Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blog Tour - The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle












Title - The Hallowed Ones (The Hallowed Ones #1)
Author - Laura Bickle
Genre - Paranormal YA
Pages - 311
Publisher - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source - Blog Tour Copy


Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

This novel was one that didn't grab me straight away when it first come out... it never screamed and me to buy it but when there was a blog tour, I just couldn't help myself and I'm glad I did. It is one story that has a very different take on the vampire YA novels out there and one you shouldn't miss.

In Katie's part of the society she is part of the Amish culture where she is focusing on her time of Rumspringa, a part of life that the all teenage folk look forward to and make a choice of their own life. Its a time to visit and be a part of the Plain, the outside world. But something apocalyptic had occurred  strandng Katie in her home village, little does she know that unspeakable monsters roam the Earth. Alex a fallen citizen is near death on the skirts of the village and is in danger and even though its against all customs, Katie helps him. Little does she know the the growing danger is living and is on the verge of their very household. 

Little did I know about the Amish culture and ways, which made this a very hard storyline to connect with. Rather than pronouncing it Ar-mish, I kept on saying A-mish, resulting in my total lack of non-existent knowledge of the culture. But as the book went on, I found it rather educational that there is various settlements across Northern America of such a culture and it really did fascinate me. However, some religious and historical elements of the plot-line were a little out of my depth leaving me with some unresolved questions. What I loved the most about this book, was the originality of the paranormal. The blood-sucking carnivorous animals that will always roam in the dark and are petrified of the holy symbols in life will the most effective persona of vampires aside from the more modern aspect of "sparkly".  

Katie as the main protag, is a sazzy, strong and confident young adult turning into a very wise and cautious young lady. She may have her dangerous side when she get over her head but she also conceive a vulnerable side to her closer feelings. What I really liked about her character was her strength and ability to uphold her own law and to be her own person. Nobody stops her or confronts her, she does what she pleases whether its right for the society. Constantly she is told on to hold her tongue or her opinions from the Bishop, which infuriates me when he is blind of the situations unravelling in his village.
"Just a little levity. Though . . . not every guy gets to go play firebug with a wizard and Bonnet the Vampire Slayer."
The secondary characters were equally interesting and compelling as the story unfolded. Alex the love interest, that Laura integrates within Katie's life making it  not the only focus of the novel but equally explored throughout. Ginger is another character that I particular liked, an Plain lady accustoming with the Amish culture brings a sense of humour and reality to Katie's life as well as your own. Then there is Elijah, the best friend and young romance that dwindles becomes one of the most infuriating characters you will come across.. I won't tell you because that would be spoiling it! 
His fingers meshed in mine. I nodded wordlessly and moved away, pulling against his grip. But he didn’t let go. He reeled me back in as if I were a fish. With a startled gasp, I stumbled and landed against his chest. A flicker of amusement glittered in his eyes. He kissed me on my forehead, whispered against my skin. “Be careful Bonnet.”
Overall, I thought Laura devised a very equally compelling, suspending novel that will set you on the edge of your seat. Each turning page you uncover something new and unique from other novels you have read before. I was reluctant at first to read this but I'm glad and took the chance. I'm eagerly awaiting the second novel in the series... The Outsider coming September 2013. 

Rating: 4
Thank you to Laura Bickle for providing me a copy of her book through The Book Depositary. 



An Interview with Laura Bickle

Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Laura.

1. What influenced you to create a novel based on the Amish Culture?
I live not too far from a large Amish settlement. When I was a child, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like.

Some of that curiosity lingered, and I always wanted to revisit it in a story. It popped back into my head when I was writing about a catastrophic contagion. Considering all the incredible self-sufficiency they apply in their everyday lives, it seemed to me that the Amish would be uniquely well-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster.

2. How did you build such a historical and religiously creative plot line? Did you find it challenging?
Thank you! There was a good deal of research involved. In addition to visiting the Amish settlement near where I live, I also did a good deal of reading…there are a lot of great books out there that look at the Plain way of life from a sociological perspective. National Geographic has also done a number of very good documentaries about the Amish.

I’m acutely conscious that I can’t know or understand everything about the Amish, never having lived in an Amish community. But I learned enough to develop an immense respect for the Amish way of life.

3. Is any your personal qualities integrated into Katie's character? 
I think that there’s always a little bit of me in every heroine I write. Katie is a quiet observer of people, like I am. But she’s much stronger and more centered than I am. More grounded.

4. I love how you used the originality of vampires, and 'Bonnet the Vampire Slayer', are you a Buffy and Angel fan?
Thank you! I watched the last few seasons of Buffy. I loved the idea of a strong female heroine who is also very human. 

5. What was your favourite scene to write and Why?
The easiest and most fun comes for me at the end of a book. There’s more at stake at the end of the story, more action, more emotion. All the plot threads are beginning to weave together, and I feel like I’m running downhill. I forget that I’m writing and get the pleasure of watching the story unfold on its own.

6. Who's character was your favourite to write Elijah or Alex?
Definitely Alex. Both Elijah and Alex serve to challenge Katie, but in different ways. Elijah is the boy Katie has grown up with, who she expects to marry someday. Elijah is something of a straight arrow. He represents what she treasures about her simple life.

Alex is an injured man Katie finds outside the boundaries of her community. Katie brings him inside her barn to recover, but can’t be sure what kind of evil he’s bringing in with him.

I think Alex works because he challenges Katie. He’s an anthropology student in the outside world, and he both infuriates her and makes her consider ideas that she might not otherwise have encountered. His presence forces her to take risks, and she learns a great deal about herself and her own ethics in attempting to protect him.

Quick-Fire

1. Fantasy or Contemporary?
Fantasy.
2. Traditional or Sparkly Vampires (Twilight) 
Traditional.
3. Angel or Spike? 
Spike. I think he really challenged Buffy more, and it was interesting to see her grow as a result of that.
4. Favourite Childhood Author?
Robin McKinley. THE HERO AND THE CROWN is still my all-time favourite.
5. Name one thing you love about being an author?
Dragging the cat off the keyboard every time I want to get to work!

Thanks again to Bewitching Blog Tour for organising this tour and the interview. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and interviewing Laura.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review, Interview and Giveaway - Blink Once by Cylin Busby




Title - Blink Once
Author - Cylin Busby
Genre - YA
Pages - 304
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Source - For Review


West is a high school senior who has everything going for him – until an accident leaves him paralysed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, moving in and out of consciousness, West is isolated and alone. Until he meets Olivia.

Olivia is the girl next door – though not the typical girl next door. She is in the hospital room next to his, and before long, she’s sneaking into his room to talk with him. Only Olivia seems to know what he’s thinking, and even dreaming about. Yet certain questions haunt him: Why is Olivia in the hospital? And how is she connected to the terrible dreams he’s been having? But the biggest shock of all comes when West must face the possibility that the girl he’s fallen in love with – and who’s done more to aid his recovery than anyone else – may not even be alive.

Myself and Jessica at Booked Up took up another read-along when we found a book we both received from the publishers. You can find her review here. Please click Read More to enter the giveaway. 

Blink Once is an incredibly moving plot line right through to the end... It begins with West a normal seventeen-year old with a life that just couldn't get a better; A loving girlfriend, passionate mountain bike enthusiast and awesome family and friends. But then a tragic accident occurs leaving him in a critical postillion in hospital. That's when he meets 'the girl in room 203', beautiful, former ballerina, Olivia. He can talk to her, gaining some resemblance of a normal life, Olivia is the only one who understands. But West didn't realise he would fall for her, in the most unpredictable place to be in. Olivia is a surreal characters and one that is mysterious to all. 

Cylin makes quite an emotional and tragic storyline, that compels you to question the facts but also your beliefs. For me I found this a very difficult storyline to contend with on a personal level. I found myself reliving my own past experiences. But the intricate detail and delicacy of the situation is just beautiful. The love and care eliminates everything to make a full recovery of life and of feeling. Cylin's influence was based on the inbetween, the life after Death, the belief of Afterlife, but for me it was centred around here and now and the strength to come back and be who you want to be.  The only thing that became rather tedious and slightly boring was the continuous setting of a hospital, it was only until Chapter ... did the pace of the book quicken and your interest sparked. 

West is a very admirable and likeable character, however when you are put in that situation, I feel pity for him. He can't communicate with the Nurses, nor can he show the progress that he gains when he is with Olivia. In the beginning, there are a few unresolved questions surrounding his conditions and status, but it was rough experiencing it through his eyes, unable and unmoving of his life moving forward. Olivia was a controversial and contrasting character. To me she is a delicately woven persona of a normal yet haunting past with her conflicting future ahead of her. Olivia shows the best in West and is the best medicine for his injuries. The future for them in unpredictable and inspiring.

Blink Once has a very steady and constant love story and plot line but what really shocked me the most was the ending. The expectation that I had was completely blown to smithereens when it ended so dramatically and had a very dear impact on me. After I finished the book, I closed it and starred, blurred eyed wondering, what have a just read? and the main thought... Why? It baffled me but struck me close to the heart and I think that is what Cylin was trying to convey intentionality. 

Would I recommend it, yes... If you loved The Fault in Our Stars by John Green or Before I Die by Jenny Downham , then Cylin Busby is on par with these incredible authors brought to show the truth and reality of human nature. 
Rating - 4
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Jessica and I were again very lucky to be agreed for conducting this interview. This is what Cylin Busby has to say about her novel Blink Once!


Interviewers: Me and Jessica

1. What impact were you looking for when writing this novel?
When I'm writing a novel, I hope to create the kind of story I loved to read when I was younger--a page-turner, something with a gripping story that pulls you in, a little bit scary.

2. What inspired you to write such a powerful story as Blink Once?
In the memoir that I co-wrote with my dad, THE YEAR WE DISAPPEARED, he tells the story of his near-death experience and how it felt to be technically “dead” for a few moments. His story started me thinking about what happens when you are not on this Earth, or in your physical body anymore…especially when your body is being kept alive for you. What if you were a teenager, confused about life anyhow, not fully formed as person, and found yourself in that place where my Dad was—somewhere between Here and There. And what if you weren’t alone….
This thinking led to the idea for BLINK ONCE.

3. You have a very diverse selection of genres you write, which one has been the most challenging to write?
My memoir was the most challenging, because I had to vividly remember events from my childhood. The subject was also a difficult one to write about--I prefer writing fiction!

4. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest novel, Blink Once?
I live in Los Angeles, California with my husband and 9-year-old son. I've been working in publishing, either as an editor or a writer, since I graduated from college about 20 years ago.
My latest novel, BLINK ONCE, is the story of a teen boy who wakes up in the hospital after an accident. He meets a mysterious patient named Olivia in the room next door to his, and together they try to unravel a haunting mystery.

5. What would you say was your favourite scene to write in Blink Once?
My favorite scene was when West wakes up after surgery, and he is speaking to his friend Mike--something is revealed (can't say here for spoilers). It was nice to finally be able to give that piece of information to the readers.

6. Is there a message in your novel that you're hoping your readers will grasp?
I would like readers to come away from reading BLINK ONCE with the knowledge that although sometimes life deals you a harsh blow, you can and will recover, even though you may not believe it at the time. The body heals, the soul heals, the spirit heals. It can take time, sometimes a very long time, but it does happen. And life goes on. Like West mentions about the rings in the tree--those marks are always there, but it is just one ring in so many rings in the tree of your life.

Quick-Fire:

1. Influential Author?
Emily Bronte
2. Best Book Boyfriend? 
Heathcliff
3. If your house caught on fire, and you had a choice of one book to take, what would it be?
Argh! so many books--I guess WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
4. Male POV or Female POV?
Female POV
5. One book you would give to a non-reader to persuade them to read more?
The most recent one would be GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn. Even non-readers could not put it down!
6. Paranormal or Fantasy?
Paranormal

Thank you so much Cylin for taking the time to answer our questions, its been a pleasure to have you on our blogs.

We are also very honoured for Cylin to have two Paperback copies of Blink Once up for grabs. Click below to enter.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review and Interview - Stolen Night by Rebecca Maizel

Stolen Night (Vampire Queen, #2)
Title - Stolen Night (Vampire Queen #2)
Author - Rebecca Maizel
Genre - Paranormal YA
Pages - 400
Publisher - Macmillan's Children's Books
Source - NetGalley


Lenah Beaudonte should be dead. But having sacrificed herself to save another, she finds herself awakening with strange powers that are neither vampire nor human—and a new enemy on her trail. In her vampire life, Lenah had thought that being human was all she ever wanted; but the human heart suffers pain, heartbreak and loss.

With her new powers growing and the dark force of the Nex after her soul, Lenah faces a choice: between the mortal love of gorgeous Justin, whose passion fed her human soul, and taking a different path to become the mistress of her own destiny, wherever that may lead...

As you can imagine I was ecstatic when the sequel to Infinite Days became available on NetGalley. I absolutely loved the first book and to leave it at such a cliffhanger was excruciating after a two years wait... but it certainly didn't disappoint from the moment my eyes laid down on that page.

Warning some minor spoilers.

The plot of the novel was very unexpected and very unpredictable...the end page of Infinite Days was Lenah giving up her life to giving Vicken a second chance at a mortal life... Unresolved questions spun in my head; does she die? What happens to Justin? Did Vicken survive? What will become of the Vampire Queen novels? Now Lenah Beaudonte gets not just a second chance at a mortal life but a third chance at life altogether. But she is challenged with her former victims as a vampire and the consequences from the ritual that both Rhode and Lenah conjured. You will be faced with a triangle of heartbreak, loss and love. The untold revival of a former mortal lover, Rhode. And, finally the choice between love and life. The main focuses of the novel are something that I admire with Rebecca's writing, she actively creates a story fused togther with the love and danger that is portrayed through Lenah's character. I felt that this particular sequel held more of a balance of nature throughout its structure but it also flowed more consistantly, enabling me to enjoy that 0.5 star more.

Lenah Beaudonte developed as a character and as a person. This novel she appeared so vulnerable to human nature we saw her a mortal rather than the harsh, yet strong weakness she shares with her immortal self. Lenah also shows a very distinct anger and strength that was gained through her various experiences as a vampire but also at cost and loss of her closest friends. What I saw in Lenah was that she sepearated herself from the cruel and infuriating vampire self to one side, when she was showed what she was truly like. Unlike her character, I felt that she created some very rash and wrong decsions in the middle but she compensated for them in the end.

“I stay because there is an extraordinary difference between thinking of you and seeing you in the mortal flesh. I stay for the one moment you smile throughout the day. Or to watch you run your hand through your hair. Because I must, must –" his breath was short – "must be near you, in any way I can.”

In Infinite Days I was always torn between Rhode and Justin. Rhode has this pure, whole-hearted mortal love for Lenah, yet Justin is your typical handsome, Mr. Popular, bad boy persona. Justin twisted my arm in Infinite Days, because he grew to love Lenah so deeply it was just so unbearable not turn away from him. However, Rhode... Uh... You could never know a young man to love someone so over-powering that you could just feel your heart in his hands. Unlike his reputation of love, his character was infuriating to content with, he couldn't speak, touch, feel even that piece of love he feels because of the curse that Lenah and himself have done to each other. Vicken, on the other hand brought such a character and comical side to the novel that you just can't forget to acknowledge. Whenever there is tension between Rhode and Lenah, Vicken will always have a snide comment to break it.

The ending was just... Awww, heart-breaking but hopefully not the finale. To many in answered questions await in the final instalment which is confirmed in the lovely interview below. Rebecca presents such a heart-pounding, beautifully written novel that identifies the opposite to what YA Vampire novels are portrayed as. Her character development astounds me after such a long time awaiting this eagerly anticipated novel. Don't miss out on this series, its different, fresh from all the other Vampire novels currently.

Rating - 5

I was very lucky to have Rebecca agree to have an email for my blog. Now you can see what the author has to say on her beautifully written Vampire Queen novels. 

Hi Rebecca, Thank you for joining me on my blog today.

1. What makes The Vampire Queen series different from other Paranormal YA novels?

I think a lot of YA paranormal is about a human girl (or boy!) entering into a world of darkness and into a world of creatures that are unlike her human world. Infinite Days and Stolen Nights are very much the opposite. Infinite Days is about Lenah coming back to the human world after centuries of being a vampire. Stolen Nights is about what she does with this humanity and the ramifications of her choices while a vampire. Both of these books are fundamentally about what it means to be human.

2. What influenced you to write Vampire novels?

Lenah's voice. I really tapped into her voice while free writing one day. I became obsessed with this girl, who she was, and what she had been through. I really let Lenah dictate the story.

3. What inspired you to become a writer?

I think I've always been writing!My sister is older than me so when I was a kid in 1991, she got her first video camera. Most of my friends were playing with Barbies, I was making movies of my Barbies! I think I was a creative kid but my creativity was harnessed in a narrative way. I was always writing, creating.

4. If you could give an advice to future writers, what would it be?

Tell the story you are afraid to tell. Write because you MUST. Don't write a certain story because the market dictates this or that but because the story you must tell is residing within your soul and it has to get out into the world.

5. Was there any characters that had a similar qualities to yourself?

Hmm.
Sometimes, I look at the world like I’m standing on the outside looking in. I think a lot of writers feel this way. This is what connects me most to Lenah, my main character. I also think I have a mischievous streak like Tony. :) Sigh...Tony.

6. If you had to choose - Vicken, Rhode or Justin - Who would it be?

1. For a date - Justin. He'd show you a really good time. Take you out on a nice date.

2. For a fun time - Vicken. He'd drive you fast on a motorcycle at a bajillion miles an hour with your hair whipping in the wind.

3. For marriage - Rhode. He would love you and love you and love you...

Quick fire:

1. Mortal or Immortal? 
Mortal. DUH
2. A Vampire Power?
Super sight.
3. ebook or Print? 
Print. I have read a couple books in e-print, but I like my books in my hands.
4. Favourite Book: 
WAYYYYY too many to list. Best book I read this year was Mistwood by Leah Cypress. Another good book I read this year was: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman.
5. Favourite Author: 
Again, wayyyy too many to list: Alice Hoffman, Leah Cypress, Courtney Moulton, John Green, Amy Hempel, Lisa Yee

And finally... Is there anything more in store for Lenah Beaudonte?

Just finished up the last and final book, which is headed to my editor's desk in a couple weeks! Thanks for having me!!

I really hope you enjoyed the review and interview of Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel. It's truly a brilliant series... so get your hands on it! 


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Showcase Sunday (#17) - 2013 1st Edition


Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Its an opportunity to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week.
This is my first Showcase edition since before the Christmas. I did take my Christmas holidays for-granted hence not posting a Showcase for quite some time. I have received  a fair few books since then...

For Review I received:


Tempest by Julie Cross
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Abandon by Meg Cabot
The Trouble with Fate by Leigh Evans (Not in Picture)

From NetGalley I received:

        

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
Riptide by Lindsey Schiebe
Dare to You by Katie McGarry (US Cover)


What I bought:

My Signed Edition! :D
Silence (Hush, Hush #3) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Finale (Hush, Hush #4) by Becca Fitzpatrick SIGNED EDITION 
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers #1) by Rachel Vincent.

I know its been a long time since doing my showcase, and I have missed! As I said before I took my Christmas holiday for-granted and got lots of books read and reviews written. This week, the second week into the 2013 and I received some lovely titles for the forthcoming weeks. I have been admiring the covers of Throne of Glass, even though its a Proof, its still a gorgeous design and I'm reading this next week for definite. I know its in my Currently Reading Sidebar but I couldn't cope with reading 2 at a time. The other cover is Tempest by Julie Cross, both the Hardcover and Paperback have very different takes on it, but I love it all the same.  I have also received a lot of first books of the series before requesting the sequel which I'm very grateful for. Then there is my signed edition of Finale Eeeeeeeeeeep! I haven't read most of the series so I bought all of them instead, to encourage me to read them. The best NetGalley received this week has to be Dare to You, I loved Pushing the Limits , I'm still very intrigued to see what the the cover will look like here in the UK! 

A big thanks to Pan Macmillan, Bloomsbury, Flux, Random House and Harliquin for sending me these review copies.

Well... What do you think? Have you read any of these novels? I would love to know... Leave me a link to your Sunday Post and I will be sure to see what you received!?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Review - Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title - Angelfire (Angelfire #1)
Author - Courtney Allison Moulton
Genre - Paranormal YA
Pages - 496
Publisher - HarperCollins
Source - Library


First there are nightmares. Then come the memories. Now she must hunt.

Ellie can’t shake the terrifying dreams about monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her. Then she meets Will and feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. When they meet on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. In order to survive, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives, the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, and truths that may be too frightening to remember.
Angelfire is a very deceptive read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Its been a long time since borrowing a book from the library and I couldn't pass up the time to read. I have way too many books to read as it is, but you know how a library makes you feel and just imagine working in one, it heaven. Anyway back to the review.

Unfortunately the plot wasn't original or fresh from my perspective. It became rather repetitive, making it less consistent in the attempt wow me, however I still enjoyed the read all the same. Ellie, a young teenager enjoying a life of her own, though he nightmares suggests otherwise. On the day of her seventeenth, a dark, handsome stranger watched and waited... Will has waited 24 years to awaken the power within her, for Ellie to engage in her Preliator side... a reaper hunter of Satan's Army. The most powerful reaper is after her and her soul and, Ellie, the only one of her existence is tied of being awakened, she want to fight. She wants it to end.  Moulton used a lot of historical context of the Angels, Gods and Guardians. At first I was intrigued, but as the story goes on, I found I was getting slightly bored with the depth of Ellie's existence and the growing war between good and evil. As a whole the plot keep me engaged for the majority of the time, however more pressing focuses allowed me to continue turning the page.

In Ellie's world, she is just an average, sixteen going on seventeen year old girl that wants to a normal. But now she has this purpose, she feels constricted and a freak. Ellie, is a strong, confident, passionate young woman, now she doesn't know whether she is going to live or die in a couple weeks. She has always had a friend, a guide, a Guardian to stand by her, Will. Will is your strong, resourceful, young...well he appears 24 but he's actually 600 years old...man. He is also conflicted from the feeling he portrays, but when he is near Ellie he shows that emotion, that vulnerability of a just a young boy in love with a girl. I feel that he has risked a lot for Ellie, he's immortal and will do anything to protect, yet he is an infuriating character.

“Will, I'm in love with you. You're the only one who understands what I go through every day, the only one I can share this world with.”

I think for me Moulton's greatest achievement was her development of the characters. Aside from the plot you could build a beautiful story between Ellie and Will, the chemistry, the past, present and future lives they will both share together make it very intimate. The 'more pressing focuses' I mentioned are largely around the romantic side of them. It was a struggle at first to acknowledge where they stood with each other. They clearly have very strong feelings for each other, yet Ellie wants to make that step, yet Will is unwilling not too, hence his infuriating persona towards his character. However, what I see is that they are dancing the tango; they know each others movements, feelings and strategies  They are the perfect beings together, whether other's say so or not.

“I hate... I hate when you die. It destroys me. I know  have no right to be so upset, because I'm not the one losing my life, but it breaks me apart inside. I'm not very good with words, and I don't know how to explain to you how I feel. I get lonely when you aren't with me. I miss you. And every time you die, a little piece of me dies with you.”

There was one part of the book that oddly reminded me of Pushing the Limits with Echo's father and step mum; Ellie's father. They have similar qualities, yet the complete opposite; Ellie's father is an abusive both physically and emotional to herself and her mother. However, her mum just stands and pretends that love will conquer all. But that possibility seems very far away. As secondary characters go, they did build the story in a constant flow, like Nathaniel another immortal and Lauren, the physic. 

Moulton creates a very good debut novel. I was astounded by the very thought that she wrote this novel for NaNoWriMo in 30 Days and got it published. That is dedication and passion! Overall, this book was a very pleasant read and one that I got through pretty quickly despite the review. I'm looking forward to see what's next for Ellie and Will in this trilogy. 

Rating: 3.5 - 4 (Still Undecided) 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review - Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel


Title - Infinite Days (Vampire Queen #1)
Author - Rebecca Maizel
Genre - Paranormal, YA.
Pages - 400
Publisher - Macmillan Children's Books
Source - Bought


For 500 years Lenah Beaudonte has been a vampire. 500 years of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers and longs to feel the sun on her skin, grass under her bare feet, and share the breath of a human kiss.

She wants to be mortal again.

But is she really capable of being human, after her long years of darkness? Waking up as a sixteen-year-old girl brings Lenah many things the life she has missed, taste, touch, love. But a vampire soul is not easily shed. And her coven of four vampires she led in decadence and thrilling destruction want their queen back...

Believe it or not, I have read this book many times but since I'm doing the blog tour to the sequel, I thought I would read it again, and post my first review of it! There have been many vampire books inspired by Twilight and alike, but this one has something uniquely refreshing about its plot. When I first read back in 2011, I loved it and I couldn't believe she was doing a sequel to it, 2 years later

Lenah, a former vampire of 500 years was getting bored of the power, strength and immortality of being a creature of the night. I mean who would get bored of that. Pfffft! Anyways, after being bound to Rhode, her maker and her lover, she wanted to feel again, what its like to express humanity. A ritual was found and performed to express her greatest wishes. However, life, or in Lenah's case her second life, will never go as planned! Her original coven want her back, their queen, their guide and their saviour.The plot was very original in comparison to other vampire YA novels as I mentioned before. What I enjoyed about it was the  time difference of her former vampire life to the 21st Century. The setting of the five centuries she has endured is created so fluently that you know your travelling and remembering with her. 

I found that I despised Lenah as an immortal she so dark, deceiving and evil in her own nature. For someone so small she embraced her need to her fill potential. Lenah was calculating at the best of times, she became the darkest hole of the night as a full fledged creature. However, her flawless skin, her graceful yet predatory movements makes her someone unnatural, someone with a decaying soul trying to find the light. Lenah's character in modern day society were the complete opposite. She is gentle, fragile yet strong-willed, bold, blunt but is a lovable character to explore with. Her use of language and appearance is slightly out of sorts from being in slumber for 100 years, yet her style is in her favour when locals see her for what she really is. She needs live, a new life, a new beginning, for herself and Rhode.

Immediately, Justin is the lead La Cross player and the eye candy of all the girls.  His popularity draws Lenah in but Justin is just as curious. Justin is just average hot boy dating Miss Popularity of the year, but their is something beneath him that makes that appeal that more distinct and catching to all readers. Justin curiosity of Lenah springs from her casual fashion to her through her boldness of dissecting a cat, they both appear to take this as it comes. Lenah's relationship status is N/A, its been a long time since she has had a human relationship and Justin is her first.  Maizel integrates there relationship steadily throughout the whole novel, she deepens their feelings to where they both have each other's hearts in their hand. (Justin has my heart any day!) However, I felt that their relationship didn't portray the love that Rhode and Lenah once had, pure, beautiful and solid.

“Lenah?""Yeah?" I replied."Will you go to winter prom with me?""Of course," I whispered, sure I would fall asleep in moments. "Justin?""Mm-Hmm?" he said, moments from sleep himself."What's a prom?”

What I loved was of the most likeable characters of the entire novel, Tony. An opportunistic, artistic, passionate and a comical persona. Tony a Japanese/English Goth was one of the first characters to be introduced into Lenah human life. What I loved about Tony was his artistic nature and the  intricacy of his portrait that he creates of her, through Maizel beautiful writing you can tell the ease and the expression of his  emotions through the brush-strokes on the canvas. 

The ending was a little predictable and slightly rushed, I didn't feel it held the expectation and impact of the rest of the novel. Though, I know I can't wait to what will happen for the sequel to come.  The only cliché with the novel was the romance between Justin and Lenah and living in an Academy. However that aside, I thought this novel was astounding to say that its separated from the many YA Vampire novels I have read, and I that is a lot and that's saying something! And Remember:

“Evil be he who thinketh evil.”
Rating: 4.5

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review and Interview - The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna


Title - The Lost Girl
Author - Sangu Mandanna
Genre - YA
Pages - 400
Publisher - Definitions
Source - ARC for Review


Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination – an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known – the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love – to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive ...
From the moment I received this through the post, I knew this would be a books for me. Through the inspiration of Frankenstein, I was curious to see how the classic could influence or combine the nature of novel in to this YA. All I can say is... Forget Frankenstein, try The Lost Girl.

But first I'd like to say Thank you to Jessica over at Booked Up for doing a Read-along with her. As she would say: "We *fangirled* together" . You can see her review here

Warning some minor spoilers.

Mandanna has created a refreshing and a unique take on the classic. The plot intrigued from the very beginning; an Echo, a creation stitched by the Weavers as a replacement of human nature. Is she real?Does she have a choice in her own life? No Echo does and that's the pain of watching someone's life flash through your eyes, knowing that your going to be next.  Eva was stitched at the Loom in London, its argued whether she was born at all or rather than made. But I felt quite strongly about this subject, she living, she breathing, she has a brain and she unlike Frankenstein's Monster, is the living embodiment of a normal human being. How Mandanna was able to make me feel and empathise with these character is a brilliant trait in writing that I admire her for. The pace Part 1 was slightly off and didn't have the constant for that the rest of the novel had. However what I loved about TLG was the transition between Amarra and Eva, London and Bangalore and a human and an Echo.

The main protagonist, Eva, is strong, opinionated, artistic, passionate and a brave soul for an Echo. She is   especially unique echo, gutsy and fight for what she believes in. However, she has a vulnerable side, one that makes her realistic, makes her human. Its said in the history of Echos, they only have one chance, Eva has 3.  Sean the green-eyed love interest and Guardian, lets just say everybody needs one. His charisma and characteristics broke your heart at Part 1, *sniffles* and then he's the beating heart of the novel. The moment when you just want them kiss is overwhelming and horrible- but that is one of the many rules that the Weavers set in place; no relationship between Guardian and Echo. But hey, she 's broke all the rules, what's one more? 
"Eva", he says, and my eyes tear. "Do you still dream of cities?""Yes", I say. I hear the sound of him swallowing. "Do you still dream of me?""Yes". I thought things might have changed."No" he says. "I haven't either," and he hangs up.

Some of the secondary characters were equally brilliant; Matthew, Eva's creator is the arrogance of Frankenstein, he's the unfeeling consciousness of the Loom. He sees no reason only the craft of his creations. Matthew's character is infuriating at best, when he states the line between both sides of human nature. Eva is no more than a human than everyone else! (*Grrrrr*) I loved Sasha and Nikhil, the Familiar's family was more than accepting of Eva's status and Sasha was the bubbliest character of them all. Ray, Ammara's love interest, was cunning, deceiving and the cause of Eva's downfall. Finally, Lekha, Eva's best friend, she may have seen through her eyes, but she is the spark that Eva needs to continue this life. 

Mandanna has created a spectacular achievement and expectation for her debut novel. For a Standalone its brilliant, yet the ending leaves you wondering. Wondering whether where it will take you next. I hope Mandanna has a sequel in the making, because I will be the first to buy it. This is one of my very first reads of 2013 and it has set me on a high for something different and fresh. 
Rating: 4.5
Thank you to Random House for sending me the copy, for an honest review.

Now you can get an insight into Sangu Mandanna, a spectacular  debut author of 2013. 

Hi Sangu! Thanks so much for being here!
Thank you so much for having me!

How did the incredibly unique idea for The Lost Girl first come about?
I was in my second year at university and we were studying Frankenstein, and while I'd read it before and loved it, I found myself looking at it in a whole new way. I was really intrigued by the idea of stitching together a human being, a life, from scratch and I also really wanted to tell a story from the misunderstood, abandoned, lonely monster's point of view. That's where the idea really came from. It took months for me to actually start the story, though, because I had a lot of false starts. Eventually Eva broke through and started talking to me. Like an imaginary friend. And we were off...


If you could spend a day with one of your characters from The Lost Girl, who would it be and why?
I think I'd want to spend a day with Matthew. He'd drive me mad, no doubt, and would probably let a bus run over me if it suited him, but he can be really funny and I'd be able to pester him with so many questions!

When was the moment you decided you wanted to be an author?
I have absolutely no idea. I know I've always been writing - I wrote my first story when I was four years old - but I also know that for a long time writing was simply something I did, it was something I didn't know how not to do, and I never thought of it as a potential job in the future. It was only later, maybe when I was around thirteen or fourteen, that I first thought about getting published and I guess that's where it started?

What aspect of Frankenstein did your inspiration come from?
Definitely from the plight of Frankenstein's Creature. He is so angry and lonely, so conflicted between hating Victor and loving him in spite of everything. That kind of warped creator-creation relationship really fascinated me and I wanted to create my own in my own story. I also wanted to kind of explore the what-ifs: what if the Creature had grown up with love? Because, in spite of all her struggle, Eva does grow up with love and that shapes her. That makes her better than the Creature ever got a chance to be. I wanted to write about that possibility. I wanted to write about monsters that are not really monsters.

Do any of the characters have any personal or similar personalities/qualities to yourself?
You know, I think they all do in some way. I'm stubborn and impulsive like Eva, but I'm also quite quiet like Amarra (sometimes, anyway). I love the Power Rangers like Sasha does, and Sherlock Holmes like Sean does. They're all very much their own characters. I don't choose what I want them to be. They decide. They're really the ones in charge when I write. But I think they all have a little piece of me nevertheless.

Why did you choose to write a YA?
I didn't, funnily enough! I've always written my books for me. Because this is how my stories want to go. I've written adult stories before and stories for young children. With The Lost Girl, I wrote the story for me, without any idea of audience or genre, and when I finished a draft I looked at it and thought 'it's YA'. I've also always loved reading YA and children's books, so I guess it's not surprising that this is the genre I love writing most and the one I ended up being an author of.

Dystopian or Contemporary?
Can I say both? I love dystopian and I do tend to gravitate toward stories with a strange, magical or fantastical element, but I've read some incredible contemporary fiction lately and that's made me feel like I'm planted firmly in both camps now.

Keyboard or pen+paper?
Keyboard for writing drafts, pen + paper for notes and scribbles.

Best book boyfriend?
I have so many! But right now, this very instant, my favourite is Jonah Griggs from On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

5 words to describe The Lost Girl?
Haunting, eerie, heartbreaking, romantic, exciting. I hope so, anyway!

Favourite author?
Too many! Audrey Niffenegger, JK Rowling, loads and loads more...

Print or ebook?
A year ago I'd have said print outright. And print still wins. But I do think ebooks have a place in my heart. You can't beat them for travel - not to mention the instant gratification of being able to download a book and read it straight away!

Thank you for your brilliant answers!
Thanks again for inviting me here! It's been so much fun answering your questions :-)

Jessica and I couldn't believe we got an interview as well! We were so lucky! I hope you all enjoy getting to know Sangu and The Lost Girl like myself and Jess did! 


Monday, January 07, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Working Stiff and Two Weeks Notice

Title - Working Stiff (The Revivalist #1)
Author - Rachel Caine
Genre - Fantasy, YA.
Pages - 473
Publisher - Allison & Busby
Source - Review Copy




Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.

Wit the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead...

I have always been reluctant to read this series as the plot didn't grab me straight away, but like they say don't judge a book by its cover (or its blurb). But I have to say I was deeply mistaken. When I begun this book, I couldn't stop. Like any Rachel Caine novel, you will never be disappointed.

Caine took a different approach to YA and Fantasy that I am accustomed too...Zombies. It's Tomb Raider meet Resident Evil, only with less blood and guts (oh and *screams*). Bryn Davis previously worked in the army, but now she felt she wanted to move on to being a funeral director! But she accidentally get mixed in with Pharmadene, she gets used, she gets revived. But, Patrick a double agent, gives her the chance. To them back and bring the company down. 

The main character, Bryn, was strong, compelling, independent and intriguing at best, but like all strong characters there is always a vulnerable side. Bryn is an ex-soldier, so her impassive stance and cool nature allows her to see through people. Now Bryn is faced with a bigger situation, her life on the edge by a single injection. I felt quite passionate about Bryn's life, she has had it taken away and replaced by being this shell of medicine being forced alive by a company. She feels that she has no life, its bought, its there's. Then there is Patrick, at first he was quite infuriating showing little of his character, but then Bryn sets a spark in him, that is ready to ignite...but not quite. Caine slowly developed their relationship, which in one respect disappointed me but excited me all the same! 

Rating: 4.5


Title - Two Weeks Notice (The Revivalist #2)
Author - Rachel Caine
Genre - Urban Fantasy
Pages - 384
Publisher - Allison & Busby
Source - eBook and Review Copy




Making a living can be rough if you're already dead. After dying and being revived with the experimental drug Returne, Bryn Davis is theoretically free to live her unlife - with regular doses to keep her going. But Bryn knows that the government has every intention of keeping a tight lid on Pharmadene's life-altering discovery, no matter the cost.

Thankfully, some things have changed for the better; her job at the rechristened Davis Funeral Home is keeping her busy and her fragile romance with Patrick McCallister is blossoming - thanks in part to their combined efforts in forming a support group for Returne addicts. But when some of the group members suddenly disappear, Bryn wonders if the government is methodically removing a threat to their security, or if some unknown enemy has decided to run the zombies into the ground...

Once again I couldn't help myself but I bought the eBook and I received the Review Copy because I loved it so much. The ending of Working Stiff left you in a wonder, and I love it when the sequel is already out so that I don't have to wait! 

I was very surprised at the number of pages that this one conceived of in comparison to Working Stiff, however it quality not quantity and I loved it even more, a O.5 Rating does make the difference. The plot left off from where it ended... Bryn is now working for the FBI and using Pharmadene to their own device. But can she trust them?! But now Davis hosts a Support group for other like her, she feels responsible for their well-being, their way of life and there future. Slowly, they start to dissipate  as if they no longer exist...after all they are dead. What I love about a sequel, that can either be the filler to the next or a spectacular continue and I'm going for the latter. It was face-paced, compelling and it completely blew my mind.

The development of Bryn's character has become more mellow. She is still the strong, brave soldier portrayed in Working Stiff, but she has grown into someone with a purpose. She takes care of the other Returne victims, but when she knows something isn't right she fight for it. Patrick and Bryn's character has grown fragmented at the beginning, neither one doesn't quite know where they stand, but one night is all it takes. At first they were just friends, they consider lovers but they knew that wouldn't work. So there relationship flourished from then. Patrick as a single, shows a more emotional approach to his character but also his fragile side and I like that side of him. You can't miss Patrick McCallister even for a second. 

At first, I've some mixed reviews on this series, but in my opinion she has disappointed in her skills as writer. Rachel Caine astounds me with her creative writing. From the writer of The Morganville Vampires, to the Weather Wardens, she really doesn't disappoint. She is an inspiring writer and as she grows with the novels of YA and UF. Will this be a lasting series?! I hope so.
Rating: 5

I would like to thank Allison & Busby for giving me the chance to read this books for honest reviews!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year, New Me and NEW BOOKS!


I HOPE YOU ALL HAD A BRILLIANT CHRISTMAS / HOLIDAYS AND WONDERFUL NEW YEAR! 
HAPPY 2013 TO ALL! 

Wow 2012 has really gone quickly! It has been one epic year for me, both personally and with Never Judge a Book by Cover! Its sad to see 2012 to go now, but I'm looking forward to 2013 with equal measures. 

I have started my last year of college and I can't wait for it to end! I will no longer be in the middle of teenager and adult. I will be the person I have always wanted to be! I have become a Librarian, which I love to this day! July 2012 was the beginning of this blog and I'm grateful for the welcoming I have received from the blogging community. 

I would like to say Thanks to so many people, for helping me and welcoming me into the world of books!

Aa'Ishah @ Reading Under the Stars who got me into starting my blog.
Sam @ Realm of Fiction and Donna @ Book Passion for Life for helping me into the mechanics of bloggings.
And then there is the many brilliant Bookish Buddies I have met over at Twitter! I don't think I have ever been so addicted to a social network! Haha!
Zoe @ Bookhi 
Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic
Lucy @ Read Write Sleep Eat
and Jessica @ Booked Up

These people have made this blogging experience even more special. I don't have many friends that love books and YA books at that as much as I do. And to find these people who tweet nearly every day is just brilliant. Thank you to all! 

Well it's 2013 now, I know I have to buck up and sort my Blogging schedule. It has been a bit hap-hazzard the past few months.

2013 Resolutions:
Reading many more books and keeping up-to-date with the latest YA.
Reviewing at least twice a week.
I have set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 150 Books and I would love to accomplish that.
I will be starting a couple of memes, one of which myself and Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic will be starting
this month, which I can't wait to.
I would love to meet a few authors this year as well. We (UK Bloggers) don't get enough author events in comparison to the US. Jealous! :D

What Books am I awaiting in 2013..

   Altered (Altered, #1) 
Pivot Point   The Collector

These are just a few of the many series and stand alone books that I can't wait to experience in 2013. 
What are your resolutions? What are you looking forward to 2013? I hope you have a brilliant year as much as I do!


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