Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FINAL ROUND: Young Adult 2012 Reader Choice Awards!


You’ve voted, we’ve tallied, and the numbers are in! Here are your Top Ten (give or take) contenders in each category. Place your final votes, have fun, and may the odds be ever in your favourites’ favour! 

Once you've voted, don't forget to go follow the amazing, hard-working, Queen-of-the-blogosphere-with-her-breathtaking-talent-and-creativity Sarah, the brains behind this fabulous event!

Guidelines:
  • Voting is open until the 1st of January 2013
  • You may vote for one book in each category. Don’t have a vote? Just leave it blank.
  • Books with a ‘traditional’ pub date between December 2011 through to December qualify. We are aware there are a few books from Late November 2011 (Nov 28th) on the list.
  • Have fun, and spread the word!

Thank you to everyone who helped out during the voting process by picking up on mistakes, oversights, and being generally encouraging and amazing. After some discussion, we've decided to leave self-pubbed books in the voting which were first traditionally published in 2012. We’ll get it better next time, promise!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Giveaway & Double Cover Reveal: Cold Fury + Flicker & Burn by T.M Goeglein!

I'm so excited to be one of the blogs helping reveal the two gorgeous new covers for T.M Goeglein's Cold Fury trilogy. COLD FURY was first released July 2012, but the paperback with it's chilly new design will be frosting up bookstores from JUNE 2013.

Which gives you enough time to meet 16 year old Sara Jane Rispoli and become embroiled in her dangerous world of masked assassins, ass-kicking action, mystery and mafia before the release of the sequel, FLICKER & BURN, in AUGUST 2013. But if you can't wait that long to get your hands on a copy, keep scrolling for a super hot giveaway to win an ARC as soon as they become available!

Paperback release with newly designed cover is June 2013

Released August 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
The thrill ride that began in Cold Fury kicks into high gear in Flicker & Burn, as the threats to Sara Jane Rispoli come at her from all directions. She continues the desperate search for her missing family, but this time she’s on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and ghostly white skin chasing her through the streets of Chicago in black ice cream trucks – they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They're skeletal and ferocious, hell-bent on catching or killing her, but also a weird link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them.

While Sara Jane battles these new pursuers, she learns painful lessons about the phenomenon that possesses her, cold fury. At the same time, she’s uncovering buried secrets about the misdeeds of her family – old murders and blood vendettas – that might be connected to the disappearance of her mom, dad, and brother. The mysteries, violence, and constant state of chasing or being chased could be the undoing of her relationship with handsome Max Kissberg. Despite the love growing between them, Sara Jane can’t tell him the truth about her life, and fears for his safety.

Not only do the Ice Cream Creatures display the grisly amputated finger of her mom to prove their viciousness, and not only does Lucky, the Outfit Boss of Bosses, whistle in Sara Jane for a sit-down with deadly consequences, but her gorgeous cousin, Heather Richards, enters the scene, as well. All that matters to Sara Jane is saving her family and keeping everyone she loves alive and safe. But the forces she encounters, both external and the ones crackling inside of her, fight her every step of the way.
Add or buy the books at:

Find T.M Goeglein at:
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My Thoughts:
What do you think?! I love both the original cover for Cold Fury AND the redesigned, but I think I'm slightly more partial to the redesigned covers. I love the frost and fire effects on the text, the colours matching the titles, the sense of darkness in the shots with Sara-Jane (the protagonist) and seeing the city represented, since it's almost a character of it's own in the books.

What are your thoughts on the new covers?
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Giveaway!
Thanks to T.M Goeglein and Putnam Juvenile, you have the chance to win an ARC of Flicker & Burn as soon as it’s available! Please note that the giveaway is US ONLY.  Simply fill out the form below to enter!

Entries close December 26th 2012.


If the form doesn't load, please click here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Owl Post #18

Inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, Owl Post allows me to excitedly share all the yummy books I get in the mail each week! Owl's are much faster and more reliable than sneaky postmen, and the common way for magical folk to send and receive letters and parcels.

 I got these from a book swap with the wonderful Nomes. I've been SUPER eager to read both, and especially If I Lie after all the incredible reviews from some of my favourite bloggers. For Darkness Shows The Stars will also be my first Diana Peterfreund novel. I hope it impresses!

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
This was SUCH an amazingly awesome surprise!!! I have been wanting to read this for so long and especially after the mere-mortal-words-can't-describe-how-awesome-she-is Becca gushed about it, I knew I needed to read it. So what did she do? She sent me a copy this week. She is honestly the sweetest Aussie you'll meet and I love her and I hope she knows I'm totally eating some hot vegan bread while I read this <3

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
To be honest, I probably would have overlooked this book had I not been asked if I wanted to review it. But then I took the time to check it out, gauge reader reactions and... I was intrigued. I'm so glad it was brought to my attention, because I've just started reading it and it already has me hooked! I have high hopes for the rest of the story.

Never has there been a more appropriately titled "Owl Post"....

I GOT MY HOGWARTS LETTER!!!!! *SQUEALS* I KNEW IT. I KNEW IT. I KNEW I WAS DESTINED FOR BUTTERBER AND MIDNIGHT DUELS AND RUNNING INTO PRETEND BRICK WALLS AND OMG OMG OMG OMG. It came late, but with it came an understanding of why it was late: Owl Flerbitis. No matter, it's finally HERE! AND OMFG I'M GOING TO HOGWARTS!!!!

And it would never have been possible without Dumbly-dorr's unfathomably amazing understudy Sarah (or is she Voldemort's? Maybe she's a spy a la Snape. Either way, still the best f**** spy this world has ever known), for getting my letter to me exactly 11 years later (ELEVEN. THE MAGICAL DOTS ARE CONNECTING). I don't know if you know this, but I effing love her.

What have the beautiful owls delivered to you this week?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guest Post: BlogINK finalist Faye shares her fave books + GIVEAWAY!


[This guest post is written by a very special friend of mine; she's been the angel (or devil?) on my shoulder since I was a wee 14 year old first finding my feet in the online writing community. She embraced me with her friendly, British charm, humour and kindness. And now today, I want to not only share with you her amazing taste in books, but also help her win an incredible opportunity with Mira Ink that she so truly deserves! Plus, if you spare literally ONE minute to watch/share her video, you go into the draw to win a Christmas surprise!]


I’m starting this post by giving Brodie a huge thank you! In truth, she has been a big supporter of me, my blog, and my writing for many, many years and so it is so nice to be able to come and write a post for all of her lovely followers today! Did I mention yet how amazing we all know Brodie is? *cough* So, today I have written a post for you about some wonderful books that I love and admire!

It has been said that books are extremely powerful pieces of art and entertainment. They can carry strong messages, allowing those who are struggling through issues to realise that they are not alone. They can be lessons that we learn and can help to shape ourselves within society. It is for all of these reasons that I often find myself loving to read. It is not only an escape, but a new way of looking at the world.

Because of this, I have decided to highlight some of the books that I have read, either growing up or more recently since having this blog, that have affected me in some way; they have reached within me and touched my heart.


1. The Harry Potter Series
It would be honestly impossible to write a post without including this series. Ever since I started reading it, I became instantly attached but not just because the story was so brilliant, but because it helped me. It showed me that there were friends out there who would stand by you and that love can triumph above everything else. It showed me how to be brave and it just simply gave me so many lessons throughout the years I grew up that I can’t help but be a huge fan of the series.
 
2. Lucas by Kevin Brooks
My favourite single book because it was the first book I read that didn’t have a happy ending. I hated books with happy endings growing up because it didn’t make them seem real to me, how could any of these good things actually happen in real life? In Lucas, Kait simply writes her story as she remembers it, all the good parts and the bad parts and it feels so real and amazing that it helped to teach me that pain is a part of life but that good feelings are always right around the corner.

3. The Noughts and Crosses Trilogy
Aside from these books being absolutely amazingly written and Malorie Blackman just simply being one of the most inspiring writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading, this trilogy also helped me when I was growing up. It taught me that we should never let society stop us from being with who we want to be with. That we can’t help who we fall in love with and that everyone should be treated equally. Of course, it had a lot of darkness and destruction within the book and was emotionally grading for a lot of it, but overall, it taught a lot about humanity and the way we act and it simply helped me.

4. Everything Cecilia Ahern has ever written
Okay, so a bit of a cheat as it was never just one book that has inspired me when it comes to Cecilia Ahern but it would be impossible to choose just one for this post. All of her stories have this most magical feel to them but she also brings about messages of acceptance, friendship, love, imagination and just the idea that anything can be inspiring and amazing if we make it so. She is the writer that I truly aspire to be like.

5. Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid
This story is devastating. Truly and honestly. But it is so inspired too. It holds messages about looking past the outer image, of looking past what is simply obvious on the outside and understanding that everyone carries their own baggage. It is a book about friendship, love, loss and simply learning how to grow and survive within the world. It talks about acceptance and familial love and it is just such a powerful book that it was impossible to read this book and not take some true life lessons from it. 

6. Emerald City by Alicia K. Leppert
Depression is one of those “invisible” illnesses that people who have never had it will never truly understand. They cannot see what would drive someone to suicide, they do not understand why someone would simply refuse to get out of bed or to run away and this book really does a grand job of touching on this subject. It shows how it is possible to fight the depression and to keep things going. It’s a lovely story that actually helped me during a time when I myself was fighting to keep myself from being swallowed by the big black whole of depression.


7. The Kite Runner & Ten Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 
This man is by far an immense writer and the stories he writes are incredibly inspirational. He details stories of friendship, of torment, and struggles unknown to many and he goes outside of the box to show what love and life can truly be like. His writing is brilliant and his books have always managed to find a special place in my heart and I manage to carry the messages of his stories wherever I go. It is not our place to take things for granted.

8. Faith by Jodi Picoult 
The first book of Jodi’s that I read which made me instantly fall in love with her work. This book talks not just about faith in religion but also faith in each other and faith being able to just help us live this life. It is full of love, friendship and simply an inspiring and magical story that truly touched me. It also opened me up to the rest of Jodi’s work which is all incredibly amazing and brilliant.

9. Speechless by Hannah Harrington 
It would have been impossible to finish this post without mentioning one of my new all-time favourite authors. Hannah has managed to find a way to really tell real stories about real people. This story covers serious topics of bullying, gossiping, fighting and homophobia. Yet it is dealt with so amazingly and has some really great lessons and messages hidden within its text that it would be incredibly difficult to read this book and walk away without thinking about life in general and our roles within it.

10. The Divergent Series 
This story is one that tells the tale of a strong, powerful feminine who is willing to fight for what she believes in. It has a good sense of friendship, hope and love and it is truly an inspiring dystopian series. It is one that I will remember for a long time and one that I would easily be able to reread as well. It shows that when we feel like we’re truly alone in the world, there may just be others around the corner that are like us and are willing to do everything they can to make sure we never feel like we’re alone again.

There are many more books that have touched me over the years, but these are some that will probably forever be carried along with me. Authors who I will always be grateful for as they have helped me in ways that they probably didn’t even realise they were doing at the time. This is why books are so amazing, because while they transport us to another world and another place, they also teach us some amazing, helpful and inspired lessons about the very world we live in and the very lives we lead each and every day.

Books are, in a nutshell, simply magical <3

Did you like this blog post? Would you like to see more posts like it? If the answer to that question is yes, then I need your help!

If you have just one minute to spare, I would love it if you could watch this video. If I get the most-watches, I may win my chance to blog for Mira INK, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

If you like the video and wish to comment, like or share it, I would be truly appreciative!

At the end of the competition on Dec 11th, I will be choosing one lucky commenter or sharer and they will win themselves a Christmas Surprise! So what are you waiting for?



To know more about the competition in general, click here

All interactions are truly appreciated and I want to thank you all now for the wonderful support! If you would like to get to know me better, feel free to follow my blog, my twitter, add me on facebook or goodreads, or e-mail me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Young Adult 2012 Reader Choice Awards!


What a year. We've survived apocalypses, the dreaded Alice during Goodreads downtime and getting the news we have to wait another year for more Stephanie Perkins. But, on the bright side, from historical to contemporary, dystopian to paranormal, 2012 has been an amazing year for Young Adult fiction. The Goodreads Choice Awards are well underway, but I am bursting with excitement to be the sidekick to the clinically insane, yet delightful Sarah from saz101, to offer you the chance to have your say on the books you love, with a ‘choice awards’ just for Young Adult!

Guidelines:

  • The initial round of voting will run for 2 weeks, until the 15th of December. When votes are tallied, Finals will open, with the top 10 books in each category.
  • You may only vote for one book in each category
  • If you are voting for a book we've missed from the list, please ensure you enter the title as follows: BOOK NAME, AUTHOR NAME. This is crucial for us to correctly sort your vote.
  • Please make sure you include any 'the' prefixed to a book name. For instance, 'The Diviners by Libba Bray' is valid. 'Diviners by Libba Bray' is NOT.
  • Books from December 2011 through to December 2012 all qualify. If you're nominating a book not included on the list, please check the release date.
  • Have fun, and spread the word!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor


Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Thanks to: Hachette Australia for the review copy!
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.


Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

I am blown away. You'd think after Daughter of Smoke and Bone, perhaps some of the awe would fade, that maybe the honeymoon period would dull because the newness of this riveting world has lost it's shine. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Smoke and Bone is frightfully difficult to live up to; but apparently you can match perfection with ten thousand drops of ruthlessly spilled blood. The worldbuilding is expanded upon in greater detail, we see so much more of Eretz and though it's mostly viewed through lenses thick with terror and destruction, I found it fascinating to explore the power and majesty of both Chimaera and Seraphim. We meet new characters, some only briefly, but each leave behind a powerful punch. Alliances shift, emotions are exposed raw, and for those with a squeamish stomach or else naively hoping love will triumph and the worst death you'll witness is a quick and kind knife to the heart, I suggest you go find a nice book about unicorns and plug your ears against the wailing you'll hear from the rest of us as we read.

Days of Blood and Starlight is a war book. It's not the build up, nor the aftermath, but the chilling knee-deep reality of war.  It's not as simple as Seraphim vs. Chimaera. One is not simply the good or the bad. Through multiple perspectives, we're given a window into the evil, the innocent, and those seeking redemption on both sides so that you're never left secretly cheering one to obliterate the other. You feel the cost of every death and when it escalates in retaliation, you wonder how there will ever be hope of making peace. Violence breeds violence and it's a never ending cycle of death, loss, revenge; death, loss, revenge. Who really wins in the end? One side may make the final strike, but it's no victory when you have no one left alive to celebrate with.
 
Karou. It's hard to find light in her eyes anymore. She has lost that bright aura of happiness and curiosity we once saw; but not gone is her stubbornness. She is determined to right her 'wrongs' and she's offered a chance to repay those debts. She's living among an army of Chimara who see her as a traitor, there are few she can trust, but she has a purpose there, one that may buy her safety. I find it so unfair that she should feel ashamed when her only crime was of engaging in a love free from prejudice. How she is made out to be the traitor and bringer of doom when neither she nor Akiva swung the first blade against the 'enemy'. They dreamed of peace and instead were rewarded with a nightmare of murder. Even more devastating is to see her working with that... thing. A once enemy is now sort-of ally and a once lover is now the enemy. Cruel world.

Karou and Akiva don't share a great number of scenes together, if barely enough to fill a hand. The absence is an acute ache, but when they are together? It's a blade straight to the heart. Especially experiencing it from Akiva's mind; I would bleed a thousand rivers if only for him to find reason to smile again. He is, without question, one of my favourite males in fiction. Not for the purpose of schoolgirl swooning, but for the complexity and utter heartache of his development. He has endured the epitome of pain and sacrifice, and he's not without his own sins and horrific crimes, yet he constantly seeks redemption, never giving up even when he hits his lowest points. He's still chasing the dream of peace and unity. He refuses to be dragged back into the senseless killing, even as he's revered as the "Beasts Bane," destroyer of Chimaera. I so admire his perseverance.

Days of Blood and Starlight is a million shades darker, brutal and emotionally draining than the first book, but don't despair, there are still moments of happiness. Just in small doses. And they come primarily in the form of Zuzana and Mik; the world's most ADORABLE COUPLE EVER. Their love, their laughter, their brightness makes you forget, just for a moment, the ongoing torture and slaying elsewhere. A much needed reprieve from the battering the remainder of the book has on your heart.

If you have not yet been exposed the wonders of Laini Taylor's written art, then you have not experienced true literary love. It's hard to believe this is a work of fiction; I'm half expecting to look out my window and see blood raining from the sky as seraphim and chimaera ruthlessly battle above. Days of Blood and Starlight is alive; bleak and hopeless, violent and full of grief, but alive in every gut-aching emotion, every flash of blade and stroke of wing. It hurts so bad, because it's so astonishingly real. This is not a fairy tale, nor will there ever be a fairy tale ending, not with all that has been lost. Sacrificed. Stolen. But even in the darkest recesses of despair, there is the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest shred of hope and you latch onto it like it's your own soul trying to escape.

 5 million Golden Apples!

You can find Days of Blood and Starlight at:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Owl Post #17

Inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox, Owl Post allows me to excitedly share all the yummy books I get in the mail each week! Owl's are much faster and more reliable than sneaky postmen, and the common way for magical folk to send and receive letters and parcels.

I won a giveaway from Youth Central for a Hot Key YA book pack, which includes all the novels you see except Possessed, Dance of Shadows and Mara Dyer. EVERYONE has been raving about The Vincent Boys and I'm dying to see why! I just hope it will live up to my huge expectations ;) Also came with a bad boy/good guy bookmark.
I've been wanting to read more historical and/or books centered around war lately, so what perfect timing to get this! A romance set in such scary times? You have Brodie hook, line and sinker.

Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi
 I love me an angel read, so I'm willing to give this a try and see what it offers. Hopefully something fresh and captivating! Anyone read it?

I have been excited to read this! It's set in the 17th century and there's astronomy and romance and it sounds like a beautiful coming of age/destiny-or-freewill story.

Possessed by Niki Valentine
Never heard of this prior to receiving it for review and I haven't seen too many raving opinions, but it does sound interesting. And my ears always perk up at "psychological thriller."

Some of you might remember me reviewing this earlier this year. Well, perhaps ''fangirling" is more appropriate :) If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend!

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
 This came with a bottle of nail polish and a polaroid to emphasise the mystery of "Where is Margaret Adler?" Gorgeous cover, too! I'm not usually a big fan of reading dance books, but it sounds delightfully creepy and I *think* there's a supernatural twist?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I finished this yesterday and.... excuse me while I go curl up in a corner and DIE. Everything I've come to expect from Hodkin; creepiness, nail-biting suspense, WTFery, shocking surprise and good god, Noah Shaw. *drops to knees and worships*

What goodies have the owls delivered to you this week?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #51

 Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine where you can spotlight a book you're giddy with excitement to read so other people can be giddy with excitement too :)


 
Author: Jenna Black
Release Date: July 16th 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Add it: Goodreads
Breathtaking new YA SF from the author of the Faeriewalker series

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.

Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.


 
Author: Melissa Keil
Release Date: February 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Add it: Goodreads
A YA romantic comedy about a movie geek and the dream girl he refuses to fall in love with.

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he's totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft - and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn't have to worry about girls.

Then Camilla Carter arrives on the scene. She's beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his plan. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a plan of her own - and he seems to be a part of it!

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies - but now it looks like he's been watching the wrong ones.


Replica: Anyone read Jenna Black's Faeriewalker series? I've been wanting to for a long time and now her new series is no different. Human replication? Arranged marriages? Murder mystery? Hell yes, please!

Life In Outer Space:  I have two words for you: AUSSIE CONTEMPORARY. I think it's been proven many times that Australian writers are ridiculously talented, particularly in contemporary novels. This just sounds like such a fresh, FUN, entertaining book. It had me at,  "A YA romantic comedy about a movie geek and the dream girl he refuses to fall in love with." I can't wait to meet Sam :)

 What are you waiting on this insanely melting hot Wednesday?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Post: Young Adult Books that Pull on Emotional Strings

by Leanne from The Reclusive Reader

Every reader has wept during emotional scenes in books, and I mean everyone, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. Was it during THAT SCENE in Bridge to Terabithia, or Where the Red Fern Grows? Did you collapse in a heap and started sobbing hysterically during the epic finale of Harry Potter? Or did Mockingjay hit you right in the heart, in that sensitive spot you only reserve for books that resonate with you on a deeply personal level?

I personally don’t anticipate reading “tear-jerkers”, whence books make me feel all soft and mushy and weepy and sniff-ly inside. I’m sorry; I am quite aware that I may sound like a coldhearted cod, but no, get away from me, FEELS! Shoo!

In spite of all my complaining and whining though, it’s without a doubt that a couple very precious novels have affected me on an incredibly personal level and lingered for a while. Momentarily, I’ll present to you a couple of absolute treasures I highly recommend for when you’re in that really dreadful mood to stain your blanket with tears.

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver

Premise: What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, and the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

On the surface, Before I Fall may seem like a trite, uninspired novel riddled with clichés, a mix of “Groundhog Day” and “Mean Girls”. Yes, this book is about unlikeable, excessively bitchy Queen Bees who inflict emotional pain on their victims, including the main protagonist, Sam Kingston.

BUT, somehow this book managed to blow my initial misgivings out of the water and displayed characters in their most organic, bare forms. The writing was wholly spectacular, evocative, thought- provoking, and sentimental without being absurdly sappy. And the ending, was just… Even now, I can barely write about it without getting all, WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEL WHY DID IT HAVE TO END THAT WAY whywhywhy….

Yes, I’m still sensitive about it. *whispers* don’t tell!

And I can also remember quite vividly that Lauren Oliver wrote absolutely gorgeous passages.

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there's a tomorrow. Maybe for you there's one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through your fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there's only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”

“Here's another thing to remember: hope keeps you alive. Even when you're dead, it's the only thing that keeps you alive.”

“I guess that's what saying good-bye is always like--like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do but let go.”

So now, if you haven’t read this book and weren’t left in a state of unstable emotions when you finished, this book is calling your name. I can hear it…

Furthermore, if you have no idea as to who I am and are quite disturbed by my strange ramblings, then you most likely don’t know that I’ve been raving about this emotional tear- jerker ever since I read it two months ago. The book I speak of is Story of a Girl, an unbelievably poignant, raw, and quietly powerful novel that spoke to me on so many different levels.


Story of a Girl
By Sara Zarr

Premise: When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend--Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.


Deanna is that girl, you know, that girl? The slut who slept with her older brother's best friend when she was thirteen; the girl who later had to deal with the repercussions of her past mistake. Deanna is a girl who can easily be dismissed as a skank, a clingy freak with no life, as most presume in her backwards, blue collar town. What if this piece of gossip that’s circled around her school for years and has been so belittled so that people laugh off such a horrible experience as if it were a joke; what if there is more to it than people bother to care?

I loved this book, body and soul. It revealed my lesser qualities of dismissing people solely by their reputation and single mistakes that create a magnitude effect on their lives. It was thought-provoking, it was excruciatingly genuine and hopeful and potent and real. The author wrote in such a way that I felt as if my heart was being ripped into pieces, slowly and steadily, painful with every shred. When I finished reading the last page, I clutched this book tightly to my chest, while tears slowly trickled down my cheeks. Please, don’t miss out on this one, my darlings. A book to be remembered for a very long time…

And lastly, quotes that will make your heart melt:

“Forgetting isn't enough. You can paddle away from the memories and think they are gone. But they will keep floating back, again and again and again. They circle you, like sharks. Until, unless, something, someone? Can do more than just cover the wound.”

“Sometimes rescue comes to you. It just shows up, and you do nothing. Maybe you deserve it, maybe you don't. But be ready, when it comes, to decide if you will take the outstretched hand and let it pull you ashore.”

Well now, that’s it for today, ladies and gentleman! I hope you enjoyed my erratic ramblings/gushing/raving. :)

You can find Leanne on: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter
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Brodie the friendly Eidorb would like to finish by saying:

The talented writers who have been guest posting on my blog the past month or two have continually blown me away with their beautiful writing. Not that I'm surprised, because have you visited each of their blogs?! Leanne is clearly no exception; her stunning writing is a highly effective form of mind control, because now I'm desperate to read Story of A Girl; a novel I've been aware of for years but stupidly never felt inclined to pick up. I LOVE STORIES THAT SHRED MY HEART!! I wholly agree with her thoughts on Before I Fall too. I was a mess by the end of the book!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Review: Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie


Author: Ally Condie
Release Date: 13th November 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Thanks to Penguin Australia for the review copy!
Cassia's journey began with a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect façade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.

The wait is over.

Cassia has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most – family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution will soon explode into full-scale rebellion.

In this gripping conclusion to the bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia, Ky and Xander return to the Society to save the one thing denied to them for so long: the power to choose.

There's always a degree of apprehension when beginning the last book in a series. I have huge expectations given it's where everything must come together: answers finally revealed, enemies defeated, beloved characters carving out their future for better or worse. I absolutely loved the beginning of the trilogy, Matched, though felt a little letdown in the sequel. Was I happy with Reached? Yes and (a little bit) no.

I will admit that I was hoping for a touch.... more. Despite the life-or-death situation in Reached, I never quite felt the suspense. I was never on edge or left worrying what would happen. The main enemy is the plague. There was a lot of searching for a cure, trial and error, and the slow pace felt drearily so at times. But I appreciate that Ally offered a sense of realism with the amount of time and research it took; there's nothing more eye-rolling than when the solution magically appears 10 pages later. Yet in saying this, I understand these books are not meant to be fast-paced roller coasters. Instead, we see whispers of evolution in each character, the exploration of change is not always in-your-face, but powerful in it's own quiet way.

In so many novels we see that one hero or heroine who becomes the face of rebellion; usually reluctant, but eventually rises to the challenge, defeats the enemy and leads their world to a brighter future. I love that we don't see this in Reached. In the end, there is no one leader, it's a collective effort where everyone plays a role, no matter how small, in saving the world. A hero is not always one who's endured the greatest losses, the most charismatic or else skilled with a sword. A hero can be a boy who's never suffered great pain, a girl who sorts data, or the young man who taught her how to write her name. 

What I love so much about this series is Ally Condie's writing. Even in times where I wasn't particularly riveted by plot, it's her writing that kept me glued to the page. Some authors can make my heart pound, reduce me to a puddle of goo or leave me utterly depressed. Ally gives me a meditative calm. When I set her books down between chapters, I don't want to get on the computer or watch tv and have a hundred things barrage my mind at once. Instead, I want to walk outside and just stare at the sky or breathe in the summer air. That's the one thing I'm going to miss the most. Her writing. An element that also plays such a central role throughout the entire series. Cassia, Ky, Xander; they're fighting for freedom in a world where expression and creation is long forgotten, where order and statistics eradicate the surprise in spontaneity and choice; a society caged by a limited spectrum of colours, never daring to mix their red, green and blue.

Until Reached, where finally, they are. And it's beautiful to witness unfold, especially in moments from Cassia's point-of-view.

"I weave the papers through the branches. A long loop. Up and down, my knees bending. My arms above my head, like the girls I saw once in a painting in a cave. There is a rhythm to this, a keeping of time.

I wonder if I am dancing."

This series is not for the adrenaline-junkie looking for a pulse-pounding read. It's not for the dystopian lover whose veins are filled by the bloodshed of the enemy. Reached may not have excited me in the way I hoped; the plot may have felt slow and the suspense never quite reaching a peak; but the beauty in every word, the inspiration behind every act, the power that lay within freewill and expression, is what makes this book so special. It's why I kept turning those pages again and again. I'm happy with how things concluded; we see one journey complete it's circle and the tentative beginnings of another. You're left to wonder, but in a good way. This is a series that teaches we all have something to offer; we all have the talent to give or create and even if we're the millionth person to write or sing about love or pain, or draw the clouds in the sky; each piece will always be different, it will be new to us, and continue on the chain of inspiration to every soul who shares in our work.

"Writing, painting, singing—it cannot stop everything. Cannot halt death in its tracks. But perhaps it can make the pause between death’s footsteps sound and look and feel beautiful, can make the space of waiting a place where you can linger without as much fear. For we are all walking each other to our deaths, and the journey there between footsteps makes up our lives."

 3.5 shiny golden apples!

You can find Reached at:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Interview with author of THE DIVINERS - Libba Bray!


If you're not already aware, Australian blogs are currently being infected with the wit, humour and intelligence of the one and only Libba Bray. From saz101 to Novels On The Run, and now I have the immense pleasure of welcoming her here! Who is Libba Bray? Uh, only the planet's most fascinating writer, who broke the awesome-o-meter with Beauty Queens, Going Bovine and the Gemma Doyle trilogy, introducing us to the likes of Captain Bodacious (like, only the coolest hot-pirate reality show ever), MoMo B. ChaCha (an Elvis-obsessed dictator with a stuffed monkey; also loves Captain Bodacious), Shithenge and a punk-rock angel. Not to mention every other character and creation she's ever dreamed up. This woman is fifty thousand shades of entertaining, insightful insanity.

To celebrate the recent release of her amazing new novel, THE DIVINERS, the ever lovely booknerds at Allen & Unwin gave me the opportunity to interview her, where she somehow managed to work with some of my ridiculously lame questions and produce a series of truly fascinating answers! Proven fact: Libba Bray can even make idiots look awesome. I might have to invest in a pocket-sized Libba.

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Libba Bray Interview

With The Diviners set in the 1920's, did you do much research into this era? What's the most fascinating thing you discovered?

Libba: I did tons of research, and I have to say, I enjoyed every bit of it. (Wow, way to sound like a real nerd, Lib. I don’t get out much.) I started by doing general reading on the period, books like Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s by Ann Douglas, Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s by Lynn Dumenil, and Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen. Then I moved on to more specific books such as Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Warsby Shane White, Stephen Garton, Dr. Stephen Robertson and Graham White; and Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modernby Joshua Zeitz. I made use of New York City’s many resources: the New York Public Library, the New York Historical Society, the Manhattan Transit Authority’s archives, the Museum of Chinese in America, the Paley Center for Media. I did walking tours of New York neighborhoods with two historians. And when I really needed to knuckle down, I hired a research consultant, Lisa Gold, a librarian in Seattle, who was able to get me articles and primary sources I desperately needed. Hooray for Lisa! Hooray for librarians!

I think one of my favorite small discoveries was about the widespread quackery belief that radiation was good for you. There were some crazy theories—belief that it could cure mental illness, epilepsy, and the common cold. All sorts of products touted the wonders of radiation. I came across an ad Al Jolson did for a therapeutic irradiated patch for the throat that Jolson claimed really helped his voice. (Yikes!) But my favorite was a “health drink” called Radithor which was water that contained 1% radium. A wealthy businessman named Eben Byers used to drink the stuff like soda. When he died—horribly, as I’m sure you’ve already gathered—the Wall Street Journal’s headline read: “The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off.” Fun stuff.

What are three things writing The Diviners (or writing in general) has taught you?

Libba: 1. It’s important to read and understand the lessons of history.

2. Don’t drink irradiated water.

3. Prohibition was a silly idea.

Where is the spookiest/creepiest/most haunted place you've ever visited (or would like to visit)?

Libba: Oh, wow. Great question. As a fan of haunted house stories, I’ve always wanted to visit the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/ And as someone obsessed with the movie, “Rosemary’s Baby,” I’d love to get a peek inside the Dakota apartment building where it was filmed.

(The Dakota, c. 1912. Corner of Central Park West & W. 72nd Street, New York City)

But I’d have to say that the creepiest/scariest/most haunted place I’ve ever visited is my own mind. J

Which character, from any of your books, has been the most entertaining to write?

Libba: Hmmm, now see, if I pick a favorite, all of the other characters will get their feelings hurt, and then when I come home, they will have Vaselined the toilet seat and replaced all the songs on my iPod with Pokemon versions in revenge. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that all of those girls in BEAUTY QUEENS were a criminal amount of fun to write.

Do you have an easier time channeling hilarious, creepy, or emotional scenes?

Libba: I’d say I probably excel at the unintentionally hilarious, which others interpret as downright creepy which then leads to a lot of emotional crying on my part.

How do you want to be remembered in 250 years time when bright, young, robotic-minds wander a museum of ancient 21st century books and stumble across one bearing your name?

Libba: As that author who was part of an international scandal involving Ryan Gosling, street mimes, and a drag queen musical featuring the songs of Burt Bacharach.

Lastly, how do you think the world is going to end?

Libba: In a bureaucratic bungle. In fact, I’ll bet that’s already happened and the world has ended, but someone forgot to send out the memo, and so we’re all still wandering around the office wondering why nobody’s made coffee.


1920s New York. A teen clairvoyant. An old evil. It has begun...

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old home town and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City - and she is pos-i-tute-ly thrilled! New York is the city of speak-easies, rent parties, shopping and movie palaces, and soon enough Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult - also known as 'The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies'.

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of it. Even Evie's new pals - hoofers, numbers runners and activists, but all swell kids - are drawn into the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first...


Find THE DIVINERS at:
Goodreads | Booktopia | Fishpond | Bookworld


Follow Libba Bray on:
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Post: The How and Why of loving books



Books. That’s what it’s about, right? They’re friends, the really good ones, and perhaps we make (as Harry Potter thinks about Draco Malfoy in The Chamber of Secrets), the occasional “arch enemy” out of ones we don’t get along with so well. Books can capture something in their pages that can make you cry or laugh, and one of the best things about them is the fact that you can go back to them whenever you want.

Yet now and again you may ask yourself two questions: How being the first, and Why being the second. To add more light to these two questions, I made a chart, which applies to a novel you’re loving.


The How and Why, explained:
How does this book do all these things do me? Why does it do these things to me? How am I so connected with these characters, why do I feel as if they’re a part of me?

I’m definitely not a professional book decipher, I literally just spelt “professional” incorrectly, but I, like everyone, have ideas and I am going to share a few of them. There’s the wonderful quote -



And that’s us. We’re the readers, we live alongside many fandoms, we share our love for these characters, even if they broke our hearts into many tiny little pieces and then stamped on them for good measure.

So why do we love books so much? Why do we feel an instant connection and the blossom of love when we start reading some books and not others? Here’s what I think. It’s because you’re reading about people you aspire to, who you see a yourself in. You fall in love with the world and wish you could live in it yourself, and when you can love Katniss, Luna, Hazel Grace, Augustus, Peeta, Harry, Finnick, Annie, Four, Tris and so many other amazing characters why would you settle for anything else?

When we open a book we have the opportunity of living two lives, one between the paper and one quite different one. We can be reassured that nothing will change when we go away and we can always go back if things in this life take a turn for the fictional. We give so much to these places inside the pages. In return they promise never to leave us, no matter how what happens. These books become a part of us, of our lives and that is more than okay. It’s wonderful. It’s as it should be. Without it, what would life be?

There are OTP’s and Ships and we are at the base of all of these things. The reading community starts this and makes a bigger community, a community that grows with every page turned, a community you will always be welcomed in to, and to sum these relationships up I have two very small lines to say:

endless joy

crying constantly

And so, of course, we come to the deaths. Your favourite character, the one you’ve rooted for all along or the one you fell in love with at the same time the heroine/hero did; the one you hated all along (and I think a lot of you know who I’m talking about now) who, in the last moments of life, show the best part of themselves and turn you into a wet mess. If authors knew what we went through, would they keep it up?

Probably.

Characters fight to the death, the cast spells together, they fall in love, they push that love away, they die. You’re left speechless, not even able to enunciate how you feel, silently asking why it had to happen to that character. Why couldn’t someone else have sacrificed them self, why couldn’t the author have written in a different name.

For a time, you may be left sobbing into your hands, only able to turn the pages which you have made sure stay as dry as possibly between your tears, because you know you have to keep going on, no matter what. It comes close to breaking you, but you have to keep reading. Because it’s life. Pure and simple (though simultaneously neither of either). To read is to be alive, to stop is like taking away all the air in the world, in a dramatic and honest sense.

Now we come to part 2. The books we don’t like.

Are we prejudice against some books before we even start reading them? Why do we, on occasion, judge books by their covers and not their content, decide we wouldn’t like to read that book because of the nauseating cover, and will definitely read this one because of it’s enticing one, when the one you don’t like the look of might change your life for the better and the one you choose might change it for the worse.

Perhaps we read reviews of them and that particular person didn’t like it and so you decide not to bother reading it, maybe it has too many labels on it, it’s tagged as being the next big hit- that can get tiring, seeing “The biggest thing since Harry Potter!!!” or, “The next Hunger Games!” or what have you, sprawled over the cover. If those are books you don’t like, why would you pick it up? If those are books you love, the expectation, the expectation, an expectation that isn’t easy to quench. And perhaps sometimes luck is against us, so we put aside those books.

I just hope that if we pass up on the one that will change us for the better we still have another chance at reading it, even if that chance doesn’t come along for many years.




I can’t live without books. They’ll break me, they’ll tear my heart to shreds, and yet I wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world. I wouldn’t ever let anyone take away the thousands of other lives I live, I couldn’t let part of my being be taken from me, because books are me- without them I would never be who I am and I would be entirely someone I am not.

I saw a post on Tumblr recently that basically summed me up, and it went something like this…


So that’s what I’ll do now, to finish this off as neatly as I can, with a few books that I think will destroy you in the best possible way. Obviously we’ve got The Hunger Games, my favourite series, specifically Mockingjay, and Harry Potter, probably The Order of the Phoenix for me. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Why we Broke Up by Daniel Handler. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid.

Go on, break your hearts. You know you want to.

In books we have the chance to live another life, the chance to take a step away from our everyday life and live another. And, maybe most importantly, we have the chance to find out what is important to us - we get to decide how we live and books, for me at least, influence that decision.

You can find Romi on: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter
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Thanks so much for your fantastic post, Romi! I think I nearly all of us can relate so much to her words. I especially love her paragraph with, "I can’t live without books. They’ll break me, they’ll tear my heart to shreds, and yet I wouldn’t give them up for anything in the world." This is ME. No matter how much books ruin me, it would ruin me more to give them up <3

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