Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Everneath

Author: Brodi Ashton
Release Date: March 2012 AU & UK / Already out in US
Publisher: Simon & Schuster AU/UK  / HarperTeen US
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon / Book Depository
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Everneath begins on an eerie, haunting note that sets the tune for the entire novel. Literally fused together with an immortal named Cole, Nikki has spent the last 100 years in the Everneath. While only 6 months have passed on the surface, the seconds tick by slower down below. All this time her heart has been tethered to Cole as he feeds off her every emotion in what his kind, Everlings, call The Feed, marking her as a Forfeit. And while this means she should have forgotten everything she once cared about, one face remained branded in her mind every day for a century: Jack Caputo. The memory of him saved her from oblivion, from forgetting her who she was and blindly following Cole into eternity. Now she's above the surface again, returned to her former life, but she has not escaped the Everneath. It's temporary leave. One way or another, she will return. By Cole's hand or something more sinister, in 6 months time they will pull her back under, forever.

Through flashbacks we see the vibrant, living girl Nikki once was. From her friendship with Jules to her deepening relationship with Jack. And also the moment Cole entered her life and how everything lead up to the one moment that changed her existence. The contrast between pre-Feed Nikki and post-Feed was dramatic, you could see just how much her time in the Everneath had drained her. Emotionally, she was almost a shell. But post-Feed Nikki is incredibly determined. She may not be able to crack a smile or let slip a tear as easily as she once could, but she is determined without a doubt to fix the damage she caused on the lives of her friends and family and to give them the goodbye they deserve. And maybe to even find hope amidst the doom, a saving grace from her one damning mistake before all hope is sucked  from her.

Cole intrigued me. In a frustrating, complicated way thanks to the many layers Ashton weaved into that emotion-stealing Everling. One moment you see a hint of vulnerability escape him and you can't help that your heart fumbles a beat, and the next he does something that makes you want to reach through and rip his head off. You can't fully hate him nor can you entirely love him. But as captivating as he was, there was only one boy who truly managed to steal my heart, just as he did Nikki's. JACK. Oh, Jack. He never gave up on Nikki, not for a single moment that she was absent from his life. Even when she returned after those 6 months without a single trace, he didn't push her or demand answers. He was so patient and tender in his approach - a small smile, a kind word. He reached out to her, despite the rumours, despite whatever had happened between them on that fateful last night and it was exactly what she needed. Exactly the right approach not to send her over the brink and straight into Cole's awaiting arms. Because he knew her, inside out and out and every space in between. They once shared a friendship and a love so strong that time does not stand a chance of undoing. And it was such an uplifting part of the novel to see as they began to explore the potential of a love that was never lost, but just lay hidden behind a few menacing shadows.

Her father, I wasn't particularly a huge fan of. I expected more of a concerned parental figure. Nikki did go missing for six months and she didn't exactly look her best upon return. But he was more worried about his election and the damage control he'd have to do with her reappearance than actually finding out the reason his daughter went AWOL. On the other hand, because it's almost impossible to talk about this novel without mentioning something I love, the mythology in Everneath is incredible. I love reading anything inspired by greek mythology, but not only does Brodi weave and twist the myth of Hades and Persephone into something as utterly captivating as the original, but she also incorporates the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and a riveting element of Egyptian mythology that all blend together to form a stunning debut.

The gloomy cloud hanging above Nikki's head grows larger, darker and more ominous as the novel nears the end and the timer on each chapter ticks by faster and faster. One week left... two days... one hour.... can she escape the suffocating darkness of her eternity? Or will hope offer a flicker of light against the blackness? The ending will tear at your heart and leave you counting down the minutes until the sequel. Is it an action packed tale? No. Does that make it any less absorbing? Not in the slightest. Everneath is a quietly intense story of love, sacrifice, addiction, pain and loneliness. Brodi explores the gamut of emotion from the ugliest depths of desperation and power to the sweetest tang of hope and love. You'd be a fool or an emotionally dry Forfeit to miss this novel!

5/5 Golden Apples!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In My Mailbox #32

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.

I finished The Catastrophic History of You and Me today and LOVED IT!! It was so not what I was expecting, but everything I could have hoped for :) My review will be posted soon!  I have heard many mixed reviews of Pure - some love it, some hate it, some like it but had serious issues. I'm a little apprehensive where I'll stand, but I am intrigued to see what it will be like!

I LOVED Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, so I hope the sequel can live up to it's awesomeness. And Shattered Dreams, while also receiving mixed reviews, sounds great with visions, New Orleans, mystery and romance! Can't wait to get my read on!

What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Penguin
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Book Depsoitory / Amazon
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Hazel Lancaster can't breathe. At least not without a oxygen tank attached to her body 24/7. Cancer shrunk her lungs and she doesn't know how long she has left. She just knows it's not a permanent thing, but life isn't permanent for any of us. It's unfair and devastating, but she not a whiny, brooding character. She fights back in her own way, by using wry humour and intellect to spin the depressing void that is death into a refreshing, thought-provoking and often funny perspective. Since the cancer came, forcing her to leave school, she still interacts with her best friend occasionally, but much of Hazel's life is spent within the pages of books. One in particular. Until she meets Augustus Waters at her cancer support group. A gorgeous boy who changes her life from the moment they locks eyes on one another. Drawn together by Hazel's obsession with the novel, An Imperial Affliction and it's controversial ending, she and Augustus take off an a life-changing journey that will not only have a long-lasting effect on their hearts, but on yours too.

Hazel is at first reluctant for things to grow serious between them, because she knows she won't be around for long. Augustus has lost so much thanks to cancer and she cannot - will not - be the cause of more suffering for him. But it proves extraordinarily difficult for her to deny that crooked smile and quirky, inquisitive mind of his that so compliments her own. The chemistry between Hazel and Augustus was undeniable. They had that zing. It was sweet and smart and a beautiful thing to watch evolve, to strengthen and deepen and reach a point where you're so invested in this relationship that you just want to climb into the book and witness this unfolding in 3D.

While at times I found the language to be slightly disbelieving for 16 and 17 year old teenagers (as in, Brodie does not understand that big word, please allow me to pause a moment so I can Google and feel smarter), it made for such intellectual, highly entertaining interactions between both characters.  They banter and ponder philosophical questions that linger in your mind long after you close the book. John Green wins you over with these endearing characters and heart warming romance.... and then plummets everything on a downward bender, with you clinging to the raft, unable to jump off. Instead you stare wide-eyed and fearful at where he's taking you. How will it all end for these larger than life characters who have so deeply embedded themselves in your mind, your heart and your Favourite Characters of All Time vault?

The raw and intense look into the devastating effects of cancer will stab at your heart and then cruelly twist the blade deeper and deeper. They see one another at their best and their worst, at the lowest of lows, but never did they leave or say it was all too much. They stuck by each other's side and proved a love so real, so strong and so unequivocally moving.

I cried so much in the last 1/4 of this book. One minute John had me grinning like crazy and literally the next sentence, he would crush it all and reduce me to a blubbering mess of tears. And then make me laugh again. This was my first taste of his work and I have come to the conclusion that he is a damn talented writer. The Fault in Our Stars is an honest, witty, heart-wrenching exploration of two teens united by a common love and a common enemy. It's a story that forces you reassess your own life, to never take for granted the fact that you can breathe without help or run on two legs. To live for today, fight for tomorrow and embrace every moment to its fullest potential.

 5/5 Golden Apples

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #45

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: Andrew Klavan
Release Date: May 8th 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Add it: Goodreads
Sam Hopkins is bored with his status as a preacher's kid. So when a group of guys notorious for being in trouble offers him friendship, he accepts. Before long, he has several new skills—including hot-wiring cars.

At school, there's an eccentric loner named Jennifer. When Sam defends her from being bullied, she begins to seek him out as her only friend. Her ramblings often seem illogical . . . but then start to contain grains of truth. One leads Sam to discover that one of his new friends has been killed. And then she tells him, "I'm looking for the devil." Sam doesn't know what that means, but he knows it's a matter of life and death that he figure it out.

Everyone else thinks Jennifer is suffering from schizophrenia. But Sam is starting to wonder if there could be something prophetic in her words. Discovering the truth is going to be both crazy and dangerous.

If you haven't read Winter's Shadow, go add that to your wishlist instead!

Author: M.J Hearle
Release Date: 1st May 2012
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Add it: Goodreads
Blake is gone.

He sacrificed himself to save Winter, leaving her alone, unprotected... hunted.

An ancient enemy is rising, but Winter is no longer the innocent girl who was fated to die at Pilgrim's Lament. She will not wait to be saved. She will do what she must to survive, even accept an unsavoury alliance with those who destroyed her love.

In the gathering darkness, the enemy of an enemy is not always a friend, and Winter must find the strength to stand alone and fight for the one she loves. For she is the key to unlocking the secrets beyond the veil of shadows.

And she is Blake's only hope.

Crazy Dangerous: Oooh so intrigued! Is Jennifer crazy or is there something much more.... devilish going on? Either way, the result will be either crazy or creepy! I can't wait to dig deep into this dangerous mystery and to see how Andrew pulls it off.

Winter's Light: Pretty cover! I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Winter's Shadow, M.J Hearle has brought a mythology totally fresh and haunting to the YA scene. Winter's Light sounds like it's going to amazing... and the whole 'enemy of the enemy' suggests something perhaps even more dark and sinister is being introduced? I cannot wait!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: A Beautiful Dark

Author: Jocelyn Davies
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: HarperCollins
Add it: Goodreads
Buy: Book Depository / Amazon

On the night of Skye's seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites;like fire and ice;Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can't help falling for, and Devin, who she can't stay away from, the consequences of Skye's choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
Skye's 17th birthday is certainly one to remember. Not only does her surprise party end on an explosive note, but two strange boys - cousins, they say - suddenly arrive. Polar opposites with a deep the animosity between them.  They've come for a reason and that reason is Skye. A girl whose eyes flash silver when her emotions run rampant, with powers unheard of. They need her to unlock the true potential of those powers because she is an enigma to the sides they are reporting to, an unsuspecting girl who could change the balance of all.  Is she light or dark? Order or Chaos? And what if she doesn't want to go where her powers are leading her? Does she even have choice?

While Asher and Devin quickly immersed themselves in Skye's life, I like that they didn't entirely consume it. She still tried to hang out with her friends, to maintain a semblance of normalcy with school, despite the fact that she has these two mysterious guys dogging her every move. I much preferred Asher of the two. Devin was charming in his own sweet way, but he was too tightly wound, too insistent on following the rules. Though I did enjoy those moments where he let go or a smile blossomed through, mainly thanks to Skye who was able to get under his skin in a way that may eventually prove... unruly for him. Asher, on the other hand.... how can you not fall for him? He's charming and flirty, dark and delectable. He's able to choose what he likes and what he likes is to shakes things up a bit. I guess I found it much more appealing that he had free-will, unlike Devin, and while Asher was still following his own orders, he maintained an air of spontaneity. Of choice. Of chaos. And a little chaos can be a beautiful thing.

So as the novel progressed I found it a very easy choice for Skye. I would never want to follow in Devin's path and have my life so rigidly controlled, with everything set out in path that never detours from the original. His kind may reside in a beautiful and peaceful paradise, but life should not be so meticulous and careful. There needs to be some disorder to make you appreciate the good. To surprise you, to excite you and make you FEEL alive. But as we learn more, the choice may not be so easy afterall. It was never easy for Skye. For me, while I am still strictly Team Asher, I can see how choosing between both sides, both boys, will have a huge impact on her life.

I've been debating whether to give this a 3.5 or 4 apples. I really enjoyed the book, but at times I would have liked something more from it. Much of the overall plot was focused on "Asher or Devin" - both in a romantic way and with Skye needing to choose a path to offer her powers. I prefer more of an intense plot with romance weaved into it, rather than a love triangle with a plot interwoven, but  Jocelyn still managed to hold my attention the whole way through! The boys and the mystery they presented compelled me to read faster, to find out more about the mythology and to see which path Skye would eventually choose. As she began discover her powers and learn more about each side, the climax builds into one of those dreaded-yet-secretly-loved cliffhangers. Let's be honest, they make you pull your hair out rage, but you kinda love what they do to you!

A Beautiful Dark offers captivating mythology, two enticing love interests and addictive writing that will hold your attention until the very last page... which has you begging the question - WHEN IS THE SEQUEL?

3.5/5 Golden Apples

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Week's Gossip #9

I haven't done one of these in a while, so I figured the time was ripe for my first in 2012!

Around the Blogosphere
One of the craziest (and most awesome) Aussie bloggers has co-created a new meme! Sarah from saz101 and Kristin from GrowingUP YA have given birth to Blogspiration. Where each week they post something, whether an image, a video, a quote, etc that INSPIRES. And they invite you to do the same! Check out Sarah's amazing image for this week

Dystopian Domination 2 is in full swing! Kai and Precious are pulling off a brilliant event full of 2012's most hotly anticipated dystopian titles. And what Dystopian Domination would be complete without explosive giveaways? What are you waiting for?! Go check out their blogs!

 February is nearly here! Stick around because Lisa and I have a swoon-tastic event in store with hot YA guys, couples, love triangles, crazy talented authors and some drool-worthy prizes!


Extra! Extra!
Clear your calendar for this Friday, folks. Why? Only because one of the hottest fantasy writers is stopping by HarlequinTeen Facebook for a chat!! Maria V. Snyder, of course! Get your questions ready, your Kerrick kidnapping methods in motion and tune in to their Facebook page at 4pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (double check time zones in your country) Friday 27th January 2012.

In the lead up to his debut novel's release, COLD FURY, T.M Goeglein is posting webisodes -  tiny excerpts from Sara Jane's journal along with a teasing video. Things are not looking very good Sara Jane!!

J. A Sounders is hosting a Scavenger Hunt for the sexy cover reveal of her insanely awesome (well, the synopsis suggests as such!) novel, RENEGADE. Check out the full list of blogs participating HERE for teasing jigsaw pieces of the reveal. The full cover will go live Monday 23rd January.



UK cover art for Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver // AU cover art of Revived by Cat Patrick


Tease Me

Libba Bray tweeted a sneak peek at the cover of her upcoming novel, THE DIVINERS. Another Libba Bray book? BRODIE EXCITED.

The Divergent Facebook page have started posting TEASERS of INSURGENT! I KNOW. MY MOUTH WAS GAPING OPEN TOO!

" Before I chose Dauntless... I felt assured of my long lifespan, if nothing else. Now there are no reassurances except that where I go, I go because I choose to. "



Looking Ahead...

Disney Hyperion
Pitched as Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars, featuring a teen girl who had it all until the night she and her friend go missing, and she loses all recollection of who she is, but must piece together a life she no longer wants and the events that led to her friend's disappearance.

January 5th 2013 by Spencer Hill Press
A teenage girl born under the thirteenth sign of the zodiac with a kiss that kills and a touch that can bring the dead back to life, pitched as Shatter Me meets The Walking Dead.

2012 by Walker Children's 
In 1804, three cousins with an unknown family lineage of witchcraft awake to their magical powers; beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, they must navigate the new underworld now open to them, learn to control their new talents, and unravel the secret of one cousin’s mother’s illness, all the while evading fortune seekers, marriage proposals, and a dangerous killer murdering young debutantes.

2013 by Delacourte Press
The story of an Executor sent to earth to bring about human destinies, who finds herself unaccountably experiencing human emotions, leading to an epic romance set across multiple worlds


The Big Screen

The final poster for THE HUNGER GAMES has been released. While I think it looks a little too photoshopped, I'M STILL FREAKING EXCITED!!! They also released a new still, featuring Katniss and Peeta ready and suited up for Cinna to light them on fire. CAN YOU BELIEVE MARCH IS ALMOST UPON US?!

This has absolutely nothing to do with books, it's just for your viewing pleasure. (Wait, it's linked to Alex Pettyfer, who usually gets linked to every blonde boy with muscles for book casting... sooo). I had no idea there was even a movie with such a fine cast of young men coming out until last night! MAGIC MIKE. When I saw these pictures posted... um... well... *discreetly wipes drool from face*

I'm particular fond of one Matt Bomer, bottom pic to the right ;)


Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Fracture

Author: Megan Miranda
Release Date: Already out!
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon / Book Depository
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine

—despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.
11 minutes can change a life forever. Especially when you're deprived of oxygen and your heart stops beating. Delaney Maxwell should not be alive. She should not have survived those 11 minutes spent underwater when she slipped on a fragile sheet of ice. But somehow, by some miracle or bursting need for survival, she came back, defied science and lived. Megan brilliant explored the ramifications of this not only on Delaney, but every person in her life. From best-friend Decker, who fought desperately to save her, to her mother, who in the aftermath of the accident begins to wither away on the inside. Scarier for Delaney is a terrifying new ability to sense when a person is dying. And so enters a mysterious boy named Troy, who also shares her gift. A boy who will make her question life, death and whether taking a life is a kindness or murder.

I don't now how Megan did it, but she rendered such a bond between the reader and protagonist. The emotions were so rich. From her pain and fear, worry and desire, as Delaney's world crumbled down around her, I felt everything alongside her. It's one thing to sympathise with a character, but Megan put me right into Delaney's shoes from the moment she slipped on the ice. You have those Mary-Sue characters who are just flat, with no personality, nothing to stand out, yet everyone views them as a shining star.  But Delaney felt like a very real, flawed teenager. With personality. She's highly academic and motivated and yes, she sometimes made some stupid snap decisions, but I understood her motivations behind every one of them. I enjoyed watching as she viewed and questioned the world and how those thoughts began to change over time, as her experiences post-accident changed the girl she once was.

I adored the cast of secondary characters. Decker in particular. His relationship with Delaney was pitch-perfect. Megan captured the emotions boiling beneath the surface without them ever really having to say it aloud. She nailed the highs and lows and in-betweens. Their fights and their banter, their sweet friendship and the complicated possibility and impossibility of something more. You want to tear at the pages when Decker just doesn't get it, or else scream at Delaney when he does get it and she walks away. You could feel that strong bond of friendship between them to the point where you want to hop inside the book and laugh with them, nudge against their shoulders or just push their faces together so they'll kisskisskiss already!

Troy was a complicated character. He's there in the shadows, always lurking, always presenting a dark and enigmatic vibe. He's someone you can sympathise with at times, yet he will deeply frustrate and maybe even scare you. It's safe to say he is pretty messed up. He's been through a traumatic ordeal of his own, but what differs him from Delaney is how he's dealt with things. He lost much more than she did from his brush with death and that depression and loneliness within him has affected him in a pretty significant way. His actions beg the question, can Delaney really trust him? 

While there were a few things I would have liked more neatly tied up in the end, there's no doubt that Megan knows how to weave together a compelling story. She knows how to make you care for her characters and become so invested in their lives that you feel like you're right inside the pages beside them. I loved how she makes both the reader and Delaney constantly question the many facets of death, of life, of living . Fracture is an addicting, haunting novel that will offer your mind food for thought and send your emotions spiralling down the same twisting rollercoaster as Delaney's. It's a story of life and death, learning when to let go and when to hold on, and how to rebuild when everything around you falls apart.

 4/5 Golden Apples!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winners! Winners! Winners!

Annnnd the giveaways are all over! That's to everyone who read, entered, spread the word and commented on the 2012 author interviews and giveaways. I hope you all picked up some handy apocalyptic survival tips or if not, hopefully your paranoia levels have increased. Now is not the time to be complacent, readers. Doomsday is upon us! Zombies! The Hunger Games! Klaus' hybrids! SOPA! Attack of the hot YA boys! (that last one is coming in February. At least we have forewarning against the swoonies).

Here are all the fabulous winners. All have been contacted and hopfully most may have received the books already. I hope you enjoy your shiny new reads! For all those who didn't win... I have a freshly baked batch of comfort cookies for the taking if you want one?

Winner: Gothical
Release Date: January 31st 2012

Winner: Aydrea
Release Date: July 4th 2012

Release Date: Already out!

Winner: Rebecca @ Kindle Fever
Released: June 12th 2012

Winner: Laura @ All of Everything
Release Date: May 8th 2012

Winner: Kara D.
Release Date: May 1st 2012

Winner: Shirley @ Shiileyy's Bookshelf
Release Date: April 3rd 2012

Winner: Faye @ A Daydreamer's Thoughts
Release Date: Already out!

Winner: Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
Release Date: Already out!


Switched wasn't part of the 2012 interviews, but I'm putting the winner here anyway:

Winner: KM @ One Page At A Time
Release Date: Already out!

Congratulations, everyone! 
And stay tuned for mine and Lisa's February Valentine's Event starting next month, where we'll have a crap ton of prizes up for grabs!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday #44

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: Paula Weston
Release Date: June 2012
Publisher: Text Publishing
Add it: Goodreads
It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. 

And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams—he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense.
Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares. 

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly, who can she trust?

Fast-paced and gripping, Shadows, the first book in the Rephaim series, is a standout paranormal romance for fans of Richelle Mead and Stephenie Meyer.

Author: Asa Bailey
Release Date: July 7th 2012
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Add it: Goodreads

Kathy Bilic used to be a typical 19 year old NYC student. That was until she started asking too many questions. Adopted as a child, Kathy had only a vague memory of her real parents. But then visited by visions of her blood-sister Amber, Kathy is called on a journey to London. A quest to discover her family history and to save her sister from in-human forces. Unbeknown to Kathy she is being drawn in to an evil game; a game to unlock the legend of The Highgate Vampire. A legend that spans 2000 years of human and vampire existence, form the last supper of Christ, through the bloody wars of medieval Europe and on to the beating heart of London’s fashionable, underground, vampire scene.

On her journey Kathy recruits the help of her eccentric Aunt Elizabeth along with Becky a feisty young tour guide and Antwain a hansom young vampire half-blood. The Highgate Vampire is an atmospheric, clever, sexy and truly unique vampire novel from a rising new talent.
Shadows: Um, YES PLEASE. Firstly, although not mentioned, it obviously has angels. Second.... she kills demons and other hell-spawn in her dreams? Creepy, but COOL!  So intrigued to learn more about Rafa and the Rephaim. And what exactly is the connection they have to Gaby's twin brother.

The Highgate Vampire: I can't say I'm overly familiar with the legend of The Highgate Vampire, but this book has encouraged me to go do more research. No doubt Asa has put a unique and intriguing spin on the legend. TGV does not sound like your typical vamp read and probably for that reason especially, I'M EXCITED.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Any Team Jacob supporters out there? You may have seen that Lisa and I are hosting a Valentine's Event throughout next month (no? check it out!). We'll be featuring Love Triangle Debates and Jake is the only guy who remains undefended. If you're interested in writing a post defending him against that sparkly bloodsucker, then please fill out THIS FORM. All details can be found HERE. Thanks!
We found an awesome girl! WOO! <3 Be sure to tune in next month for the luuuuuurrrve-fest!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Slated

Author: Teri Terry
Release Date: May 3rd 2012
Publisher: Ochard Books
Add it: Goodreads
Preorder: Book Depository / Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Kyla has been 'slated': all of her past memories erased, her entire personality wiped blank. She has been assigned a new name, a new date of birth and even new parents. The government that did this to her claim she was a terrorist, and that she has been given a second chance. But Kyla knows that the government has been lying. Without her memories, how will Kyla ever find the truth? And if her old self is really and truly dead, then what are the terrifying images that still haunt her dreams?

Slated offers such a fascinating premise. Teenagers are given a 'second chance' at life after committing some horrible crime. Their memories are removed and everything that contributed to their personality.... are wiped away. They spend months in hospital relearning how to function and then they're taken in by a new family. This will be their new life and they will take to it with a smile and an obedient nod of the head. Because that's all Slateds are - troubled teens the government has brainwashed into happy little robots. All except Kyla. While individuality is a good thing for most, for the Slated it is not. You're not supposed to be able to think for yourself after the surgery. To question, to ponder, to want to know things. Kyla does. And if the people in power knew the extent of her own personal control... her very life could be at stake.

Kyla was a fantastic protagonist. Teri layered her brilliantly - her reintroduction to this big, scary world, her fears and vulnerabilities and the bold, curious girl hiding within. I really enjoyed watching her grow into herself, whoever that may be. Through her terrifying dreams, we're given possible clues to her past. Who she was before they took stole her identity from her. But does she really want to know? Her dreams are of torture and being trapped, of pain and fear... why would she want to remember a life like that? What kind of person must she have been to have deserved such treatment? To even be Slated in the first place? The more you learn about Kyla, the deeper the mystery runs and as more questions arise, the more wicked the plot becomes.

I found the amount of control over the Slateds to be infuriating. On the surface, it might appear 'fine'. It's rehabilitation, they assimilate into a new family, new school, make friends among peers. But always someone is watching, taking notes, monitoring and controlling their emotions. And the constant interferences with small things like taking an art class, running track or spending a little too much time with a boy. Those who are Slated are supposedly criminals, even terrorists. So this is a second chance - a privilege, not a right. Does that make it any easier to swallow? No. It's frustrating and you want to reach through and strangle a few choice people on more than one occasion!

There's a sense of foreboding as people start to go missing. People Kyla knows. One after another. Each time it's someone who's said something we're all thinking, but it's the wrong thing to be heard by others. The government has an iron-tight grip over this future society and they don't tolerate those who show the slightest hint of rebellion. What happens to the people they drag away? Who will be next? And how long before Kyla slips up and says the wrong thing to the wrong person? You can't help but worry about her, because while she's strong in her own way, you want to take her under your wing and make sure she stays safe. There are sinister games at play and one wrong move could see her gone forever.

I loved how Teri made me change my perception on so many of the characters over the course of the novel. From Kyla's mum and dad, to Amy, Phoebe and Ben. First impressions are not always the most reliable, there are hidden depths to everyone. The ending was a frustratingly good cliffhanger, which has me desperate to get my hands on the sequel to see how things will play out. There is clearly so much more to this story, threads that run deeper, journeys that are about to get a whole lot more complicated.... and dangerous.

With its gripping mystery, compelling characters and sweet, budding romance, Slated is a thought-provoking novel that offers something fresh and exciting to the market!

4/5 Golden Apples!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In My Mailbox #31

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.

I've actually already read Mara Dyer, Darkness Falls and Fated and LOVED them all. But the publishers sent me finished copies of the first two (<3333) and I won Fated from a contest the amazing Sarah Alderson hosted late last year. Not only is it signed and personalised (as seen above!) but she put little notes through it, inspirational quotes and a very helpful bookmark on page 246 aka KISSING PAGE :D

Everneath looks just as gorgeous in real life as it does on the computer! Is it not one of the best coveres of 2012 so far? I cannot freaking wait to dive into it. I'm nearly finished Fracture, which is fantastic! I've read some mixed opinions on Why We Broke Up, but I love the premise, so hopefully I'll like it.

What's in your mailbox this week?

Time has nearly run out! Be sure to enter to win:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Fated

Author: Sarah Alderson
Release Date: Already out in the UK / February 1st in AU.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
What happens when you discover you aren't who you thought you were? And that the person you love is the person who will betray you? If your fate is already determined, can you fight it?

When Evie Tremain discovers that she’s the last in a long line of Demon slayers and that she’s being hunted by an elite band of assassins –Shapeshifters, Vampires and Mixen demons amongst them – she knows she can’t run. They’ll find her wherever she goes. Instead she must learn to stand and fight.

But when the half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray - is sent to spy on Evie and then ordered to kill her before she can fulfil a dangerous prophecy, their fates become inextricably linked. The war that has raged for one thousand years between humans and demons is about to reach a devastating and inevitable conclusion. Either one or both of them will die before this war ends. 
When half-human, half-Shadow Warrior Lucas Gray and his team of fellow demonic misfits are sent on a mission to kill an untrainted, teenage demon hunter... well, it should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. While Evie Tremain is saved by a Hunter named Victor, she still manages to put up an impressive fight against her enemies. But facing a group of monsters isn't the scariest part, despite that one of them has a wicked deadly tail. She's about to learn she's the last in a line of Hunter's who have fought for thousands of years against the Unhumans - a varied mix of shapeshifters, demons, vampires and every other creature that goes bump in the night. And they want to make our messed up mortal world their home. Evie may have survived that first attack, but that's just the catalyst to her life becoming all kids of crazy. Enter the new lodger at her house: Lucas Gray. Evie doesn't know he's part of the Brotherhood, an Unhuman. Since he's still half-human, Lucas is able to slip through the Hunter's watchful eyes. And grow closer to his prey. What he doesn't expect is for his prey to ensnare his heart before he can stake hers.

Evie is a fantastic protagonist. She may not be the best of the best as far as Hunters go (yet!), but the girl can kick ass. She stands up for herself and others in the face of danger, but that doesn't mean she's not totally unafraid. She puts on her tough face, but sometimes emotions slip through the cracks. Yet despite who she is and the dangerous world she's now apart of her, she's still so down-to-earth and likable. She'll make you laugh and force you to become invested in her journey, the good and the bad. Both as a Hunter-in-training and of course, the emotionally conflicting journey she goes through with a certain Unhuman.

Oh Lucas... *licks lip* You delicious piece of flesh and shadow. You can be my Warrior any hour of the day. Despite everything I said above about Evie, Sarah knows how to make you hate her protagonists (just a tiny bit). Because she makes even swoonier guys. Guys who get the girl. The girl who is not you. Yeah... Evie, darling? Maybe you should go visit that pretty mixen demon over there, I'm sure she'd love to chat with you. (But I still love you, Evie, honest!). I loved being able to read from Lucas's point of view aswell as Evie's, because it's important to see what's going on inside his head as he found himself growing to care for the girl he planned to kill. Love changes a person, sometimes it blinds them, but other times it makes them question their motives and everything they've been led to believe.

Lucas and Evie's relationship was a slow burn and I loved that she was very reluctant to even have that gorgeous hunk stay in her house. Moody, snappy and downright rude to him in the beginning, it made for highly amusing tension. Which eventually involved into tension of the sexual kind, building and building until it reached the point where neither could deny it anymore. So they did the only thing a young, sexually-charged Shadow Warrior and Demon Hunter can do; unleash their inner animals on each other.  And oh, was that first kiss worth the wait!

Sarah's writing is so addictive. Fated brims with pulse-pounding action, compelling plot and steamy romance. She's going to become one of those authors who deliver knockout after knockout and it's going to get to the point where I won't have any choice but to kidnap her so can write me a never-ending stream of books. Because I need to see what will happen to Evie and Lucas next (and Alex and Lila). If you're unaware, patience is not my strong point. Whether you're new to the Awesomeness of Alderson or already a convert from Hunting Lila, Fated will hook you in the moment you open the book. Don't even try deny it, your love for this book is fated. And there's no messing with fate.*

5/5 Golden Apples!

* Except when the hot guy is not your hot guy and then you all rules are thrown out the door. Because as awesome as she is, it's not fair a girl can be both insanely cool and get the guy! So Evie... BRING. IT. ON! (This may have been written in small print because I'm terrified Evie will kick my ass in seven different ways. But whatever. I'm so not afraid of her.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #43

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: Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: 24th April 2012
Publisher: Kensington / Allen & Unwin AU
Add it: Goodreads
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .
US cover - which do you prefer? US or AU?

Okay, so I usually do two WoW picks each week and I *try* to find ones that not tooooo many people know about, but those plans went out the door this week when I stumbled across the Australian cover for Storm. I just HAD to share it and a medium-sized version of the cover was just not going to cut it. Because look! It's amazing! I am so freaking excited for this book and Brigid is seriously one of the sweetest, most friendliest authors <3

Plus FOUR hot guys. And they're brothers. Who wield control over elements. And they're powerful. And dangerous. Are you swooning yet? I sure am. A storm is coming.... run? Hide? No way, I'm launching myself dead in the centre of it. Bring on April!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Cold Fury

Author: T.M Goeglein
Release Date: 24th July 2012, preorder a copy!
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Add it: Goodreads
Sara Jane Rispoli is just a normal sixteen-year-old girl coping with school and a developing crush— until her parents and younger brother are kidnapped, and she discovers her family has been a key figure of Chicago’s Outfit (aka the mob) for decades. Her father, grandfather and great grandfather all used their special ability, cold fury, to settle disputes between the two mob factions—the muscle and the money. And unless Sara wants the mob to think her now missing family has turned state’s evidence, she will have to fill her father’s shoes as the mob’s peacemaker, using her own cold fury.

Turning sweet 16 is anything but sweet for Sara Jane Rispoli. When she comes home to find her family missing, the place trashed and walls smeared with blood, her entire life is rocked straight into Crazy Town. Population: Her, a ski-masked freak, crooked cops and a dizzying rollercoaster that has no intentions of letting her off anytime soon. The further she digs into her family's disappearance, the more she tangles herself in this scary new world and the more dangerous her life becomes. On the run with only a gun, a suitcase full of cash and a notebook that if in the wrong hands, could bring down an entire criminal society, Sara Jane must not only fight for her family, but her own survival if she has any hope of reaching them alive. But perhaps her greatest weapon is one buried deep within her, a cold flame of fury that could give her a power far greater than that of guns and fists.

I have to say (as a compliment!), Goelgein really managed to into his inner teenage girl! Sara Jane is the kind of heroine you instantly find yourself liking. She could have easily become a character who was too badass, with her fighting skills and inner steel, but he balanced her power and strength with vulnerability and your typical teenage worries. She still cares about going to prom dateless and longs for her gorgeous friend to treat her like more than a friend, but they're subtle notes in her life. She has far more pressing issues to worry about like the fact that there's always someone in hot pursuit of her, she has no idea if her family is alive or dead and one of the few people she once thought she could trust has made the ultimate betrayal. Add to that a powerful ability burning at her core and it's a wonder the poor girl is still emotionally stable. She's an incredibly admirable heroine who you can still relate to, even if your right-hook is a pitiful intimidation of hers. Don't feel too bad, she's had years of boxing training under her belt.

I love the whole idea of the Outfit. Who isn't fascinated by the mob? It's a dangerous world for the best of the baddies, but for a 16 year old girl to have to navigate her way through this corrupt underground society wrought with all kinds of criminal dealings, it's going to take some serious strength, brains and determination to see it through. And Sara Jane has that in spades. It's definitely a shock to her though, the family she's shared such a close bond with all these years has been hiding some pretty big secrets. But no matter what, she's still fueled by her love for them and it's endearing to see just how strong those bonds of loyalty are. Through flashbacks and memories we gain a deeper understanding of her home dynamic before the events that changed everything and slowly we're given pieces to the mystery that lay at the heart of this novel. Both Sara Jane and the reader must figure out who to trust, the secrets of the family business and what the heck is waiting around the corner, because you can guarantee something is. And it's not likely to be anything good.

Goeglein balanced the realism of High School and the danger of the Outfit perfectly. He also touched on the gritty reality of bullying in a believable way; not with a sugar-coated resolution but one that rang true for this story. I liked that while Sara Jane was still caught up in intense mob drama, she still tried going to school, still tried for that for that tiny shred of normality in life with her friends and perhaps even a touch of romance. Something I think she needed amongst the brutality of her new life.

Goeglein's writing leaps off the page in a way that is so easy to visualise. Packed tight with a thrilling mystery, explosive action and a heroine who you'll be cheering for until the very last page, Cold Fury is an addictive novel. It feels fresh compared to what's lining the majority of YA shelves at the moment and those are the type of books I love discovering, the ones that offer something new and engaging. I can't wait to see what new dangers and discoveries lay ahead for Sara Jane, because it's clear that her journey is far from over.

4.5/5 Golden Apples!

Be sure to check out the Extra's section of T.M Goeglein's website, where you can find Sara Jane's notebook and the first in a series of webisodes to give you a taste of the novel!

Also, Kai from Amaterasu Reads is be hosting an interview and giveaway of COLD FURY today as part of Dystopian Domination, so be sure to head over and enter!
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