Sunday, July 31, 2011

July Wrap-Up

 July's come to an end and August is here, which I'm totally for. That means we're that much closer to Spring, and Aussie August is beginning! Expect a huge international Aussie book giveaway and much more Aussie goodness this month.

But anyway, there's this month's wrap-up:


2011 Debut Author Challenge:
This month for the Debut Author Challenge, I...didn't get to read a July debut. Oops!

100+ Challenge: completed.
This month I read and reviewed 15 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 100 books this year, bringing my running total up to 109. You can see my completed list of the 100 books I read with links to their reviews here.

Aussie YA Reading Challenge: completed.
This month I read and reviewed 4 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 12 YA books by Australian authors (I'm on just over 20 at the moment. I think I'll set a new personal goal of 30). Their reviews are linked below, marked by asterisks.

- My thought on Love Triangles
- Top 5 List: Best Titles
- Guest Post for Kylie at The Talking Teacup: top ten list.

You can find a list of all the books (alphabetized) that I've ever reviewed on this blog here.

Book Of The Month:
A feature inspired by Audrey at holes In My brain, at the end of each month I'll pick the favorite book I read, and feature it as my Book Of The (next) Month.

August's Book Of The Month is Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz. My review can be found here.

Speaking of Invincible Summer, I had a giveaway including it and 5 other of my favourite books running this month for my blogoversary. The winner has now been selected and emailed!

So that was July in review. How was your month?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

Dead Rules by Randy Russell

Pages: 384
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: June 21st, 2011
IBSN: 9780061986703

Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.

But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.

Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.

But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.

One lifetime isn't enough for Webster and Haynes - the Romeo and Juliet of their time. So Jana Webster, after dying in a freak bowling accident, fully expects her boyfriend, Michael, to follow right after her. But he doesn't, so she figures that she'll have to play Romeo as well and enlists the help of Mars and Wyatt to help her go back and kill him.

Dead Rules was gruesome and hilarious, totally different to anything I've read before and a lot of fun to read.

Though at first I found some parts of the story ridiculous -- the portrayal of virgins after death, the outlandish ways some of Jana's new friends died -- I soon realised certain parts were designed to be outrageous and accepted these things as natural to the exaggerated tone.

I found myself really liking Jana even when I didn't expect to. She wasn't clingy to Michael in a girly, moony kind of way but because the drama queen in her wanted their love to be the kind of romance she sees in classic movies and plays. She was incredibly determined and theatrical, and these traits were apparent in her voice even through third-person.

I enjoyed the third-person narration -- this was the kind of story that definitely needed that style of narration to make perspective switches more smooth. The humor in Dead Rules came from the characters going about things so obviously in the wrong way, and the changes in perspective were necessary to show that.

The writing style was simple and engaging. It was well-paced, without dull moments. The tone was consistent in each characters perspective.

My only complaint would be that the ending felt like it was missing something. It did a fair job of tying up loose ends and still leaving something to the reader's imagination, but didn't address some pretty huge things that happened to the characters.

I give Dead Rules a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Pages: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: April 5th, 2011
IBSN: 9780061834585

Every ghost has a story to tell.

The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.

Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.

I wasn't hooked on Through Her Eyes in the beginning. The introductory "hello new town! Hey, readers, let me tell you about all my old towns!" sequence is overdone and more than a little boring.

This boredom was more or less constant throughout the rest of the plot. There are moments when real drama seemed imminent, but wasn't. The main complication we experienced second-hand -- not happening to Tansy, but to someone else who's story she's invested in.

Tansy felt fairly flat, not developing so much as spiralling and then picking herself back up. The background characters didn't feel real, given stock personalities -- concerned mother; weird, outcast best friend; good-looking hot-and-cold love interest inexplicably attracted to our protagonist.

The writing style, however, was nice. It was easy to get into, even if it didn't really evoke Tansy's voice and help me connect with her. It wasn't the characters or the plot that kept me reading, but the creepy tone and subtle paranormal themes.

The paranormal aspect was intriguing in that it wasn't defined. You had to figure out what was going on as the characters did, which helped maintain the spooky vibe. Though, it was left kind of unresolved, with the characters mostly just deciding/pretending it was all in their heads in the end.

Overall, a book I'd recommend to fans of unique paranormal themes but not anyone who's into very character or plot-driven novels.

I give Through Her Eyes a 2 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (35)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, in which we highlight an upcoming book release we're eagerly awaiting.

This week I'm waiting on Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard, because I was quite taken with her debut, The Secret Year. Plus, it's a dark contemporary with an epic cover.

Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it’s the only thing that makes him feel alive. He’s sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital. Then Nicki barges into his world,
brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan’s depression that no one else has ever been brave enough—or cared enough—to ask.

Ryan isn’t sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Try Not To Breath will be release by Viking in of January of 2012.

Feel free to leave a link to your own Waiting On Wednesday post in the comments, and I'll be sure to have a look.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart

Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart

Series: Lharmell (#1)

Pages: 290
Publisher: Random House Australia
Published: September 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781742750965

I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me. 

When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?

Zeraphina is being lured northward and she thinks there could lie the answers to why she has such strange cravings for blood, so when the chance arises to travel there with her sister, she ignores her misgivings and takes it up -- but on arrival, she realises her misgivings may not have been totally unfounded.

If you expect anything even close to a clichéd vampire story from the synopsis, you're completely off. Blood Song proved to be incredibly imaginative and unique. It had all of the best parts of fantasy without all of the worst (and yes, by worst, I mean the cumbersome names. They just roll off your tongue in this one: Lharmell, Amentia).

Zeraphina was a great character to read about. She was strong; she could (and did) hold her own in an argument, and when faced with a challenge, she dealt with it head-on rather than avoiding it. Part of her appeal was in how she realistically stood apart from the other women in the high fantasy setting, and wasn't moony and obsessed with men. Her relationship with Rodden was realistically developed, and their romance never became her number one priority. It was an appreciated sub-plot, a complement to the main plot.

On the topic of setting, the world-building was excellent, and the otherworldly backdrop to the story was vivid and portrayed in an apt light. For instance, Lharmell's creepiness felt tangible in every moment our characters spent there. The setting was richly imaginative and the tone suited it brilliantly.

Written expertly, you wouldn't guess this was Rhiannon's debut. The story was told in compelling prose, constantly foreshadowing and maintaining a tense and eerie tone. The plot took many turns, always unpredictable and exciting.

Blood Song was amazingly imaginative and atmospheric, definitely a welcome addition to the Aussie fantasy scene. I look forward to Rhiannon's future books!

I give Blood Song a 5 out of 5.

I'd recommend it for fans of: Graceling and Burn Bright.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Series: The Mockingbirds (#1)
Pages: 332

Publisher: Little, Brown
Published: November 2nd, 2010
IBSN: 9780316090537

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

You know what's cool in books? Boarding schools. But what's cooler than books involving boarding schools? Books involving secret societies in boarding schools. And cooler than that? Books involving secret societies that do positive things for the boarding school they're in. So The Mockingbirds was an automatic must-read for me.

Alex wakes up in a stranger's dorm room, hungover, naked, and finds two used condoms. After slowly remembering the night, she finds that what she at first thought was a poor decision on her part wasn't actually a decision of hers at all. With the support of her friends, she seeks the help of the Mockingbirds - a secret society that punishes students for offences that the school turns a blind eye towards.

The Mockingbirds was written beautifully. It was smooth and had a nice flowing quality to it that made the story easy to read. Each word felt like it was pain-painstakingly chosen and ordered, and the effect was gorgeous prose that felt natural to a teenaged narrator.

Alex was a dynamic character. She's realistically affected by her ordeal initially, but she also grows a lot as a result of it, and later, with help from The Mockingbirds, learns to stop it from holding her back. Her journey was inspiring (a word I'm going to use a lot in describing this novel!).

The Mockingbirds were such an interesting and amazing group. Their mission for retribution and the peaceful and professional way they carried it out was awe-inspiring and just lovely. The world needs more people like those in The Mockingbirds.

The plot was fairly straight-forward, but I wasn't too concerned about that. I knew when I started The Mockingbirds that it was intended to be more of an issues, character-driven book. But, I was raising my eyebrows at a small complication that rises in the end that was solved as quickly as it came up. It took away from the smoothly-paced chain of events.

Overall, The Mockingbirds was a wonderfully told story that I'm sure many people can relate to and that I hope many people will be inspired by.

I give The Mockingbirds a 4 out of 5.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall

This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall

Pages: 272
Publisher: Text Publishing
Published: August 2nd, 2010
IBSN: 9781921656521

A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget.

In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night.

But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless...dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.

This Is Shyness seemed, initially, like a simple, sweet, coming-of-age novel. And I was pleased to find it was actually much more than that.

Shyness is an odd town. The sun stopped rising there years ago, leaving the residents in perpetual darkness. No one knows why, but the people bothered by it have mostly left and the others, the Mushrooms, have flourished in the dark. There are cults like the Dreamers, full of people who sleep constantly and live in their dreams. There are gangs like the Kidds, for small children who take sugar addiction to a whole new level. It's an odd place, and This Is Shyness tells us about Wildgirl's first night there, her adventure through the dark with Wolfboy.

The point of view alternated between our two main characters: Wildgirl and Wolfboy. Their voices were easily discernible and the dual perspective really added something to story: Wildgirl gave us the outsider look at Shyness and Wolfboy gaves us the insider look. Both were incredibly likeable and they complemented each other's personalities superbly.

The characters were easy to empathise with, given the simple and poetic writing style that helped bring the characters to life. Even Wolfboy, with such a strange persona (I mean, he's called Wolfboy for a reason), felt relatable.

The plot was exciting, but what I enjoyed more than that was the less-literal journey the characters took meanwhile. Both beloved protagonists became stronger people through their journey and it was inspiring to watch this transformation.

This Is Shyness was a strange yet touching Australian novel. Incredibly unique and richly imaginative. I recommend it for fans of other books spanning just one life-changing night: Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist, Graffiti Moon.

I give This Is Shyness a 5 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (34)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, in which we highlight an upcoming book release we're eagerly awaiting.

This week I'm waiting on Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, because of an epic title, epic premise, and epic early reviews. Not so much for the cover, which doesn't sit right with me for some reason, but I'm trying not to judge by them!

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Shatter Me is due for release by HarperTeen on the 15th of November, 2011.

Feel free to leave a link to your own Waiting On Wednesday post in the comments, and I'll be sure to have a look.

Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Pages: 376
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: May 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781921794094

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

I'd heard great things about Saving June from other Aussie reviewers (inexplicably, it was released here just recently, despite the US release date in November) who have awesome taste in books, so I was naturally excited to get my hands on a copy.

Harper is shocked and saddened by her sister's suicide. June didn't leave anything behind to explain, and Harper decides to steal her ashes and take them to California -- where June was obsessed with going but never went. In tow on her road trip from Michigan to California is Harper's best friend, Laney, and the mysterious friend of June's, Jake.

Saving June was an incredibly emotional and realistic portrayal of the aftermath of a suicide. Each of our central characters had an appropriate reaction to the event, given their relationship to June. Harper's emotional state was conveyed clearly through the tone in which she narrated. I felt incredibly sympathetic for her.

But beyond the emotional, grieving part of the story, Saving June is also a really fun read. Road trips with cool best friends and mysterious, music-obsessed guys! Visiting tourist traps like Fridgehenge! I was under the impression that this book would be a solemn, quiet drive to spread her sister's ashes, but there were so many fun stops along the way.

The musical aspect to Saving June was spectacular. Harper and Jake bonded over the music that plays such a large role in Jake's life. The constant musical references also help to set the tone of the story, with many of the songs they play on the journey emotional and heart-wrenching and written from the artist's own pain.

An emotional, fun, well-paced story about grieving and moving on, topped with a sweet and touching conclusion, Saving June is right up there with my favourite contemporaries.

I give Saving June a 5 out of 5.


Favourite quote:

"It's actually one of my favourite shows, too -- though, granted, it has less to do with the nature stuff and more to do with the fact that Skye has cheekbones you could sharpen knives on, a yummy Australian accent and wash-board abs."

(Favourite because, of course, the name. Though this Skye is also Australian, this one's male. I'll never, ever get used to my name being unisex!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner
Pages: 216

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: May 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781742373843

When Aaron gets a job at a funeral home, he surprisingly takes to it. But there are dark secrets hidden in Aaron’s subconscious. He experiences dangerous bouts of sleepwalking and recurring dreams he can’t explain: a lifeless hand, a lipsticked mouth, a man, a gun... Can he piece the clues together and figure out the truth of his past?

I had no idea what to think of The Dead I Know before -- or even as -- I started. All I knew is that it was a recent Aussie release, and that was good enough for me. Though, by the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

There's a lot of mystery shrouding Aaron in the beginning. He's stoic, and initially doesn't give much away through either his dialogue or first-person narration. We understand him better once we get a look at his home life, and sympathise with him more. While it's heart-wrenching to see his life begin to fall apart, it's also inspiring to watch how he grows and develops from this.

The writing style was simple and engaging. It easily evoked Aaron's voice and helped the reader to become invested in his well-being.

The background characters -- namely the Barton family -- were realistically developed and fleshed out. John's almost fatherly role in Aaron's life created a hopeful dynamic, and Skye's relationship with him was in equal parts adorable and touching (Something about her character was really likeable... it was probably her name). Aaron began to feel like a part of their family; a second family contrasting the state of his real one.

The mysterious element to the story -- what Aaron's sleepwalking, almost- crazy mother, and strange recurring dreams all meant -- was well done, with suspense building until the mystery is finally unravelled. It isn't hard to piece it together yourself first, but it's worth sticking around to see Aaron's emotional reaction to it and how he bounces back.

Overall, an short and enjoyable read that I'd recommend to fans of darker YA.

I give The Dead I Know a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a feature, hosted by Kristy at The Story Siren, that allows us to showcase books we received in the past week. I only participate in In My Mailbox sporadically, because it has all these (undeserved, in most cases) negative connotations attached to it, but this week was really exciting, so voila post!

For review:

Thanks to Allen & Unwin, Rhiannon Hart, and PanMacmillan!

  • A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon. This one sounds really cute, and I accidentally(?) got sent two copies, so I'll probably give one away for Aussie August next month.
  • Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart.
  • Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan.
  • When We Have Wings by Claire Corbett.


  • Momentum by Saci Lloyd. Won this from Date A Book by Hachette. All through July they're running Winter Flings and having a giveaway a day from their Facebook page. Aussies, go check it out!
  • Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.* I won this one from Alexa at Not Enough Bookshelves. Thanks Alexa!

From closing down sales:

All the stores closing is incredibly sad (Angus & Robertson's huge store was reduced to just a few shelves at the front. Even selling furniture!), but man, it's fun picking up so many books you can hardly carry them all in the sales.
  • Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien.* Only one of these I haven't already read, and I can't wait to start it. I've heard so many great things about it!
  • Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams. Possibly another to giveaway for Aussie August?
  • Lament by Maggie Stiefvater. I love her books, but this is the only I actually own! I need to find the rest before she comes here in early September.
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.
  • Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann.
  • Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.

From a second-hand store on holiday:

I've never been to a second-hand store in my life, and I was really surprised at the great quality, and how organised and wide the selection was! I always imagined books in arbitrary stacks on tables, cracked spines...
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.* One of these things is not like the others...
  • Valiant by Holly Black.*
  • On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It's about time I actually owned my own copy of this book!
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver. 

Leave links to your own In My Mailbox posts in the comments, or just tell which books you're really excited you received. Also, I've marked the books I haven't read with asterisks -- which do you guys think I should read first?

Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Pages: 269
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: April 19th, 2011
IBSN: 9781442407510

Noah's happier than I've seen him in months. So I'd be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It's not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah's happiness because of a kiss?

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family's beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive.... 

I'd read enough about this book to know it wasn't a 'typical beach read' but apparently I didn't fully believe that, given how blown away I was by how completely and crazily emotional and decidedly non-beachy Invincible Summer was.

Stories about family bonds aren't usually my thing but this book was totally my thing.

The family dynamic set out in Invincible Summer -- two ever-arguing parents, a deaf younger brother, an outspoken pre-teen sister, another sister on the way, an older brother who runs more than he stays, and our protagonist, Chase -- was incredibly well-developed and realistic. While it was heartwrenching to watch the bonds between them be tested, I so wanted to be a part of the McGill family to feel the intense love the share first-hand (though I doubt in that position I could feel much more strongly for the characters than I did through reading).

The emotions in Invincible Summer were raw and complex; they didn't just affect the characters, but they reached out and latched onto me. I experienced the character's roller coaster of emotions alongside them.

The characters were all incredibly well fleshed-out and realistic. They felt so real that turning the final page, I felt like I was losing friends. Chase's voice was so poignant and sad that I just wanted to give him a hug. Gideon was adorable and easy to love. I identified a lot with Noah, my favourite character in the novel.

The best thing about Invincible Summer, though, is the quasi-love triangle between Chase and Noah and Melinda. It wasn't sweet and built on raw, instant attraction but on need. It wasn't about making the reader swoon, but about making the reader understand the characters and what they've been through and what that means now.

An incredibly emotional story of family told in raw prose. A must-read for contemporary fans.

I give Invincible Summer at 6 out of 5!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Currently ReadingForgotten by Cat Patrick

Pages: 280

Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Published: June 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781921690624

I remember forwards. I remember forwards, and forget backwards. My memories, bad, boring, or good, haven't happened yet. So I will remember standing in the fresh-cut grass with the black-clad figures surrounded by stone until I do it for real. I will remember the funeral until it happens - until someone dies. And after that, it will be forgotten.

Here's the thing about me: I can see my future, but my past is blank. I see the future in flashes, like memories. I remember what I'll wear tomorrow, and a car crash that won't happen till this afternoon. But yesterday has evaporated from my mind - just like the boy I love. I can't see him in my future. I can't remember him from my past. But today, I love him. And I never want to forget how much.

Forgotten has an undoubtedly unique premise, one that is instantly intriguing. London remembers in the opposite way we do. She remembers what happens and forgets it as it happens. Her memory resets every night and she has to leave herself notes for the morning just so she can get by day-to-day.

What I found to be the best thing about Forgotten was that premise. It's exceptionally unique and different, though I found inconsistencies that bugged me about it. They aren't too obvious though, and them aside, it's interesting to see how London deals with it.

Though I guess I was kind of disappointed by how her unconventional memory wasn't the main focus at times. Much of the novel is about London trying to win back her friend, her falling for her boyfriend (over and over again), and her trying to figure out why her mum has been keeping things from her. I found myself getting bored on occasion without significant drama caused by her condition.

The romance was sweet and Luke and London had a lot of chemistry. Their relationship felt natural, though London's constantly forgetting and remembering him equalled lots of re-describing and re-swooning that kind of annoyed me. I couldn't say I swooned along with her either -- I've heard other people describe Luke as 'sweet' but the constant re-describing and re-introducing had me viewing him as 'smarmy' instead.

The writing style was simple in a deliberate and well-crafted way. The straight-forward descriptions and short sentences set the quietly sad mood of Forgotten. The prose had a flow to it that was just easy to read.

What I assumed to be the main plot fell a little late in the story, and our main character had too little to do with the solution of it for my liking. She wasn't really the person who solved the complication, she just offloaded it to someone else and gave them a little help. The ending was a little abrupt, as well. We didn't get to see any of the calm following the denouement, so it felt unresolved.

Forgotten is definitely for people who don't like to think too hard about what they read, and just enjoy it. It's got a sweet romance with a unique psychological twist, but has its problems in equal proportion.

I give Forgotten a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (33)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, in which we highlight an upcoming book release we're eagerly awaiting.

This week I'm waiting on The Future Of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler. It's got an epic author duo and an intriguing premise, but there are some mixed reviews for it out there, so I'll probably read it with tempered expectations.

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The Future Of Us is due for release on the 21st of November.

Feel free to leave a link to your own Waiting On Wednesday post in the comments, and I'll be sure to have a look.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Misfit by Jon Skovron

Misfit by Jon Skovron

Pages: 384

Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: August 1st, 2011
IBSN:  9781419700217

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

Misfit is certainly a stand-out new paranormal novel. The supernatural aspects are incredibly unique, and through them, the author also expresses something important about the normal world.

Jael is a halfbreed. Her mother was a demon (the good kind) and her father, a priest. Together, they made an infamous demon slaying and banishing team. But when Jael's mother dies to save her small family, her father takes to running and hiding from the demonic forces chasing them.

Jael's known she's a halfbreed all her life, but it never affected her until she turned sixteen, so she never paid it much mind. She's your average teenage girl - or at least, the token average portrayed in YA - in all other respects: she has hair troubles, a loyal best friend, a crush. She's insecure, in the shadow of her best friend, and sarcastic. With her struggles with her faith, I couldn't really relate or connect, but they did help me understand her character.

I didn't find the writing style or tone very noteworthy, and the pacing wasn't as good as it could have been. I got frequently bored waiting to get the major complication, and reaching it through visions and having all of the information dumped almost first-hand onto the main character took away the development we could have seen in Jael as she figures it out herself.

While so much of the paranormal aspect was unique, the villain's "halfbreeds are a menace" motive wasn't. I was impressed with how imaginatively the world and premise was created to be let down by such an overdone motive.

Overall, it's worth reading if you're not put off by religious themes and like to try different sub-genres of paranormal fiction.

I give Misfit a 3 out of 5.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Top 5 YA Book Titles

This Top 5 topic is inspired by the recent reveal of the title of John Green's new book, The Fault In Our Stars.

The purpose of a title is to make the book distinguishable, and also to intrigue possible readers. This is why most vague one word titles (Delirium, Valiant, Torment, Splendour, Forgotten, Sea) that seem to dominate don't work for me in particular -- they don't really seem to achieve either of those aims.

But there are some titles out there that I love, and here are five of my favourites in no particular order:

The Dust Of 100 Dogs
A. S. King

This title is instantly intriguing, and succinctly sums up the premise. Plus, it's really unique, and that's always a good thing.

The Piper's Son
Melina Marchetta

A really lovely metaphor from the story, it's both relevant and says something about our main character. It also predisposes you to pay attention to mention to Thomas's father while reading and helps you understand their father-son dynamic.

The Forest Of Hands And Teeth
Carrie Ryan

The title sets the creepy, horrific tone. It's also unique and indicative of the author's writing style. But yeah, mainly the creepy. I love the creepy.

Other Words For Love
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

A really sweet title. It automatically tells you it's a romance, but at the same time, tells you it's a bittersweet one. It's also very clever and relevant to the story.
Want To Go Private?
Sarah Darer Littman

The only book on this list I haven't read, I don't know how appropriate it is to the book, I wanted to read this book before I'd even read the blurb based on the title.

An honourable mention goes to the German edition of Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King - 'Please Don't Hate Me'. Because that title just makes me feel really sad whenever I hear it and because it's so perfect for the book.

Got any titles you really like? How about some you really hate? Tell me about them!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Pages: 216
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: June 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781742374598

How about we toss a coin? Heads, it's west and a lift. Tails, it's still west, but no lift.'

James is heading into the country on his first teacher-training round when a mysterious girl asks him for a ride. Sophie has him all worked out: 'You live with your parents and they bought you this car, and a very nice car it is too...' At first James can't see past her wild hair and attitude, but then Sophie trusts him with a secret she's been keeping too long.

I really wanted to love this book. I mean, it has an Australian author and road trips. What's not to love?

I can answer that question now: the cliches. I would have loved this book if not for the cliches. James and Sophie were a pair from teen movies: him, shy and nervous, leaving home for the first time; her, unabashed and confident, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl showing him how to live. From one of their first moments together, where she starts guessing his life story, I was frustrated.

I couldn't like either character. Neither character really developed. James didn't develop, he just suddenly changed. He was quiet and anxious until Sophie told him to get a backbone, and voila, he suddenly had one! Sophie looked like she was going to grow up and go home, but that was a bust.

The subplot about James' parents learning to be less protective of him seemed unnecessary and slightly boring (probably only because I'm a teen, and I don't relate to adults in books.), though it may have made for the only real character arc in the book. 

I was constantly trying to figure out if this was intended to be an issues book or a fun, breezy one. I figured if it were the latter, I'd have gotten bored less often. But the issues brought up in this book are as minor as having clingy parents.

I give Black Painted Fingernails a 2 out of 5. Though I haven't seen a fellow bad review of this book yet, so it's still worth giving it a shot. To each their own!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Review: Tighter by Adele Griffin

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Pages: 216
Publisher: Knopf Books
Published: May 10th, 2011

IBSN: 9780375866456

When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead. 

The first book I've read by Adele Griffin, Tighter was a subtle and foreshadowing psychological thriller.

Tighter is about Jamie, a seventeen-year-old girl who travels to the small island of Little Bly to work as an au pair. There, she's haunted by the girl in the position before her - Jessie, who bears a striking resemblance to her - and her boyfriend who both died tragically and mysteriously before her arrival.

Has anyone else ever wondered who first-person narrators are talking to? I mean, surely people don't think in the way books are narrated, filling themselves in on past events in depth. The narration in Tighter struck me as different, however, with it actually feeling like being in Jamie's head. She didn't take breaks to remind us of past events, she reacted realistically on seemingly paranormal things happening to her, and her feelings were portrayed in such a way that it was easy to feel for and with her.

Partly due to this, Jamie was very easy to like and believe. Her past - only alluded to briefly when something reminded her of it - had a definite and noticeable affect on her current melancholy, earnest voice. Her character was built so innocently and sincerely that the late twist had me honestly surprised.

However, the ending gave too much closure, given the haunting tone of the book. I was expecting - hoping - for some things left ambiguous, to maintain the mystique. I actually wish I never read the last 10 or so pages.

In short, Tighter was a creepy, gorgeously-written story with a dramatic twist and a decidedly less dramatic denouement.

I give Tighter a 4 out of 5.

Recommend it for fans of: Choker by Elizabeth Woods, Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James.