Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cover Reveal - Stormdancer

You may have come across this amazing book and it's super cool cover online, but we couldn't resist sharing it with everyone! 

Take a look at Stormdancer!

Release Date: 21 August, 2012
Publlisher: Pan MacMillan Australia

The Shima Imperium is verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by
clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshippers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

The hunters of the imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a
legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of
an empire.

Haven't read many steampunk books in the past, but the combination of steampunk and fantasy has us dying to get our hands on this book. And with a cover like that, who could resist? Can't wait to read Stormdancer. 

Kerrie and Kim

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Only the Good Spy Young - Ally Carter

Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls, #4)Only the Good Spy Young 
                  (Gallagher Girls #4)  - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Cammie Morgan always knew that being a Gallagher Girl (aka spy-in-training) would mean a life of risk and danger. She just didn't know that life would start before she'd even left high school...

But now that an ancient terrorist organisation is dead-set on kidnapping her, even Cammie "The Chameleon" can't hide. And when someone she trusts is labelled a rogue double-agent, Cammie feels like her world is falling apart.

Can she still count on her classmates? Her teachers? And what about her feelings for the totally hot (yet totally unpredictable) Zach?

This semester, Cammie and her friends must spy, hack and steal if they want to find out the truth.

Cammie's life depends on it...(Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

‘Only the Good Spy Young’ is the most intense book for the Gallagher Girls series so far. The stakes are higher. It’s not just about learning to be a spy in this book, it’s about surviving.

Cammie Morgan, spy-in-training, is under round-the-clock protection. There’s someone after her and no-where is safe. The easy going days at Gallagher Academy – school of spies – are over. No more secret trips into town to see boys or official trips into town to practice tailing ordinary people in a public environment. It’s no longer safe for Cammie to leave school grounds and unfortunately for her that means there are a lot of changes to school life with new teachers and less secret passageway visits; but that doesn’t mean the book was lacking action. I thought the previous book kicked up the heat action-wise, but ‘Only the Good Spy Young’ definitely gives book 3 a run for its money. I adored the start of this book. We barely make it through the first 5 pages before excitement and danger hits the scene. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a heart-racing start to a book.

I loved Cammie so much in this book. She managed to develop as a character in a deeper way. She has to face some difficult decisions and situations, and it causes her to grow up a lot more – not that Cammie wasn’t already pretty cluey about her lifestyle; the dangers, the risks, the skill it takes to get through a mission. But when it’s her own life that comes into focus, there’s no chance to back away from the fight. I adore her take-charge attitude. A lesser character would crumble at the thought of being hunted by a mysterious and mostly unknown group and forced to hide out behind the walls of the Academy. But Cammie never gives in. Maybe it’s her spy upbringing – the fact that she’s been taught her whole life to find clues and get answers and survive – but whatever it is, she does it brilliantly.

I feel like this book was the book of revelations. There seemed to be a new shocking twist every 20 pages – my mouth barely had a chance to close before it dropped open again. The way Ally Carter manages to keep you engaged in the series by creating these new twists is fantastic. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. I love when a series keeps bringing more and more to the page. The excitement and mystery added extra intensity to every scene; it’s pretty epic and super fun.

Due to the danger, once again romance wasn’t the focus for this book. But where the last book lacked the presence of a certain guy for most of the events, ‘Only the Good Spy Young’ had him popping up a little more often. Zach’s role in the book is more than you could imagine and a few of those twists I mentioned earlier involved everyone’s favourite spy. They’re totally worth reading.

The book ended with the tiniest of cliff hangers. So I’m dying to find out what happens next. Luckily, I have book 5 sitting on my shelf; it’s a good think there’s no waiting for me, I’d probably go a little insane if I was kept away from more Cammie and her adventures.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Showcase Sunday #2

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits & Tea where bloggers show off what goodies they received throughout the week.

I started Showcase Sunday a couple of weeks ago and then had a slow week, so I pushed everything back until I had more to show off. This is what I got for the last two weeks. 

The Forsaken - Lisa Stasse

This was a proof copy from Hachette. I saw the cover and thought it looked pretty cool and the concept was  really interesting too: exiled criminals struggling to get off a remote island. I enjoyed it a lot. 

Heist Society & Uncommon Criminals - Ally Carter

As you may have noticed, I've been slowly putting up my reviews for Ally Carter's other series - Gallagher Girls. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to read Heist Society too. I've only just started it and I'm in love already. Ally can do no wrong for me. 

Shine - Jeri Smith-Ready 

At the beginning of the year I won a competition on Kilt & Keeley which involved getting a signed copy of Shine. It feels like I've been waiting forever for it and this week it finally arrived. I may have danced and screamed a bit when it got here. And it came with some awesome signed swag, which I always love getting with books :)

And that's it for this week. What goodies made it onto your shelves?


Friday, 25 May 2012

Tamlyn - James Moloney

Tamlyn (Silvermay, #2)Tamlyn (Silvermay #2) - James Moloney
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Silvermay's life has been spared, she once again has Tamlyn at her side and the attraction that has grown between them seems ready to bloom into love. Yet there is little time to savour such a reunion. They must rescue little Lucien from the clutches of Coyle Strongbow before the foul magic of the Wyrdborn turns him into the monster depicted in the mosaics of Nan Tocha.

First, though, they must see to Ryall who is near death and only Silvermay's mother can save him. They return to Haywode where Ryall's survival calls for a terrible price. It is here, too, that word comes of murder in the capital; Tamlyn's mother is dead and there can only be one culprit.

Tamlyn becomes obsessed with revenge and amid such dark emotions, his Wyrdborn blood pushes aside the love he has shown for Silvermay. Worse still, he refuses to forsake his powers, should the chance come in the months ahead. Silvermay is devastated, for she knows that those who marry the Wyrdborn face a bleak and loveless fate.

Despite the rift between them, plans are made, new friends come to their aid and together they make a daring bid to free Lucien. It seems they have succeeded, too, until betrayal from the most unexpected quarter foils them and, suddenly, all that Silvermay loves is to be destroyed.

Without weapons or magic, can one girl turn back the killing hand and if she does, will she still want the man whom her heart won't surrender. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Tamlyn is the wonderful sequel to the award winning Silvermay (Silvermay won the 2011 Gold Inky award). The thing I like about this series is its ability to transport you to another time and place. That era always had the best adventure stories and the romance is always so sweet and innocent. Tamlyn is no different.

It begins where Silvermay left off (if you haven’t read Silvermay, avert your eyes now), baby Lucien has been stolen by the evil Coyle, and Silvermay and Tamlyn have been left fighting for their lives on the jetty. With no way of knowing where Coyle has taken Lucien, Silvermay and Tamlyn return to Silvermay’s village to regroup and try to figure out where Coyle is. But when a stranger walks into town with some terrible news, Silvermay and Tamlyn have another problem to deal with. The Wyrdborn nature in Tamlyn is starting to take over, and if Silvermay can’t help him, it will have devastating consequences to their relationship.

I really enjoyed this novel. I couldn’t put it down, and ended up finishing it in a day- a sign of how much I enjoyed it. I think one of the things I loved about this series is that it does transport you to that era where women are not seen as equals, and yet Silvermay is such a strong female character. She willingly goes on dangerous quests and is willing to fight and die for the people she loves. I don’t think there is anything better then reading about strong women like Silvermay.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this all ends in Lucien, but unfortunately, its a long wait.

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Silvermay - James Moloney

Silvermay (Silvermay #1) - James Moloney
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars 

Sixteen-year-old Silvermay Hawker feels drawn to the newcomer in her village - a young man of solemn good looks named Tamlyn. But only heartache can come of this, because Tamlyn is devoted to Nerigold and to little Lucien, her son.

So things seem, until the dark forces of Coyle Strongbow come in search of Nerigold′s baby and Silvermay is swept up in the young family′s escape. When Lucien is entrusted to her care, she discovers the startling horror of what he might become, and the truth about Tamlyn, too.

Can Lucien be spared his fate, or is he doomed to become like Coyle? And Tamlyn, can he be trusted, can he be loved and can he love in return? Silvermay′s heart will not give him up, but what happens when devotion becomes a weapon in the hands of the ruthless? (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Silvermay begins with one of the best written prologues I have ever read. It hooked me in and left me shocked to the core.

Silvermay is the first novel in a 3 book series (and each book is named after one of the main characters, so hopefully my review doesn’t get confusing). Although it doesn’t state what time period it is set in, it has the feel of the 1100’s. Commonfolk work the lands, harvest their own food, ride horses (if they can afford them); there are ruthless rulers, thieves, and murderers. So you know you’re in a different time as soon as you start the novel.

Silvermay is a 16 year old girl, whose life is turned upside down when two strangers with a baby come through her town. Silvermay finds herself attracted to the mysterious Tamlyn, and no matter how hard she fights it (Tamlyn has a family after all), soon falls in love with him. When it becomes clear that the most ruthless of people, the race of wizards called Wyrdborn, are after Tamlyn and his family- Nerigold and baby Lucien; Silvermay helps them to escape.

What happens next is an epic journey through the lands, where discoveries are made about baby Lucien and the fate of the world.

I really enjoyed Silvermay. The characters, time period, and plot were all well written. After that amazing prologue, I found the start of the book a little slow, and it took me a while to understand what exactly Wyrdborns were (other than being a feared bunch of people), but then all these things started to happen and I found myself swept up in Silvermay’s adventure. And then, of course, it ends just as dramatically as the prologue, making me itch for the next book.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover - Ally Carter

Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls, #3)
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover 
                       (Gallagher Girls #3) - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Cammie Morgan has a cover for every occasion. As a spy-in-training, aliases, phony passports and fake IDs are a means of survival. But what happens when the ghosts of her past see through her flawless façade?

In her junior year at Gallagher Academy, Cammie continues to flirt with danger. When a national political convention turns into a trap, she is forced to lose her cover to save her best friend Macey - a major political target - from being kidnapped.

But are the kidnappers political extremists or something more sinister? And why has Zach, Cammie's mysterious (and totally hot) crush, suddenly returned?

With the help of an ex-Gallagher Girl, Cammie and her friends are determined to hunt down the group that threatens to tear their secret sisterhood apart.

This time it's personal. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Someone told me weeks ago that the Gallagher Girls series is the type of series where each been keeps getting better and better. They were right, so far – ‘Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover’ raised the bar – and I can only imagine what will come next.

The previous two books proved that Cammie and her friends are pretty skilled spies-in-training, but clueless when it comes to life outside the Academy and that they still have a long way to go before they’re ready to be full-time spies. But when faced with an unknown and dangerous external threat, Cammie’s skills are put to the test and it could mean life or death. I can’t stress enough how awesome Cammie is. I love that she has a spy role already. She’s known as a pavement artist – someone who blends into their surroundings – who can tail people without being seen. We get to see this side of her again, a side I’ve been waiting for since she was first introduced as ‘The Chameleon’. Cammie tries to stay out of trouble, but it seems to be difficult for her to do.

The action in this book was more than I could have asked for. From the moment I opened the first page, it was almost non-stop movement, which made the book awfully hard to put down. From a spy point-of-view, it’s nice to know not everything is about sneaking around and leaving coded messages to be found. Sometimes face-to-face encounters occur and the only way out involves throwing a punch or two. As an action fan, this definitely worked in the book’s favour.

I love that it’s not just Cammie we get to learn about, especially in this book. Macey – the newest spy in Cammie’s group of friends – is in the spotlight a fair bit; and that’s not just because she is the Senator’s daughter during an election campaign, but because an attempted kidnapping brings her life outside the Academy into full focus. It’s nice when not only is the main character’s life explored, but when the best friends are pulled into the story as more than just a person you talk to between classes; it’s good to have more than one character to focus on.

My only issue with this book was the lack of romance, but I feel like that is because there was a darker tone to the book than in the previous ones. With the mystery of the kidnappers taking over everyone’s thoughts and the danger that seemed to accompany every action scene, there wasn’t a right moment for romance to enter the pages. It didn’t help that the focus of the books moved away from a major theme from the first two books: boys. But despite that, a little more romance wouldn’t have been a bad thing in my opinion – not that what we got wasn’t awesome.

‘Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover’ left me with so many questions, which I hope will be answered in the next book. Can’t wait to see what secret spy adventure Cammie will be a part of next.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy - Ally Carter

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, #2)Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy 
                        (Gallagher Girls #2) - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Cammie Morgan may have a genius IQ and attend the best school in the country, but as she starts the spring semester of her sophomore year there are a lot of things she doesn't know. Like will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble did she really get in last semester? And, most of all, exactly why is her mother acting so strangely?

All Cammie wants is a nice, normal semester, but she's about to learn her greatest lesson yet—that when you go to a school for spies, nothing is ever as it seems. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

There’s something really special about a book that makes you smile the whole way through; despite the fact that finishing the book left me with incredibly sore cheeks. ‘Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy’ was an amazing sequel to the first Gallagher Girls book, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

I finished the first Gallagher Girls book with the feeling that I loved the series, that I was addicted already, but I wanted a bit more action and a bit more spying. The second book definitely gave me what I had been looking for. We start off during Winter break, between semesters; Cammie Morgan – spy-in-training – is making her way into CIA headquarters to be debriefed on her short-lived “normal” romance and wondering how she’ll ever get back to the life she had before boys entered her immediate radar. Little does she know that normal boys are just the beginning. I know I said it in my review of book 1, but I just adore Cammie. The mix of teenage spy and teenage girl makes Cammie super interesting. You’re never sure which side is going to push through more and when they collide, you can’t help smiling.

While the Gallagher Girls series is ultimately a story that focuses on Cammie, it’s not just about her. One of my favourite things about this series so far is the friendships. In YA books, the main character tends to have one or two stand out friends who sometimes know what’s going on in their weird and wacky lives, but despite how close they appear to be with each other the best friends are almost never completely involved in the story. For Gallagher Girls, this is totally different. Cammie has three incredible best friends: Bex, Liz and Macey; and they help her through everything. There is rarely a mission within or out of the school that doesn’t involve a team effort to achieve an outcome. These girls are always there for Cammie, in whatever way she needs and I love it.

‘Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy’ puts a lot more focus on spying and missions. There’s a hell of a lot more action and I couldn’t have hoped for more. Ally Carter has a way of making you feel like you’re really part of the missions; probably because of the way she has Cammie and her friends write up reports of their spy activities. There are whole sections of the book written out with Cammie and the gang referred to as ‘The Operatives’ and their mission target ‘The Subject’. Not in a third person sense, but in a fun we’re-learning-to-be-spies-and-writing-these-reports-are-what-spies-do way. They’re funny and they have random inserts that help interpret information in different ways; but most importantly they give you an insight into the life of a Gallagher Girl - and a spy-in-training - which makes you feel like you’re part of the story.

I’ll admit I was a little worried about the issue of boys for the series. After eliminating the town boys as an option for romance I figured we were in for a lack of heart-racing and tingly feelings. Boy was I wrong! It becomes painfully obvious the girls of Gallagher Academy, while incredibly smart and excellent spies, are at a disadvantage by not being able to socialise and work with the opposite sex – the people they may have to interact with in the future. So what’s the solution? Why bring 15 boys to the school for a semester, of course. Cammie can’t escape the attention of one particular guy. I won’t say more about him, because it’s really better to experience the relationship for yourself; but I will say, he made me smile so much!

This book was an excellent sequel. I think I’ve become a Gallagher Girl addict.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

I'd tell you I love you, but then I'd have to kill you - Ally Carter

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You (Gallagher Girls, #1)I'd tell you I love you, but then I'd have to kill you (Gallagher Girls #1) - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

My book of choice is nearly always something from paranormal, fantasy or dystopian genres, occasionally throwing in a few contemporaries here and there. This is mostly because they dominate the YA book range, so it’s hard not to pick up a new book without vampires, werewolves, witches or fae. I have never really considered the idea of a Spy book before, but I wish I had. I’m pretty angry at myself for not jumping on the Gallagher Girls bandwagon earlier. I haven’t read such a fun start to a series is so long. ‘I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You’ was a fantastic book, full of secret missions and spies-in-training and a few well placed kicks that had me smiling the whole way through.

Cammie Morgan is a Gallagher Girl. To an outsider, she appears to be a rich girl going to a privileged girls boarding school in the middle of no-where; but to those in the know, she’s an important young intelligent girl who attends a super secret training school: a Spy training school. The daughter of two secret agents (a.k.a. Spies), Cammie has some mad skills are her disposal – but life isn’t exactly easy when you’re learning to be a spy. I adore Cammie. Her voice was so easy to pick up; fun, relaxed, really easy to read along with. She speaks to you as though she’s specifically writing for the purpose of someone reading about her thoughts and events...almost like a journal without the dear diary part and with a lot more spy terminology. It made the book seem very conversational. A retelling of what happened and yet interactive. She’s speaking directly to you and makes references to that fact throughout the book. It was really enjoyable.

Cammie’s comfortable spy life takes a strange turn when she runs into Josh, a hot boy from the town nearby, who just happens to take an interest in her. She sees this as a potential mission: find out why a seemingly normal – but cute – guy could be interested in her and attempt to act just as normal. I love how awkward Cammie becomes when she’s around Josh; she’s trained to observe, trained to kill, trained to save the world...but can’t quite work out how to speak-boy; which is sort of understandable when you come from an all girl spy school. Despite being some super genius epic teen, she just could not figure out the boy and dating thing.

As one would expect from a spy book, there’s a lot of talk about going on missions and learning to create the perfect secret identity – we even get to see a bit of this first hand. Cammie talks to us in spy terms, outlines the life of a spy-in-training. It’s all very secretive and yet oddly informative and it’s fun to watch Cammie – and her best friends Bex and Liz – in their natural spy environment. It all becomes easier to understand the idea of secret agents because of Gallagher Academy. The school has some pretty nifty gadgets that help to teach the girls exactly what it’s like to be a spy. Teachers that are wanted in countries all over the world, underground passages that hold the more dangerous classrooms, flashing lights to tell the students which language they are allowed to use that day (they learn 14 different ones, so the possibilities are endless) and the list of secret inventions and missions mentioned throughout the book leave you with your mouth hanging open. I would have liked to see a bit more of the school life – exploring the grounds, taking secret exists or discovering a new passage, but it was just as exciting knowing there’s a Spy school hidden in plain sight!

The only issue I had with the book was the action. Sure, there was enough of it that you got a sense of the skills the girls are developing and you do get to witness it on one or two occasions. But for the amount of skill they brag about, there just wasn’t enough. Maybe it was the theme of the book, about Cammie getting a chance to step outside the lifestyle she grew up with – there were limited opportunities for kick-ass action to take place. But I was hoping for a little more.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Showcase Sunday #1

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits & Tea where bloggers show off what goodies they received throughout the week.

By now most YA book bloggers know of the IMM issue. At first I was just going to ignore the whole thing. I didn't want any part in it and I was going to keep participating in IMM posts because I loved the idea sharing my book love each week. Last week I didn't post anything because I spent too much time questioning the idea of keeping IMMs - I almost didn't post anything this week either. But then I visited the lovely Shirley @ Shiirleyy's Bookshelf and saw her Showcase Sunday post and I thought it was perfect. So thank you Shirley and Vicky for giving me an outlet to show off my goodies. 

So this posts covers 2 weeks worth of books. 

Shine- Jeri Smith-Ready

Over the past few months I've become pretty obsessed with the Shade series. Shine is the final book in the trilogy and I was dying to get my hands on it. Such a fantastic book, perfect end to the series - if you haven't read the Shade series you should totally check it out, you won't be sorry.

City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare

Like so many people, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book in The Mortal Instruments series. I've got about 100 pages to go and I'm loving this book. I'm not sure I'm the biggest fan of the cover, but it's shiny, so I sort of have to love it.

Ill Wind & Heat Stroke - Rachel Caine

An impulse buy. I was in Big W last week and I always check out their romance/paranormal bargain basket. I always seen Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series in there, but usually it's book 4 or book 6. Well this time I actually spotted books 1 and 2, so I couldn't resist picking them up. I'm a fan of Rachel Caine's YA series (Morganville) and loves the first book in The Revivalist series (Working Stiff). Can't wait to give Ill Wind a go.

People Might Hear You - Robin Klein 

Another impulse buy. 2 weeks ago, I went to the last ever UNSW Book Fair with Mandee and almost left without buying anything. And then I spotted a book I read in High School - People Might Hear You - and desperately wanted to show it to my sister. It was only 50c. Bargain! 

Take My Word For It - John Marsden 

My best friend works in a bookstore in southern NSW. Over Easter, her store held a book event and invited a whole heap of Aussie authors for panels and talks. Unfortunately, due to family issues, I couldn't go; which was really sad because one of the authors was JOHN MARSDEN! But she managed to get a few signed books for my sisters and me, and I can't thank her enough. 

The Industry - Rose Foster 

I won a copy of The Industry on Erin's blog a couple of weeks ago. So thank you Erin and Harper Collins for such a fantastic giveaway. Can't wait to read it.

And that's it for this week. What special things did you get? Leave links below and I'll check them out. 


Shine - Jeri Smith-Ready

Shine (Shade, #3)Shine (Shade #3) - Jeri Smith-Ready
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

In this dramatic conclusion to the Shade trilogy, Aura and Zachary’s relationship sizzles as the secrets of the Shift are revealed.

Life can change in an instant, and no one understands that better than Aura. It’s been almost a year since her boyfriend tragically died. She’s finally letting go of Logan’s violet-hued ghost, but not her search to uncover the truth about her past.

As the first in a generation that can see ghosts, Aura is convinced she has a connection to the Shift. She’s trusted Zachary, ever patient and ever by her side, with all that she knows. But when the government threatens his life in an attempt to learn Aura’s secrets, she will stop at nothing to protect herself and the one she loves...even if that means betraying her own heart. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

The smile has not left my face since I finished ‘Shine’. I always get that way when I read the perfect end to an amazing series (I know there’s still a Zach novella to be released, but Shine really does complete the series). I cannot explain how excited I was for this book; how anxious I was to see Aura and Zachary safely together; how curious I was to uncover the secrets of the Shift. It was an amazing book and I loved every moment of it.

‘Shine’ continues on from the moment ‘Shift’ ends. Aura’s still in the cemetery, mourning the loss of Logan once again, sitting by his headstone and worrying about Zachary’s flight. I’ve mentioned this in reviews before, but it’s worth saying it again: I’m a big fan of books that start immediately after the previous book’s end. This way you feel like it really is a continuing story – there are no missing pieces, you haven’t skipped days of activity, there’s no sense that something important has been lost. This is what it feels like with ‘Shine’. You’re thrown right back into familiar scenes and emotions, the action hits you immediately – no waiting for things to get started. I love it.

I was a little nervous about reading - and finishing - ‘Shine’. It’s no secret that the Shade characters get into a fair bit of trouble; there’s no shortage of fights, running, spy missions, even death – very hard to avoid death when one of the main issue in the series involves ghosts. Jeri doesn’t shield her characters from danger and I was worried for Aura and Zachary, I felt like the universe kept throwing things in the way of their Happily Ever After. ‘Shine’ is not lacking in dangerous adventures and secrets. It makes for an incredibly action-packed story, where you can’t help sitting on the edge of your seat – desperate to find out if everything will be alright in the end.

I loved the action within ‘Shine’; it doesn’t lack the get-your-heart-pumping scenes that help drive a book to a deeper level. With the Department of Metaphysical Purity (DMP) watching Aura’s every move, waiting for her to reveal what she knows of the Shift, and MI-X attempting to reveal the DMP’s secrets and the new edition – Nighthawk – the unknown assassins lurking around corners waiting to pounce; you can’t help looking over your own shoulder every few minutes to make sure you’re not being tracked and followed too. It definitely made the book hard to put down.

The biggest mystery Aura and Zachary face is trying to uncover what makes them so unique. If you’re a Shade fan already, you’ll know that Zach and Aura are pretty special people, and not just because they’re awesome, but because they have certain gifts that developed because of the Shift. There are still questions surrounding the Shift and the pair’s gifts, and obviously, with ‘Shine’ being the last book in the series, we get a lot of answers to these. There is no way to explain that further without giving things away, but let me tell you this, it involves some pretty awesome discoveries.

Jeri Smith-Ready has a way of reaching out to her fans through her characters, especially through the amazing men in the Shade series. Zachary and Logan cannot be overlooked. These two fellas have not had an easy journey, constantly pitted against each other as though one will prove to be better than the other. It’s hard to pick a side when they share the page time and are both pretty awesome – though I did always have my favourite *cough*Zach*cough* But ‘Shine’ definitely shifts the focus. We’re no longer pulled in two directions in terms of romance – there’s no questioning, no doubt. Everything is out in the open and to say the end to the romantic side of the story was not perfect would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told. I don’t think I’ve had such a satisfying ending in so long. The closure we get, mixed in with the wonder of what might happen in the future; it was just PERFECT.

You will laugh, you will cry; but in the end you will love ‘Shine’ because it was the perfect ending for Aura’s story.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

City of Ghosts - Stacia Kane

City of Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #3)-Stacia Kane
Grade: Adult - UF
Rating:5/5 stars


Chess Putnam has a lot on her plate. Mangled human corpses have started to show up on the streets of Downside, and Chess’s bosses at the Church of Real Truth have ordered her to team up with the ultra-powerful Black Squad agency to crack the grisly case.

Chess is under a binding spell that threatens death if she talks about the investigation, but the city’s most notorious crime boss—and Chess’s drug dealer—gets wind of her new assignment and insists on being kept informed. If that isn’t bad enough, a sinister street vendor appears to have information Chess needs. Only he’s not telling what he knows, or what it all has to do with the vast underground City of Eternity.

Now Chess will have to navigate killer wraiths, First Elders, and a lot of seriously nasty magic—all while coping with some not-so-small issues of her own. And the only man Chess can trust to help her through it all has every reason to want her dead. (Description from Goodreads)

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Its official: I have Terrible Fever!

When I first heard that saying, I admit, I had no idea what people were talking about. Well, I get it now.

City of Ghosts is the third novel in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Our favourite ‘debunker’ is at it again, investigating cases and kicking butt whilst doing it. Unlike the first two books, Chess only has one case this time around- and it’s a dozy. She has to work alongside the Black Squad (I guess they are like the CIA branch of the Church) on this extremely important and sensitive case. The Church Binds her, and this stops her from speaking about the case with anyone except those few Church officials involved. The Binding causes extreme pain and can lead to death. Not so good when the investigation leads into Bump’s territory and he wants to know why the Church is snooping around. Enter Terrible. The beautifully “ugly” tough guy, whom at the moment, isn’t talking to Chess, but is forced to help her so that Bump can be kept in the loop. And Chess is going to need the help of her Downside friends if she wants this case to be solved.

Chess is such a complicated character. She’s so strong, and yet damaged and vulnerable. She is a fighter though, and I love her fighting spirit. She also has a germ phobia that makes me laugh as she’s always finding herself in “germ filled” situations.

City of Ghosts is still dark and gritty, and the tension between Chess and Terrible makes the heart ache. But its also action packed, mysterious, and the end will have you squealing for more.

5/5 stars


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Intangible - J. Meyers

Intangible - J. Meyers
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Twins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift.

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it. (Description from Goodreads)

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The moment I became aware of ‘Intangible’ I did some researching and was instantly intrigued. Twins with special powers to heal and see the future? Sounded fantastic to me. I’ll admit I was pulled in because of the twins. I have a soft spot for twin things because I’m a twin too. But the fact that main characters Luke and Sera were twins became a minor part of why I liked ‘Intangible’.

Luke and Sera have a secret they have been trying to keep for their entire lives. Sera has the ability to heal living things – whether physical pain or emotional, her only limit is to herself; while Luke can see the future – though he cannot change it. Trouble brews for the twins when Luke has a vision that haunts him from the moment it is place within his mind: Sera is going to die. I’m always a little curious about characters that can see the future; I wonder if the ability would drive them mental, and in Luke’s case it does a little – only because he’s so desperate to save his sister, and his determination made me love him; because who wouldn’t love a guy who’d do anything he can to keep his sister safe? Written from the point of view of many main characters, not just Sera and Luke; ‘Intangible’ tells the tale of secrets, powers and prophecy; and the multiple POVs just help to give readers a complete understanding of what is happening within the story – it’s the characters who are left in the dark. I think this is half the fun. We are aware of so much more by not just focusing on the twins, but Marc, the mysterious new boy who tries to make his way into their tight circle of friends; Jonas, the vampire who is keeping an eye on Sera; and brief glimpses of Fey, best friend of the twins.

The twins aren’t the only special people in the book. They come across a mixed group of people throughout the course of the book; gifted teens like themselves and supernatural beings – mainly vampires – that change the way they think completely. I love Sera and Luke’s reactions to these supernatural beings. Unlike some characters in books, despite obviously knowing that magical things occur in the world, the twins are not quick to believe in the extraordinary. I really enjoyed seeing them laugh at the absurdity of the paranormal world and being nervous at the thought of people following them. It was a refreshing change to the more common instant acceptance that often features in YA books.

My only issue with this book was in terms of romance. There wasn’t enough for me. I’m a bit of a romance junkie; when the flirtation starts, I always want more. I feel I may have been attached to the wrong guy for a while, hoping to draw out a stronger romantic connection than we’re given; but there are no illusions for the reader, with the many POVs we can guess a lot more of the romantic direction because we know who to trust and who not to trust. I think I was just in denial.

A really enjoyable read. Looking forward to seeing what Luke and Sera face next.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Storm - Brigid Kemmerer

Storm (Elementals, #1)Storm (Elementals #1) - Brigid Kemmerer
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . . (Description from Goodreads)

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I first discovered Brigid Kemmerer’s series via blog friends who told me to read the prequel novella to ‘Storm’ (Elemental) Since then I’ve been dying to get my hands on the first book in the series, desperate for more of the fantastic world we were teased with in the novella. My expectations were extremely high for ‘Storm’, but not to worry, the book definitely lived up to them. Told in third person from the perspectives of Chris Merrick and Becca Chandler, ‘Storm’ brings to life the raw power of the elements, while displaying an amazing hidden lifestyle that runs parallel to the “normal” world. Family, fights and friendship, this book has it all and more.

Becca Chandler stumbles upon a good, old-fashioned teenage fist fight late at night in the school parking lot. She doesn’t know who it is fighting, but it doesn’t matter; she has to help the victim, has to try and stop someone from getting hurt beyond repair. That someone is Chris Merrick. What Becca doesn’t realise is that by stepping in to stop the fight, she’s about to be caught up in the biggest secret being kept by her town, and more than she could ever imagine. What I loved about ‘Storm’ was that you’re thrown into the story immediately. There’s no waiting to find out who the characters are or what their situations are like, you’re just in and there’s no getting out. I adore those sorts of starts, and the rest of the book is just the same. You’re pushed and pulled through an endless amount of action and discovery, and there’s never a dull moment for this book.

Let’s face it; we’re mostly reading these reviews to find out more about the Merrick bothers. Ok, I kid – there’s a lot more to this book than just them – but it’s hard to ignore the fact that there is something strangely enchanting about the Merrick family, and not just because of their super powers. An incredibly broken family, they sure have their fair share of disaster hanging over their heads; but the fact that they still manage to be so close and can rely on each other to lend strength and support shows a family connection some people who die for. Michael, the strong and protective one. The twins; Gabriel, the sporty play-boy with hidden emotions and Nick, who calms the rest and keeps Gabriel focused. And Chris, who never gives in and never gives up; who is brave in the face of danger. I could go on, but really, you’d have to read them to truly understand them. I cannot stress enough how amazing these brothers are and I can’t wait to see more of them in the next book.

I’ve always had an interest in elemental magic, so I was already a fan before coming into ‘Storm’. Even so, I was a little wary when I started ‘Storm’ believing that it’d be hard to bring something new and different to something as basic as the elements – it’s not exactly an unknown idea waiting to be explored – but Brigid Kemmerer managed to make forget my worries. It’s not just controlling the elements that Brigid’s characters seem to be able to do; they take strength, energy and healing powers from the element they identify with most. The Elementals – people gifted with a connection one of the 5 elements: earth, air, water, fire or spirit – do just as much internally by fixing themselves and taking comfort from their element, as they do externally – although there’s no shortage of extreme weather disruptions and “natural” disasters. I can’t stress enough how exciting it is to come across a supernatural world with such a well developed magical concept. It can make or break a series, and it definitely worked in Kemmerer’s favour.

I loved the hidden nature of it all. That there’s a secret community living parallel to the rest of the town; with an entire different set of rules for those with powers, all intent on keeping the community away from the public eye. And their connection to the elements makes them more intriguing than you could ever imagine. Who is the mysterious governing body? Just how do they get their powers? What happens when someone becomes too powerful? You can’t stop the questions from coming and you can’t stop being pulling into the story, desperate to find out the answers and to see what happens next.

My only issue with ‘Storm’ was the way it ended. I wish there had been more. What we were given fit so well with the characters and direction of the story, I just didn’t want it to finish yet. But I guess this is why it’s a series, there’s always more to come.

Amazing start - I can’t wait for ‘Spark’. I’m sure Gabriel’s story will be just as addictive as Chris and Becca’s.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)