Saturday, 14 December 2013

Empower - Jessica Shirvington

Empower (The Violet Eden Chapters, #5)Empower (Violet Eden Chapters #5)
- Jessica Shirvington
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

It has been two years since Violet Eden walked away from the city, her friends, her future and – most painfully – her soulmate, Lincoln. Part angel, part human, Violet is determined to stand by the promises she made to save the one she loves.

Living in the perpetual coldness of a broken soul she survives day to day as a Rogue Grigori in London. It has been more than a year since she felt Lincoln searching for her and Violet has learnt to focus on nothing more than the war against exiled angels. But when an unexpected visitor shows up at her door, the news he bears about someone she swore to protect leaves Violet with no choice. Even worse, she fears that this might all lead back to the night she tries hardest to forget. And what was taken without her permission.

Violet is going back to New York ... and she knows exactly who is going to be there. With Phoenix in her dreams and Lincoln in heart she knows it is only a matter of time before the final choice must be made.(Description from Date a Book.)

~ * ~ * ~

I usually don’t review books when I haven’t reviewed the rest in the series – it makes me feel like I’m not giving viewers the chance to see my entire thoughts; but there is absolutely no way I can’t put down how much I loved this book!

If you’re a fan of the series, you would know that the fourth book – Endless – had an incredibly emotional and shocking ending. I spent half the book in tears and desperate to find out more. Well, Empower brings that and more. Lines were crossed in the past, and in this book, we’re learning to deal with the fall out.

I’ve always loved Violet, she had her moments – it’s hard not to get frustrated at characters sometimes as they make mistakes and grow – but I’ve always loved how determined she is to be her own person. She’s had to deal with a lot of responsibilities, and a destiny she’s been thrown into, but has had an incredible support crew she has behind her. I loved seeing that return in Empower, but also loved watching her accept that she was not alone in her fight to save the world.

For me, one of the most important parts of the book is choice – not only because of the tagline; it’s more than just that. Fans are going to think it’s the ‘final’ choice between Lincoln and Phoenix, but Violet picked Lincoln ages ago: mind, body and spirit – it’s always been about Lincoln. Just like the final choice will always be about Violet’s Grigori role: who she wants to be and where she fits into this world. She’ll never be able to just slide into the world, she has to have a purpose, so Empower is all about finally finding her ultimate place. And I loved watching Violet get there. She doesn’t let others determine her position. She’s a very strong character in that regard.

With how Endless left off, there was always going to be questions regarding Violet’s friends. I think I was more shocked by their acceptance of it all. With the exception of one character, who I’m not sure we can classify as just a ‘friend’; not one of them showed any frustrations at Violet’s choices. I was honestly expecting just one to go: “Hey, Vi. Glad you’re okay, but I haven’t quite forgiven you for running off yet.” – Or maybe that’s just my own feelings taking over. Violet is incredibly lucky with her relationships!

One of the things I was dying to see unfold was the romance. As a very vocal Team Lincoln fan, I was extremely close to willing myself into the book so I could lock Violet and Linc in the same room and wait for them to work out their differences. There were some lines, scenes and situations that just made me melt. These two are one of my top YA It-Couples. I was a very happy Kim!

There is so much I’d love to gush about this book: the rogue involvement, seeing favourite characters, exploring new locations – but I think I’ll skip to the danger: a new exile evil who is fighting for the end of the world. It’s strange, with Lilith they had a plan and a definite way of destroying her, but in Empower I honestly had no idea if they’d make it out alive. It was darker, more dangerous and involved more Grigori and exiles than you could possibly image. The book was very action-packed – I loved it! A lot happened towards the end with so few pages to go, but I think what I loved most was that the questions fan would be most vocal about were wrapped up – but all without being too fairytale-like. I felt that we were left wondering what the future will be like, but only because I didn’t want to let the characters go. There was enough of an ending to be satisfied. For Violet, Lincoln and the rest, life is never going to be simple and there’s no way to predict what could come next; but we get enough to feel complete.

I have enjoyed this series so much. The ups and downs, the emotion, friendship and growth for all characters. It will forever be a favourite!

5/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Iron Traitor - Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor (Call of the Forgotten #2) -
Julie Kagawa
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.

After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as "normal" as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he's forbidden to see her again.

But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, "normal" simply isn't to be. For Ethan's nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan's and Keirran's fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan's next choice may decide the fate of them all. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

For those who don't know, The Iron Traitor is book 2 in the Call of the Forgotten series by Julie Kagawa, a spin off to The Iron Fey series. What I love about Ms Kagawa is that her books seem to be getting better and better with every release. Whilst I liked The Iron Fey series, I am loving Call of the Forgotten. I find it easier to connect with the characters and the world. Perhaps because there's more "human" interactions. You can never trust the Fey.

The Iron Traitor begins with Ethan and Mackenzie (Kenzie) returning from their trip into the Nevernever, only to find that 2 weeks has past in the real world. 2 weeks without their parents knowing what had happened to them or where they were. To say their parents were upset about this is an understatement. Nevertheless, Ethan and Kenzie are determined to get back to reality and try their hand at a "normal" relationship. Unfortunately "normal" doesn't last long. Not when Keirran (the Iron Prince) has gone missing and the whole of Nevernever is searching for him.

I always say if you want to truly enjoy a novel you have to finish it within 3 days. That way you are focused on the story and hence more connected. Well, due to unforeseen circumstances, it took me 3 weeks to finish this book.... And I loved every second that I was able to read it. Even in the short time frame I was able to read in, I found myself being drawn into the world and connect with the characters. I was always looking forward to seeing what would happen next. Let me tell you, a lot was happening. Just a snippet of things: Ethan was forced to acknowledge his feelings of betrayal and abandonment from Meghan. Kenzie was forced to deal with her father and her sickness. Annwyl was knocking on deaths door, and poor Keirran would do anything to save her even if it meant his own death. And then there's the prophesy that seems more and more likely to happen.

There were so many intense moments that you truly appreciate when Ms Kagawa throws in a character like Puck and suddenly a dangerous situation changes from intense to comical. "What? I never make things worse. I make things more interesting". That you do Puck, that you do.

I loved this book, and highly recommend this series. I can not wait for the next book (especially after that cliffhanger of an ending)

5/5 stars

(Also published to Goodreads)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Allegiant - Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant (Divergent #3) - Veronica Roth
Grade: YA
Rating: 3/5 stars

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m happy that Veronica Roth told the story she wanted to tell. As a big believer that the author should tell their own story, this one shows that very well. It has a very intense and tricky storyline, full of big twists and turns. The writing is as addictive as the previous books have been, in that it flows so well that you don’t realise you’ve made it through so many pages until you look down and they’re just gone. But as a fan, and a reader, I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, mainly because of the direction the plot went in and the main characters.

I felt like Allegiant was wiping the slate clean. We were almost immediately thrown out of a city we’ve spent two books exploring and pushed into an outside world where things like aeroplanes and non-faction populations exist, and the issues we all want to see resolved, mostly involving the city are just forgotten. Instead we start focusing of genetic issues on the outside, sort of brushing over the Divergent again and finding yet another controlling governing body to overthrow. I was expecting a journey outside city limits, I really was, but I sort of thought it would all tie in together with resolving faction issues back home. Instead it just seemed to make things more complicated and at the same time, city-life made irrelevant.

My other big issue was Tris and Four (I still refuse to call him Tobias – it’s not his chosen name). I had problems with these two in Insurgent; all the lying, secrets and trust issues – they weren’t the power couple I’d fallen in love with in Divergent. I figured their issues would have stopped after the end of book 2, but it felt like they spent the whole book going backwards. Fighting, keeping secrets, twisting each other words. I’ve always loved Four, so I found myself in his corner more than Tris’. I just kept getting frustrated that it didn’t seem to matter what Four did, it was always somehow wrong; while ‘perfect’ Tris managed to have incredibly spot-on instincts all the time, made all the right decisions and saved the day over and over again like she could do no wrong. The distance that kept growing between them was ridiculous and I couldn’t help thinking there wasn’t much hope for them as a couple.

Despite these issues, there were some parts of the book I really enjoyed. I loved the split POV between Tris and Four; not only because with my issues with Tris it meant I wasn’t only inside her head, but because Four and Tris were apart a lot, we got to see both sides of the story. I really enjoyed Four’s voice, seeing his struggle to fit into a world outside of the one he knew – struggling more than most – and just getting a glimpse at his thought processes. I definitely enjoyed that more than anything else.

Allegiant has an incredibly powerful ending and I can understand why readers may have had issues with it. As readers, we want to feel satisfied that our excitement and investment in characters hasn’t been all for nothing; and it’s not a secret that the majority of us have certain expectations when a series is ending. I thought the actual climax for the book, the crucial turning points and problem solving, epic Let’s-Save-the-Day! moments were a bit short. There was a lot of build-up to these final scenes and with the way the city and factions were almost forgotten for most of the book, to have their issues resolved so fast, it wasn’t what I was expecting – a whole book of lead-up to end within 2 or 3 chapters, it was fast. And because of that, I felt one of the ways all the problems came to a close was rushed. I probably shouldn’t be writing this review so soon after finishing, because I’m still processing it all, but at the same time; if I don’t get it out now I think I’d avoid finishing it.

I thought Veronica Roth was brave, to do something that’s not done often in YA books; but I feel a little crushed and empty with the result.

3/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cinderella Screwed Me Over - Cindi Madsen

Cinderella Screwed Me OverCinderella Screwed Me Over - Cindi Madsen
Grade: Adult-Romance
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Darby Quinn has a bone to pick with Cinderella. Burned one too many times by ex-boyfriends, Darby has lost all belief in the happily-ever-after that the fairy-tale princess promised her. She's sworn off love, Prince Charmings, and happy endings and she's happy about it. Really. Or at least she was…until she met Jake, her gorgeous neighbor and the manager of her favorite restaurant. But Darby has rules about dating, ones she's culled from her years spent with so-called “princes,” and starting something with Jake would break all of them.

Charming, fun, and unwilling to give up on her, Jake doesn’t fit any of the profiles Darby has created from her case studies of ex-princes-gone-bad. Finally presented with her own Prince Charming, can Darby take a chance on a happily-ever-after?

Full of wit and sarcastic humor, Cinderella Screwed Me Over proves that sometimes the perfect love, like a perfect pair of shoes, is just within your grasp. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

I adored this book! It was like reading the script to a RomCom, only with added extra thoughts from the main character, and it was so much fun!

Darby Quinn is sceptical about love. She's been through so many rough relationships, so many broken hearts and screwed up paths, that she's given up on long-lasting relationships. In fact, she's giving up on dating completely. The main cause for her broken view on life? Well Fairytales and Disney stories, of course. Where else do you find an unnaturally large amount of situations that all point to Happily Ever After and the Perfect Prince saving the day? But things start to become complicated when Jake Knight comes on the scene. I had a very long giggle when I realised Jake's surname was 'Knight'. I liked the irony of him becoming the Prince to change Darby's heart...and he's a knight!

I had mixed feelings about Darby. Most of the time I loved her, and could even identify with telling yourself that it's better off not being in love so you can't get hurt; but other times I just wanted to shake some sense in her, especially when it came to stringing Jake along. Darby, not looking for anything long-term, manages to hook Jake's interest and feelings, while constantly pushing him away at the same time. It was frustrating because all Jake ever did was try to make her happy. He gets bonus points for being more patient than anyone else.

I mentioned before that it's very RomCom-esque. I haven't branched out into adult chick lit before, so I can imagine there are a lot of books that read like a favourite movie; but for me this was one of the first and I just adored it. I can see myself taking Cinderella Screwed Me Over off the shelf when I'm in the mood for an easy, fun, romantic drama story; and I know I'll love it every single time I pick it up.

One of the best parts of this book was seeing Darby's past relationships as pre-created 'Case Studies' for how a previous relationship broke down and comparing them to popular male characters from favourite fairytales. I loved the case studies, and not just because they let us into Darby’s life; let us see why she was so broken and wary of love. I think I may have had the wrong reaction to them at times; I was just excited to come up to the next Disney or fairytale story and see how they were represented. I loved seeing the Robin Hood-a-like throw a bullseye on the dart board, mirroring the image of Robin Hood and his bow and arrow; or Ariel’s obsession with forks, or even the mention of “twitterpated” giving me Bambi flashbacks. It was like getting a Disney fix, without actually watching Disney, all while being torn apart and analysed endlessly. It’s a bit strange liking the mentions the most; I really enjoyed them as case studies too, because it showed Darby had some really rough relationships. But I’m a sucker for Disney, so I can’t be blamed for loving the book for these extra reasons.

An incredibly fun, entertaining and romantic story, with just the right amount of cynicism, sarcastic comments, and Disney references to make any girl happy!

4/5 stars

(also posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 16 September 2013

United We Spy - Ally Carter

United We Spy (Gallagher Girls, #6)United We Spy (Gallagher Girls #6) - Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. 
Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

What is a Gallagher Girl? Well...we’re about to find out.

United We Spy answers so many questions about who Gallagher Girls are and just what role they have in the future of both normal and spy worlds – and we get to finally see a conclusion to the terrorist-style group that is the Circle of Cavan.

Unlike previous books, while we start this one as though off to another school semester, it can’t end that way. The danger was amped up in the last book. The Circle of Cavan doesn’t play safe or fair when it comes to staying in power, and our favourite Gallagher Girls, Blackthorne Boys and amazing adults are racing against an unknown clock to stop the Circle leaders from grabbing more power and destroying the world – and I don’t think I’m exaggerating with that statement. It’s an intense journey! While there are some differences, I’m glad the increasing danger patterns continued in this one; it’s hard to go back to the innocent, carefree spy-school days again. There’s never a dull moment for Cammie and the gang.

Cammie has an interesting struggle throughout United We Spy. We know she was always going to spend time struggling against The Circle of Cavan, but the strange part was her questioning her spy-future at the same time. I liked how humanising this was. She’s not above recognising that the spy life, while all she’s known and wanted to do her whole life, has its dangers. I liked watching her try and decide on her future and come to terms with who she is the most.

I mentioned danger a lot – it needs another mention and a warning for heart attack inducing moments! Ally Carter had me all sorts of nervous throughout 90% of this’s unavoidable and at the same time fun! The danger was mixed in with a few incredible twists, making this book one of the best Gallagher Girls books ever! (my favourite is still #5 – but not to say United We Spy is any less awesome!)

I loved seeing all out favourite characters again, and I’m so sad the series is over, especially because I feel like I was only just introduced to the Gallagher Girls. I will miss them...but there’s always re-reads!

5/5 stars

(ps. Super special bonus scene was amazing. I almost think it should be read before the epilogue, but it was another nice little scene to make me smile!)

(Also posted to Goodreads)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Fathomless - Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)Fathomless - Jackson Pearce
(Fairytale Retellings #3)

Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant - until Celia meets Lo. 

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea - a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid - all terms too pretty for the soul-less monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality. 

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her... and steal his soul. (Description from Date a Book)

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Fathomless had an extra edge before I even started the book. Not only did I love the previous fairytale stories Jackson Pearce has written, but The Little Mermaid is my personal favourite fairytale - so I was SUPER excited to see how Pearce would twist the story and make it her own. And let me tell you I LOVED IT!

We start the book being introduced to the Ocean Girls. If you know Jackson Pearce's previous books well, the Ocean Girls are not new ideas, but we've never actually seen them before. Transformed into something that can live under the water, something dangerous - not quite a mermaid, but closer to a siren, luring men into the waves with the hope they will love them enough to return their souls and let them be released from the ocean. But you can't make a boy fall in love with you with just a song...and so, the Ocean Girls chose to fade away under the water, forgetting their past lives, hoping an angel will return and take them to a better place.

Enter Lo, our main Ocean Girl. She's conflicted. She loves her life under the water and after a failed attempt at taking a human boy's soul she's content to let her life fade away. I was so curious about Lo's life. She is obviously the Little Mermaid in the story, especially when she later attempts to move around on land, with pain shooting up from her feet - almost like crushing glass with new step. But she's torn between accepting her life now under the water, and trying to regain the memories of her life before becoming and Ocean Girl, her life as Naida. The conflicting people within her made for some interesting twists. You never knew which personality will take hold or what memories she'll discover.

But she has help with that, Celia Reynolds. I knew before starting the book, that Celia was part of the giant Reynolds clan, my favourite family in Jackson Pearce's series! Celia is a triplet, and unlike the males in her family, she doesn't seem to be aware that there are dangerous and supernatural beings in the world. Her sisters, Anne and Jane, believe they are the only ones which weird and secret talents - the three sisters can see the Future, Present and Past. Celia, gifted with the power to see the past, believes her talent is useless. What good is seeing the mistakes and troubles of the past? You can't change what happened before. But she can help someone who forgets to remember. She can try to help Lo remember Naida. I felt bad for Celia, she seemed so alone, despite having sisters around her all the time. Not quite like Anne and Jane, Celia stands apart and when she meets Lo, she starts to find herself as Celia and not just as a sister. I loved her trying to help search through Lo's memories and I loved how much she cared.

Like all good stories, there's a complication in the mix: a boy, Jude. Lo and Celia help save Jude from drowning, and it starts a snowball effect of drama. Jude falls in love, both girls feel a connection to him and both look for something beyond their lives when they're with him. Lo, desperate to find a way out of her ocean life, hopes that Jude might fall in love with her and release her from her water prison. Celia wants to be normal and finds a way to block the past while with Jude. But secrets and lies plague their separate relationships and that can only lead to trouble. The secrets churned me up a bit. Some I could understand keeping, others made me mental. I just wanted everyone to be happy in the end. These hopes for a new life and the mix of secrets caused a massive twist at the end - I totally didn't see it coming - but it was good. I loved it.

Amazing retelling of The Little Mermaid - definitely a favourite. Can't wait for Cold Spell. I hope there are more retellings after this one, because I enjoy them too much to let go.

4.5/5 stars

(also posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Altered - Jennifer Rush

Altered (Altered, #1)Altered (Altered #1) - Jennifer Rush
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive. 

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart. 

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. 

She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away. (Description from Date A Book)

~ * ~ * ~

I adored this book! Altered is an addictive read, I couldn't put it down!

What's strange is that you find out so much form the blurb: a lab, with 4 boys being held - boys that have been genetically altered in strange and curious ways. Stronger, more dangerous and yet unknown at the same time. And then there's Anna, a teen and daughter to the scientist running experiments on the altered boys. Why are they being tested and developed into something more than human? Well, for a secret agency with government connections, of course. But when this group, The Branch, tries to take them away and the boys escape taking Anna with them, a troubling journey to uncover the mystery of their past takes hold.

The four boys were the first part that made me curious. I loved how different they all were. Cas, with his inability to sit still too long, but a giant obsession with food. Trev, who had an incredible memory and loved to bring up quotes that matched almost every situation. Nick, who I think was the most dangerous of the bunch because of his darker attitude and harsh take on life. And Sam, a natural leader maybe, but a brilliant strategist and someone with a protective streak and an obvious hidden past. These boys drove me crazy, but in a good way. I loved their connection to each other, the way they bounced off each other, it made them seem closer. Which I guess is possible when you live in a lab with only the 4 of them for years. However, the biggest mystery behind them all was their hidden pasts. A memory loss from the time before arriving in Anna's world. And when you've got gaps in your memory the only thing left to do is search for answers.

I loved this quest to uncover the hidden pasts. The focus was entirely on Sam and his back story. After leaving himself a few cryptic clues, the groups set off to make sense of it all. It was a bit strange how easy it seemed to follow all the link, despite a bit of trouble deciphering a few of them, it did come pretty quickly. Presumably, Sam had hidden all these clues to surviving outside The Branch; and while you would assume he'd be able to figure them all out, it was a tad easy for someone who couldn't actually remember leaving the clues anywhere. But that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I loved every new discovery, and I loved that each boy, and Anna, had a part in piecing together their trip. It wasn't just Sam figuring out all the bits on his own - there was real team effort going on.

At the start you're aware that Anna has deep feelings for Sam, so I was on the look out for a bit of romance between the two of them. I was not disappointed, although there was a bit of twist that threw me off for a while. I loved their little moments together! I can't wait to see more of it.

Speaking of twists, there was more than one. I guess that makes up for knowing about escaping from the secret lab in advance and the easy trail of clues, because some of these surprise plot lines left me speechless. One in particular hit me extremely hard. I was really impressed with the twists, I just wasn't expecting them, and they changed the dynamic of the story. Everything gets darker, you question bits from the beginning - I was completely turned around.

I have no idea what to expect from the sequel, but if it has even half the twists, danger and excitement, I know I'm going to love it!

5/5 stars

(Also posted on Goodreads)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Star Cursed - Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #2)
Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2)
 - Jessica Spotswood
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Born Wicked introduced us to a world run by religious belief and the heavy hand of men – condemning women for being anything other than meek and reliant on fathers and husbands...unless you’ve accused of witchcraft. Star Cursed takes that to a whole new level, detailing the life within the only walls safe from Brotherhood exposure: The Sisterhood convent. Not as meek as they would seem, as it is really a refuge for witches.

At the end of Born Wicked, Cate Cahill makes a weighty decision to move her life to the Sisterhood home in New London, all to protect her real sisters and the boy she loves. But it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. With a prophecy looming over her choices and the Brotherhood stepping up their crackdown on women’s rights, danger is at every turn - and there’s not a lot Cate can do to stop it.

I really liked that we got to explore the prophecy more, not only because the glimpse we saw in book 1 wasn’t complete. There seems to be an endless amount of facets to the future, but all unchangeable. I’m usually not a fan of prophecies and taking away choices – the idea that something is predetermined and unstoppable makes me angry – but I really liked seeing how it all unfolded in Star Cursed. Maybe it was because Cate fought the idea of the future already being defined too, but it was also just exciting.

The sister drama was one of my favourite parts of the book. I always love seeing families, especially when they’re in paranormal books, because family is often ignored for romance or magic. Well, when your romance and magic are also tied to family, it’s hard to escape. I loved seeing Cate, Maura and Tess all interacting. They don’t have perfect relationships, and that just makes it more realistic. There were aspects of the sisterly-bonding that you could determine from far away. I could see that the tension between the siblings that had carried over from the first book wasn’t just going to disappear, even after embracing their witch side and eliminating one of the reasons for that tension. The fighting and struggle to reconnect with each other made me worried about what was to come.

I was concerned we wouldn’t get to see Cate and Finn’s relationship develop in this book, but I shouldn’t have panicked so much. The connection they started in Born Wicked gets explored again in this book, with no less danger to overcome. The only bright spot is that they’re so determined to be together and to love each other. While it wasn’t quite as intense, like feathers in a cupboard or garden transformations; the fact that they got the chance to steal kisses in the night was good enough for me.

There is an extremely large hint of rebellion in this book, not only from the witches but from the general populace. The Brotherhood is losing favour and control of the masses. It made the second half of the book, and particularly the ending, very intense and fast paced. I was so shocked by the final pages, I almost couldn’t believe the words in front of me and I had to reread them a few times. You get so pulled in by the flow of the story, the way everything is moving so quickly and with such focus...and then the cliff-hanger hits. And it’s an epic cliff-hanger. I'm still waiting for it to settle in my mind.

An incredible sequel, with a mix of romance, rebellion and intense magical action! I can’t wait to get my hands on book 3.

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Dead Jealous - Sharon Jones

Dead Jealous
Dead Jealous - Sharon Jones
Grade: YA
Rating: 4/5 Stars

People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she's also Death.

Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn't been so lucky. 

As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise - too late - that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time. (Description from Date A Book)

~ * ~ * ~
Before this year I never actively searched for mystery and thriller books, I never considered myself a crime lover or one who searched for secret evil societies - at least not in a "real world" setting, one without vampires or some other supernatural element. But this year changed it. I read one fantastic mystery-thriller book and I NEEDED more. Dead Jealous hits the mark for mystery, danger and suspense.

I really enjoyed Poppy's voice. She was a tad too trusting at times, but growing up visiting Pagan festivals all her life, and believing that the people she interacts with at these gatherings are all friendly, wholesome people (despite being a sceptic of their beliefs) there's no doubt in her mind that she's with people she can trust. But dead bodies and a gripping mystery tend to change the way you see things. I think after discovering a dead body I'd be a little less trusting of anyone I met, new or old, at least for a while - but Poppy pushes through, convinced that she knows who the untrustworthy people are and who she should stick with.

You get swept up in the mystery. I was determined to try and crack the mystery before Poppy. I had my suspicions, but every time I settled on someone being "the killer" a new twist would pop up and I'd change my mind again.

There is a romance sub-plot to the book. Before I'd even met both potential guys for Poppy I was Team-Michael. It doesn't always work, but I like when best-friends turn into something more, especially if it ends up being mutual like. I'm all for moving on if the other person doesn't show an interest, but if there's a chance I want to see it.

I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to the next Poppy Sinclair mystery.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cover Reveal: Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Are you READY?! Really ready? Cause this cover will have you fan-girling all over the place... (Just remember I did try to warn you).... Ok, ok here it is!! The official cover of Origin (Lux series book 4) *cue squeals*


The book will be released on 27/8/2013 by Entangled Teen line.


# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

ORIGIN official Blurb:

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything. 

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?


Additional links to Jennifer’s pages:

What did you think of the cover? Hands up who fan-girled *raises hand*

I personally LOVED IT! Daemon looks deliciously fierce and I think the image really matches the blurb. He looks like he would do anything, go through anyone to get Katy back. I was excited before the cover but now I truly can't wait for Origin.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Perfect Escape - Jennifer Brown

Perfect EscapePerfect Escape - Jennifer Brown
Grade: YA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Kendra Bolten knows what it's like to be overshadowed by a sibling. Her older brother, Grayson, is a genius, but his OCD forces him to live life through a series of carefully coordinated routines. It seems as if he can't survive without counting, symmetry, constantly washing his hands - and the whole family revolving around him. Kendra feels that the only way she can shine in the presence of her brother is to be perfect - something she has down to an art. She's a straight-A student, has plenty of extracurricular activities, and always makes the right decisions. But when Kendra finds herself the ringleader of a cheating scandal in her Calc class, her mistake could jeopardize the perfection she's worked so hard to attain.

For once she knows exactly how Grayson feels when he expresses his wish to just run away from his OCD. Behind the wheel of her hand-me-down car, with Grayson asleep in the passenger seat, Kendra makes a decision. Together, they'll drive away from it all - get some distance, find help for Grayson, prove that she's still the perfect girl-in-control - and maybe her colossal mistake will look a little more forgivable. Eventually though, no matter how far they go, there is nothing for Kendra to do but to face what she's been running from. (Description from Date A Book)

~ * ~ * ~

I'm a little rusty on review writing. I've been taking a break, and picking a book I want to gush about as my first review back was probably a bad idea - but it does deserve a bit of gushing. Not to be all clich├ęd or anything, but this book really was a perfect escape from heavy and over complicated stories and stressful real-life. While Kendra was at times very young and selfish, I loved her voice. It was a really touching story, especially with all the sibling interactions – I just adored it all.

Usually you think of road trips as a holiday; travelling over the country with the windows rolled down and music blasting on the radio. Kendra's trip in Perfect Escape was a bit different. Disguised as a road trip, but really an escape from reality, Kendra and her brother Grayson struggle to outrun issues they've left behind at home. For Kendra it's a high school mistake that threatens to destroy her perfect daughter and student status; and for Grayson it's an involuntary test of letting go of his constricting OCD struggles. What I loved about this book was that the main characters were fighting to find themselves without coming from broken families. There was no divorce or abuse, just a slight disconnection from each other; but Kendra and Grayson learn to be siblings again, and I adored seeing them get there.

It's hard to discuss the OCD focus in this novel without destroying how powerful it was. Perfect Escape is not the first book I’ve read with characters facing OCD, but it is the first I've read in a realistic setting. I loved the way Jennifer Brown tackled the topic, letting us see the good and bad sides of the condition, but allowing us to see that moving outside of a comfort zone can help the good days shine a bit. Grayson struggles when he's not counting, and his fears and anxieties often take over. But he was such an intelligent character and the emotion that came through every time he took that step outside of his self imposed safety box made me smile so much. I absolutely adored Grayson.

My favourite part of this book was not the road trip, or even the way OCD was approached, but the sibling interactions. So often in books siblings might exist, but actually seeing them interact becomes a minor part of the book. Perfect Escape isn't like that. With no romance and no real focus on a strong friendship except flashbacks to a Too-Perfect-To-Be-Real life from before, the main relationship in this book falls on Kendra and Grayson's connection. They fight, they argue, they drive each other mental, and they would do anything to be in the other's shoes. But all of that is overshadowed by the fact that they love each other. And I loved them in turn for being so real.

This was my first Jennifer Brown book, but I definitely want to read her other novels, because Perfect Escape really touched me. I loved it.

4.5/5 stars

(originally posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Giveaway - we DARE YOU TO enter...


Are you a fan of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits? Well here's your chance to win the next smash hit by the amazing YA Contemporary author!

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

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

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

~ * ~ * ~

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia, I'm giving ONE lucky Aussie a chance to get their hands on this fantastic novel - trust me, you don't want to miss it. You can read my thoughts HERE. (spoiler: I loved it!)

It's really simply to enter.

Just leave us a comment telling us why you would like the book and then fill out the form below. Easy! You must be an Australian resident to enter.

Kelly Ryan

Kelly, we will be emailing you for your details soon, so keep refreshing your inbox! Congratulations again, and thanks to everyone for entering. 

* One entry per person.
* You must be at least 16 years old or have permission from your parents before entering.
* Must be an Australian resident (sorry international followers)
* The giveaway is open now and will run until 11:59pm (AEST) 19th June 2013
* Winners will be picked by and announced on the blog.
* Winners will also be emailed and have 1 week to reply before a new winner is picked.
* Prizes will be sent from the publisher. We are not responsible for lost or damaged property

Good Luck!


Thank you Harlequin Australia for the copy of Dare You To. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) - Rick Yancey
Grade: YA

Rating: 5/5 stars

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

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

There is almost no way for me to put into words just how much I adored The 5th Wave - This book is by far the best book I’ve read this year and I know I’ll be obsessing about it for months to come. (Kerrie: I have a love/hate relationship with books that are full of tension (as this one was). I found myself glued to the book, unable to put it down, wanting to know what will happen next, all this with my stomach in knots.)

The world we’re introduced to is one crumbling. We’re given a very detailed and emotional tale about how humanity was vastly unprepared for life forms outside of Earth; and when those life forms – The Others – decide to wipe humans off the face of the world – well, let’s just say it’s going to be extremely hard to fight back. I’ve always thought of myself as someone who is intrigued by sci-fi stories, but never obsessed with them. (Kerrie: I'm not against Sci-Fi but I don't seek it out. I am a Roswell (TV show) fan so I'm good with aliens) The 5th Wave could be the story to make me obsessed – at least with humans fighting against invasion stories. That’s partly what this book is all about: fighting for survival. I loved the way the world was set up. There are new rules, new ways to prepare yourself for the worst. Your old worries (like whether your crush likes you or not) are thrown out the window. This is a dark and dangerous book and it tackles some deep moral issues; but it was so full of energy and emotion that you just can’t put it down.

There are a lot of hard decisions in this book. A lot comes down to trust: who to trust, how to learn to trust and how to get over the guilt if you decide you can’t bring yourself to trust and must fight for your own survival. I can understand why, in a world full of live and die situations, the characters would choose to fight like hell to stay alive no matter the cost. But it made for a very emotional and intense setting, with a lot of shoot-outs and death. The tricky part comes when the world has faced an incredible amount of destruction, when there’s a limited amount of humans left on the planet and everyone knows it – how do you know who you can trust and who is an alien clone out to get you? don’t know, so you just keep fighting. There was that constant voice in the back of your head that was telling you it’s a kill or be killed world – it definitely kept the blood pumping.(Kerrie: Since Cassie didn't know who to trust I didn't know who to trust - So it was just a full on, stomach in knots, unputdownable novel)

I really enjoyed the way the book was set up – sections dividing up the events and switching point of views and chain of events with every new section. I loved getting a look at multiple situations and characters, and I really wasn’t expecting that. The back blurb introduces us to Cassie Sullivan and Evan Walker, and you assume they will be our focus characters, especially when Cassie starts the book off. You start to think the story is Cassie’s alone, when it’s so much more than that. (Kerrie: I LOVED Cassie! Not only was she a survivor, she did it in a way where she didn't truly loose herself. Yes, she changed. She killed. She lost her innocence. But she still held on to her love for her brother and her humour in times of horror) Cassie’s fight for survival is only part of the story, with her almost standing alone against a force so powerful you question her right mind for thinking she has a chance against an entire alien race. But despite that, you can’t help admiring her strength and determination, her struggle to trust without losing hope in the world. I adored her history and loss and the emotion she brought to the table.

But it’s not a single person against the world. Military base camps are being set up, training children to identify and eliminate the enemy. When the world crumbles around you, I’m not sure giving seven year olds guns is the way to go; but it certainly sends a powerful message. I loved the strict training and intense indoctrination at these military camps. The lifestyle, harsh mental stress and reimagining of these teens and kids – preparing them for an existence of killing humans or human look-a-likes is just so confronting. I’ve deliberately not mentioned characters here because it would absolutely ruin the shocking twists that pop up – you have to read it for yourself!

The one person who does deserve a mention though, is Evan Walker. I may be slightly obsessed with this book boy. Evan was a puzzling mystery, one that I thought I’d worked out early, but you come to realise you’ll never completely know Evan. In a world where death is almost literally around every corner, it’s hard to remain innocent and untouched – and Evan’s no exception – but he was one of the sweetest characters I’ve come across lately. His fiercely protective nature when it came to Cassie, the touching way he sat and washed her hair, and the almost reckless offer to go on dangerous missions and jump into situations to keep her out of danger made me melt. But what I loved most was how he never once tried to control Cassie. He offered, pleaded and suggested for her to stay away from trouble, but he let her make up her own mind and stood by her every step of the way. (Kerrie: I love how he was always there for Cassie. I really have no words for Evan, other than amazing. Anything else I say might be a spoiler)

I delayed reading the end of the book because I knew there was going to be a gigantic wait for the sequel. But this is the sort of book you can’t put down. A rescue, a fight and minimal chance of survival...and then the final pages hit with questions pouring out of your mind and no hope of answers for months to come! It’s going to be a very long wait. (Kerrie: This book...that ending was torture! It's really cruel that we now have to wait and see what happens to everyone)

An incredible start to an addictive series. The 5th Wave is a book everyone should get their hands on.

5/5 stars

(Originally Posted on Goodreads)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Dare You To - Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) - Katie McGarry
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

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

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

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

Description taken from Goodreads
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Katie McGarry has done it again with another tear jerking, heart warming, unputdownable novel. I become so engrossed in this novel I finished it in one sitting (ended up going to bed at 2am because I simply couldn't stop reading). Dare You To was one of my most anticipated reads for 2013 and I can safely say it will also be one of my favourites.

After reading Pushing the Limits and learning that the next book would be about Beth I immediately assumed Isaiah would be the love interest. Instead we are introduced to dare loving (as in "I dare you to..."), baseball and all round golden boy Ryan. As I began to get into the story and really understood who Ryan was, I realised why Ryan is Beth's "perfect fit". He's good for her. He gives her the ability to grow, to leave her past behind, and become who she's meant to be without being dragged down by the ugliness of her past. And she's good for him too. Ryan hides who he really is from everyone. Scared to break the "perfect" image everyone else has of him. A lot of this has to do with his parents who are all about keeping up the image of being up-standing members of the community. People who other families look up to. Needless to say, what happens behind closed doors is anything but perfect. And Ryan's not perfect (no one is), but it's Beth who ends up helping him to realise that that's ok, and to be proud of who he is.

Ah Katie, this is what I love about your writing! There are so many positive messages for teenagers (and young adults) to take away from your books. Your characters, although struggling and dealing with so much ugliness that life has dealt them, are true role models.

I loved this book and can't wait for Isaiah to have his happily ever after.


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Eternity Cure - Julie Kagawa

The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden, #2)The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) - Julie Kagawa
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Description taken from Goodreads
~ * ~ * ~ *

It's very rare for me to say I enjoyed the sequel more than the original but I'm going to say it now. The Eternity Cure was such an amazing ride and (in my opinion) more enjoyable than The Immortal Rules.
Crazy Vampires, murderous humans, street rats, mole men, rabids plus a new breed of horror, this book had it all.

I liked the pacing of this book. Things were happening straight off the bat and continued throughout the novel.

It starts where The Immortal Rules ended, with Allie searching for her sire Kanin who has been kidnapped and tortured by the crazy Vampire Sarren. What follows is an awesome ride full of surprise encounters and fast paced action.

I loved Allie in this book. She has really grown into her vampirism and she has become this kickass heroine. She's not afraid anymore. She knows who she is and what she believes in and won't let anyone stand in her way. Which for me is a sign of a great female character.

Now onto the boys... While I'm a huge Kanin fan, Jackal stole the show for me in this book. His constant sarcasm, taunts, threats and smart ass comments were hilarious. I'm not sure how Julie did it but I could almost forget all the horrible things he had done in the first book. It's like he started with a clean slate, and I really liked him. Can't wait to see what he's like in the next book.

Speaking of the next book- can I have it now?! Please! The ending of The Eternity Cure will leave you with your mouth wide open in shock. To end a book like like- Julie, that was just plain mean! Brilliant but mean. It will leave you desperate for the next book.

I loved The Eternity Cure and would definitely recommend it. 5/5 stars!

Below are a couple of links you might be interested in:

The Trailer for The Eternity Cure

The Official Page for Blood of Eden

Many thanks to Harlequin Teen for review copy and links


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Friday, 19 April 2013

Sweetly - Jackson Pearce

Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)
Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings #2) - Jackson Pearce
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past -- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone -- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Jackson Pearce has captivated me again with her fabulous fairytale retellings! I love that she seems to pick the less obvious tales - not that people have never heard of Hansel and Gretel (or Little Red Riding Hood) - but they're not the first ones people draw from. Sweetly is exactly the sort of story I adore.

For brother and sister, Gretchen and Ansel, life has always been about living in the shadow of tragedy. After losing Gretchen's twin sister in the woods by their house while they were just little kids, nothing in life has seemed stable. When their stepmother throws them out when she's no longer legally required to look after them, it becomes just another twist in their existence...until they stumble upon the little town of Live Oak and their world is turned upside-down. I loved how the beginning was set out, there was the obvious 'witch' talks and a modernised "bread crumb" trail of lollies and a desperate need to stick together - as all Gretchen and Ansel had were each other.

I thought Gretchen was a really nice main character. While she was a tad timid at first, used to hiding from her past, she grew into herself so much. As someone who has always sort of believed in the supernatural, she accepts the twists and turns she comes across almost too well - but it is fiction and it didn't bother me much. I loved that she adopts a take-charge attitude as the story continues. She discovers there's a mystery in Live Oak where teenage girls are going missing each year and Gretchen decides she doesn't want to just sit back and watch it happen again - she doesn't want to be one of the missing. I love the change you see in her.

I know you're all wondering: So where's the witch with the gingerbread house, liquorice windows and chocolate doors? Well she certainly turns up, but not quite in the way I expected. We meet Sophia Kelly soon after Gretchen and Ansel arrive in Live Oak. Sophia's a mysterious young lady who runs a chocolatier out of her house, but it's obvious she's keeping secrets from the rest of the world. Flitting between emotions and desperate to host a chocolate festival for the young girls of Live Oak, Sophia confuses you from start to finish. I'll admit I had no idea what to feel when it came to Sophia. I was convinced she was the evil witch one minute, and worried I was judging her too harshly the next; like I was trying to force her into the role of the witch because I knew the story of Hansel and Gretel demanded the witch with the lollies would be the enemy. I liked that this storyline was unpredictable that way. In Sisters Red there were obvious plot twists that jumped out at me from the start, and while I did pick some of the direction for Sweetly, Sophia remained a mystery to me the whole book.

One of my favourite parts of reading Sweetly was seeing the connections to Sisters Red. We haven't left the Fenris (werewolves) behind, they're still there, still attacking girls and still causing a lot more trouble than you'd like. And even better, there's even a Reynolds boy on the scene: Samuel Reynolds. No actual mention of Silas or Papa Reynolds, but when he says he comes from a family of woodcutters and hunters you're pretty sure he's part of the same bunch. I loved it! Samuel is an incredible love interest (because you know that's what he'll end up being instantly) He doesn't fall immediately in love and he doesn't spend every waking moment trying to convince Gretchen she should stay in the pretty-girl world and let the man look after her. There is no one man who saves the day, this is definitely a Girl-Power book - but with a nice supporting role for Samuel. He was written in a way that let Gretchen shine while he stands by her in everything she does. It was perfect.

I really loved this book and I'm desperate to get my hands on the next one: Fathomless (and not only because it's a Little Mermaid retelling - my favourite fairytale)

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 11 March 2013

Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J. Bick

Drowning InstinctDrowning Instinct - Ilsa J. Bick
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

Description taken from Goodreads
* ~ * ~ * ~ *

If you like books that are a little bit dark, that pull at your emotions and makes you question ‘right’ from ‘wrong’, that isn’t afraid to bring up the big issues such as depression and abuse (just to name a few) then you’ll love Drowning Instincts by Ilsa J. Bick.

I loved the start of this novel. It begins in the ER, where a Detective is trying to question a victim who was rescued from a freezing lake. Unfortunately the “victim” isn’t talking and so the detective leaves her with his recorder “I need the story, Jenna. I need the truth.” From her response I knew I was going to love this novel: “Right. Like the two are the same thing.” The fact that Jenna is in the ER and talking to a Detective automatically means things ended badly, but I had no idea just how bad things would get.

Jenna’s story begins about a year before the ‘incident’, and you instantly learn that this was not Jenna’s first near death experience, or even the first time she’s meet Detective Robert ‘Bob’ Pendleton. To say Jenna has had a shocking childhood is an understatement. Her father is a manipulative, abusive, evil man (I couldn’t see one redeemable quality in him), and her mother only cares for herself. Her brother, whom she loves, enlisted and so she is alone in this terrifying world. It isn’t any wonder that Jenna suffers from depression. Then she starts a new school and meets Mr. Anderson. He’s always there for her when no one else is, he looks after her and protects her. There’s just a few problems. He’s her married, much older, Science teacher.

What I loved about Jenna was that she was trying. She was trying to get her life back on track. She was trying not ‘to cut’ to make herself feel better. She was trying to take control of her life and make decisions. The fact that in her recordings to Bob she would stop the story at different junctions and admits if she had made a different choice at this point in her life things would’ve ended differently- she wouldn’t be in the ER now, she wouldn’t be telling her story to Detective Bob- brings a sense of foreboding to the reader. In fact, that sense stays with you throughout the entire novel.

In other books I’ve read that deal with confronting themes usually end with…..well, if not a happy ending, then one that leaves you with a little hope. Not this one. The ending left me feeling anxious and confused. I still have questions that I want answered, and I found myself turning the back pages thinking ‘this can’t be it’. I guess in a way it had to end like that, but at the same time I feel like I don’t have closure. I find that I can’t stop thinking about Jenna.

Drowning Instincts is a truly dark, gripping, compelling read. It is one that will continue to haunt you long after you finished.

Loved it. 5/5


Originally Posted on Goodreads

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Hidden - Marianne Curley

Hidden (Avena, #1)Hidden (Avena #1) - Marianne Curley
Grade: YA

Rating: 4/5 stars

Ebony has always known that she is different. Her violet eyes mark her out, and her protective parents have kept her in a gorgeous valley, home-schooled, safe from everything - almost as if she's being hidden. But she's changing: glowing, getting more and more beautiful, and stronger than anyone knows. Ebony can't stay hidden for ever, and when she meets complicated, intense Jordan, something explodes inside her - something that can be seen from the heavens; something that changes everything. Ebony is a stolen angel, concealed on Earth. Now the heavens have found her, they want her back. (Description from Goodreads)

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I really enjoyed reading Hidden. I’m a fan of angel books, but have a hard time finding new ones to actually pick up, even though I know they’re out there. So when I was given a copy of Hidden I hoped it would be an angel book I’d fall in love with. And it definitely gets double thumbs up in my books.

The moment I opened the pages of Hidden I was intrigued. Main character, Ebony Hawkins, is going through a strange time. She feels like she’s way too different from the people around her, and her parents won’t seem to answer the questions she has about herself. Enhanced hearing, sight and smell, amazing strength and an ability to run a lot faster than anyone else at school makes Ebony determined to not be the focus of attention in any way possible. But after a stumble literally pushes Jordan Blake, a guy from Ebony’s school, into a wall, Ebony finds her life changed in unbelievable ways. I didn’t know what to think about this beginning. Ebony and Jordan are so different both in personality and presence. Ebony is tough and determined. She defies her parents to claim some sort of independence and keeps this need to be in control of her actions throughout the entire book. Where as Jordan came off as the weaker of the two characters. He just never seemed to get it together. Their differences made everything stand out more.

I found the beginning of the book was a bit slow. Ebony and Jordan, despite going to the same school, don’t know each other when they first meet, which makes things a little tricky because a fair bit of the novel involves both characters searching for information about each other. From a reader’s point of view, we pick up on the clues a lot quicker than the characters do – Ebony and Jordan, unfortunately, suffer from cluelessness for a lot of the book, but I sort of enjoyed being in the know before them. It made all the revelations that much more exciting.

I liked the split POV because it meant we got to see more than just Ebony’s story – even though she was the most important character in the book. If we hadn’t been focusing on Jordan too, we wouldn’t have been introduced to most of the angel side of the story. I really liked the mystery that surrounded Ebony and her angel connections. Stolen at birth and hidden on earth, Ebony’s history is unknown. I was desperate to find out why she’d been taken and who from her previous life would save her. The angel and demon storyline (even though it wasn’t completely “demon” like) gave the book an extra danger. Though some aspects of the angel history seemed brushed over, it still made the story very interesting.

The romance in the story was a neat little twist. I went into it thinking the focus would be entirely on Ebony and Jordan, as main characters with shared POV and narration...then Thane entered the scene and I was all: Jordan, who? Thane is amazing. His feelings for Ebony were obvious from the start and I waited impatiently to see what would come of them. Despite Ebony’s apparent connection to Jordan at the start, I couldn’t ignore the attraction that came from Thane, or the way he stood out as a presence in the story. His role was so important. Thane really made me smile.

I loved that the ending was a mix of action, mystery and closure. I’m dying to see Ebony learn to fight a bit more – I want her to join in the action. And I definitely won’t say no to more Thane! Can’t wait for book 2.

4/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Song in the Dark - Christine Howe

Song in the DarkSong in the Dark - Christine Howe
Grade: YA
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Where do you end up when you have nowhere to go, and no one to turn to?

Paul isn't thinking clearly. After destroying a series of relationships – with his friends, his flatmates, his mum – he finally hurts the one person he cares about most of all. And then he runs away.

An extraordinary and heartrending story of love, betrayal, addiction and hope. (Description from Goodreads)

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If you picked up this book thinking it would be a light, contemporary read, you'll be disappointed. Song in the Dark is a gritty and confronting read that details the downward spiral of a troubled Australian boy and it's a bit tricky to deal with at times.

I went into this story thinking I was going to get something a lot different to what I received. The blurb doesn't give you a lot to go off, but I was definitely thinking this would be a story of self discovery and making something better of yourself. The main character, Paul, struggles to be more than he can be. The drug addiction, lack of money, and lack of a strong family and friend support group makes his troubles difficult to overcome; and when he disappoints his only loving family member - his Grandmother - he runs. I had mixed feelings about Paul. I wanted to feel sorry for him for having such a screwed up life, but I had no sympathy with all the drug taking and stealing. I feel like he didn't progress much as a character for the majority of the book: feeling sorry for himself and failing to commit to, and accept, help from anyone. It took a very long time for him to get anywhere in the story, and I don't feel like we really got a conclusion for his eventual efforts.

I liked seeing the flash back scenes we got from Paul, as well as from his grandmother Hetty, who shared the narration perspective for some the novel. I had this strong desire to find something positive in Paul's life and these scenes showed that his Grandmother was that something. It did make it hard to accept the present Paul a bit, because he had someone good in his life, but I enjoyed seeing these scenes.

The novel is very descriptive, but not always for the better. At first I thought Paul's actions, whether the drug taking, violent sicknesses or insane struggles, were powerful to read. To get such a strong reaction from a reader, the disgust at the thought of someone finding maggots in recently cooked food and preparing the next hit of a drug, the writing had to bring out more than just shallow emotions. It so jarring and commanding. But unfortunately it started to get a bit overdone. I wanted something more than the disgust. After seeing it at the start, and understanding that was happening, it needed to be left behind. But we're overloaded with these strong and detailed descriptions of Paul's dark and gritty life, that it became a bit too much for me.

I enjoyed seeing the rehab side of the story, because it brought about a change and progress. I felt that the ending was a bit uncertain, but at least things were looking up after the tough and slow process of the majority of the book.

2.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Thank you Penguin Australia for a review copy of this book.