Monday, 30 July 2012

Before I Wake - Rachel Vincent

Before I Wake (Soul Screamers, #6)
Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) -Rachel Vincent
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul. The good news? He didn't get it. The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school... Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent "recovering," she's back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won't keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn't just gambling with her own life....(Description from Goodreads)

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It’d be a crazy year if I didn’t get excited about a Rachel Vincent book. Rachel became one of my favourite authors last year and I was so happy to get thrown back into the Soul Screamers world – especially with the way ‘If I Die’ ended.

I was desperate to find out what was going on with Kaylee after her life took a massive turn when her teacher attempted to steal her soul – not exactly a fun, after school activity. But when your life is wrapped up in the supernatural, you shouldn’t be so surprised when some new paranormal evil attempts to kill you. Kaylee is in a difficult position in ‘Before I Wake’. Recruited to collect wrongfully taken souls, she faces her most physical and emotional battle yet. When the fate of a soul’s existence rests on your shoulders, there’s a lot of pressure to get the job done right. Kaylee is such a different person to the girl we met in ‘My Soul to Take’ – she’s grown so much. I love that she’s changed; it wouldn’t be a fun series if the main character stayed the same. Despite sometimes wishing to go backwards to the Kaylee we first met, I wouldn’t have her any other way. I love how determined she is and while she might not being a physical fighter, she’s stronger than she looks. She never gives up and always fights back.

Part of what I loved so much about ‘Before I Wake’ was how involved the hellions were in this book. I was a little disappointed that we hadn’t seen much of them in the last book. With Avari being so desperate for Kaylee’s soul, it was great to see him back in the thick of things and in more ways than before. The demons have found a way to cross over into the human world – and not just through possession. If there was ever a time to panic, now would be good. But panicking isn’t really on the minds of the characters – sure they’re worried about the danger of hellions having access to the human world, but they’re more determined to find out how the demons are getting across and how to stop them. There’s no time for a full-out panic attack. I don’t how to say much I loved having the hellions as the main focus – demons make everything more fun and dangerous! The excitement levels are definitely raised.

I was extremely worried going into this book, mostly for the relationship side of things. I am a very vocal Nash fan, and I was nervous about what would happen to my favourite bean sidhe boy, especially because ‘If I Die’ had a few major turning points for him. I’ve come to terms with the fact that Kaylee and Tod are slightly more suited for each other and there’s no denying that Tod is good at making Kaylee feel safe and protected – and we get to see him help her feel safe quite a few times. But I still can’t seem to love him more than Nash. I could not stop smiling every time he came onto the page. Broken, hurt, defeated; Nash had to watch the girl he loves be with someone else and accept that it was may be time to move on. I just wanted to hug him over and over again. My only wish for the series’ end, is for Nash to be happy.

‘Before I Wake’ was an emotional book, there was no way to stop being dragged into the folds, watch out for shocking twists towards the end. Rachel Vincent has a way of grabbing hold of you and throwing you onto an emotional rollercoaster. I can’t count how many times she’s made me tear up in the past, and 'Before I Wake' made me bring out the tissues a couple of times; but it just goes to show how powerful her characters and stories are. I can’t get enough. It makes me scared for the final Soul Screamers book. With Rachel Vincent – anything can happen.

Dying to find out what happens next. I know it’s going to be fabulous.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 27 July 2012

WINNER: Vote for Zachary Giveaway

We knew it was going to be a tough match, and #TeamKilt put up a massive fight. I couldn't be more proud of the friendships we've formed and the efforts we made to get Zach to the next level. We tried so hard and while we might not be in the next round, we still got a win. It was a win for #TeamKilt - because no-one has more fun fighting for our favourite guy than we do. 

But there's another winner from this round of the Tournament. My giveaway winner! 

Nicole Thorsen

Congrats! You've won your choice of a paperback copy of Shade, Shift or Shine! I'll be contacting you by email very soon to get your address and book preference. 


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Vote for Zachary Giveaway!

By now – if you keep up with the YA blog world – you’ll be aware that the YA-Sisterhood has been hosting the 2nd YA Crush Tournament. It’s a big deal in the book world. Everyone wants their favourite to win and we’re doing everything we can to prove that our boy is the best.

Who is my boy? Well that’s easy: Zachary Moore! (from the fabulous Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready!)

Who wouldn’t love a guy that is kind and caring; wears an impressive kilt to the Prom; is incredibly strong even when there seems to be no hope; who has an insane amount of patience – especially when it comes to the girl he loves - and HAS A SCOTTISH ACCENT? Yeah, he's just that awesome.

*Gasp* You haven’t read about the amazing sexy Scot? That’s insane! You must have been hiding under a rock for the past couple of years! Well, here’s your chance to get to know just how awesome he is – and for those who have already met him, well you might just want to add to your collection.

Here’s the thing. Today (or tomorrow...depending on what part of the world you're visiting from) Zach heads into a tough match in the Crush Tourney - in fact, it's a round that's put a little tension in my relationship with best friend and blog partner, Kerrie (don't worry, we'll be friends again soon enough :P) Zach’s up against a very strong opponent, Will Herondale, and he’s going to need all the votes her can get! So, in order to give a little something back, I’m hosting a Vote For Zachary Moore Giveaway!

Support Team Kilt - Vote for Zach - and ONE lucky person will win their choice of a paperback copy of Shade, Shift or Shine! And it is International! (as long as The Book Depository ships to your country for free...because I’m taking full advantage of their shipping offers)  But wait! There’s more! If you win, the fabulous Jeri Smith-Ready will send you an autographed & personalised bookplate! (also international, so no-one misses out) How cool is that? And I’m speaking from experience here, as I’ve got a few of those bookplates myself, and they’re super awesome.

Vote for Zach and then fill out the form below. It’s that simple. Since I also love Will though, I’m not going to deny you the chance to win and meet Zachary – so here’s my counter offer. You’ll get an extra point – that’s an extra chance to win - if you vote for Zach! (I can’t actually tell if you voted for Zach, because the votes are private, so please be honest and only mark the ‘ZACHARY’ box if you actually voted for him.)

Giveaway closed. Winner announced soon.

* One entry per person.
* You must be at least 16 years old or have permission from your parents before entering.
* Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as your country is on The Book Depository's free shipping list
* The giveaway is open now and will run until 11:59pm (AEST) 26th July 2012
* Winner will be picked by and announced on the blog.
* Winner will also be emailed and have 1 week to reply before a new winner is picked.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Showcase Sunday #4

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've been holding off doing a Showcase Sunday post for a while, partly because I had nothing to show off - I've been trying to limit what I spend because there are so many unread books sitting on my shelf. But the year has been a little tough family-wise and I decided to deal with it by buying more books! I've managed to only read one off the list so far, I've been working through other unread books on my shelf. But I hope to get through some of these ones soon. So here are the new additions to my bookshelf. 

Books I bought:

The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

I wanted to read Kimberly's The Body Finder series ever since I read The Pledge earlier this year. After a friend read and loved it, I couldn't resist buying a copy in Kmart. Can't wait to see what the series is like.

Once Burned - Jeaniene Frost

Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series is one of my favourite PNR books I've come across and I was so excited to find out Vlad - one of the coolest vampires ever - was getting his own spin-off series (Night Prince). I'm looking forward to his heated story!

Before I Wake - Rachel Vincent

I have been desperate to get my hands on this book for what seems like months. Ever since I finished If I Die last year, I needed to find out what happened next. Terrible mail luck meant I've been waiting longer than I thought I would, but Before I Wake finally arrived last week and I've already devoured it. Look out for my review soon.

Hourglass and Timepiece - Myra McEntire

Sometimes I wonder what I would do without my Twitter book friends. They recommend the coolest books. Hourglass and Timepiece are two of those books. I spent a couple of weeks kicking myself for not joining in a Myra McEntire group read, so now I'll be playing catch-up on my own. At least I know who I'll discuss with when I'm done.

Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

Like with my Year-of-the-Witch plan, I think this year is also the year of Fantasy books. I feel like I've read more than I normally would and the year isn't over yet. I love the sound of Grave Mercy and can't wait to be a part of its epic story soon.

Books I was given:

The Rook - Daniel O'Malley

I know almost nothing about this book, even after reading the blurb a few times, but my best friend met the author a couple of months ago and told me I had to read it. So when I saw her, she passed along a spare copy.

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

I've heard this book is extremely creepy, but super cool. I've been wanting to get my hands on it for a while and I'm lucky to still be interning with Hachette Australia, so I got the chance to snag a copy last week. It's on my list of books to read in the near future. Can't wait.

Samurai Game - Christine Feehan 

A surprise book from Hachette. Found this one on my desk last week. It's the 10th book in a PNR series which sounds really good. I'll have to find out if it can be read by itself, otherwise I know what I'll be getting soon: More Christine Feehan books!

The Calling - Kelley Armstrong

Another surprise Hachette book. I was hooked from the first time I saw the cover. Looks like a cool book. Also a sequel, so I'll have to find the first book, but that shouldn't be too hard, especially because it looks like my kind of book!

And that's it for this week. 


Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Forsaken - Lisa M. Stasse

The Forsaken (The Forsaken, #1)The Forsaken (The Forsaken #1)-Lisa M. Stasse
Grade: YA
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway. (Description from Goodreads)

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Dystopian novels have had a lot of press lately – there are a lot more YA books popping up on the market and each one tires to be fiercer than the next, to gain the upper hand. ‘The Forsaken’ is no different, mixing action and near-death escapes to bring about an interesting start to a new series.

Alenna Shawcross has had a tough life – she grew up in a state orphanage all because her parents were deemed criminals and taken into custody – not the best way to end your childhood. But when she finally reaches the age of 16 and must take the nation-wide criminal test and fails; her life takes another dive. I had mixed feelings about Alenna, mostly because of cover expectations. The Australian cover is so powerful; you imagine Alenna is a super fierce and active young woman; that she's pretty skilled with a bow - that nothing can stand in her way, but in actual fact she took quite a while to get to that stage. After failing the criminal test and being sent to Alpha Island One (where all teens are sent for failing), Alenna struggles to adapt to the “survivor” lifestyle; she can’t fight, but doesn’t want to be a pacifist like some of the other islanders. I didn’t like that Alenna took so long to find her feet. For a book that’s all about surviving and fighting, I really wanted her to harden-up faster. But she did get there, and it was fun to see her stand up for what she wanted and believed in by the end.

I really liked the way the island was broken up into three sections; although not equal sections. The blue – Alenna’s section – which is full of villagers who are trying to survive as best they can; the orange sections, where the “drones” live - mindless teens who blindly follow the orders of “The Monk” as though he is their god; and the grey section, a cold and uncharted section that seems to hold answers to the teens’ escape. I really liked this dynamic – the way, despite being randomly sent to the island for not following the same order back home, those exiled still attempted to form their own type of civilisation – it was all very ‘Lord of the Flies’: stranded teens running amuck on an island!

I thought the world itself was pretty interesting. The countries we know had been restructured, but names were still similar and old living situations were still known; so it wasn’t set too far into the future. Government control is strong in the US-equivalent state, with all members of society trained to think the same; any deviation was a sign of free thinkers and often led to criminal test failure. I would have liked to see and experience more of this world, but since we were following Alenna’s path and she was unaware of the government’s internal structure, we missed out on that insight. But maybe we’ll see more in future books.

The end of the book picked up the action and movement that was missing from the start. The search for an escape takes over everyone’s thoughts and Alenna is given the chance to show off her fierce side. I’ll be interested to see where the story goes next.

3.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Everneath - Brodi Ashton

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Everneath (Everneath #1) - Brodi Ashton
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her friends—before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s...(Description from Goodreads)

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I know it's pretty popular in the YA world these days, but 'Everneath' was my first experience with re-told Greek myths and boy did I pick a good one to start with.

Imagine there is a place beneath our world full of beings that have discovered a way to live forever, the only catch is they must feed off the emotions of humans. This is what occurs in 'Everneath'. These beings are called Everlivings, because the live forever in the underworld - the Everneath. Every century they have to take part in The Feed; taking a human (Forfeit) into the Everneath and extracting all their emotions and energy over many years. It's here we meet Nikki Beckett; a teenage girl, a Forfeit, who has somehow kept herself whole despite being emotionally and physically drained. Instead of moving into The Tunnels, the place all Forfeits go to fade away, Nikki chooses to Return to the surface to spend the last 6 months of her life with family and friends. The catch? She has been missing for 6 human months and being back will only cause more pain and heartache. I loved the start of 'Everneath'. We're thrown into the story immediately. There's no explanation for where Nikki is or what is going on - we're just there. Nikki's situation is all unknown, and the bits and pieces we're given leave you questioning what's happening and desperate to find out more about the Everneath and how Nikki came to be there. I loved watching her settle into her old life again. She shows a lot of strength in resisting the easy way out (going into the Tunnels) and instead makes a serious effort to say a proper goodbye to her family and friends. I love when a main character fights for what they believe in, and when they don't take the easy way out of situations.

As I mentioned earlier, 'Everneath' was my first Greek Myth YA book and I loved the way it was set out. There are really two major myths fighting to be heard throughout the book: the stories of Persephone, and Orpheus and Erydice. Persephone's influence seems pretty obvious at first: a human girl who spends 6 months in the underworld and then 6 months on the surface, who fights to not return below. But it's the Orpheus and Erydice side of things that had me rushing through the pages. Nothing quite like a romantic - yet tragic - myth to make things more interesting. I loved seeing these myths play out with slightly modern twists.

I'm not a fan of love triangles, mostly because I hate seeing the guys get treated badly by the girls, especially if you've got a favourite. While 'Everneath' does have two guys competing for Nikki's attention - Cole, the mysterious immortal, and Jack, the human ex-boyfriend - I wouldn't call it a love triangle. It's clear from the start who Nikki wants to be with and who she'd rather not have contact with ever again. But did that make it any easier to pick a side? No. I struggled to decide which guy I liked better. I knew who was better for Nikki, I could see it the whole way through, but that didn't mean I wasn't drawn to both guys. I love the tension that plays throughout Nikki's two relationships; the silent looks, attempts at cracking jokes, the touches that sent spark shooting across her skin - so much emotion carried through the whole novel. I miss it already.

I really enjoyed the flicking between past and present. We get a chance to watch Nikki's life post-Feed, seeing her struggle to accept that she has only 6 months left in the human world. She has to rediscover life as a human; try to experience emotions such as laughing and crying all over again, and she fights to find a way to stay with her family and friends - to not leave them again. But we also get to see the events the led up to the Feed. We get to see Nikki and Jack falling in love; the first time Nikki meets the mysterious Cole, the moment she discovers that he's not all human and he can take away her pain. I loved seeing these glimpses into Nikki's recent past, and there were quite a few times where I got a little annoyed at being thrown back into the present - I wanted to see more of her past life. There's something so exciting about experiencing a mix of past and present events. I'm curious to see if this structure continues in the next book, as I'm not sure it'll work in the same way.

An amazing book, I can't wait to see where Nikki's story leads to next.

4.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Uncommon Criminals - Ally Carter

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2)
Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) 
                                                      - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules. (Description from Goodreads)

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Ally Carter has done it again – she has created a perfect, fun mystery and adventure story that I could not put down. Kat, Hale and their other thieving friends take danger and excitement to a whole new level. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. There is nothing better than knowing you can pick up a book by a favourite author and not have to worry that it won’t be what you expected.

Kat Bishop is an epic teenage thief; racing around the globe to steal one of the most famous and mysterious treasures that the world has ever seen: The Cleopatra Emerald. But she’s not stealing it for herself; no, Kat’s an “uncommon criminal” – she steals stolen objects and returns them to their rightful owners, despite potential danger and cost! I love Kat’s lifestyle. She’s grown up surrounded by a life of crime and when she can’t escape the pressures of her family’s thieving history or the rush of adventure she gets for successfully pulling off heists, she decides to use her finely tuned skills for good...mostly. She may do it in a strange way, but her heart is in the right place.

Part of what I love so much about this book (and the one before it: ‘Heist Society’) is the fact that there are so many switches in point-of-view. I love seeing not only Kat’s thoughts and missions, but her friends’ movements too. But they’re not the only ones to feature in this series. There’s something strangely entertaining about seeing the POV of those being conned: the museum owners, the event organisers, the people in possession of the jewels. We get to experience how these people see Kat and her friends – we’re present for every little movement throughout the story. I find it makes everything more exciting - there are no parts left out.

The series isn’t just set up for an individual heist that’s wrapped up at the end of each book. What makes the series so thrilling is that there’s a continuing mystery unfolding slowly over each new story. There is a secret and super skilled thief running around leaving strange calling cards and often causing the characters to panic a bit. The thief is Visily Romani. He’s not new to the series, featuring more in the previous book, but he does pop up again in ‘Uncommon Criminals’. The mystery surrounding his identity and mission in the criminal world leaves me with so many questions. I love when a series has these amazing plot arcs connecting the books. One day we will hopefully discover who Visily Romani is and I know it will be a big reveal!

Like with ‘Heist Society’ I can’t end the review without mentioning Hale. He worried me a little in this book. While completely devoted to Kat, there were moments when I questioned his patience with her thieving style – I shouldn’t doubt his loyalty. Hale is a charming and caring young thief, who can always bring a smile to me face. I loved the continued tension between Kat and Hale and I’m so glad we got to see some sort of resolution for that.

Can’t say enough to show how much I loved this book. Looking forward to the next one.

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)