Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Week's Gossip #7

Richelle Mead has issued a challenge to her fans: Reach 10,000 pre-orders for BLOODLINES before this week ends and she will reveal an exclusive cut-chapter from the book, narrated by the one and only Adrian Ivashkov!! ADRIAN FANS UNITE!  Details here!

Feeling the need to release your inner wolf over the cliffhanger Andrea Cremer left us with in Wolfsbane? Well tuck your tail between your legs, because she's given us preview of the first chapter of BLOODROSE! Warning: Do not read if you have not read Wolfsbane. Spoilers, ahoy!

Want to read the first chapter of LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR?! Of course you do! Head on over to Between The Lines for an exclusive first look!! CAN I HAVE THE FULL BOOK NOW PLEASE?!

For those who like their zombie boys sweet, check out the 3 chapter preview of Lia Habel's DEARLY, DEPARTED. Mmmm brains.

Debut novel, LEVEL TWO, by well known blogger, Lenore Appelhans (Presenting Lenrore) has now been acquired by Usborne UK! Check out the press release for some exciting details about the story. Cinematic rights have also been sold and Simon & Schuster will be publishing the novel in the US.

Admire The Pretty...
A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton
Scarlet by A.C Gaughen
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins


Need your Fuentes fix? Check out the trailer to Chain Reaction, the third and final installment in the trilogy by Simone Elkeles!

I NEED THIS BOOK NOW!!! So excited release date is nearly upon us!

I haven't read The Secret Circle books, but I am super excited for this show! Fully of witchy magic and the ultimate hook - it's from the creators of The Vampire Diaries. I wasn't a big fan of the first TVD book, but the show? I LOVE! Seeing what they've done with that makes me excited to see the magic they'll bring to The Secret Circle! Bring on September.

Not only does July 31st mark the birthday of The Boy Who Lived, but Pottermore has promised an exclusive opportunity for one million users to gain beta access to their site, prior to the official launch in October. So don't forget to check it out on Sunday! But be warned: If you steal my spot, there will be retribution.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved #2)

Author: Cate Tiernan
Release Date: September 13th 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Add it: Goodreads
I'm still here. Still immortal. The eagerly anticipated sequel to Immortal Beloved, the deeply alluring gothic romance.

Reyn: the thorn in my side, nightmare of my past, destroyer of my family, constant irritant of my now . . . and the one whose fevered kisses I had relived over and over as I lay exhausted and unable to sleep.

And yet night after night, he--who has kicked down hundreds of doors--had not brought himself to knock on mine.

Are you dizzy from being flung into my world like this? I feel the same way every morning when I open my eyes to find I'm still me, still here.

Just when you thought Nastasya might be on the road to recovery at the end of Immortal Beloved, there's suddenly a pot-hole in that road and she goes speeding straight into it. But the difference this time, is while she does make stupid mistakes and falls back into the destructive pattern of her old life, she's gone back in a changed woman. She has knowledge she never had before and, most annoyingly, she's acquired a few pesky morals. All thanks to her time at Rivers Edge, rehab for wayward immortals. And she's a little peeved off about that. River helped her grow a conscious and the pain of having one bites! But oh is this needed for her. I can understand what drew her back there. The doubts and uncertainty swirling through her mind, the dark cloud that seems to be settling over her, infecting everyone and everything around her. Can she truly escape the darkness that burns within her? She feels toxic and if she stays any longer, she's afraid what might to the people she's grown to care for

I was waiting, waiting, waiting for Incy to reappear in Immortal Beloved. We only got a quick glance at his character in the beginning and there was that running fear that he may catch up to Nas again - and boy did I want him to! Which made me happy to see him here, if not a little scared. But Nastasya isn't sure what to think because he's seems so very normal. Not the flash of the guy she saw emerge when he crippled the taxi driver back in London. But the Incy she knew and loved. Was she too rash in her judgement to leave? Was she wrong to abandon their century old friendship before she really gained all the facts?

The flashbacks to the past are again scattered throughout the novel, which I so enjoyed reading because that add that much more depth to the story. Nastasya begins to see many of her memories in an entirely new light because she's viewing them from the perspective of someone who's actually beginning to give a damn about the world around her and the people in it. She learns some painful truths about her family and also witnesses some shocking moments in River's past. Kind, wise, guiding River whose past is revealed to be a far cry from the woman we know today. Choice. That is a key theme in what Tiernan writes. Everyone has a choice. No matter what lay within you, no matter what you've done or how great the darkness you're capable of, what you do next lies solely within your hands.

The incredibly messed up relationship between Nastasya and Reyn is still warring on. It's not a focal point of the novel, but she is still battling the emotions churning within her. Never have I witnessed such a complicated relationship between two fictional characters. Their past together is brutal, tormenting and horrific. They're both changed people, but can she ever truly allow herself to be with this man?

What I love in particular about these books is the redemptive theme. Characters whose actions would ordinarily make them complete villains of the story, are in the leading roles and striving toward a better life. I'd like to see such hope for the person who exhibited the most.... well, psychotic displays of insanity throughout the book. They commit some gruesome crimes, but we do gain an understanding as to what drives them to do it. But when you think about it - is this person any different from River? Reyn? Nastasya? Anyone at River's Edge? They were all like that at one point. Immersed in the darkness. But if they can fight it, then I have hope for other 'bad guy' characters who come along.

Tiernan's writing is so addictively engaging and Nastasya never fails to create a reaction out of the reader. The witty voice I so loved in Immortal Beloved is still ever present. Whether you're laughing, sympathising or else just groaning at some of her choices, she makes you become invested in her story and that's what makes for such endearing characters. They demand your attention. Darkness Falls is a thoroughly satisfying sequel as we see Nastasya begin to face her past, but not without dire consequences. The road to recovery is far from easy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Hunger Games First Look at Peeta & Gale!

You all remember flipping out when EW revealed that amazing shot of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss on the cover of EW? Well prepare yourselves! They've treated us fans yet again with out very first look at Peeta and Gale!!

What do you guys think? Personally, I'm really happy with our main cast! I think they look great! And provided they nail the character, I could ask for no better. And man, these photo's are making me SO freaking excited for the movie!! Actually, I'd just settle for a teaser trailer now.  Patience, patience.

Boy with the bread! <3

Here are some low quality scans from the magazine. Hopefully someone will scan some HQ ones and upload them online soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday #21

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: Melissa Darnell
Release Date: October 25th 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Add it: Goodreads
Savannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the Clann and about herself-dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire-a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn't just a bad idea-it could be deadly if anyone finds out. But her attraction to Tristan-and his to her-isn't something either of them can resist for long.

Author: Christina Meredith
Release Date: December 11th 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Add it: Goodreads
Leah has the life most high school girls would kill for—popularity, glowing grades, a rich, athletic boyfriend. So why does she feel like she can’t breathe? And why can’t she stop thinking about the boy from the country club? The one who isn’t her boyfriend, the one that her mother would never, ever approve of, the one that her perfect older sisters would never, ever look at twice. The one who is always looking back at her. Irresistible attraction, smoldering glances, the bad boy and the good girl—Kiss Crush Collide has everything that a steamy forbidden romance should, and then some.

With graceful and honest writing and an electric love story, this is a book about growing into your own skin. For fans of Perfect Chemistry, Sarah Dessen, and John Green.

Crave: First of all, how stunning is that cover?! The white of her dress really stands out amongst the red. And I am sucker for when witches and vampires clash, add on a forbidden romance to that and I am dying to get my hands on this book!!

Kiss Crush Collide: Another forbidden romance! The fact that it says this is for fans of Perfect Chemistry is an absolute hook for me. The good girl/bad boy is so deliciously enticing. I am so looking forward to reading this!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: November 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Add it: Goodreads
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old-girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Juliette has been locked away for 264 days. Her sole possession: a notebook. Her sole companion: herself. Her crime is her touch. So deadly and powerful. At age 14 she was locked away in the asylum and since then the outside world has died more and more everyday and The Reestablishment has taken control over society. But while the outside has been in a constant state of change, no matter how harsh, Juliette's been alone, stagnent in this small cell with only her thoughts for company. Until there's someone new in her cell. Someone who notices how often she stares outside, who wants to know her name and what she writes. Someone who cares.  A boy who completely shatters the mad and lonely existence she's lived for not only those 264 days, but her entire life.

The best part about this book is Tahereh's amazing ability with words. Her style is so unique and original, I've never read anything like it. Every single word is so carefully structured, full of passion and love and tenderness. It's hard to imagine her hunched over the laptop in her PJ's, with bloodshot eyes and a frenzied look of madness upon her face, because that really contradicts the beauty she's typing. The story itself is engaging, but the words that shape it are what make it such a stunning piece of art.

Juliette is a fantastic protagonist. There is that running thread of hope and strength throughout the novel - can she find hope in the world? In others? Most importantly, in herself? Can she harness that strength that pulses within her very core? It's there, but it's her choice to see it there, to feel it, to embrace it. Her growth is so well portrayed. We see her introduced as this scattered, broken soul daring to hope for the one thing she has craved her entire life: love. To be touched and accepted and embraced. But she hasn't had that. Her life has been one emotional blow after another, yet all the while she remains this inherently good person. She doesn't want to be seen as a monster. She wants to believe there is good inside her and maybe someday someone will see that about her.

And do they ever. Adam Kent. SWOON! Oh he is a heart-warming puddle of sweet, strong and sssexy. His is so genuine and caring and such a beautiful boy. He is that light in Juliette's life that has forced her to step out of the darkness, to have faith in herself and another human being. The moment when she 'first' started paying attention to Adam Kent? I believe that signalled the sound of my heart cracking, then hastily sewing itself back together, then popping its stitches while it reaches out to grab hold of that sweet, tormented young man. Sigh. The romance that builds and simmers between Juliette and Adam literally heats the page. You can taste the desire, the sexual tension, the nerves. A touch or almost-touch, a whisper, a word, a look is so palpable, so vivid and rich because of Tahereh's beautiful way with words.

Warner is... messed up. Seriously messed up in the head. You can see there is more to him, you can sense that vulnerability lurking beneath and sort of understand why he does what he does. But my god. The lengths he goes to in order to achieve his goals is so so so sick. One scene in particular, something he makes Juliette do had me wishing, oh so wishing she would crush him for all he's worth. It was horrible, it was disgusting and I so felt for Juliette in that moment. She couldn't escape it. There was nothing she could do but play right into his hands. He was a well crafted character because you want to hate hate hate him, but Tahereh has to go and make him human! Authors these days... I think they enjoy making us readers so conflicted.

The secondary characters are all brilliant; whether you love them, hate them or just plain growl in anger and frown in confusion because hey, Warner has a freaking heart. But THEN WHY MUST HE BE SO DAMN EVIL?! I adored two particular secondary characters, one whose name I won't even mention because I don't want to ruin anything.

The ending was a bit of a surprise. It takes quite a different turn from the rest of the novel and sets itself up for an exciting sequel. I really like what Tahereh has introduced there, it has a lot of potential and the kind of potential that has me itching in wait to see what it will offer us. The problem is, I was totally feeling the vibe of this new element! But then.... I had nothing more to read. And I don't want it to be over. I want to play with my new shiny toy some more because it has so many cool levers and components, I want to see what else it can do! Patience? Not my strong point.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Aussie Book Gossip #1

Sometimes I do a weekly round up of "This Week's Gossip" (when I'm not so lazy) with different bits of news, cover reveals, etc around the blogosphere. But I thought I'd also post an All-Aussie round up maybe a couple times a month, or whenever there's any news for my Aussie readers (and international folk who are interested!)

Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres has been receiving a lot of buzz from international readers eager to get their hands on this amazing novel. Currently it is only available in Australia and New Zealand and will be published early 2012 in Turkey. But what about the rest of the world? This is where you come in! If you want to help see Burn Bright see international fame, check out this post. And be vocal! The more people buzzing, the more industry people will take notice.

Foreign Rights have been sold for The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, which will be simultaneously released in UK and Australia in January 2012.

Roadshow Films are giving one incredibly lucky Australian the chance to win a visit to the set of The Hunger Games! But hurry, entries close 5pm Thursday 26th July. ENTER HERE.

The Penguin Australia team have been busy these past few weeks, casting and filming teaser trailers for the upcoming release of Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. The first has been released, featuring Rose and the second will go viral tomorrow featuring some Russian God Dimitri action. Check out the schedule here

Fan reactions have been quite strong in regards to the actors. But hey, they're only trailers! Not the real movie. I think it's great that Penguin are getting so involved in giving fans these teasers!

Cover Reveal
Penguin Australia have also revealed the UK/AU cover art to Legend (on the left). Which do you prefer? AU or US? I think they both have appeal, but I'm a little more partial feel of the Aussie cover!

Tour News
Lauren Kate, author of the Fallen series will touring throughout Australia during the next two weeks. If you're a Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane fan, make sure you check out the details!

Marie V. Snyder, author of the Insiders and Poison Study series will also be down under during the month of August. For specific locations, check out the HarlequinTEEN Facebook page.

Review of the week
I'm a little biased choosing this, because I just read and reviewed it myself and absolutely LOVED it. Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart, who just happens to be... yes, an Australian author! I'm sure you didn't see that coming ;) Nomes over at Inkcrush posted her review and said:

The other thing you should absolutely know about this book is it is crazily original. The plot continually heats up and the villains (!) are insanely, genuinely creepy. I had chills even as I couldn’t look away ~ they are fascinating and dark and make for some completely vivid imagery. The stakes are raised and the truth is equal parts creative and horrifying.
Check out her full (gushing) review here!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Harry Potter Week Winners!

Big thanks to everyone who read, commented or entered our giveaways throughout Harry Potter Week! And because you're all so awesome, I have a few winners to announce. I wish I sprinkle a little Potter magic in all your mailboxes, but I'm afraid only four lucky witches were chosen:

Hand-crafted wand from Wizard Wood Wands:
Crystal L.

Custom Quidditch Artwork from Mike on Etsy:
Lissette M.

Harry Potter LEGO Keychain:

Harry Potter Should Have Died from Ulysses Press:
Alissa from The Grammarian's Review

Yay! Congratulations to the winners! I've already made contact with them all, so hopefully you'll receive your prizes soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In My Mailbox #10

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by the wonderful The Story Siren where we get to drool with one another over the awesome books that came in the post this week.

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Everlasting by Alyson Noel (I haven't read this series yet, but I do own the first two books so hopefully I can squeeze them in soon)
Legend by Marie Lu (I prefer the gold/black alternating text in the US ARC, but still, freaking awesome story!)
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young (Thank you, Brooke!)
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (Thank you, Shannon!)

 I also won this Harry Potter pack! A golden snitch clock (the wings are adjustable and it has "I open at the close" written on the front, but unfortunately when I open the snitch, my resurrection stone remains a clock face every single time ;) The keychain has a little dragon, a Harry Potter logo and a Gringotts gold galleon - the keychain and snitch are super shiny and gold, which my camera fails to really show. The shirt underneath, which is just a close up of Harry and the earbuds - there's multiple covers with all the Hogwarts Houses crests.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Blood Song

Author: Rhiannon Hart
Release Date: September 1st 2011
Publisher: Random House Australia
Add it: Goodreads
I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me.

When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.

Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.

Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?
The palace of Amentina is slowly falling into disrepair, the money is dwindling and Reneta, Queen of Amentina, is adamant that her eldest daughter, Lilith, marry a wealthy Prince soon so their land will not die. But when her betrothed suddenly dies, the plan goes awry and Lilith is left nursing a broken heart. Until Renata quickly puts her back on the market and she's offered marriage to Prince Amis of Pergamia. Lilith wants no part of it at first, but something is calling, beckoning her sister Zeraphina to the north where Pergamia lies. The desire burning within her very veins, tugging on every inch of her being toward north. She needs to go there. She must convince Lilith to accept Amis' invitation. But what will await her?

Mystery, danger and Rodden, a man who rivals Zeraphina in all kinds of delicious ways. But can she trust him? What is he hiding? Why does he keep putting a stop to her finding any answers? And why is he such a jerk 90% of the time? (Hush, Zeraphina, don't speak such nonesense of my Rodden!) What awaits the reader is amazing tale that will suck you into it's heart, clutching tighter and tighter as you venture further into Pergamia and the terrors that lurk nearby. I could not read this fast enough, but so very disapointed when I had no more pages to turn!

I think Zeraphina may be one of my new favourite heroines. Your normal definition of "Princess" hardly applies to her and not just because the girl has a craving for blood. And I adore her two animal companions. She's such a plucky young thing - so determined and headstrong and stubborn. If she wants answers, she will go to all ends to seek them out. She doesn't sit around and let the chips fall where they may, she charges forth right in the middle of the action. I really admired her and that fiesty spirit burning within. The wit she brings forth to rival Rodden's makes for such entertaining scenes between the pair and her determined bravery adds to the general awesomeness of this novel, particularly the ending!

I absolutely adored the connection between Rodden and Zeraphina. Their banter back and forth was brilliant. And oh that man. That sexy, brooding, infuriating man. The tension, the agitation and eventually the attraction between them builds and builds until it bleeds from the very pages and you're just as hungry for that blood as Zeraphina is. They grow into such a fierce duo, so full of fire and when they actually do hint at their feelings toward one another, you just about want to explode.

Throughout the novel Zeraphina is on this mission to learn more about the war between Pergamia and Lharmell, but nobody is giving her any answers. She'll find a vague hint here and there, but just when she thinks she might be onto something, Rodden is right there ready to squash all progress. I think that guy has an inbuilt, 'Zeraphina Is Finding Answers' radar to which he must put in motion the, "I Must Intercept With My Brooding Hulk And Piss Her Off" defense strategy. But don't worry, frustrating as it may be for her and the reader at not getting those answers, he makes it a sexy frustration.

Rhiannon has crafted an amazing new mythology with the Lharmellins. Do not chalk up the blood hunger to 'vampires' when you read the synopsis, because it is far, far from your typical bloodsucking craving. When we do learn more about them and their land of Lharmell, it definitely lives up to the mystery! Toward the end especially, Rhiannon has written some brilliant scenes that highlight the creepy, luring nature of the Lharmellins and their effect on Zeraphina. I am so intrigued to see where the story is headed next!

Rhiannon Hart is one debut author that everyone should be on the watch for. Blood Song is an incredible start to what is no doubt going to shape up to be a favourite series of mine. A rich, vivid new fantasy world containing such a unique and compelling mythology with creatures that will lure you into their frenzied web of seduction - to draw away from the pages would be a sin. The gradual romance which starts as a spark, a suspicious, uneasy spark, begins to simmer and then burn and flare into something delightful. If you like your heroines spunky, relatable and flawed, if you like a novel that will demand to be read in one sitting, then this is the perfect read. Do not pass it up!

(Yes, I'm finally implementing icons for ratings! Going with the greek mythology theme alongside blog name!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday #20

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: Syrie James and Ryan James
Release Date: January 24 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Add it: Goodreads
Syrie joined forces with her talented son Ryan to co-write her next novel, Forbidden. The book is about a 16-year-old girl who comes into unusual powers, only to discover that she's half-angel... and her entire existence is forbidden.

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson Academy as the ideal hiding place where he could escape and be normal for once. He hadn't factored Claire Brennan into his plans...

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the threat to Claire's life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

Author: Kimberly Frost
Release Date: January 3rd 2012
Publisher: Berkley
Add it: Goodreads
They should never have met.

In a glittering community in the Colorado Rockies called the Etherlin, the descendants of the ancient muses live behind a wall that separates them from the world and the dangerous creatures who crave them.

Alissa North is inspiration made flesh, so she should never have met Merrick, a deadly half-vampire enforcer, but when they do meet, the connection is instantaneous, and an illicit flirtation is born. He sends her secret gifts. She writes him secret letters.

The long-distance friendship was never supposed to go any farther. But when she is kidnapped and thrown briefly into his world, everything changes. Now Alissa realizes he’s the only person she can trust, and Merrick finds he’ll do anything to protect her, even risk his life by crossing the wall.

As both worlds close in on them, Alissa knows that getting caught with Merrick could cost her everything she’s ever cared about, but giving him up proves harder than she ever imagined…

Forbidden: I love seeing family members pair up and write novels, so I'm curious to see how this one panned out. Forbidden love? Oh synopsis, you know how to tempt me. Factor in the angel element and I am absolutely hooked!

All That Bleeds: Descendants of the Muses, half-vampire enforcers, starcrossed lovers.... you can't resist, you know you can't. The combination of half-vampires and Etherlin's in one novel is fascinating!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video: Haymitch in the Second Quarter Quell!

The folks at Mainstay Productions are at it again, treating Hunger Games fans with another of their videos! First they gave us the Katniss/Rue scene, then Katniss in Peeta in the cave, now we have the Second Quarter Quell! For those who don't remember, that was when a much younger Haymitch first endured his brutal taste of The Hunger Games.

Pretty awesome, huh? Makes me even more excited for the real movie!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

In My Mailbox #9

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by the wonderful The Story Siren where we get to drool with one another over the awesome books that came in the post this week.

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Margaret Matson
Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker (Thank you, Julia, for this and the lovely bracelet + bookmarks!! <3)

Oh and this morning I went and got myself Harry's wand plus two sheets of postcards and a poster from the Ultimate Collection thing they have going here in Australia. I did not wave his wand around with glee and start shooting spells. I didn't! (Heheee Wingardium Leviosa!)

So, about these books? Erm.... LOVE!!! <3 With the exception of The Goddess Test (since I've already read it), I'm insanely excited to start all of these!

I've had a break with reading/reviewing these past two or so weeks and while it's been nice - a refresher - I am hungry to get stuck into a juicy story. I have some serious reading to do. I've a couple of books I need to finish before I start on these bad boys, so I best hop to it!

What did you get this week?

Harry Potter Week: It's been a great week!

Well, that wraps up our Harry Potter Week. I want to thank every person who took the time to comment on our posts or just read them, your involvement is greatly appreciated! We hosted this week because we are all such huge fans of Harry Potter and this series has meant a great deal to all four of us. We wanted to share our love with you guys, so I hope you enjoyed it!

Liz, Honey and Sonia are three of the most awesome girls you will meet and if you aren't stalking them on blogger or twitter already, I highly suggest you risk the restraining orders and do so now. They're funny, smart and crazy talented (emphasis on the crazy part in general :P) and I could not have chosen three greater girls to spend the last "Potter" week with. I had such a fun time!

The books and movies may be over, but I think we can all agree that Harry Potter has become a legend in our muggle world. It will never, ever be over. And I hope to see you guys on Pottermore! My fingers are crossed for the July 31st beta access! Do try to be sorted into Hufflepuff, won't you? I'd hate to be forced to hex your Slytherin butts.

Don't forget to enter all of our giveaways by July 20. The complete list can be found HERE.

Normal posting will resume from now. I'll have up my IMM in the morning, but for now I have a Quidditch match to attend to! (or more lamely, I'm off to bed). Holyhead Harpies are playing the Chudley Cannons. Like we don't know how that's going to turn out already. Thanks for stopping by, HP nerds! <3

I'll leave you with the video that never fails to make me emotional, especially with the trio hug. Sniffles:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter Week: The Boy Who Lived Forever

The year was 2002. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie had only been released late the previous year and I was adamant that it was stupid. Rubbish! I'm so not interested in watching that. That was until my 6th grade teacher told the class we were going to watch it together before reading Chamber of Secrets. So I watched the movie. I read along with my classmates and so help me, I become obsessed. I rushed ahead of everyone else, I ran to the library and borrowed Prisoner of Azkaban and then hounded my librarian incessantly every single day because some horrible person still hadn't returned Goblet of Fire.

That year was one of my best years of schooling. We participated in so many awesome Harry Potter related activities and workbooks, played own version of Quidditch and even had a Hogwarts style Christmas Feast. When Chamber of Secrets was released in November that year, our school had a special screening at the cinema and I can still remember that air of excitement buzzing through the theatre. I cannot thank my teacher enough for fueling what has been an amazing decade and a love that will carry on throughout the rest of my life.

Order of the Phoenix was the first book I ever counted down the days in wait for and willingly woke super early during the school holidays just to line up and get my own copy.  When I got my hands on Deathly Hallows, I did not sleep that night until I'd finished reading. I had to stop halfway through when Dobby died though -  literally, I was crying too much. So many times while reading I closed the book and stared at the cover, lamenting that this is really it. I'll never have another day like this. Never go back to Hogwarts. Never ponder the fate of Harry and his friends. It was all I could do to not break down there and then before I even finished.

Not long after we first got the internet connected, my first ever discussion forum was, you guessed it, a Harry Potter one on the Bloomsbury website (sadly I can find no trace of it now). It was so exciting to talk to fans overseas. Overseas! I was pretty in awe over that fact back then. We theorised and gushed and shared all things Potter. And a few years later, 2004, is when I joined my first Harry Potter Role Play. I RPed for about 3-4 years and I met so many amazing people. That was such an awesome part of my life. I was not only inspired by this magnificent world to improve upon my writing, but formed incredible friendships with fellow fans. And while most of us eventually went separate ways; the memories stay with you forever. Our 3am MSN chats, the crazy, endearing characters we wrote and the hours spent discussing the books together, wailing over who died and pondering what would happen next.

Harry Potter has brought us all so much. We each have a different story to tell, amazing experiences these books have allowed us to be involved in. The release parties, the fansites, the people we've connected with because of this series. The world in which J.K Rowling has crafted is so well detailed, so impressive in it's scope and so, so beautiful. There are books where you think 'oh, how cool would it be to live inside that world?' and then there is Harry Potter, where that statement holds such a deeper meaning for fans. Because you really do wish it existed. To study at Hogwarts. Visit Hogsmeade. Play Quidditch. I'm still crushed that I'll never receive my Hogwarts letter.

It's been an incredible journey, Harry. Together, at the tender age of 11, we discovered a magical world living right beneath our noses. We made new friends, fought with old ones and lost some forever. We battled dragons and giant snakes, we wondered why such an awesome class could never hold the same teacher longer than a year, we watched as the power of Love conquered all and the man so evil to his core, finally met his downfall. And then came the day when we had to go our separate ways. You were 17, I was a few months short of turning 17 myself. We had reached the age of adulthood in the wizarding world. Our childhood adventures were over. Our mischief managed. You went off to marry Ginny and start a family, I was left holding onto the memories we shared, not ever wanting to let go. There were still movies to be seen, still plenty more life left in you. And I stupidly counted down the days in excitement as your final ever adventure on the big screen grew nearer. I watched all the trailers, bounced out of my seat in awe over the amazing clips. And then less than 24 hours before I was set to see it, it really hit me that this was it. No more new adventures for us, no more counting down days or hosting a week in your honour because the next new Potter craze was hitting the world, no more, no more, no more.

I'm still not ready to leave you, Harry. And I realise I don't have to. We still have countless rereads, rewatches, a theme park and Pottermore to look forward to. So there's still that air of excitement and wonder and surprise at what we'll discover. While it was heartbreaking to have the books come to an end, and now the movies, it will never truly be over. Not for us, or our children, or our great-grandchildren, for as long as we humans remain literate. You will become The Boy Who Lived Forever. That's how you gain true immortality. You didn't need a Philosopher's Stone or Horcruxes or Hallows, just two loyal friends, a courageous heart and a world of loyal readers who supported you every step of the way.

J.K Rowling dedicated the final book to us all. "And to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end" - I stuck with him until the end and will continue to until my own journey comes to an end. And hell, even then I'll come back as a ghost and haunt the S-bend of a toilet with Moaning Myrtle just so my Potter love will continue on in the afterlife.

So this isn't goodbye, Harry.  It's just the end of one decade and the beginning of another in our very long lives together. We are all apart of an iconic generation. Those who had the amazing opportunity to grow up beside Harry Potter and we will treasure the memories made forever. Future fans will never know what it was like to spend months debating whether Snape was good or bad, whether R.A.B was really Regulas, if Harry would live or die in the end. They won't have release parties or movie trailers or counting down the days until the next new book or film. There will be millions of new fans born in the coming years, but we were there for the original journey. We are apart of history.

Thank you, J.K Rowling, for the best ten years of my life.

"No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So, whether you come back page by page or by the big screen. Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
J.K Rowling - 7th July 2011. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter Week: Giveaway #4 (Plus all giveaways linked)

Thanks to the amazing Lizzie at LEGO Australia, I have ONE Harry Potter keychain to giveaway to a lucky Australian reader. Isn't he adorable? Hello, miniature Harry! Honey and Liz are also giving away a LEGO keychain of Hagrid and Dobby, so make sure you stop by to enter!

Australia only
Ends July 20th 2011
One entry per person, please.
Following and/or advertising are not required, but of course appreciated!
Good luck!

Don't forget to enter all the other giveaways before July 20:

1 x hand-crafted wand (INTL) 
One copy of Harry Potter Should Have Died (INTL)
A custom Quidditch artwork with YOU as Seeker! (US)
Harry Potter Lego Keychain (AUS)

1 x hand-crafted wand (INTL)
Dobby Lego Keychain (AUS)
A personalised letter from your choice of character (US)
The Ultimate Harry Potter & Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles (INTL)

1 x hand-crafted wand (INTL)
Hand-stamped cuff bracelet with your choice of HP quote (INTL)
Harry Potter Goodie Pack - includes a hat, t-shirt, a couple of random magnets, a spiralbound notebook, and a keychain. (US)
Harry Potter: A Pop Up Book (INTL)

Personalised Hogwarts Acceptance Letter
Hagrid LEGO Keychain (AUS)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Sticker Book (INTL)

Harry Potter Week: BEST MOVIE EVER!!

I am so, so sorry for the awful posts the past two days. I can't believe that old toad Umbridge and her cronies managed to breach our protections and overtake our blogs. I sincerely hope they didn't manage to covert any of you - fight the good fight!! Thankfully, Voldemort is now dead. Or as Peeves would say "We did it, we bashed them wee Potter's the one, and Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!". And Umbridge is now enjoying a beautiful life with her favourite Centaurs *snorts* Anywho, onto my movie thoughts!

I know, I know this is long. And I've probably mentioned every second scene and still forget some of my favourite moments. But dude! You saw the movie (you saw it, right?!) how can I write anything less?


Read at your own risk. Yes, nearly everyone has read the book but you know some things get changed in the movie. So I take no responsibility if you read on and spoil yourself silly :P

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Did I mention WOW?! I saw the movie on Wednesday, so I've had a bit of time to calm from my ridiculously good Potter high. Okay, who am I kidding? I'M STILL ON THAT HIGH!!! Part 2 blew me away. Stunning in it's visuals, heartbreaking in it's revelations, epic in it's battles and all round sheer awesome.

I think I was holding myself back a bit in the cinema because I hate crying in front of people. Once it's out on dvd and I can watch alone and let it hit me, I know I'm going to bawl. That being said, I DID get teary on more than one occasion!! Shall I list the ways? Snape's death - it was a nice touch adding the "You have your mother's eyes" line, since it is repeated to Harry so often and it's importance is so prominent in this particular scene. It wasn't necessary for the books, but it added a nice emotional touch to the movie. I really loved that Harry tried to stop the blood flow, I mean... after everything, all that he believes of Snape, he still tries to save him. God, and his memories. They cast young Lily and Severus so well. When Snape found Lily's body.... he was so broken. Which naturally broke me! Alan Rickman gave an incredible performance for this movie. That scene at Godric's Hollow was brilliantly heartbreaking. Baby Harry looking down at his mother's dead body with those big, teary eyes and then Snape.... KILL ME NOW... cradling the love of his life in his arms and her son crying in the backyard. RUINED. I AM RUINED!!!! *breaks down and cries*

Moving on from tears to... more tears. When we saw Fred's body lying in the Great Hall and Ron just overcome with the grief... then the following shots of Remus and Tonks, yeah, the tears came. My heart broke (AGAIN. How many times can it break in the one film??). Such a saddening moment. Sure, seeing their actual deaths may have evoked a greater emotional reaction, but I don't think it was needed. Their bodies just lying there, lifeless, is enough for any Potter fan to feel that shard of glass in their heart. And then, of course, when Harry told Ron and Hermione about him being a horcrux. I wanted to cry when Hermione said she's go with him.

When the Dragon burst into the main lobby of Gringotts and starting tearing around, I honestly got so emotional. Just seeing these iconic structures that are so much apart of this world destroyed is devastating. Gringotts, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, it hurt seeing that. This was really it. The end battle. It's big. It's epic. Nothing and no one is spared. They'll rebuild with magic, but it's crushing to watch.

Every single person brought their A-game to this film. In previous films there were times where I felt some of the acting was a bit shoddy. Just a few lines here and there that felt forced, but not once, not a single moment do I recall a scene delivered subpar in this movie. It's like everyone realised, "This is it. I've got to give it everything I've got," and the truly did. Dan was amazing and his emotions after he left the pensieve were so believable. Ron is just... Rupert has always been the perfect Ron and he had some really great lines in this film. He delivered perfectly in the Room of Requirement when the trio returned (so funny!) and then when Goyle shot a killing curse at Hermione, I LOVE when Ron took off after him yelling, "That's my girlfriend, you numpties!", because I'm such a Ron/Hermione shipper. And then a few minutes later, he comes pounding back, screaming his head off "AHH AHHH Goyle set the bloody place on fire!". Everyone in my theatre laughed. I just wanted to knock the flipping wand out of Goyle's hand when he kept waving it about shooting flames, the moron LOL.

Voldemort was deliciously creepy. I think Ralph Fiennes delivered his best performance yet as the Dark Lord. That scene with Voldemort walking through the slew of bodies he slayed and the blood - it was chilling, it was amazing. When he hugged Draco... how creepy-awkward was that?. That man does not understand the word 'affection'; I loved seeing him break more and more with each horcrux that was destroyed and the knowledge that this boy, this pesky thorn in his side, knows his greatest secret. The whole disintegration effects with his death was so cool. But the creepiest part of all? Happy Voldemort. Man, that smile is unsettling. When Neville (aka The Chosen Badass) was sticking it to him in the courtyard,  I had to repress a shudder at that look of glee on Voldemort's face. I am just so, so proud of Neville. He's the only one who stepped forward and glowed with Gryffindor bravery.

I can't sing enough praises about this film. Every freaking character really shone in their time on screen. McGonagall was AWESOME. I love that woman. Neville Freaking Longbottom was just so damn badass. Every scene he had was made of WIN. My favourite was the bridge scene. One man against this hoard of psycho Snatchers and he's standing there ready to take them on. Neville, you da man. Oh and I can't not mention Filch. His two moments were such standouts. The bloody castle is in ruins and here he is with his broom trying to sweep up the rubble LOL. I don't think a broom is going to do you much good.

Oh! How could I forget the kiss! I made dozens of notes after I got out of the cinema, I just found my Ron/Hermione one. It really came as a surprise to me. I'd read that it was going to be set in the Chamber of Secrets and I was anticipating it, but it still took me by surprise. It was just so sweet and sudden and unexpected and while yes, I will always prefer how it played out in the books (that scene was amazing), I really enjoyed the movie version too <3

The epilogue was perfect. It was sweet and beautiful and touching and emotional. To see the trio (and Draco too) all grown up, married with families, sending their kids off to Hogwarts. That new generation in the carriage with the chocolate frog on the window and... and... oh god, I'm crying again! That whole scene just brought back that air of innocence and magic that you would have found in Philosopher's Stone. They all looked fantastic with the make-up and aging effects. And the kids were adorable!

The entire movie was executed so well. The battle scenes and all the special effects were amazing. I didn't see it in 3D (I've never watched 3D before and didn't want to risk not enjoying it), but I can imagine they'd probably look even more "WOW". I know they changed quite a few scenes from the book, but I can't complain. Yes, the book will ALWAYS be best, it's my favourite novel out of the series. But the books and movies are two separate entities - the movies are inspired by the books. They're sometimes going to take a different creative approach and maybe change/edit scenes to make them more movie-friendly.. Yes, says the girl who grumbled at scenes they butchered in previous movies, but I've come to appreciate the films for what they are. They're not the books, they're just an awesome visual interpretation of the books. And Deathly Hallows part 2 was a freaking amazing interpretation!  I was prepared for pretty much all of the changes anyway because I read a lot of interviews and behind the scenes details in the months leading up to release. So thankfully there was no disappointment on my part.

Best Potter film BY FAR. The perfect send-off to what has been the greatest franchise in history. I could ask for nothing more. Except maybe the dvd next week. You'll grant me that wish, won't you Warner Bros?? I'm dying here!! I think I'm going for a rewatch over the weekend (or maybe I already have since I scheduled this post!).

What did you think of the movie? LOVED IT? Liked it? Didn't agree with you? Are you planning on going back for a rewatch? Favourite scenes? Share, share, share! Gush with me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter Week: The Hunt For Muggles Begins! (Win a wand!)

The Hunt for Muggles Begins!
Special report by Walden Gazard.

Once considered a breach of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, the Muggle-Hunting bill has been denied and even considered inhumane for centuries. However, we are delighted to announce that as of 8:37pm last night, Pius Thicknesse (Minister for Magic), Dolores Umbridge (Head of the Muggle Born Registration Committee) and members of the Wizengamot have officially decreed Muggle-Hunting legal.

Already the Department of Magical Games and Sports have set up their newest divison, the "Muggle-Hunting Tournament Committee", which will be headed by none other than Muggle-Hunting activist, Dolores Umbridge. Dolores describes her newest position as, "A great honour. There is no job more satisfying than relieving our world of the canker that threatens to overcome us, all the while providing entertainment to our elite citizens."

Barnabas Bleckly, member of the Wizengamout, spoke to us briefly after the meeting was held last night. "Muggles are always prattling on about environmental issues, so we're doing our part to clean up the world. Really, they should be grateful." Indeed, history tells us of the barbaric and cruel behaviour of muggles toward wizards, often hunting down our kind to perform Witch Burnings. Thankfully a simple Flame-Freezing Charm prevented any harm coming to the witch or wizard, but many would agree we have tolerated the beastery for long enough.

Just hours after Muggle-Hunting was legalised, highly successful wizarding brands and businesses were already offering their sponsorship and putting in bids to secure advertisement during the event. Both Borgin & Burkes and Gladrags Wizardwear offered a substantial amount of Galleons to gain prime advertising. "Many of my clientele have been in favor of Muggle-Hunting for years," says Mr. Borgin, "It's a wise investment toward a good cause."

Rather than allow every witch and wizard with a wand to stampede the muggle society, the Muggle-Hunting Tournament will be organised into teams, promoting healthy competition between purebloods. Some are even going as far to say that it could prove more popular than Quidditch. "People love to get behind their favourite teams and buy merchandise in support. And when it's for a cause that touches so many hearts, it's going to be huge," says Bently. "We're making galleons while weeding out the muggles, why didn't we do this sooner?"

Preparations have gone into the Tournament for months, despite the bill only passing last night. "It was only a matter of time before the Ministry saw reason. We are in an age of enlightenment," reveals Dolores. "Finally our society is beginning to see the threat of existing alongside such beasts. We wanted to have everything prepared for when the announcement was made." And prepared they are. Madam Umbridge has stated that the first bi-annual Muggle-Hunting Tournament will begin in as little as four months.

Mr. Bleckly exclusively revealed some of the Tournaments details to The Daily Prophet. "We won't just be judging on the number of muggles killed or taken captive - though the number will be a major contributing factor - but we're looking for talent, creativity and passion. This is a sport, we want entertainment." Bleckly also hinted we may be seeing beasts of a different kind involved. "There will be a number of rounds in the Tournament and each will require a different tactic of capture, torture and death. It won't all be about wandwork. Be prepared for some XXXX Ministry-Classified magical creatures. Grrrrr! Exciting, eh?"
    If you have a team of 7 eager witches and wizards who are able to prove their Pure Blood Status, then you can submit your application directly to the Muggle-Hunting Tournament Committee or you may owl them to us here at The Daily Prophet where we will be passing them on to the Ministry. Registrations close August 13.

    Prepare for Hunt!

    Thoughts on today's article? Excited for the newest sporting craze to hit Britain? Will you be submitting a team application? Or will you be boycotting the event? If so, please leave your name and address so Ministry Officials can take you into custody so The Daily Prophet can anonymously interview you.

    Be sure to stop by the other blogs the Ministry have officially taken over:
    Liz at Planet Print
    Honey at Sniff Books, Not Drugs
    Sonia at The Story Queen

    Giveaway Time!
    You'll be needing a wand in perfect condition if you wish to try your skill in the Muggle-Hunting Tournament. With Ollivander currently out of business, it's hard finding a respectable wandmaker. You don't want a wand that Kedavra's before it Avada's. We're happy to announce we have found the perfect place for all your wand-waving needs!

    Wizard Wood Wands - makers of fine wands since 962 B.C.

    They have an incredible range of wands to suit even the fussiest of witches. Many say the wand chooses the wizard, but why can't the wizard choose the wand? They offer a comprehensive choice of wood type, handle style, lengths and wand cores to craft the wand that is right for you. And no two wands are exactly alike!

    This week, the immensely generous wandmakers are offering the chance for three lucky witches or wizards, anywhere in the world, to win one of their hand-crafted wands. Whether you plan to charm the tail off a Hippogriff or transfigure that acromantula into a handsome warlock, Wizard Wood Wands are the perfect choice. ONE person will be chosen from my giveaway, so if you want two more chances to win a wand, head over to Liz and Sonia's posts!

    Open worldwide.
    Ends July 20th.
    One entry per person.

    Here are just a few examples of the wands they've crafted. Yours may differ to what is shown:

    Neither we nor Wizard Wood Wands are to be held liable if your wand does not perform real magic. And besides, it's illegal for you to have one anyway!
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