Monday, 31 October 2011

Summer of Supernatural

It's starting. The cold weather is slowly leaving us and Summer is poking its head around the corner. What better way to celebrate the happy, hot weather than with an exciting paranormal adventure? That's right, Harper Collins is running the Summer of Supernatural and it can be found here on Facebook!

Fun paranormal exclusives, including covers and book blurbs, trailers, author interviews and heaps more.

The Summer of Supernatural kicks off on November 1st (tomorrow) with an awesome chat with author Claudia Gray. (1pm Australian EST) I'm super excited about it. Loved Claudia's 'Evernight' series and Fateful is amazing!

To join in the fun, all you have to do is 'like' the Summer of Supernatural Facebook page.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Working Stiff - Rachel Caine.

Working Stiff (Revivalist, #1)
Working Stiff (Revivalist #1) - Rachel Caine
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 5/5 stars

Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.

With the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead... (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
The blurb for 'Working Stiff' does not do it justice. When I read that there was a drug that resurrects the dead, images of zombies and brains for dinner flashed across my mind. I've never really jumped on the zombie bandwagon, but I'm a big fan of Rachel Caine's 'Morganville' series and really wanted to see what her new adult series was like. Oh, My God. I ADORED 'Working Stiff'; it wasn't at all what I was expecting (no eating brains, which is always a positive in my books). If I hadn't needed to sleep a few times, I wouldn't have put the book down.

Pharmaceutical company, Pharmadene, has created a wonder drug (Returné) that brings people back from the dead. There is a problem though, someone from the company is secretly supply Fairview Mortuary with Returné, and they are reviving their clients. This is where the idea of Zombies started crossing my mind, but the drug doesn't turn dead people into mindless beings. Returné is not a one time only shot. If you start taking it, you're taking it for life; literally. Without a booster shot every day, you run the risk of slowly decomposing within 4-6 days. Revived beings depend upon Pharmadene's drug to survive. Luckily the drug makes you relatively indestructible; there's always a plus side to being dead. It's a sort of gross but cool reality, in terms of excitement and emotional pull in the book. In a way 'Working Stiff' is like a paranormal-zombie sci-fi book with the potential to turn into a dystopia if the Pharmadene finds a way to use Returné to rule the world.

Leading lady, Bryn Davis, brings excitement, mystery and so much emotion to the story. I was a little wary at first, I wasn't sure what to expect from the ex-military-turned-funeral-director; but I loved her almost immediately. What I enjoyed about Bryn was that she didn't just accept everything new happening around her. It's not easy to be thrown into a crazy world where people come back from the dead, and she reacts in perfectly normal ways, like having emotional break-downs. I also really liked that she has a dog, Mr. French. You don't see a lot of books where characters have pets, and it made me love Bryn just a little bit more for having a dog that she made sure to check on, even when she's in shock beyond anything you could imagine.

You can't help getting caught up in the events. You're on the edge of your seat trying to work out who the mysterious supplier is, wondering how Pharmadene grew into such a large facility full of paranoid employees and extreme security systems; and hoping Bryn and McCallister will finally get a few minutes alone so they can admit their feelings for each other.

I loved 'Working Stiff', can't wait to see what happens next.
5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Lover Revealed - J.R. Ward

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood #4) -J.R. Ward
Grade: Adult- PNR
Rating: 5/5 stars

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world-to engage in the turf war with the lessers. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. And if he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers.

But fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he's found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I put off reading ‘Lover Revealed’ for so long and I’m angry at myself for doing so. It was a really good story. I love Butch, he’s funny and sensitive and SUPER sexy, and I should have known his time in the spotlight would be just the same.

I love the relationship between Butch and Vishous. They’re two guys who really connect with each other. The Brotherhood seem to be friends, although sometimes they get very frustrated with one of more brothers; but Butch and V have formed a very strong brother-like bond (sometimes it hints at more, but I doubt it’ll actually go that way; especially when you see how much Butch loves Marissa). It’s interesting to watch them interact with each other.

I was really impressed with the way Marissa develops. She’s so innocent and sheltered, having only really had contact with Wrath for most of her life. I know her brother was around and she was active in the community, but she hadn’t really lived. You see her get past the social boundaries she’s so used to, and while I was annoyed at her a few times for trying to stop Butch from fighting, she really stepped up as a person.

I thought there were a heap of twists in the last book, but so much happens that I wasn't expecting in Butch’s book. They kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through the book. I kept trying to guess what would happen next and was desperate to find out how the story would end.

Despite how important the lessers are in ‘Lover Revealed’ they didn't annoy me as much as they have in the past. I don’t know if that’s because I'm accepting their role in the series more, or the fact that they weren’t in the story is much as in previous books; but either way I found them a lot easier to handle.

Really looking forward to Vishous’s book.
5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Lover Awakened - J.R. Ward

Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3)
Lover Awakened  (Black Dagger Brotherhood #3) - J.R. Ward
Grade: Adult - PNR
Rating: 5/5 stars

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.
Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her… (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
I can honestly say I'm shocked by 'Lover Awakened'. So many things happened that I never could have imagined. I thought the previous book was good with its twist at the end, but 'Lover Awakened' topped that. While I managed to guess the paths of a few twists, some had my jaw hitting the floor. I'm so glad this series isn't as predictable as I originally thought it might be.

Zsadist has such a troubling past. I guess I should say Phury does too, as their lives as twins are so connected, it's hard to escape each other. I love seeing their past through flashbacks and watching them attempt to move on. There's more to the Brotherhood than their warrior facade.

I cannot believe how many heart breaking moments were in this book. I had to stop reading a few times, because I couldn't handle the pain. I hope there's a happier future set for some of the characters in the next books.

I think a reason why I liked Zsadist's book so much was partly because there wasn't as much lesser involvement as the previous two books. They were still in the novel and did have a pretty important role in helping the Brothers overcome the fear of being held captive (especially for Zsadist and Phury); but towards the end of the novel they moved out of the focus and it made the ending more enjoyable.

I am a little confused about the way 'Lover Awakened' ended. There was a lot of time jumping in the final pages and it made me wonder where the next book will pick up the story from. Will it being where the main story ended, or after the time jump?

Such a good story. I adore Zsadist and Bella.
5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

If I Die - Rachel Vincent

If I Die (Soul Screamers #5) - Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

The entire school's talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee's no ordinary high-school junior. She's a banshee—she screams when someone dies.
But the next scream might be for Kaylee.
Yeah—it's a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee's going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend's needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren't quite human, either.
But Kaylee's borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life. Anything. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
What would you do if you were told you had 6 days to live? You’re not sick, you’re not dying; all you know is that something will happen in 6 days, and you will no longer live. Would you change your life; would you change yourself? ‘If I Die’ explores this confronting and heartbreaking issue for Kaylee Cavanaugh, with the added bonus of supernatural forces attempting to complicate her last few days. Rachel Vincent does an amazing job of continuing Kaylee’s journey and completely flips the Soul Screamers story. There were more twists and turns than I could possibly imagine; I’m still trying to process everything that happened.

Death’s not exactly unusual for a Soul Screamers novel, but it’s harder to handle when Kaylee’s the one we’re excepting to die. Not many novels in an on-going series present the possibility of narrators dying, so it’s impossible to put ‘If I Die’ down until you’ve finished the book. There is no way to tell if Kaylee will live or not and I was dying (no pun intended) to find out what happens next.

I can’t believe how emotional ‘If I Die’ was. I should have been expecting it, because Rachel Vincent has a way of getting into your head and heart. Her stories are so powerful and they influence you so much. Death, saying goodbye and letting go of your life are all magnified through the relationships Kaylee is a part of; and I’m not just talking about her love life. Family, friends and loved ones; you’ll definitely be reaching for the tissue box. Kaylee’s dad touched me the most, his pain at the thought of losing her made me ache.

Speaking of pain, I think the hardest parts of ‘If I Die’ were the romantic issues Kaylee faces. It’s not secret to readers that Kaylee has both Hudson boys trying to gain her love, trust and attention; and this is what killed me while reading the book. I’ve always been a Nash fan. I feel like there’s something so sad and troubling about him, he’s had a tough life and has made a few mistakes in the recent past, but despite this I can’t help loving him. Then there’s Tod, who you can’t hate. He’s funny, yet serious, and willing to do anything for the people he loves; and I’ve always felt sort of bad for him because he always seems lonely. That being said, I’m torn by the relationships in ‘If I Die’, I hate thinking that one of the Hudson brothers will be hurt because of their love for Kaylee. At this point in time, my loyalty stays with Nash. (Sorry Tod, you’re still awesome though).

I love Sabine. In ‘My Soul to Steal’ I thought she was horrible. While extremely entertaining, I wanted to hate her because she stood in the way of Kaylee/Nash happiness. But I found I adored her in ‘If I Die’. I love that she doesn’t hide what she’s thinking and that she’s super loyal to the people she loves. I’m glad my opinion has changed, because Sabine’s pretty cool.

I’m super shocked by the way the book ended, but more of a “WOW!” shocked than an “OMG”. Although ‘Before I Wake’ won’t be out until next year, I can’t wait to see what happens next. I guess there’s plenty of time to reread the series before the next instalment.

5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Shift - Jeri Smith-Ready

Shift (Shade #2) - Jeri Smith-Ready
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Aura's life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can't deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she's not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past—the mystery of the Shift.

As Aura's search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets…and her heart. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
'Shift' is an unbelievable sequel to 'Shade'. Once again I had a heap of trouble putting it down. I had to force myself to sleep last night instead of reading throughout the night (I wish I'd kept reading). Jeri Smith-Ready takes us on another wild emotional ride to try and uncover more of the Shift's mystery and how the ghosts function in the human world. I so happy that 'Shift' met the expectations I had after finishing 'Shade'. Never a dull moment. There was action, mystery and romance; and so emotional, I was in tears at the end.

I love the idea of solstices and equinoxes being so important with the Shift. I know the solstices were important in 'Shade' too, but they hit me harder in book 2 (I'll admit I had flashbacks to my young teen years when my sister and I obsessed about solstices and wicca.) Really enjoyed all those moments.

So many twists that left me more curious than before (and at times left me shocked and heartbroken). I love when stories take dramatic turns you're not expecting, it makes everything so exciting and really hard to put the book down. Most of these twists help to unravel the secrets of the Shift, but at times I wondered if we really had all the information. It seems like there are still a few pieces of the puzzle missing; which is awesome because that means more excitement in the next book.

After 'Shade' I had mixed feelings and theories about who Aura would end up with. Both guys are awesome and you can't help loving Logan and Zachary, as they both bring so much to the story. I loved seeing Logan's music passion spring up once again, he's got skills; and Zach's ability to comfort Aura (despite some issues) makes me melt. It's hard to think that only one guy can really win the girl; but 'Shift' has helped me make my choice. I'm in love with the Scotsman, so Team Kilt!

Can't wait to see what happens next. I'm dying for 'Shine'
5/5 stars.

Originally posted on Goodreads

Monday, 3 October 2011

Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

Shade (Shade #1) - Jeri Smith-Ready
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift. (Description from Goodreads.)

 ~ * ~ * ~
Wow. I think that’s the best way to describe how I feel about ‘Shade’. I love the concept of 'Shade'. It's a fantastic mix of hauntingly-spooky moments (as to be expected when ghosts are involved) and sweet tragic-romance that leaves you tingling. Add to that the mystery of the Shift and you’ve got yourself an awesome story that you can’t put down. An emotional story, full of love and sadness, and that left me wanting more.

Aura Salvatore lives in a changed world. The minute of her birth marks the start of this change, where children are now born with the ability to see and talk to ghosts (violet spectral beings that can only haunt places they visited in their living days). A cool skill, right? Well there’s a downside. Ghosts can’t see or talk to other ghosts so it means these kids, none of which are older than Aura’s own 16 (almost 17) years; which means ghosts spend a lot of time trying to talk to these kids, the Post-Shifters.

Aura can deal with all the ghost madness though, as long as she doesn’t face a Shade: a ghost who turns dark, black instead of violet, and who now has no limitations in the world except for obsidian and the colour red. Shade’s a scary things, dangerous and make you sick. Aura’s faced a few and I can’t imagine how she feels coming in contact with one.

Enter the guys: Logan Keeley, long term boyfriend and music god, who unfortunately has a sad beginning and faces heartbreaking moments throughout the book. And Zachary Moore, Scottish exchange student who may hold some answers to Aura’s burning desire to uncover the mystery to the Shift. As a story that has a large focus on romance, the loss of a loved one and the potential for new love, it’s hard not to focus on the guys. ‘Shade’ is another one of those YA books where you can't pick one guy over the other and part of me loves and hates that feeling. I love it because there’s never that moment when you’re thinking “Gee, I hope the other guy turns up soon.” But I hate the idea that one guy is going to be picked in the end and I have no idea who it will be, but I know someone's going to end up hurt and that kills me. When Aura's with Logan you melt. He's saying all these sweet things about staying with her...for her, and you can't help but sigh. But then Zachary pops up, and he's this mystery man with a cute accent and an extremely large amount of patience and makes you shiver and smile.

I love how the cause of the Shift is still unknown. One minute kids couldn’t see ghosts and the next certain kids could. I can’t wait to find out more of the mystery, especially considering it seems to involve so many factors and people.

Awesome start to the series; can’t wait to dive into the next one.

5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
I am in awe of Stephanie Perkins. She's created another fantastic story that you can't help losing yourself in. I didn't want to put the book down and had to force myself to go to sleep last night because my eyes didn't want to stay open. 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' explores the idea of first love and second chances, and Stephanie couldn't have done it better than by setting up a romance between neighbours; who better to fall for than the boy next door?

Lola and Cricket are adorable to read. Despite being awkward around each other, the idea of never truly being able to let go of your first love makes all those little moments more enjoyably. They have a history to overcome and a love rediscover. Although there are obstacles in their path, to see them push through problems and find each other waiting at the end was so uplifting, you can't help smiling every time they're on the same page. It's so easy to get caught up in their journey; I wish it hasn't ended.

I admire Lola. Not only is she talented (I thought I was pretty good at sewing, but Lola has insanely awesome skills in the creative fashion department), but she's found a way to express herself at such a young age. While she questions who she is throughout the novel, it's obvious her doubts will be short lived. She is who she wants to be and that's part of what makes her so cool.

I loved seeing Anna and Etienne again. It was nice to see what they're up to and knowing they're happy and together still made me smile.

A heart-warming, adorable romance story that I will be recommending to everyone. A book to read over and over again.
5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads

Shelf Candy Saturday #1

Shelf Candy Saturday is a weekly meme hosted by Five Alarm Book Reviews
The aim is to post about covers you love, new or rules, no obligations, just lots of cover love.

Kim and I are trying really hard to get ourselves out in the books world, and we've come across a lot of weekly memes that we're dying to participate in (if only there was enough time to do so). This weekend we picked Shelf Candy Saturday. It seems like a fun way to promote cover love.

It took a long time to decide what series would be featured in our first Shelf Candy Saturday, there are just so many good book covers in the world. But I finally decided on Becca Fitzpatrick's 'Hush, Hush' series. I picked 'Hush, Hush' for 2 reasons: 

  1. 'Silence' comes out on Tuesday & I'm VERY excited for that. 'Silence' is book 3 in the 'Hush, Hush' series and my favourite of the 3 covers. I can't wait to find out what happens next and to spend time with Patch.

  2. I just love the covers. The use of dark colours with the red feathers; the backdrops and the profile images makes the covers look really dramatic.

During the editing and publishing course Kim and I took earlier in the year, we were learning about cover design and were told to bring in an example of good cover design and then the class would vote. I decided to bring in 'Hush, Hush' and it came in second for best cover. 

A bit about the designer: 
James Porto is the fantastic designer for the 'Hush, Hush' series. I think he's done an amazing job. You can view more of his work Here. There are 2 folders of his work 'Real' and 'Unreal'; both have amazing photos, so I would recommend checking them out.