Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Wrap-Up

 March has now come to a close. I should be saying something else about March - maybe something insightful - but the biggest thing that happened that comes to mind is the new cereal I switched to a few weeks ago, and that wasn't exactly exciting.

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


2011 Debut Author Challenge:
This month for the Debut Author Challenge, I read and reviewed Wither, Lauren DeStefano's dystopia debut that was released on the 22nd. You can see my review here.

100+ Challenge:
This month I read and reviewed 16 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 100 books this year, bringing my running total up to 46. 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 just 1 novel that goes towards the challenge's goal of reading 12 YA books by Australian authors. That review is linked below, marked by an asterisks.


This month I've reviewed the following books:
- The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
- Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
- Mistwood by Leah Cypess
- The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
- Red Glove by Holly Black
- As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
- Stay by Deb Caletti
- Bones Of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
- Good Oil by Laura Buzo
- Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
- Wither by Lauren DeStefano
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King
- Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
- The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
- The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

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 Month.

March's Book Of The Month is Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King. The review's linked above.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (18)

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 Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, because of the alluring synopis and simple, contrasting cover that catches your eye.

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Imaginary Girls is expected to come out on the 14th of June.

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: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Series: Little Blue Envelope (#2)
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: April 26th, 2011
IBSN: 9780061976797

Source: NetGalley

Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end. 
Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The Last Little Envelope reopens Ginny's story as she gets an email from someone who has the last letter from her dead aunt that was stolen while completing the tasks on the first twelve letters in the first book, 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Much like in 13 Little Blue Envelopes, the situations are still bizarre. The characters too, for that matter. And that's the main reason I love this series - hell, all of Maureen's books. She won the Shorty Award in weird, and it's reflected in her books.

Her writing style is versatile - humorous at times, and heart-wrenching at others. Though, one thing is constant in her prose: it is always entertaining. She writes the kind of books that I could read over and over again without ever getting bored.

Ginny's voice shines through the third-person narration. She's a protagonist with depth that's interesting to read about. All of the characters are all well fleshed out, and have personalities that jump from the page. I'd find myself wanting to make friends with them all - Ginny, Keith, Ellis, Oliver - while reading.

I give the Last Little Blue Envelope a 5 out of 5, and recommend it to people who people who've read her other books (and, of course, liked them. I'm fairly certain the venn diagram of People Who Have Read Maureen Johnson's Books and People Who Have Liked Maureen Johnson's Books is a circle.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Series: The Goddess Test (#1)
Pages: 297
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: April 19th, 2011
IBSN:  9780373210268

Every girl who has taken the test has died.

Now it's Kate's turn

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. 

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. 

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. 

If she fails...

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I originally read the blurb to this book, thinking it'd be some crazy-intense read with the 'tests' being almost impossible feats, literally twitching out of anticipation of reading this epic mythological debut. And I was kind of disappointed.

The book was slow in building to the paranormal aspects, and then it was dumped on Kate so quickly that it was unrealistic that she believed it straight away. I did like how the myth of Persephone and Hades was adapted into a modern context, though.

I didn't feel any chemistry between Henry and Kate. He essentially blackmailed her into spending time with him, which to me, doesn't seem like very good basis to fall in love with someone upon. And I think I missed the point where Henry got over Persephone and onto Kate.

The tests weren't as hard as I thought they'd be. I assumed they'd be difficult and seemingly impossible, a la in Impossible by Nancy Werlin. Also, there were too many "you failed. LOL jk, you passed" moments in the plot that didn't really build up any tension for me.

The writing style was good, though. There was a flow to it that made it easy to read. I think I'd consider reading other future books from the author outside of this series.

I give The Goddess Test a 2 out of 5. Though, most of the other reviews I've read of the book have been uber-positive, so I wouldn't disregard it just yet.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Series: Hex Hall (#2)
Pages: 368
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH
Published: March 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781423121312

This review will contain Hex Hall spoilers.

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Demonglass picks up not long after where Hex Hall left off. It opens with Sophie negotiating with her father, head of the council. They come to a compromise: Sophie's to spend the summer with her father in England if she's to have any chance of going through with the Removal.

Demonglass, in general, felt like a heavier read than Hex Hall. The plot was much more serious, more twisty, more complicated. The stakes were higher, and there were more risks involved. In short, it was my kind of plot - engaging and fast.

Sophie grew a lot as a character in Demonglass, and though I appreciated her sense of humor, her snarkiness felt kind of cliched and I didn't like her jokes in serious situations.

Sophie and Archer's romance was well-written and had a lot of chemistry. Sophie's initial aversion to him was natural, given his departure in the last book. Though, a love triangle feels imminent, and one of the main reasons I liked Hex Hall was because it didn't have one, and that was refreshing.

The ending was crazy and hectic - I had to read carefully over the last dozen pages, scared I'd miss something - and left us on a huge cliffhanger. It's left me anxious for the next book, the conclusion to the trilogy.

I give Demonglass a 4 out of 5.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

Pages: 336
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
Published: October 12th, 2010
IBSN: 9780375865862

Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I never would have heard of Please Ignore Vera Dietz if it weren't a Printz honor book. I think I've said this before, but I've loved every single Printz award winner that I've ever read, and Please Ignore Vera Dietz was no different.

The story came from different perspectives, mostly from Vera's, but with interjected "brief words from the dead kid", "brief words from Ken Dietz", and "brief words from the Pagoda". These intermissions help set the wry tone of the story.

Vera was a dynamic character, who was enjoyable to read about. She's smart, hardworking, sarcastic, and has character flaws that make her seem real. She visibly develops over the course of the novel.

The plot was ordered in such a way as to build tension. The occasional chapter takes a break from telling Vera's present tense story, and goes back into her history. Secrets are revealed gradually, building up suspense to the point near the end where the flashbacks catch up to the present.

Though clearing his name/grieving Charlie is the main plot, Vera's developing relationship with her dad was the best part, to me. Their dynamic is certainly unconventional, but it makes sense, given their past.

The writing style was humorous, dark, and at times, heart-wrenching. The writing really brought out Vera's voice, and I felt completely sympathetic to her.

I give Please Ignore Vera Dietz a 5 out of 5, and Please Ignore Vera Dietz gave me a new appreciation for flow charts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (17)

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 Tris & Izzie, a modern retelling of the German legend, "Tristan and Isolde", by Mette Ivie Harrison. I love myth/fairy tale retellings, and on top of that, I ADORE this cover!

A modern retelling of the German legend "Tristan and Isolde", "Tris and Izzie", is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until-- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love withTristan, the new guy at school. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Tris & Izzie is expected to come out on the 11th of October.

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, March 22, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Today is Wither's release day, though from what I hear, copies of the book have already sneaked into bookstores.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Series: Chemical Garden Trilogy (#1)

Pages: 356
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
Published: March 22nd, 2011
IBSN: 9781442409057

Source: Galley Grab

What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Wither is yet another new dystopia on the YA scene. It explores the effect of humans playing with genetics in order to 'play God' and better the race. The premise was unique enough, but I felt like it could have gone deeper, and that some aspects weren't explained a whole lot. When women die at 20 and men die at 25, why would girls be stolen away, and then killed? Wouldn't women be taken care of, considering reproduction would be a huge issue? And there wasn't any mention of a government or authority, which could have added a whole other layer to the premise.

Rhine was a strong character. She was completely determined in her mission to escape. On top of being unswayable (a real word, I swear), she was also emotional, which made her an easy-to-relate-to character.

The plot was slow, though rarely boring. From Rhine's capture, to being sent to the mansion, to making her escape plans, the story was engaging.

Lauren DeStefano's writing style was remarkable. I don't usually actually notice the writing style while reading unless it stands out, and so that says something about her prose.

The ending was satisfying, and didn't end in a cliffhanger like most of the recently released books I've read have. Though, I wonder where the next two books in the trilogy will go. There wasn't a lot left open-ended to be explored in further books.

I give Wither a 3 out of 5. Well, somewhere between a 3 and a 4. I'll stick to 3.

I read this book for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Pages: 368
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Published: January 11th, 2011
IBSN: 9780385739016

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Other Words For Love is Lorraine Zago Rosenthal's debut novel. It comes from the first person perspective of Ariadne, (or Ari, as she goes by), who details a few years in her life as a teenager in New York City, learning about love.

The writing style is simple and raw and honest. So, so honest. Every read so true to life and true to the thoughts of the teenager that I could have thought I was reading someone's diary.

Ari was so normal - shy and reserved - that I really felt like I could relate to her. Though I would've liked her to be a little stronger, she was still interesting enough to read about. Her recount of first love and first heartbreak was beautiful and at the time same time heart-wrenching.

The book was set in the 1980s, a time period I know very little about. It's too recent to have many historical novels set there, and too old for me to have read any contemporary's from that time. However, I would have liked it better if the time setting were more implicit than explicit, rather than having the year mentioned half a dozen times.

In short, it was a sweet, sad, and occasionally funny read from a debut author to watch out for.

I give Other Words For Love a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Pages: 252
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: August, 2010
IBSN: 9781741759976

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

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

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Good Oil is a light-hearted coming-of-age story by debut Australian author, Laura Buzo. It comes from the first person perspective of Amelia, a 15 year old girl who's in love with her workmate, Chris, 6 years her senior. Parts of the story are told through his diary.

Amelia is smart, funny, shy, and angsty. She's a normal teenage girl, with an interesting voice. Nothing overly dramatic happens to her, but her narration is still compelling. It's written so true to life and honestly.

Chris is definitely a swoon-worthy protagonist. He's sarcastic, outgoing, broody, and smart. Chris and Amelia have such great chemistry that I felt bummed out for them over the age difference. They were the kind of characters you could easily connect with.

The writing style is fun; the plot, sweet. A good, short book to read for a pick-me-up.

I give Good Oil a 4 out of 5.


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Follow Friday (14)

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

This week's featured blogger is Jess from Gone With The Words.

This week's question is:

How did you come up with your blog name?

My blog was originally called "Skye Blogs Books", because that was obvious and I couldn't think of one. Then I just got fed up with how boring it was and googled figures of speech with book in the title. The main result was "to be in someone's good books". And thus In The Good Books was born.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Bones Of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Bones Of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Series: Faerie (#1)
Pages: 247
Publisher: Random House
Published: January 27th, 2009
IBSN: 9780375845635

The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so 15-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza’s world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Then Liza discovers she has the Faerie ability to see—into the past, into the future—and she has no choice but to flee her town. Liza’s quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

In Janni Lee Simner's first book for young adults, she combines dystopia and paranormal and creates a post-apocalyptic world all but destroyed by a war against Faerie. Residual magic still remains in the human world, and Liza has grown up under the impression that magic is evil, until she finds her way into another town, where magic is controlled and used for good.

My favorite thing about the book was its premise: a girl finding magic - that she's always thought of as inherently bad - within herself, and running away. The writing style was beautiful, but I didn't feel any suspense or sympathy for the characters from it.

Liza was a fairly strong character: when something needed to be done, she did it, and didn't complain. But I couldn't identify with her. From her narration, I got a lot of what she was doing and feeling, but nothing about who she really was.

The plot was fast-paced, making for a quick read. It was entertaining, if not entirely engaging to me.

I give Bones Of Faerie a 3 out of 5. I may read the sequel, Faerie Winter, when it comes out on the 5th of April.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (16)

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 Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, which I intend to read for the Debut Author Challenge. The cover is completely breath-taking, and I love the title. The blurb reminds me of The Adoration Of Jenna Fox, and that's not a bad thing at all. It's due for release on the 27th of September, 2011.

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a
hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember
that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been
through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

[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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay by Deb Caletti

Pages: 352
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: April 5th, 2011.
IBSN: 9781442403734

Source: Galley Grab

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough...

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Stay follows Clara, who details the story of why she came to the seaside interwoven with her story that begun there. She and her father are leaving for the summer to escape Clara's emotionally abusive and obsessive ex-boyfriend, and realise that the past will follow them, but that doesn't mean they can't create a new future.

Clara's recount of her relationship with Christian originally made their relationship feel normal, but in hindsight, she pointed out problems she didn't see at the time. Christian's obsessive behaviour worsened gradually, and Clara thinking she was always in the wrong, waiting for it to get better, was a realistic reaction. Their relationship felt so true to abusive ones in real life that I could almost believe the book to be non-fiction.

Deb Caletti's writing style is beautiful and has a poetic flow to it. Her prose is captivating and her characters' voice shines through.

Also, including a present parental figure like Clara's dad added an interesting dynamic. Is anyone else sick of protagonist's with absentee parents/are orphaned?

The book took me on an emotional roller coaster. I was completely enthralled like I didn't expect I would be about a book with a premise so new to me. The ending didn't bring complete closure, but it got as close I expect a situation like Clara's would get to being settled in real life. The ending had a hopeful tone, and I felt genuinely pleased for Clara and her father.

Stay is the first book by Deb Caletti I've read, and it definitely will not be the last. Look out for it after the 5th of April, 2011. I give it a 5 out of 5.

A belated introduction

I don't know about you guys, but I like knowing about the people behind the blogs I read. I like blogs that have a lot of personality in their posts. And since I don't think my posts have any personality behind them, this post is a small attempt at rectifying that and a belated introduction to me.

I'm Skye, I like long walks on the beach... I like drinking tea even though I don't particularly like it because it makes me feel British and sophisticated. I like walking into Louis Vuitton, because I can, and then walking out a few seconds later because I'm intimidated by the store. I like stupid things like this that make me laugh every time I see them. I like blogs dedicated entirely to correcting the syntax of the Twilight Sigh-ga. I don't like going to a school that doesn't have dances or formals but instead, a debutante ball, for which I have to learn to waltz (I can play a waltz on the trombone, sure. Dance one? No). I like Reader's Feast Bookstore because it's unfortunate location means it's usually pretty empty and I feel comfortable sitting on the ground in front of YA shelves thumbing through everything.

(Reading that, you know me much better than you would if I told you I'd just given you my life story.)

And since this a book blog, I'll tell you about my reading habits.
I'm a student, I don't play a sport, I don't have a job, and I don't need to study extensively for good marks. So I have a load of free time. And I spend almost all of that on reading. I read a book a day on the weekends, and a book every two or three days on weekdays (except for Fridays. You gotta get down on Fridays. No time to read). Next year I'll go to uni, run out of free time, and have reading withdrawal.

And since I have this miscellaneous post going, how's my driving blogging? What do you like? What don't you like? Should I post other book-related things besides reviews every second day? Is a review every second day too often and clogging your feed?

I know I wouldn't want to leave a comment saying anything that can be construed as bad, so if you have feedback on my blogging, feel free to fill out this anonymous form.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: September 1st, 2009
IBSN: 9780061661525

Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Viola, since her boyfriend came out, has felt broken and empty and like she doesn't belong. She spends her time wishing, until one day her wishes summon a jinn - a genie - who is bound to her until she makes three wishes. From there, it evolves into your average star-crossed romance. Viola and Jinn fall in love, and Viola has to be careful: if she makes her third wish, he's gone forever.

As You Wish opens with Viola sitting in English class with Shakespeare teaching her that "sometimes you have to fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person", but she doesn't believe that. She knows, from experience, that "a more useful lesson would've been: sometimes the right person doesn't love you back. Or sometimes the right person is gay. Or sometimes you just aren't the right person." (Page 1)

Viola's an average teen: insecure, plain, not-popular-but-not-unpopular. She's easily relatable, but not exactly interesting to read about. Plus, her whole "I don't belong. I don't feel whole" mantra got on my nerves.

The plot is light and predictable: unlikely couple meet and fall in love, face some kind of obstacle, overcome it. Though, I don't want to sound like it was painful to read, because it wasn't. It was enjoyable and sweet, but I usually like my stories more intense.

Jackson Pearce's writing style is simple, sometimes humorous, and engaging. She devised a unique premise and executed it well.

The short version: As You Wish is a light, sweet paranormal romance, but without a whole lot of depth.

I give As You Wish a 3 out of 5, and recommend it to fans of light paranormal romance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Red Glove by Holly Black

Red Glove by Holly Black

Series: Curse Workers (#2)
Pages: 320
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Published: April 5th, 2011
IBSN: 9781442403390

Source: Galley Grab

After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov's retribution and finding out that Lila, the girl he has loved his whole life, will never, ever be his now that his mother has worked her, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life. That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family tied to one of the big crime families and a mother whose cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is also coming to terms with what it means to be a transformation worker and figuring out how to have friends.

But normal doesn't last very long--soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past. A past he remembers only in scattered fragments and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Red Glove is, like White Cat, set in a world where curse magic is illegal, and curse workers either become con artists or mobsters or hide their abilities from everyone. Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of criminals: his grandfather's a Death Worker, his mother's an Emotion Working con artist, and his brothers Work for a crime family. Cassel spent his whole life thinking he couldn't Work at all, and recently learnt that his brother was Working his memory so he had no idea he was the most rare kind of Worker of all, and no idea that they used him as an assassin.

After reading White Cat, I was expecting even twistier plots and higher stakes from Red Glove, and I wasn't disappointed at all. Red Glove's plot is clever, complicated and entirely compelling. There's a twist or new revelation around every corner, and I couldn't put it down.

Cassel was a dynamic character, with flaws interwoven into his personality that made him realistic. He was clever, brave, and I felt genuine compassion for him.

Cassel and Lila's relationship was complicated and difficult, yet I found myself looking forward to every scene they had together, hoping for the best.

The ending satisfied the major complications and opened new trials to be faced in Black Heart, the next book, coming out next year.

Holly Black's writing style is simple and dark and captivating. I give Red Glove a 5 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone who likes a paranormal mystery. Look out for it on the 5th of April.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Aussie Swap

I'm sure pretty much every other Aussie book blogger out there knows the disappointment of the "US only" rule on every second giveaway, book tour, and swap in the blogosphere.

So when Brittany from Nice Girls Read Books and Kylie from The Talking Teacup teamed up to create The Aussie Swap, a book swap run by Aussies for Aussies, you can imagine I was excited.

Joining in is easy - just contact Brittany, asking to be added to the participants list, and then make a list of books you're willing to swap on Goodreads or on your blog. Through Goodreads is the simplest way to go, though. Just join their group and post a link to your swap shelf (though don't make it private, like I did at first)!

The Aussie Swap has just begun, though, and you can imagine it works much better with more participants. So, Aussie book bloggers, get involved!

For more information, you should definitely check out the Swap page.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (15)

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 Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, the first book in her new paranormal series, The Shades Of London. It's no secret that I adore Maureen's books, especially her other paranormal release, Devilish, so I'm expecting great things from this one. It's due for release on the 29th of September, 2011. Luckily I have a shiny ARC of The Last Little Blue Envelope to help me endure the wait!

A modern-day thriller about Rory, an American high-school student who enrolls at a London boarding school for her junior year. Soon after her arrival, a series of murders begins to take place across the city—on the exact dates and in the exact style of Jack the Ripper. Rory’s ties to the killer bring her in contact with a secret paranormal branch of the British police, as they attempt to stop the mysterious killer.

[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: The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Pages: 211
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: January 4th, 2011
IBSN: ISBN13: 9780374193683

autonomy, n. ‘I want my books to have their own shelves,’ you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together. 

A nameless couple meet, 
fall in love, 
move in together, 
and then the hard work of loving each other begins. 

Told as a series of dictionary entries, The Lover’s Dictionary is an intimate portrait of a relationship in all its guises; a compelling, deeply romantic story of two people loving each other: passionately, imperfectly. 

Through these short entries, Levithan opens an intimate window into the couple’s space, giving a name to their everyday struggles, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The Lover's Dictionary is written unconventionally through dictionary entries detailing the relationship of a nameless couple out of chronological order. The entries aren't definitions, per se, but a passage relating the relationship to the word.

I'm no stranger to David Levithan's amazingly poetic writing style, but he completely blew me away with The Lover's Dictionary. The main characters are the only ones in the book not given names yet I felt so invested in their story.

The story is pieced together cleverly. Under the entry for 'circuitous' on page 55, the main character says that:

We do not divulge our histories chronologically. It's not like we can sit each other down and say, "Tell me what happened," and then rise from the conversation knowing everything. Most of the time, we don't even realize we're dividing ourselves into clues.
 And the narration is the same: not chronological and in clues. We need to take each new entry and think about where it goes in the grand scheme of the story. I like stories like that - where everything isn't laid out plain and obvious.

The ending is bittersweet, the same as the rest of the story. A realistic ending to a story about a highly realistic relationship dynamic.

The Lover's Dictionary is short (I read it in an hour's sitting) and sweet and beautifully written. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Series: Mistwood (#1)
Pages: 304
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: April 27th, 2010
IBSN: 9780061956997

The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them. Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Mistwood was at first a little confusing, since I couldn't remember the blurb and had no inkling what it was about. But once I understood what was going on, I was captivated. I loved the premise: there's a Shifter living in the Mistwood bound by magic to protect the kings of Samorna. She resigns back to her woods when her work is done, but always come back when she's needed.

Mistwood is predominately about Isabel's - the Shifter's - struggle with her loyalties. The Shifter's entire purpose is and always has been to protect the king, but she's faced a dilemma: which one?

I loved Isabel - cold, distant, and kick-ass. That on top of a third person perspective, I can imagine some reader's would have trouble connecting with/feeling for her, but I love my heroines unsentimental and badass.

The plot was fast-paced and to the point. The book didn't as much focus on physical action as I thought it would, but was more about Isabel's slowly figuring out the mystery surrounding why she left last time. Something new is revealed in almost every chapter, and the final twist was so unpredictable yet explained so much.

Mistwood is also incredibly well-written. The author's style was tense and serious, and entirely compelling.

The ending was satisfying, foreshadowed by Isabel's angst about who to side with, and maintained the story's tone. It tied up all of the loose ends with a realistic denouement.

I give Mistwood a 5 out of 5, and recommend it to fans of Graceling and other epic fantasies.