Friday, December 31, 2010

Follow Friday (5)

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

This week's hop is a small one, in light of New Years, so there is not a featured blogger.

Today's question is What are your New Years' book blogging resolutions?

I want to write better reviews and keep posting them frequently, even after school starts back up.
I want to have more posts that aren't reviews or memes. And, I want to comment more on others' posts. I look at and like a lot of posts without ever commenting, and I think that if it were my post I'd like the feedback.

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

Happy New Year!

It's New Years Eve and 2010 is almost over. I'm going to celebrate the new year on my blog my giving you my Best Of 2010 list, and also talk about what I'm looking forward to in 2011.

So, my top 5 books of 2010:

The Sky Is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.           

Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
See my review here.

Perchance To Dream by Lisa Mantchev.

Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
See my review here.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.
See my review here.


My books I'm looking forward to reading the most in 2011 are:

Across The Universe by Beth Revis.

The Dark And Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

Also, new features you'll see on the blog in 2011 include:

The 2011 Debut Author Challenge
The 100+ Reading Challenge

And for New Year's Resolutions: mine is to learn to ride my new unicycle (and if possible, couple it with hula-hooping and run off to the circus). Also, I promise to ride it to school at least one day next year.

Happy New Year, all! Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

Review of The Pace series by Shelena Shorts

I won both The Pace and The Broken Lake from a Goodreads giveaway, and they arrived around a week ago. I decided that I'd review the series together; or at least these two together, because I don't see myself reading the next book in the series, The Iron Quill (1st of August, 2011).


Weston is a one-of-a-kind immortal, thanks to an experimental blood transfusion. Sophie is an anti-social online student. The unlikely pairs' worlds will collide - literally - when she crashes her car into his.

After she finds out about his nature, she thinks things can't get any weirder, but that's until she realises that she belongs in his world.

The Pace never really hit the spot, for me. I've read rave reviews for this semi-obscure book, and so, had high hopes.

The premise - or at least Weston's situation - was unique, I admit, but sadly, that's where my praises stop.

I didn't like the writing style. I was being told everything that Sophie was doing, all the time, where half of it didn't feel relevant. She woke up, had breakfast, did some homework - sure, but none of that was vital to the story. Also, the dialogue between characters felt unnatural. In speech, it felt like the author was avoiding contractions. Do not, she is, etc.

The story was slow in building to the complication, which tacked on the end felt like an afterthought to the story. The ending was abrupt - I found myself flicking for a conclusion.

I couldn't identify with Sophie. She didn't feel like a teenager, but more middle-aged. Some of the secondary characters had more stand-out personalities, but I didn't really feel for any of them.

The Broken Lake picks up shortly after where The Pace left us.

The plot in the second installment to the series is better, in that several events throughout the middle of the book are important to the conflict, but otherwise, a lot of it felt pointless. If there were dramatic tension, I could handle the build up, but what's dramatic about Sophie and Wes hanging out on a lake, or having fun unchaperoned at a Ski Chalet?

I still couldn't really find myself feeling for any of the characters. I just found myself not caring about them or their ordeals.

The cliffhanger ending to this book didn't feel all that dramatic, and it didn't leave me aching to read the next book like they usually do.

I give this series 2 out of 5 and maintain that just because this review is less-than-favorable does not mean that you won't enjoy it either. If you liked Twilight, you might like this series.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (5)

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 Slice Of Cherry by Dia Reeves. Its release date is the 4th of January and is set in the same town (Portero) as her last book, Bleeding Violet.

From the cover and blurb I can assume that Slice Of Cherry is just as twisted as Bleeding Violet, which is what makes me want to read this so badly.

Here's the blurb:
Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.

It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities….

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 Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

I posted a few weeks ago about how I won a signed copy of Forget-Her-Nots. I have finally gotten around to reading it, and here's my review:

Something - some power is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.
Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.
Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school?

[Summary from Goodreads]

The premise of this book was what drew me in. I'm always up for something different, and flower magic seemed just that. Laurel's mother was a flower enthusiast and always spoke about the Victorian language of flowers. Laurel took up learning the language after her mother's death, and through that, she discovered the magic of flowers.

Laurel was a fairly likable character. Though she gave off a naive air, she could do what needed to be done and act when need be. The secondary characters had personalities that were realistic and unique from each other.

The writing style was nice, though it felt a little...babyish? Which I suppose should be expected when reading a book about characters younger than yourself.  The plot was fairly straight forward: introduction, conflict, resolution.

Overall, it was a light read: which I could appreciate after reading a series dramatic paranormal novels. It told a sweet story about first love, friendship (both creating new ones and strengthening the old) and flowers. I recommend Forget-Her-Nots to younger readers than I, and give it 3 out of 5. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review of Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover is the third book in the Gallagher Girls series, so this review will, of course, contain spoilers for the first two books. Proceed with caution.

When Cammie visits her roommate and friend, Macey, in Boston, where her father's being nominated for vice president, she expects an exciting end to summer break. Excitement she gets, when she and Macey find themselves in a kidnapper's plot.

Luckily, escaping is just one the things they do best, as students of the Gallagher Academy For Exceptional Young Women - a spy school in disguise. But soon they find out that it isn't over yet, and as more attempts are made, they wonder if Macey was the real target.

Like the Gallagher Girls book before it, Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover was fast-faced and fun to read. Written in a no-nonsense prose, there was constant action and mystery, and was completely captivating - so much so that I read it on Christmas morning.

There aren't a lot of spy books out there targeted to a young adult audience, and this series is the only I've read in the genre, but it's enough to make me want to branch out and find more books like it. A boarding school full of female spies-in-training - a premise so unique and exciting you can't help but pick it up.

Cammie is a strong, clever and loyal protagonist. She spends the majority of this book trying to protect her friend without a second thought, outsmarting secret agents, and unraveling mysteries. Though, in spite of all that, she's relatable. She worries about her friends, she has boy trouble, and misses her dead father. She's a dynamic protagonist that you can't help but feel endeared and sympathetic to.

The plot was cleverly constructed, with problems from past books weaved into the story and with new ones arising. It was at all times unpredictable - every time I think I can guess what's about to happen, something else entirely occurs.

The romance between Zach and Cammie was mysterious and compelling. The broody, mysterious stock character that always weasels his way into paranormal romances can't hold a flame to the enigma that is Zach. I mean, he's a spy. His intentions throughout the book aren't clear, but he still feels trustworthy.

I give Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover 4 out of 5, and intend to the the next (already released) book in the series, Only The Good Spy Young, soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Review of Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Merry Christmas! Or in case you don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays!
I read Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares around a week ago, and I thought, given the Christmastime setting, why not post my review on Christmas day? Or rather, schedule it for Christmas day, because when there are presents to be opened, who would choose to write a review instead?


Dash convinced both his parents that he was spending Christmas with the other, resulting in them both going away for the holidays and leaving him alone - just as he likes it. 

Lily's parents are on a belated honeymoon, and have left her under the care of her brother, who'd much rather be spending his time with his boyfriend.

Their worlds soon collide when Dash finds a red moleskin notebook nestled in the stacks of used books The Strand's 18 miles of shelf hold. Therein, he finds challenges that, should he choose to accept them, will lead him to Lily.

I opened this book with high expectations that Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by the same authors predisposed me to have. And then it totally exceeded those expectations and blew me away.

I've always reasoned that the best authors of young adult fiction are themselves young adults or at least young at heart, or else the characters don't really feel like teens and their dialogue doesn't capture the way teens really talk. No such problems occurred in Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares. The characters were amazing. They felt like real teenagers and their personalities stood out and gave them the feel of real people as opposed to just characters.

I was expecting the plot to be less-than-favorable, since Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's writing style is to not outline and just go where their characters take them, but it made the character's exploits feel more natural.

I also love the way this book explores the way people we meet compare with the ideal people we build up in our minds and how they compare to how we imagine them.

Reading this made me want to leave my own notebook in a bookstore just so I could meet someone like Dash (being a smart-ass makes other smart-asses endearing to me). It makes me want to be friends with someone like Lily, and hang out with someone like Boomer. It makes me want to spend Christmas in one the world's biggest cities with limited supervision (okay, so maybe I wanted to do that anyway).

Definitely one of my favorite books of the year, I give Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares 5 out of 5.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Follow Friday (4)

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

Today's hop is a small one, in light of Christmas tomorrow, so there is not a featured blogger this week.

Today's question is what are you plans for this fabulous day?
My Christmas day is always spent at home with my immediate family. We open presents in the morning, have a roast lunch, and afterwards it's just a normal day. My mother's family is coming over on Boxing Day for a bigger celebration.

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

Guest Blog at Jessica's Vision!

PhotobucketI was featured over at Jessica's Vision for Guest Blogger Friday (a day early, because of Christmas)!

You can see her post here, in which I've answered a couple of questions for the feature.

I've never been featured on anyone else's blog before, so this was really exciting. I mean, even more exciting than when I found myself on someone's blog roll last week.

Review of Entice by Carrie Jones

Entice is the third book (and not the last, as I thought when I started reading) in Carrie Jones' Need series, and came out several weeks ago.

Entice picks up where Captivate left off - Nick's dead (sort of), a war with the evil pixies residing in the forest seems imminent, and Zara's now a pixie queen.

The only solution to the brewing war seems to be getting Nick back from Valhalla to help them, but they haven't a clue how to get there. And will Nick even want to come back, considering Zara's recent change of species?

I found the first two books in the series okay, but Entice kind of irritated me.

Firstly, Zara came across as incredibly selfish in this book. It's not enough that she was risking her own life to find a way to Valhalla, but she risked everyone else's lives, too. I'd like to say that she was selfless in trying to save Nick, but it felt like the only reason she was doing it was because she couldn't stand to be alone.

The plot was also weird - there are evil pixies in the forest, kidnapping kids, but instead of tackling that issue, they try to bring back their friend from the dead. By the end of the book, there were over 20 kids missing.

The writing style was quirky, though it didn't feel appropriate given the life-or-death serious plotline.

From what I can gauge from other reviews, people who liked the start of the series loved Entice, but people who weren't that hooked to begin with were let down. I fall into the latter category.

I give this book 2 out of 5, though I still recommend it to anyone who liked the first two books.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (4)

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 Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins, the sequel to Hex Hall. Demonglass comes out on the 15th of February, 2011.

The blurb reads as follows:

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?

Leave a link to your own Waiting On Wednesday post, or just tell me what upcoming release you're looking forward to, in the comments.

Review of Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire is Courtney Allison Moulton's debut novel, and the first in a trilogy. It's due for release on the 15th of February, 2011. I have NetGalley and HarperCollins to thank for the advanced reader's copy I received.

Ellie doesn't understand why she has nightmares of horrible creatures and far off times and places until she starts seeing the creatures in the real world. They're reapers - beasts that devour humans and send their souls to hell.

Ellie soon meets Will, who tells her she's the reincarnate of an ancient warrior - the only person who can wield angelfire and kill the reapers.
But with the reapers threatening to bring about the End Of Days, the apocalypse, she finds herself barely-trained and on the frontlines of a supernatural war.

Firstly, I want to talk about the non-paranormal aspects of this book. It was refreshing to just have a normal heroine: with friends, but not popular; average at school; average socioeconomic status; and with both parents alive and together.

And the paranormal aspect was unique to anything I've read before: reapers, angels, demons. The mythology behind it all was interesting and made the current situation and conflict believable.

The action scenes were well-choreographed, and the writing style created suspense and tension during dramatic scenes.

The romance played only a small role in the story, and was sweet and believable. Ellie and Will had chemistry, and separately, they had depth and unique personalities.

Angelfire was a fun read. It had humor, action, romance: something for every reader. I'd recommend it to anyone. I give it 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (4)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading, wherein we share teasers (not spoilers) from the book we're currently reading.

My teaser this week comes from Entice by Carrie Jones, the third book in the Need series, which came out several weeks ago.

So, without further ado:

“I could force you.”
“But you won’t.” I say this like I’m certain of it, like I’m certain of who he is, but really I’m not certain of anything."

Feel free to leave me a link to your own Teaser Tuesday post in the comments, and I'll be sure to take a look.

Monday, December 20, 2010

100+ Reading Challenge

Next year, I'll be participating in the 100+ Reading Challenge, hosted by Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf. The objective is fairly obvious - read over 100 books in 2011.

The challenge's detail's can be found at the host's blog post about the challenge, here.

My running list of books I've read so far this year for this challenge, with links to their reviews, can be found here.

In the comments, tell me if you're participating in this challenge, or just tell me what other challenges you're participating in next year.

Review of Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi both loves and is in love with Ely. Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with other boys. They have a No Kiss List of people neither of them can kiss - a kind of insurance against a drama breaking them up.

There's no reason to put Naomi's boyfriend, Bruce, on the list. But when Ely kisses Bruce, no No Kiss List can prevent their break up.

The bright and minimalistic cover of this book was what first got my attention, and that I'd already read a novel co-authored by David Levithan (Will Grayson Will Grayson) is what grew me to pick it up.

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List was quirky, funny, and explored so many different relationship dynamics, due to all the different perspectives offered. There was the straight girl in love with her gay best friend. There was the seemingly straight boy falling in love with his girlfriend's male best friend. I'd go on, but you get the picture.

The characters felt unique from one another, with realistic and well-developed personalities. Their voices were easily distinguishable in the alternating first-person perspective.

This book also explored sexuality - realising you aren't as straight as you thought you were, or just being content with your own, no matter how it strains existing relationships. I haven't read a lot of books featuring gay main characters, mainly for the reason that there aren't a lot out there, but after reading this, I might consider seeking out more.

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List is short, having only 240 pages, and is a nice light read. I give it 4 out of 5.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review of Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Series: Delirium (#1)
Pages: 448
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: February 2011
IBSN: 9780340980927

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it.

Then, at last, they found the cure.

Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable...

Lena's content with having life without love – she does, after all, believe it to be a disease. But as she falls in love she realises that it isn't a bad thing at all. Thus begins her development from naive into a stronger and more aware protagonist who thinks for herself in a world where people who do so are few and far between.

I was already familiar with Lauren Oliver's writing style from Before I Fall, but, it still struck me again how lyrical and beautiful it is. The first person narration made Lena feel more like a real person with real thoughts and concerns than a character. It was easy to feel sympathetic for a character whose emotions were so raw.

The romance between Lena and Alex felt natural, and they had a lot of chemistry. It wasn't 'love at first sight' (a concept that I never find endearing), but rather, grew slowly and with apt hesitancy given the setting. Delirium was a very good example of successfully having a romantic relationship as the centermost part of the novel.

The omission of unimportant in-between scenes kept the read intense and suspenseful up until the very end, where we’re left hanging and anxiously anticipating the sequel (Pandemonium, March 2012).

Overall, Delirium was a touching and beautifully-written story of how far people will go for love. 

I give Delirium a 5 out of 5.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Follow Friday (3)

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

Today's featured blogger is Carmel from Rabid Reads.

Today's question is What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?
I'm still a high school student, myself, in my last year. I do plan on going to university, to study either Nuclear Medicine, or else Science, and choose a nuclear pathway from there.

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

Review of Matched by Ally Condie

Matched came out on the 30th of November, and was perhaps one of 2010's most anticipated releases. I feel like the last person in the blogosphere to have read this, but here goes.

The Society doesn't leave anything to chance. Everything is controlled and planned. In The Society you get Matched based on genetically compatibility at 17, marry 4 years later, have 10 years to have children, and then die on your eightieth birthday.

Cassia's lived her life so far never questioning The Society and its officials, until the day of her Matching banquet, where two boys' faces appear on the screen: Xander, her best friend,  and Ky, the Aberration who shouldn't even be in the Matching Pool.

She's told this is just a glitch and to accept Xander as her Match, but as she gets closer to Ky, she comes to realise that she should get to choose. That everyone should.

I loved the premise and the world-building in this book. Though, the setting, to me, felt a little too similar to that of Lois Lowry's The Giver, it was thorough and well-designed. The plot was good, and I was pleased to find the ending left room for more books. Making a series from books that could just as well be stand-alone is one of my pet peeves.

The characters irked me at times. Though I can understand where they're coming from, considering the time they spent in such a controlled society, they felt...dispassionate. I couldn't make myself really feel for them.

The writing style was beautiful, though I felt like there wasn't enough action to pull off the present tense. I'd be interested in ready other books by Ally Condie, though not necessarily books about these characters.

I give Matched a 3 out of 5, and brace myself to be flamed for less-than-loving a book so hyped up.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (3)

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

This week I'm waiting on City Of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare - the next installment in The Mortal Instruments series. The cover was revealed today, along with word that all of the second cycle covers will feature two people.

The Mortal Instruments is one of my favorite series ever, and City Of Bones was one of the books that got me into reading in the first place.

City Of Fallen Angels is due for release on the 5th of April, 2011.

Review of Outside In by Maria V Snyder

This makes two reviews in a row of books by Maria V Snyder. She is, of course, one of my favorite authors.

Outside In is the sequel to Inside Out, and this review will, naturally, contain Inside Out spoilers.

Trella thought her part was over. She led a rebellion and won Inside back from the Travas and Pop Cops. Now she's happy to give control over to a Committee.

But The Committee can't decide on anything, everyone still harbors Scrubs/Upper prejudices, Inside is practically in anarchy, and now something from the Outside wants In.

The Inside Out series is dystopia, a genre that's increasing in popularity. It's more science-fiction-y than I'm used to, but I read it anyway, and found myself glad afterwards for doing so.

I thought Trella was a great character from the beginning, but in Outside In, she just gets better. Initially, she's content to leave everything to The Committee. After all, she's just a air duct scrub, not a leader. Her hesitancy to take control made her feel more real. Then when she finally realised she had to take matters into her own hands, she became admirable. All throughout, she proved herself a clever and resourceful protagonist.

Maria V Snyder's writing is unique and descriptive - she manages to create a far-out setting and then write it so that I can picture it clearly in my head.

The plot was constantly twisting and turning. Just when you think you had it figured out, some development you never saw coming arises. The quick-witted characters did, however, manage to overcome each problem, with no small amount of difficulty.

The ending leads me to believe there won't be another book in this captivating series. Though I wish there were more, I can honestly say I feel happy for the characters who worked so hard for their denouement.

I give Outside in a 5 out of 5, and I give NetGalley a huge thank you for the opportunity to read this.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My First Ever Giveaway Win

I won a giveaway for the first time ever not long ago. And guess what came in the mail today? The prize!

I won a hardback copy of Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White. It came out on the 2nd of March, and I've been meaning to read it ever since, though I can never find it in my usual bookstores.

I opened up the cover, and found bookmarks I didn't even know were included.

AND I found it signed. To me. I could have just died when I saw that.

I'll read it soon, and then expect to see the review here.
In the comments, tell me, have you ever won a giveaway, and if so, what did you win?

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading, wherein we share teasers (not spoilers) from the book we're currently reading.

My teaser this week comes from Outside In by Maria V Snyder:

"Why did they exile you?"
His demeanor changed in an instant. Wrong question. "Impertinent child." Ponife twisted the X.

Comment with a link to your own Teaser Tuesday post and I'll take a look.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Review of Storm Glass by Maria V Snyder

Storm Glass has been sitting on my shelf for months. I loved the Study series - by the same author, in the same setting, just with a different character - so I'm embarrassed by how it took me to get started on this.

Opal's been training with best magicians in Sitia for years, but it's clear she'll only ever be a one-trick wonder. She's a glass maker, and created a way to communicate long distances through her magic glass.

But then she's asked to accompany the Second Magician, Zitora, to find why the Stormdancers' - magicians who trap storms to harness their energy - glass orbs are breaking and killing the Dancers. She's thrown into the middle of a conspiracy that threatens all of Sitia, and it seems that unless she can get her magic straight, she won't be able to save herself, let alone her home.

The Glass series feels more suited to the YA genre than the Study series, and also features a lot more romance.

The Glass series centers on Opal, a minor character from later in the Study series. I loved the way Opal's character developed. She was initially insecure in her abilities, but grew to overcome her limited magic and use her brain rather than rely on it. I like a character that's smart, rather than powerful.

Storm Glass's plot, I found, was incredibly unique. I've never read anything similar to it before. It's a completely new take on magicians. The world Maria sets it in is also unique and thorough. It's so different to the one in which we live, yet I still find I can imagine it perfectly.

Starting Storm Glass, I was already familiar with Maria V Snyder's writing style. All I can say is, she sure has a way with words.

I rate Storm Glass 4 out of 5, and recommend it to anyone who liked Kristin Cashore's Graceling, and also to anyone who's the read the Study series but didn't want to continue with the Glass series because they liked the way it ended.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review of The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder

The Lipstick Laws - Amy Holder's debut novel - is set to be released on the 4th of April, 2011. I was lucky enough to be accepted to read an advanced copy of this book by NetGalley on behalf of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

April's beginning her sophomore year completely friendless after her best - and only - friend moved away. So when the most popular girl in school, Britney Taylor, befriends her, who cares how horrible she is? She's April's ticket to popularity.

But when Britney reveals the Lipstick Laws - laws that her friends must obey in order to stay her friends - April starts to wonder if it's all worth it.

April's a character any girl can identify with - insecure and just looking to be accepted. Britney Taylor is also the girl that everyone knew in high school - mean, popular. The Lipstick Laws is a new take on the same high school stock characters.

The Lipstick Laws tells a story about trying to fit in, friendship, and staying true to yourself. It also broaches the subject of karma, implying that bad people will get what's coming to them eventually. The characters in The Lipstick Laws go so far as to help karma along.

The Lipstick Laws is written in a light-hearted and often humorous tone. It's a short read, at only 240 pages, and the perfect light read; something to curl up with on a lazy weekend.

I give The Lipstick Laws 3 out of 5, and recommend it to anyone who liked the movie Mean Girls.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Follow Friday (2)

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

Today's featured blogger is Amanda from Another Book Junkie.

Today's question is: Do you have an under-noticed author that you think we should all know about? 
Maybe Maureen Johnson. I assumed she was well known, but most people I talk to about reading haven't heard of her. She's the funniest, quirkiest author I've ever read anything by. If you have Twitter, regardless of whether you like her books, follow her. You'll thank me later.

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

Review of Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I decided to read Anna And The French Kiss after reading this tweet, because after that review, who WOULDN'T?

Anna's been sent away to a Parisian boarding school for Americans by her father, and she's not happy about it. She's left behind her mother, little brother, best friend, and almost-boyfriend.

Scared to be in a foreign country, she's relieved to have her neighbour, Meredith, take her under her wing. Through Meredith, Anna meets Etienne St. Clair, perfect in all aspects except one: his girlfriend. But what does that matter if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home?

The characters in this book, and their relationships, were amazing and felt real. Anna's funny, smart, nervous about living in a country of which she doesn't speak the language, and slightly OCD. She feels like your average, relatable teen. The supporting characters all have unique personalities and stand out from each other.

The romance in this book is amazing. It's clear from the start that Anna and Etienne have a lot of chemistry. I've already said how great a character Anna is, but Etienne is, if not as good, better. He's attractive, funny, sweet, yet still has the flaws that make him feel less like a cliche chick-lit love interest and more like a real person.

The writing style is beautiful and the first person perspective leaves you really feeling for Anna. The plot was good, and the characters had to work for their happy endings. Things didn't just fall into place, and characters weren't just instantly forgiven.

Anna And The French Kiss feels like a mix between Sarah Dessen's and Maureen Johnson's novels. It's probably one of my favorite chick-lit novels ever. I can't pick a single fault in it. I rate it 5 out 5, and look forward to its two companion novels: Lola And The Boy Next Door and Isla And The Happily Ever After.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review of Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost Voices comes out on the 4th of July, 2011. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy from NetGalley.

After Luce's father is lost on a shipwreck and presumed dead, there's no one else to stay with but her drunk uncle. One night, he crosses the line with her, and Luce is left to join all the other lost girls who were mistreated by the men in their lives: the mermaids.

The mermaids get their revenge on the humans that abused them through sinking boats and luring the sailers to death with their siren songs. Though Luce comes to have to best voice in the group - one that can have men jumping overboard, one that can control the ocean itself - she finds that she doesn't want to kill humans.

Lost Voices tackled a lot of social issues that I didn't except from a paranormal book. It explored abuse, forgiveness, friendship.

I grew to like Luce as a character. At first soft-spoken and weak-willed, as you'd expect from an abused girl, she developed into a more independent and stronger protagonist when she found acceptance with the mermaids. Her personality and feelings shone through in the narration. Luce's feelings felt heartbreakingly real.

I loved the writing style, also. Lost Voices is Sarah Porter's debut novel, and her writing reflects that of someone with a lot more experience. The prose was lyrical and beautiful, and the dialogue was believable.

There wasn't any romance in Lost Voices, and I though I like to see romantic subplots, Lost Voices pulled it off. I'd rather no romance than a star-crossed one.

The ending, I found, was disappointing, in that it left so many loose ends, but I can forgive that, considering it's only the first book in a series.

I rate Lost Voices 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (2)

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

This week, I'm waiting on What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. I remember when I first started getting into reading how I just bought every Dessen book at my bookstore and worked through them all, loving every one.

What Happened To Goodbye comes out on the 10th of May, 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review of Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

Last Sacrifice came out 12 hours ago, for me. Considering time zones, in some parts of the world, it isn't even out yet.
Last Sacrifice is the final book in the Vampire Academy series - the series that got me into reading in the first place. So it kind of means a lot to me.

(Also, this will contain a heap of VA, FB, SK, BP and SB spoilers. Continue at your own peril.)

So Last Sacrifice starts immediately after Spirit Bound ends, with Rose in jail for the murder of Queen Tatiana, which she didn't commit. At her hearing she was slipped a note by the Queen's lover from the Queen before her murder saying that Lissa did, in fact, have a half brother or sister, and if found, they could allow Lissa to gain her rightful Council seat.

Last Sacrifice definitely stands out from the other books in this series. In the earlier books, Rose had to save others. In Vampire Academy, she was saving Lissa from Victor. In Frostbite, she was saving Christian, Mia and Mason from Spokane Strigois. In Shadow Kiss, she was saving her entire school from Strigoi ambush. In Blood Promise and Spirit Bound, she was saving Dimitri from himself. Now, she has to save herself.

I have a friend who also reads this series, and we spent a significant amount of physics classes this year ignoring Kepler's laws of planetary motion and instead discussing what could possibly happen in this book. So I thought I had a fair idea of what was going to happen. I can usually pick an ending. But Last Sacrifice totally defied my expectations. Nothing went how I thought it would.

Richelle Mead's writing style remains beautiful - light-hearted and funny at times, and at others, intense and heart-wrenching. Rose's strong voice really shows through the narration.

I was pleased to see all of the characters develop. Rose definitely changed a lot. I also loved to see Lissa change and become stronger and more independent. I began to look forward to the instances where Rose is in Lissa's head - something that I didn't really care for in previous books.

Though romance in this book didn't play as large a role in this book as the others - considering Rose's shift in priorities - it was still great. I was never really sure what 'team' I was on (at least, after Mason died), and I'm still unsure, but as you'd expect from a series ending, the protagonist has to make a choice between the guys. I felt for both Dimitri and Adrian, and the decision was heartbreaking.

The ending didn't tie up all of the loose ends, and leaves plenty of room for future conflict, which I hope will make the spin-off series just as excited as this one. The first book of the spin-off series is titled Bloodlines and will be released in August of next year.

I rate Last Sacrifice 5 out of 5.

Teaser Tuesday (2)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading, wherein we share teasers (not spoilers) from the book we're currently reading.

Literally one minute after my local bookstore opened this morning, I'd arrived and bought Last Sacrifice. I feel lucky to be Australian right now, and have time zones on my side, so I can get this *sort-of* early.

So, without further adieu, my teaser:
"'I have to know. If there is another Dragomir, I'll find them. But you have to tell me. Did you write this letter? Is it true?'"

Leave a comment linking to your own Teaser Tuesday post and I'll have a look-see.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review of Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

I've been waiting for Behemoth to be released since I read Leviathan earlier this year. Behemoth came out on the 5th of October, and just now I finally got to the top of my library's hold queue, two months later.

The Leviathan trilogy tells of an steampunk alternate World War I where the allies are Darwinists and the axis are Clankers. The Darwinists use genetically-engineered animals and the Clankers use advanced machinery as weapons.

Behemoth picks up immediately after where Leviathan ends. Alek, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, a Clanker, is on the run from the Germans on board the Leviathan - an airship made by the Darwinists. Deryn is a British midshipman posing as a boy who befriends Alek. They're on their way to Istanbul where the crew hopes to put a stop to the war.

Behemoth is also illustrated by Keith Thompson. Rarely do I find a novel illustrated, so that immediately was interesting. It helps people like me, devoid of imagination, picture the far-out creatures that feature in the book.

The premise of the Leviathan trilogy is extremely unique and simultaneously compelling. Westerfeld created lingo to accompany the setting, a la 'boffin' and 'barking', which adds to the believability of the setting. Behemoth is full of action, and the stakes have risen since Leviathan.

My favorite part about Behemoth is the romance, though a small part of the story. Deryn finds herself developing a crush on Alek, though she can't act on this whilst dressed as a boy. Also, the scenes between Lilit and Deryn are awkward and hilarious.

The ending of Behemoth solves the main conflict in itself, whilst introducing the conflict of the next book. Goliath, the final installment in the Leviathan trilogy, comes out in October of 2011.

I rate Behemoth 4 out of 5.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Review of Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

I love dystopias, but more so, I love dyspotias that are an imaginable and possible future. Awaken, set in an uber-digital world, is a possibility for us. That's what made me want to read this book.

Maddie's another victim to the digital age, where everything's done by computer - schooling, socialising, dating. Her father's the man who fronted the initial idea, and her mother's one of the few people wistful for the days of paper books and non-plastic trees.

She's content with digital life. But then she meets Justin, who tries to teach her how people are supposed to live - together, face-to-face, and without a computer screen as a buffer between themselves and the real world.

The premise of Awaken, I thought, was good. It's realistic, and quite possibly where we're heading. To an extent, we're already there, I realised after it occurred to me that my reading Awaken on an eReader was ironic.

I also liked the writing style. The interludes featuring pages from Maddie's journal, where she wrote as if having a conversation with the reader, made the book feel more personal. I felt like I could connect with her, as she struggled to decide between the life she's always known and the one Justin was showing her.

The romance between Justin and Maddie was believable. It was built up gradually and was at first one-sided, realistic. The characters also had a lot of chemistry, which I don't find often in books that I read.

My sole problem with Awaken was the ending. It came together too easily and without too much effort from the main characters. I like protagonists who have to work for their happy ending.

Overall, I found Awaken to be a commendable debut. I look forward to Katie Kacvinsky's future novels, and rate Awaken 3 out of 5.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Follow Friday

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

Today's featured blogger is Hafsah from Icey Books.

Today's question is: what do you do besides reading/reviewing as a hobby? 
Me, I like going out with friends. I like going ice skating, and swimming. And I'm obsessed with playing Sims 3. I also like playing Trivial Pursuit, since I found a really, really old version of the board game while cleaning a few months ago.

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review of Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

I heard about Ship Breaker in a vlogbrothers video where Hank recommends it. Soon thereafter it went onto my TBR list, and now, several months later, I've read it.

Ship Breaker is set in a post Global Warming dystopian future where resources are scarce and most people are left to scavenge what's left. Nailer, the main character, works as a child laborer in a ship breaking operation. He tears up apart old oil tankers, gathering old copper wiring to make quota and thus make a living, with no help from his violently drunk father.

The operation takes place in America's Gulf Coast, on the beach, where the scavenging is juxtaposed with extravagant 'clipper' ships which sail by.

After a 'city killer' of a storm rolls by, Nailer and his friend find a clipper shipwrecked and ripe for scavenge. They think it's their Lucky Strike, until they find the ship's owner, a wealthy young girl, still alive inside. For Nailer, she may well be his way to a better life, off the beach.

When he discovers the secrets that led her south he decides to help her, because how else will he get off the beach that means death to him?

The great thing about The Ship Breaker isn't its storyline - which isn't to say it isn't great - but the universe Paolo Bacigalupi creates to set it in. Unlike a lot of other YA dystopias, Ship Breaker tells of a future that isn't that unrealistic, of one that we may well be headed to. Global Warming has drowned cities, resources are all but used up. The author talks more about the setting in this video.

Nailer's point of view is also intriguing. He's young, illiterate, and doesn't know anything except for he's learnt on the beach he's always called home. The setting is described through the eyes of someone who doesn't know what it was like before crisis point.

The plot is fast-paced and never boring, but without be being overwhelming. The ending ties up the story yet still hints towards bigger problems coming.

Ship Breaker is currently released, and its sequel, The Drowned Cities, is due for release next year. I rate Ship Breaker 5 out of 5 and recommend to anyone, regardless of whether they typically like science fiction and dystopia or not.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday

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

This week, I'm waiting on The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, the sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. It's due for release on the 10th of May, 2011.

Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite authors, so although there isn't yet a blurb for this book, I know I'll love it.