Monday, 7 May 2012

Musing Mondays #1

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

This week's musing asks:
If you were going to write a book, what would you write about? Would it be fiction, or nonfiction?
I'm actually already writing a book, which is young adult romantic fiction. I started it for NaNoWriMo which was pretty much a fail, but it gave me a good 20k word start at least. I also have another ya romance (it's definitely the genre I naturally gravitate towards writing) that I write bits and pieces of every so often. Plus, I have about 10 other book ideas swimming around in my head of varying genres. Sigh, I'd love to stop procrastinating and work my way up to being one of those people who can write a book a year.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

(Review) I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Release date: February 14th 2012
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Page count: 433
Genre(s): Romance/Chick-lit/Contemporary/Humour
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 5/5

I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus's family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive!!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realises that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life. 

Synopsis from Goodreads

I had never read any Sophie Kinsella before this (ridiculous, I know) so I can't compare this to any of her other work. But as a stand alone book, I LOVED THIS. Seriously, love is not a strong enough word. I didn't expect too much going into this. Just something light-hearted and fun to while away a few hours. A few chapters in, and I was already laughing loud enough to wake the neighbours. Seriously, it usually takes a lot for books to make me laugh. Unless it's a book actually written by a comedian or something, a chuckle or smile is the most a book gets from me. Not this. Full on cackling, I tell you. And it didn't let up! There were so many funny scenarios that you could imagine in a movie. 

Poppy had such a great sense of humour so her thoughts had me cracking up too. Speaking of Poppy - love, love, LOVE. I would be best friends with this girl in a heartbeat. She felt so real and I could relate to her so much. She was so refreshingly open and enthusiastic. Even with all the crap things happening to her, she manages to keep upbeat. She was also totally adorable and I'm not surprised Sam fell for her. Oh, Sam. He was amazing. He starts off very up-tight and harsh, but as the book goes on Poppy gets him to open up and it's adorable. I loved reading the texts Poppy and Sam send to each other. They were so funny and as the book goes on they get increasingly cute. The romance in this book was perfect for me. A little bit of love/hate to start with, leading to a blossoming friendship. I was so invested in these two it's crazy. The book wasn't especially deep, but it was still really heart-warming. Seeing Poppy and Sam change each other for the better was great, and there was also a moment towards the end had me welling up.

Sigh. If you couldn't tell, I adored this book and will definitely re-read it a gazillion times. I give it a 5/5.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #3

Once again, I have let almost a month go by without posting. Life has been pretty rough lately and put me into a bit of a reading (or doing anything really) slump. Fortunately, I feel myself getting back to normal, thanks to currently reading through 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series by George R.R Martin which has rekindled my reading buzz. I have a bunch of reviews on goodreads to post over here which I'll try and spread out over the next week or so, and once I'm done with the ASOIAF series, I'll try and speed my way through some YA reads I'm dying to read .

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
Release date: May 22nd 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page count: 352
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Add it on: Goodreads

From debut author Cassie Alexander comes a spectacular new urban fantasy series where working the nightshift can be a real nightmare. 

Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond… 

Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul. Grey’s Anatomy was never like this…

Synopsis from Goodreads

After FINALLY reading my first UF book a while ago, I'm desperate to read more. This one sounds like such a fun read.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #2

I haven't posted in almost exactly a month, which is horrible. I thought I'd try to get myself back on track with a meme.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Release date: May 1st 2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Page count: 300
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Add it on: Goodreads

Holly Yarkov has a boyfriend who is a gift from the universe. She has a job that fulfils her even as it wears her down. She has a core group of friends from high school. And she has a layer of steel around her heart that is beginning to tarnish. Just as she is reaching for a future she can't quite see, Holly is borne back into the past by memories of her beloved father, and of the boy-who-might-have-been... 

Grief and longing run like veins of quicksilver through this beautiful novel, at once gloriously funny and achingly sad. 

Laura's confident, astute and witty voice has already been recognised with the success of Good Oil, with North American English rights sold to Knopf and German language rights sold to Arena. It was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Her second novel is extraordinary and bittersweet – and shows us exactly what it is like to be a young person today – navigating the complexities of work, love, family and how to pay the rent. 

Synopsis from Goodreads

I had no idea Laura Buzo had written another book until I saw this on someone else's blog. I am beyond excited. Good Oil, her debut novel, made it's way straight into my favourites, and you can read my review of it here.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Random Reads March 2012

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This is an awesome meme hosted over at I'm Loving Books.

In short, Random Reads is a meme where we pick a random book from our shelf to read within the month.

I have so many books on my tbr shelf that it's getting stupid, so this is a great way for me to get through them. Go here for the March random reads post for instructions on how to take part and more info.

Using Goodreads sorting and, I picked Prey (Infected #1) by Andrea Speed.

I don't even remember adding this book haha. Still, it sounds really interesting and I've been wanting to read more m/m books so this seems like a good start! I'll try to get round to this after the few books I plan to read next :)

(Review) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Release date: January 1st 2010
Publisher: Vintage
Page count: 240
Genre(s): Young Adult/Zombies/Romance
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 5/5

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

Synopsis from Goodreads

I say a lot of books are great and amazing, but it takes more for me to class a book beautiful. This is definitely such a book. As soon as I started reading, I was sucked into this grim world of zombies. 'R' is the zombie who narrates the book and it's a melancholy yet humorous journey with him at the helm. I fell in love with R from the beginning. I didn't care that he was decaying. He was so sweet and his thoughts went from making me laugh to making me want to give him a big bear hug. I don't want to spoil too much but I loved seeing R develop throughout the story and it makes me feel all fuzzy now just remembering it. Julie, the love interest, was also great. I loved that she was strong and wouldn't take any crap, but as the story progresses she lets her walls down to R. The relationship between these two has instantly become one of my favourites in fiction. You might wonder how on Earth a romance between a human and a zombie can work, but trust me, it does. I defy you to read this book and not feel at least a little something in your heart as these two spend time together.

I loved the writing in this book. Really beautiful at times and also very witty. I also loved the use of different POVs in a not so conventional manner that I won't reveal. I went into this book very blind, just knowing zombie + girl + romance and I think this makes the book more enjoyable. I won't talk about the plot much either because of this, but I will say this book made me feel a lot of things. I made the mistake of reading half of this at quiet points at work. Poor customers, I must have been so pensive and sombre because this book really made me question life and humanity and love. That's not to say the book is slow. There's a nice balance of quiet moments and tense action, and as the book isn't too long, I sped through. I remember having about a 1/3 left and telling myself to go eat or something and then suddenly...I was finished.

Even if you're not a fan of zombies, I highly recommend this book. This has gone straight to my favourites. Fingers crossed the movie does the book justice! I give this 5/5.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

(Review) Greatshadow - Dragon Apocalypse #1 by James Maxey

Release date: February 2nd 2012
Publisher: Solaris
Page count: 363
Genre(s): Fantasy
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5/5

The warrior woman known as Infidel is legendary for her superhuman strength and skin tough as chain mail. She's made few friends during her career as a sword-for-hire, and many powerful enemies. Following the death of her closest companion, Infidel finds herself weary of life as a mercenary and sets her eyes on one final prize that will allow her to live out the rest of her days in luxury, the priceless treasure trove of Greatshadow.

Greatshadow is the primal dragon of fire. His malign intelligence spies upon mankind through every flickering candle, patiently waiting to devour victims careless with even the smallest flame. The Church of the Book has assembled a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers to slay the dragon once and for all. But tensions run high between the leaders of the quest who view the mission as a holy duty and the super-powered mercenaries who add power to their ranks, who dream only of Greatshadow's vast wealth. If the warriors fail to slay the beast, will they doom mankind to death by fire?

Greatshadow is the first book in an exciting new adventure series from a master of dragon fantasy.

Synopsis from Goodreads

(I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.)

I'm really happy I won this book, as honestly, it probably would have taken me forever to get round to it otherwise. That would have been a shame, as I really enjoyed this! From the cover and description, I was expecting an epic, high-fantasy novel. This wasn't what I got, but I'm actually kind of glad. Instead, this was a fun, quirky fantasy that separated itself from the norm. I haven't read any Terry Pratchett (shame on me) but from what I know, I'd say this book is in the same vein. Original, humorous, sometimes crude and silly but filled to the brim with likable characters and non-stop adventure. From the very first page, this was a joy to read. There were enough typical fantasy elements to satisfy me, and lots of original new ideas and creatures. I LOVED the world building. James Maxey did a brilliant job at creating a whole new world that was vivid in my mind and really fleshed out. He tells you more about the world and characters gradually throughout the book. No page long info dumps that made me want to fall asleep here!

The story of the book was so much fun. It could have ended up being a typical quest, but the cast of weird and wonderful characters and all the original ideas kept it fresh and exciting. I was so excited to read this when I learnt there'd be Dragons. They were one of my favourite aspects of the book. Dragons are amazing anyway, but James Maxey gave them his own creative spin and their lore was great. I also loved learning about the history of the different characters. They were such a mixed bunch, and I liked them all. Even the characters who weren't particularly likable at face value had some facet to their personality that made them interesting. I don't want to spoil anything about the characters as part of the fun is being introduced to them, but I will say Infidel, our leading lady, is great. She's strong and totally bad ass, but deceptively sweet and vulnerable. She is definite friend material. I only wish her looks weren't emphasised so much throughout the book, making her a bit of a male fantasy at times. Why can't she be awesome without being stunning as well?

I thought Maxey's writing style was great. Fluid and descriptive, perfect for the story. He's really good at writing dialogue as well. The conversations between characters had me totally sucked in. I must say though, I found the humour could fall a little flat at times. There were a lot of moments that had me chuckling internally, or smiling to myself, but not actually laughing out loud. Sometimes it could border a little on cheesy, but not enough to annoy me. There were times I wished the book would take itself a little more seriously, but overall, I enjoyed the tone.

I'd highly recommend this book to fantasy lovers who don't mind a little silliness, especially dragon fans. I'm counting down the days until the sequel. I give this a 4.5/5.

(Review) The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Release date: April 19th 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
Page count: 293
Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy/Mythology/Romance
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 3.5/5

In a modern-day take on the myth of Persephone, 18-year-old Kate Winters is thrust into a mythical world, where she must pass seven impossible tests and outsmart a spiteful god in order to save the life of not just her mother but of her captor as well.

Synopsis from Goodreads

I went into this book with mixed expectations, as I'd read both great and not-so-great reviews of it. I have to say though, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. However, I can't fully put my finger on why I enjoyed reading this as much as I did.

Kate was an okay protagonist, but not particularly memorable. I finished the book not too long ago yet I'm struggling to recall much about her personality. Besides the overdone 'I'm not that pretty but everyone else says I am' schtick, she didn't really annoy me, and she was nice enough. She just didn't have that spark or charm that made me wish we were friends in real life. Henry was a bit of a cliche love interest; brooding and distant with moments of sweetness. Despite myself, I couldn't help but swoon over him. I also found the relationship between him and Kate surprisingly adorable, and I re-read a lot of their cute moments with a sappy smile.

In terms of the story, my knowledge of Greek myths is pitiful so I have no idea how faithful or original this story was to mythology. I did find the setting of the book a little odd though. The location and the way everyone dressed and acted just didn't seem to match up with Greek mythology to me. It felt more like some period drama but the characters happened to be Gods and Goddesses. I also found the story a little lacking. I enjoyed it, but not much actually happened. There were a few twists that I didn't see coming, but a lot of the story was devoted to Kate dealing with the impending loss of her mother and her feelings for Henry. I'd say this book would definitely appeal more to romance junkies than those looking for a fast paced, plot driven story.

I give this 3.5/5.

(Review) The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Release date: August 30th 2011
Publisher: Aladdin
Page count: 390
Genre(s): Middle Grade/Fantasy/Dystopia
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 3/5

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths. Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.
In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation. But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.

Synopsis from Goodreads

First things first, what a great cover! It's one of the main reasons I bought this book. Sadly, my love for the contents didn't live up to my love of the cover. I loved the concept of this book. However, I feel the history and rules of the dystopian society weren't as fleshed out as I'd have liked. Which leads me to one of my main concerns with the book, which is totally not the author's fault, but my own. I'm simply too old for this book. If I was about 10, I'm sure I'd have adored this book. But as an adult, even with my Peter Pan syndrome, I found this book too simplistic for my tastes, in writing, world building and characters. This was mostly a fun read, though it did take me until about the last third to get properly into it. I found the book dove straight into the deep end introducing us to the world of Artime, but then slowed down in the middle and became a little too mundane, despite being a story featuring a talking Cheetah statue and an Octopus/Alligator hybrid art teacher.

There were a lot of interesting characters like these that I'm sure kids would love, but I failed to connect too deeply with any of them. Simber, the aforementioned Cheetah statue was awesome (but every time I saw his name I thought of The Lion King so...that ruined it slightly) but I found the main characters, Alex and his friends, a little dull. They are a lot younger than me so perhaps that's why I had a hard time relating to them. There were some cute moments between them, but they're not the kind of characters I missed when I was done with the book. I also found the world building a little lacking. It didn't have enough detail for me to really understand why society worked the way it did, or to feel any of those disturbed, scared feelings a good dystopian should bring. Then again, this is a middle grade book, so I should have expected that. Some of the concepts I found a little silly as well. People in Artime use arts as a weapon, and though this sounds cool as a concept, the execution was a little laughable to me at times. The idea of using paint and clay and dancing to fight someone with a gun...I couldn't really take it seriously. But again, kids would probably enjoy these ideas a lot more than me.

I think this book had a fun, original concept and if there are sequels, I'll probably give them a go. I'd definitely recommend this book to the intended audience, but older readers might want to give this a miss unless they really love the concept and don't mind less developed stories. I give it a 3/5.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

(Review) Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Release date: July 4th 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page count: 304
Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy/Mermaids
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 3/5

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder? The first book in a trilogy, Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

Synopsis from Goodreads

This is a hard book to review, and I'm still not entirely sure what I felt about it. But I think there lies the problem. It kind of just left me feeling...nothing. From the very beginning, this book was sad. Not sad in a 'boohoo' way, just sad in a really empty, hollow way. And it basically stays this way through the whole book. I can't really recall any moment that made me smile. Every time I got a little hope, it would be dashed straight away. There were a few moments where I thought the story was going to turn a certain way and I was really excited, just for it to be all taken away and go back to the sadness. The story could be exciting at times, but I think a major drawback was not having characters to care about.

Luce was an okay protagonist, but I didn't like how it took her so long to speak up for herself. Most of the other characters don't even bear mentioning to be honest. They were either irritating to the point I wished I could jump in the pages and slap them silly, or submissive and unmemorable. I suppose that is one emotion this book made me feel. ANGRY. I thought Catarina was bad, but a later character is introduced who is a contender for most annoying fictional character ever. I don't need to name her, you'll know when you read it.

The writing in this book was beautiful. I liked a lot of the concepts and history to the mermaids. It's just a shame it was all so depressing. I understand not every book has to be positive, and I did enjoy some of the darker elements of the book, but when there is no ray of light during the whole book, you can't help coming away feeling worse than you did going in. I didn't really gain anything from reading this book, and I don't see why I'd ever re-read it. However, I will read the sequel, simply because this book was left in an open-ended manner, and I have hopes it will go in a more positive direction. I commend Sarah Porter for daring to write a darker story about mermaids, and she is definitely a talented writer. If you can handle a darker story and love your mermaids brutal, I'd say give this book a try.

I give this 3/5.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

(Review) A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton

Release date: January 5th 2012
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Page count: 368
Genre(s): Young Adult/Paranormal/Romance
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 3.5/5

Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.

Synopsis from Goodreads

I'll start with the things I liked about this book. I LOVED the setting. I live by the sea, and so does Anna in this book so it got plus points there. Also, I've read that the author used to live in Lewes and this was one of the inspirations for Winter. I live not far from there and have visited a lot, so it felt kind of homely reading the book. Winter was described really well, and the beautiful but creepy vibe resonated throughout the book. Similarly, I enjoyed reading a book set in England. A lot of teen books tend to be American and so have the American slang etc etc. Because we brits get so much American stuff over here, I don't usually get too confused or anything. But it's always nice reading about a school system I'm familiar with and slang I actually use.

I really liked Anna as a main character. She was nice, sometimes unsure, witty and realistically 'teen' like. I liked that she didn't swallow up being a witch in a page. She was actually confused and refused to believe it for a while. I also loved that after enchanting Seth, she wasn't like 'oh cool yay.' She felt guilty and she didn't want Seth to like her unless it was real. However, I struggled picturing her in my head. She describes herself as plain quite a bit in the book, too much honestly, but the girl on the cover is really pretty so I kept imagining some weird kind of mix.

I also liked Seth. Physically..I'M IN LOVE. He's almost my perfect guy. I had such a vivid image of him in my mind. Personality wise, I felt it was a little cliche that he was the hot bad boy every girl loved with a softer side. Still, I liked that he was actually nice and didn't treat Anna like a jerk. He did have a few creeper moments, but he was enchanted so I'll cut him some slack. However, because of the whole enchanted angle, I found Anna and Seth's connection a little lacking. I definitely warmed up more towards them as a couple near the end of the book.

Plot wise, I'm torn. Part of me wishes the book had just been a contemporary book focused on Anna and Seth's developing relationship with none of the witchery. Then another part wishes there had been more witchcraft. I think the problem lays with the length of the book. I feel if the book was longer, both the contemporary and witchcraft aspects of the book could have been more well developed. Despite this, I did find the story enjoyable. It's obvious Ruth Warburton did a lot of research into witchcraft and spells and all that jazz, so it all felt very believable. The story was also exciting, especially the climax.

To conclude, I'd say to me, this was a good book, but not a great one. With more development in both the romance and witchcraft, it'd have been better. However, I enjoyed reading it and will most definitely read the sequel.

I give it a 3.5/5.

(Review) A Million Suns - Across The Universe #2 by Beth Revis

Release date: January 10th 2012
Publisher: Razorbill
Page count: 386
Genre(s): Young Adult/Science Fiction/Romance
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 5/5

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.

Synopsis from Goodreads

A year until the next book? Whyyyyyyy?

Wow. This book kind of blew me away. I read Across the Universe not too long ago, and though I enjoyed it, I didn't love it like a lot of people. I felt some moments of the book were a little slow and the romance wasn't as developed as I'd hoped. Well, there were none of those problems in this book. Beth Revis totally stepped up and took this book to a whole other level. I was gripped from the very first page. The story was so exciting, filled with tension and drama and twists and turns. I'm watching through Battlestar Galactica at the moment, and it reminds me of this book. You never quite know who to trust, and you can go from loving a character to hating them in the space of chapters. It keeps you on your toes! I also love all the secrets and questions that arise as Amy and Elder are sent on a bit of a wild goose chase. Towards the end of the book I was speeding through because I was so desperate to find the answers. And answers I got! I loved that the book both wrapped certain mysteries up but also kept me desperate for more. Seriously, I don't know how I'm going to survive until the third book comes out :(

The romance was also MUCH better this time round. I actually cared about Amy and Elder's relationship, and I got all giddy during their sweet moments. I also loved seeing the both of them grow. Amy barely annoyed me this time around and she was a strong but also vulnerable character that I could empathise with. The same goes for Elder. I already really liked him in Across The Universe, but now I love him. He had so much to deal with, and I think he showed a lot of courage and compassion but also moments of weakness that made him three dimensional. There were some new characters introduced, and old characters, and some of them made my blood boil, but they were meant to! So Beth Revis did a great job there as well.

Sigh. Writing this review is making me want to re-read the book. I definitely will before the third book comes out. If you liked Across the Universe, or even just thought it was okay, I'd say definitely give this book a go. It has everything good from the first book and much much more. Filled with mystery, sci-fi, romance, power struggles and emotion, what's not to love?

I give this 5/5!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #1

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

For my very first WoW (exciting!!), I'm choosing:

The Fine Art Of Truth Or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Release date: February 16th 2012
Publisher: Speak
Page count: 380
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Add it on: Goodreads

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is her French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before.

Okay, I know this comes out tomorrow which is hardly much of a wait, but I've been anticipating this book for months. It sounds so adorable! I can't resist a good contemp romance. And the cover is so cute! Sigh, why does pay day seem so far away? I need this book in my life now!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Random Reads Feb 2012

Random Reads Meme – Hosted by

This is an awesome meme hosted over at I'm Loving Books.

In short, Random Reads is a meme where we pick a random book from our shelf to read within the month. 
I have so many books on my tbr shelf that it's getting stupid, so this is a great way for me to get through them. Go here for the february random reads post for instructions on how to take part and more info.

Using Goodreads sorting and, I picked 'Lost Voices' by Sarah Porter.

This book has been on my tbr shelf since November 22nd 2011, which isn't too bad. I've been in a mermaid mood recently (I'm considering dedicating March to mermaid reads) so I'm glad I got this book. I'm not too far from finished now and will post my review soon :)

(Review) Entwined by Heather Dixon

Release date: March 29th 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Page count: 480
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Fantasy/Fairy Tales
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 4/5

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to "keep" things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Synopsis from Goodreads

(Full review with spoilers here)

This was a really sweet book, one I'll definitely try and re-read in the future. It had this charm to it I can't really put my finger on. I felt the start was a little slow, but about a third of the way in, I was really engrossed and found myself either smiling at the sweetness or absorbed in the darker moments of the story. I have never read the original story (The 12 Dancing Princesses). My only knowledge comes from the Barbie movie which I should not have in my dvd collection as a 20 year old, please don't judge me but who knows how accurate that is? Regardless of how faithful or original this retelling is, to me it was like reading a fresh story and I really enjoyed it. I loved the 'fairy tale' of it all, with the magic and the dashing men and the beautiful locations.

Characters wise, there were quite a lot. In the beginning, I admit I got a little confused with all the sisters and how old they were meant to be. They were all lovely though. I've read mixed reactions on Azalea, the lead character, but I liked her for the most part. I think her heart was in the right place and she was very sweet. Special mentions go to Bramble for her great sense of humour and Eve for being a bespectacled book worm like myself :3 Then there's the King who was one of my favourite aspects of the story. I loved watching him go from a cold, distant figure that the sisters (and I) hated to a warm, gentle father trying his best. Just thinking about it now makes me feel all toasty inside. Then there are the love interests! I don't want to spoil who they are (even though they're all pretty obvious as soon as they meet). They were all so so lovely and adorable and I only wished there'd been more scenes with them because they made my heart do little leaps.

One of the downsides to this book I feel is the writing. It was a little too simplistic? I'm not actually a big fan of superfluous description or overly dressed up narration in books, but I think with magical stories like this, it would have fit well. Instead, the writing was very stiff and basic. It was also quite repetitive. Every time I saw 'skirts' or 'crinolines' I sad faced. The combination of this and not enough romance to satisfy my cravings means I give this book a 4/5.

(Review) So Over You by Gwen Hayes

Release date: April 25th 2010
Publisher: Self Published
Page count: 266
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Buy it: Amazon
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 3/5

Layney Logan, girl reporter.

That's all she's ever wanted to be. This year, her senior year, not only does she have to share the coveted Senior Editor position with her arch nemesis, Jimmy Foster, she also has to figure out how to keep the school paper alive. With the local paper closing and the school cutting Journalism from the budget, it's a long shot. Working side-by-side with Foster, the guy she likes to call Lucifer, makes it even worse.

The only thing Layney dislikes more than swimming in the high school dating pool is Jimmy Foster thinking he got the best of her, so she takes
his ridiculous newspaper assignment--to go on twelve blind dates--to prove his powers of darkness won't work on her. The trouble is, the more she learns about herself on her journey of bad blind dates, the more she wonders if maybe Foster has known her better than she knows herself all this time.

And maybe she should have trusted him with the secret she’s kept for four years—the secret that broke them up to begin with.

Synopsis from Goodreads

This was like the book equivalent of a teen rom com. It wasn't particularly deep or moving, but sometimes all you want is something fun and goofy and sweet to distract you from life for an hour or two. And I seriously mean an hour or two because this book was really short.

Despite the length, it was enjoyable whilst it lasted. I'd say it leaned a little more towards the com than the rom, but it wasn't the kind of cheesy comedy that made me want to face palm. It was actually pretty funny. It was sweet as well, but the romance never felt as strong as I'd have liked. Since the story was so short, it'd have been hard to have any more development without sacrificing the fun of all the dates Layney has to go on.

It was so fun reading about all the different dates. Sadly, they were just too short!! Some of the guys were so adorable or funny and I'd have happily read more about them but then bam! Layney was on yet another date. Thankfully, it was a blast having Layney as a lead character. She was hilarious. I adored her snarky remarks and the fact she calls this one character by the wrong name throughout the entire book amused me. Jimmy was a little cliche with his whole 'bad boy every girl fancies but is actually a sweet guy' persona but somehow it didn't bug me. He was pretty sweet. It was also cool that Layney and Jimmy already knew each other well, which made their verbal battles funny rather than making me think 'Urm why do you even like each other?'

Sadly, like a lot of those teen rom com movies, I didn't find the book particularly memorable. Maybe it's just me getting senile at the ripe old age of 20, but I had to check the summary before posting this review as I'd forgotten Layney and Jimmy's names :( There's nothing particularly terrible about the book. It's a little rushed due to the length, but other than that, it does what it sets out to do well. It's just there are so many great books out there with so little time to read them. If you have an hour to spare, need some cheering up and don't have a burning desire to read anything else, give this a go.

I give it 3/5.

(Review) Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Release date: January 1st 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster's Children Publishing
Page count: 344
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 4/5

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

Synopsis from Goodreads

(Full review with spoilers here)

This book deals with a road trip, romance and learning to cope with loss. I was sure I'd love it, yet I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I really liked it, but I just can't give it the 5 stars I wish I could. First of all, the characters. I liked them, I think they were developed well. I liked Amy more than Roger which might sound a bit weird but seeing as she narrated the story, I felt like I got to know her a lot more. I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a hug, the poor thing. But I think she dealt well with her loss and I loved seeing her slowly gain strength throughout the book. Now Roger. Hmm. On paper, he ticked all the right boxes - Cute, sweet, funny and quirky. But I never fell in love with him like I expected. It didn't feel like Amy did either somehow. Their interactions were cute, but I always got this friend vibe from them somehow. They would make awesome best friends, but even in certain parts of the book I wasn't overly screaming KISS DAMN YOU in my head. In fact, and maybe it's just down to me being a serial shipper, whenever Amy met another male character, I ended up shipping her with them, even if they only spoke for a few pages. I don't know, she seemed to have more chemistry with Leonard (who I adored and I can only dream about a companion novel starring him and the girl he likes), Walcott (he was in it like, 2 pages but Amy's conversation with him was one of my favourite parts of the book) and Lucien. Along those lines, I think all the side characters were all done so well. I wished I could see more of them to be honest. They were all memorable and I loved seeing how they made Amy happy.

Despite not being totally convinced by the romance, I was completely absorbed by the story. I've always fantasised about going on a road trip across America, and my mum and I say if we stumble across a ton of money we will. Reading this book made me feel like I was on the road trip and it was so much fun. I'm not familiar with most American states so it was interesting learning a bit about some. And everything was described so well that I felt like I was there. They visited a lot of different places which kept the book fresh and I never felt the story dragged. There were also some gritty moments. Amy had a lot of family drama and yes, I CRIED.  Roger also had some ex-girlfriend trouble but I found this less compelling. Overall though, I flew through the book. I loved the little mementos scattered throughout, and I thought the writing was pretty good. If I'd been rooting more for Amy and Roger, I'd have given the book at least a 4.5, but as it stands, I give it a 4/5.

(Review) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Release date: November 1st 2011
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Page count: 222
Genre(s): Non Fiction/Humour/Autobiography
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5/5

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Before reading this, I wasn't overly familiar with Mindy. I knew her from The Office, and some of her tweets, and that was it basically. But she's hilarious as Kelly and clearly a gifted writer based on episodes she's written. I already found her pretty adorable. Now I love her even more. I think the perfect definition of this book would just be FUN. It wasn't overly emotional or sappy, but there were a few tender moments that kind of made me want to give her a hug. I wouldn't describe the book as a pure memoir. There are also a lot of fun pieces (I can't think of a better word). The kind of things you could imagine on a blog, like 'Types of women in romantic comedies who are not real' and 'Why do men put on their shoes so slowly?' (which cracked me up because I take FOREVER to put on my shoes).

It was a breeze to read. I'm just looking through parts I highlighted and jesus there are so many! A lot of this is down to the fact I could relate a lot to what Mindy wrote. I like that despite being successful, she's still very down to Earth and willing to embarrass herself. And she is really funny. This book had me laughing a lot. Anyway, I'd highly recommend this book to people who are already fans of Mindy, comedy fans, especially if you like The Office and SNL because you get a little sneak peek at what it's like working for those shows (I found these parts so interesting but they just weren't long enough, dammit. Less than a page on Steve Carell? Not acceptable). I also think any girls who feel a little weird or different or maybe passionate about things that aren't the norm could enjoy reading this. I know I'm a loser and reading about Mindy's uncool childhood made me feel less alone. I think I'm going to change my rating. I was going to give it a 4 as I felt it was too short and there wasn't enough about her tv work, but the rest was so brilliant I think it deserves a 4.5 :)

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(Review) Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Release date: August 2010
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Page count: 283
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Buy it: Book Depository (currently unavailable but can be notified when back in stock)
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5/5

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

Synopsis from Goodreads

I loved this more than I expected. I've been wanting to read it a while because I have some weird interest in age differences in romance. Anyway, I thought this would be a sweet, heart warming love story, and in some ways, it was. But it was also a lot more. I never guessed I'd have cried reading it. I am the biggest crybaby ever but still.
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It just all felt so real. Amelia and Chris were great. Both so believable, with their own adorable qualities and flaws. I could see myself in both of them. I was so like Amelia when I was a teenager. Wishing I was older, prettier and more sure of myself. There were times when I wanted to talk some sense into her but I'd have been exactly the same at her age. I've had those feelings when you're young and you feel like you're head over heels for some guy and all your common sense goes out of the window. Chris was also so real. Funny, energetic but with hidden insecurities. He's at a stage of his life where it seems like everyone else knows their way and he's in this sort of limbo. I can relate to that 100%. I didn't actually know until I started reading from Chris' POV that the book was written in both their POVs. I'm really glad this was done. It was nice having more depth to Chris and seeing what was going on in his head at certain moments. Also, his voice was convincing. I never thought 'This sounds like a woman trying to sound like a man.' They weren't Laura Buzo's words, they were completely Chris'.

I haven't talked about the plot much but I'd say this is definitely a more character driven novel. Don't expect lots of drama. It's more of a day in, day out novel, focusing on the interactions between Amelia, Chris and their family and friends. This isn't a downside though, because with characters like these, the more time spent on them the better. When I finished the book, I felt like the characters stories weren't over for me. I imagined what would happen to them a few years down the line. They weren't just 'characters' to me, but living, breathing people who will always inhabit a little corner of my mind.

I highly recommend this book to people who like their romance believable and tender. I give it a 4.5/5.
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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Doctor Reading Challenge

0/10 books

Hosted by Simply...Challenging

Yes, I have an addiction and I need help. But I am a huge Dr Who fan. I'm currently getting my brother into it and we've been marathoning it together so I'm in an especially Dr Who mood. I couldn't say no to this challenge!

I'm going to aim for:

Third Doctor - read 10 Doctor Who books

Saturday, 28 January 2012

(Review) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Release date: January 2nd 2012
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown
Page count: 256
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Buy it: Amazon/Book Depository
Add it on: Goodreads
Rating: 5/5

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Seeing as I hate insta-love in books, you'd think I'd hate this. But also seeing as 'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist' is one of my favourite books, it's no surprise that I fell in love with this sweet story. I had a strong feeling I'd enjoy the book and it met all my expectations. I read it in 2 sittings (it would have been one if I hadn't been so tired the first night) and I sped through the pages like a crazed fiend.

I'll start with the story. I think what I loved about the story was that despite being so reliant on fate, it all felt so believable. I also think setting half the book on the plane trip was a perfect way of having Hadley and Oliver together without it seeming forced. It also helped to see the feelings develop between the pair without being rushed. Despite being set over 24 hours, I felt there was a good amount of character development, helped with the flashbacks. I liked that the story wasn't just focused on the romance, but also Hadley and Oliver's relationships with their families.

Now the characters. I adored both Hadley and Oliver and the chemistry between them was so clear. I had the stupidest grin on my face reading their conversations. Hadley was a funny, down to earth, generally sweet girl. I totally understood where she was coming from whenever she got a little stroppy and not once did I feel like shaking some sense into her. Then Oliver.
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I fell completely in love with this boy. He was kind and sarky and so funny and I can totally see why Hadley was head over heels. I've never been on a plane before and the idea terrifies me but if I got to sit next to Oliver I think I'd be okay with it. I much prefer these kinds of love interests in books to the brooding and mysterious to the downright rude. Oliver was a sweetheart and I loved learning more about his past.

I also thought the writing was great. I highlighted a lot of nice quotes (not including all the hilarious bits) such as these:

'She wishes they could turn around again and fly back in the other direction, chasing the night they left behind.'

'He's like a song she can't get out of her head. Hard as she tries, the melody of their meeting runs through her mind on an endless loop, each time as surprisingly sweet as the last, like a lullaby, like a hymn, and she doesn't think she could ever get tired of hearing it.'

For fans of Nick & Norah and those who like their love stories sweet and heart warming, I'd highly recommend this. I completely forgot I was reading a book as I was taken on a goosebump-inducing journey, one that I can't wait to take again and again and again.
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I give it 5/5!