Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Wrap-Up

 April's over and May's starting, bringing with it promise of imminent school holidays (at least for us Australians. American terms/holidays confuse the hell out of me). This means a whole lot of free time, which I'll probably use for more reading.

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


100+ Challenge:
This month I read and reviewed 15 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 100 books this year, bringing my running total up to 61. 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 3 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 12 YA books by Australian authors. Their reviews are linked below, marked by asterisks.

- Memento Nora blog tour stop: a guest post by Angie Smibert

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.

May's Book Of The Month is Entangled by Cat Clarke (with Nothing by Janne Teller coming in as close second). The review's linked above.

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Series: Magic Under (#1)
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: December 22nd, 2009
IBSN: 9781599904306

When a wealthy sorcerer hires Nimira to sing with a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. But at the sorcerer's estate, rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman, and fairies that are tortured for sport. When Nimira discovers-and falls for-the spirit of a fairy gentleman trapped in the automaton, she will also find the fate of the magical world in her hands.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I borrowed Magic Under Glass from the library because of its cover. It's totally adorable, and reminds me of Disney's Beauty And The Beast (and I love me some Disney classics).

Magic Under Glass is narrated by Nimira, a foreign "trouser girl" who's soon hired by Hollin Parry to perform with his newly-acquired clockwork automaton. She finds the automaton to actually be haunted by a fairy prince, and tries to free him.

I really liked Nimira. She was strong-willed and determined, and also was unique and stood out from the supporting cast of characters.

I felt a lot of chemistry between Nimira and Erris, and I liked how although Hollin loves her, that it didn't feel like a love triangle. Nimira knew who she wanted, and didn't spend time angsting about who to choose and luvv 4eva (I can't be the only one who thinks teenage protagonists acting like their love interest will be their love interest forever is unrealistic and naive, can I?).

The fantasy world the story was set in was vividly described and thoroughly built. I especially liked how magic and fairies weren't a secret. It was refreshing and different.

Jaclyn Dolamore's writing was fluid and descriptive, and almost impossible to put down. There wasn't any time wasn't on events irrelevant to the plot, making for a quick read.

The ending wasn't a cliffhanger, yet it still leaves room for the sequel (Magic Under Stone) to pick up without it feeling unnatural.

I give Magic Under Glass a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (22)

RWaiting 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 Lola And The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, because her first book, the companion to this one, Anna And The French Kiss, was amazing. 

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Lola And The Boy Next Door will be released on the 29th of September.

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: Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

Pages: 320
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: September 1st, 2010
IBSN:  9780545107105

The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.

And so the confessions begin....

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I've never read a book by Natalie Standiford before, but everyone I know who's read them has told me great things about them, so I had high expectations. And I was not let down.

The writing style was light and breezy, easy to read, and engaging. The majority of the book's written in the form of the three sisters' (Norrie, Jane, and Sassy) letters to their grandmother, and so it's written in the casual way you would talk to someone. With the story told through letters, I was concerned I wouldn't get to the characters' heads and miss out on a lot of the plot, but neither of those happened.

The characters were realistically developed. All of them had a unique voice and personality that made her letter easily distinguishable. Their confessions each are genuine, thorough and heartfelt.

The ending was probably the only downside for me. It was kind of anti-climactic, even though I did guess it from the wording of the synopsis. "...her (or his)..."

I give Confessions Of The Sullivan Sisters a 4 out of 5.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Nothing by Janne Teller

Nothing by Janne Teller

Pages: 227
Publisher: Atheneum
Published: February 9th, 2010
IBSN: 9781416985792

Pierre Anthon left school the day he found out that it was not worth doing anything as nothing mattered anyhow. The rest of us stayed behind. And even though the teachers carefully cleared up after Pierre Anthon in the class room as well as in our heads, a bit of Pierre Anthon remained within us. Perhaps this is why things later happened the way they did... 

Thus begins the story of Pierre Anthon, a thirteen year old boy, who leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing. "Everything begins just in order to end. The moment you were born you began to die, and that goes for everything else as well." Pierre Anthon shouts and continues: "The whole thing is just one immense play which is about pretending and about being best at exactly that."

Scared at the prospects that Pierre Anthon throws at them together with the ripening plums, his seventh grade class mates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life. This involves a closed saw mill, green sandals, a yellow bicycle, a pair of boxing gloves, the Danish flag, the hamster Oscarlittle, a Jesus statue stolen from the church, little Ingrid’s crutches, six blue ponytails, a prayer rug, the coffin with Elise’s little brother, the head of the dog Cindarella, fame and a meaning found and lost.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Nothing is a twisted, insightful, and at times sickening ride of a novel. Translated from Danish, its premise is unique and thought-provoking. After Pierre-Anthon resolves that nothing matters and climbs up into a plum tree and stays there, his classmates set out to prove to him that there is meaning.

So his classmates start to compile a pile of things that mean something to them, with what each person puts in the pile dictated by the person before them. Soon, allocating things to the pile feels less related to meaning and more to revenge. "You want me to put my green sandals in the pile? Fine. Put your pet hamster in!"

Then the sacrifices become almost macabre, the last one especially. But even this felt realistic. The character's actions were believable and justified, and I liked how the author didn't try to make her characters unnaturally good. Let's face it: Bruno Mars won't catch a grenade for his girlfriend, and Edward wouldn't kill himself if he thought Bella was dead (you know, if they were real). People aren't inherently self-sacrificing and good. I really liked how this book happily demonstrated that.

The writing style was superb, the foreign-ness of it clear, even with the translation. I can't describe it and do it justice, so I'll just share with you my favorite quote from it:

"And although we'd sworn we'd never become like them, that was exactly what was happening. We weren't even fifteen yet.
Thirteen, fourteen, adult, dead."
It was told from first person perspective, but our narrator is more a background character than the main one. We know little more about her than her name. This book is definitely more plot-driven than character-driven. The plot is slow and suspenseful. I was constantly speed reading trying to figure out how this is going to end, because I knew it couldn't end well.

I can't tell you whether the ending was happy or sad, because even I don't know that, a day after finishing it. It's, like a lot of the book, open to interpretation. All I can really ascertain is that it was very deep and intense.

I give Nothing a 6 out of 5. A definite new favorite of mine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: Burn Bright by Marianne De Pierres

Burn Bright by Marianne De Pierres

Series: Night Creatures (#1) 
Pages: 316 
Publisher: Random House Australia 
Published: March 1st, 2011 
IBSN: 9781864719888

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Burn Bright, contrary to its title, was extremely dark. In the dangerous world of Ixion, where everyone is solely in the pursuit of pleasure, Retra is trying to find her brother who ran away from their strict home. But Retra finds much more than her brother: friendship, danger, mystery.

Burn Bright is Marianne De Pierres' first book for teens, and the first book in the Night Creatures series. The book definitely had an almost adult vibe to it, the only thing convincing me that it's YA being the teenaged characters.

The world-building was extraordinary, Ixion completely intoxicating. I felt like I was in their world with the characters, on the edge of my seat as they traversed the eerie world.

Retra was definitely a memorable character who stood out from her backdrop. She was totally unlike anyone else in Ixion: innocent, modest, not in Ixion for pleasure but to find someone. Her personality juxtaposed those around her, helping to show us more of the subtle differences between Ixion and Retra's old home.

The writing style was vivid, every description giving me a clear image in my head of what was going on.

The plot was entirely unpredictable. I never could see what was coming next. But set in a place like Ixion, I wouldn't expect to have an inkling of what's around the corner. I was taken aback by the ending, if a little peeved at another cliff-hanger.

I give Burn Bright a 4 out of 5, and recommend it to anyone who's looking for something different.


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Series: Timeless (#1)
Pages: 304
Publisher: Delacorte 
Published: January 11th, 2011
IBSN: 9780385738385

When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

It took me a while to get into Timeless, but after the first 4 or 5 chapters, I was pretty into it. The beginning just left kind of rushed to me, and when her mother died, there wasn't as much grieving from Michele as I would have expected. She adored her mother, but after a few days she seemed almost fine.

I couldn't really relate to Michele through the third person narration. I couldn't really hear her 'voice' or feel for her.

The plot, however, I loved. I love anything with time-travel in books, and Timeless definitely didn't disappoint. The twists were clever and obviously well-planned out. The ending tied up most of the main conflict.

The romance between Phillip and Michele felt a little forced at first, but it felt more realistic as time passed. Though, it felt as though they'd only seen each other a few times before things changed. I would've understood her pain over not seeing him more if they'd seen each other more.

The ending is satisfying, finishing with a small tease of what's to come in the next book in the series.

I give Timeless a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (21)

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 Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen, because I've read her other series (Luxe) and Bright Young Things, and adored them both.

In this must-have sequel to Bright Young Things, Cordelia and Letty are small-town girls no longer. Letty is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams. Cordelia thought she lost her true love, but a chance meeting will change her fortune—and her future. The unflappable flapper Astrid Donal has promised herself to Charlie Grey, Cordelia’s half-brother, but isn’t sure their love is true enough to survive. And a bitter rivalry will ensnare them all in a dangerous feud played out in the speakeasies of Manhattan and on the great lawns of Long Island. As these bright young things live out their beautiful days in the summer of 1929, they find romance and heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, new friends and unexpected rivals. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Beautiful Days is the second book in the Bright Young Things series, and is expected to come out on the 20th of September.

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, April 19, 2011

Review: Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Pages: 300
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: August 1st, 2009
IBSN: 9781741758344

Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.

Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she's a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.
But while she's busy trying to fit in -- with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew -- Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I would've read this book eventually anyway, but JOHN GREEN BLURBED IT. And as soon as I found that out, I had to read it immediately, in spite of the embarrassing Australian cover to check out from the library:

Pink was an extremely fun read. It was laugh-out-loud funny, and at other times, very sweet. There were serious moments too, dealt with well by both the author and the main character.

Ava was a great character. Her voice was clear, and I really felt a connection to her throughout the book. I was sympathetic towards her as she tried to find herself.

The other characters were well fleshed out and had depth. I found myself caring about them all, and wanted to BE one of the stage crew kids.

The ending was satisfying. In the beginning of Pink, Ava changed schools, changed the way she dressed, tried to change the way she felt, in order to find herself. I won't spoil it by telling you whether she achieved that or not, but regardless, she developed a lot over the course of the book, and the ending really showed that.

Definitely a more character-driven book than I'm used to, 
I give Pink a 5 out of 5. 


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fantasy or paranormal?

I tag my reviews with the book's genre, and I'm always stuck when it comes to paranormal/fantasy novels. What's the difference between them? How do YOU define them both? Or do you consider them the same thing?

Usually, I consider books involving "creatures" (vampires, werewolves, angels, etc.) as paranormal, and ones that involve supernatural elements that aren't part of a person (magic, time travel, etc.). I mean, there are some clearly defined ones. Graceling is obviously an epic fantasy novel, and Twilight is obviously a paranormal. But some books I read, I can't define as easily. I had no idea about whether The Near Witch was a fantasy or paranormal for ages before just picking fantasy almost as a guess.

But how do YOU guys tell the difference between them?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Pages: 274
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Published: June 29th, 2009
IBSN: 9780143011453

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide ... Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Raw Blue is, in a word, raw.

It came from the first-person perspective of Carly: surfer, uni drop-out, rape victim. Her narration is incredibly emotional, and you can feel her anguish over her past trauma in everything she does. I felt immediately sympathetic to her.

The characters were all well-developed. Ryan wasn't the unrealistically perfect love interest you see in a lot of other YAs nowadays, but a real guy, complete with neccessary character flaws. And Danny? He was completely adorable and precious.

Kirsty Eagar's writing style was engaging and fluid, and the Australian slang was woven in well. Though I don't think I could respect anyone who called me 'mate' in real life, little interjections like that made the dialogue realistic.

After reading Raw Blue, I'm embarrassed that I let the cover keep me from reading it for so long. I always thought it was about shark attacks, or something.

I give Raw Blue a 4 out of 5.


I read this book for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Memento Nora Book Tour: Author Guest Post

Welcome to the 15th stop on the Memento Nora book tour! Memento Nora is Angie Smibert's debut dystopia, which came out on the 1st of April.

Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

At this stop, Angie Smibert will be sharing with us her top ten comic inspirations for Memento Nora:

In Memento Nora, my main characters create an underground comic to share their memories as well
as the nefarious things they discover going on around them. I’m not a comic geek, which I mean in the
nicest sense of the word. I don’t claim to know a lot about comics or graphic novels, but these are my
favorites and/or the ones that influenced the comic in Memento Nora:

1-2. Maus (I & II) by Art Spiegelman
Maus is the biography of the author’s father, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust.
Spiegelman documented his father’s experiences in the concentration camps in graphic novel
form. Maus is the only comic book to ever win the Pulitzer Prize (1992).

3. In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman
Spiegelman wrote this graphic novel after 9/11. He lived near the WTC at the time, and his
daughter was in a nearby school when the planes struck the towers. (She survived.) This book
was his way to deal with the experience.

4. Persepolis by Marjane Sartrapi
Persepolis, first published in France, is the author’s memoir about growing up in Iran (and
Europe) during her country’s Islamic Revolution. Satrapi has also written Chicken and Plums and

5. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
I love anything by Neil Gaiman. I cannot claim to have read all or even most of the series, but
it’s essentially about the nature of storytelling.

6. Fables series by Bill Willingham
Actually, I’ve just started reading these. The series is about fairy tale characters who’ve been
cast out of their land and are now living in a section of NYC called Fabletown.

7. This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow. (
This Modern World is a weekly political cartoon that appears in approximately 80 newspapers
across the U.S. and on websites such as and Credo. Tomorrow’s humor (and insight)
slays me.

8. Understanding Comics by Scott McLeod
Scott McLeod ( wrote a seminal series of books on how comics work.
The books—Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics—are all in graphic
novel form.

9. American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
Pekar told real, everyday life stories through graphic novels. The movie American Splendor is
based on him—and he appeared in parts of it.

10. Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
This is the one pulp / comic I remember reading (and liking) as a kid. The “girly” stuff like the
Archies never did anything for me.

Be sure to check out the next and final stop on the book tour tomorrow over at Teens Read And Write!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Review: Putting Makeup On Dead People by Jen Violi

Putting Makeup On Dead People by Jen Violi

Pages: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: May 24th, 2011
IBSN: 9781423134817

Source: NetGalley

It's been four years since Donna Parisi's father passed away, but it might as well have been four days. Donna makes conversation and goes through the motion, but she hasn't really gotten on with life. She's not close with anyone, she doesn't have a boyfriend and she's going to college at the local university with a major that her mother picked. But one day Donna has an epiphany. She wants to work with dead people. She wants to help people say goodbye and she wants to learn to love a whole person--body and soul. She wants to live her life and be loving, at grieving and at embalming and cremating,too. Even as she makes the decision, things start to change. Donna makes friends with the charismatic new student, Liz. She notices the boy, Charlie, at her table and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too. And she begins to forgive the rest of her family for living their lives while she's been busy moping.
[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The title, the cover, and the premise automatically made me want to read this book. The cover's simple, colourful, and cute, and the title is odd. I'm also getting into realistic YA, about family and grieving and the like (if anyone knows any books that fit that description, recommend some in the comments!).

Donna is a realistic character with a clear, unique voice. The first-person narration is raw and extremely honest. I never really knew what people meant when they said the voice was "honest" until I read books like this. She was definitely relatable, which made it easy to sympathise with her.

The relationship dynamics between Donna and her family members, between Donna and her friends, and between Donna and people she meets over the course of the novel all felt realistically built.

Her interest in becoming a mortician, though pretty 'out there', made sense for the character. I admired how although she cared what other people thought about her ambition, she didn't let their opinions sway her. She was determined.

If I had to some this novel up in one word, it'd be 'sweet'.

I give Putting Makeup On Dead People a 5 out of 5, and recommend any realistic YA fans to keep an eye out for it in July. It reminded me vaguely of Other Words For Love, so definitely check this one out if you liked that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (20)

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 So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev, because I've read the first two books in the Theatre Illuminata series, and fell in love with them.

All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she’s close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now Bertie must deal with a  vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family – and the Theatre Illuminata – from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

So Silver Bright is the third and final book in the Theatre Illuminata series, and is expected to come out on the 13th of September.

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: City Of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

City Of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments (#4)
Pages: 424
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Published: April 5th, 2011
IBSN: 9781442403543

A mysterious someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and displaying their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters, leaving tensions running high in the city and disrupting Clary’s plan to lead as normal a life as she can — training to be a Shadowhunter, and pursuing her relationship with Jace. As Jace and Clary delve into the issue of the murdered Shadowhunters, they discover a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Meanwhile, internecine warfare among vampires is tearing the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

The Mortal Instruments is one of my favorite series, and so I was pretty anxiously awaiting the release of City Of Fallen Angels. I went and got it on the day of its release, and read it quickly, devouring the pages, desperate to see how it ended.

Like all of Cassandra Clare's other books, City Of Fallen Angels was a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat read.

My favorite thing about all of previous Mortal Instruments books was also in City Of Fallen Angels: a clever plot. Each character has their side plot, and they all tie together in the end for a huge complication. There's so much tension leading up to the end that I had to read the second half of the book in one sitting.

All of the old characters reappear, developed after the ordeals from City Of Glass. New, but old, characters also make appearances, like some from Clockwork Angel. I loved the parts that referred back to the prequel series.

Simon plays a bigger role in this book, and we get a lot of insight into Simon's anguish over becoming a vampire - with the Mark of Caine, no less. Clary and Jace's relationship is constantly strained. The Lightwoods mourn Max's death, in their own ways. And then all new problems arise.

I was happy to see that the events in the previous books tied into this one. I thought the second cycle of Mortal Instruments books would relate to the first only because of the same characters, and I was glad to be wrong.

I feel like I could rave all day about how much I love the Mortal Instruments and this new addition to the series, but really, if you are one of the few YA readers not already on the bandwagon, you should definitely jump on! I give City Of Fallen Angels a 5 out of 5!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Pages: 230
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: December 21st,2010
IBSN: 9780312656737

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of whyWhy when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?
[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Fall For Anything follows Eddie as she tries to understand her father's unexpected suicide. I knew immediately this wouldn't be some light, fluffy chick lit, but I really wasn't prepared for how intense it was.

The characters - each and every one of them - were fleshed out, and seemed to jump from the page. Their personalities were realistic and uncliched.

Courtney Summer's writing style was, as always, amazing. She's one of those authors who could write on any subject and still engage me. Her prose clearly evokes the Eddie's voice. I felt immediately sympathetic towards her, feeling depressed right along with her. I love books like this one - that can make you feel what your character does.

Fall For Anything maintains the same gritty tone that has completely enthralled me in the rest of Summers's books, but the plot felt different. Much more serious, with a mysterious element.

I case I had any doubt, this book settled it: Courtney Summers is the queen of bittersweet, realistic endings. Her books are the cure for fairy tales.

I give Fall For Anything a 5 out of 5, and look forward to what she comes up with next.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Pages: 256
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: January 5th, 2010
IBSN:  9780312573805

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

I really shouldn't have read this book so soon after Fall For Anything (my review of which goes up tomorrow). Courtney Summers's books are so powerful, raw and intense that they shake you to the core. Reading two of them in a row? I'm going to be emotionally useless for days.

I've heard this book likened to Mean Girls so much that I wasn't prepared for how raw and honest it was, as opposed to funny and light. Though I can see the similarities between the two, Some Girls Are was much deeper.

The characters are distinct from one another and well written. Even the most effed up characters were made to feel realistic. Our main character, Regina, is easy to relate to, and I felt sympathetic for her through most of the book (I wanted to slap her at the end).

Some Girls Are is one of those books that makes you genuinely care about what the characters are doing. In other books, I'll sometimes think, "I don't like what they're doing", but in this, I was like,"Dammit, WHAT are you doing?!"

A must-read for anyone with not-so-fond memories of high school. Hell, a must-read for anyone. I give Some Girls Are a 5 out of 5.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Series: Revenants (#1)

Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: May 10th, 2011
IBSN: 9780062004017

Source: NetGalley

DIE FOR ME is the first of three books about Kate, a sixteen-year-old American who moves to Paris after the death of her parents. It introduces a new version of the undead with revenants, beings who are fated to sacrifice themselves over and over again to save others’ lives. Kate finds herself falling for Vincent, who she discovers is not the typical French teenager he appears: he is something else entirely.

DIE FOR ME presents a new supernatural mythology presented in a city where dreams are sometimes the same as reality.

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Die For Me is Amy Plum's paranormal debut novel, set in the city of lights, Paris. Since Anna And The French Kiss, I'll pick up any YA set in France.

   The old cover, that I prefer
to the real one. I'm
a notorious swirly hater.
Die For Me created a unique paranormal world, but it didn't create unique characters. Our main character is the usual grief-stricken, insecure sister to a girl who out shines her.

It also suffers from what I've heard referred to as 'Twilight syndrome', where almost nothing happens for most of the book, and then the complication is tacked onto the end. Though, to be fair, it at least hinted at what was coming (eg. Kate meeting the villain about half way in, and having a weird feeling about him).

Die For Me was, overall, pretty light. I didn't think the writing style was bad, but it wasn't great. The chemistry/relationship between Vincent and Kate wasn't bad, but wasn't great. The plot wasn't bad, but wasn't great. It felt pretty average to me - enjoyable, but not enthralling.

In short, I had mixed feelings about this book, but the premise was interesting and I'm curious to see where the rest of the series goes.

I give Die For Me a 3 out of 5.