The first was that she had no parents - they were dead. And the second was that they were dead because Miranda had killed them."

Olive used to be the school queen-bee. But that was before her breakdown. Now she's the class loner, and can only watch as new girl Miranda latches on to Olive's ex-best friend Katie. Soon Miranda is talking like Katie, dressing like Katie - even going out with Katie's boyfriend.

My Review:
There were two things that drew me to this book; the cover and that amazing plot summary, so I was really excited to start reading it and find out more! Shift follows Olive as she tries to deal with demons from her past whilst facing the mysterious new girl at school, Miranda.

When I first started reading this book I was pretty much hooked straight away. Early on it's mentioned that Olive has had some trouble in the past with her dad leaving and she's spent time in a clinic, but it isn't revealed just quite what has happened to her. That made it totally intriguing and I wanted to keep reading to find out just what went on. The whole book was like one big tease that kept you on the edge of your seat!

I really liked that Olive had that bit more to her character as well. There was obviously a lot to explore with her and it just made her really likable. Even though she was troubled she wasn't a nasty character at all. I loved the relationship she has with her brother in particular, and I thought some of her characteristics - like her obsession with her favourite band - were really relatable. 

If you like high school drama then this book is positively bursting with it! It starts out with Katie who's the Regina George kind of figure - popular and influential, but she treats her friends like crap. Katie and Olive have a history which was really interesting, and when the new girl Miranda turns up the whole situation shifts (no pun intended!) as Miranda and Katie become inseparable and Miranda finds her way into the spotlight.

Up until that point the book is pretty much you're average YA contemporary, but after the genre lines start to blur a little bit. It felt like there was more going on, something which is mentioned and referenced throughout the book but never fully explained. I wasn't quite sure I liked how that was done as at times I would just feel a little confused and disappointed that it wasn't delved into a bit more. Nevertheless, if you ignore the genre problems, the plot is still gripping, tense and inventive. There's something inherently creepy about parts of the story as well which really added to the atmosphere.

One of my favourite parts of this story was probably the romance side, which is always there in the background but doesn't take over the plot. The main guy Lachlan was my absolute favourite character - I couldn't wait for him to crop up again each time! Seeing his friendship with Olive develop was something I really enjoyed.

I was still unsure about how I felt about the book until about halfway through when bam! - something I totally didn't see coming was revealed and absolutely blew me away. From then on I absolutely devoured it. I think it's definitely a book you have to read to get a real feel for because there's so much about it I can't really mention without spoiling anything! Despite the few problems I had with it it's definitely a clever book, and one I would recommend. It manages to handle some pretty big issues (including mental health) and does that pretty well. If you like your contemporaries with a bit more substance then this is for you, and I think even readers who aren't a big fan of contemporary will find something to like about this book.

Rating: 4*
Books like this: In Your Dreams by Amy Martin, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate, Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 29th January

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

"Now, with the drummer's absence of an aura, I was able to watch the muscles in his biceps and forearms flex as he slammed the drumsticks down in a whirlwind of precise movement. The beat was intoxicating, bumping each nerve inside of me."

- page 14, Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: Seizure (Virals, #2) by Kathy Reichs

Spoiler Warning! This is the second book in the Virals series and so this review will contain spoilers from the first book. You can check out my review of Virals here instead. You have been warned!

Seizure by Kathy Reichs

Author: Kathy Reichs. Website|Twitter
Published: 11 October 2012 (Arrow)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback|Hardback

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary:
A 300-year-old legend
Rumour has it that notorious pirate Anne Bonny hid her treasure somewhere in Charleston in 1720. No-one knows where, but Tory Brennan - great-niece of famous forensic anthropologist Dr Tempe Brennan - is certain that the Virals can work out Bonny's cryptic clues.
A deadly path
It isn't long before the Virals are on the right track. But they aren't the only ones searching for the treasure.Someone is following them, and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.
Dead bodies litter the trail. Time is running out before the island will be sold.
Will the Virals' special powers be enough to save them? 

My Review:
I read the first book in this series recently after getting it for Christmas, so I was delighted when I stumbled across the sequel in the library so soon after! Seizure picks up the story of the Virals - Tory, Ben, Hi and Shelton as they come to terms with their powers and try to learn more about them. After learning about a pirate named Anne Bonny, the group set about finding out more, including a missing treasure supply that would provide money they desperately need.

The book, like Virals, starts out with a prologue which drew me in straight away. The prologue introduces the pirate backstory which instantly intrigued me and I was delighted once that element weaved its way into the main, present day plot.

There was a lot of re-capping which I always find useful to remind me what happened before. It struck me that this book could probably be read on its own because of the amount of explanation of what happened in Virals. Because I like to have that reminder it didn't put me off, but I could maybe see it being annoying to others. But if you accidentally picked up this book not realising it was the second in a series then you'd be able to keep up.

As with the first book I really enjoyed the relationship between the main four characters. There were hints in this book that there might be something to come between Ben and Tory which I liked, but it very much took a back seat to the rest of the story. I was slightly disappointed it wasn't explored more in this book but hopefully it'll be something that's addressed again throughout the series. Tory's relationship with her dad becomes a lot more interesting in this book as there's the threat that they may have to move, unsettling Tory once more. I thought that was a really great avenue to explore.

The book is mainly told from Tory's perspective but every so often you get chapters from a few other characters - the slightly shadier ones! It really helped keep the suspense up and I liked the short glimpses at what was going on elsewhere. What really hooked me was the mystery and the constant twists and turns. I think it helped that the group had real motivation to get to the bottom of things and every time the answer slipped away you could feel their frustration. I really loved the adventure the group went on to discover more about Anne Bonny and her treasure. It was great seeing them use their new found powers as well.

The only flaw for me really is that sometimes things felt far too convenient - like a problem was overcome too easily or something was handed to them on a plate. I also had a few niggles about things the group did whilst trying to solve the mystery (like stealing something they could have just taken a photo of). 

Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. I thought, after reading Virals, that there was a lot of potential for this series and I feel that has absolutely been realised. It's a great premise and I've really grown to like the writing and the characters. I'm excited to check out the next book! 

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Code by Kathy Reichs, book 3 in the Virals series
Books like this: Subject Seven by James A. Moore

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 27th January

Weekly Book Round Up!

21st - 27th January

Another week has passed and I have some great books to talk about!

Currently reading: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Books finished: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, Shift by Em Bailey and the amazing Defiance by C. J. Redwine which I got for Christmas The writing was fantastic and I can tell I'm going to have lots of things to write about in the review!

Books reviewed: Reached by Ally Condie

Library holds: I'm still waiting for Splintered A. G. Howard and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and impatiently so! I also requested Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review: Reached (Matched, #3) by Ally Condie

Spoiler warning! This is the third and final book in the Matched trilogy and contains spoilers from the first two books. Do not read this review if you haven't read Matched or Crossed - instead you can read my review of Matched here and Crossed here. You have been warned!

 Reached by Ally Condie
Author: Ally Condie. Website|Twitter.
Published: 30 November 2012 (Penguin)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 512
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again. 

My Review:
I was so excited and nervous to start this book. I absolutely loved Matched and Crossed, and I was anxious to find out how everything turns out. Would it live up to the other books? Who was Cassia going to end up with? What will happen to the Society? The book picks up with Ky, Cassia and Xander all working for the Rising as the rebellion starts to pick up pace.

What I loved was that this book was written from the perspectives of all three main characters, Cassia, Ky and Xander. It was made even more interesting by the fact that the three of them were in different places at the start of the story. Ky is working as a pilot, Xander a physic and Cassia a sorter, all in different parts of the country. It meant each of the characters got their chance to shine and kept the plot moving along as we see what is happening in different places and how everything fits together. There's an introduction at the beginning of the book from Ally Condie which describes how the three lines in the letter E on the cover represent the three characters in the book and how they each have a role to play, and that completely comes across throughout the story.

I thought Matched and Crossed felt quite different to each other because of where they were set, and Reached feels like the perfect combination of the two, with scenes both in the Society and on the outskirts. It made for a really good balance and meant you got to see every side to the story.

I'm reluctant to say too much about the plot in case I spoil it for someone, because I know many people like me will have been eagerly anticipating the final installment. What I will say is that we get to see what happens when the Society is tested, and there are more details about the Pilot. Things aren't perfect and the characters have to work hard to solve a lot of problems - one in particular which dominates the story - and it felt like they were tested a lot. There are plenty of questions from the first two books that are answered, and each character got a resolution of some kind, including who ends up with who. I was more than happy with the ending and what happened. I thought it was wrapped up perfectly!

The pacing of the book feels gentle as everything is unravelled quite slowly, but I liked that. The book may be the longest yet but I still managed to polish it off in a couple of days. I couldn't put it down! Not once did I want to stop reading.

I'm sad to finish this trilogy because it has been an absolute pleasure to immerse myself in. I can't wait to read more by Ally Condie because her writing is an absolute joy to read! This was the perfect way to round off a stunning trilogy.

Rating: 5*
Books like this: Insurgent by Veronica Roth, Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Finds: 25th January

 FRIDAY FINDS is hosted over at Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Candy and the Broken Biscuits by Lauren Laverne
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Eve by Anna Carey
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

A small but perfectly formed selection this week! Candy and the Broken Biscuits has been staring at me from the shelf in the shop where I work so I added it to my TBR and I'll either buy it or take it out the library. I came across the book trailer for Speechless this week and thought it looked good, Eve cropped up last week and Seeing Redd is the sequel to The Looking Glass Wars which I finished this week. What are your finds? Leave a link and I'll check them out!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Book Trailer: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

I love it when you see a book trailer for a book you didn't know anything about, so when I came across this trailer for Speechless by Hannah Harrington I had to share it! I'll definitely be reading this at some point in the future - it sounds brilliant! Speechless is published on 1st February 2013. Watch the trailer and pre-order the book below!

Plot Summary (from Goodreads)
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret 
Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.
Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.
But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

2013 Book to Film Adaptations

I recently came across this great article about the book to film adaptations coming out in 2013. This year some of my favourite books will make their film debut. I adore going to the cinema anyway so what could be better than combining two of my favourite things! In this post I discuss which films I'm excited to see and which books I still need to check out before the films come out (I always like reading the book first!). Enjoy.

Most Anticipated

City of Bones
(Cassandra Clare)
I'm a huge fan of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series so I'm completely giddy about the film adaptation coming out this year! The first trailer already tickled my taste buds. 

Starring: Lily Colins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan
 Released: 23rd August 2013
Beautiful Creatures
(Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)
I read the book last year after seeing the film trailer. I really loved the characters and it looks like the film adaptation is going to really do justice to the magic in the story!

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum 

Catching Fire
(Suzanne Collins)

I love The Hunger Games trilogy and the first film blew me away with how great the acting was and how faithful they were to the book. Catching Fire is my favourite book from the trilogy so I'm really excited to see how the film lives up to it!

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson
Released: 22nd August 2013
Read my review of Catching Fire

Books I need to Read!

The Host 
(Stephanie Meyer)

I'm still yet to read Twilight but I've heard better things about this book. With the film coming out this year it might just tempt me!

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons and Diane Kruger

The Seventh Son
(The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney)

This has been on my to-read list for a while after I saw it described as a book for Harry Potter fans. The film adaptation will be released under the title The Seventh Son.

Starring: Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore
Released: 18th October 2013
Find out more about the book on Goodreads

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
(Rick Riordan)

I read the first Percy Jackson book last year and enjoyed it! Haven't got round to seeing the film yet (I've heard not so good things about it) but might have to get round to watching that and reading the book before this film is released!

Released: 16th August 2013
Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson
Find out about the book on Goodreads

Which 2013 film releases are you most looking forward to? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 22nd January

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"When I'd come home from the clinic, I did some major redecorating. I stripped my bedroom of all the girly, princessy elements that Katie and I had loved, and I considered leaving it like that - bare and stark and ugly - but in the end it was too much like my room at the clinic."

- page 28, Shift by Em Bailey

Monday, 21 January 2013

December's Book of the Month!

Each month I like to look back on the books I reviewed the previous month and choose a favourite. I realised recently that with all the fuss of Christmas and New Year I'd forgotten to choose December's Book of the Month! December was quite a quiet month for reviews as I had a lot of other things going on so it's a small pool to pick from, and two of them were re-reads. I've decided to pick something that was completely fresh to me for my Book of the Month and so without further ado, my Book of the Month for December is...

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl!

I'd been meaning to read this book after hearing a lot of hype around the film. Once I got into the story I found myself really loving the world and the characters. I liked the small-town setting and the relationship between the two main characters. I'd definitely recommend it! You can read my full review of Beautiful Creatures right here and find out more on Goodreads here.

Runner up:
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 20th January

Weekly Book Round Up!

14th - 20th January

Each week I round up what I've been reading and reviewing over the past week, as well as sharing those books I've bought/borrowed. Lots to talk about this week so let's get cracking!

Currently reading: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddon. A friend very kindly lent me this after seeing I'd read Alice in Wonderland. I'm really enjoying it so far! It's great reading a modern spin on a book I've read so recently.

 Books finished: Marked by P. C. and Kristin Cast (see below for review), Seizure by Kathy Reichs and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll which is the second book in my Children's Classics Challenge!

Library books: Shift by Em Bailey. Excited to start this! I've also put a hold on Splintered by A. G. Howard which my library has on order at the moment.

And on top of that I just wanted to share this lovely Mortal Instruments rune necklace a lovely friend of mine made and sent me this week! Isn't it stunning? TMI is one of my favourite series and I'm going to wear this with pride <3

What have you been reading and reviewing this week? I'd love to know so leave me a comment or share a link to your reviews and I'll check them out!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Review: Marked by P. C. and Kristin Cast

Marked by P.C and Kristin Cast 

Authors: P. C. and Kristin Cast. Website|Twitter
Published: 1 January 2007 (Atom)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Own/received as present

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
One minute, sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird is a normal teenager dealing with everyday high school stress: her cute boyfriend Heath, the school’s star quarterback who suddenly seems more interested in partying than playing ball; her nosy frenemy Kayla, who’s way too concerned with how things are going with Heath; her uber-tough geometry test tomorrow.  The next, she’s Marked as a fledgling vampyre, forcing her to leave her ordinary life behind and join the House of Night, a boarding school where she will train to become an adult vampyre.  

My Review:
Marked is the first book in the House of Night series - a series that kept popping up everywhere I looked, and so I decided to finally check it out. The story follows Zoey, who gets marked as a vampyre and sent to the House of Night school to train.

I have so much to say about this book that I'm not quite sure where to start! I found it a little hard to get into at the beginning. Everything happened very quickly and I struggled with the whole idea behind how people became vampyres . The whole concept of a tracker turning up to mark then made sense but then they tried to explain the science behind it and why certain people became vampyres as well and I got a bit muddled. I thought the history and mythology surrounding the vampires was interesting though, and so later as Zoey learns a bit more I did become fascinated by the world.

Zoey's voice throughout the voice was a highlight for me. She has that really witty way of narrating the story that made her feel real and engaged me as a reader. I generally liked her as a character and it's obvious she has a lot of potential to grow and develop later in the series. The other characters in the story were a definite plus, from the bitchy Aphrodite to potential love interest Erik. I really liked that Zoey's new group of friends at House of Night were totally different to her friends from her previous life.

I do like a good boarding school story and that part of Marked did grab me. The strongest parts of this book were definitely at The House of Night itself. My only problem was that I couldn't help compare it to similar books and in places it just didn't live up to those.

The book references sex and drugs and whilst I feel it's realistic to throw those things in I sometimes felt this book was either trying to be cool or act as a PSA and so some of it was a little distracting. I had a few niggles with the writing when it started to become repetitive in places, for example whole conversations were relayed back to another character unnecessarily a page or so after they originally happened.

Overall though this was a fairly enjoyable read. It wasn't too heavy and I did like the world and Zoey herself. I probably will check out the sequel at some point.

Rating: 3*
What to read next: Betrayed by P. C. and Kristin Cast, book 2 in the House of Night Series
Books like this: Hex Hall by Rachel Hakwins, Evernight by Claudia Gray, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Friday, 18 January 2013

Friday Finds: 18th January

FRIDAY FINDS is hosted over at Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Lots of books added this week - let's take a look!

 The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
Altered by Jennifer Rush
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Most of these books are 2013 debuts I discovered during this week's Top Ten Tuesday. The last two are modern day twists on Alice in Wonderland - which I just read as part of my Children's Classics Challenge. I'm currently reading Through the Looking Glass so can't wait to read those afterwards!

I'd love to see your finds so if you drop me a link to your blog in the comments I'll check it out!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

 Florence by Ciye Cho
Author: Ciye Cho. Website|Twitter
Published: 28 June 2012 (Studio Amazepop)
Format: E-book
Pages: 203
Amazon: Kindle
Smashwords: E-book
Kobo: E-book

Source: Recieved free review copy from author

Plot Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul

My Review:
I was very kindly sent a copy of this book by the author before Christmas, but I've had a bit of a backlog and so I've been waiting to have time to read it. I was really excited to get started because it's about mermaids, and that's a genre within YA I haven't read before! Florence tells the story of Florence Waverley, who ends up discovering a hidden underwater land when she is captured by mermaids.

I think the main thing I loved about this book was Florence herself. She's a bit of a misfit and her classmates see her as strange. The book starts out with her on a school trip and so we get to see her in that environment and it really makes you feel for her. As the book goes on and she finds herself amongst the mermaids, it becomes clear that she doesn't really fit in there either, because she's human. I thought that was a nice theme running throughout the book - not being able to fit in - and is something that everyone can relate to. I really enjoyed her relationship with Princess Yolee as well. I thought the two of them worked well together - despite coming from completely different places/backgrounds.

I liked the underwater world Ciye Cho has created, and there was a lot of description of all the different places within Niemela, the underwater city where the mermaids live. Some of the touches such as the way the mermaids interact with the animals were really imaginative and made it a great book to just get lost in! The writing was really engaging throughout.

I feel like it spends a lot of time establishing the world and the setting, and as this is the first book in a series I understand you need a bit of that, but I think it'll be more interesting later on to see where it leads. The first half of the book was a bit gentler in pace I thought, and as you move into the second half you really get to the action. I found some of the plot twists a bit confusing in places, as there were questions over some of the characters' loyalty and I couldn't quite keep up. But the e-book copy I had was only just over 200 pages so it's a nice quick read! I think I preferred the first half of the book but overall it was still an entertaining read.

I'd definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series and it makes me crave more mermaid stories! It was a great introduction to that world for me. I look forward to reading more.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Luminaire by Ciye Cho, book 2 in the Florence Waverley series
Books like this: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Opinion: Good Reading Vibes!

This past week or two I've been feeling in such a good mood about the books I'm reading, and so I've decided to delve in to my current reading mood and see what it is that is giving me the good vibes!

1. Reading good books: Of course this always helps ;) I think I've read an awful lot of books lately that have really got me excited. Having a book remind you just why you fell in love with reading and YA always puts me in a good mood!

2. Getting books for Christmas: I was so delighted when I saw the books I got for Christmas, because I certainly wasn't expecting as many as I got, and I got some of my most eagerly anticipated books. Reading those books over Christmas made my holidays perfect!

3. Treating myself: I've really had to cut down on buying books but I had a gift card burning a hole in my wallet and so I treated myself to two new books. Instead of going off my wishlist I decided to have a browse online and pick out two books I didn't know much about before, which made it even more exciting!

4: Creating a library wishlist: I have to be careful how many library holds I put on, because otherwise I end up reading exclusively library books for months and neglecting my own books! But the way I've got round this is by creating a wishlist on my library's online catalogue so that I can save it and then choose a book next time I want to place a reservation. Adding a book to my wishlist is just as satisfying!

5: Getting back into audiobooks: I love audiobooks and recently I've been listening back to The Hunger Games trilogy. It's made me realise how much I love listening to books and I'm excited about seeking out more this year.

6. Giving in to getting a Kindle: I've been borrowing an e-reader for months and considering getting my own, and I've finally settled (after much deliberation!) on a Kindle. Now the thought of getting one is making me a bit giddy ;) I'm bribing myself to read some of the books on my shelves before I buy one though so it's spurring me on as well!

7. Achieving something: I just finished Jane Eyre which has been on my shelf for over a year - and it feels so good to have finished it! I struggle with classics but I don't know why I've been putting this one off. I'm familiar with the story and it's great to read it in its original form and the writing is so beautiful.

8. Finding time to re-read: I've been re-reading the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books recently and I always think it's great to go back to those books you love when you need a bit of comfort reading!

What gets you back into a good reading mood?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 15th January

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Each table sat about six kids and radiated out from a large, unoccupied table situated at the center of the room that was practically overflowing with fruit and cheese and meat, and a crystal goblet that was filled with something that looked suspiciously like red wine. (Huh? Wine at School? What?)"

- page 79 , Marked by P. C. and Kristin Cast

Top Ten Tuesday: 2013 Debuts I'm Looking Forward To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's top ten is 2013 debuts I'm looking forward to. As I'm hoping to complete the debut author challenge (which is money dependant at the moment as I don't get ARCs...) I'm hoping to at least tick off a few of these throughout the year!

1. Splintered by A. G. Howard 
[Goodreads page
Super excited to read this as I've just read Alice in Wonderland for the first time.

2. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza 
[Goodreads page
Just downloaded the free prequel to this book which I must get round to reading!

3. Pivot Point by Kasie West
[Goodreads page]  
Already hearing great things about this and the plot summary sounds fantastic.

4. Nobody but Us by Kristin Halbrook
[Goodreads page
I need to read more contemporary romance so this sounds great.

5. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
[Goodreads page
 Again, already hearing great things! About a girl who ends up in limbo - sounds really good.

6. Pantomime by Laura Lam 
[Goodreads page
Sounds like it has a bit of everything from the plot summary!

7. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu 
[Goodreads page
More romance, but this sounds a bit different which I like.

8. The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan 
[Goodreads page
 Not going to lie, totally drawn in by the cover of this one!

9. Irresistable by Liz Bankes 
[Goodreads page
Already read a free sample of this and liked what I read!

10.Altered by Jennifer Rush
[Goodreads page
 Looks like a sci-fi, paranormal romance, dystopia combo so I can't wait to check it out.

What 2013 debuts are you looking forward to? 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Review: The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan

 The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan 

Author: Colleen Ruttan. Website|Twitter
Published: 24 June 2012 (CreateSpace)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 290
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Smashwords: E-book
Kobo: E-book

Source: Won from Goodreads

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Erynn Taylor was fourteen when she witnessed the brutal murder of her father. She should be dead, too, she knew that. But a reclusive golden dragon swooped down upon the scene—scattering her attackers and sparing her life, but ultimately denying her justice.

Two years later, Erynn’s attackers ride boldly into her kingdom for a visit with her king. But her elation at the nearness of justice turns to anger and then fear as she learns there is more to this visit than meets the eye—a conspiracy that threatens the entire kingdom—and that it just might bring her the death she so narrowly avoided. Erynn wants justice…but does she want it badly enough to die?

My Review:
I won this book from Goodreads in their first-reads giveaway, and it's been sat on my shelf for a while now. I've been putting it off partly because I was behind on books, and partly because it's fantasy and YA fantasy is a genre I've really struggled to get into. As soon as I started reading this book I regretted not reading it sooner!

The Last Falcon follows Erynn, who after losing her adoptive mother to illness and her adoptive father to murder, ends up working for the king. When the Galians arrive, things become uneasy and it's clear both Erynn and the king may be in danger.

I loved this book, and I'm so relieved to say that! The writing completely drew me in and where a lot of fantasy can be quite dense, this was completely readable but still had that intricate weaving of the world and it's characters. It had dragons, elves and kings and queens which made for a really exciting, imaginative tale and I just loved getting wrapped up in the story! The castle setting reminded me a bit of the Song of Ice and Fire books which I love, but which are definitely not YA, so it was great to have a format I loved in a genre I loved.

I really liked Erynn's character and how she came into her own throughout the story. When we first see her she's just lost her father, and seems vulnerable and lost. Later on in the story she has to be strong and fight for survival, and she really develops through her experiences. I liked her friendship with Adena and the loyalty she showed her.

The title of the book refers to the act of falconry which is seen as a threat throughout the book. Suddenly letters aren't being sent and falconers are being killed. I thought that was a really nice touch and a good backbone to the story. It also helped highlight the suspicion which runs throughout the story. There are plenty of horrible characters who are up to something which helped keep me completely hooked.

My only flaw and the reason I'm giving it 4* was just because I struggled to keep up with some of the connections between characters, but that's a personal thing and I often struggle with books where there are lots of characters and things to remember.

Overall I have a great deal of praise for this book because it's restored my faith in a genre I thought I would never be able to like! A really fantastic book and one I'd definitely recommend. This is the first book in the Cael Stone series so hopefully there's more great things to come!

Rating: 4*
Books like this: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 13th January

Weekly Book Round Up!

7th - 13th January

Another week has passed - let's see what there is to talk about!

Currently reading: Seizure by Kathy Reichs, the follow up to Virals which I really liked. I'm already a fair way into this after starting it last night - it's addictive!

Books finished: Reached by Ally Condie (amazing end to the trilogy!), Florence by Ciye Cho, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan. Reviews of all to come!

Books reviewed: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Library holds: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - everyone's talking about the sequel so I must get round to reading this!

What have you been reading this week? Any great reviews to share? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Author: Meagan Spooner. Website|Twitter
Published: 1 August 2012 (Carolrhoda Lab)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 344
Amazon: Hardback (available now) Kindle (pre-order) Paperback (pre-order)
Waterstone's: Paperback (pre-order)
Book Depository: Hardback (available now) Paperback (pre-order)

Source: Own (received as present)

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Lark Ainsley has never seen the sky.

Her world ends at the edge of the vast domed barrier of energy enclosing all that’s left of humanity. For two hundred years the city has sustained this barrier by harvesting its children's innate magical energy when they reach adolescence. When it’s Lark’s turn to be harvested, she finds herself trapped in a nightmarish web of experiments and learns she is something out of legend itself: a Renewable, able to regenerate her own power after it’s been stripped.

My Review:
I've been wanting to read Skylark for a long time so I was very happy when it arrived at Christmas! Skylark follows Lark as she ponders why it is taking so long for her to be harvested. In a world where magic is taken from children, Lark finds herself in a dangerous situation when it becomes there is more to her powers that first thought.

The start of the book had me hooked straight away. There were a lot of references to things that weren't explained straight away so I was curious to find out more about the world in which the book is set. I loved the way the information was teased and slowly revealed. Once everything started to become a bit clearer I just fell in love with the world and the description. The writing was beautiful and everything about this book was just so magical!

Early on we see Lark approaching the Harvest, a sort of ceremony everyone must go through. The first chapters set around the Institute (the government building) were really creepy, and at the same time did a great job of explaining everything about the history world  - which I found really interesting - and about Lark herself. Later on the book turns into more of a journey and a quest for Lark and these were my favourite parts of the book.

Early on there are vast passages where Lark is pretty much alone with nobody to talk to and I think it says a lot about her character that the book didn't suffer for this. She was strong and intelligent enough to remain interesting and keep me engaged with the story. It had that sense of adventure as she must venture out into the real world she knows so little about and it became a tale of survival.

I really enjoyed the magical elements of this book, from the clockwork pixies to the pockets of magic that scatter the earth, making strange things happen within them. It had the dystopian feel of a controlling society and a war that had passed and changed the world for good, which I loved. But it stood out so much from other books in the genre.

There were plenty of fascinating characters besides Lark herself to keep the story fresh, and I really liked the constant guessing of just how significant people were and whether they were bad or good. There were some great villains as well.

I absolutely adored this book and the ending leaves me wanting so much more! I adored the writing and the imaginative world Spooner has created. I'd highly recommend this book!

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner, the unreleased second book in the Skylark trilogy
Books like this: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday Finds: 11th January

FRIDAY FINDS is hosted over at Should Be Reading and showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Night School by C. J. Daugherty
Mila 2.0 Origins: The Fire by Debra Driza
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Luminaire by Ciye Cho

I've been reading a lot about Night School as the sequel just came out so I decided to add the first book to my TBR this week. I'm hoping to read Mila 2.0 as part of the Debut Author Challenge so I downloaded the free prequel Origins: The Fire this week. Looking forward to reading it! I finished Florence this week and Luminaire is the sequel to that. And The Demon's Lexicon was added because I haven't read anything by that author before. 

What have you been adding to your to-read lists this week?
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