Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: The Vespertine

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Synopsis (From Goodreads): It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

A hauntingly beautiful historical fiction set in the 1800s. Amelia van den Broek is sent to Baltimore to attend school and partake in other ladylike events. When she receives glimpses of the future she is suddenly the centre of the town with not only her friends but also strangers calling on her to tell their fortunes. With the start of a forbidden romance with an artist, Nathaniel, Amelia tries to hold onto the life that she is building. But, when her visions turn dark, she finds herself accused of causing the misdeeds herself.

The Vespertine was beautifully written and drew me into the historic setting of the 1800s. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but the plot and the mixture of the historical setting with the supernatural kept me reading. Amelia is a strong character who, despite the era this is set in, has a very independent voice. All of the characters were believable and enjoyable, but I would have liked to have learned more about Amelia's and Nathaniel's powers a bit more throughout the story.

Saundra Mitchell has created an elegant story, perfect for curling up on a sofa and reading.

Source: NetGalley
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #20 of 50

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BEA: Droolworthy books (Best of 2011)

There are some fantastic books available this year, a lot of them are from debut authors, that I just can't find enough time to read everything. But, here are some of the ones that have really caught my attention:

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roeker

I was anxious to get this as soon as I heard about it and I was not let down. Kate is a modern day Nancy Drew complete with pink hair and pearls. Full of intrigue and mystery as Kate gets drawn into the mystery surrounding her best friend's death. She is pulled into this mystery by the person she leasts suspects, her dead friend. A perfect book for anyone who loves mysteries.

Die for Me by Amy Plum

A paranormal that takes place in Paris, what more can anyone want? It's at the top of my reading list and after finding it down at the book store, I just need to find time to read it.

Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres

A debut YA from popular adult Australian author. I have taken workshops with this author and she is fantastic, so I really wanted to get this story without knowing what it was about. But now I do, it really makes me want to read it more. Late night parties and night creatures, just check out the tag line "Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength."

Possession by Elana Johnson

This is a book I'm eager to read. I'm loving the range and quality of dystopian novels available at the moment and I've heard really good things about Vi and the controlling society she has been forced to endure. And I did a little happy dance when the Arc I won arrived in the post today. I can't wait to read it.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I love mysteries and a girl surviving a car accident that killed her best friends but has no memories of how she ended up in hospital... now, what can go wrong with that? 

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

I'm currently reading Last Sacrifice and love the world that Richelle Mead has created. I really look forward to seeing where this spin off of Vampire Academy leads, especially seeing more of Sydney who is one of my favourite characters.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Ooh, witch stories. I love everything paranormal, especially witches. I remember sitting around with my friends making up stories about witches and haunted houses that belonged around the block from where I was growing up. Just a premise of a story like that being more than a story really captures my interest.

So, what are you looking forward to this year? 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: Introductions

BEA, also known as Book Expo America, is happening in New York and, alas, I could not make it... this could have something to do with it being in a whole different country on the opposite side of the world thing (although I did get the sudden inspiration to dip into my brother's savings for a couple of plane tickets... he did not like that idea much though). 

Instead I'll be participating in armchair BEA. Why? Because it costs nothing and I can participate at home.

Today's post is all about introductions. I'm an Aussie book blogger who is currently studying to become a high school English teacher. I read way too much and have over 50 books (not including those on my iPad) that are sitting on my bookshelves just waiting for me to read.

So, here's a little big about me for all those wanting to know (even those who really don't):

  1. I read everything and all in YA (just call me a big kid at heart).
  2. I really want to go to Japan... planning to get there at the end of the year.
  3. I love everything Horror (but more of the psychological than the slasher).
  4. I write YA and am working on several projects at the moment.
  5. I play the guitar and dabble in writing my own songs.
  6. I am very impulsive... especially when it comes to buying books (hey, I can't help that the book store was having a closing down sale with 75% off and I walked away with over 10 books).
  7. I've already purchased my tickets for the midnight Harry Potter... can't wait to see the concluding movie.
I look forward to meeting up with anyone else doing the armchair BEA. It's going to be just as good as being there (and that's me acting positive).

So, who else is participating in armchair BEA? 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Synopsis (From Goodreads): The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

The small town of Cryer's Cross isn't supposed to have anything bad happen, that was until a freshman girl disappears without a trace. But life goes on and for 16-year-old Kendall she pushes forward even though with her OCD she is freaked at seeing Tiffany's desk empty each day. Everyone thinks it's just a sad occurrence that would only happen once in the small town, that is until Kendall's boyfriend, Nico goes missing. The town is put into crisis mode, but still no one is able to find any trace of Nico. Kendall does know something is wrong with this situation and when she starts receiving graffiti messages on the desk where Nico used to sit she knows deep down that it could only be from Nico, meaning that Nico could still be alive. As Kendall jumps into the mystery of the disappearances with the help of the new, and irritating, Jacian, she comes to learn that the small town of Cryer's Cross has some dark secrets and a dark past that doesn't want to stay hidden.

Cryer's Cross was an intriguing story full of quirky characters. Kendall, even though she had OCD, was a strong character who was not afraid of who she was or of letting her OCD define her, in fact it was the one part of her that helped her throughout the story and in pushing her further into the mystery. 

Even though I did not find the story scary, the mystery kept the plot moving forward and some of the scenes created were chilling with the twists and turns that Kendall had to face. This was definitely a story that had me on the edge of the seat as I waited for the mystery to unfold.

McMann does a good job of creating the characters and their relationships as they struggle to uncover the truth of the small town and what really happened to the missing students.

Source: Audible
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #18 of 50

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Too tired to post...

Okay, I was meaning to do up a review before going to work and schedule it to come out later... but, silly me forgot about it. Now, I've just gotten home from work, finishing my jr burger and coke from McDonalds (where would we be without 24 hour drive thru's?) and thinking to myself, 'why am I sitting in front of the computer at 2:30 AM trying to think of something to write?'

So, instead enjoy a clip from Family Guy (you've just got to love Stewie)...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Is it just me???

I can't "just" watch a movie anymore. I have a tendency to analyse everything in the movie (and combine being a writer to all the film/music/drama classes I've studied... I really pay attention to everything).

I have become increasingly interested in playing the "what if" game when it comes to stories and the characters choices, especially when I feel the plot should have gone a totally different way. I like to imagine what would happen if the characters make a different choice, or if something within the plot was different.

This does create some interesting ideas, and also gets the creative juices flowing. But, am I crazy (okay, don't answer that) or do other people do this sometimes?

So, does anyone else do this? If you're not liking how a story is going, do you like to imagine something else happening to change that ending?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: The Royal Treatment (Princess for Hire #2)

The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Desi Bascomb's job as a princess substitute has gotten a whole lot more glamorous now that she's advanced to Level 2 within the Facade Agency. Magical make-up, roller-skating celebrities, and the chance to see Prince Karl again are just some of the major perks. Not to mention, she's landed the role of Fairy Queen in her school's production of Midsummer's Night Dream (opposite her best friend's crush. Which is a little weird, but at least he wears a donkey head during their kissing scene). Life should be perfect, but Desi can't seem to shake the feeling that there is more going on with the agency's magic than she's told. Like why is this mind-bending power exclusive to royals? Is it possible that there could be a bigger way to make an impact in both parts of her life?

After progressing to a Level 2 in the Facade Agency, Desi thought life couldn't get more glamorous. But, life has just got a little bit more complicated. She's landed a role as the fairy queen in a Midsummer's Night Dream where she has to kiss her best friend's crush, she's crushing on a prince she knows she'll never be able to have and she has a strange feeling that the Facade Agency is hiding a big secret about the magic it uses. Desi doesn't have much time to ponder about the Agency when she's got a list of talents she needs to perfect for her princess subbing duties, a play to prepare for and also trying to figure out her own magical gifts. So much to do, but that's only the life of a princess sub.

Once again, Desi's life is a rollercoaster as she gains a promotion within Facade and now has other responsibilities put on her as a Level 2 sub, making this an exciting and fun read. All of the characters are  larger than life with unique personalities that makes you want to laugh, cry or scream. The Royal Treatment fits in perfectly with Princess for Hire.

This story finds Desi trying to work out the secrets of the Facade Agency and also her own magic potential, all while struggling against her conflicting feelings over her prince charming and her best friend's crush. Put all this with the adventures Desi finds herself in as she subs for princesses and you have a funny and charming story. I would suggest the Royal Treatment to anyone who is looking for a light-hearted read or can imagine themselves subbing for royalty.

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: May 3rd 2011
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #18 of 50

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Writer's Diet

I've been very busy lately with final university assignments and trying to keep up with my writing and critiquing duties (which I'm seriously failing at at the moment). Whenever I get this busy, I get rather sloppy with what I eat... usually spending time in front of the computer eating chocolate and drinking coffee.

So, I've been doing a lot of thinking about fixing my diet and getting ready for Summer (since it just finished I've got 3/4 of the year to get ready... that's plenty of time).So, it's diet time and not just for eating right.

I've also decided to start the writer's diet. What is a writer's diet? Well, it consists of three parts.

  1. Read:
    Read as much as you can. This will help you know what's being published and allow you to see the different styles out there.
  2. Review:
    Even if you don't properly publish the reviews when you finish reading the book, by looking at what you liked about it and if there were any negatives will help you develop your writing skills. Another good way is to join a critique group. Besides from getting reviews from your novel, you'll also be able to critique the other members and learn to pinpoint little mistakes in your own writing.
  3. Write:
    The most important part of the diet. It's important to write and get into a habit of writing regularly. This is the only way your skills will be able to review.

So, that's the diet I'm starting. Who's with me?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Savannah Grey

Savannah Grey by Chris McNish

Synopsis (From Goodreads): 15 year old Savannah Grey has never felt she's belonged. She keeps her distance, so she's surprised by her attraction to the new boy Reece. Then strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave strangely; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah learns she has supernatural powers. Nature has a purpose for Savannah and her friends. For they are on course to meet the vile and evil Orcrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting nature. And it wants Savannah Grey to help realise its savage intent.

15 year old Savannah Grey is just trying to find a place she belongs. She's moved from foster family to foster family, never really able to settle down and fit in. She doesn't know why she always has to be on the move or why she keeps her distance from everyone around her. But, when a strange attraction to the new boy, Reece brings her to realise that there's something growing in her throat that has great supernatural powers, she discovers that she has to protect it and learn how to harness it before the evil creature that's hunting her catches up and destroys her. When the time comes, will Savannah be able to harness the power within her to save herself and all the ones she cares about? Or will she do anything to give it up and just be normal?

Chris McNish has created a unique horror story in Savannah Grey. It started off slowly, but by the time the true evil had made itself known it was into a captivating story that was probably rushing a bit to much to reach the end.

Savannah Grey is a guarded character. She doesn't like anyone to get close to her, especially with the unconscious need to protect whatever it is that's growing inside of her throat. But she does have a big heart and care a lot about her best friend Nina and her foster mother, this is the character that I really loved. Too bad she was full of a lot of insecurities that nearly overshadowed the caring heroine.

I loved the monsters that McNish created. They were full of originality and personality (yes, even the monsters had personalities) and they were definitely what made this story interesting. Also I have to say that the romance created between Savannah and Reece was fantastic. He was a character created who gave her strength and also provided obstacles which gave the story plenty of twists and turns.

This doesn't mean that I didn't like Savannah Grey. It was an interesting story, and definitely an original take on the monster story. The one thing that I felt was a let down was the pace with it being either too slow or too quick, I found myself having to re-read parts to see if I missed parts. Besides from that, Savannah Grey is definitely a novel for anyone that loves horror and dark paranormal.

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: April 28th 2011
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #17 of 50

Random Acts of Kindness - May

Book Soulmates

I've been hearing a lot about this and thought I'd sign up this month. For those who haven't heard, is a project hosted by Book Soulmates is to show random acts of kindness by signing up and gifting books to other participants.


  1. Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
  2. Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
  3. Create a wish list and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month. {Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
  4. If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.
  5. At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
  6. Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)
Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.
Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!

I look forward joining in this month.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: What Can't Wait

What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Pérez

Synopsis (From Goodreads): “Another day finished, gracias a Dios."

Seventeen-year-old Marisa's mother has been saying this for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. And they expect her to marry a boy from the neighborhood, to settle down, and to have grandbabies. If she wants a job, she could always be an assistant manager at the local grocery store.

At school, it's another story. Marisa's calc teacher expects her to ace the AP test and to get into an engineering program in Austin—a city that seems unimaginably far away. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere—and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn't sure what she wants—other than a life where she doesn't end each day thanking God it's over.

What Can't Wait—the gripping debut novel from Ashley Hope Pérez—tells the story of one girl's survival in a world in which family needs trump individual success, and self-reliance the only key that can unlock the door to the future.

Marissa wants to be more than what her family expects her to be. Her family expects her to marry, work hard and stay around her family to help them out. Marissa wants so much more. She tries hard at school and is even taking AP calculus to get into a good university to become more than an assistant manager at the local grocery store. With all her family and work obligations, Marissa finds it hard to keep up with her advanced classes and sometimes she even thinks that she will never be able to achieve her goals, but her calculus teacher believes she can be so much more than Marissa even believes.

When her life gets unbearable Marissa will have to decide whether she should, or even could, put her needs before her family, and when the time comes, will she be able to leave everything behind to live her own life.

What Can't Wait is a gripping debut novel about making the hard decision between family commitments and personal desire. Marissa is a very strong character who really cares for her family. She watches her niece, cooks for her family, works long hours and gives half her pay to her family, and she even manages to keep up with high level courses in order to gain admittance into a proper college. Even for people who don't know the Mexican culture that Marissa comes from will be able to relate to her because of her desire to please her family and not let them down, but also the desire to achieve more than what her family expects. 

What Can't Wait is a roller coaster of emotion as Marissa is faced with the ups and downs of high school and family commitments, all leading up to her making the biggest decision of her life. When it comes time, will she actually be able to leave her family and start her life?

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: March 28th 2011
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #10 of 20
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #16 of 50

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When Characters Scream

Don't you just hate it when the voices in your head just won't shut up. I've been busy lately with trying to keep up with uni work as well as family commitments and writing, but still I'm trying to start a new writing project.

Usually I have several ideas brewing at a time, but this time, the character that was developing in my head just wouldn't shut up. She really, really, really wanted me to start her story.

How can I say no to that.

So, meet Seraphine (or Sera for short). She is a modern day Cassandra who has visions of death, which is a very useful gift to the underworld. That is why her and her brother are on the run from the paranormal creatures that killed their parents. But, where can they hide when there's a bounty on their head and all the paranormal creatures out there are out to collect?

So, have you ever had characters that scream to be written? How vocal are your characters?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: Girl Wonder

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Synopsis (From Goodreads): As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket. Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.

But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know.

Talented newcomer Alexa Martin delivers a poignant story of first love, jealousy and friendship, where the ups and downs of senior year have never been so complicated. What else can Charlotte do but throw her hands up and ride?

Charlotte has always been encouraged to achieve her highest and in her family where her father's a professional writer and her mother's a university lecturer, it's important to score the highest grades and think about what she needs to get into the best colleges. Unfortunately life isn't that easy for her. Being diagnosed with a learning difficulty which hinders her maths level, she doesn't have the right grades to get accepted into the same gifted school that her brother is in, it doesn't even admit her to the gifted program at her new school.

So, with a new school, no friends, the need to please her parents and college applications all on her shoulders, she doesn't shy away from Amanda the "Girl Wonder" when she offers Charlotte friendship and also a chance at popularity.  When Charlotte and Amanda join the debate team, Charlotte meets Neal and as the two of them get closer, the more Neal urges Charlotte to keep their relationship secret. But, why does he want to keep it secret? As Charlotte's life begins to crumble, Charlotte must discover what true friendship is and how to make her own decisions without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

Alexa Martin has created a realistic portrayal of family expectations and all the trials someone would go through to find acceptance, especially one with a learning difficulty. Charlotte turned out to be an interesting character as she searched for a place to belong, both in her family and at her school.

Even though the plot started off slow, by the time Charlotte had integrated herself into the school, I was hooked. In a story that doesn't shy away from the serious issues, Charlotte is faced with many heart wrenching decisions to make as she's faced with sex, drugs and family problems. A wonderfully written story from debut author Alexa Martin. I look forward to seeing what else this author has to offer.

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: May 3rd 2011
2011 Debut Author Challenge: #9 of 20
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #15 of 50

Monday, May 2, 2011

A-Z Challenge Reflection

Wow, April sure was a busy month. I don't know how I made it to the end, but I did (YAY!!!) I've met a lot of great people along the way and it's been fun jumping around to see what everyone else had thought up to post.

So, what was the ups of the month? Well, finishing... duh! No, but serious, it was fantastic to get this far. There was a lot of times that I was so tired at the end of the day that I didn't think I could make that post... but I did! This challenge has really helped my organisation time. I was able to set a time to do up my post (and there was no pre-writing for me... I barely even knew what to write when it came time to post that letter). I'll have to wait and see how long I can keep this scheduling going.

I don't think there were any downs, well except for not being able to get to everyone's blogs who participated. The only thing I can comment on here is that I was literally exhausted (and not to mention putting off uni stuff to post... naughty me) but I forced myself to continue. If I wasn't so determined to finish the challenge I would have given up a long time ago, but I don't know the meaning of QUIT.

I'm now looking forward to getting back to my regular posts (and finishing some uni assignments which need to be done, unfortunately).

So, how did everyone else do at the challenge?
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