Saturday, 31 December 2011

Favourite books of 2011!

As I'm typing this, 2011 is coming to a close; only 7 hours to go. As the last day of the year, Kerrie and I thought it'd be a good idea to post our favourite books for 2011. There were a lot to pick from and it's tough narrowing it down to just a few. We've picked the Top 10 for YA and Top 10 adult books, so here they are (in no particular order).

Top 10 YA
1. Forsaken - Jana Oliver
2. Bloodlines - Richelle Mead
3. Divergent - Veronica Roth
4. Emblaze - Jessica Shirvington
5. Last Breath - Rachel Caine

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
7. Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare
8. Silence - Becca Fitzpatrick
9. Unearthly - Cynthia Hand
10. Shift - Jeri Smith-Ready

Honourable mentions also go out to books I read this year that weren't actually published in 2011 as well as a few that I wanted to add to the list above but were bumped for things I loved a bit more:
Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready, the first 3 Soul Screamers books - Rachel Vincent, Delirium - Lauren Oliver, Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi, Along for the Ride/The Truth About Forever/Just Listen - Sarah Dessen, Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins, Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Top 10 Adult

1. Archangel's Consort - Nalini Singh
2. Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning
3. Blood Bound - Rachel Vincent
4. Magic Slays - Ilona Andrews
5. One Grave at a Time - Jeaniene Frost

6. The Shadow Reader - Sandy Williams
7. Working Stiff - Rachel Caine
8. Archangel's Blade - Nalini Singh
9. Iron Crowned - Richelle Mead
10. Eternal Rider - Larissa Ione

Honourable mentions:
Guild Hunter series - Nalini Singh, the entire Shifters series - Rachel Vincent, the rest of the Night Huntress series - Jeaniene Frost, all Kate Daniels books - Ilona Andrews, Mightnight's Daughter/Death's Mistress - Karne Chance, Working Stiff - Rachel Caine, Thorn Queen - Richelle Mead

Looking forward to a fabulous reading year in 2012.
Happy New Year!

Kerrie & Kim

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and BoneDaughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
  (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~
An absolutely amazing book! I’d heard a lot of great things about this book and I’m pleased to say all my expectations were met. You cannot help falling in love with Karou and following her on her journey; discovering new things about herself and the world she knows little about.

Imagine living between two worlds. One is out world, the world we know where people go to school, watch TV, and use mobile phones. The other is a world beyond; a workshop set outside the existence of our realm, where creatures live and create magic – wishes – and collect teeth. This is Karou’s life. Raised in the workshop with the Wishmonger, Brimstone. Karou knows there is more to like than just the human world, but little does she know that the life of the workshop is just the beginning.

‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ is a crazy book. You’re thrown into the story immediately and are left to discover Karou’s world from her actions: opening portals into Brimstone’s workshop, using scuppies and graviels (types of wishes) to give someone un-pluckable eyebrows or turning hair blue. And yet, you’re still left with questions, even as Karou’s actions start to explain the story’s setting. This is mostly because Karou has been left in the dark for so long, she’s still learning about her life and we get to experience that with her.

I love the way we find out the answers to Karou’s mysteries. You’ll be reading, excited about what’s to come and suddenly a line will reveal the next clue to the past and future and the first half of the book will make more sense. It is the type of book where every little movement and detail has meaning, and you become lost from all the facts you might be missing, but the revelations towards the end of the book transforms the beginning into a buh of information.

I adore flashback scenes, they always manage to make a story slightly more exciting than it was before, because you know the main character is still kicking and you get to experience their emaions and actions as though from another life. Laini Taylor does this perfectly in ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’. You almost forget you’re looking into the past and I’ll admit I was disappointed to be thrown back into the present at times because I was so attached to the past.

How can I write a review without mentioning Akiva? Wow, I don’t think I’ve read such an intense YA male lead in a long time. Without giving too much away – because I believe it’d be a lot better for readers to uncover his character by themselves – Akiva is a mysterious, dangerous, but gentle being who moves you beyond all else in this novel. I love him.

Dying to know what happens next. The end of this book came way too soon.

5/5 stars (I’d rate higher, but that exceeds my rating system)

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 30 December 2011

Dark Angel - Eden Maguire

Dark Angel (Dark Angel, #1)Dark Angel - Eden Maguire
Grade: YA
Rating: 3/5 stars

Tania's heart belongs to Orlando. Nothing can rip them apart. Until the seduction begins in a flurry of glamour and magic, music and parties all orchestrated by the mysterious and mesmerising Zoran, an iconic rock star who has retired to a remote ranch in the nearby mountains. And there Tania meets the dark side. Can she resist temptation? 

~ * ~ * ~

I’m a fan of the Angel genre. It’s something that is growing in popularity these days and with the title ‘Dark Angel’ I was expecting something very angel focused. I will tell you now, if you’re looking for a book that has a strong angel storyline, this isn’t the book for you. While angel imagery and the “dark” side come through loud and clear; the actual appearance of angels is sort of lacking.

I had a few issues with the plot of this book. While it had an extremely interesting concept, it just didn’t seem to go far enough for me. A retired, mysterious rock star (Zoran) moves into a mountain district and attract the attention of the entire teen population to the point where the main character (Tania) considers he is a cult leader, drawing all her friends to the dark side. It is obvious from the start that there is going to be a supernatural element to the story too; so you start asking yourself if this is actually a supernatural cult or is there more Tania must try to uncover?

Sounds really dark and uncertain; But Tania takes almost the entire book to grab onto this need to find out the real meaning behind Zoran’s appearance in her town. Despite having concerns and voicing them every second page; she spends too much time pushing them aside and ignoring her instincts – to avoid Zoran – to run away. While part of this avoiding issue gets explained throughout the end of the book, it made Tania come off as weak; to have all these thoughts and want to do something about them, but to do nothing (eg. She’s aware for most of the novel that something is not quite right with Zoran and his residence, and yet knowing she has to stay away, knowing her parents and boyfriend are telling her it’d be better to not go near Zoran, Tania decides on multiple occasions to visit his home alone.

I was drawn in by the mysterious Zoran. You don’t quite know who or what he is for so long and you wait impatiently for Tania to stumble across the answer. While I’m not desperate for the next book, I will be looking out for It to see what happens with Zoran; the ending left me wondering.

3/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) - Ilona Andrews
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic . . .
One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy . . .(Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I really loved Magic Bites. I was concerned at the start, because little of the magical world is explained up front, you have to learn throughout the story what is happening and how. But after a few pages there's no way to put the book down.

A mystery and action story, Magic Bites shows a world that has developed into two zones: the tech zone and magic zone; where society is used to the shifting of power and magic on a daily basis. Trouble comes in the form of magical beings, whether the necromancers controlling vampires or the shapechangers ruled by the Beast Lord or something completely different and unknown. And throughout this novel, trouble comes as we watch Kate try and uncover the mystery of her guardian's supernatural murder.

Kate Daniels (Guild mercenary, temporary Order employee and women on a mission) is a fabulous protagonist. She has a way of getting into your head. You imagine a sword wielding tough chick can overcome anything, but Kate shows there's vulnerability in everyone. Tough impressions don't always make a fearless person. While Kate is a strong woman, she in not immune to fears and that humanizes her.

I cannot get enough of Curran. I find him centred, in control of himself and the Pack, and yet his cheeky side surfaces so much around Kate that you can't help but smile when he makes an appearance. And I think he fixes roofs just fine; I'd certainly wouldn't take the hammer away from him.

4.5/5 stars (because of the slow beginning) Can't wait to get into the next one.

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 18 December 2011

In My Mailbox #5

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

It's that time of the week again. Here's all the goodies from my mailbox for the last week.

Fate's Edge - Ilona Andrews

The third book in Ilona Andrews' series "The Edge". I discovered Ilona Andrews earlier this year with her Kate Daniels series (which I adore) and followed it up with the first two Edge books (On the Edge and Bayou Moon). 

I'm looking forward to reading Fate's Edge and diving back into the crazy world Andrews has created.  

Crave - Melissa Darnell

I saw this book a few weeks ago on Facebook on Harlequin Australia's teen page. I couldn't resist buying it when I was in Big W last week.     Can't wait to see if it's as good as everyone's saying it is. 

(On a side note, if you cruise books sites a lot like I do, you might notice the Australian cover of Crave looks a lot like the cover for Dark Companion by Marta Acosta. It happens sometimes, I just hope it's not like the Aussie Dark Angel/Goddess Test situation, where both books were released at the same time with the exact same cover, makes viewing in store confusing)

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

I've already finished this one (and had to push aside a few other books in order to do so). Loved it, even though there were times when I was dying. Cassandra Clare knows how to make you react to characters. If you haven't read any of her books, I definitely suggest you do. They're awesome. 

Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill

I've been wanting to read Some Girls Bite for months. It's the first book in the Chicagoland Vampires series. Had a little difficulty getting the book, but after a bit of talking to The Book Depository, it finally arrived. Can't wait to start it, I've been looking for another good vampire series to read and this might be it. 

The Pledge - Kimberly Derting

Thanks to Rachel @ Fiktshun's Ramblings for the chance to win. I feel really bad for being *slightly* impatient waiting for The Pledge to arrive, I may have bugged Rachel with emails for a few weeks. But it finally arrived last weekend and I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Thanks goes to my friend Ash for the next two books; they're early Christmas gifts and I definitely feel a little spoiled because of them. A Touch Mortal and Chime are two of Ash's favourite books from 2011, so I'm touched that she wants to spread the love to me and I hope I enjoy them as much as she did; I'm sure I will. 

A Touch Mortal - Leah Clifford                              Chime - Franny Billingsley

And that's my mailbox for this week.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lover Enshrined - J.R. Ward

Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #6)Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood #6) - J.R. Ward
Grade: Adult - PNR
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

In this "frighteningly addictive" paranormal romance sage there's a war raging between vampires and their slayers. Here are the stories of a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. And now a dutiful twin must choose between two lives...
Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is obligated to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive, and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body, but his heart for herself. She is drawn to the noble responsibility behind the emotionally scarred male. But Phury has never allowed himself to know pleasure or joy. As the war with the Lessening Society grows grim, tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, and Phury must decide between duty and love.... (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I struggled with 'Lover Enshrined'. Out of all the Brothers, Phury has always been my least favourite. I could never seem to connect with him and his attitude for most of the book didn't change my opinions. I found I was focusing more on the side stories than the main one, and that was what got me through this book.

In the previous book, Phury accepted the role of Primale, the number one male to mate with the Chosen (the women kept safe in the Scribe Virgin's sanctuary). And yet, despite taking the position to help one of the other Brothers, he does everything in his power to avoid the duties he has to perform; most notably 'mate' with Cormia, the Chosen who is assigned as his First Mate. Phury makes multiple mistakes throughout the book they left me uninterested in his journey. I understand the pattern of the series is to have a broken male Vampire in need of finding a way to heal and be better for himself; but the 'broken' nature of Phury didn't impress me at all and didn't inspire any emotions to follow his growth.

Cormia, thankfully, was slightly more interesting. Breaking free of her secluded lifestyle with the Chosen and becoming independent. Although slightly repetitive, as I feel like we saw this sort of journey with Marissa in book 4, it was still good to see her coming out of her shell and discovering technology in the human world.

I loved the side stories. John, Qhuinn and Blay have such a strong friendship. Although they also face a few intense moments throughout the book, it's hard not to smile when they have a chance to sit back and relax with each other. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the next couple of books. And Rehvenge, he's got such a hidden history and I love the secrecy surrounding who his is and what he's doing with his like. I can't wait to dive into his book next.

The lessers reappear in this book. Any hope that we were free of them was lost. But J.R. Ward has set the scene for the next few books. We're not just fighting random lessers from now on. 'Lover Enshrined' creates a whole new game plan for the Lessoning Society; and I can only imagine how it'll cause trouble for the vampires.

3.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) - Cynthia Hand
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Clara Gardner knew that as a part angel she would one day have to fulfill her purpose, rescuing Christian from a forest fire...what she never considered was what might happen if she were to fail.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend Tucker, Clara must deal with the repercussions of what happened the day of the fire as the two boys vie for her heart. And, as she is drawn further into the world of angels and part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain after a shocking revelation, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning... (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

You will need tissues close by whilst reading this book!

I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen but Hallowed was completely different to Unearthly – still brilliant but different.

In Unearthly we discover this new breed of angels (angel-blood as they call them). They have a purpose in life that comes to them in visions and they must try to figure them out. There were a lot of new discoveries, romance, action and mysteries. We see Clara struggle with her decision to follow her heart instead of her destiny and the ramifications of that decision. I must say this is the only series where I don't mind who Clara chooses, as I like both guys (ok, fine – I might be slightly more on Christian's side; but only slightly because Tucker is a sweet heart).

Hallowed, instead, was full of emotional turmoil. I cannot tell you how many times I had to stop reading to wipe my tears. I was an emotional wreck by the end. There aren't any action scenes but by the end it leaves a lot of loose ends that you get a feeling you know what will happen in the next book. In saying that though, I'm sure Ms Hand will surprise me once again.

I loved Hallowed and can't wait to get my hands on the next one.

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Summer of Supernatural: Alexandra Adornetto

The excitement never ends this summer, with another author chat lined up for fans to enjoy. Come join Alexandra Adornetto, author of the Halo series, on the Summer of Supernatural facebook page today! Alexandra will be chatting with fans and answering questions at 4pm AEDT.

Come discuss her newest instalment in the Halo series: Hades.

Can an angel survive in Hell?

Jake Thorn escapes from the fiery abyss he was banished to at the end of HALO, and returns to Venus Cove looking for revenge and this demon has got himself a pretty nasty to do list. You might remember him as the bad-boy with the motorbike that was charming, seductive and deadly. And worst of all, he was after Beth.

In HADES nothing has changed – Jake is still a demon, is still evil and still wants Beth. Snatching her from Xavier’s arms, Jake drags her back to Hades and imprisons her there. While the angels call on higher powers to help rescue her, Jake plays even dirtier and goes after the one thing she loves the most – namely one heartthrob school captain by the name of Xavier.

When it comes down to it, Beth must make the ultimate sacrifice and make a deal with the devil – but does that mean Jake wins?
(Thanks to Kerrie and her email from Harper Collins for the book description)

To join, all you have to do is 'like' the Summer of Supernatural facebook page and post a question for Alexandra. It's that easy and fun, because who doesn't like talking to authors?


(If you're trying to work out time differences I recommend using Time Zone Converter just select the day/time, set the first location to 'Australia - New South Wales - Sydney', find your time zone and click convert!)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) - Cassandra Clare
Grade - YA
Rating - 5/5 stars

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart. (description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I can't seem to find the words. My chest still feels tight – Clockwork Prince has been one emotionally heart wrenching journey. And to have to wait another year to find out how it ends seems unbelievably cruel.

I'd be interested to see if people have changed their minds over Will, after reading this book. Since I have always loved Will, this book proved what I knew all along – Will is an amazing, sweet guy. I wonder if others have come to that conclusion now too.

Read Clockwork Prince as it is an amazing story. Where Clockwork Angel was action packed this one delivered blows emotionally. Ms Clare knows how to write! She makes it so easy to read; the way she tells the story gets you sucked into her world and even though it's painful, you can't stop reading because you need to know how it ends.

Be warned: tissues may be needed though.

5 out of 5 plus a plea for the next book to come out earlier.


Originally posted on Goodreads

Saturday, 10 December 2011

In My Mailbox #4

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Hallowed - Cynthia Hand

Hallowed is the follow up to earlier this year's amazing novel Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. It doesn't technically come out until January, but I was lucky enough to get it earlier. This series has got to have one the best YA covers I've ever seen (and lots of different versions for different countries). To be honest, that was the reason why I bought Unearthly in the first place and it turned out to be one of my favourite reads of 2011. It's also the only series where I didn't really mind who the protagonist ended up with. That's quite strange for me, but both guys were equally great. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in Hallowed, and I'm sure I will love it. 

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

Another follow-up book, this time  from the incredible Cassandra Clare (whom I was lucky enough to meet when she was in Sydney earlier this year). I loved everything about Clockwork Angel - I might even prefer it over The Mortal Instruments series. I think it has something to do with the era and setting. London in the 1800s? It's dark, mysterious, romantic...What's not to love? Then there's the stunningly beautiful, brooding, deeply broken Will *sigh* Even though Clockwork Prince focuses largely on Jem, I still can't wait to read and learn more about Will's background. Team Will all the way :)

Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide - Michelle Rowen & Richelle Mead

Well, as a self confessed, VA obsessed fan; there was no doubt that I would buy this book the moment it became available. Although it has many things that I already know, the interviews with the AMAZING Richelle Mead, makes it totally worth while. Plus reading it makes me want to break out my copies for the 100th time and reread about my favourite couple: Rose and Dimitri!

We had a pretty amazing week, attending the Black Hand Ball in Sydney last Wednesday to meet Becca Fitzpatrick. It was a really fun night and included getting a Simon and Schuster fun filled goodie bag! So thank you Simon and Schuster for the books that we found in the bags.

Smoulder - Brenna Yovanoff (also known as: The Space Between)

The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #1

'Waiting On' Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you can gush about books that you're desperate to get your hands on...if only they were published already.

For my first Waiting On Wednesday post I've picked a book I just discovered this week.

For Darkness Shows the Stars - by Diana Peterfreund
Release Date: 12th June, 2012

About the book: 
Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.
But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

I stumbled upon For Darkness Shows the Stars on Goodreads the other day. The cover looks amazing, but it's the blurb that made me desperate for this book. As I was reading it, all I could think of was Persuasion by Jane Austen. It wasn't until it was confirmed at the end of the blurb that I got super excited.

I'm not a big Austen fan. I've read all her books and I've found there are only 2 that I can handle well: Pride and Prejudice (because who doesn't melt when they think of Mr. Dracy?) and Persuasion. There was something about the theme of second chances, and having Captain Wentworth try and make Anne jealous by acting like he didn't care for her anymore, that made the story so emotional, but loveable. Other than Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion is the only Austen novel I'd consider rereading in the near future.

I will definitely have to break my tradition of avoiding hardback books to get this one next year, because as far as I know it's only scheduled for release in the US; but I'll definitely be buying it online.


Monday, 5 December 2011

The Girl in the Steel Corset - Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)
The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) - Kady Cross
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her.
When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...
Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.
Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.
But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I'd only read one steampunk book before 'The Girl in the Steel Corset' and that was Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel'; so I was really looking forward to jumping into another steampunk novel and finding out what the genre felt like minus the vampires and magic. I think I assumed too much about the genre, believing it would only contain crazy inventions set in a Victorian era. 'The Girl in the Steel Corset' did bring about its own magic and I can't say I was unhappy about it, I like added powers floating around my stories; but it definitely exceeded my expectations when it came to inventions and not only was it set in the Victorian era, but there was even a surprise visit from Queen Victorian herself (loved the 'not amused' reference).

The people of London are terrified. The mechanical beings – automatons – that frequently used as servants, are running wild, killing and destroying throughout London. The fear that these automatons will take over leads to the mystery of who is controlling them: The Machinist. This is where our main characters come into focus, in their attempts to uncover who The Machinist is and stop his plans to cause trouble all over London.

At times I was a little overwhelmed by the extent of the inventions. I was impressed with the mechanical creations Cross added into her story, particularly with the automatons. But at times I felt like there were too many inventions to keep up with. I shouldn’t be too shocked; we have just as many (and more) in modern society, but with extra functions on velocycles to make them go faster, portable telegram devices, and machines that were able to type up random bits of information just by asking it to do so, it was a bit too much for me. However, I definitely felt like I understood what steampunk meant because of it and I would probably have been disappointed if there were fewer inventions in the story. It definitely made things more interesting.

Finley is such a strong female lead. She stands up for herself, even in a time where woman (and servants, as she is at the beginning of the novel) were not always able to voice their own opinions. She's fierce and intelligent and gets to wear a cool steel corset! Of course, Finley has her faults, particularly the Jekyll-Hyde thing she's got going on for her, but the unknown qualities of the two personalities made her become a mystery that was waiting to be unravelled for most of the book. I loved the balance between the two sides of Finley: on the one hand you have her proper lady-like manner, and on the other, the dark, dangerous Finley who can throw people around and cause some serious damage.

I’ve been reading a lot more third person novels these days, and every time I stumble across another one it makes me like the style more and more. I love that we’re not limited to one person’s views; while I do still feel slightly disconnected from characters while reading third person, I don’t find it as hard to settle into the story anymore. I was glad to see more than 2 characters in the spotlight: Finley, Griffin and Sam. While I expected Finley and Griffin to be the main storytellers, it was really interesting to be seeing Sam’s point of view and following his journey, because he doesn’t think like Griffin and he’s definitely not as trusting. It provided a well balanced story.

Finley is not without her pursuers, in fact she finds herself getting attention from two pretty cool guys. The Duke, Griffin King, who is nothing but kind to her and instantly includes Finley in his close circle of friends. And Jack Dandy, local Crime Lord, who is dark and unknown, but takes an interest in Finley early in the novel. I feel like I’m going to be disappointed in the long run with the love interests, but I fell for Mr. Dandy pretty hard. He reminded me of George Cooper from Tamora Pierce’s ‘Song of the Lioness Quartet’. Leader of the underground crime division, who is technically better-off than he makes it seem and who (I imagine) will wait patiently until his lady comes to her senses and realises he’s the one for her. I hope we see a lot more of Jack in the next book.

Looking forward to the next book.

4.5/5 stars

Originally posted on Goodreads

Summer of Supernatural: Maureen Johnson

Summer of Supernatural

Are you ready for another fun author chat on the Summer of Supernatural page? This week Maureen Johnson is dropping by to answer questions and talk to fans!

Maureen will be available to chat with on Thursday, 8th December at 12:30pm AEDT. To join in the fun, all you have to do is 'like' the Summer of Supernatural facebook page, post a question when Maureen arrives and wait for your reply.

I think the aim is to promote her new book, The Name of the Star, the first book in the Shades of London series, but I'm sure she'd be willing to answer questions about her previous books too.

Jack the Ripper has been plaguing the East End of London since 1888 and in Maureen Johnson’s latest book, The Name of the Star, the Ripper returns to terrorise modern day London. When 16-year-old American girl Rory moves overseas to attend boarding school, she arrives when the city is gripped by “Rippermania” – after an identical murder to Mary Anne Nichols is discovered in what was formerly known as Buck’s Row.

Has Jack the Ripper returned from the dead? Or is there a copy-cat killer roaming the streets of London?
(Description from Harper Collins Aust. Thanks Kerrie for your Harper email and the info about the book!)

Remember: Thursday, 8th December. 12:30pm!
(If you're trying to work out time differences I recommend using Time Zone Converter just select the day/time, set the first location to 'Australia - New South Wales - Sydney', find your time zone and click convert!)


P.S. I was away for one of the live chats with author Leigh Fallen (Carrier of the Mark). But scroll through the Summer of Supernatural page and you can see all her questions and responses.