Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Wrap-Up

 May's come and gone and June's arrived, and brings my mid-year exams with it. Heh. So naturally, that means I won't be doing much else but preparation this month.

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


2011 Debut Author Challenge:
This month for the Debut Author Challenge, I read and reviewed Divergent by Veronica Roth, which debuted on the 3rd. You can see my review here.

100+ Challenge:
This month I read and reviewed 18 novels that go towards the challenge's goal of reading 100 books this year, bringing my running total up to 78. 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.

- Guest Post by Aimee Said: Breaking the cycle of bullying
- Elizabeth Scott Week (Introduction | Conclusion)
- My Top Five Favourite Characters (Top Fives will become a new monthly feature. Or sporadic feature, if I get lazy. Which I may.)

- Rachel Caine Signing recount
- Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare signing 

- Kaffe Klatsch with Marianne De Pierres and Allison Goodman recount

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.

June's Book Of The Month is The Dust Of 100 Dogs by A. S. King. The review's linked above.

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Series: Divergent (#1)

Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: May 3rd, 2011

IBSN: 9780062024022

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. 

[Synopsis by Goodreads]

Before I picked up Divergent, I heard it likened to The Hunger Games so many times. But while reading, I failed to see any real positive similarities or parallels. Divergent, to me, felt like The Hunger Games if Katniss spent 80% of the book training to perform in front of the Gamemakers for her score.

From all of the hype, I had imagined Divergent as this edge-of-your-seat action/thriller with the main character kicking ass or leaping from buildings on every other page, but I was disappointed to find that most of the action was...fake (let me explain what I mean by that!).

Most of the book centers on Tris during initiation. She has to fight against other initiates for a ranking, and battle her fears through simulations. During the former, she wasn't fighting for any real cause but to get into the faction. And as for the latter, as much as I can appreciate psychological thrillers, it just  didn't feel like it hit the mark. The action only began to feel 'real' to me towards the ending, where there's an urgent cause and a consequence for failure besides a bad ranking. And that part only makes up the last seventy-five pages.

Beatrice was an intriguing enough character to read about. I could understand why she made the choices she did, but I didn't get where some of the changes in her came from. One minute, she's a passive Abnegation, and the next, she's as cruel and fearless as any other Dauntless.

Divergent was fun to read. It was exciting, and had a easy kind of writing style that allowed me to read chunks of the book in long sittings without getting bored. But it just missed that 'wow' factor for me.

I give Divergent a 3 out of 5.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare signings!

On Friday, conveniently my school's Athletics Carnival Day (no school for the non-athletic!), Dymocks hosted two of my favourite authors: Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare.

Kristin's appearance was quasi-secret. Only the Dymocks Events email subscribers received news that she was coming. She was lovely, and signed my copies of Graceling and Fire with an awesome message related to the books:

Kristin and I. Very blurry, but in my defence, I didn't take the picture.

Just before her appearance, I ran into Braiden from Livin' Thru Arts and we hung out for Cassie's 'tour wrap party' (in quotations marks because that's what they called it, but it wasn't much of a party.)

Before Cassie arrived, there was trivia. Some questions were really hard (what did the buttons on the bag in Luke's house in City Of Bones when Clary, Jace, and Simon went there say?) to slightly less hard (asking about Jace's cornucopia of names and which he had when). I got three right, and won three lollipops. The girl behind me won, with 7. I should have just caught all of her prizes when they were thrown out.

Then Cassie arrived to squealing fangirls (and the odd fanboy) and read us an excerpt of Clockwork Prince (really great scene!) and answered questions we wrote down as we arrived. Then we formed some semblance of a line (and my that, I mean we swarmed her table) to get our books signed:

Just some of the crowd to the left of me.

She was excited to hear that my favourite character was Eric, and told me she'd based him off someone she knew in real life who liked hearing about what fans say about him.

Also on the way out, we received small swag packs, including a postcard, bookmark, and healing rune necklace!

And then I made my way out of the crowd (but really, I should have crowd-surfed out) and just caught my tram, and then ran to catch my train, and then all-but-ran home because my town at night time isn't exactly 16-year-old-girl-friendly.

So in the comments, tell me have you met either Kristin or Cassie? Or if you've been to a signing before, which has been your favourite?

Burn Bright & Eon swag giveaway winners!

A few weeks ago, I posted about a meet-up with a bunch of authors and bloggers in Melbourne, including Marianne De Pierres and Alison Goodman, at the end having a giveaway of two extra BURN BRIGHT and EON swag packs I received on the night.

Well now I can announce the two winners of these packs:

Allison V. and Lucy T.

Here's a reminder of what you've won:

  • signed Burn Bright poster

  • 6 Burn Bright/Glitter Rose stickers

  • signed Eon/Eona bookmark

  • A Eon sampler

  • All in an Eona bag!

    Congratulations! I'll be contacting the two of you shortly!
  • Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Review: Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

    Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

    Pages: 224

    Publisher: Orion Books
    Published: April 23rd, 2010
    IBSN: 9781444000054

    1910. A cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson is alone. Alone, except for the corpse of his father, who died earlier that day after falling through a weak spot on the ice-covered lake. His sister, Anna, and step-mother, Nadya, have gone to the local town for help. Then comes a knock at the door. It's a man, the flash of a revolver's butt at his hip, and a mean glare in his eyes. Sig has never seen him before but Wolff claims to have unfinished business with his father. As Sig gradually learns the awful truth about Wolff's connection to his father, Sig finds his thoughts drawn to a certain box hidden on a shelf in the storeroom, in which lies his father's prized possession - a revolver. When Anna returns alone, and Wolff begins to close in, Sigs choice is pulled into sharp focus. Should he use the gun, or not?

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Revolver is a book that's both fast and slow: it took me just a few hours to read, but the pacing was slow (but the good kind of slow!). The events of the book span just a few days with little dialogue and a lot of tension.

    What I really loved about this book was all the thought Sig put into what he was going to have to do. I've read so many action/thriller books where an antagonist is killed without thought. Sig spent a long time considering all the implications of shooting Wolff.

    The prose was spare and captivating, and everything from Sig's emotions to the previous events that led up to the climax was explored in depth.

    The final chapter put the events of the book into perspective, and gave a view on the events of the book from an older Sig.

    I give Revolver a 5 out of 5. I recommend it for anyone looking for a short, intense read.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    My Top 5 Favourite Characters

    Okay, so I've been sitting here trying to think up some clever intro to this post for a while now before I realised how I don't need one. The title makes the post's point so obvious. So, straight into my top 5 favourite characters:

    Andi Alpers from Revolution
    Because she was just so full of emotion and so brilliantly real. And because she evoked this I-really-want-to-just-give-you-a-big-hug reaction from me.

    Margo Roth Spieglman from Paper Towns
    Because she was so...loud? Not physically, but her personality. The only way I can describe it is as loud. Also because she said great things like:
    All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail.
    Danny from Raw Blue
    Just because he's adorable.

    Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy
    Do I even need to say why? Because she's a total badass.

    Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History Of Frankie Landau-Banks
    Because she is a clever, feministic, headstrong, word-nerd. I was a hardly a chapter in when I decided that I wanted Frankie as a best friend.

    So, readers, do we share any favourite characters? Who are your favourite characters, and why?

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Review: The Dust Of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

    The Dust Of 100 Dogs by A. S. King

    Pages: 320
    Publisher: Flux
    Published: February 1st, 2009
    IBSN: 9780738714264

    In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body - with her memories intact.

    Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    I think I read the blurb of The Dust Of 100 Dogs a year or so ago, and promptly decided against reading it. But then I read and loved Please Ignore Vera Dietz, so I bought The Dust Of 100 Dogs having forgotten the blurb and not rereading it.

    I'm really glad I read this despite the blurb that put me off. I finished the first chapter with the word "wow" on my lips, and the rest just got better.

    Emer was an average 17th century Irish girl, until her family was killed in war and she's sent to live with her abusive uncle. He soon sold her off to a Frenchman, but before she could even look at him twice, she ran away to the Carribean and became a pirate (which makes more sense than I make it sound). But just before she can settle down, she's cursed to live 100 lifetimes as a dog. Dog Facts are placed at random intervals through the story, recounting things that Emer learnt as a dog. Through being a dog for so long, she learnt how to really be a human.

    The perspective switches every few chapters or so (I like how it didn't seem to have a pattern), and is done skilfully and smoothly. All of the characters who at some point narrate are vital to the story, though that isn't immediately clear.

    The plot and the events that lead to Emer's curse aren't revealed until the end, with her flashbacks finally catching up to the curse just as Saffron's reunited with what's left of Emer's legacy. Twists were found around every corner, and made the book completely captivating.

    The story was incredibly unique and enthralling, and the way it was told highly emotively: from funny, to happy, to heart-breaking, the tone jumped around a lot, all of the emotions conveyed such that it was easy to relate to the characters.

    The ending was extremely satisfying. I didn't think of that turn of events coming, but as soon as it happened, I knew (1) that it was a perfect conclusion, and (2) that I really should have thought of that sooner!

    A blend of action, mystery, and romance, complete with a kick-ass protagonist and engaging writing style. A new favourite and a must-read, I give it a 6 out of 5.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Waiting On Wednesday (26)

    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 Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, because I adore her other books and her lyrical way of writing.

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Shiver and Linger comes a brand new, heartstopping novel.

    With her trademark lyricism, Maggie Stiefvater turns to a new world, where a pair are swept up in a daring, dangerous race across a cliff--with more than just their lives at stake should they lose.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    All that I know about this book beyond it's vague quasi-synopsis is that it's a stand alone paranormal romance about "beaches and kissing" (a quote from the author herself!) It's due for release on the 18th 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, May 24, 2011

    Conclusion: Elizabeth Scott Week

    So today's the release date of Elizabeth Scott's latest book, Between Here And Forever. And that means Elizabeth Scott Week has come to a close. My regular reviewing scheme will resume, but in the mean time, if you missed anything, here are links to all of my Scott-related posts:

    Review: Between Here And Forever by Elizabeth Scott

    Between Here And Forever by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 256
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: May 24th, 2011
    IBSN: 9781416994848

    Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

    Until the accident.

    Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

    She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

    Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    My new favorite of Elizabeth Scott's books, it features a protagonist really unlike the others from Scott's contemporaries. Abby is very strong, and is also insecure in a totally different way to the others: she genuinely believes she's inferior to her sister, and is resigned to being comparatively worthless.

    My favorite thing about Elizabeth Scott's books is how she creates likeable but ultimately flawed characters. Abby had so many problems but I really connected with her, and wanted to comfort her through them all.

    Eli was a fantastic love interest. He wasn't perfect either, but there was so much chemistry between him and Abby. Though I really wanted to shake Abby at the start and tell her to stop trying to make Eli like Tess, I'm glad she eventually realised.

    The writing style was as emotive and beautiful as usual. My English teacher once said that authors never waste words, and Elizabeth Scott is one of the few authors I know of that really don't.

    Overall, it was a really touching story of family, love, and loss.

    I give Between Here And Forever a 5 out of 5.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Review: Grace by Elizabeth Scott

    Grace by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 200
    Publisher: Dutton
    Published: September 16th, 2010
    IBSN: 9780525422068

    Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Grace was certainly different to anything I've read before, and I say that as a good thing.

    Grace was raised to be a suicide bomber, but realised she didn't want to die and refused to go through with the bombing. She's on the run, accompanied by 'Kerr', as the book opens, and she slowly reveals how she got to that point through flashbacks.

    The book wasn't as action-packed as the synopsis led me to believe it'd be, but was still very intense. The premise was incredibly unique and engaging.

    After the flashbacks were over and the twist past, the rest of the story was told primarily through conversations between Grace and Kerr, where they basically smack you repeatedly over the face with the moral of the story.

    Grace and Kerr were both dynamic characters. They had their obvious faults, but had realistic personalities, given their setting. I can't say I really connected with Grace, because of how different we are, but I did feel and hope for her.

    Together, they realise things about the value of life and what they'll do to survive. The ending is hopeful, if a little sad, but entirely satisfying.

    Elizabeth Scott's prose was heart-wrenching and beautiful, as always. This book perfectly demonstrates the way she can write a novel that's emotion-driven - rather than plot-driven - and still have it extremely engaging.

    I give Grace around a 3.5-4 out of 5.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Review: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

    The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 224
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: March 16th, 2010
    IBSN: 9781416978916

    Sarah and Brianna have always been friends, and it's always gone like this: guys talk to Sarah in order to get closer to Brianna. So even though Sarah met Ryan first, she's not surprised that he ends up with Brianna (even though Sarah has a massive crush on him). The three of them hang out, and Sarah and Ryan's friendship grows until one night an innocent exchange between them leads to a moment that makes Sarah realize that Ryan might be interested in her after all. But if there's one unwritten rule, it's this: you don't mess around with a friend's boyfriend. So Sarah tries to resist temptation. But with the three of them thrown together more and more, tension builds between Sarah and Ryan, and when they find themselves alone together at one point, they realize they just can't fight how they feel anymore...

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    In The Unwritten Rule, Elizabeth Scott took a new take on an old trope: girl likes best friend's boyfriend.

    Sarah was a likeable enough character, and also relatable. She's insecure, loyal, and kind (perhaps even too kind). Her voice was clear through the text, and had realistic and well-written emotions.

    Her relationship with her best friend, Brianna, wasn't perfect but it was perfectly written and described. The selfish foundations that the friendship was built upon was subtly referred to, leaving us to figure the pairing out.

    You'll notice that in my reviews for Elizabeth Scott's books that I use the word 'realistic' a lot. Because that's what really appeals to me in her books: the realism. Her narrators are just normal girls, with crushes and family problems and questionable friends. You can get invested in her books like you can't in paranormals or dystopias because the characters are just like you are or were or knew someone else to be.

    I liked the ending. It was happy, but had repercussions from the complication of the novel. I like how not every character gets out unscathed, like it would happen in real life.

    I give The Unwritten Rule a 4 out of 5.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Review: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

    Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 217
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: May 24th, 2009
    IBSN: 9781416978657

    Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat.

    Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's 'girlfriends' and is now the star of her own website.

    After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar . . . and that's just how she likes it. Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents make Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants only what she wants may not be what she needs. . . . 

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Something, Maybe was engaging from the very first line, "Everyone's seen my mother naked." Unconventional but interesting, it captured my attention.

    Elizabeth Scott's style is so light and easy to read. Her books are quick and can be read in just a few hours; their fluffy and funny tone picking you up from a bad mood, or just putting you in a better one.

    The premise was definitely unique to anything I've read before. Hannah's dad was basically Hugh Heffner, and her mother was an ex-girlfriend of his. The dynamic felt realistic, despite her parent's outlandish situation.

    Hannah's character was easy to identify with. Everyone can relate to being embarrassed by their parents, but Hannah's parents are on a whole other level. I felt sympathetic for her while reading, cringing at every awkward moment.

    The romance in Something, Maybe was incredibly sweet. The love interest (I feel like telling you who the love interest really is spoils it somewhat) was so adorable, funny, and swoon-worthy. It felt like there'd be an imminent love triangle, and I was so, so happy to be wrong.

    The plot was entertaining, sometimes light and sometimes more serious. Though, I felt like I could guess the result of every sub-plot about halfway into it.

    I give Something, Maybe a 4 out of 5.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Review: Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

    Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 320
    Publisher: HarperTeen
    Published: June 1st, 2008
    IBSN: 9780061122804

    My name is Danielle. I'm eighteen. I've been stealing things for as long as I can remember.
    Dani has been trained as a thief by the best there is—her mother. They never stay in one place long enough for Dani to have real connections, real friends—a real life.
    But in the town of Heaven, everything changes. Suddenly, Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she's always known—or the one she's always wanted.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Stealing Heaven's unique premise caught my attention. Danielle and her mother are thieves. They make their living by taking others'. They pick a target, research them, burgle them, and then skip town. Danielle will do anything for her mother, but at the same time, all she wants is to settle down somewhere.

    Danielle was a relatable, likeable, three-dimensional character. She was constantly conflicted between doing what her mother wanted and what she wanted. She was also wry and sarcastic, and kind of standoffish. I liked how realistic she was.

    Her love interest, Greg, is now one of my favorite guys from a book ever. He was funny, not-perfect-looking (does anyone else get turned off by guys in books who are perfect?), and sweet.

    Elizabeth Scott's writing was, as always, a pleasure to read. Her style is light, humorous, and sweet. Her books have their serious moments, sure, but the bantering scenes between the protagonist and the love interest always steal the show.

    I give Stealing Heaven a 4 out of 5.

    Review: Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

    Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 170
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: September 2nd, 2009
    IBSN: 9781416960591

    Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
    Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
    Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.

    When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
    Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Alice (or Kyla - I don't know what to call her) was taken by Ray when she was just 8, on a school trip to the aquarium. Before, her biggest concern was that her friends ditched her because she won't share her lip gloss. Now she's been moulded into Ray's perfect little girl. Waxed smooth, starved down to a little girl's size, and on pills so that she doesn't get her period.

    Living Dead Girl is an incredibly sad and scary book. I was constantly putting it down, sick with the story I was reading. Worse was the thought that things like this actually happen. 

    Scott's writing style evoked the tormented voice of Alice. She narration pulled at my heartstrings. I wanted to help her. I understood her fear and hate and sadness, and I could even understand her being so frivolous about other little girls' lives. I can't say I'd be a better person under her circumstances.

    Though Jake? I didn't at all understand Jake.

    The ending was bittersweet, to me. I spoke to a friend about this book, and apparently we got completely different things out of the ending. Either way, it was extremely emotional.

    Living Dead Girl is a chilling read, definitely not for the feint-hearted. I give it a 4 out of 5.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Review: Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

    Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 282
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: March 25th, 2008
    IBSN: 9781416953555

    Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast.

    Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible. And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest. Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them...

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Scott's writing style in Perfect You was, as usual, amazing. She doesn't need to use excessive descriptions or internal dialogues to capture the voice of her characters perfectly. She creates naturally flawed characters that are immediately grab your attention.

    The family dynamic was interesting to read about, though I felt her father's character was somewhat unrealistic.

    Will was a great love interest. He was swoony, but not perfect. Though I didn't get what he saw in Kate - I mean, she was so rude to him for much of the book, and then gave off mixed signals for the rest - I really liked them together. They suited each other.

    A negative about this book, though, for me, was Kate's attitude. She was so pessimistic, yet naive (especially when it came to Anna. I found what she was doing pretty obvious). Also, with how hormone-driven she was.

     Overall, though, Perfect You was a short, enjoyable read, just with a few annoying aspects of some of the characters.

    I give Perfect You a 3 out of 5.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Guest Review: Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

    Kicking off Elizabeth Scott Week, we have Paula from The Phantom Paragrapher reviewing Elizabeth Scott's first novel, Bloom!

    Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

    Pages: 231
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    Published: April 24th, 2007
    IBSN: 9781416926832

    There's a difference between falling and letting go.

    Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl lusts after. So why is she so unhappy?

    It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: She's been holding back. She's been denying herself a bunch of things (like sex) because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the "right" thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect boyfriend?

    But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can't see herself in -- and as Lauren's craving for Evan, and moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce -- Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice...before one is made for her.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    Lauren, it seems that over the past summer her life has gone from Miss Invisible to Miss Popular as when her friend Jane moves away , Lauren starts a library job with fellow Popular student Katie and soon the two girls are hanging out and being bff's for life. If that wasn't enough, Lauren has the perfect boyfriend , Dave who is on the football team, handsome , gets straight A's etc. Though of course, for Lauren life with Dave takes no risks as he comes from a strict Christian background. All is going well for Lauren , until on the first day of school she gets a blast from the past - Evan Kirkland. His mum Mary and Lauren's dad used to date when they were eight years old. Life is about to get a tad interesting for Lauren , as she soon discovers that she has no classes with Dave but plenty with Evan and soon we read as Lauren starts to contemplate whether her life is with Dave or not, especially when he starts to discuss their future life together - it seems the more Dave discusses their future, the more her thoughts wander towards Evan . Is Lauren ready to give up all that she has built for a life with Evan or will she stick to the status quo and stay Miss Popular with the All Mighty Dave ? Find out more in Bloom - which as the title suggests we see Lauren start to Bloom like a Flower Bud. A great read for all fans of Elizabeth Scott's.

    Paula is a book reviewer and librarian. Check out her blog.

    Waiting On Wednesday (25)

    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 As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott, because I love her other books, and I can't seem to get enough of books featuring amnesia and memory loss lately.

    What if you woke up and didn't know where you were? 

    What if you didn't know who you were?

    And what if, when your memories started to come back--what if they didn't match the you that you're supposed to be?

    Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: Ava can't remember any of them--and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is.

    Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    As I Wake is due for release on the 15th 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.

    Introduction: Elizabeth Scott Week

    Today is the first day of Elizabeth Scott Week here at In The Good Books!

    Basically, this week is going to be about celebrating Elizabeth Scott's books. Most of her books were already on my TBR list, and I was always seeing rave reviews  for them, thinking "I really need to get to reading her books!" And then I found myself in possession of an ARC of Between Here And Forever, and decided then was a good as time as any to start them.

    After reading a few and absolutely ADORING them, I had the idea for Elizabeth Scott Week. This week will mainly feature my reviews of her books, with some guest reviews and other posts along the way.

    So Elizabeth Scott Week begins TODAY, and I encourage you all to pick up her books and give them a try this week, or just take some time to read or re-read one and fall in love with it all over again!

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Review: Bite Club by Rachel Caine

    Bite Club by Rachel Caine

    Series: Morganville Vampires (#10)
    Pages: 442
    Publisher: Razorbill
    Published: May 3rd, 2011
    IBSN: 9780749010164

    Morganville, Texas, is a quiet college town where humans and vampires live in relative peace. But lately a great deal of blood is being spilled - not in a feeding frenzy, but for someone's twisted idea of entertainment.

    After discovering that vampires populate Morganville - and surviving a number of adventures with her new night-dwelling friends - college student Claire Danvers has come to realise that for the most part, the undead just want to live their lives.

    But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.
    There's a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another - or, worse, against humans. Tracking the signal leads Claire - accompanied by a loyal group of friends and frenemies - to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville. And if they want to survive, they'll have to do a lot more than fight...

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    The Morganville Vampires series has been one of my favourites ever since I read the first book, Glass Houses, two years ago.

    The main reasons I love this series are (1) it's so fast-paced and exciting, (2) it's so refreshing to have the vampires be the bad guys again, and (3) since Claire's gotten used to Morganville, she's become brave and strong in the face of the the town's inherent dangers.

    Bite Club keeps up all of that, and gives us more. The plot of Bite Club is twistier, with what seems like multiple subplots at the beginning weaving together into one big complication. Plus, the complication hits a lot closer to home this time for Claire, giving the book more emotional pull.

    Also in Bite Club, the narration sometimes switches over to Shane's perspective. Consequently, we readers can put the pieces together faster than the characters can at times (and don't you just love knowing something the main character doesn't?).

    What else is great about this series and this instalment to it is how you feel invested in the characters.When the characters make stupid choices, you get angry at them. So while a certain character in particular really pissed me off for most of the book (people who've read Bite Club: one guess who that was), I liked that the author could make me feel so strongly for them.

    If I had a problem with Bite Club, though, it'd be how this time Claire relied on other people to help solve her problems. That's not to say that she relied on them wholly, but after Ghost Town (where Claire was essentially on her own) I thought a trend would catch on.

    I give Bite Club a 4 out of 5.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Review: The Dark And Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

    The Dark And Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

    Series: The Forest Of Hands And Teeth (#3)
    Pages: 377
    Publisher: Delacorte Books
    Published: March 22nd, 2011
    IBSN: 9780385738590

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

    Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. 

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

    [Synopsis by Goodreads]

    A great conclusion to The Forest Of Hands And Teeth series!

    Carrie Ryan's style of writing continued to be vivid and incredibly emotive. The way she wrote Annah's narration and thought processes really evoked her voice. I really felt for Annah through all of her struggles.

    Annah was a brave, strong, yet insecure protagonist. She was dynamic and realistic. She definitely developed as the story unfolded.

    The plot was fast-paced and exciting. There wasn't a clear problem and solution, but a series of them to overcome; none predictable.

    The world-building was thorough. The premise - essentially a zombie apocalypse - was executed uniquely, and the decayed, futuristic setting was described so clearly that I could imagine everything.

    Though the romantic side of the book at times almost felt like Ryan was just pairing up loose characters, the sudden relationships forming was realistic given the characters' distressing situation.

    The ending was realistic and satisfying. I'm glad all the work they did and all the ordeals they endured got the characters to a better place, literally and figuratively.

    I give The Dark And Hollow Places a 4 out of 5.

    Recommend it for fans of: the first two books in the series, The Forest Of Hands And Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves