Thursday, 30 December 2010

100 Books In A Year Reading Challenge - 2011

Hello there!  Just a quick post about my first participation in an official reading challenge.

Thankfully I have a lot of books I want to read (many of which are sat on my shelves!) and this challenge will be a great incentive to get through them all.

A big thank you to Book Chick City for running this fantastic challenge and good luck to all the other participants.

You can take part in this challenge by clicking the blue challenge button (on the right hand sidebar) or click here!

You can view my proposed list of reads (many of which I already own and need to be read!) on my challenges tab.  I will transfer the books on the list to the original  post as I read them (and their subsequent review links).

Let's see how many books I can get through in 2011 - bring it on!  


Nat

Nat's Top Five Books of 2010: and the award goes to...


Hi there! 2010 was a good year for new releases in the YA genre – as well as some anxiously anticipated sequels.  In celebration of a year of excellent young adult literature, here is my selection of the top 5 books of 2010 (which I enjoyed for very different reasons!) and some anecdotes about why I loved them.

1.    Linger By Maggie Stiefvater – Best Love Story
Maggie’s seminal follow-up to the hugely popular Shiver was another breathtaking success, and delighted me with the return of some much-loved characters.  The romantic story of Sam and Grace’s love was challenged by further conflicts and new characters in this wonderful sequel – and the ending left me highly anxious for more. 





2.    Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick – Best Sequel 
     The unbelievable success of Hush, Hush paved the way for one of the most anticipated sequels of the year; and boy did Becca deliver!  In a story that dealt with the truth behind Nora's father's death and the challenges of loving a fallen angel (turned guardian angel, but that's besides the point!), it definitely lived up to my expectations.






3.    You Against Me – Best for challenging boundaries
 In a genre that is heavily populated with supernatural romance stories comes this controversial tale of assault, familial loyalty and difference.  This was a breathtaking read from the author of Before I Die with some intense subject matter.  But Jenny blew it out of the park with intelligent writing and wonderful characters – making them feel real and uncontrived.  In doing so, she created a story which stayed with me long after I finished the book.

4.         Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Best Storyline
Despite having only just read this – Mockingjay is without a doubt one of the best books of this year.  It’s intelligently written, its themes are mature and interesting and it has enough plot twists and turns to keep even the most demanding reader sustained.  The final book in a series of three, Mockingjay is without a doubt one of the best YA fiction novels out there; and deservedly so. 



5.    Night Star by Alyson Noel – Best Leading Male
Even though I don’t think this book was as strong as its predecessors, Alyson’s writing is still great and Ever takes a greater and darker journey in this book.  This will sound slightly shallow but I think Damen has to win it for a leading male.  Whilst Patch, Peeta and Sam come close- there’s something about Damen!  This book also paves the way for what I hope will be a fantastic climactic ending in Everlasting next year.



I did read more than five books this year and I have more than five favourites - but these were the ones that really stood out!  

On that note, what were your favourite books of the year?  Get in touch!

Nat 

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins


Author: Suzanne Collins
Date of release: September 2009
Number of pages: 480
Publisher: Scholastic
Also by this author: The Hunger Games, Mockingjay

Book Girl Rating: * * * * *

After winning the brutal Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns to her district, hoping for a peaceful future. But Katniss starts to hear rumours of a deadly rebellion against the Capitol. A rebellion that she and Peeta have helped to create. As Katniss and Peeta are forced to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. Unless Katniss and Peeta can convince the world that they are still lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying... The terrifying sequel to The Hunger Games.(Amazon.co.uk).

After reading The Hunger Games, I became entirely transfixed by this series.  Catching Fire hasn’t extinguished any of the adoration I felt for the Hunger Games, and if anything, I enjoyed it more - because this book is as astounding and intriguing as I hoped it would be.

After winning the Hunger Games with fellow contestant Peeta, Katniss is back living in District 12.  But her success isn’t without consequence; and the Capitol is angry...

Once again I was swept up in the world of Katniss and her friends and the troubles of Panem.  My hatred for the Capitol and everything it represents grew deeper in this book, as I learned more about the terrifying world these characters live in. Even though Panem is such a grave and desolate place, filled with stark inequalities – I felt like I was right there in the action with Katniss.  

Catching Fire is simply a thrilling read – and holds its audience well.  Filled with unexpected surprises and boasting a wonderfully inventive plot, I was enthralled by the twists in the story to the very end.  Never before have I hoped the characters I read about to succeed in the way I did in this book.  The love triangle-esque dynamic  we suspected in the Hunger Games is interesting as a twist too, with Katniss conflicted about her feelings for the two boys she cares for deeply.  

The Hunger Games challenges its readers in ways I haven’t encountered in other YA books.  Collins constantly surprises her audience and the dystopian narrative serves as an eerie warning to current societal ways. Once again, this was a scintillating read.  The plot is equally as thrilling and riveting as The Hunger Games and the audience is dragged further into this surreal but effectively terrifying world of control, coercion and inequality.  

The Capitol’s sinister nature is once again displayed; at the forefront of which is the  dictatorial President Snow – residing over the Capitol like some sort of sinister caricature. 

This is YA literature at its very best; smart, savvy and imaginative.  This book scared me and thrilled me in equal measure; Collins is at the forefront of the genre and these books are sure to delight many readers to come -interesting and fantastically well-written.  Amazing!

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge

Monday, 27 December 2010

Entice - Carrie Jones



Author: Carrie Jones
Date of release: January 2011 (UK)
Number of pages: 272
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Also by this author: Need, Captivate

Book Girl Rating: * * * 1/2

 Zara and Nick are soul-mates - they're meant to be together for ever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, Nick is dead, and has been taken to Valhalla, a mystical resting place for warriors. If they can find the way there, Zara and her friends will try to get him back. But even if they do, Zara has turned pixie - and now she's Astley's queen! Meanwhile, more teenagers go missing as a group of evil pixies devastates the town of Bedford. An all-out war seems imminent and Zara and her friends need all the warriors they can find...(Amazon.co.uk).

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous books in the series.

In Entice, Zara is adjusting to life as a new pixie as well as life without Nick.  Whilst she’s determined to get him back – she realises that getting to Valhalla isn’t going to be easy and there’s another problem – Bedford is being invaded by pixies and a war for territory seems imminent; and the other issue of being Astley's newly turned Queen. 

Where I loved Need and Captivate, Entice left me a little bit lost for words.  Nick’s absence is felt heavily by the group, especially Zara – and I kind of missed him too.  Whereas Zara seemed unsure about Astley at first, Entice seems to emphasise Zara's newfound trust in him and their relationship deepens.  Zara is truly unsure of her pixie status and where she stands as Astley’s queen.  Not to mention she is unsure of how Nick will react when he learns of her recent pixie-ness.

Zara still has great presence in the novel, but her former headstrong ways have been replaced by the need to be cautious and protective of her town.  She's still different to other teenagers; spirited and determined to succeed.  Astley was more than sufficient as a lead male too - but I liked him from the start; it's almost impossible not to like him! 

Entice has sufficient action to keep the plot going along - and the audience compelled to the very end with the notion of finding Nick.  There are new discoveries and interesting quirks/histories revealed which, though they do not live up to the first two books' strength - allow for sufficient interest to develop; leading to an exciting and indeed, enticing ending.  

In summary, Entice was a really good read. Whilst I didn't love it as much as the former books, I think it served as a good development for Zara and Astley's relationship - as well as teaching the audience about the histories surrounding his life.  I think the book was more about getting Nick back and it highlighted his differences with Astley well.
This book served as a fantastic prelude to what I hope to be the most action-packed, heart stopping next novel..romance and pixie wars will ensue! 


Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

In My Mailbox – A Christmas Special


Well, here goes for a special inventory of my Christmas reads!  Whilst this isn’t an official IMM post, I thought I’d share the lovely things my lovely family got me book-wise this Christmas. 
  
The Twilight Saga – for Christmas I got all four books with white covers and red edges (as they’re special Christmassy editions!)

I also got Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater in all their lovely hardback glory
And last but not least, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Matched by Ally Condie. 

I hope all you fellow bloggers are having a great Christmas – and you get the books you want too!

Let me know what you think of my books – and I’d love to hear what books you got for Christmas too.

Merry reading and a Happy New Year!

Nat

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Hi there!
I just wanted to wish all my fellow bloggers, followers and friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Although I've only been blogging a few months - I've spoken to some really great bloggers and learned a lot about the world of blogging! 

In 2011 I hope to be back with some new content, contests and more!  Plus I'll be sharing the books I bought over the Christmas period!


Nat 

Sunday, 12 December 2010

In My Mailbox - No.12

Hello, hello!  Welcome to my final In My Mailbox of 2010 (however, I will be posting the books I got the Christmas in post similar to IMM), but this is the final of the normal posts.  IMM was started by the Story Siren and you can visit her blog right here.

These past two weeks have been great, particularly in terms of new releases and once the snow subsided, my new books You Against Me and Entice came (IMM 11), which are both ace!  I stocked up this week and bought three new books too (all synopses are taken from the book covers/sleeves or Amazon.co.uk).

Stefan’s Diaries (Vol. 1 Origins)
Set during the Civil War, against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches, and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity.
Brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore are inseparable until they meet Katherine, a stunning, mysterious woman who turns their world upside down. Siblings turned rivals, the Salvatores compete for Katherine’s affection, only to discover that her sumptuous silk dresses and glittering gems hide a terrible secret: Katherine is a vampire. And she is intent on turning them into vampires so they can live together—forever.

Strangely, and though I’m a big fan of the TV programme, I haven’t read any of the Vampire Diaries books.  They, are, however deeply seated in my TBR pile and I have an inkling feeling they’ll be good.  I love Stefan and I bought this on a whim, I have heard some excellent things recently so this ought to be exciting.  The book chronicles Stefan’s time as a new vampire in the 1800s

I’d Tell You I Love You but then I’d have to kill you
Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses – but it’s really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti). But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks she’s an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without his ever being the wiser, but can Cammie have a normal relationship with a boy who can never know the truth about her?


Being the sappy, romance driven reader that I am, I normally buy books on the premise of some form of romantic action, love triangle or otherwise themed book.  I’ve recently tried to branch out into more adventure driven novels but this book looks ace – and surprise, surprise, the abundant theme is love!

Mockingjay By Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge... The thrilling final instalment of this ground-breaking trilogy promises to be one of the most talked-about books of the year. 

 I’m still reading Catching Fire at the moment and loving it so far, so I bought this to have to hand as I’m sure I’ll love it.  More lovely Christmas reading and many of you, my fellow bloggers, have given this rave reviews.  I. Can’t. Wait! 

That was it for this week’s books and my final post of In My Mailbox 2010 (excluding Christmas books).

What did you get in this week’s mailbox?  

Happy reading! 

Nat

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

You Against Me - Jenny Downham

Author: Jenny Downham
Date of release: December 2010 (UK)
Number of pages: 416
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Also by this author: Before I Die

Book Girl Rating: * * * * *

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

After reading Jenny’s first novel, Before I Die, (which I adored), I was almost obligated to see what she’d write next!   Jenny definitely delivered with You Against Me, a searing and challenging novel about assault, loyalty and love.

I was drawn into this book almost instantly (to the point that I stayed up most of the night to read it!) and I wasn’t disappointed.   The story is this: Both dealing with the same shattering concept, rape, Mikey and Ellie couldn’t be further apart.

Ellie’s brother Tom is the accused and Mikey’s sister Karyn is the victim.  So, through the minds of these two siblings, we see the events unfold.  Mikey wants revenge for his sister and Ellie wants to believe her brother.  But when the two of them meet, the two worlds collide. 

The main characters, Ellie and Mikey are fantastic.  Especially considering it is their siblings who are battling this and people seem to forget about the effects on them; specifically Mikey’s drunken mother and Ellie’s possessive father.  Not to mention pressure from other friends and enemies alike – forcing these characters to face this trauma almost alone. As Mikey and Ellie get to know each other, the uncertainty is clear.  We’re kept in the dark for several chapters as the story of events unfolds.  As a reader, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I’d deal with such an event; then the additional struggle of familial loyalty, the difficulty of choosing between the right thing to do and following your emotions – I felt for these characters so deeply - both characters want to believe their siblings, and that was the most relatable part of the book; we would protect our siblings in the face of anything.

Jenny’s writing is simply ace.  I guess what I love about her writing the most is its realness – she makes the characters reachable and readable in equal measure – it’s mesmerising and down to earth.  I also love the third person perspective as it acts as an overview; we hear what both characters think and feel. 

To summarise, this book is as bold and steadfast as critics and reviewers post it to be.  It’s a story about sexual assault and the consequences that occur from that; and it made me really consider the consequences of one dark action – that changes lives forever and can’t be swept away.   

The happier consequence is that this book really is about love – how it conquers social and class boundaries and challenges loyalties; and it’s about two people, who in the midst of such overpowering chaos, find something in each other – something real and worth fighting for. 

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

In My Mailbox - No.11

Hello and welcome to my mailbox!  Thank you to the Story Siren, whose blog you can visit here!

I’m covering stuff I got last week as I missed IMM and I haven’t yet received anything this week due to the current weather!  Here's what I got:

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
On the outside, Macy Queen is cool and calm. On the inside, she's breaking. Silently struggling with her Dad's death, and spending the summer apart from her oh-so-perfect boyfriend, Macy is smiling her way through - she's 'fine'. It's only when she meets a group of new friends - and artistic, sexy Wes catches her eye - she realizes she can wear her heart on her sleeve sometimes. Because life doesn't stop when someone disappears - and even though she's lost so much, can Macy see what she has to gain? Hugely engaging and with great emotional depth, Sarah Dessen's rich, warm, atmospheric writing makes this the perfect summer read for teenage girls. 

I haven't read any of Sarah's books before but after reading a few really positive reviews in various places, I bought this.   

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created "perfect" life is about to unravel before her eyes. Forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, Brittany finds herself having to protect everything she's worked so hard for - her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend and, most importantly, the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But the closer Alex and Brittany get to each other the more they realise that sometimes appearances can be deceptive and that you have to look beneath the surface to discover the truth. 

This looks really interesting and is mounted firmly on my TBR pile!   Both book synopses are from Amazon.co.uk.

Here’s what I should have had this week, two new releases from two of my favourites (when said weather improves):

Entice by Carrie Jones
Here's the story: Zara and Nick are soul-mates - they're meant to be together for ever. But that's not quite how things have worked out. For starters, Nick is dead, and has been taken to Valhalla, a mystical resting place for warriors. If they can find the way there, Zara and her friends will try to get him back. But even if they do, Zara has turned pixie - and now she's Astley's queen! Meanwhile, more teenagers go missing as a group of evil pixies devastates the town of Bedford. An all-out war seems imminent and Zara and her friends need all the warriors they can find...(taken from Amazon.co.uk).

How I love the world of pixies!  Captivate left me breathlessly awaiting more and desperate to know the fate of Zara and her friends.  I really hope Entice lives up to its predecessors and I cannot wait to read this one.  This is the last sequel of 2010 I had been waiting for, so hopefully I'll read it before Christmas!

Me Against You by Jenny Downham
 If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?
If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love.

How intriguing does this sound?!  Jenny’s first novel, Before I Die, was so astounding and heartbreaking - I simply had to get this.  This book looks really different and the story sounds dissimilar to her first book – apart from that love seems to be an abundant theme.  The idea of conflicting relationships and a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance sounds really good. 

What did everyone else get in their mailboxes this week?  As always, I love to hear from you.

Happy reading!

Nat


Friday, 3 December 2010

The Hunger Games - By Suzanne Collins


Author: Suzanne Collins
Date of release: January 2009 (UK)
Number of pages: 460
Publisher: Scholastic
Also by this author: Catching Fire (book 2), Mockingjay (book 3)

Book Girl Rating: * * * * *
  
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. The Hunger Games is a searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever... 
 
Set in a future country that was once known as America, a set of cruel and sadistic games take place, as a punishment to the districts for an earlier rebellion.  Twelve boys and twelve girls from the differing districts must battle in a futuristic arena - a battle to the death - in which only one can survive.  When Katniss Everdeen steps up to take her younger sister's place in the games, she holds little hope that she'll survive, with the weight of the world on her shoulders - can she withstand the veritable death sentence before her?

I adored this book from the first chapter.  In a genre that is dominated by supernatural romances, The Hunger Games provided the most intriguing story and set of characters; not to mention a fast-paced ride of anticipation throughout.

Firstly-Katniss, our protagonist, has such a commanding presence and she makes the best kind of heroine; instantly likeable, feisty and independent.  But I guess she’s had to be; after caring for her family for a long time, hunting and providing for her mother and younger sister, survival is something she's learned.

The characters make up a big part of this story, from the fantastic Peeta and adorable Prim, there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to free these characters of the anguish the world brings them.  Secondly, the story is utterly fantastic and as Katniss reveals more about the Games during subsequent chapters, you realise just what a fight it is for her and her family in this world.  In a story that keeps you constantly guessing, it's suspenseful in the best possible way - and Katniss's first person narrative ensures we're right there in the action with her.

Suzanne Collins has a fantastic way of writing, particularly when describing the country of Panem, the land that rose out of post-apocalyptic North America; as this divided and in parts, depleted society – one that is now subject to control and surveillance.  Collins' dystopian narrative says it all: it's the kind of futuristic nightmare that squashes the hope of true freedom.  Yet despite this, Collins' makes it hopeful through the characters she presents - in the face of unquestionable adversity.  
 
The Hunger Games is exactly what a fantasy novel should be, exciting, gripping, suspenseful and heartbreaking.  Katniss and Peeta have you holding on to this rollercoaster of uncertainty right to the very end.  I can’t wait to read Catching Fire, the second book in this fantastic, character-driven series.  In fact, I’m starting it right now!

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Book gush time..The Hunger Games

For some reason, it's taking me ages to finish The Hunger Games!  Not because I don't like it, but because uni and work keep getting in the way!  However, I have to gush over just how much I love it (so far..) before I write up my review.  Thankfully I also own Catching Fire (as it was recommended to me to have the next book to hand!).  So my little rant is over..but I officially love this book, it's witty and interesting and Katniss is potentially the coolest heroine ever...I can't wait to see what happens in the end and in the sequels!

Let me know if you love the book too and your thoughts are always appreciated!

Nat

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Before I Die - Jenny Downham

Author: Jenny Downham
Date of release: April 2008
Number of pages: 340
Publisher: Definitions
Also by this author: You Against Me

Book Girl Rating: * * * *

 It's really going to happen. They said it would, but this is quicker than anyone thought. Everyone has to die. We all know it. With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most. She's made a list though - ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight. But getting what you want isn't easy. And getting what youwant doesn't always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important. Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous - this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it's really like to die.

The book is about 16 year old Tessa Walker, who is dying of terminal leukaemia. Tessa has formulated a list of things she wants to do before she dies – starting with sex.  But Tessa will learn that getting what you want isn’t always easy, and sometimes the smaller things in life are the ones that really count.  Living this list will mean shying away from her sheltering father and estranged mother... 

I’ve honestly and truly never been so moved by a book.  From the outset, the synopsis and praise quotes on the cover, we know this book is about somebody faced with death – but not once did I anticipate such a frankly astounding and beautiful read.  We’re instantly thrown into Tessa’s world and it’s clear from the beginning that whilst she has dealt with her prognosis with grace and dignity, she also shows us the anger and frustration she feels.   
Tessa’s frank account of losing a life she is yet to live is so powerfully poignant and utterly moving.  Whilst at times painful to read, Tessa’s humour and humility give the book a sense of hope, especially for the people she is to leave behind

Whilst there is an idea that this book is about death and dying, Tessa’s story is anything but – it’s beautiful and hopeful and relishes the experiences and moments sacred to living, rather than the grim reality of facing death.  In the face of it all, Tessa is unfalteringly brave and tells us her story from the perspective of a teenager who is forced to condense her short life into a series of experiences.
Especially moving at parts when she describes her desires for her funeral and what she wants it to be like, it was at times hard to read.  But Tessa has such a perspective, experiencing the things she does with such great intensity, realising the true value of life.  Then least of all, Tessa expects to fall in love.  Then she meets a boy.  So I found myself wanting Tessa to get all the things she desires before her life ends.  I needed her to fulfil these desperate requests, because I lived the book like she was me or at least a best friend, which made it so painful to contemplate her death.
Unequivocally the best book I’ve read in 2010, astounding, heartbreaking and profoundly moving, it’ll tear your heart out and put it back together simultaneously.  Furthermore, whilst my thoughts on the book were sometimes contrary – feeling sad, but simultaneously hopeful – I loved every minute of reading. Jenny Downham’s writing is wonderful; specifically for a first novel – especially the vivid descriptions of hospital treatments and Tessa’s feelings.  I can’t wait to read more of Jenny's work in the future.

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

In My Mailbox - No.10

Following an absentee In My Mailbox last week (due to uni commitments and a surprisingly busy social week!)  As always, thank you to Kristi at the Story Siren for hosting this. 

Here's what I got this week:

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Strangely enough I hadn't heard of this book until a recent film trailer I found on the web - for the film version!  The film looks fantastic and in line with film versions such as Twilight, I figured that it may have spawned from a good book.  The reviews are excellent and it looks like a modern day fairytale gone awry, with a serious message to convey!  This looks really interesting and I can't wait to start it.

Here's what it's about:


A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly. (Amazon.co.uk)

The Eternal Kiss - Various authors

A collection of short (vampire inspired) stories from revered YA paranormal writers such as Libba Bray, Rachel Caine and Cassandra Clare?  Yes, please!

Here's the synopsis: Theres an allure to vampire tales that have seduced readers for generations. From Bram Stoker to Stephanie Meyer and beyond, vampire stories are here to stay. For those fresh-blooded fans of paranormal romance or for those whose hunt and hunger never dies, these stories have what readers want! This collection of original tales comes from some of the hottest, most popular, and best-selling YA writers, including: * Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tithe) * Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty) * Melissa De La Cruz (Blue Blood) * Cassandra Clare (City of Bones) * Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires) * Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie (Wicked) * Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof, Queen of Cool) * Kelley Armstrong (Women of Otherworld) * Maria V. Snyder * Sarah Rees Brennan * Lili St. Crow * Karen Mahoney * Dina James They will make everyone a sucker for eternal kisses. (Amazon.co.uk)

What did everyone else get this week?

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Immortals Series: Night Star (Book 5)


Author: Alyson Noel
Date of release: November 2010
Number of pages: 320
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin - US/Macmillan Children's Books - UK
Also by this author: The Immortals Series (Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star), Cruel Summer, Radiance.

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous books in this series.

Book Girl Rating: * * * * 


Best friends make the worst enemies - they know all your secrets, your weaknesses and just how to hurt you most...

Haven knows something about Damen - something sordid about his past - and she's practically begging me to make her reveal it.  "I know you want to know, Ever.  And I can't say I blame you.  Damen's got secrets.  Big, juicy, dark and dirty secrets."  She stops just shy of me, her gaze taunting, gleaming, dangling her words before me like an apple before Eve - practically begging me to taste (taken from dust jacket).

Night Star picks up where Dark Flame left off, with Roman’s recent demise, Haven’s fury and her relationship with Damen and Jude still afflicting Ever’s thoughts.  Even though Roman’s gone – Ever doesn’t have the elixir and Haven begins to hint that she knows something dark and dangerous about Damen – something Ever doesn’t know – and it’s connected to their past.

Overwhelmed by the recent events, Ever is also fighting with Sabine, after her recent discovery that she was working as under the guise of Avalon, a psychic at Mystics and Moonbeams.  Desperate to escape the world of conflict with her aunt and Haven’s vehement revenge but also wanting to see her high school career out and graduate – it seems as if life has never been so hard for Ever Bloom.  Things only seem to be getting more dangerous and confusing.

But perhaps the most evident of Ever’s worries is Haven.  Her once sweet, bubbly personality has been transformed through her grief for Roman’s death – transcending her into this furious, vengeful girl fuelled by desire for revenge.

I really enjoyed Night Star; it was a refreshing addition to a fantastic series and complemented the events of Dark Flame, not to mention answered a few more lingering questions – e.g. What will Haven’s revenge be?  Can Ever choose between Damen and Jude?  It also delved into some of the past life guises of Damen and Ever and hinted at secrets and troubles that we didn’t know existed before.

Ever seems to be more determined in this book, particularly towards the end – in the face of doubt and uncertainty. The book’s ending left me wanting to know more – but so fantastically intriguing, as Alyson appears to add another sphere to the story, enough to see it well into the final chapter Everlasting.  I’ll be sad to finish this series, as I adore the books.

Reviewed as part of Nat's Little Reading Challenge.

The Immortals Series: Shadowland (Book 3) and Dark Flame (Book 4) by Alyson Noel Combined review

In light of reading Night Star recently, I decided I'd do a combined review on the third and fourth books in the Immortals Series, for continuity purposes (the covers pictured are both the US and UK sleeves).

Shadowland

Author: Alyson Noel
Date of release: July 2010 (UK)
Number of pages: 370
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (UK) and St Martin's Griffin (US)
Also by this author: Evermore, Blue Moon


Book Girl Rating: * * * *

WARNING: These reviews are of the third and fourth books in the series and as such may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Ever and Damen have travelled through countless past lives – and fought off the world’s darkest enemies – in search of each other. But just when their destiny seems finally within reach, a powerful curse falls upon them. A single touch of their hands, a soft brush of their lips will mean death for Damen – cast into the darkness of the Shadowland. But as she seeks to break the curse, Ever meets Jude – a green-eyed, golden surfer boy who understands magick, and understands Ever better than she realises. And she begins to ask a terrifying question: even if you’re immortal, can true love really last forever? (Amazon.co.uk)

In Blue Moon, we saw the terrible events unfold under Roman's hand and Damen and Ever were nearly torn apart.  In the opening of Shadowland, they are back together and the spell is lifted - but Ever is guarding a dangerous secret - the idea that whilst she saved Damen, she may now kill him if their DNA is to mix in any way.  Battling with this newfound sphere to their relationship, Ever and Damen must determine a way to resolve it.  This book also sees their relationship progress, but not without another dimension - the Shadowland.  Whilst they are immortal, Damen discovers a place that destroyed immortals are banished to and then linger - and he is desperate to save Ever from that one fate...

I really enjoyed Shadowland.  I was pining for Ever and Damen to be reunited in Blue Moon, but obviously not without a complication!  Ever and Damen's love intensifies and we learn more about the fantastic past they share, in all their former life guises.  Not to mention the introduction of charming, surfer boy, Jude - and the complications that ensue, causing Ever to question her past and her future with Damen.  Then there's Roman and his dirty tricks..

Dark Flame 

Author: Alyson Noel
Date of release: September 2010 (UK)
Number of pages: 340
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (UK) and St Martin's Griffin (US)
Also by this author: Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Night Star (2011)


Book Girl Rating: * * * *



Once it seemed being immortal was a gift to Ever Bloom - now it's a curse. And she's a danger to herself. Ever has been dabbling in Magyck - seeking to explore her own powers, hoping to find a future for her relationship with Damen. But she's not in control - in fact, the magyck has bound her eternally to her immortal enemy, Roman. Whenever he's near, she feels his heartbeat, his breath, his blood racing in her veins. Ever is in deep - and the one person who might be able to help her must never find out what she's done .

Ever Bloom's life is getting more complicated and out of control by the day.  Fuelled by her desire to find an antidote to the problem she and Damen face, ever dabbles in Magyck, the dark and dangerous kind.  But that's not her only problem.  In dabbling in this unknown territory, she unwittingly binds herself to Roman, her biggest enemy - and all she can think of is him.  Not to mention, there's Haven, Ever's formerly sweet and mortal best friend, who is now anything but mortal and is rioting up a storm - threatening to expose everything that Ever and Damen have worked so hard to protect.

Once again - Alyson had my heart racing and the suspense all over this book.  Between wanting to be with Damen, seeking out Roman to find a cure and trying to rein Haven in - Ever's all over the place!  With Jude in tow to add further complications!

I loved both these books as much as their predecessors.  Ever is a witty, strong protagonist with spirit, determination and perseverance (I suppose she'd need it!) and I can't get enough of this series (see my review of Night Star up now).




Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Date of release: October 2010
Number of pages:432
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Also by this author: Hush, Hush

Book Girl Rating: * * * *

Nora should know better than to think her life can return to normal after falling in love with a fallen angel. And Nora's life isn't normal - her dad was murdered, and the facts about his death just don't add up. Now Nora's own life is in imminent danger. Are she and Patch strong enough for the battle ahead? (Amazon.co.uk).

I fell in love with Hush, Hush after the first few chapters.  I loved Nora’s humility and Patch’s bad boy mysteriousness – so I was anxiously awaiting Crescendo.  In Crescendo, Nora finds herself troubled by her father’s death; meanwhile Patch seems to be distancing himself – and going towards Marcie Millar, Nora’s arch-enemy.  Torn between her feelings for Patch and moving on, Nora meets Scott – an old friend who moves back to town – to add his own share of mystery to the mix.

As if the opening chapter wasn’t fascinating enough – Crescendo swept me up instantly, just like Hush, Hush.  Opening with the events leading to Harrison Grey’s death – we realise there’s more to the story than revealed in Hush, Hush.

I think Becca has a great talent for keeping her readers on edge, guessing and intrigued to read more.  Her characters are still likeable, but Nora becomes needier in this book and somewhat fervently obsessed with Patch. I adored this book, particularly towards the end.  Crescendo sees Nora’s knack for sleuthing grow and Patch’s mystery intensify – however, I did feel a little conflicted about their relationship in this book; namely because Nora seems to jump to a few conclusions too quickly – but these seemed to resolve themselves by the end of the book.  It took me longer than I thought it would to read Crescendo – and this was mainly because I felt conflicted about Nora and Patch’s relationship in this book.  Their relationship develops but it’s not without its share of emotional torment and anguish – which left them separated for parts of the book, and an absentee Patch was tough!

The truth behind Patch’s feelings for Nora, her father’s death and Patch’s real name are all fantastically revealed in this wonderful sequel.  Not to mention a few comical scenes that made me chuckle. Once again, Becca stunned me with her creative narrative and plot – you don’t expect the things that occur, which keeps the story refreshing, exciting and completely addictive.  At first thought Crescendo couldn’t live up to Hush, Hush – simply because the storyline brought up so many surprises and was so inventive – with a fantastic ending that left you just satisfied enough to wait for another book. 

Becca has done it again – produced a fantastic story with a roaring thrill ride of a climax, which leaves you gripped until the end.  She manages to keep the suspense closer and more intriguing in Crescendo, revealing snippets of details that left me whipping through the final chapters to know more.  But the cliff-hanger at the end is so suspenseful and intriguing...I’m desperate for the final chapter, Tempest, next year.