Sunday, October 31, 2010

In my mailbox (15)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Kristi from The Story Siren. Here's what I received this week.
Shadow hills by Anastasia Hopcus
His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams.

Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills.
Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why.

When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king.

Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart.
The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series.

Betrayals by Lilith St. Crow
She’s no angel . . .

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England School for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem— she’s the only girl in the place.

A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead.

And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide. . .

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it.

That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return.

Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

That's it from me for this week. What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giveaway: Win a copy of Paranormalcy and Torment

So, it's been a while since I've done a giveaway but since it's Halloween this week and since I've promised a giveaway, I thought I'd kick it off by offering 2 readers to win a copy of Lauren Kate's Torment or  Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

I know I promised a giveaway of adult paranormal romance books, but I've decided to hold back on that one for a while and do this one instead.

I will be ordering these books through the book depository, so this giveaway is international. However, you do need to make sure that the book depository ships to your country before you enter this giveaway!

About the books:
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal.

Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still.


Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies.

She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths.

Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for? In the aftermath of what happened at Sword & Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her.

At the school Luce discovers what the Shadows that have followed her all her life mean - and how to manipulate them to see into her other lives.

Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything.

What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened...what if Luce was really meant to be with someone else?

There is only one rule and that is that:
1. You don't have to be a follower of my blog to enter, but I would appreciate you spreading the word in any way you can so that people can enter this giveaway.

Edit: I've decided to extend the deadline on the contest by a little while. This giveaway will no longer be ending the 15th, but will be ending the 22 - so you have an extra week to still enter! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween book trailers

So, although we don't really make a big deal out of Halloween here in South Africa, I figured I'd jump on the let's-have-fun-with-all-the-Halloween-themed-posts bandwagon anyway.
I won't be doing all that many posts (too late for that anyway), but I decided to kick off the first of three (or four if I really have time) posts with a Halloween book trailer feature.

I'm choosing them based on how well they fit in with the theme in my mind - so the trailers won't necessarily be trailers that have never been seen before.

Be sure to check back later this week because I will be doing a giveaway of some sexy adult paranormal fiction books (I will also be doing a YA giveaway, but will tell you more later). In the meantime, here are some of the fabulous book trailers (old and new) I stumbled upon throughout this week that I definitely think would make for some great Halloween viewing and reading.

Book: Under My Skin by Judith Graves

I don't even need to give reasons why this makes for the perfect Halloween read. It's got Urban paranormal fantasy written all over it. Watch and you'll see what I mean! Oh, and the music is what sold me on this one too.

Teaser synopsis:
Redgrave had its share of monsters before Eryn moved to town. Mauled pets, missing children. The Delacroix family is taking the blame, but Eryn knows the truth. Something stalks the night. Wade, the police chief's son and Redgrave High's resident hottie, warns her the Delacroix are dangerous. But then so is Eryn--in fact, she's lethal.
But she can't help falling for one of the Delacroix boys, dark, brooding--human Alec. And then her world falls apart.

Book: Ghostgirl: Lovesick by Tonya Hurley

I've featured this one before, but I adore this trailer so much that I thought I'd feature it again. It's so reminiscent of Nightmare before Christmas - which happens to me one of my favourite movies ever. I always have the urge to want to watch that movie after I watch this trailer. It's one of the most beautiful trailers I've seen to date. It's over 2 minutes long, but so worth watching.

Teaser Synopsis:
Before she can rest in peace, Charlotte Usher must return to the tragic site of her death: high school. Once there, her assignment is to help a designated teen solve a personal problem in time for the all important prom.

But no one explained what happens if you fall in love with your class project. Charlotte would die (again) for love but facing the all-too-familiar feeling of invisibility may be too much for her to swallow.

Book: Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz

I can't even begin to tell you just how addicted I am to the Blue Bloods series. I haven't even read The Van Alen Legacy yet, but I'm already excited about Misguided Angel (which, if I'm not mistaken, has just been released). This trailer is short and doesn't say much, which in this case is very, very effective because I think it says so much more than what it would have had there been anything else added.

Teaser Synopsis:
After inheriting the dark Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler fled to Florence with her forbidden love, Jack. Now the two of them must embark on the mission Schuyler was destined to complete: to find and protect the five remaining gates that guard the earth from Lucifer, lord of the Silver Bloods…

Complete summaries can be found on Goodreads.

I'm aware that I could use the more obvious book trailer choices like The Replacement, Nightshade or even trailers like Claire de Lune and Raised by Wolves, but I wanted to go for something that wasn't all that much of an obvious choice (even though Misguided Angel is there). Hope you enjoy them!

And don't forget to check back later this week for that giveaway!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In my mailbox (14)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely Kristi from The Story Siren. It's been rather quiet on my front, but I have received books that I've been dying to read for a while now.

Here's what I received over the last week or 2:
Torment by Lauren Kate
How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for?
In the aftermath of what happened at Sword & Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her.

At the school Luce discovers what the Shadows that have followed her all her life mean - and how to manipulate them to see into her other lives.

Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything.

What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened...what if Luce was really meant to be with someone else?  

Relatively Famous by Jessica Park

(Sent to me by the author herself -  going to read this one later this week)

Meet Dani McKinley: A typical teen whose world is rocked when she finds out that her father is a famous Hollywood Action star.

Now meet Mark Ocean: A self-serving actor with a floundering career who sees that a daughter is just what he needs to reinvent himself as a family man and get back on track. When the two decide to spend the summer together, they must not only wrangle their own love lives, but try to figure out who they really are to themselves and to each other.

Now armed with credit cards, club memberships, and a new wardrobe, Dani learns that what Mark has in wealth, he sorely lacks in parenting skills. Trying to show Mark that parenting is about more than loading her up with Prada bags and taking her to movie premieres is challenging enough, but she's also got her hands full with her new friends.

Oh, and the boys... Dani meets Jason, a gorgeous young personal trainer who is easy on the eyes and wildly flirtatious. But is this smug hottie the one for her? Or will she ignore her friends eye-rolling and go for the goofy but sweet surfer?

While juggling her own complicated love life, Dani tries to set her father up with someone less likely to appear on a VH1 reality show, and someone more... well, normal. And age-appropriate. And dressed in anything but a thong bikini. But whether Mark is able to heal old wounds and move forward with anything more than a meaningless fling remains to be seen.

Can Dani fit in with this new, fast-moving California crowd without losing herself? 
Dark Flame by Alyson Noël 

(Have heard a lot of mixed things about this one, but I'm kind of still keen on reading it).

Ever is trying to help Haven transition into life as an immortal.  But with Haven drunk on her new powers and acting recklessly, she poses the ultimate threat—exposing their secret world to the outside. 

As Ever struggles to keep the Immortals hidden, it only propels Haven closer to the enemy—Roman and his evil companions.

At the same time, Ever delves deeper into dark magick to free Damen from Roman’s power. But when her spell backfires, it binds her to the one guy who’s hell-bent on her destruction.

Now there’s a strange, foreign pulse coursing through her, and no matter what she does, she can’t stop thinking about Roman—and longing for his touch. 

As she struggles to resist the fiery attraction threatening to consume her, Roman is more than willing to take advantage of her weakened state…and Ever edges closer and closer to surrender.

Frantic to break the spell before its too late, Ever turns to Jude for help, risking everything she knows and loves to save herself—and her future with Damen …

And finally, 
Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett

(So very excited about this one - I've seen tons of raving reviews for this novel and from the sneak peak that I have read so far, I can tell I'm going to love this one)

You're dead Scarlett...Previously a poor taste jibe from school frenemies, now a statement of fact.

Scarlett is absolutely mortified (in more ways than one) to discover that she's accidentally killed herself while trying to get out of a school trip.

Even worse, she's taken her entire family with her. Life as a ghost is pretty dull - if only some of her friends were dead too...

That's it from me for this week, what did you get this week?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Awaken

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. The idea behind this meme is to highlight up and coming releases that we just can't wait to read.

This week's choice is Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky.

Set to be published in May 2011, this one has only recently come to my attention. And I'm sure with so many internet and technology junkies out there, this one will either appeal or strike a raw nerve. Or maybe both.

I do know that this is one book that I want to read though.

Here's a quick summary:

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
In the year 2060, everything is done digitally. Kids no longer go to schools. They stay home and take classes online. Adults work from home, too.

Even dating is no longer done in person.

Why walk on a real beach when you can stroll down a digitally remastered one instead? No bad weather, no seagulls, nothing real to ruin a perfectly fine time.

Though she's grown up in this digital world, something about being cut off from everyone doesn't sit right with seventeen-year-old Madeline.

Her favorite activity--the only one she does off line--is soccer. She likes the physicality of it and the comradeship with the other girls.

Then she meets Justin. He, too, prefers life off line. It's all he talks about. He even takes her out to a real coffee shop and an underground club.

Maybe it's his attentiveness, or the physical closeness of actually being with someone, or just that he's very good looking, Madie is definitely drawn to him. But there's also something very aloof about him, like perhaps he's hiding something.

When Madie uncovers the truth, she's faced with the question: What's more important, fighting for what you believe in or love?

What's on your WoW list this week?

Book review: The Eternal Ones

The Eternal Ones
When love refuses to die, it not only refuses to give up the past, but also allows those who've experienced it before, to relive the cycle again.
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (Razorbill)

For as long as Haven Moore can remember, she's always been plagued by visions of a previous past life with a darkly handsome boy named Ethan.

Under the oppressive rule of a deeply religious grandmother, Haven has been taught all her life to fear and suppress any visions she may have had about life with this so-called mysterious stranger.
Being bound and trapped in the small town of Snope City, Haven is constantly subjected to the narrow-minded intolerance that forms the main DNA structure of the small-town mentality syndrome that seems to be a plague amongst the people in her town.

With her talent for dressmaking and the company of her only friend, Beau, the world around her keeps becomes narrower, while her visions become stronger.

When she inadvertently chances upon an image of gorgeous movie star Iain Morrow on TV, something about him seems to be inexplicably compelling and draws her to him, like no other boy has ever done before. 

A further startling discovery leads her to information about The Ouroboros Society - a group dedicated to spending their time studying reincarnation.

Deciding to chance things as well as being driven by a maddening urge to find Iain Morrow, Haven makes a break for it and heads to New York where she quickly becomes immersed in the murky and dangerous world of reincarnation.

Will she discover the hidden secrets of her past? And can she really trust Iain Morrow, the boy who reminds her so of Ethan, but who may or may not be a murderer?

One thing is certain, Haven needs to gather all her wits about her to tap into her memories and discover hidden secrets about her past lives in order to avoid repeating a tragic cycle that has so far, always resulted in devastating tragedy.

I have to admit that I am very surprised by just how much I enjoyed reading this book.
Having not read any books about reincarnation in a while, I really jumped into this book not knowing what to expect.

Not only that, I must confess to also being a little wary of reading this because, as a not-so-huge fan of snakes (MAJOR understatement there), the menacing and rather sinister looking cover didn't exactly scream pick-me-up-and-read-me-this-very-instant to my ever keen book senses.

Of course, having now read this book, I definitely think it's a very appropriate cover. It still isn't one of my favourite book covers, but it does definitely convey and reflect just what the book is about.

I have always thought that it's really great when books manage to have covers that actually convey the idea behind the book, because there are so many books out there where the cover has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual book - something which I've always found to be very jarring.   

Cover aside; I thought this was such a beautifully written book.

Kirsten Miller has a wonderful way of engaging and pulling readers into the world she creates in her book. I loved how the book flashes between both Haven's present and past lives (although the present was for the most part the dominant part of the novel) and thought that the beautifully descriptive scenes were very easy to get sucked into.

I especially loved reading about the scenes from her past, because that's where Kirsten's lyrical prose shines through the most. 

She manages to capture and paint the mystery and romance of the 1920s in such a vividly lush, evocative and detailed manner, that you really can't help but want to turn back the hands of time in order to experience that period for yourself.

The characters in the book were also quite an intriguing, eclectic and complex mix. 

I initially admit to not being sure of just exactly what Kirsten was trying to convey by portraying Imogene (Haven's grandmother) as a narrow-minded and devoutly religious and controlling woman who wanted to save Haven's soul from what she perceived as the work of the devil.  I was even more wary when the Pastor himself is also portrayed in a rather dubious light. 

But being an open-minded individual, I stopped to pause and consider the underlying social commentary about religious zealots.

As a Christian, I have often come across fellow Christians who are rather judgemental, narrow-minded and often use and manipulate religion (according to their own perceived notions ) as a tool to force their view points on others (I can't even begin to tell you how big a PET PEEVE this is of mine - especially considering that people from all walks of life, creed and religion are guilty of this).

For me, what I actually got out of this, is that she doesn't try to say anything bad about Christianity, but places emphasis on people who try and use religion (in this case Christianity is used) to illustrate how easily people can skewer and adapt life philosophies and  religious principals to suit their own purpose and intentions. 

I loved both Haven and Iain's characters, although at times I become massively frustrated with her due to the fact that she so readily believed other people's damning claims about Iain/Ethan, when she knew them for an even shorter time than she has known Iain. 

Granted,  I found it very hard to trust Iain at times too, but I know that had I been in Haven's shoes, I would have chosen to trust someone that I knew just a little better above someone who is a member of a shady and  ominously sinister society. 

Still, aside from that, I really loved watching the story between Haven and Iain unfurl and am very glad that there is going to be a sequel to this - as there are so many unanswered questions about Haven's past lives that I would really love to see explored in the next novel

(By the way, how beautiful are the character's names in this novel? Nothing makes me happier than characters who have names that aren't seen or used in novels all that often).

There are some very interesting and unpredictable twists and turns in the novel, and the involvement of a possible third person (who may or may not be very human) adds an added dimension to an already engrossing story.

Oh and if that hasn't sold you yet - some of the scenes are set in the wonderfully romantic, historically and culturally rich city of Rome.  I can't wait for the sequel.

My final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book review: City of Bones

City of Bones
A shape-shifting world where the blur between illusion and reality crash, collide and send 15-year Clary on a cloaked-and-dagger type of adventure she never could have foreseen.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Walker Books)
15-year old Clary Fray has always  thought of herself as pretty normal teenager.
But normal soon takes on a whole new meaning when she heads to a club in New York one evening and witnesses a murder committed by 3 teenagers.

The murder she is witness to is by no means an ordinary one.

For one, the teens are covered with strange rune-like tattoos all over their bodies and secondly (and most importantly), it turns out that she is the only one who is able to see them. 

Of course, what makes this even more interesting is that even though her first impulse is to call the police, she can't because the body disappears right before her eyes.

Thus begins her introduction into the world of Shadowhunters - a world that quickly introduces her to the mighty Shadowhunter warriors who devote their life and time to ridding the earth of demons. 

Before the night is over, she finds herself:

a) introduced to 3 shadowhunters (which includes the sarcastic, rude and very attractive Jace Wayland),

b) On a desperate search for a mother who goes missing the same night and

c) Wondering when and why she was gifted with a dormant ability and sight to see the wondrous (and not so wondrous) creatures from the other realm.

One thing's for sure. Clary Fray will never be able to experience any form of normality again. Especially when the search for her mother leads her to knowledge of an important artefact that an enemy of the downworlders (the supernatural folk) is desperately searching for.

I know, I know.

I must be the last person left on this planet who hasn't read The Mortal Instruments series yet.  Goodness knows why it took me this long to get around to reading it, but hopefully my gushing review will make up for the amount of years it took me to read this book.

I have to confess that although I've heard a lot about The Mortal Instrument series, I was never sure whether or not I wanted to read it.

For one, I've read more than my fair share of urban fantasy books and before picking up City of Bones, had quite a number of disappointing experiences with a few of them. 

As a result I was definitely a little sceptical when I first heard about this urban fantasy series for young adults. 

And then I read Sya's post on hot fictional characters who play musical instruments (Jace and his piano playing ways is mentioned - and goodness, am I a sucker for boys who are musically inclined or what?).

Not only that, I also did a giveaway where Stephany's confession (about how to this day, she still can't stop fangirling every time she sees Jace's name anywhere) only kept on adding to the growing curiosity about this book series, that I no longer could put off from reading it anymore.

So, off I went and got myself a copy.

I am happy to say that I adore this book. I adore it so much, I won't even lend out a copy to any of my friends. It's just that good of a novel.

For those who have this book, you'd have noticed the Stephanie Meyer blurb that mentions how The Mortal Instruments is a story world she loves to live in. Now, love her or hate her, what I can tell you is that after reading this book, you will agree with her.

The world that Cassandra Clare has managed to conjure into life is a magical, fantastical, phantasmagorical and grungy world that is dark, sexy and edgy while at the same time also bringing an electrifying and magnetically enchanting quality to it that glimmers with magic and mystery throughout the entire book.

Actually, to be perfectly honest, I don't think any description can really describe just how fantastic the world-building in this novel is, but when you read this, just know that the world Cassandra draws you into will hypnotise and suck you in so deeply, you'll sob at the very idea of having to return to the hum-drum of reality afterwards .

Never in my entire life have I wanted a story world to be more real than this one.  And is Cassandra a bloody marvellous writer or what?

She simply has this innate capacity to make her readers not only read the words she has written down, but to absorb, experience and bring them to life and to have you panting for more after wards.

I was very surprised at how easily she managed to combine such lyrically descriptive prose alongside jam-packed and fast-paced, grittily written action scenes.

Combine that with the surprisingly comic moments that will have your facial muscles stretch from smirking, to sniggering to spluttering with laughter,  and you'll have an idea of the kind of word-porn that you'll be experiencing throughout the book (yes, I used word-porn. She's that good of a writer).

I actually haven't come across many urban fantasy books where such beautiful writing is combined with such gritty scenes, so for me, that Cassandra Clare has the writing skills to pull this off and in doing so manages to create such vivid contrasts between beauty and darkness, well, that's just incredibly and astoundingly impressive to me.

But, that's not all.

If you thought that I was only impressed with the writing, wait till you meet the characters.

I simply adored Clary. Gosh, what's not to love? She's ballsy, brave, gutsy and incredibly smart. Not only that, but she is an amazingly well-developed and mature character for someone who is so young.

I loved the fact that she was so fearless even though more often that not, that fearlessness often put her in harms way. Some of her actions are so often based on her emotional reactions, but I liked her even more for it.

The great thing about her is that she also doesn't take everything at face value. I liked the fact that it took her a while to trust Jace, Isabelle and Alec and how, every so often, she wasn't afraid to speak just what it was that was on her mind.

I really can't wait to see what Cassandra does with Clary's character in the rest of this series.

If she's this awesome in the first book, then I really, really cannot wait to read and find out what happens in the next books. She's honestly one of my favourite female fictional characters.

Up next, of course, is Jace.

I swear I have a major thing for rude, sarcastic and sardonic hot boys, because Jace is all of that and then some more.

He is the poster child for the badass and cynical bad boy with a dark past he doesn't like talking about. He's quick-witted, sharp-tongued and is cocky to boot. Yet, this is what makes him so undeniably appealing.

The interaction between him and Clary often had me screeching with laughter - which was something that once again surprised me.

I've read such a lot of urban fantasy novels that was decidedly lacking in some humour, that the witty dialogue and exchanges (especially between Clary and Jace) not only surprised the socks off of me, but had me laughing out loud.

I wish I could go into more detail about how fabulous the rest of the cast is - Simon (Clary's best friend), Magnus Bane (I LOVE, love, LOVE him), Isabelle and Alec (who at first I didn't like until I understood just why he treated Clary the way he did), but this review will become a full-length novel of its own if I don't stop writing now.

What I can say is that if I were living in a world where the next door I knocked on could easily be housing a powerful warlock hosting killer parties and where the next restaurant had fairies, mermaids, vampires and werewolves as part of their regular customers, let's just say that I so wouldn't want to come back to the world where none of that exists.

It's an absolute must-read. 

And the plot twist at the end? Let's just say it will have you wanting to buy the next book immediately.

An absolute 5 out of 5 for this one!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Wrapped

Ok, ok. I've got some serious review and blog catching up to do, but I've been manically busy, so for now, a WoW post will have to do. (I know it seems as if I've just been doing meme posts lately, but I promise I'll post a heap of reviews later this week)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. The idea behind this meme is to highlight up and coming releases that we just can't wait to read.

This week's choice is  Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury

I seem to be having a thing for Historical fiction lately and this one sounds right up my alley. The fact that Egyptian artifacts are involved makes this an instant winner in my eyes. As a history nerd, if there is even a remote kind of mention relating to any Greek, Egyptian or Roman history, well, I'm pretty much sold.

Add to that a romantic plot, and a dashing hero and a fabulous cover, and you've got yourself a book that you should add to your TBR pile. I can't wait for this one.
Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
Published by Atheneum
Date of publication: 24 May 2011
This is Agnes Wilkins’ debut season and already she’s attracting the attention of one of England’s most eligible and desirable men: Lord Showalter. He’s been quite forward about his intentions and Agnes finds this at once thrilling and terrifying.

He is handsome and wealthy and has this quirky interest in helping England amass the world’s finest collection of Egyptian artifacts.

It could be a good match—but everything Agnes knows about courtship and high society romance comes from A. Lady novels, and it seems to be a rule that men who are too good to be true are usually hiding something.

But, what Showalter is hiding is not crumbling finances or boorish behavior.

He is deceiving the whole British Empire. He is spy working for Napoleon, his orders smuggled into London in Egyptian artifacts—like the one Agnes pockets while at a mummy unwrapping party at Showalter’s home.

Her innocent interest in this trinket (and childish need to keep it) jump starts a chain of events that bring out dangerous characters, dangerous circumstances, and the biggest danger of all—true love.

That's it from me for this week. What's on your WoW list this week? I'd love to know.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In my mailbox (13)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by the Kristi at The Story Siren.

Here are the books I received this week.
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Torn between two destinies?

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there.

But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger.

Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt.

Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brenna
Mae Crawford's always thought of herself as in control, but in the last few weeks her life has changed.

Her younger brother, Jamie, suddenly has magical powers, and she's even more unsettled when she realizes that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians.

Even worse?

Jamie hasn't told Mae a thing about any of it.

Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger from Gerald themselves because he wants to steal Nick's powers. Will Mae be able to find a way to save everyone she cares about from the power-hungry magician's carefully laid trap?

Before I fall by Lauren Oliver
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend.

Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it’s her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning.

In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

That's it from me for this week. What did you get this week?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vespertine

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine. The idea behind this meme is to highlight up and coming releases that we just can't wait to read.

This week's WoW pick is The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell.

There is something about this book that makes me think that this is a story world I would want to get lost in. I haven't read all that many historical YA fiction, but this one seems lush, richly layered and complex.

And it seems to have a huge possibility of a paranormal aspect to this novel as well. Which is a double yay factor for me.

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Publication date:
March, 7th, 2011
The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek—and thankfully, she’s not spending it at home in rural Maine. She’s been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry.

With diversions ranging from archery in the park to dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance, Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined.

But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. Newly dubbed "Maine’s Own Mystic", Amelia is suddenly quite in demand.

However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

What's on your WoW list this week?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book review: If I Stay

If I Stay
What would you do if everything you had suddenly disappears in the blink of an eye? And what would you do if you were given one important choice to make? Would you stay or would you go?

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Black Swan)
17-year old Mia seems to have it all.

A gorgeous, punk rocker boyfriend who is crazy about her, hip and fabulously funky parents who encourage, support and are always there for her and a musical talent that is on the verge of taking her places she could never have imagined.

But, all that changes when one morning, Mia's family (including her younger brother Teddy), decide to brave the ice and visit family friends they haven't seen in a while. 

Before they can actually make proper headway, everything Mia knows and loves disappears in the car accident that takes place within a matter of moments.

Mia, however, is left in a strange sort of limbo and as we witness the previous events and the events that take place afterward, it becomes clear that Mia has one important choice to make.

Will she stay or will she go?

I have wanted to read this book for the longest time now.

Usually, I tend to ignore a book when there is so much hype surrounding it, but somehow this one seemed as if it would be worth the effort. Still, it did take me a good couple of years before I actually got around to this book, but I can say that I'm glad I finally did.

I do have to admit that I do, however, wish that I didn't read this book at the same time that I was reading Forbidden, because, for me, the reading experience of Forbidden eclipsed my experience of reading If I Stay by a mile and a half.

But, that's not to say I didn't love this novel.  Because I did. 

As a huge lover of music, I often and very easily gravitate towards novels that incorporate music as a major theme throughout the book, and as someone who tends to especially have a special fondness for classical music (yes, I'm a certified classical music nerd), this one definitely seemed right up my alley.

And Gayle Forman certainly has a way with interweaving and threading music throughout the novel, doesn't she? 

For all this novel's simplicity, there was something so starkly beautiful about the novel, that I couldn't help but fall in love with Gayle's writing. And although I'm a huge fan of lyrical and descriptive prose, this book has taught me that not every book needs to be written in compellingly poetic writing in order to be beautiful.

The main reason that the book gets a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star one is that it took me quite a while before I could actually really connect with Mia.

Granted, I was incredibly horrified by what happened in the accident, but her " at first numbed" response to the wreck and the fact that she saw the remains of her parents was at first very jarring to me.  I guess, the fact that as a naturally emotive (ok, ok, overly emotional then) person, my immediate response would be, well the exact opposite of hers. 

Of course, once I actually started understanding the reason why, I became more engaged with her story and found myself absolutely rooting for her. I was incredibly sympathetic towards her and often found myself thinking that I wouldn't blame her if she actually chose to go.

As she witnesses her friends, family and boyfriend's reactions and pleas for her to stay, you almost can't help but feel how overwhelmed Mia must be at the mere thought of trying to make such a life-altering decision.

As a character, her story became one that I quickly empathised with and even though I found myself supporting the obvious choice that she wants to make, I eventually also started rooting for the talented musician who still has something and someone to live for.

I loved Mia's boyfriend Adam and her best friend Kim, and thought that their characterisations were a fabulous enhancement in a novel that was seeping with heart-wrenching emotion.

As a rule, flash backs in fiction novels are not a favourite with me, but Gayle's writing becomes so engaging throughout the novel, that I actually really found myself enjoying the format in which this novel was written as well.

I'm really glad that I have finally gotten around to reading this and will definitely be looking out for Where She Went, the sequel, which will, interestingly enough, be written from Adam's point of view.

Go out and get If I Stay if you haven't. It's worth the read.

My rating:
4/5 stars

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In my mailbox (12)

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Here are the books I received this week.

Got some great books this week. One from a publisher, and 4 which I recently bought. Without further ado, here's what I got in my mailbox this week.

From publisher:

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow
(I don't have the second in this series yet, but the publishers have been very kind and have now ordered the second book for me as well. So definitely looking forward to that)

Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha–half vampire, half human, and all deadly.

If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little.

Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Bought the following:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes.

She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it.

But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries?

If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend.

But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go - especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace.

And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings - and if he is, what is he trying to do?

When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson
Spring, 1922 Tessa is a beautiful, tiny, dark-eyed princess - who's given up her duties to follow her heart, working for nothing backstage at the Viennese opera.

No one there knows who she really is, or that a fairytale castle is missing its princess, and Tessa is determined to keep it that way.

But secret lives can be complicated.

When a wealthy, handsome Englishman discovers this bewitching urchin backstage,Tessa's two lives collide - and in escaping her inheritance, she finds her destiny...


Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz
Have you ever wondered what secrets lurk behind the closed doors of New York City's wealthiest families? They're powerful, they're famous...they're undead.

Schuyler Van Alen's blood legacy has just been called into question--is the young vampire in fact a Blue Blood, or is it the sinister Silver Blood that runs through her veins?

As controversy swirls, Schuyler is left stranded in the Force household, trapped under the same roof as her cunning nemesis, Mimi Force, and her forbidden crush, Jack Force.

When one of the Gates of Hell is breached by Silver Bloods in Rio de Janeiro, however, the Blue Bloods will need Schuyler on their side.

The stakes are high; the battle is bloody; and through it all, Carnavale rages on. And in the end, one vampire's secret identity will be exposed in a revelation that shocks everyone.

That's it from me. I can't wait to start reading these. What's in your IMM this week?

Friday, October 1, 2010

When celebrities want to become authors

I am about to be a very, very rude girl. But I just have to get this out of my system.

I was rather gobsmacked (gobsmacked being an understatement), when I recently read an article confirming that Nicole Polizzi (also known as Snooki) recently scored a book deal with Gallery Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).

Now, to be fair I'm going to straight up admit that I don't watch Jersey Shore. I've seen enough teasers of the show to not want to watch it.

Instant brain cell killer if you ask me.

However, from what I have seen of her (and there's no way getting away from her) she's always been in the news. And certainly not for all the right reasons.

From being arrested for drunken behaviour and for bothering patrons on the beach to goodness knows what else, never in all of the entire time that she's lovingly paraded herself in front of the camera, has she ever given the impression that she loves reading, or that she can even write for that matter.

I am not aiming to bash any celebrity who wants to become a writer, but when I think of all the fantastic and aspiring authors who have to battle (or who have battled in the past) to get a book deal, then this seems so incredibly unfair.

And what's more, because they're celebrities, getting access to agents and representatives, somehow seem a lot easier for them, while people out there with fantastic talent and who have been writing for years, don't seem to get anywhere.
Here you have people who have always been good for entertainment value, and because they've done it all, who now want to venture into the world of writing and literature.

This is not necessarily my problem, because if the celebrity actually has the writing talent (like Steve Martin and Michael J. Fox for example), then I'm all for it.

And if they actually have a story to tell, then even more so.

But somehow, Snooki just seems to be another matter entirely.

I get that people like her, who make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, will probably sell.
After all fame sells and equals money, so I can admit to seeing why she'd get the book deal.

But, for someone who doesn't have any writing experience that she's spoken of, just how much of that book will truly be her work?

And that is where my issue lies. Just who will be the writer of her book? Her or the ghostwriter?(Let's face it a lot of celebrities don't necessarily write all of their own books, even though they won't admit to it)

And why don't we know about her love of reading and writing? Last time I checked, most aspiring authors want to share the depth of their love for all things books, reading and writing related.

Or am I wrong?

I am probably going to ruffle a lot of feathers here, but I'm honestly not out to get Snooki. I just think that if she can get given a book deal, then so can those talented unknowns out there who have slaved for years on their writing projects.

After all, the differences between them and her is that they want to make a living out of writing books. They are the ones genuinely want to tell their stories and share the world of the characters that already exist within their own head space.

And they are the ones that don't want to do it just once, nor do they want to do it because it's something that they haven't added to their celebrity cv's yet. These are the people that I know I am rooting for.
(I have to add,  that I'm not writing this post on my own behalf, as I have no written manuscript or novel waiting for representation. I don't know if I have what it takes to be a novelist anyway).

But, why don't you tell me what you think? Am I being a complete and utter cow? Or do my ramblings at least make some sense?