Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winter's Light by M.J. Hearle

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 432pgs

The Story

Blake is gone.

He sacrificed himself to save Winter, leaving her along, unprotected . . . hunted.

An ancient enemy is rising, but Winter is no longer the innocent girl who was fated to die at Pilgrim's Lament. She will not wait to be saved. She will do what she must to survive, even accept an unsavoury alliance with those who destroyed her love.

In the gathering darkness, the enemy of an enemy is not always a friend, and Winter must find the strength to stand alone and fight for the one she loves. For she is the key to unlocking the secrets beyond the veil of shadows.

And she is Blake's only hope.

The Review

A big thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

WINTER'S LIGHT is the much anticipated sequel to M.J. Hearle's debut YA paranormal novel Winter's Shadow, a book that I loved wholeheartedly last year. In this new sequel, this time around Winter is mourning over the loss of Blake, a Demori whom had sacrificed his life in order to save hers. But then something strange occurs after Blake's suppose destruction . . . Winter begins having visions of Blake and she's soon convinced that he is still alive, and out there somewhere in the Deadlands and in order to retrieve him, she must use her newfound abilities to track him down and get some answers about her destiny. But when two Demori attack her in her own territory, Winter finds the unlikely alliance and companionship in Sam, a boy who is one of the Bane and one who is partially responsible for Blake's demise, and together they seek out a complicated journey of the impossible and may possibly be able to bring back Blake once and for all. Or is he truly gone forever?

Winter, the main character, still shines as the main heroine and her strength only ignites throughout this novel. She has really grew into her own this girl. After all, she's determined more than ever before in this sequel to get her one true love back to her and I admire all of the difficult decisions she has to make in order to get Blake. Trust me here, there's plenty of difficulties that she has to experience. Sam on the other hand, was a great supporting character to aid Winter in her quest, and I appreciated that Hearle developed his character a little bit more than I expected him to because I well . . . I kind of adored him. Sam. More so in this book than the first, since I learned about that unknown compassionate side to him. But the only disappointing factor in regards to the characters was the missing part of my heart - that being our boy Blake. There was nothing of him. It was like that bush that runs across that dusty old lane with the wind whispering in the distance. Where was Blake in this novel? I surely deserved some Blake after reading pages upon pages . . . surely I deserved an appearance by him? Hmph. I guess not.

In regards to the storyline, I really enjoyed it. It may have been slowly-paced for most of the time in the book but I still enjoyed it. Although, as much as I hate to say it and as much as I hate to write these words down in this book review, but personally for me I found this sequel didn't live up to the hype I was hoping for since I adored the first book and everything in it. Maybe it was due to the lack of Blake or maybe it was because of the storyline itself where I was often confused by certain events that occured half-way through the book, but when it comes down to it . . . I'm still looking forward to the third installment in the series because the end of the novel made me long for more of this story and I can't wait to see if Blake will finally come back to me as he's rightfully made to come back to Winter . . . I just miss him. A lot.

Overall, with the stakes much higher than ever before and with many sacrifices awaiting Winter, WINTER'S LIGHT will certainly take you on a journey of self-discovery, mystery, and what it means to fight for what you love most in the world. Both well-written, entertaining, and fascinating, if you loved the first book Winter's Shadow then there's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you're going to love this sequel too!

The Rating

3/5 stars

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 400pgs

The Story

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning . . . Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart - literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost - and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

The Review

THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME is such a brilliant and powerful debut novel brought to you by a very talented author, Jess Rothenberg. This woman is a goddess to young adult literature to be honest with you. With a beautiful and an eye-catching cover (I mean seriously have you seen this book in the flesh?) I didn't really come into this novel with any high set expectations, but by judging the raving reviews that have circulated the internet and after finally reading this novel and finishing the final chapters, I can say without a doubt that I've never read a book in my life that had that instant WOW factor about it and I loved every single bit of detail of this book - from the light-hearted moments to the music titles of each chapters. Both contemporary, romantic, paranormal, and adding a few other little surprising elements to the mix, it's no wonder why so readers adored this book as much as I did!

Like with many other readers out there whom have gushed about this book non-stop (which I'm doing right now and I promise I won't try and oversell it to you), it was nearly impossible not to love the main character, Brie. The girl who died of a broken heart. Literally. Not only was she a girl displaying a wonderful element of real human emotion, but she was also someone that made your own heart crack on the surface (you could really feel it on your insides) because you wanted to be there with her and comfort her as she explores the life she suddenly left behind too early, and deciding how to deal with her own grief while also learning how to move forward in the afterlife. Anyway the bottom line was: She was such a great character. She was strong. She was understanding. She was a little selfish and stubborn at times for sure . . . but hey, that's what a teenager is all about, right? Without spoiling things for you guys, let's just say it was a such a pleasure to share her experiences and become emotionally invested in her heartbreaking journey to find peace within herself which now brings me to the next shining star of the novel . . . that being Patrick.

Patrick, the guy or rather a lost soul who guides Brie through her five stages of grief, was utterly adored by me from the very first meeting and I wanted him so badly for myself. If there was any guy for me out there, this would be him. I mean, I knew I should've been born in the 80's but this only proves it! From his leather pilot jacket to his James Dean smooth-upon-smooth 80's attitude, there's no way a girl could NOT fall for his charm and cheesy lines . . . there's just NO WAY! If you thought Brie's adventure was heart-aching, just wait until you begin to dive into Patrick's backstory because it sure as hell surprised me! Oh Patrick - your beautiful, non-stop bantering friendship and romance between you and Brie was one of the best relationships I've read in a long while and I just want more of you Patrick, and it's so sad to let you go now! *infinite cries*

Overall, THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME is more than a novel about death , saying goodbye to your loved ones, and learning to finally let go! It's also about embracing life for what it is and recognising that while life may have its downfalls, but you must always remember there is always that possibility to change things for the better! Both imaginative, beyond hilarious, inspiring, heart-wrenching, and provocative, this is easily one of the best books of 2012 and I'm definitely looking out for this talented author, Jess Rothenberg! Expect big and wonderful things from her! She's amazing!

The Rating

5/5 stars

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giveaway - The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox

Summary of the book

Middle-grade novel

267pgs with 1-2 pictures per chapter

Twelve-year-old Kristina Kingsly feels like the most unpopular girl in her school. The kids tease her, and she never seems to fit in. But when Kristina receives an unusual Christmas gift, she suddenly finds herself magically transported to the land of Bernovem, home of dwarfs, gnomes, fairies, talking animals and the evil Queen Sentiz.

In Bernovem, Kristina not only fits in, she's honored as "the chosen one", the only one who can release the land from Queen Sentiz's control. But it's not as simple as it seems. To save Bernovem, she must place the gift she was given, the famous "Magic Warble", in its final resting place. She must travel through the deep forest, climb a treacherous mountain, and risk capture by the queen's "zelbocks" before she reaches her destination. Guided by her new fairy friends, Clover and Looper and by Prince Werrien, a teenage boy, and an assortment of other characters, Kristina sets off on a perilous journey that not only tests her strength but her heart.


The author has graciously offered The Magic Warble (ebooks) to 3 of Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic readers! If you would like a chance to win a copy of this awesome book, simply enter your details in the form below.

This giveaway is open internationally and it will run until Tuesday, June 5th 2012 and winners will be announced on the blog the following day.

Please note the ebook is now available on Amazon for $2.99 and be sure to check out the author's blog here, the Magic Warble on its main facebook page here, and you can also follow the author, Victoria Simcox, on her twitter page here.

About the Author

Victoria was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an American immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She now lives in Western Washington with her husband Russ and their three children, Toby, Kristina, and William. Her other family members are a Chihuahua, named Pipsy and two cats, named Frodo and Fritz. Besides being an author, Victoria is a home-schooling mother of twelve years and an elementary school art teacher of eleven years. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys managing her two older children's Celtic band. She also loves writing, reading, painting watercolors, hiking, good movies, and just simply hanging out with family and friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Follow Friday

This weekly event is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week's question: Activity! Dreamcast your current read.

My answer: At the moment I'm reading the book The Calling by Kelley Armstrong which is the sequel to The Gathering. Sometimes I think I'm pretty good in casting my favourite characters but just like everyone else who tries this casting process, we all have very different versions of how we see our characters . . . so here's who I picture as the main characters!

For Maya's character I thought Troian Bellisario was a perfect fit.

For Daniel's character I thought Lucas Till was a great choice.

And finally for Rafe's character I thought Tyler Posey would be him for sure.

What is your current read? Who would you cast?

Have a great weekend you guys!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

Release Date: 26th June, 2012

Publisher: Harlequin

Pages: 304pgs

The Story

Your heart misleads you. That's what my friends and family say. But I love Noah. And he loves me. We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other's arms. It should be ROSE & NOAH forever, easy. But it won't be. Because he's Amish. And I'm not.

The Review

A big thanks to HarlequinTeen Australia for sending me an ARC copy of this book!

TEMPTATION is a young adult Romeo & Juliet-esque storyline, only it features your average teenage girl with a not-so-average teenage boy and as soon as these two people are brought together by fate, they end up falling in love through their different circumstances and with this love comes many consequences that they never saw coming. For Noah's world, boys aren't supposed to get involved with girls outside their close-knit community. They're supposed to get married young, build homes for their new wives, inherit their families lands, have children and continue the proper traditions of their community. For you see Noah's family are Amish and that's the way they live their lives. However, for Rose's world, she is a girl with a life full of freedom and is rather normal. But Rose's life is far from perfect. She wants more for her life and when Noah enters her world . . . everything changes.

When I received this ARC copy of the book TEMPTATION I had no clue to what it was about, other than it being about Amish people with a forbidden love story being interwined with it. Now I've always been fascinated by the Amish communities (even though they still gives me the creepers) not only because it's far from your average way of living life but for the simple fascination of the way these people - whom still exist mind you - choose to live their lives through and by true innocence and traditions, which, for people like you and me, we do not often live by because we choose our own paths rather than follow strict rules of our family and our family before that and so on. I might not know too much about how real Amish people live but I thought the author portrayed the Amish community with such strength and genuinity, which I was rather surprised by, and for once in a contemporary young adult novel, the author also tackled a great romance and a storyline that was a little different compared to your typical cliche american love story so I enjoyed that rare element.

As for the characters themselves, they were a very interesting bunch. Rose for example, one of the central characters of the story, was immediately liked by me. She was easy to relate to and she felt like a friend to me without truly needing to know her more, so she was a great MC for me. But while I might've liked her a lot character-wise but she had her faults too, which I'll get into detail soon. As for Noah's character, the love interest for Rose, was someone that took me a while to warm up to. I mean he was obviously handsome, polite and a true gentlemen to Rose, since he had grew up in an Amish society and he knows how to treat a girl special, but there was just something about him that turned me off at times. Partly because of his Amish upbringing . . . the lifestyle and the ways Noah continued to forever influence on Rose. To be honest with you and without offending the Amish out there, it gave me the creepers. Sure, Noah cannot help how he was brought up and really he knows no different, but at times he seemed too possessive of Rose (i.e. he suggests things like 'Girls shouldn't be by themselves' and 'You need a chaperone because it's the proper lady thing to do') and I was a 'little' weirded out by it all. But as the storyline slowy came together, I started to enjoy Noah's company and began understanding him more and more. Thankfully.

The only real problem I had with TEMPTATION was the believability of the events in the book and how everything was wrapped up by end of the story. These two teenagers - Rose and Noah - come from very different worlds and I see how their love for one another came crashing together, but what I struggled most to believe was how Rose handled particular situations. For one, there were times where she had loved Noah and came to be invested by his Amish world, but there were other times too where she often disliked the way he forced upon her his Amish-ways, and when there's a certain storyline 'twist-turn' in the book . . . she made one decision regarding this certain 'twist-turn' that I respected her for because that's what I would've decided if I were in her shoes, but then after another unfortunate incident, she immediately changed her mind regarding this 'twist-turn' and went the completely opposite way to where I didn't want her to be. Still . . . I understood why she made that choice at that time and place.

Overall, I thought Karen Ann Hopkins's TEMPTATION was a fantastic YA debut novel and offered a realistic Amish setting and a traditional lifestyle that I could see many readers being intrigued by. If you love a different take on contemporary novels, a forbidden romance that may seem forever impossible or if you simply love a book with some real human emotion inside it, then you're going to love this!

The Rating

4 1/2 / 5 stars

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dark Eyes by William Richter

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 383pgs

The Story

Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At 15, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets. Now the 16-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for teens, this debut thriller introduces a new heroine.

The Review

When I first heard about this book being compared to one of my favourite adult series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and was said to be the "teen version" of that particular series, I was straightaway eager to see what the author would bring up onto the table because I LOVE Stieg Larsson and after reading this book, while it wasn't as epic as I first hoped it to be, but I could definitely see the comparisons between this book and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series, and in Richter's case . . . I think he did a splendid job with this debut novel.

DARK EYES tells the story about Wally, a sixteen-year-old girl whom has lived on the streets with her three best friends, Ella, Tevin, and Jake, who are other kids trying to leave their own pasts behind them. But while these three kids come from hard backgrounds, Wally isn't exactly your typical definition of a street kid. Coming from a wealthy family - with a mother whom adores her and a father who maybe distant for most of the time but will still support her - no one can really understand why someone like Wally would want to run away from a family who loves her. It just doesn't make sense through anyone's eyes. However, Wally has always known that she was adopted from an orphanage back in Russia and one day she receives a mysterious envelope with her name printed on the front and inside contains letters and a very expensive gem from her biological mother, which not only leads her onto a dangerous trail of deceit and murder, but it also leads her to her real father whom is a not-so-kind Russian crime boss that wants her mother - her real mother - dead so he can take back what was stolen from him long ago, even if it means killing his own flesh and blood in the process.

While other readers may have had some mixed reviews about the main character and I can acknowledge she has a lot of faults, but I still thought Wally was such a fantastic female heroine with a lot of fiery power in her. She's street-smart, she doesn't take crap from anyone no matter what stuff they throw at her, she can be girly at times but still radiates that hard personality of hers, and of course my favourite side to her was how totally kickass she was in any situation and she truly had a heart full of gold despite all of the dark things that was going on around her. When comparing it to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I could see many similarities between Wally and my girl Lisbeth Salander, and while Lisbeth remains my girl forever and nobody could beat my love of her, but Wally was another shining star for me and was someone I could add onto the lists of great heroines since she pretty much owned this book from the very beginning. On a side note, the book's supporting characters were a whole lot of fun to read about especially Wally's 'adoptive' mother, Claire, whom added an interesting role to the storyline and she too played a great part in the novel. Heck even the bad characters such as Klesko and his creepy and intriguing son were brilliant also - if not frightening - and I'll be interested whether these two baddies have more of a part to play in the next installment because they were excellent.

Russian crime bosses, hidden identities, stolen riches, plot twists . . . DARK EYES certainly has it all in the crime and thriller department. The characters weren't WOWing but the storyline was the high point of this debut novel. It contained so many great twists and turns that I didn't see coming at all and it gave the reader even more reason to keep on reading for the sake of finding out what will happen to our character Wally and her group of friends. The actions sequences alone ran like their own movie trailer and taking into account the writer is a screenwriter . . . I can see why this is so. Anyway, by the time you reach the end and are left on a cliffhanger, I'm definitely, most definitely looking forward to seeing what William Richter comes up with next because I'm sure it will be yet another crazy ride for his readers.

Overall, this book wasn't what I expected but it was still a fantastic book that was mostly fast-paced, action-packed, full of many unexpected things and was way over-the-top but what stands out was the cleverness in the writing. So if you love reading a book that makes you think outside the box or if you're a huge fan of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series like I am, then take a risk like Wally has done in this fearless adventure because this debut novel will be perfect for YOU! There's no doubt about it!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow Friday

This weekly event is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week's question: Summer break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?

My answer: That's an easy one! While I've always wanted to go to the likes of Paris, London, New York & Ireland (I mean there's so many places in the world that I would LOVE to visit one day in my life), but the place I've always wanted to go to is South Korea, particularly in the city of Seoul, and Japan, especially at places like Tokyo, because both of those cities are just so . . . beautiful and so interesting! I might not be able to speak their language but I've ALWAYS been in love with those cities!

What about you? Where would you love to visit?

Have a great weekend you guys!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Release Date: 19th June, 2012

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 416pgs

The Story

Glory is from a family of witches. She is desperate to develop the 'Fae' and becomes a witch herself.

Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition and his privileged life is very different to the world of witches that he lives alongside.

And then on the same day, Glory and Lucas both develop the Fae. In one fell stroke, Glory and Lucas's lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not . . .

The Review

A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

Glory has always wanted to be a witch like all of her other relatives have been and just when her wish finally comes true . . . she soon realizes becoming a witch isn't exactly what she thought it would be. As the Inquisition hunt down the unlicensed witches within the town and when the coven leader suddenly has their own plans laid out for you, life is more like a dangerous prison than a carefree one where your magic should be fun and be explored. But for the Inquisition's Chief Prosecutor's son, Lucas, he develops the gift known as the 'Fae', and not only does it mean a dangerous life for him but it also means when he and Glory come together as one, there are all sorts of consequences lying in their wake. More than they first realized.

When I first heard about this book that was mentioned through the website Goodreads, I was straight off WANTING this book mostly because of its very pretty cover (the powerful scene and the whole circle of fire thing really gets to me as a reader) and the amazing-sounding storyline which seem to offer something new and refreshing to the young adult genre compared to the many other cliche-witchy novels that I've read in the past. However, despite my better judgement, I'm not afraid to admit that I struggled a lot at the beginning of this book and I sometimes put myself off from reading the actual novel because of how much I struggled with it. But like in all book wars, I carried on with the reading of this book and trudged through this new witchy tale, and surprisingly, I came back with a not-so-bad result.

The storyline was interesting but the elements I really enjoyed were the main characters the book mainly focussed on, that being Glory and Lucas. They might not have been the sharpest of all characters that I've ever read before, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. Both of these main characters had their own part to play in the unfolding of the storyline and each other's lives eventually interwined together as well, which ended up creating a strong and a solid relationship between the two of them, and of which made me like this book even more. But while taking into account of my struggles with the book BURN MARK, while I liked these two main characters, but much like the storyline within itself, it took me a while to warm up to Glory and Lucas. With that said, I eventually came to liking them in the end so I'm pleased with that result.

Overall, while BURN MARK isn't exactly a huge 'page-turner' like I first expected it to be, but this novel has everything you like - and may even love - in a witchcrafty world. You have a modern-day set of witches, a backdrop of London which is always a personal favourite with me when it comes to reading about witches, it has a large group of people that controls witches, it has the perfect blends of mystery and treachery and honestly . . . despite my first thoughts on it being a sometimes slow-paced novel, however if you love all of those elements that I've mentioned above and when you combine them all together in a novel, you'll eventually come to love BURN MARK because it's well-written and contains a great amount of twists that you probably won't see coming you way!

The Rating

3/5 stars

Monday, May 14, 2012

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 334pgs

The Story
In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo's original intended - Juliet's cousin Rosaline - tells her side of the tale.

What's in a name, Shakespeare? I'll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her - and when he finally does, it's perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose's best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy . . . and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn't stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet's instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob's heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends . . .

The Review

A big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me an ARC copy of this book!

Romeo & Juliet isn't my favourite play of all time - no point lying here because it's an okay play for me but it offers nothing to aspire to - but I was still very excited to read this book and I was really looking forward it as I love any sort of retelling of famous stories and plays set in a more modern time, especially of Shakespeare's tales. After all, the book promised me a classic 'twist' to the beloved storyline, a contemporary romance for all to love, and also an interesting take on the famous play that wasn't exactly set on Juliet herself which was rather an interesting take and trust me here folks it delivered something very entertaining indeed.

Rosaline and Rob have been best friends forever and they share the type of relationship where more could happen between them, only it kind of depends on these two people in question to make a move in order for the sparks to fly if you get my meaning. And it happens - it finally does for these pair of best friends! They go out . . . they kiss . . . they fall in love with each other . . . they admit their feelings for one another . . . and it almost happens like in Rosaline's dreams and just abut everything in the universe is finally working in this new couple's favour. However like in all almost-too-perfect and too-good-to-be-true romances, everything is ruined when Rosaline's estranged cousin, the troublesome Juliet (yes, Juliet the girl whom steals all the guy's hearts and Romeo's) comes back to town and makes it known to the world that she wants Rob all to herself, and like how the original story plays out, Juliet ends up winning Rob's heart without question and poor Rosaline is left in the dark with her best friend slipping right through her fingers.

Despite the cliches, the predictability and the somewhat 'I-totally-saw-this-coming!' type of ending, I was actually really impressed by this young adult book and its characters, even though there was one character in particular that I couldn't stand. Anyway now onto the main character. Now I would have totally been Rosaline's friend back in high school which made me like her even more than I already did. She was honest. She was believable. She was awesome! Sure she was someone with a long list of flaws (honestly who doesn't have them?) and she can definitely over analyse things more than she needed to, but I liked how Rosaline handled the most difficult situations she was placed in, and she was my favourite character in the entire book. Even her friends were brilliant and even her new potential love interest that was basically replacing her love for Rob . . . oh wait I won't say anymore about him but wait until you meet him. But for me, no matter how much I loved Rosaline and her crew, the only real disappointment of the book was Rob's character.

Oh Rob, you're a damn idiotic fool. Okay our Rob was our Romeo, and I thought Romeo was supposed to be this heroic type of character and swoon-worthy (okay maybe he's not because in reality he would be considered a really lovesick puppy that needed to be put down as soon as possible but whatever) but this Romeo (Rob) was a pretty pathetic character. Not only was he naive and made decisions without a single trail of thought, but he was supposedly best friends with Rosaline and was supposedly falling in love her after all this time, but apparently his head wasn't screwed on like we thought because just when everything was going right in his and Rosaline's new relationship and just when Juliet drops in, he suddenly ditches Rosaline altogether and hooks up with Juliet for all this insta-love crap which I couldn't believe. I mean, really? While the play can get away with insta-love, but personally I just don't see this really, really happening in the modern times like it did in this book . . . especially with two best friends whom clearly cared a lot about another and each other's feelings. But in all honesty, I hated Rob as soon as I met him and he didn't deserve Rosaline's love whatsoever. Then there's Juliet . . . oh don't get me started on this new Juliet. Just think Mean Girls, only one with two heads. She had all sorts of personalities she flipped through and she scared me on all levels possible. *shivers* Don't want to think about her.

Overall, Rebecca Serle's WHEN YOU WERE MINE was cleverly written and it may not have been exactly original through my eyes, but it definitely stayed true to the classic tale of Romeo & Juliet and I guess that's all we can ask for in the end. If you love books with unexpected romances, shocking twists and some edge to a contemporary retelling of a famous play, then you're going to love this book like starcrossed lovers do when they meet! There's no doubt about it in my mind!

The Rating

4/5 stars

Friday, May 11, 2012

This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Pages: 280pgs

The Story

Everyone says that Caro is bad . . . but Jamie can't help himself. He thinks of her night and day and can't believe that she wants to be his girlfriend. Gorgeous, impulsive and unconventional, she is totally different to all teh other girls he knows. His sister, Martha, hates her. Jamie doesn't know why, but there's no way he's going to take any notice of her warnings to stay away from Caro.

But as Jamie falls deeper and deeper under her spell, he realises there is more to Caro - much more. There are times when she disappears and doesn't get in tough, the small scars on her wrists, her talk about revolutions and taking action, not to mention the rumours he hears about the other man in her life. And then always in teh background tehre is Rob, Jamie's older brother, back from Afghanistan and traumatised after having his leg smashed to bits there. Jamie wants to help him, but Rob seems to be living in a world of his own and is increasingly difficult to reach. With Caro, the summer should have been perfect . . . but that isn't how things work out in real life, and Jamie is going to find out the hard way. This taut psychological drama is the brilliant new novel from acclaimed Celia Rees.

The Review

A big thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a review copy of this book!

I admit, when I first got this book in the mail from the publishers, I didn't really know what to expect from it. After all, I haven't heard of this book before until I received it and it's not what I would usually read in a young adult novel. But in any case, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and it offered an intriguing and yet a very heart-aching storyline for all readers to love.

THIS IS NOT FORGIVENESS deals with a very tough and a very touchy subject matter that plays a dominant role of today's society. That subject being of war. Throughout the storyline, the author, Celia Rees, discusses the many issues of war including how the soldiers returning from combat have to learn and adapt back to their true reality, while also trying to deal with the life-long effects that they have experienced during the war. While this subject matter may be uncomfortable for some readers, but I found this matter was addressed quite successfully with real feeling and emotion adding to it, and I liked the way Rees has written it as well.

For our main characters, the story is told through three different narratives. The first one is told through a boy named Jamie, whom I suppose was the central character of the storyline and whom was someone I had immediately liked right from the very beginning. The second one was told through Jamie's older brother, a young man named Rob, whom had recently returned from the war at Afghanistan. And the third and final narrative was lastly told through a girl named Caro, whom was an interesting character and she offered quite a different take to the storyline, but with her . . . it took me quite some time to like and eventually warm up to her. While I don't mind saying that all three of the characters were left ultimately bare and readers will be able to capture a great amount of emotion from these characters, but I didn't love them as much as I hoped I would in the end. But in saying that, the characters had their own very distinctive voices that needed to be told and they also had their own different personalities that set them apart from the rest of the characters. Even the events that happened to these particular characters . . . I have to say it was a quite an interesting turn for them, especially in what happened towards the end of the book. It was really interesting in fact and it was also totally unexpected.

Overall, THIS IS NOT FORGIVENESS is a thought-provoking and a very complicated novel that I could see many of its readers enjoying. Trust me here . . . this book is very complicated to say the least. But combined with great characters, an interesting set of events that are not only realistic but are honestly portrayed, I definitely recommend this book to readers who are looking for a different sort-of read in the young adult market and to anyone who likes books will all sorts of twists!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Winners of Insurgent!

Thank you to everyone who commented, entered and spread the word about my 10 copies of Insurgent book giveaway! You know who guys you are! Now I got a great number of people entering and it was so good to see so many of my fellow aussies coming by my blog! But without further ado (you see I had to use a randomizer engine because all of your answers to my question were so fantastic and I just couldn't choose between you all) here are the 10 lucky winners who have each scored themselves a copy of Veronica Roth's much anticipated sequel!

Katrina W.

Alice C.

Michelle A.

Heather B.

Rachel S.

Leanne L.

Ruby R.

Raquel S.

Rachel C.

Skye A.

Congrats to all of the winners! You deserve it!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Allegiance by Cayla Kluver

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: HarlequinTeen

Pages: 494pgs

The Story

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as

their countries pass the point of no return . . .

He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica - until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn.

The Review

A big thanks to HarlequinTeen Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!

ALLEGIANCE is the much anticipated sequel to Cayla Kluver's novel, Legacy. Last year when I read Legacy I fell completely in love with it, and what came as a greater surprise to me was that the author - someone a year younger than I am - had written something so beautiful and captivating at such a young age. I could hardly believe it to be honest with you! And yet here we are with a sequel and clearly the author has done it again . . . a sequel that has lived up to the hype of the first book and it was even better than the first!

ALLEGIANCE basically picks up soon after Legacy had ended, with Alera and Steldor married and becoming the new king and queen of Hytanica. Still in love with Narian, a boy who is considered a traitor to the Hytanica kingdom and trapped in a loveless marriage, Alera is forced with many impossible choices - both for herself and for her people. With her love Narian gone, Alera and her closest company of people are afraid that he has joined forces with the fearsome magic-user called the Overlord, and they have every right to be afraid of him because Cokyrians are planning to invade Hytanica very soon and all of the trails have led back to none other than Narian. With love and loyalty being tested, Alera must choose to either follow her own heart or lead what's left of her kindgom through the darkest times . . . leading to many heartbreaking decisions in her wake!

When it comes to this series alone, it's far too easy to forget how young the author actually is and I'm quite taken back by how well-developed Kluver's writing has become and how much her writing abilities has grown from book one to now! In saying that, I thought ALLEGIANCE was the perfect sequel in lines with its previous novel Legacy and there's not one single negative thing I have to say about it. After all, this sequel contained so many things I love in a historical-like novel: love, betrayal, deceit, action, friendship, heartbreak, magic, and most importantly so many epic twists that I didn't see coming whatsoever! Honestly what's not to love about this book when it has all of those elements you seek in a novel?

Now onto the characters who are my favourite part of the book. The characters in ALLEGIANCE are the characters we've met before in previous book and they're even better in this sequel - even some characters I grew to hate had proved to be worthy after all in this coming sequel! With our main character, Alera, I really loved her in Legacy and while she may frustrate you from time to time, but in this second installment she really steps up her game and show us readers once and for all what she's really capable of as a Queen. It's kind of a transformation in Alera's case. Before, she was a young child being told what to do, and after, she's now changed for the better, becoming a woman whom can hold her own and learn that power she has always possessed in her heart.

With Alera's suppose 'love interests' Narian and Steldor, I wouldn't necessarily say it was a love triangle that we readers fear of. I mean, it's hardly a love triangle - if not, at all. Narian and Steldor are two very different young men but what readers need to understand is that these two young men serve very different purposes for the storyline and for Alera's heart. Firstly, Narian is the boy Alera loves with all of her heart and nothing can change nor persuade her of these feelings for him. And, secondly, Steldor is a man Alera first despises and I can't blame of her for that because I hated him too however in this sequel she eventually grows to respect him and even care for him, because she really does care for him but not in the way a love interest cares for someone . . . only as a mere friend.

Like so many other readers, I adored Narian (always betting on his team) however he was hardly present in this book which was rather a disappointment considering he didn't have a lot of time to spend in the first book, you know . . . showing off his handsomeness and that gorgeous personality of his. But regardless of that, by the time Narian did manage to show up in the last half of the book, he only reminded me how much I loved and missed him! So yay for that! And, while Narian didn't need to prove to me how gorgeous he is, but Steldor in particular was someone that needed to impress me (like really, really impress me). In the first book I loathed him as much as Alera did, but in a complete turnaround and one I didn't see coming, not only did Steldor show off his much softer side but he's also showed us a side to him we never expected to see . . . one without that arrogance and more of that vulnerability about him. I mean, there was this scene where he gave Alera a kitten - I repeat a kitten - because he thought she would be lonely without company and it was the sweetest thing I've ever read in this series so far and boy Steldor has won me over with that darn kitten of his! Because I love cats and all. Anyway moving away from the cute kitten, both boys are definitely loved by me and I love them for making me love them even more than I first expected to!

Overall, if you loved Legacy you'll love ALLEGIANCE without a doubt! However, if you are one of those rare readers who have yet started this utterly amazing series, then I definitely think you need to put down that book you're currently reading and check out these books as soon as possible because you're seriously missing out on a great young adult series!

The Rating
5/5 stars

Monday, May 7, 2012

Torn by Amanda Hocking

Release Date: Out now!

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 352pgs

The Story

The second book in this page-turning trilogy from the phenomenal Amanda Hocking.

Acknowledging that she was different from everyone else wasn't difficult for Wendy Everly - she'd always felt like an outsider. But a new world and new family is hard for any girl to accept easily.

Leaving behind the mysterious country of her birth, she is determined to fit back into normal life. But the world she's left behind won't let her go that easily. Kidnapped and imprisoned by her true family's enemies, Wendy soon learns that the lines between good and evil aren't as defined as she thought. And those things she'd taken for granted may have been lies all along. With the help of the dangerously attractive Loki, she escapes back to the safety of Forening - only to be confronted by a new threat.

It's time to make a choice - can she put aside her personal feelings for the sake of her country? Torn between duty and love she must make a choice that could destroy her one chance at true happiness.

The Review

A big thanks to Macmillan for sending me a review copy of this book!

In the second installment of the Trylle trilogy, we reunite back with the main character Wendy and with this new world she is slowly coming to grips with as she goes. In the previous novel Switched, we met a young and sometimes-naive Wendy, a simple girl who'd thought she had everything she could possibly want in her life; a wonderful and loving mother and an equally loving and overprotective older brother. Life couldn't get better for her. However, at the tender age of six, her seemingly so perfect mother tried to kill her with a kitchen knife and eleven years later, Wendy soon discovers the real truth behind her heritage and why her mother claimed she wasn't her daughter . . . because she's not human after all. In fact, she's a changeling who had been switched at birth with her "mother's" true child - she can also be known as a Trylle or a Troll - and not only that, she's also the true heir to the Trylle throne, with her real mother being the Queen of the entire Trylle kingdom. But with Wendy facing forbidden love shared between her and her protector, Finn, and with her trying her best in staying within the boundaries of what is expected and what is not of her royal blood, will Wendy ever find true happiness or must she sacrifice everything for her kingdom, even herself?

When it comes down to this sequel I have to say this book was such a vast improvement compared to the first book, Switched. I absolutely enjoyed the first installment but the author, Amanda Hocking, has certainly made sure to put up the stakes higher than ever before and ensure all of her readers feel an assortment of feelings and emotions throughout the book. Some more frustrating than others. But what I mostly appreciated about this brilliant work of Hocking's is her flowing and simplistic writing style - the way you never get confused and you can just simply slip right into her world without any issues presented. And I totally loved that!

As for the characters, some readers will remember our main heroine Wendy. While Wendy was a different sort of girl before you truly came to know her - because from before she was sometimes ignorant, selfish and she was always not thinking about her own actions - but I can definitely ease people's worries regarding her character because she has grown up so much in this sequel and bringing back her seriously awesome kick-butt side. Instead of allowing her love interest to take full control of her, she finally stood on her ground and threw out her own opinions, and she's now fully aware of what is expected of her which was awesome for her sake. However, Wendy is still conflicted when it comes to her fierce love and attraction for Finn. Oh Finn . . . how we love you so, so much! Finn is absolutely my favourite character even though he's so frustrating for the majority of this book. He may be a lovesick puppy (sad but true) what with those big beautiful eyes, and while you can clearly tell he cares - and loves - deeply for Wendy, but despite that, Finn still manages to put aside his own personal feelings with that bold and strong personality of his, and because of that factor it adds some rationality to the book that makes you fall in love even harder for him. Without spoiling the book, I won't say too much about what happens between Finn and Wendy but oh Finn . . . my heart goes out to you.

Now unlike in the first book, Switched, what gave this sequel a completely different vibe to it was how Hocking focused more on the relationship between mother and daughter, between Elora and Wendy. For those who've read the first book, readers could feel the intensity between these two main characters and you always wondered whether they would ever get along. Thankfully they have formed a stronger bond in this sequel and not only that but they have formed some respect for one another, despite all the troubled times they have faced in the past and in the present. For once it was nice to know the heartless mother had a heart after all and for Wendy's sake I was glad to see those too make up before things got really complicated for them both.

Overall, TORN was a delightful sequel and it brings readers far more deeper into the world Amanda Hocking has cleverly created. Filled with marvelous action scenes, fantastic set of characters and a forbidden love with all those little heartbreaks that comes along with it, TORN will entertain you on all sorts of levels and is one hell of ride too. I'll definitely be looking out for the last book, Ascend, which comes out soon because I'm sure as hell excited to read it!

The Rating 4 1/2 / 5 stars

Friday, May 4, 2012

Follow Friday

This weekly event is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read.

This week's question: What is the one thing you wish you could tell your favourite author?

My answer: I would love to tell the original author before all the ghostwriters came along, Carolyn Keene (which isn't her real name by the way), what a fantastic author she is in writing her Nancy Drew series and creating Miss Drew herself! Honestly, back when I was very young, I was in the I'm-not-reading-much-books stage of my life and when I saw a Nancy Drew book in the library one day and asked my mother about it . . . then I was completely hooked from then on out and whether it'll be reading more Nancy Drew books in the future or playing the computers games that I love so very much, I have this love for Nancy Drew that will forever continue to inspire me, so I would love to say thank you to the author for that! If only I could've met her before she passed away many years back!

So, what would you tell your favourite author?

Have a great weekend you guys!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Release Date: 5th June, 2012

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 294pgs

The Story

In Emmy Laybourne's action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outstide, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world - as they know it - apart.

The Review

A big thanks to the publisher on netGalley for accepting my request in reading this book early!

Fourteen children are left to fend for themselves after a severe superstorm and the unleashing of a chemical weapon. They're alone, scared, a little angry for all good reasons and have so little of time left to know what to do with themselves . . . honestly what could possibly go wrong in an abandoned superstore building? Well let's just say . . . everything.

Emmy Laybourne's debut novel MONUMENT 14 was one of those few reads I decided to take a chance on, mostly because I loved the eerie dystopian-like cover and mostly because I really liked the sound of the storyline since it reminded me so much of Lord of the Flies only with a less island feel to it. As much as I wanted to love it, I'll be honest with you guys: it's the kind of book with a love and hate factor to it. The majority of the book was fast-paced, interesting and contained plenty of shocking twists for its readers . . . but I felt as if something was missing from the book. Mostly in the characters.

The storyline rarely had a problem with me but the characters - while the groups of kids were clearly written as stereotypical - didn't particularly interest me what way or another. With a book nerd, an outsider, a tech genius, a jock, a bad boy, a beautiful girl, and a skanky girl . . . I can see many readers of MONUMENT 14 will be able to identify with at least one of those characters alone. However, while I don't mind stereotypical characters but there still wasn't enough drive from the characters' actions and with a possible apocalypse going on in the outside world of this superstore setting, I wanted and expected some of the characters to take action or do something heroic to impress me, but like I mentioned before none of the characters really interested me and it was the main reason why I'm giving this book a lower star rating.

Don't get me wrong here with this review because I still enjoyed the book as a whole book and it was every entertaining and page-turning for all the right reasons. I mean, while no real character shone in the spotlight for me personally, but the storyline and the cliffhanger it unexpectedly delivered will clearly win over fans of any dystopian tale and perhaps satisfy readers of the likes of James Dashner's The Mazer Runner. So if you have the taste for either of those two, then I can definitely guarantee that you're going to love this book without a doubt!

The Rating

3 1/2 / 5 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Giveaway - Insurgent by Veronica Roth

To my dear lovely readers . . . guess what? Not only do I have yet another giveaway up for my Aussie blog readers but I have not one but TEN COPIES of Veronica Roth's upcoming sequel to her debut novel Divergent, Insurgent, to giveaway and it's all thanks to the amazing HarperCollins Australia! Yup, for those people jumping up and down right about now as they read this giveaway post . . . I know exactly how you feel and how much you're ALL dying to read this book!

To enter you must follow four simple rules (I used a Four reference on purpose if you didn't already notice):

- You must be an Australian resident (sorry international folks!).

- You must fill in the form below with all of your details.

- You must also answer the question in the form of 'What faction would you choose to be in and why?' which I can't wait to read all of your answers!

- And while you don't have to be a blog follower, but I would love it if you were one.

Contest ends May 9th 2012!

Good luck to everyone!
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