Thursday, 28 February 2013

Review: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale

 Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale
Author: Stephanie Hale. Website|Twitter
Published: 8 May 2012
Format: Kindle
Pages: 276
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Free Kindle download

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
The flawless Aspen Brooks was born to be Homecoming Queen. Naturally she's dating the most popular guy in school, and she's blessed with stunning good looks, excellent style, and mega brains. She's got the crown in the bag. So why is the tiara being placed on the skanky head of cheerleader Angel Ives? The confusion only grows after ultra-dork Rand Bachrach is crowned king. To Aspen's shock and horror, Angel actually accuses her of being behind this. Whatevs! But then something goes terribly, terribly wrong. Strange things start happening--even stranger than Angel beating Aspen. Now someone's leaving her threatening messages and slashing her tires. She's sure it's that beyotch Angel doing these things. And if Angel wants war, by Dooney & Bourke she'll get one.

My Review:
I got this book as free download from the Kindle store, and there were a few things that drew me to it. Firstly the title sounded like exactly what I was looking for (contemporary - woo!) and I really liked the cover. Revenge of the Homecoming Queen tells the story of Aspen Brooks who gets beaten to the post of queen by her nemesis Angel. Only the contest didn't go as planned with geeky Rand getting the role of king. Soon the school is in chaos and Aspen seems to be the victim of a series of pranks aimed at embarrassing her.

So within a few pages I was hooked. Aspen narrates the story and she has this really witty voice throughout that kept me engaged and made me giggle. Now, I have to point out that Aspen isn't a nice character. I know not everyone can put up with horrible characters when they story is not only about them but narrated by them too, but I adored it.I knew Aspen was horrible - she's materialistic and snobby and vain, but I could see quite early on that she had potential for so much more. Her best friend Tobi isn't the typical popular girl and even though Aspen points this out a lot, I thought the fact they were friends said a lot about Aspen's true character. She also seems to be aware of her flaws which made me think there was a chance she would develop throughout the story.

A lot of the plot revolves around Rand being elected homecoming king, and I adored Rand as a character. He's totally infatuated with Aspen and she clearly does not deserve him. He's kind and considerate but all Aspen can see is this geeky boy who beat her football player boyfriend to the title of king. Throughout the story the two characters find themselves having to spend more time with each other and I love how Aspen starts to look at Rand differently. It was quite predictable what would happen but I really enjoyed watching events unfold.

The book takes on a bit of a mystery element as the story moves on, as people start disappearing from the small town of Comfort. I really liked how that played out, although I'll admit I knew who was responsible from pretty early on. But seeing Aspen take charge and try and get to the bottom of things made for some really exciting action and as the story reached its climax I couldn't stop reading.

I had a few issues with the pacing where things seemed to happen a little to fast, but otherwise I really enjoyed the writing style. I'm really looking forward to reading more from this author.

I really do love a bit of high school drama so this book was right up my street. It feels like something that should be a bit of a guilty pleasure because Aspen is so anti- what I usually look for in female character, but I think every so often you need a bit of fun and drama! And this book had drama by the bucketful. It won't be to everyone's taste but if from the title and plot summary you're intrigued then definitely check it out. I loved the writing and the humour - definitely worth a read!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Twisted Sisters by Stephanie Hale, book 2 in the Aspen Brooks trilogy
Books like this: Hidden Gem by India Lee, The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Opinion: Finishing Series - The Problem

So I have a confession. I'm pretty awful at finishing series. Or even getting on to the second book in a series. Even trilogies stump me, despite there only being three books! For this post I've decided to delve deeper into why I just can't get through all those series I've started.

Firstly I wanted to point out how much I enjoy reading series. It's not that I hate finding out a book is the first in a series, or that I don't enjoy the experience of becoming invested in books over a period of time. Most of my all time favourite books are part of a series or trilogy and that excitement of waiting for the next book to be released is one of the best things about reading. I recently read this post written by Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone) on her blog which brings up some really great points about writing and reading series. It's definitely worth a read as I think series create a whole lot of discussion from readers and bloggers (including this post!) and I just wanted to reflect on the positivity of series and that this isn't an anti-series post. It's just a "I'm a reader with a problem!" post. So enjoy!

Problem 1: I like variety. This is probably one of the biggest problems I have when it comes to finishing series. Whenever I finish a book I'm usually craving a completely different genre to read next. Sometimes you've just had enough of supernatural or vampires or dystopia and need a change of scene. That means I don't often go straight from one book in a series to the next.

Problem 2: Library books. I get so many of my books from the library and there's nothing like the crippling disappointment of realising they have the first book in a series but not the second. I've suggested books before and had the library order them in, but if I did that for every single series I started I'd be bankrupting them for sure. Even if the library has the sequels it can take a while before they're available, thus creating that gap between the first and second books in a series. Plus if I borrowed the first book in a series from the library then I'm reluctant to buy the second, because then I own a random book in the middle of a series and it doesn't feel right...

Problem 3: When the sequel isn't released yet. I think I can be forgiven for not reading the next book in a series if it hasn't already been released. The problem is, when the sequel is released I might not always be in a position to buy it - either financially or because I have other books to read at the time. Maybe I should getter at planning for these book releases!

Problem 4: There are so many series! And I am so behind with all of them so in an attempt to keep up with the rest of the world I keep starting as many of them as possible so I have some vague idea of what people are talking about when it comes to each one. I almost feel relieved when a book is a standalone these days! I know I won't be getting behind or commuting to yet another series.

Problem 5: I like discovering new things. This is my favourite part of reading and blogging - discovering new books. So if I end up with a choice between a shiny new series or trying to finish an old one, I end up choosing the new ones.

Problem 6: I'm indecisive! This is one of my biggest flaws in everyday life, and of course it becomes a problem when choosing books. As you'll see from the list below I have a huge amount series/trilogies I've started so choosing which one to try and finish/make progress with is so tough!

Do you have difficulty getting round to finishing series? Do you prefer standalones? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Also, here's a list of series and trilogies I've started but am yet to finish. Which would you recommend I catch up on first?

Series/trilogies I've started and need to catch up on!
Evernight series by Claudia Gray
Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Immortals series by Alyson Noel
Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Fox Inheritence series by Mary E Pearson
Treadwell Academy series by Caitlyn Duffy
Hidden Gem series by India Lee
Virals series by Kathy Reichs
Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
Dust Lands series by Moira Young
Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins
Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Flynn series by Sophie McKenzie

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 26th February

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! 

"She'd almost forgotten how handsome he could be when dressed in formal attire. As if it were possible to forget."

- page 17, Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars, #2) by Frank Beddor

Monday, 25 February 2013

Review: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty. Website|Blog
Published: 1 May 2000 (Pan MacMillan)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 278
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the "Joy of the Envelope," a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else. But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon. So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter.... 

My Review:
Okay so this is one of my all time favourite books (and series) so I've been dying to re-read it. For me it's one of the original YA books and one of the ones I actually read as a teenager. Feeling Sorry for Celia tells the story of Elizabeth Clarry, whose best friend Celia has run off - again.

The absolutely brilliant thing about this book is how it's written through a series of notes and letters. Elizabeth's English teacher has started a letter writing project with the local state school so a lot of the book is taken up by letters between her and her Brookfield penpal Christina. As well as that you get notes between Elizabeth and her mother, postcards from her friend Celia and strange anonymous notes from fictional societies such as the Association of Teenagers or the Cold Hard truth Society. I absolutely adore books written in different and quirky ways and it's just genius how the story is told through the letters and notes. It keeps the story pacey and means you really get to hear the characters voices! I love it.

I really like Elizabeth as a character. She's sort of the eye of the storm in that there's all this crazy stuff going on around her but she's calm and collected and just trying to muddle on and deal with everything. There's so many relationships explored throughout the story, from her friendship with Celia which was really interesting, her budding friendship with Christina which just made me laugh - a lot - and her relationship with her quirky mother and absent father. I loved the different dynamics between everyone and how even the smaller characters have their own back story and significance.

One of my favourite things about this book is how real everything is. The characters feel so real, the situations feel real and it just seems like a perfect portrait of teenage life and all the worries that comes with. I think it helps that its an Australian novel set in an Australian school so it has a completely different feel to American high school stories. It deals with a lot of issues but not once did it feel to me like a serious book. Even with all the ups and downs it managed to keep that light-hearted tone and wicked sense of humour that made the whole story completely enjoyable and engrossing. I think so many people will be able to relate to the characters and the story. Having read it as a teen I know I did, and even now it makes me feel all nostalgic reading it back!

The whole book is so wonderfully clever, from the way its written through to the interconnecting lives of all the characters. There's plenty of twists and turns along the way that keep you racing through the chapters. I felt so invested in the lives of all the characters and my heart always went out to Elizabeth. It has a bit of everything from friendship to romance to family drama, all wrapped up in a humourous package.

I really can't stress how much I love this book and how I want everyone to read it. It's the first in a series (although the series can quite easily be read out of order as each has a standalone story but the characters overlap) and I'd highly recommend the rest of the books as well. I'll definitely be needing a re-read of Finding Cassie Crazy after this! Seriously, just go and read it and see for yourself. 

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty, book 2 in the Ashbury/Brookfield series
Books like this: Becoming Bindy MacKenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 24th February

Weekly Book Round Up!

18th - 24th February

I've been super busy with my volunteer work which hasn't left much time for reading but I've still managed to polish off a few things this week. I went to the library last Sunday after I'd posted my round up post so I have some of those books to include in this post which is exciting! Here's what I've been reading, reviewing and acquiring this week. Enjoy!

Currently reading: Prodigy by Marie Lu - the sequel to Legend. I am absolutely loving this. Completely hooked!

Books finished: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (audiobook) by J. K. Rowling and Devilish by Maureen Johnson.

Books reviewed: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Crewel by Gennifer Albin and Entangled by Cat Clarke.

Bought/downloaded: Falling by Amber Jaeger and Existence by Abbi Glines.

Library books: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan and Prodigy by Marie Lu.

Other posts: Teaser Tuesdays, Book Trailer Round Up, Friday Finds

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments! Leave a link to your blog or any of your reviews from this week and I'll be sure to check them out.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke

Entangled by Cat Clarke 

Author: Cat Clarke. Website|Twitter
Published: 6 January 2011 (Quercus)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 372
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
The same questions whirl round and round in my head: What does he want from me? How could I have let this happen? AM I GOING TO DIE? 17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there. As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see? Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here? A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

My Review:
This was another "bought on a whim not knowing much about the author" book and I'm really glad I did. When Grace finds herself in a white room with only pen and paper and the mysterious Ethan for company, she ends up writing down the events of the past few months and trying to figure out just what has happened to her.

The plot summary totally drew me and within a few pages I knew the whole book was going to have me hooked. As Grace doesn't know what has happened to her, I as a reader was just as determined to find out just as much as she was! The structure of the story was something I really liked. Grace is stuck with only a pen and paper to keep her busy so she's writing about her life - both what's happening in the present and what's happened to her in the past. I liked that you got that look into her current situation which is pretty terrifying, and the months leading up to it which were just as interesting and dramatic.

Grace is pretty troubled as characters go. Her mum treats her like rubbish - swanning off and leaving her on her own for days. She doesn't have her dad around and clearly misses him. To cope with all this she's turned to self-harm and contemplated suicide but I felt Grace was a completely realistic main character and somebody I could definitely have gone to school with in my teens.

I really did feel for her throughout the story, especially when she dives into the back story of her relationships with both her best friend Sal and boyfriend Nat. When she was explaining the good times I shared her happiness, and then something terrible would happen and my heart would really go out to her. Neither her best friend or boyfriend was perfect and there were times where Grace would blame herself and apologise for things that totally weren't her fault. That just made me warm to her even more because it's a trait I recognise in myself.

Whilst most of this book hinges around the mystery of just what has happened to Grace, some parts of the plot that were supposed to be a big reveal late on in the story were very obvious to me from the start. I was disappointed with those twists because I'd just spend most of the book frustrated at certain characters and knowing certain things were going on whilst Grace herself remained oblivious. It seemed unrealistic that she didn't put two and two together.

Saying that, the climax of the book was definitely not something I was expecting! I thought I had everything figured out and then it was like a carpet was swept out from underneath me. The ending was so fast paced that I couldn't stop turning those final pages and my heart was in my mouth. I was completely engrossed with what was happening, and then the ending left me hanging on the edge of my seat wanting more! Some of it was a bit baffling and because it all happened so fast I had to go back and re-read bits, and I still think a lot of it is open to interpretation which is either good or frustrating - I still haven't decided which!

I absolutely loved Clarke's tense and dramatic writing style and I really would recommend this book. I'll definitely be checking out her other novels in the future!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Torn by Cat Clarke
Books like this: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Friday, 22 February 2013

Friday Finds: 22nd February

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).

Icons by Margaret Stohl
Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi 
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter

Of these I'm most excited about Through the Ever Night because I just finished Under the Never Sky and Paper Aeroplanes because it's been announced that Dawn O'Porter will be at Leakycon London which I'm going to - squeee! As the first announced author I definitely want to make sure I check out her book (and it sounds fab!).

What are your finds for this week? Drop me a link to your FF post in the comments and I'll be sure to stop by!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Author: Gennifer Albin. Website|Twitter
Published: 18 October 2012 (Faber and Faber)
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 384
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Bought (Kindle)

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That's what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret - she wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time and matter, Adelice is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, power and beauty, the ability to embroider the very fabric of life. It also means entering a world secrets and lethal intrigue. But unlike the others, Adelice isn't interested in controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have and will do anything to hide her talent from the Guild. But when she slips up during her final test, her gift is identified. Now she has one hour to eat her mum's overcooked dinner. One hour to listen to her sister's school gossip and laugh at her dad's stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything is OK. And one hour to escape. Because once you become a Spinster, there's no turning back...

My Review:
I'd had my eye on this book for a while now and I managed to snag it as a 99p Kindle bargain recently. Crewel tells the story of Adelice, who has spent years trying to hide her ability to see and weave matter. In Arras, people with this ability are whisked away from their families and sent to the Coventry, where they'll spend the rest of their lives as Spinsters.

The concept and idea behind this book is fantastic. The premise is that the world of Arras is controlled by people on looms who are responsible for weaving everything from the weather to births and deaths. I fell in love with the idea straight away, and most importantly it created some dazzling writing and vivid descriptions. The book has that dystopian/post-apocalyptic nature with a controlling society which dictates where people live, how many children they have and segregates boys and girls.

The idea that only women are chosen to use this special power was something that was really interesting to explore. The fact the Spinsters are forbidden from marrying and forced away from their families made you see them as oppressed, and I thought that added a really interesting dynamic to the story. Even the girls who don't get chosen are almost forced into marriages. It really helped me root for Adelice and as a main character she is such a huge draw for this book. She starts out so vulnerable and ends up treated pretty cruelly. My heart really went out to her, but soon enough she has to stand up for herself, and man does she get feisty! I loved her! I like that she is powerful both in her abilities and the way she thinks.Throughout the book she definitely develops and character really shines through. It's great to see her stand up for what is right and I really liked her curiosity - how she questions what happens around her.

Because of the controlling society the story takes place in, there's some pretty good villains including Cormac - the ambassador who is just plain creepy at times. His interactions with Adelice were brilliant as she really stands up to him. Then there's the bitchy and envious Maela who was a really interesting character - jealous and twisted. I really liked the mystery element to just who was on Adelice's side and what certain characters were up to. Some of the revelations towards the end I hadn't seen coming!

On the other side I really liked the "good" characters, especially Jost who I was really fascinated by. There are a few love interests weaved into the story (no pun intended) and I think that was made even more interesting by Adelice's lack of experience due to the segregation.

Crewel was so brilliantly written with such rich detail and description that I just couldn't put it down. I didn't want to break away from that world! It's clear there's so much more to be explored and the ending blew me away with a huge cliffhanger that leaves incredible potential for the second book in the series. I can't wait to read more! I'd highly recommend this book to fans of The Hunger Games and similar books, or anyone who likes books with a touch of magic. Fantastic writing and fabulous characters. A must-read!

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Altered, the second book in the Crewel World series which is scheduled for release in October 2013.
Books like this: Skylark by Meagan Spooner, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Book Trailer: Clockwork Princess, The Madness Underneath & The Rising

Edited to add - the book trailer for Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is now available over on Entertainment Weekly! Click here to watch the trailer and find out more about the book below.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Published: 19th March 2013

So two books in two series I'm really excited about will be released soon. The Madness Underneath is the 2nd book in the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. I adored the first book - The Name of the Star - so can't wait to read this! Watch the trailer and find out more below:

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Published: 28th March 2013

Also the final book in the Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong comes out soon. Kelley Armstrong has written some of my favourite young adult books and I'm eagerly anticipating the conclusion to this trilogy when The Rising is released. And this trailer is incredible!

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2nd April 2013

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 19th February

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! 

"Grief hung thick and heavy, out of place in the colorful room. It pressed in along the edges of his vision like a bleak gray fog."

- page 32, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Monday, 18 February 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Author: John Green. Website, Twitter
Published: 10 January 2012 (Puffin)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 318
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback|Hardback

Plot Summary: (from Goodreads)
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

My Review:
I first read this book last year and decided to re-read it recently, something I've been wanting to do for a while! It was the first John Green novel I read and all the hype when it was released was what drew me to it. Having re-read it, I wanted to update my review and add some more to my thoughts. The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel, who has thyroid cancer. When she attends a cancer support group she meets Augustus Walters and the two of them hit it off.

I'd forgotten just how instant this book was. From the first few pages I was already in love with Hazel as a character and unable to stop reading. What hit me is how funny the book is, which is not something you expect given the subject matter, but the humour throughout this book is just so spot on. The characters themselves are so funny and come out with the most beautiful lines that just crack me up.

The book charts Hazel and Augustus' relationship from the moment they meet and I can't stress just how much I loved the two of them and their developing relationship. They both have that same sense of humour and fantastic honesty that means you're not focusing on the fact that they're kids with cancer, you're just impressed by how awesome they are as people. I loved the fact that give and take from each other and always have time to listen, for example when they share they're favourite books with each other - I just loved how much they learnt from that experience and how they were open to learn from each other.

One of the things that impressed me most was how relatable this book was, which given I've never had cancer was pretty impressive. I thought there was one really telling comment when Hazel and Augustus were talking about how people tend to define themselves by their illness - something they've experienced with other cancer kids. I absolutely loved this observation because it's something I've had experience of. I'm chronically ill and I know so many people who introduce themselves with their illness and list all the things they can't do because of it instead of the things they can. I just had to stop reading at that moment and appreciate how nailed John Green has it.

Expanding on that, I think The Fault in Our Stars sums up brilliantly how life isn't perfect, but that you have to get on and deal with it whether you like it or not. There's real honesty in Hazel and Augustus' opinions of life and at points it can be pretty brutal reading them talk the way they do, but it's so refreshing to strip away all the wishy washy stuff and get down to the nitty gritty of how life can be a bitch but that sometimes you have no choice but to get on and make the most of it.

There's so much to take from this book - from a great love story to a book filled with metaphors about life, love, death and family. You can read it on so many levels and re-reading it definitely helped me appreciate that. Both times I've read it in the space of a day and then been unable to move on to another book as I digest it. I just loved the characters so much that I didn't want to stop reading about them or stop thinking about them. I think characters that mean that much to you after closing the pages is a sign of a perfect book.

I really would urge everyone to read this book. I know there will still be people who'll be wary because of the subject matter, but it's such an un-put-down-able refreshing read that I think it will appeal to so many if you give it a chance. The writing is moving, witty and poetic. Like I said, this book made me laugh, a lot. Yes there are sad moments, ones that rip at your heartstrings but reading every page of this book felt like such a pleasure.

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Books like this: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 17th February

Weekly Book Round Up!

11th - 17th February

Lots to talk about as always so here's a recap of what I've been reading and what's been happening on the blog this week. Enjoy!

Currently reading: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - had this on hold at the library for ages and it finally became available! Started it straight away and really liking it so far. Devilish by Maureen Johnson - got this as a free Kindle download a while ago. Looks good but I'm about 20 pages in and I've put it aside unttil I've read Under the Never Sky. I'm listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on audiobook as well. Phew!

Books finished: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale - another Kindle freebie which I really enjoyed! Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green which were both re-reads I'd been wanting to do for a while. I'll be reviewing them based on my re-reads too! And I also read The Fierce Reads Anthology - a collection of short stories and samplers which was another Kindle freebie.

Books reviewed: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins, If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Luminaire by Ciye Cho.

Borrowed: I received Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, the second book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy, from my friend this week. Really excited to read it!

Other posts: Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Romances, Teaser Tuesdays, Amazon Kindle Review, Friday Finds

What have you been reading and blogging about this week? Let me know in the comments and if you leave a link I'll make sure to visit your blog!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Review: Luminaire by Ciye Cho

Spoiler warning! This is the second book in the Florence Waverley series and may contain spoilers from the first book. Proceed with caution! Or you can read my review of the first book, Florence, right here.

Luminaire by Ciye Cho

Author: Ciye Cho. Website|Twitter
Published: 1 December 2012
Format: E-book
Pages: 250
Amazon: Kindle
Smashwords: E-book
Kobo: E-book

Source: Recieved free review copy from author

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Being the only human in a world of merfolk... isn't easy. Florence Waverley chose to stay in Niemela, but things have gone awry. Secrets have risen and the prince she cares about has pulled away. All the while, dark dreams warn her of a tragedy that only she can stop. But in order to save the merman she loves, Florence will have to enter the Life Path tournament: a brutal test of fear and madness.

My Review:
I really enjoyed the first Florence Waverley book so I was excited when the author offered me the chance to read and review the sequel! Luminaire picks up just after Rolan's coronation. Florence is still in Niemela but she's struggling as Rolan becomes more distant and the population is preparing itself for the upcoming Life Path Tournament.

I loved how easy it was to get straight back into the world and I was reminded just how much I enjoyed the really imaginative setting. The descriptions are so vivid and colourful! Niemela has a lot of history and I really liked reading more about some of the legends and discovering more places such as the archives. I think it's great how the book is written in chapters from Florence's perspective, but then adds "interludes" from Rolan's perspective which show what is happening elsewhere. It really makes a difference to the storytelling and keeps the pace spot on.

This book focuses on the Life Path Tournament, where young mer-people in Niemela must try and qualify for the maze where they will face a barrage of obstacles in order to be able to follow their chosen life path. It felt kind of like the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter which is absolutely a compliment! The whole book had that feeling of being a quest for Florence as she tries to overcome everything, not only relating to the tournament but her position in Niemela as well which made me want to keep reading and rooting for her. I liked getting that glimpse into Florence's skills in the first book so it was good to see that built on.

One of my favourite parts Luminaire was the relationship between Rolan and Florence. Rolan has become distant and is pushing Florence away, but it's clear there's more going on there and I really enjoyed their interractions. The two characters bounce really well off each other. As with the first book I enjoyed the friendship between Florence and Yolee and it was really interesting to see that relationship tested slightly as the two of them both try to qualify for the tournament. One of my favourite characters in Luminaire was probably the new character Wynn who was just a really nice guy and added a great dynamic to the group. There are some fantastic villains too with the tournament director and his daughter stirring up trouble for Florence and the gang which made it even more interesting.

The only thing I was hoping for more of was maybe more exploration of the fact Florence is still missing from the human world. She did reflect a lot about her life on the surface but I'd like to see that addressed in the story a bit more.

Luminaire has plenty of action and great characters, all of whom get a chance to shine. It definitely lived up to the first book, in fact I think I enjoyed this one more! I'd definitely recommend this series if you like escaping into another world.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Shiewo: A Fantasy Flight to Adventure by Ciye Cho, book 1 in the Shiewo's Odysesy series
Books like this: Ingo by Helen Dunmore

Friday, 15 February 2013

Friday Finds: 15th February

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).

Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Miss Me Not by Tiffany King
Untraceable by S. R. Johannes
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Investigating the Hottie by Juli Alexander

Miss Me Not, Investigating the Hottie and Untraceable were free Kindle downloads this week so I'm looking forward to reading those. I found the 2nd book in the Louise Rennison knocking around my house this week - I think it was my sister's! So I'll need to check out the first book which is Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging. I know I'm totally behind the times not having read that series yet. And I loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight so I'm really excited to read more from Jennifer E. Smith.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Author: Gayle Forman. Website|Twitter
Published: 13 May 2010 (Black Swan)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...  

My Review:
I've heard so much about this author and this book has been on my to-read list for a while. When I saw my library had this book I gave in and reserved it, eager to see if it lived up the praise! If I Stay tells the story of Mia, who ends up in a car accident with her family. After the accident she must watch as her unconscious body is taken to hospital and her life hangs in the balance.

I was expecting this book to be quite emotional given the plot and it was. What blew me away was how in a very short amount of time the author manages to make you feel so connected with Mia and her family. The opening scenes focus on the family one morning when snow has hit and they all have the day off. It was just so sweet seeing that family dynamic as the whole situation was so relatable. That sense of foreboding was so strong and made me dread reading on because I knew I loved these characters already.

One of my favourite parts of the book was how it was written. After the car accident the book flits back and forth between Mia's present situation - clinging on to life with her family and friends visiting her in hospital - and her past. It means we get to know her slowly over the course of the book as little bits of her life and revealed throughout. Each time the book goes back to reflect on her life it focuses on a different part of it, from her relationship with her best friend, her boyfriend and her history of playing the cello. There weren't chapters, but the present day sections were broken up by what time it was - as the book takes place over a very short period of time. It made for a really well-paced story.

Speaking of which, I loved how Mia was a musician! I grew up playing the flute, so whilst I wasn't quite as serious about music as Mia is in the book, I could definitely relate to some of those bits, and I just really enjoyed how her love of music was such a big part of her character.

I loved that as you learn about Mia's life, it turns out it isn't perfect. I liked how real her relationship with Adam was and how their troubles were ones so many people would go through. There was no cheesy, soppy element to it and I thought the present day moments where Mia has to witness Adam cope with her accident were really touching.

The book deals with so many themes, from love and loss, to death to the choices you have to make and how difficult they are. It encompasses how important family is and how friends come together and can be just as good as family. For such a short book it sure covers a great deal! I read this book in just a few hours because I just couldn't bare to put it down. I cared so much about what happened to her that I needed to get to the end, and when I did I was so sad that there was no more! It's one of those books where you turn the last few pages back and forth just to check there weren't any pages you missed.

I can see why this author gets such praise. I was particularly impressed with the amount of extra material at the back of the book, which included acknowledgements, a personal note about the true events behind the book and information about all the music dotted throughout the story which plays a key role and had obviously been well researched. I'll definitely be checking out more of her books!

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the follow-up to If I Stay
Books like this: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Review: Amazon Kindle

I've been considering getting an e-reader for a while and when Amazon discounted the basic Kindle for one day only last week, I seized the opportunity! In this post I'll be giving a review of the Kindle and talking about how I've got on with it after a week of being a Kindle owner. Enjoy!

Setting up: I was so pleased with how easy it was to set up the Kindle. It was already linked to my Amazon account when it arrived so all I had to do was switch it on and connect it to my home wifi - all of which took about 2 minutes! The user guide is loaded on to the Kindle already, along with 2 dictionaries and a welcome message. If you've bought anything from the Kindle store before to read on another device (I had Kindle books on my iPod) you can access them from "archived items" and load them on to your new Kindle which was super easy. In the box is the USB cable which you use to charge the device via your computer and transfer any items you want to put on manually. The only problem I had dragging and dropping items on to the Kindle was when I didn't drop them into the "documents" folder and they didn't appear. Once I moved them I was good to go!

Using the Kindle: The basic e-ink wifi Kindle doesn't have a touchscreen, but uses a five way button at the bottom of the device and page turning buttons on the side. There's a home button, a back button, a menu button and a keyboard button which brings up an on-screen keyboard which you navigate using the five way button. The on/off switch is at the bottom next to the USB port. The page turn buttons are ideally placed (they're also available on either side of the device) and it's so easy to get to the next page. Comparing it to touchscreen e-readers I've used in the past, it's an awful lot easier as you don't end up accidentally double tapping and turning two pages! My main worry was how tricky typing would be but the layout of the on-screen keyboard is quite easy to get around and it hasn't been too problematic. When you're browsing the Kindle store and want to search for something specific, it comes up with a list of options based on what you type as soon as you start inputting letters. This is an absolute lifesaver because usually I've only had to type in three or four letters before the option I want has come up - then you only need to select it!

Extra features: My favourite feature on the Kindle is being able to create "collections" which are sort of like Goodreads shelves! This makes it easier to organise your books and find them when you're looking for something particular. I've created a currently reading, read and to-read collection, as well as sorting books by genre/type and having my freebies all in one place. The Kindle allows you to bookmark and add notes or search the book by hitting the menu button whilst reading. I haven't tested these features out yet but it'd be great if you want to made a note of something or be able to find a certain part of a book.

The books: I've already been taking advantage of the Kindle store on my iPod but now I have a Kindle I've gone a little crazy. There are plenty of free books available on the Kindle store and getting them on your Kindle is really simple. You can either shop on the device by hitting the menu button and accessing the Kindle store that way. If your device is in aeroplane mode you'll need to make sure you turn on the wifi but if you try and do it whilst your wifi is off then it comes up with a message asking if you'd like to switch it on anyway. You can also use your computer to send books to your Kindle. They'll get there immediately if you have your device on and connected to the internet. If not then the next time your device is connected it'll start downloading it for you. I'd recommend checking out the bestselling list on Amazon daily as sometimes books are free for a short period of time. Signing up to the Kindle Daily Deals email is great too, to be alerted of items on offer for 99p for one day only. I also use Smashwords to get hold of free books.

Accessories: You'll probably need a case to put your Kindle in to keep it safe, even if you're not going to take it out and about. I managed to find one for under £7 on Amazon (I got this one here) and it's fantastic! Really good quality for the price and lets you have access to all the buttons and the USB port. Wall socket chargers are available from Amazon if you'd rather charge that way that via USB, but e-ink devices have a great battery life, just be sure to turn the wifi off when you're not using it.

Niggles: So far there's only a few things that have bothered me with the Kindle. One is that I realised after a few days that I hadn't been turning it off, I'd just been putting it on sleep mode! To fully turn off the Kindle you have to hold the on/off switch down for a long time which is sometimes a bit fiddly. If your finger slips off the button then you just end up putting it in sleep mode and having to start again. The other disappointment was not being able to borrow books from the lending library. I was hoping I'd be able to as I use Amazon Prime but I'm not the paying member, I'm a guest on somebody else's account, so whilst I can take advantage of the free next day delivery, I can't borrow books from the Kindle store.

Price: £69
Buy: Amazon|Waterstone's|Tesco|Argos

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: 12th February

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! 

'"The girls are going to be lining up now that you're king," I tell him. Of course I know that's total BS, but I felt like I should say something nice back.

- page 27 (Kindle edition) Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Romances

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish  and this week's top ten is all about the romance! Now I'm not usually one for lovey-dovey romance but I do like to ship, which is why some of these couples are included ;) Here are my top ten book romances:

1. Harry & Ginny from Harry Potter
 My ultimate ship! I literally squee and clap my way through Half-Blood Prince and Harry and Ginny's relationship is the reason for that. I think they're so perfectly matched - their personalities fit perfectly and they share the same sense of humour.

2. Ron & Hermione from Harry Potter
But of course you have to root for Ron and Hermione. I love that they're the complete opposite to Harry and Ginny, and that it takes them the whole series to get together. They're hilarious when they bicker!

3. Alec & Magnus from The Mortal Instruments
I really like how this relationship has played out over the series and how it's far from perfect. They've had a lot to overcome.

4. Jace & Clary from The Mortal Instruments
If it were possible to will a couple to have better luck I'd use it on these two, but I think that's what's made it such a good love story! There's a bit of love/hate which always helps, and then the whole life in danger thing.

5. Lena & Ethan from Beautiful Creatures
I loved the connection between these two and how natural it felt. I've only read the first book so I'm really interested to see how their relationship develops over the series. I love that the book is told from Ethan's perspective too - love from the guy's side is always interesting!

6. Echo & Noah from Pushing the Limits
I adored this book and this couple! They're both such feisty characters and I loved how passionate their relationship was.

7. Cassia & Ky from Matched
I think this is one of my favourite fictional pairings because they go through so much and go on such a journey, plus there's something forbidden about what they're doing! But most of all I just love how perfect they are together and how Ally Condie's writing really conjures up how much they care for each other.

8. Sam & Grace from The Wolves of Mercy Falls
This is another top favourite, because I adored both characters individually and they just seemed destined to be together <3 Plus Maggie Stiefvater writes their love so well!

9. Oliver & Hadley from The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
I loved the unique spin on this one and how the book and romance takes place in such a short time!

10. Anna & St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss
I just adored this book and how it managed to keep the humour in everything and how Anna was just a bit hopeless when it came to love. Throw in a romantic setting and it's perfect! Plus St. Clair is pretty awesome.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

 Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Author: Wendy Higgins. Website|Twitter
Published: 1 May 2012 (HarperTeen)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 453
Amazon: Paperback|Kindle
Waterstone's: Paperback|e-book
Book Depository: Paperback

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

My Review:
I bought this book on a bit of a whim when I had a gift card to spend, and didn't know too much about it. It sounded right up my street from the plot summary as I love books about angels and that cover totally drew me in! Sweet Evil follows Anna, a girl who's always been a little bit different due to her ability to read people's auras. When she meets drummer Kaiden Rowe, who is also a bit different, she starts to learn more about her past and her abilities, as well as getting to know Kaiden a little better too.

The story starts with a prologue which explains Anna's birth and how she came to be an orphan. I was definitely hooked at the beginning and got really into the story and the writing. I loved learning more about Anna's history as the world is slowly unravelled around her. I found all the angels and demons stuff intriguing at the start and it seemed like just the kind of thing I would enjoy.

I really loved Anna as a character. She's shy and a bit of a goody-goody, which is something I myself can relate to! I liked how we get to see her at school where she's a bit of a misfit, and learn how her ability to see people's auras and read their emotions has been more of a curse than a blessing. As for the other characters, I really liked her friend Jay, but I think he was wasted as a character. He seemed to be such a nice guy but he was just there in the background most of the time. Then there's Kaiden who's the love interest and the typical bad boy type, which doesn't always win me over. Overall I didn't care for him too much, although I did find certain aspects of his personality interesting. He did seem to care for Anna and I did like their relationship in some parts of the book, as they're getting to know each other. The steamy kissing scenes certainly drew me in! But I think I wanted a bit more from him as well.

As with most books that are the first in a planned trilogy, there was a lot of world building. I did enjoy exploring the powers of the characters and how the demon world worked, but when it domimnated Kaiden and Anna's conversations it got a bit tiring. The book is about 450 pages and I felt that could probably have been cut down a lot to stop it dragging.

After about the halfway point was when I started to have more problems. Anna's adoptive mother Patti starts out being this overly protective caring type who forbids her to see Kaiden, but then for some reason she decides it's perfectly acceptable for Anna to swan off on a massive road trip with him - just the two of them alone. I just felt it was totally out of character for her to allow that and it made the rest of the story a bit unbelievable. When more about the children of demons was revealed I kind of found some parts annoying - mainly their roles and why they had to do the things they do. I don't want to spoil too much as these parts happen later on the book, but I just wasn't sure how I felt about why certain things were the way they were.

The one other thing that niggled at me was the religious aspect of the book. You expect religious elements where angels are involved, but there were a few parts where it didn't feel relevent to the story at all. I didn't mind that Anna was religious, I actually thought it was a nice addition to her character, but there were times where I felt like it was thrown in to try and balance out the drugs, sex and rock and roll. And then there was one conversation on abortion that wasn't relevant to the plot or the characters and I had no idea why it was really there.

This book did feel like it had a lot of potential. The writing was good and I enjoyed most of it. I liked the high school drama and the characters were interesting. I might still check out the sequel because, despite my niggles, I did enjoy reading the book.

Rating: 3*
What to read next: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins, book 2 in the Sweet trilogy published in May 2013
Books like this: Evermore by Alyson Noel, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 10th February

Weekly Book Round Up!

4th - 10th February

This week has been rather exciting because I finally caved and got a Kindle! They were on offer for one day only which seemed like too much of a sign. I've loved reading on it and stocking up on books so far and will probably post a review of sorts next week to go into detail about how I'm finding it. It's given me loads to talk about in this week's round up though so let's get cracking!

Currently reading: Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale which was one of the Kindle freebies I picked up this week. I was in the mood for some contemporary so this looks like it fits the bill! Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling which I have on audio book from the library at the moment - listening as part of my series re-read! I'm also reading the Fierce Reads Anthology - a short story collection that was free on the Kindle store.

Books finished: Luminaire by Ciye Cho - the sequel for Florence. Mila 2.0 Origins: The Fire by Debra Driza - a prequel to the upcoming debut Mila 2.0. Made me really excited for the book! And finally Crewel by Gennifer Albin which I absolutely adored.

Books reviewed: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll which is the second book in my 2013 Children's Classics Challenge! And The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor which is a modern day twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass.

Free Kindle Downloads: I went on a downloading spree in the Kindle store this week so I have loads of free downloads. Here are a few of the ones I'm really excited about (note: they were free when I got them but may not be free anymore):  Putting Boys on the Ledge by Stephanie Rowe, The Queen of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois, The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton, Wraith by Angel Lawson, So I'm a Double Threat by Julie Prestater, The Cloud Seeders by James Zerndt, Entangled by Nikki Jefford.

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments and if you leave a link to your blog I'll be sure to check it out!
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