Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#6) Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau






Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine and gives bloggers a chance to highlight future releases we're looking forward to!



Independent Study (The Testing, #2) by Joelle Charbonneau
Published: January 2014 (Templar)

I won't post the plot summary for this as it's spoilery if you haven't read The Testing, but needless to say after my review of that book this week (which is already one of my favourite books of this year!) I'll be counting down the days until this one!
 
What book are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments!



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Review: Finding Sky by Joss Sterling




Finding Sky by Joss Sterling

Author: Joss Sterling Website|Twitter
Published: 6 October 2010 (Oxford University Press)
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 320
Buy the paperback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
When Sky catches a glimpse of Zed for the first time, lounging against his motorbike at school, she is drawn to him just like every other girl in Wickenridge. But Zed sees something special in her that the other girls don’t have.

My Review:
Finding Sky is a book I'd had my eye on for a while and when it became available for 99p in a Kindle sale I knew it had to be mine. It follows the story of Sky Bright who has moved from the UK to the small town of Wickenridge in the mountains of America. There she meets Zed, one of the mysterious Benedict brothers and learns there's a lot more to him, and to herself, than meets the surface.

I really loved Sky and the opening chapters of the book where we get to know her were definitely some of my favourites. She's had a very traumatic past, long parts of which she has no memory of. We learn there was a time when she wouldn't speak, and that she doesn't remember her original name. All that mystery about her and how much she's had to deal with definitely added to the intrigue. Aside from all that I just loved her as a person. Sky is musical, playing a number of instruments, which is something I always love seeing in a character because I was very musical in my teens so that's a kind of character I can relate to.

The culture clash elements of the book as Sky adjusts from British life to American life was definitely a highlight in Finding Sky because it was freaking hilarious. I probably appreciated that British take on America because I am British, and I loved all those little Brit references and in-jokes I could pick up on. It was really cool to see the American school system, with its cheerleaders and baseball teams, written from the perspective of an outsider. On a more serious note I really loved the setting of the book. The descriptions of the mountains and ski resorts had me completely immersed and made for perfect escapism.

Sky ends up catching the eye of school bad boy Zed, one of seven brothers. He was definitely an intriguing character! He starts off quite rude and brash and I wasn't sure I was going to warm to him, because I am usually all about the good guy. As the story moved on and I learnt a bit more about him, however, I really warmed to him. There was certainly a lot of mystery about him and I found myself wanting to know more, and his softer side came out in the second half of the book. The relationship between Zed and Sky starts out kind of love/hate which I really wasn't sure about at first, but in the end I think it actually worked out well because it showed Sky wasn't going to take any rubbish from him! I was happy that she waited to get to know him a little better and suss him out before giving him a chance.

The book's more supernatural elements are introduced quite gradually so it's hard to know how much to say without giving anything away. We know from very early on that Sky can read auras and that Zed has these mysterious powers that Sky just can't get her head around. I did really like this element of the book and the story of Zed and his family, and I'd loved exploring each of the seven brothers and their abilities. The world building was done really well and I didn't feel overwhelmed by terminology or anything.

I spent the first half of the book revelling in the characters and enjoying the humour in the writing, but the book really became more action packed later on and I liked that switch in pace. There was plenty of exciting scenes and mystery as Sky tries to learn more about her life. The climax of the story was definitely gripping.

Finding Sky was an enjoyable read with great characters and beautiful writing that really conjured up the writing and surroundings.The rest of the series appears to focus on each of one of the seven Benedict brothers which sounds really intriguing so I'm excited to read the next book.


Rating: 4*
What to read next: Challenging Zed by Joss Sterling, a novella from Zed's POV, Stealing Phoenix by Joss Sterling, the next book in the series
Books like this: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Evermore by Alyson Noel

Monday, 29 July 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau


The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Author: Joelle Charbonneau Website|Twitter
Published: 1 August 2013 (Templar)
Format: Paperback (Proof copy)
Pages: 384
Buy the paperback: Amazon|BookDepository

Source: Received proof copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Cia Vale is honoured to be chosen for The Testing – a series of exams set by the United Commonwealth that selects the brightest young adults to become leaders of their war- stricken world. But when candidates start disappearing and Cia witnesses unimaginable horrors done in the United Commonwealth’s name it becomes clear that these are no ordinary exams, and Cia is forced to realise the truth: this is no longer about winning, but surviving.
 
My Review:
When I first came across The Testing I knew I had to read it. I'm a huge fan of dystopia and anything marketed as "for fans of The Hunger Games" completely grabs my attention! I was fortunate enough to get sent a copy of this book to review. The Testing follows Cia as she approaches her graduation, and with it the chance of being entered into the Testing, a brutal challenge where the chosen few compete to gain a place at university.

Having read so much YA dystopia (because it's a genre I adore so much!) I'm always a little apprehensive going into a new novel, because I worry they'll all feel similar or the best ideas have already been done. The Testing really proved to me that there is still originality out there and the ideas in this book blew me away. I loved that the focus was academic. The characters chosen for the Testing are smart and have huge potential. I love seeing Cia use her brain to move forwards in the process. Each of the challenges she faces are complex and daunting, and I think you have to give the author huge credit for dreaming up these wonderfully intricate challenges that were incredibly clever. The writing was so sharp and intelligent.

I loved the world building in The Testing and the post-apocalyptic environment the story takes place in was unique and well developed. I really enjoyed reading about the history of the United Commonwealth and how it has been ravaged by war. There was so much attention to detail. The nation is split up into colonies and Cia comes from the Five Lakes Colony which has always been a bit of an underdog and gets looked down upon by people from other colonies. I think that made me root for Cia even more because she's representing her colony throughout the story.

Cia herself is a really likeable main character. I loved seeing the relationship she has with her father and brothers, and even the tense relationship with her and her mother was really fascinating. I think one thing that really drew me to her was the value she places on friendship, which we see early on as she has to face leaving behind her friend Daileen. All throughout The Testing Cia is faced with the dilemma of deciding who to trust, and I loved her ability to really look out for people even when she should be looking out for herself. I think the first person present tense narrative really helped me feel what she did and connect with her, too.

I adored the pacing in The Testing which was just perfect.There was so much action and more twists and turns than I could count. It seemed like every chapter ended on a cliffhanger which made it impossible to put it down! The suspense keeps up all the way throughout the book but the two halves have very different feels to them. The second half of the book is a real survival story and I can see why there are comparisons to The Hunger Games after reading that. I think it will definitely appeal to fans of Suzanne Collins' trilogy.

There's a sprinkling of romance in The Testing with Cia getting close to Tomas, a fellow Testing candidate. I loved that it wasn't shoved in your face. It was a really sweet relationship with two people facing some truly trying circumstances and having to look out for one another and growing to really care for each other. Like I mentioned before, the story is full of moments where Cia has to decide who to trust and seeing the relationship between her and Tomas play out was gripping.

There were some really harrowing moments in The Testing and I think that was where it really stood out for me as a dystopian novel. The situations Cia ends up in are so brutal and the fates of some of the characters were so heartbreaking. I was taken aback many a time by the betrayal and lies and conspiracies, but I love it when a book really takes me by surprise. It felt like no matter how hard I tried to guess what would happen I was never prepared for what was around the corner!

The Testing has a fantastic ensemble of characters and I loved getting to know all of them. I loved how the Testing candidates bonded and stuck together, whilst at the same time trying to figure each other out. I loved the complex characters like Zandri and Ryme and the ones that really won my affections like Malachi.

I feel like I've said so much already but I can't finish up this review without mentioning the ending! The climax to The Testing was incredible and left me absolutely dying to read the next installment. I felt like I'd gone on a complete rollercoaster ride reading this book. I was shocked, sad and scared for the characters throughout the story. It's a story that will definitely stay with me!

The Testing is definitely a dystopia that can stand out from the crowd and hold its head high. The writing was phenomenal and the ideas were so intricate and smart. I really became wrapped up with the characters and felt the emotions they did as I read. I can't recommend this one highly enough and I'll be watching the clock waiting to get my hands on book two! The Testing is most definitely a new favourite.

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau, book 2 in The Testing trilogy
Books like this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Legend by Marie Lu

Sunday, 28 July 2013

NA Readathon Mini-Challenge: Rewrite the Synopsis



Today is the last day of the New Adult Readathon, something I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in! Today's mini-challenge is hosted over at A Daydreamer's Thoughts. The idea is to rewrite a synopsis of an NA book. I decided to pick Between Friends by Amanda Cowen as it was the final book I finished in the readathon.



Original Synopsis:
The only way to have a friend is to be one…especially between the sheets…

When neurotically challenged and unlucky in love Megan Daniels, is propositioned by her life-long friend Ben Romano with a coin toss (heads, they sleep together, tails they don’t) the night before they are about to attend a destination wedding, she drunkenly accepts his challenge. But when Megan wakes up the next morning with a bad hang-over and Ben in her bed, she is more than mortified. It isn’t until the tropical heat begins to ignite emotions Megan never ever believed she could possibly have, that she starts to question if risking their friendship is the answer to finding true love.

My Synopsis:
Ben and Megan have always been friends. But what happens when they cross that line? 

Sunny Costa Rica awaits as the pair head off for their close friends' wedding, but what will they discover once they arrive? Can they stay just friends or will the romance in the air sweep them away? 

A tale of friendship and romance, this book will appeal to chick-lit and rom-com fans alike. Get lost in Ben and Megan's story.


Weekly Book Round Up! 28th July




 Weekly Book Round Up!

This has been a very exciting week for me because I discovered which authors will be at Leakycon London which I'm going to in a few weeks - can't wait! Plus I've been taking part in the New Adult Readathon which has been good fun. Check out all my updates from the past week below!

Currently reading:

 
Between Friends by Amanda Cowen

Reading this for the NA readathon and hoping I can finish it today!

NA Readathon books finished:
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Stitch by Samantha Durante

Other books finished:
Vortex by S. J. Kincaid

Books reviewed:
Program 13 by Nicole Sobon 

Bought:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Department 19 by Will Hill


Hollow Pike by James Dawson

These authors will all be at Leakycon so I caved and bought their books! I've been wanting to read Code Name Verity for ages and Department 19 was a book I didn't know much about, but after reading a free novella from the series I was hooked. Hollow Pike looks right up my street as well! Had to try and get the purple pages into the picture too. Purple is my favourite colour!

Library books:


The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner will also be at Leakycon. I adored Maggot Moon but haven't read anything else by her. Historical isn't usually my thing but I'm prepared to give it a try!
 
Kindle freebies:


 
Death by Jade Varden
Judgment by Jade Varden

I've read the first two books in this series so when  I saw the author was offering her books for free this week I snapped up the final two. Look forward to finishing the series!

Broken Promises by Dawn Pendleton
Hollowland by Amanda Hocking
Captured by Erica Stevens
Blood Singers by Tamara Rose Blodgett

These are all NA freebies I discovered throughout the readathon. Really excited to check them out, especially as some of them are dystopian/paranormal NA and I'm trying to break away from contemporary.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

NA Readathon Mini-Challenge: Cover Redesign



This week I've been taking part in the NA readathon and today's mini-challenge hosted by Big Book Little Book is to redesign an NA cover. Now, I'm not artistic in any way and the only thing I have at my disposal on my laptop right now is MS Paint, so you shall have to forgive my shoddy attempt! But this was good fun.

For the redesign I chose One Week by Nikki Van De Car

Original:



Redesign:



I liked the image of the map so wanted to get that in in some way (as it's a road trip novel!) and managed to keep some good old fashioned hand-holding. But I don't think I'll have anyone knocking on my door asking me to do cover designing anytime soon ;)

For more about the NA Readathon visit BookishTreasures and A Daydreamer's Thoughts. And thanks to Big Book Little Book for hosting this challenge!

Image source: Map, Holding Hands

News Round Up! 27th July


News Round Up!

Every week I recap the latest YA news stories that have grabbed my attention. See a round up of this week's stories below.

Fans of Jennifer L. Aremntrout's Lux series will be happy to hear that the rights to Obsidian have been bought by Sierra Pictures. Read more about this story over on Fandomsnews.com!

The authors for Leakycon London's Lit track were announced this week. Attending the Harry Potter conference in addition to the previously announced Dawn O'Porter and Elizabeth Wein will be Sally Gardner (author of Maggot Moon), Will Hill (author of the Department 19 series,) James Dawson (author of Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer), Matt Whyman (author of The Savages and Inside the Cage), Samantha Shannon (author of The Bone Season) and Laura Eve (author of Fearsome Dreamer). You can also now view the full Leakycon London schedule at this link. I'll be there so if you're not going then be sure to check the blog for Leakycon coverage!

The book trailer for All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill as was revealed this week. Watch the trailer below.

 
 
 
A movie poster for Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters was revealed this week. You can see the animated poster below and read more over at Hypable.com.
 
 
 
Two more actors have joined the cast of The Fault in Our Stars. Nat Wolff will play Isaac and Laura Dern will play Hazel's mother. What do you make of the latest casting? Are you happy with the picks so far? Read more on Hypable.com.
 
Which of these news stories are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Playlist: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

After I finished reading Dare You To by Katie McGarry, I was sunning myself in the garden (with factor 50, trying not to burn obviously!) and listening to my iPod, and it struck me how many songs were making me think about situations and characters in the book. The characters were still firmly rooted in my brain and I just couldn't stop applying songs to Beth and Ryan. At the end of Dare You To, Katie McGarry links to her own playlist for the book which you can find on her website here. Below is my own playlist with songs I love I felt fit the book. It was so fun to put together so I hope you enjoy it!

Anything but Ordinary by Avril Lavigne
Beth's song


To walk within the lines 
Would make my life so boring 
I want to know that I 
Have been to the extreme 
So knock me off my feet 
Come on now give it to me 
Anything to make me feel alive

The Writer by Ellie Goulding
Ryan's Song
 


Why don't you be the artist  
And make me out of clay  
Why don't you be the writer  
And decide the words I say
'Cause I'd rather pretend  
I'll still be there at the end  
Only it's too hard to ask 
Won't you try to help me
 
Figure 8 by Ellie Goulding
Beth and Ryan


Breathe your smoke into my lungs,
In the back of a car with you I stare into the sun,
Still not too old to die young,
But lovers hold on to everything,
And lovers hold on to anything

Give Me One Good Reason by Blink-182
People's reaction to Beth/her reaction to them


Mom and dad they quite don't understand it,
All the kids they laugh as if they planned it
Why do girls wanna pierce their nose?
And walk around in torn pantyhose? Oh yeah

  I like the ones who say they listen to the punk rock
I like the the kids who fight against how they were brought up
They hate the trends and think it's f***** to care,
It's cool when they p*** people off with what they wear, oh yeah

So give me one good reason,
Why we need to be like them 


Give Your Heart a Break by Demi Lovato
Beth's relationship fears


The day I first met you
You told me you'd never fall in love
But now that I get you
I know fear is what it really was

Now here we are,
So close yet so far.
Haven't I passed the test?
When will you realize,
Baby, I'm not like the rest?

Don't wanna break your heart
Wanna give your heart a break
I know you're scared it's wrong
Like you might make a mistake
There's just one life to live
And there's no time to wait, to wait

Breathe by Taylor Swift
Beth leaving friends and family behind



I see your face in my mind as I drive away,
Cause none of us thought it was gonna end that way.
People are people, and sometimes we change our minds.
But it's killing me to see you go after all this time.

Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine
Beth and Ryan



Happiness, hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled


 


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry



Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Author: Katie McGarry Website|Twitter
Published: 7 June 2013 (MiraInk)
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 470
Buy the paperback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...


My Review:
I absolutely adored McGarry's first book - Pushing the Limits - and I've been dying to read Dare You To ever since I finished that and read the sneak peak in the back. When it was made available for 99p on Kindle Daily Deal I grabbed it and couldn't wait to start! Dare You To follows Beth Risk who ends up being swept away from her friends and into a new life. There she meets school baseball star Ryan who has a penchant for dares, asking out Beth being one of them.

This is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series but it can be pretty much read as a standalone. If features appearances from Echo and Noah (who take centre stage in the first book) but the focus is on Beth and her story, and although she's introduced in book one, I don't think you'd miss out anything by not having read it.

Dare You To is told in alternating chapters between Ryan and Beth. The book opens with Ryan and his baseball teammates playing dares (as the title would suggest!) which is where the two main characters meet. They don't start off on the best footing and for the first few chapters the book flits between the two characters with little interaction of the two. I loved discovering more about Ryan and Beth's characters in these opening chapters.

Beth herself is an incredible character. I love that she is not perfect - far from it - but I really liked seeing that side of her that is full of attitude. She swears, drinks, smokes - you name it. But whilst she's this rebellious, outspoken character she also had an incredible vulnerability to which is touched on a lot in Dare You To. The relationship between Beth and her mother is heartbreaking and tackled some really hard-hitting issues. Beth is completely a victim of some pretty rubbish circumstances and really felt for her. The decisions she has to make throughout the story are so tough! But what's great about Beth is that she's smart, and she makes you laugh. There's so much more to her, and she develops so much during the course of the book. I loved the journey she went on and how the changes she went through endeared me to her even more!

I was totally a fan of Ryan too *swoon*. He may be the school baseball star, but it was his hidden writing ability that made me fall for him. The book is set during senior year and so Ryan has to face up to his future, and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to the choices he has to make. In Ryan's case, he must choose between playing baseball or following his academic potential. I thought the exploration of the pressure Ryan was feeling from his parents was really well done. It's all about self-discovery for him. Ryan also has some family drama going on and I loved the plot line surrounding Ryan's brother.

This may be a love story but it's far from your light and fluffy romance. Dare You To is an intense read that I found myself being completely swept up in. Not only do Beth and Ryan have their own personal demons to face up to, but the way they handle their feelings for each other makes for a pretty intense relationship too. I adore the way Katie McGarry can conjure up this fantastic chemistry between her characters. I felt it for Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits and I definitely got it when it came to Beth and Ryan. The sexual tension was incredible and they definitely had that spark!

People who have read Pushing the Limits, like me, will probably have been waiting to see what would happen with Beth and Isaiah. I suppose I expected them to be together, but Dare You To addresses their friendship and relationship perfectly and I think things were nicely wrapped up between them so that I understood why this story focuses on Beth and Ryan's relationship.

I've already talked about how much I loved Beth, but I thought there were some great themes addressed in Dare You To when it came to her. One was trust, and how Beth's ability to trust those around her has been tainted by her past. It was so sad to see her internal battle to trust people like her uncle Scott, her mum, Ryan and even best friend Isaiah. I loved the way the book looked at family, and how Beth and Ryan both have to conquer their family issues and how when you're a teenager, the weight of responsibility to hold everything together can be overwhelming. I really loved the friendship moments as well, from Beth and Isaiah's friendship to her ability to make and regain friends at her new school. I really loved Beth's friend Lacy and the dynamic between Ryan and his baseball buddies (and their teenage boy dares!).

I was absolutely absorbed in Dare You To and every time I put it down I just couldn't wait to get back to it. I love how it doesn't shy away from things like drink and drugs, abuse, sexuality and that it's full of true to life swear-y teens who get up to no good. Whilst it's an intense read, it's also an enjoyable one, because of the amazing characters and the fantastic chemistry. There were a lot of twists that had my heart in my mouth and I couldn't wait to find out what happened. Plus Ryan is my new favourite boy. Yes please. Katie's McGarry's books are definitely up there on my "must read" list and I'll be counting down the days til the release of the next installment (Crash Into You -Isaiah's story).

Rating: 5*
What to read next: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Books like this: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkes

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#5) Panic by Lauren Oliver

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine and gives bloggers a chance to highlight upcoming releases they're excited about.


 
Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published: 6th March 2014 (Hodder & Stoughton)
Amazon|Goodreads
 
Plot summary:
 Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most


I am pretty much sold on anything by Lauren Oliver, and this sounds incredible! I love that all her covers sort of match and tie in with each other too. What are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

New Adult Readathon: Update and Goals



This week the New Adult Readathon hosted by Bookish Treasures and A Daydreamer's Thoughts is taking place. I've been really looking forward to this one because my Kindle is jam packed with NA titles I've been dying to read and this gives me the perfect excuse! This post is a day late because I had a blog tour post yesterday, but I'll try and post throughout the week.

 Goals:
My aim is to read 2-3 books. I have a busy week so I'm not sure how many I'll manage, so that seems like an achievable target!

Possible reads:

Obviously there's a lot more on the list than I'll actually manage to read, but I wanted to have a good selection to choose from. I've included a few non-contemps as well in case I feel I need a switch of genre!

I'll update this post as I go along, as well as linking to any of the mini-challenges I manage to take part in.

Update 1: 23rd July
I'm currently reading Hopeless by Colleen Hoover which I started yesterday, and I'm having mixed feelings. I don't like Holder which I think is going to affect how I feel about the rest of the book. We'll see!

Update 2: 23rd July
I finished Hopeless and did not like it. Oh dear! Well onto the next one... I'm now reading Stitch by Samantha Durante. Looking forward to getting stuck in! The premise seems really interesting so far.

Update 3: 25th July
So yesterday was crazy busy so I didn't get a lot read! I did cheat a bit because I had a library book due back I needed to finish so I had to dive back into that. But now it's done and I'm free to get back to Stitch!

Update 4: 27th July
I've finished Stitch! Still getting my head around it because it was like no book I've ever read. Now onto Between Friends by Amanda Cowen!

Update: 29th July
Well the readathon is over and I've had such a good time! Plus I managed to finish Between Friends yesterday which brings my total up to three books. I'm so happy! I'm glad I got to take part in some mini challenges as well. See my cover redesign here and my synopsis rewrite here. Thanks to Faye and Laura for hosting a great event!

Monday, 22 July 2013

[Blog Tour] Review: Program 13 by Nicole Sobon

 
Today I'm excited to be part of the Program 13 blog tour hosted by Xpresso Tours! You can read my review below and don't forget to check out other stops on the tour at this link.






Program 13 by Nicole Sobon

Author: Nicole Sobon Website|Twitter
Published: 15 August 2012
Format: Kindle e-book
Pages: 316
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo|Nook
Buy the paperback: Amazon

Source: Received free copy for blog tour in exchange for review

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Two identities. One Body.
17-year-old Emile Reed, may have died, but she isn't dead. Her body now belongs to Program Thirteen, where her every thought, every movement, is controlled. Until Emile begins to find her way back inside of Thirteen's core, where she manages to fend off Thirteen’s programming to reclaim the life that she lost. But Charles McVeigh, the owner of Vesta Corp, isn’t willing to let Thirteen go. And he will stop at nothing to reclaim control of Thirteen's programming. Because without her, McVeigh has nothing.
What makes you human?


My Review:
I read the prequel novella to this story - Program 12 - and really enjoyed it, so I was super excited at a chance to participate in the blog tour for Program 13! The book tells the story of Emile Reed, who has died and been brought back to life as a "Program". Charles McVeigh of Vesta Corp is determined to create the perfect race of human looking computers, and he has his eyes set on Emile, or Project Thirteen as she is now known.

The book jumped straight into the action which I loved! There's a quick prologue where we get to see how Emile was killed and became a Program. I really liked the world building at the beginning of the story and how the idea of Programs was explained. The opening of the story shows Emile living as Program Thirteen inside Vesta Corp and surrounded by scientists. I'd been craving more sci-fi before I started this book and so I enjoyed getting completely wrapped up in the way the Programs worked.

The pace kept up as the rest of the story starts to unravel and it quickly became clear there was a lot more going on. I was completely hooked because there were so many characters I was curious about and whose motives I wanted to delve into. There's Program Thirteen herself, who is clearly something special judging by the reactions she gets from scientists. Then there's her caretaker Hayden who seems determined to help her and the evil Charles McVeigh who made a fantastic villain.

As the book moves on it changes pace and becomes a real survival tale with Emile on the run. I definitely enjoyed that different feel to it, plus this is where we get to meet Colton who I found to be a fascinating character with a great back story. I loved the bonding between him and Emile, because they're both trying to escape their lives so they have that in common. It's far from your typical boy/girl interaction because they're far more concerned with staying alive than anything else, so I liked that it became a really strong friendship.

I liked the way Emile's previous life was teased through memories and flashbacks. It helped keep that tension up and also gave you a chance to get to know her slowly. I think books where the character has memory issues can really excel at the world building because you learn everything at the same time the character does, and that was certainly a technique that worked well in Program 13. It was particularly sad reading about her memories of her family and Tommy. I really felt for her as she tried to adjust to her new life.

There were parts of the book that felt very much like a thriller which I loved, because it was so refreshing and not something I see a lot of in YA. There were all these action packed shoot outs which were brutal and fast placed, plus I loved all the sneaky, underhand tactics and conspiracies used by Vesta Corp. When Emile and Colton are on the run I had that constant fear for them and the suspense was constantly ramped up.

I adored the writing in Program 13 and how all the bits of the story started to piece together. It's not overly long so it made for quite a quick, fast-paced read. I really enjoyed the world the book takes place in, and I definitely look forward to discovering more about it in future books. I think I'd like to know a bit more about Vesta Corp and what takes place there and learn more about some of the other programs. I feel like there's so much potential for the characters. I'll definitely be checking out the next book!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: Program 12 by Nicole Sobon (prequel short story) Allegiance by Nicole Sobon (short story) and Deprogrammed by Nicole Sobon (sequel)
Books like this: The Host by Stephanie Meyer, What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang




About the Author

Nicole Sobon is the author of the Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and various short stories.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.nicolesobon.blogspot.ca/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4662951.Nicole_Sobon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicoleSobonAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicoleSometimes

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Weekly Book Round Up! 21st July


Weekly Book Round Up!

15th - 21st July

I've edited this post with the brand new logo that Daisy @ TMI Britain designed as a surprise for me! Isn't it gorgeous? I <3 the new design and I hope you do too. Now onto the round up! It's been a bit of a quiet week reading wise, although it nice to be able to read in the sun! I visited the National Railway Museum with family this week (which sounds more boring than it was!) and whilst I was there I spotted some great signs I just had to share!


Divergent references are everywhere these days!


And my personal favourite for obvious reasons!

So I had a lovely time! Now on to this week's bookish catch up. Here's what I've been reading and blogging about this week. I always love hearing from you in the comments so don't be shy!

Currently reading:


Vortex by S. J. Kincaid

This is the sequel to Insignia which I loved!

Books finished:
Rory by Ciye Cho
The Wolfstone Curse by Justin Richards

Books reviewed:

Other posts:

Saturday, 20 July 2013

News Round Up! 20th July



This is my latest round up of bookish news that's popped up on my radar over the week. As always, I love hearing your thoughts on the news stories I feature!

The UK and US covers for Panic by Lauren Oliver were revealed this week over on Goodreads. See the UK cover below and read Lauren Oliver's Tumblr post about it at this link.


And in more cover news, the brand new US cover for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been revealed. See it below and read the story on Mugglenet.



Veronica Roth revealed at Comic Con that Allegiant will be written from both Tris and Four's point of view. You can see the announcement she tweeted below. Comic Con takes place in San Diego this week and will feature panels from many YA fandoms. Hypable recaps the YA author events at this link.

http://twitter.com/veronicaroth


USA Today has revealed the first look at Kate Winslet from Divergent. Winslet will be appearing as Jeanine in the upcoming adaptation of Veronica Roth's book. See the image over on Hypable.com. You can see more images from Divergent, including a look at Maggie Q as Tory, on Hypable too.

Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, a History, has revealed she is working on a fiction book. Anelli announced the news via a Reddit AMA and then shared it with Twitter followers. The book is being cowritten with Julia Albain, author of A Glamorously Unglamorous Life. As a huge fan of Harry, a History, and Anelli's work in the Harry Potter fandom, I'm very excited by this news!

http://twitter.com/melissaanelli http://twitter.com/julsmarietells

The Cuckoo's Calling has been given a second print run to meet the demands of book shops who are struggling to cope with the announcement that the pen name Robert Galbraith belonged to J. K. Rowling. Will you be reading it? I love crime so I can't wait to check it out! I'm currently 4th in my library queue which doesn't seem too bad considering. Read more on Publishers Weekly. It was also revealed how the leak of Robert Galbraith's real identity came about. Law firm Russel's owned up to the indiscretion. Read about that story over on the Bookseller.

New character posters for the upcoming Catching Fire adaptation have been released. See them over on Fandomsnews.com.

Details of The Mortal Instruments mall tour were revealed this week. The tour will be visiting four cities across the US. The tour will give fans to meet the actors before the film releases in August. Find out more and read the dates over on PageToPremiere.





Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin




 A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Author: Trish Cook Website|Twitter Brendan Halpin Website|Twitter
Published: 23 July 2013 (EgmontUSA)
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 288
Buy the hardback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle

Source: Received free copy from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.


My Review:
This was available to read now on NetGalley and when I saw the plot summary, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. A Really Awesome Mess follows Emmy and Justin as they navigate their way through life at Heartland Academy, a boarding school slash inpatient therapy unit where they have some pretty tough issues to address in their lives.

The book is written in first person and alternates chapters between Emmy and Justin's point of view. I've said it before and I'll say it again; I love multi-POV books! Especially when you get it from both a guy and a girl's perspective. The first person was really effective at getting inside the two characters' heads as well, something that was vital to understand what they're thinking and going through.

What was completely refreshing about A Really Awesome Mess is that Emmy and Justin are two pretty brash characters. When we first meet them they're pretty rude and obviously quite messed up. I love books that tackle really tough issues and this book manages to do that so well. There's nothing sugar-coated about what Emmy and Justin are going through and that really comes across in the way they speak and their stubborn attitudes as they enter therapy. Not once did it put me off them as characters, however, because I found the both to be fascinating people in sucky situations.

Emmy is battling an eating disorder which is something she's pretty much in complete denial about. This book comes with a pretty big trigger warning because you get right inside her head whilst she's having really negative thoughts. But having known friends with eating disorders, I could recognise Emmy's way of life instantly and it's clear it's been well researched and well represented. I really felt for her situation and her insecurities. Emmy is Chinese and was adopted from China by her parents who thought they couldn't have kids biologically, until Emmy's sister Joss came along leaving Emmy feeling like the black sheep of the family. I also did a little high-five at the diversity in this book.

Justin's problems were just as interesting to me. He arrives in therapy after what he describes as an attention seeking suicide attempt. A lot of his story centres around the issues he has with sex, after his dad caught him doing something with a girl he probably shouldn't be doing, and I thought it was great to be tackling a teenage boy's attitude to sex in that way. There's also the underlying problem of Justin's depression, which was something I was really glad to be seeing portrayed, because people don't think about men having depression. There were some really heart-breaking moments when he hits his lows. As a character I really liked Justin. He has a pretty sharp tongue and doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to talking about those kind of things. He also has a wicked sense of humour and I would find myself constantly laughing at some of the stuff he comes out with.

Whilst the book does dive head first into some pretty intense topics, that humour is something that is dotted throughout the story so this doesn't feel like a depressing read. It has touches of that dark humour as the therapy kids take the mick out of each other. I loved that. I think people can be worried about offending people but in reality, sometimes you have to laugh your way through those dark moments and situations. There's also some really fun moments as the kids rally together to try and enjoy themselves and make the most of the privileges they have.

What really works in A Really Awesome Mess is the way that Emmy and Justin are completely on the same wave length. They instantly strike up a bond because they have the same sense of humour and the same attitude to being in therapy. They're not afraid to tell each other and other people what they think as well. Obviously the bond between them plays a huge part and there's a little touch of something more there, but the two of them have so much going on in their lives that it isn't a typical  boy-meets-girl-and-falls-in-love thing. It's about overcoming the barriers in order to be in a place where they can act upon those feelings.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between the therapy kids as well. They all have different things going on yet they can bond over being stuck somewhere they don't want to be. I loved how each character got a fair bit of attention so we could follow their individual stories, despite the main focus being on Emmy and Justin. I particularly liked Jenny's story and found Chip to be a hilarious addition.

I can't write this review and not mention all the little references thrown in that made me *squeee*. Firstly, there's a tonne of Harry Potter references which is something that was always going to make me smile. They're present throughout the whole story and I loved how they could relate so many situations to Harry Potter. There's also some great references to other books I know or I've heard of which I just loved stumbling across. It just made me feel like I was on the same wave length as the authors.

The only time the book didn't work for me was when some of the exposition was done using dialogue and it slowed it down a little. There's obviously a lot of backstory to get across and sometimes it felt a bit squished and distracted me from the plot. Otherwise, this is a book that is definitely very "me" and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I really recommend A Really Awesome Mess because it has the perfect balance of humour and real teen issues, with fantastic characters and a real sense of empowerment among them.


Rating: 4*
Books like this: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Wintergirls by Laure Halse Anderson
What to read next: So Lyrical by Trish Cook, Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey


 The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Author: Rick Yancey Website|Twitter
Published:7 May 2013 (Puffin)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 460
Buy the paperback: Amazon|BookDepository
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Borrowed from library

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.


My Review:
It's been impossible to avoid the hype surrounding this book. It seems everyone, everywhere was talking about it and raving about it and so I've been itching to read The 5th Wave ever since it started popping up on my radar! The world is being attacked by the "Others" who have wiped out most of the human population in "waves". Now alone and on the run facing the 5th wave, Cassie must fight to survive against all the odds.

I tried to go into this book with an open mind, because when a book is so hyped up the last thing you want is to build it up in your head and end up disappointed. I'd already read the opening chapters in a chapter sampler of the book that was available for free so I knew I was going to like the beginning. The opening to the story follows Cassie as she faces her current battle to survive in the wilderness and reflects on her past and what has happened up to that point.

I loved the glimpses into those early days of the alien invasion where she and her friend Lizbeth are balancing the threat of the end of the world with everyday teenage worries, like that fact they won't have had a boyfriend before they die. It was really heartbreaking reading about how Cassie became separated from her family and I loved the scenes where we get to see what they were like before waves that stole those close to her. I particularly loved the bond she has with her brother Sammy and how that fear she has for him keeps her going throughout the book.

Cassie herself was a real highlight. I loved how level headed she was and how she could focus on what needed to be done. There's this whole situation where everyone is fascinated by the Others and she talks about the Youtube and Twitter generation going crazy for these aliens and speculating what they might be like, whereas Cassie herself couldn't care less; she just wants to survive. Throughout the book that attitude really drew me to her and her parts of the book were my favourite.

Although the majority of the story is told from Cassie POV, the book switches around quite a lot between characters and perspectives. The first time it did that I was totally confused because it was still using the first person and I had no idea we'd switched to a different character until he started referring to himself as a he. That particular time I could forgive it because the mystery of who it was was a good twist that totally surprised me and made for an enjoyable chapter, but it did it several times throughout the book and sometimes I would get a bit lost.

It also switched between third and first person for some of the characters. I can see why it was done because the different voices had different effects and worked well for the different characters, but it added to the feeling of being a bit disjointed. The positives of all this jumping around was that you got to see what was happening in every part of the story with all the different characters, and there was a lot of different things going on. I did find myself waiting to get back to Cassie's parts, though, because I felt those were the strongest parts of the book.

From the beginning of The 5th Wave I was expecting a survival tale, because that's it starts out as. As the book moves along, however, it becomes so much more. The second half was definitely a lot more gritty and complex as it comes to light just what is going on in the bigger picture. There were some really heart-wrenching scenes, especially seeing what happened to the younger characters in the story. There was plenty of conspiracy and action too that I wasn't expecting but which pleasantly surprised me.

Each character had their own personal story that made you connect with them, whether it be Cassie's mission to reach her brother, Evan's heartbreak at losing his girlfriend or Ben's regrets over leaving his sister. I definitely came to care about each individuals story.  I loved the sense of paranoia and that nobody could really trust each other. I think Cassie and Evan's storyline was the greatest example of that and the reason why it became one of my favourites.

There were some great, unique ideas throughout The 5th Wave and it felt like this complex web that slowly unravelled. I was constantly waiting on the edge of my seat for the epic conclusion, and I got plenty of action, although it was more subtle than I was expecting. I think I enjoyed the first part of the book a little bit more, when the focus was on Cassie and her survival in the wild. The book felt very visual and I could really see it working well as a film because that's how it played out in my head. The only downside really was how disjointed the book felt times, with the characters and the timeline jumping about a bit. I think it's a book that would benefit from a re-read.

This was a hard review to write because it was definitely an enjoyable read, and it's definitely my type of book. There were just parts that were maybe a little different to what I was expecting. It's definitely a strong book full of gripping ideas and great characters, though. The ending left plenty of potential for the sequel and I'm really excited to see where it goes.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: The next book in the series is scheduled for publication in 2014
Books like this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Icons by Margaret Stohl

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#4) Crash Into You by Katie McGarry



Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine and gives bloggers a chance to highlight future releases we're excited about.


Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Published: 1st November 2013 (MiraInk)

Plot summary: The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.
 
 
I just finished Dare You To this weekend so how could I not choose this book?! Especially given that Dare You To had a teaser of this book at the back which totally had me hooked. So far I've been blown away by Katie McGarry's writing and the amazing chemistry creates between characters. This book will be Isaiah's story and I can't wait to find out more about him!
 
What book are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments, and if you have your own post then link me up and I'll be sure to stop by!
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