Monday, January 31, 2011

January Wrap-Up


January's over, and my main concern now is that school resumes in mere days. My last year of high school. Eep. Once the reviews I have scheduled go up, expect less frequent blogging ahead.



But anyway, January's been a fairly big on the blog, what with all my free holiday time, and so here's this month's wrap-up.

_________________________________________

Challenges:

2011 Debut Author Challenge:
This month for the Debut Author Challenge, I read and reviewed Across The Universe - Beth Revis' debut that was released on the 11th. You can see my review here.

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

Aussie YA Reading Challenge:
This month I read and reviewed 2 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 12 YA books by Australian authors - Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James, and Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams. Their reviews are linked below, marked by asterisks.


Reviews:

This month I've reviewed the following books:
- Freefall by Mindi Scott
- Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
- Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
- Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
- Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
- Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
- Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James*
- Forget You by Jennifer Echols
- Right Side Talking by Bonnie Rozanski

- Hold Still by Nina LaCour
- Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
- Bliss by Lauren Myracle
- The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
- Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams*
- Across The Universe by Beth Revis
- Shadowspell by Jenna Black

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


Book Of The Month:

A new thing on the blog, starting next month inspired by Audrey at holes In My brain: having a Book Of The Month! I'll pick the favorite book I read that month, and feature it as my Book Of The Month next month.



February's Book Of The Month is Across The Universe by Beth Revis.









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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review of Shadowspell by Jenna Black

Shadowspell by Jenna Black

Series: Faeriewalker (#2)
Pages: 295
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: January 4th, 2010
IBSN: 9780312575946






On top of spending most of her time in a bunkerlike safe house and having her dates hijacked by a formidable Fae bodyguard, Faeriewalker Dana Hathaway is in for some more bad news: the Erlking and his pack of murderous minions known as the Wild Hunt have descended upon Avalon. With his homicidal appetite and immortal powers, the Erlking has long been the nightmare of the Fae realm. A fragile treaty with the Faerie Queen, sealed with a mysterious spell, is the one thing that keeps him from hunting unchecked in Avalon, the only place on Earth where humans and Fae live together. Which means Dana’s in trouble, since it’s common knowledge that the Faerie Queen wants her – and her rare Faeriewalker powers – dead. The smoldering, sexy Erlking’s got his sights set on Dana, but does he only seek to kill her, or does he have something much darker in mind?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]


I read Glimmerglass a few months ago, not long after its release. I liked the world Jenna Black created to set it in: a unique twist on the Fae world. The plot was captivating, and so I picked up the next book in the series not long after it came out. The following review will contain Glimmerglass spoilers.


Shadowspell continues to follow Dana, new resident of Avalon (the place between the mortal and fae worlds where humans and fae live together) and the only living person with the ability to take magic into the mortal world and technology in the fae world. Dana's Faeriewalker abilities are unique to Faerie stories I've read before, and they put her in a sticky situation that is exciting and enjoyable to read about.

Dana's a likable character. She prefers to solve her own problems than have them solved for her. She lived for so long in the mortal realm that she's relatable despite her Fae blood. She's also resourceful, which is probably my favorite trait in a character.

The plot was excellent - fast and exciting. The twists were clever and unpredictable. I especially like how some of the story's complications relate back to the first book and how others are left open for consideration in the next book.

I liked the romance between Dana and Ethan. Ethan's different from typically perfect love interests - he's a 'player' (a word I would never use, but that's how he's described) and doesn't really think before he acts. Their relationship already had its complications before new bigger ones arise in this book. Though, I don't like how a love triangle seems to be arising (I mean, I saw one coming, but I like to hope).


I love the compound word titles in this series: Glimmerglass, Shadowspell, Sirensong. I also love their covers, which are what drew me in read the series initially.

I give Shadowspell a 4 out of 5, and look forward to Sirensong (July 5th, 2011).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Follow Friday (9)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View, who randomly selects a book blogger to feature each week.

This week's featured blogger is Marie from Mission To Read.

This week's question is what is/was your favorite subject in math?
My favorite subject is Mathematical Methods, which is advanced advanced math. I'm a math freak - it comes really naturally to me. I also enjoy Physics and Chemistry. All of my electives are science or math based, which is probably weird given that I'm such an avid reader/writer.

See Parajunkee's Follow Friday post for more info on this week's featured blogger and how to join in.

Review of Across The Universe by Beth Revis


Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Pages: 398
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: January 11th, 2011
IBSN: 9781595143976










A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]



Across The Universe is Beth Revis's debut novel. It's part sci-fi, part dystopia, part murder mystery, and part awesome.

The premise straight away had me hooked. People are frozen cryogenically to be thawed and settle on a new planet when they land, but our main character - Amy - is woken early in an attempted murder. Though I was nervous that the execution wouldn't live up to the premise, it exceeded it.

The setting was vividly described and thoroughly planned out. The setting wasn't just the story's backdrop, but a major part of it. Living in the ship had a believable effect on everything and everyone inside it. The dystopian society was cleverly built, featuring completely different ethical priorities and hierarchies than the world we live in.

With the perspective alternating between Amy (a newcomer on the ship) and Elder (who's lived on the ship his entire life), you get to see the Godspeed from both an insider and an outsiders point of view. Amy was thus easy to relate to, learning things about how her new world worked just as we, the readers, did.


The secondary characters were also well written - especially Harley (God, I loved Harley). Their personalities were distinct (with the exception of the ship's thousands of drones) and compelling. Beth Revis also explored the gray area between good and bad in characters - showing that the good guys aren't all good and the bad guys aren't all bad.


The romance between Amy and Elder felt like more a subplot. It was subtle and for a while at the beginning, one-sided, yet reading from each of their perspectives - getting inside both of their heads - it was clear they made a great couple.

The plot focuses for a large amount of the book on both Amy and Elder uncovering the secrets and lies that the ship's system was built upon. The plot was fast-paced and never predictable, ending with a satisfying conclusion that still leaves room for sequels.


Turning the last page of this book, all I could say was 'wow'. Across The Universe was a fast and captivating thriller. I give it a 5 out of 5.

_________________________________

I read this book for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (9)

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 Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the sequel to If I Stay. It's due for release on the 5th of April, 2011.







It's been three years since the devastating accident ... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.


[Synopsis by Goodreads]

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 of Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

As it turns out, today is the 26th of January (crazy, right?). It's a little known fact that this day 223 years ago was when the First Fleet arrived in Australia. It's a public holiday, and celebrated with barbecues and parades and the like. Here at the Handley residence, Australia Day isn't a big deal, but I felt like I should do something for the occasion and I reasoned that what better than read a book by an Australian Author? So I read Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams.






Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle.

And then you meet your dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney.

But what if you're already with the perfect girl?
 


[Synopsis by Goodreads]





I was captivated right from beginning, from the explanation of Beatle and his twin sister being born six weeks apart. Scattered throughout the book were interviews with other twins with interesting and entertaining stories to tell, which we later find out go into a documentary Beatle and his sister feature in.

You fall in love with Beatle and Destiny as soon as you meet them. Perspective between them alternates, and you hear both of their unique stories. There is so much chemistry between the pair and their conversations are hilarious.

I loved the superstitious themes, I loved Beatle and Destiny's juxtaposed family dynamics, and I loved the narration that felt perfectly true to the teenaged characters.

But what I did I love the most about this book? The setting! I've never read a book set where I live. It was weird (in the best way possible) to have been to and know about all the places the characters go.

Beatle Meets Destiny is quirky, cute, funny, (especially the stalker plot) unconventional love story. It's short and light, and I give it a 5 out of 5.


_______________________________________


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review of The Lost Saint by Bree Despain






Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi.  She gave her soul to the wolf to save him and lost her beloved mother.  When Grace receives a haunting phone call from Jude, she knows what she must do.  She must become a Hound of Heaven.  Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot - a newcomer to town who promises her that he can help her be a hero.  But as the two grow closer, the wolf grows in Grace, and her relationship with Daniel begins to crumble.  Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace becomes prideful in her new abilities - not realizing that an old enemy has returned and deadly trap is about to be sprung. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

First of all, I want to say that the covers in this series are so beautiful. I'm going to guess (and hope) that the next book has a red color scheme.

The Lost Saint had an amazing plot - I could never see where the story was headed. Part of that unpredictability probably stemmed from being locked in Grace's head, with the first person narration, and having no idea which other characters you could trust or couldn't.

The werewolfism (I don't care if it's not a word - you know what I mean) in this series is so unique in lore to other werewolf books. I especially liked how it was seen as more of a curse than a blessing. I hate books where there's no downside to being a supernatural being.

Grace was a dynamic character. She struggled both with her newfound lycanthropy and with her family problems. Her relationship with Daniel is tested, and a darker, stronger side of her comes out in this book.

The book ended on a cliffhanger. The ending cleared up some of the conflict from the book while introducing new problems to be faced in the next book - which I cannot WAIT to read!

I give The Lost Saint a 5 out of 5.

I read The Dark Divine way back just after in came out, and probably would have given it 3.5 out of 5, at odds to how much I *loved* this book. My reading tastes have really been warped over the past year.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie. The point of IMM is to showcase books you've received over the week.


My book haul this week:


For review:

Bought:

Library:

Click through to each book's Goodreads page.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review of Bliss by Lauren Myracle





When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naïve Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted, naïve Bliss is happy to be friends with anyone. That’s not the way it has ever worked at Crestview, and soon Bliss is at the center of a struggle for power between three girls—two living and one long dead.



[Synopsis by Goodreads]


I first heard of Bliss when I saw it on Cassandra Clare's (author of The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series) recommended reading list. I bumped it up my TBR list when I saw an upcoming title of her's (Shine; May 1, 2011) on NetGalley and wanted to see if it was worth requesting. After reading Bliss, I definitely say I have high expectations for it.

Bliss Inthemorningdew, of hippie heritage (thus her name), is dumped on her straight-edged and wholesome grandmother in Atlanta and enrolled at Crestview Academy. Desperate for friends, she doesn't think twice about Sandy's strange and morbid behavior until it's too late.


Bliss is definitely one of the more dark books I've read. It's chilling and creepy, and that tone is only emphasized by the story's backdrop of the Tate-LaBianca murders and trials. The excerpts from Sandy's journals about blood magic and  the dead ex-Crestview Academy student who wants the power of it back allowed the reader to understand what was going on even as Bliss didn't.

Bliss was an intriguing character with a personality relevant to her background. She had a naivety and sweetness about her character that made her realistic, but not weak.

Lauren Myracle's writing style was engaging, and had me reading frantically until the very end.

Though I liked the bittersweet ending, it felt almost anti-climactic. There was a lot of build-up to the book's climax that was over quickly and not as dramatic as I thought it would be.



I give Bliss a 4 out of 5.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Follow Friday (8)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View, who randomly selects a book blogger to feature each week.

This week's featured blogger is Logan E. Turner.

This week's question is Who do you cheer for?
I'm going to have to answer this question in terms of Australian Rules Football, being Australian.
I barrack for Footscray's Western Bulldogs. I used to cheer for Geelong, like the rest of my family, but I changed teams (traitor, I know) when I was 8 and our school had a Footy Parade and all of my friends went for the Bulldogs.
But really, I don't follow or watch football. I'll watch the Grand Final, maybe, but not much else.

See Parajunkee's Follow Friday post for more info on this week's featured blogger and how to join in.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl








Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.
Sometimes life-ending.
Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.




[Synopsis by Goodreads]


I'll start with the things I liked about Beautiful Darkness, the major thing being the premise. It's incredibly unique and so well thought-out. The world Kami and Margaret built to set the Caster world was vividly described (though some of the southernisms got on my nerves) and its non-paranormal aspects gave the town a realistic vibe.

I also loved the plot - complicated and unpredictable. The characters have destinies that you expect them to fulfill but then they find a loophole in them that you never could have expected.


I liked the writing style. It seemed to drag out, though. I'm not opposed to reading long books, but I don't like reading 503 pages when it could be 400 if you removed a few small subplots. 


I usually enjoy reading from a male perspective, but Ethan felt like a girl just with a guy's name. Though the first half of the book, I completely hated Lena, though I could almost understand where she was coming from. I was really hoping for Ethan and Liv to get together even though she's just the Paris to Ethan and Lena's Romeo and Juliet - she makes a love triangle, but you know there's no way he'd ever choose her.


I remember loving the first book in the series, but that was so long ago and I think my reading interests have changed since. I still enjoyed this book, just not as much, and give it a 3 out of 5.

______________________________________



P.S. I also reviewed the first book in The Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Creatures, which I'd link you to directly, except that it was the first review I ever posted and therefore sucked. Find it in my review archive if you dare.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8)

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 Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I like what I've read of the Gemma Doyle trilogy by her, but I LOVED Going Bovine. I'm really excited for more comedies by Libba. It's due for release on the 24th of May, 2011.







From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.


[Synopsis by Goodreads]


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 of Hold Still by Nina LaCour








dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.





Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]




Hold Still, Nina LaCour's debut novel, tells a story about friendship - about finding new ones, about honoring the old - but above all, one about grieving. About picking up the pieces after a tragedy, putting them back together again, and moving on.

Caitlin's depressed reaction to her best friend's suicide felt justified and realistic, and all her actions and decisions felt true to someone in her position. Her unique hobbies only added to her character's dynamic personality.


The writing style implemented was beautiful and heart-wrenching. Hold Still feels as if written by someone who has experienced extreme grief themselves. Nina LaCour paints a vivd picture of how it feels to be alone.


Though the premise isn't exactly unique, the characters and plot made it feel different to anything I've ever read before. The plot wasn't fast or full of action or drama - the story was slow burning and still captivating.

I give Hold Still a 4 out of 5.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review of Right Side Talking by Bonnie Rozanski

I received a review copy of this book from the author. The following review is in no way biased because of that.






Imagine that you are a young girl with intractable epilepsy. As a last resort you submit to an operation to sever the connection between the two sides of your brain. Though the operation successfully reduces your seizures, you are left forever with two separate minds: left and right, each unaware of the other. 

Imagine further that while recovering in the hospital, you witness a murder. Your dominant left brain cannot recognize unfamiliar faces, and is, therefore, unable to identify the killer. Your right brain can, but is unable to speak. Gradually, painstakingly, the right learns to spell out its thoughts in scrabble letters. At long last, on a table in a hospital lab, you describe the person who committed the crime. Too bad the killer is reading that very same message…


Right Side Talking falls outside of the genre I usually read in. It felt geared more towards adults, and was a crime/mystery/medical thriller. I found it compelling, nonetheless, and may venture into more books of that theme in the future.

Right Side Talking featured third person narration, with the story majorly following Anna, but also a whole cast of secondary characters - her surgeon, her psychologist, the man who attempted to murder her. Though because of this you don't get to know any character in depth, you get a better understanding of the story from all perspectives.

I'm not sure how accurate the medical aspects of this book are, but there were interesting. If it was accurate, then it was well researched; and if it was fictional, then it was well devised. Either way, the procedure Anna underwent was completely new to me and intriguing. Her recovery was slow and stressful, and the reader was set up to feel sympathetic.

Seeing the side of the investigation that goes on in the courtroom - rather than just arresting the perp and being done with it - gave the situation a realistic feel and tied up all the loose ends for the ending.

However, all the while knowing who committed the murders and why took away some of the suspense, and the rest was taken away by the trial that dragged out.

I give Right Side Talking a 3 (leaning towards a 3.5) out of 5. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes crime and mystery novels and is looking for a new twist on the genre.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review of Forget You by Jennifer Echols











WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . . AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?

 There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.






[Synopsis by Goodreads]


Forget You tells a compelling story about love and relationships, trauma and depression, and sex. It's at times sweet, and at others intense. A good book to read on a lazy afternoon, with only 292 pages and a light plot.


Zoey was fun to read about, though I just didn't get her decisions sometimes. And the way she treated and thought about her mom was mean: shouldn't she have been supporting her mother?


I did like Doug's character. I always swoon for smart asses in books (probably because I am one myself). He was also sweet, at times, and his background and past showed in and affected everything he did. His character was dynamic and enjoyable to read about.

Right from the start, there was obvious chemistry between Zoey and Doug. Their attraction was so plain to see, yet I found the thing keeping them apart - Brandon - as an obstacle that could have been easily overcome.

The book ended on a hopeful note and made for a satisfying conclusion to the story.

Though this story wasn't exactly a favorite of mine, Jennifer Echols's writing style was both to-the-point and lovely. I give Forget You a 3 out of 5; and I'm interested in reading her other books.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Follow Friday (7)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View, who randomly selects a book blogger to feature each week.

This week's featured blogger is Annette from The More You Read, The More You Will Know!



Today's question is What makes up your non-human family?
Currently, just my dog. His name's Java and he's a West Highland Terrier mixed with God-knows-what. In the past we've had fish (who all quickly moved on to the fish afterlife known as the toilet bowl), rabbits, and cockatiels.

See Parajunkee's Follow Friday post for more info on this week's featured blogger and how to join in.

Review of Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

I heard of Beautiful Malice for the first time when my friend was looking for it in a bookstore and my penchant for staring into the distance proved helpful in finding it on a poorly-placed featured shelf. I never really paid it much mind until I saw it again on a Goodreads list for YA by Australian authors (that I was checking out for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge).
_________________________________________


Who is Katherine Patterson? It is a question she hopes no one can answer. To erase her past, Katherine has moved to a new city, enrolled in a new school, and even changed her name. She’s done the next best thing to disappearing altogether. Now, wary and alone, she seeks nothing more than anonymity. What she finds instead is the last thing she expected: a friend.

Even more unlikely, Katherine’s new friend is the most popular and magnetic girl in school. Extroverted, gorgeous, flirtatious, and unpredictable, she is everything that Katherine is not and doesn’t want to be: the center of attention. Yet Alice’s enthusiasm is infectious, her candor sometimes unsettling, and Katherine, in spite of her guarded caution, finds herself drawn into Alice’s private circle.

But Alice has secrets, too—darker than anyone can begin to imagine. And when she lets her guard down at last, Katherine discovers the darkest of them all. For there will be no escaping the past for Katherine Patterson—only a descent into a trap far more sinister . . . and infinitely more seductive.
                 
[Synopsis by Goodreads]


Beautiful Malice had me hooked from the very first line: "I didn't go to Alice's funeral." The narration jumped between Katherine on the night her sister died, her times as Alice's friend, and her life five years after that. Even with the story's outcome known from the very start, I was constantly wondering how plot X would turn into outcome Y.

The writing style was raw, intense, and suspenseful. As you were reading you can feel the weight of each word, and know that every little one was important. The writing alone could have you captivated, but the plot was compelling, too: I was wide-eyed while reading this book into the wee hours of the morning. It's impossible to put down.

The characters were superbly written. Katherine was a great protagonist with an interesting story to tell. Her constant turmoil over her sister's death made her feel read and also made a believable impact on all of her decisions. Alice was also a great character - or a bad one? She was, of course, the antagonist. Her rapid changes in demeanor and her spouts of unjustified cruelty made her a chilling character, but a compelling one nonetheless.

The romance between Mick and Katherine added sweet, soft scenes to the story in between the rest of the drama. Their relationship went quickly, but the attraction between them was obvious.

I was pleased that the book ended on a hopeful note. With all of the heart-wrenching drama intermittent throughout the book, it was nice that the ending hinted towards Katherine having a safe and happy life.

I give Beautiful Malice a 6 out of 5, and recommend it to everyone.

________________________________________




I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (7)

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 Dark And Hollow Places, the third book in the The Forest Of Hands And Teeth (don't they have the best titles?) series. It's due for release on the 22nd of March, 2011.





There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.


Annah’s world stopped that day and she’s been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn’t feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah’s longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?


[Synopsis by Goodreads]


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 of Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

Blue Bloods is the first book in the series of the same name. Considering Blue Bloods came out in 2006 and there are now 6 books in the series, I thought it was about time I tried it out.

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When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?



I was engrossed right from the beginning of Blue Bloods. It opened with a diary entry from a woman fleeing to the new world aboard the Mayflower. Further entries about strange deaths and disappearances are threaded throughout the book, adding mystery and instilling curiosity in the reader.


Blue Bloods was written in third person from constantly changing perspectives, reminiscent of Anna Godbersen's prose. The characters were all interesting to read about with their own secrets and unique backgrounds.

Blue Bloods felt like it was setting the scene for the rest of the series, introducing the conflict, and getting us acquainted with the characters. Vampirism isn't even brought up in the book until just over halfway, but it was clear that the Blue Bloods' vampires were unique from other portrayals. They're regal, romanticized, and the blue bloods of Manhattan.

My only problem - though problem may be too strong a word - was that the characters so quickly accepted that they were vampires. They were told, showed small proof, and then got used to the idea in no time.

There wasn't a lot of romance in this book - a fling or too that didn't seem very serious. But the small romances seem to hint at bigger ones later in the series.

Blue Bloods grabs your attention and holds on, teasing you with intriguing beginnings of plots to be continued in further books. I fully intend to read the rest of the series, and give Blue Bloods 4 out of 5.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review of Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

I’d love a cup of coffee. I wish she knew how pretty she was. I wish I could drop this kid in the dryer sometimes. I just want her to be happy. I hope she didn’t find out what Ben said about her. I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin… 

Joy's been hearing Whispers - peoples thoughts, wishes, desires - all her life. Her world revolves around fulfilling those wishes and using her power to make the world a happier place.

Joy's sister, Jessica, isn't so altruistic with her power, however. She sees the gift as more of a curse and wants it gone.

When Joy's power increases, she sees Jessica's point. And when she starts hearing scared Whispers from Jessica, she puts their differences aside and knows she'd do whatever it takes to save her.



Whisper is Phoebe Kitanidis's debut novel. It combines contemporary and paranormal themes, and tells a story of family, friends, and fitting in, as well as one of the exploits of a girl who can read minds.


Joy was a likable character for the most part, though her thinking she was being selfish all the times got irritating when she wasn't. I wasn't sure about what to think of her sister. Sure, she's a bitch in the present, but that completely juxtaposed how she was when the two of them were younger and best friends: sweet, caring. Her transformation between the two was well-written and her motive was believable and understandable.


The family and friend dynamics set up in the book complimented the supernatural ones. Joy's mother and sister also have Hearing, and they live with Joy's father who has to deal with having his thoughts constantly heard. Joy has to hear her friends Whisper about what they really think of her. She has a crush on her best friend's almost-boyfriend.

The romance acts as more of a sub-plot, taking a backseat to the other events. Joy's crush is more central to the beginning of the book, but the real love interest isn't who you'd expect. I like books where the first guy you're introduced to doesn't end up with the main character.

The ending ties up the main plot in Whisper but leaves enough questions for a sequel to be appropriate. All I know is that there *will* be a sequel, but nothing else about it.

Whisper is a light read, and short, with downwards of 300 pages. It's a fast, engaging read. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Follow Friday (6)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View, who randomly selects a book blogger to feature each week.

This week's featured blogger is Shannon from Stalking The Shelves.



Today's question is What book(s) have you discovered lately from someone's book blog?
The other day I saw someone's review of Mercy by Rebecca Lim that made it sound really good, so that on hold at my library.
I've also added a lot of as yet unreleased books to my TBR list that I see featured on other peoples' Waiting On Wednesday posts, a la Across The Universe, Divergent, A Touch Mortal, Like Mandarin, etc.

See Parajunkee's Follow Friday post for more info on this week's featured blogger and how to join in.

Review of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things is the first in a new series by Anna Godbersen, the author of The Luxe series. I loved The Luxe series, and so that's what led to me to read Bright Young Things.

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The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]




Bright Young Things opens with a prologue which sets the scene, introduces the characters, and foreshadows their exploits. In those three beginning pages, I was reminded of why I loved her previous series so much. Anna's writing style is beautiful, lyrical, and feels like it's written in the 1920s rather than 2000s. The setting was vividly described, felt well researched and planned, and made me long to go back to the jazz age.

The main characters, Letty, Cordelia and Astrid, are each so different from one another and are all endearing for different reasons. Their personalities are clearly defined and make for an interesting read.
The way the characters' lives intertwined and how they forged new alliances between each other/broke off old ones made the story compelling.

The plot proved true to Anna Godbersen's usually plot style - she doesn't let anything good happen to the characters without something bad to even it out. It made for a captivating and suspenseful storyline.

I give Bright Young Things a 4 out of 5, and look forward to the sequel, Beautiful Days (September 20, 2011). I also hold out hope that since Anna's series are gradually being set later (The Luxe in 1899, and Bright Young Things in 1929) then eventually, we may get a contemporary novel from her.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review of Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers


I've been meaning to read Personal Demons for a while, and then - luckily - I got it for Christmas. I've been following the author's blog for a few months, and really looked forward to reading her book.

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Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance—-even her closest friends—-and it seems as if her senior year is going to be more of the same . . . until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him. 

What she doesn’t know is that Luc is on a mission. He’s been sent from Hell itself to claim Frannie’s soul. It should be easy—-all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance. But he has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can’t be far behind. And sure enough, it’s not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. It isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie’s soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay . . . for all of them.

[Summary by Goodreads]

I loved Frannie! If it weren't for her obsession with the word 'whatever', I'd say she's a perfect character. She was clever, funny, and could hold her own. She also had the flaws that make a character real: she has doubts about her faith, she harbors guilt over her brother's death. I also admired the way she stayed strong even as the world as she knew it changed.

I liked the alternating perspective between Luc (whose name I will always pronounce as 'Luce' in my head) and Frannie. I usually dislike alternating perspectives for how they ruin the mystery that is the other character's thoughts and intentions, but both characters omitted enough for there to still be intrigue.

The love triangle didn't feel cliched, though having Luc's perspective instead of Gabe's made it obvious she'd go for him. What else felt different about the love triangle in Personal Demons is that Frannie chose which guy, rather than having circumstance chose for her.

Lisa Desrocher's writing style can be light in one sentence, and raw and intense in the next. She could be writing about anything and I'd still enjoy reading it.

What else I loved about Personal Demons was how in spite of all the religious references (that you'd expect from an angel/demon, heaven/hell kind of book) it didn't feel preachy.

The ending was neither a cliffhanger nor a complete resolution, leaving plenty of room for a sequel. Making a series from a book that could just as well be stand-alone is a pet peeve of mine.

I give Personal Demons a 4 out of 5 and look forward to the sequel, Original Sin (July 5, 2011).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (6)

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 Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, the sequel to Nightshade. It's due to release on the 12th of July, 2011, which is way too long to wait, considering how Nightshade ended.



Also, how awesome is the cover? I love it perhaps even more than Nightshade's one, because this one's more realistic and the whole wilderness setting totally suits Calla.

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.