Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Bird by Crystal Chan

BirdBird by Crystal Chan

Author: Crystal Chan
Series: -
Pages: 295
Publisher/Source: Text Publishing
Amazon
Release date: 29th January 2014

Synopsis:

Nothing matters. Only Bird matters. And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets.

Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree.

Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

Entrenched secrets, mysterious spirits, and an astonishing friendship weave together in this extraordinary and haunting debut

Review: 4 ½ out of 5 stars

Bird was such a pleasant surprise, with beautiful poetic prose, elegant writing and intriguing characters it is a book which captured and held my attention.

Jewels five year-old brother John ‘Bird died the day she was born, a tragedy that broke a family – Grandpa stopped talking and her parents were grief stricken; it has been that way for twelve years.

On Jewels twelfth birthday she climbs a tree and meets John, an African American boy who soon becomes her closest friend; they made a wonderful pair with their ambitions and friendship, the way they played and interacted were reminiscent of what we’d do as children which I really appreciated.

Jewels life was filled with sorrow, her family dynamic was strained; she was extremely lonely, I found her story heart-breaking. I couldn’t help but hope that her parents would pay her the attention she craved and needed but they were seemingly lost in their own misery and oblivious whilst Jewel navigated her childhood more or less alone.

I enjoyed the way the author explored culture and spirituality and the small astronomy and geology tidbits and references; I also had no idea what a duppy was (an evil spirit) but I found this aspect to be fascinating and incorporated into the story well. The sublime setting of Iowa was vivid, the details and dialogue entertaining, I relished the depth in which the story was told.

Bird is a book filled with heart and hope and reflects on a family’s guilt, grief and loss; it was an emotionally poignant read that was written exquisitely and with compassion, told in first person narrative it gave us great insight into Jewels character which I feel was important to gain a sense of her true inner voice and to fully understand her emotions.

As an older reader, I don’t tend to read and enjoy MG but Bird was a book with a mature protagonist, storyline and the wisdom that I felt was perfect for not only the younger reader but the more mature reader as well, it was a captivating read.

Thank you to Text Publishing Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  

Crystal ChanAbout the author: Crystal Chan grew up as a mixed-race kid in the middle of the Wisconsin cornfields and has been trying to find her place in the world ever since. Over time, she found that her heart lies in public speaking, performing, and ultimately, writing. She has published articles in several magazines; given talks and workshops across the country; facilitated discussion groups at national conferences; and been a professional storyteller for children and adults alike.

In Chicago, where Crystal now lives, you will find her biking along the city streets and talking to her pet turtle. Her debut middle-grade novel, Bird, is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. She is represented by Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: Take a Chance: A Rosemary Beach novel by Abbi Glines

Take a Chance (Chances, #1; Rosemary Beach, #6)Take a Chance: A Rosemary Beach novel.

Author: Abbi Glines
Series: Chance #1
Pages: 288
Publisher/Source: Simon & Schuster Australia
Amazon
Release date: 25th February 2014

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines comes the story of Grant, the sexy Playboy who first captured readers hearts in Fallen Too Far.

When Harlow Manning's rocker father goes on tour, he sends her to Rosemary Beach, Florida, to live with her half-sister, Nan. The problem: Nan despises her. Harlow has to keep her head down if she wants to get through the next nine months, which seems easy enough. Until gorgeous Grant Carter walks out of Nan's room in nothing but his boxer briefs.

Grant made a huge mistake getting involved with a girl with venom in her veins. He'd known about Nan's reputation, but still he couldn't resist her. Nothing makes him regret the fling more than meeting Harlow, who sends his pulse racing. Yet Harlow wants nothing to do with a guy who could fall for her wicked half-sister even if there are no strings between Grant and Nan. Grant is desperate to redeem himself in Harlow's eyes, but did he ruin his chances before he even met her?

Review: 2 ½ out of 5 stars

Take a Chance is the sixth book in Abbi Glines Rosemary Beach series but the first book for Grant and Harlow and despite enough background details given on the previous books and characters to fully understand what has happened it is tied in strongly to the other books so I do recommend reading them first.

This book unfortunately had so many elements I found myself not enjoying but it was also a story I found I couldn’t put down because I needed to know what would happen.

The characters in Take a Chance were all flawed, we revisit a few from previous Rosemary Beach books which I enjoyed but womaniser Grant who I liked in Fallen Too Far turned out to be my biggest disappointment; he was a complete douchebag in this book and treated Harlow like absolute rubbish, I lost all respect for his character, I found his actions insulting and his behaviour to be inconsistent. Harlow had hidden depth and a quite strength and determination; I sympathised with her and felt the pain and the betrayal she went through but I admired that she was no push-over. Nan is a character I continue to despise; she’s a real piece of work! A character we do get to meet and who I really liked was Mason Mannign, Harlow’s brother; he was intriguing.

The storyline follows not only the complex relationship between Grant and Harlow and how Grant slowly comes to terms with his insecurities about allowing himself to love but we also got more background details about Kiro, who I was pleasantly surprised about, there were some admissions I definitely wasn’t expecting. If it wasn’t for Grant’s actions I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more than what I did.

Despite being a huge Abbi Glines fan, I can’t say this book was a favourite mainly because of Grant’s poorly thought out decisions, especially when it came to Nan, the drama, angst and betrayals were overload and it finished on a cliff-hanger. I’m curious to see how it all pans out but I’ll be reading other reviews before I pick it up.  One More Chance is their second book. It releases September 2.

Thank-you to Simon & Schuster Australia for the opportunity to read and review Take A Chance.

   

Abbi GlinesAbout the author: Since publishing her first novel Breathe in May of 2011, Abbi has also released The New York Times bestselling Seabreeze Series which includes Breathe, Because of Low, While It Lasts, Just For Now and Sometimes It Last, The Existence Trilogy that includes the USA Today Bestseller Ceaseless. New York Times and USA TODAY bestsellers The Vincent Boys and The Vincent Brothers. Last but not least her most popular series to date, Rosemary Beach which includes The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers Fallen Too Far, Never Too Far, Forever Too Far, Twisted Perfection and Simple Perfection. Her newest book scheduled to be released on December 17th, 2013 is Misbehaving (Seabreeze).

When Abbi isn’t locked away in her office typing away she is hauling her kids to and from their many social activities. You could say her second job is the Glines Kids personal chauffeur. It’s a rather illustrious job.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy) by Josephine Angelini

  
Hi everyone!! thank-you so much for stopping by today.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW for this week is Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini  which is the first book in the Worldwalker trilogy.

Trial by Fire  ( Worldwalker Trilogy Series, #1)
 Author: Josephine Angelini
Series:  The Worldwalker trilogy
Genre: Young adult
Amazon pre-order
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release date: 2nd September 2014


Synopsis. (Goodreads)

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

What are most anticipating this week?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review: The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

The Wicked We Have Done (Chaos Theory, #1)The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian

Author: Sarah Harian
Series: Chaos Theory
Pages: 272
Publisher: Penguin/Intermix Books
Amazon
Release date: 18th March 2014

Synopsis: Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.

If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.

Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.

She doesn’t plan on making friends.

She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

Ever since reading Nereyda’s (Mostly YA Book Obsessed) review of this book I have been really eager to read The Wicked We Have Done which is the first book in Sarah Harian’s Chaos Theory series. With a unique premise that reminded me of a mix between The Hunger Game & Diverget, I was eager to see how this book would play out and to say I devoured it would be a gross understatement!

Evalyn Ibarra is an accused killer and has chosen to be an experimental test subject in the compass room which will hopefully decide her moral code rather than see her face the death penalty. Locked up with nine potentially crazed criminals, its literally a fight for survival as we see each of the characters forced to relive the crime they had committed; it was dark and terrifying and not knowing if at any time they would be wiped out turned it into a high stakes live or die game where pretty much anything goes and you don’t know who on earth could be trusted.

We get to learn about Evalyn’s life before being accused through flashbacks which was relatively happy to post incident which hardened her as a character; I really enjoyed her self-sacrificing determination and I was eager to know how she had ended up in such a horrible situation which did take some time to find out but it made me sympathise that little bit more with her in the end.

I felt the romance was a weak point; it wasn’t the most ideal setting to form a relationship so I wasn’t completely sold on the bond Evalyn had formed with Casey. I thought it was great they came to trust and rely on one another but there were no moments that left me yearning for them to have their HEA, especially with the re-appearance of Liam – Evalyn’s ex who isn’t really an ex because of her situation so I’m eager to see how it all plays out.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intense suspenseful moments, with the characters having to relive their crimes and the compass room and science more or less deciding their fate; I was curious to see how it all worked, complications were bound to arise and they sure did so the sequel is going to be interesting. A few background details were sparse, including the creation and workings of the room so I would have liked more details about the whys and whens which I think are critical in this type of world/book, I also had no idea in which year it took place but all in all I appreciated the concept.

It took me a little while to grasp Sarah Harian’s writing style which I still can’t pinpoint what was different to other books I have read, it felt a little choppy but I did enjoy her imaginative ideas and her notions of dealing with innocence versus guilt.

The storyline of The Wicked We Have Done is pretty unforgiving and ruthless, at times it read like a horror with characters dying a few chapters in, quite brutally. I don’t think it would be for everyone as it was a little gruesome but all in all I enjoyed the uniqueness of it.

Overall, The Wicked We Have Done is a great start to the series and nice debut for Sarah Harian - dealing with morals, ethics and science; I was intrigued by the authors’ creativity, the diverse cast of characters and the fact it is NA Dystopian! I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, A vault of Sins which has an anticipated September 2014 release date.

Thank you kindly to Penguin / Intermix Books for the opportunity to read and review The Wicked We Have Done.

  

Sarah HarianAbout the author: 

Sarah Harian grew up in the foothills of Yosemite and received her B.A. and M.F.A. from Fresno State University. When not writing, she is usually hiking some mountain or another in the Sierras, playing video games with her husband, or rough-housing with her dog.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

ARC Review: Renegade (Mila 2.0 #2) by Debra Driza

Renegade (MILA 2.0, #2)MILA 2.0 #2 – Renegade

Author: Debra Driza
Series: Mila 2.0
Pages: 448
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Amazon
Release date: 13th May 2014

Synopsis. (Goodreads)

There is no one left for Mila to trust. Except for a boy she barely knows.

But Hunter has no idea who—and what—Mila really is. She can’t bear to reveal her secret, even though he’s unwittingly joined her search for Richard Grady, a man who may know more details of Mila’s complicated past.

Yet the road to the truth is more dangerous than ever. With General Holland and the Vita Obscura scouring the earth for her whereabouts, Mila must rely on her newfound android abilities to protect herself and Hunter from imminent harm. Still, embracing her identity as a machine leads her to question the state of her humanity—as well as Hunter’s real motives.

Perfect for fans of I Am Number Four and Divergent, this action-packed and heart-wrenching second installment of MILA 2.0 will leave readers breathlessly awaiting the series conclusion.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Contains possible spoilers from the first book in the series. 

As a big fan of the first book in this series, I was eager to start on Renegade, the sequel to Mila 2.0 which follows on straight where the first book left off.

Mila 2.0 ended on a heart-breaking cliff-hanger which left Mila making a panicked phone call and coming to rely on a boy she has a crush on – Hunter, but Hunter has no idea who and what Mila really is or why she is running from General Holland and the Vita Obscura, a mysterious group who want to dismantle, examine and sell her technology so the action packed journey whilst they are on the run and while Mila was learning more about her android abilities was quite interesting.

I didn’t feel we got to know Hunter very well in the first book but that certainly changed and I found myself really liking his character, his sweet nature and the kindness he shows to Mila, especially after what she has had to endure and his reaction to finding out what she is was believable. Mila continues to progress as a character, her emotions and abilities are evolving and I am so eager to find out why she is changing so much – she reads like a regular girl with her thoughts and feelings rather than an android voice, a few titbits were revealed in this book which has left me eager to know more.

The multi-layered plot is interesting and Debra Driza’s writing was mesmerising; it’s a well written story with many intense scenes, the ongoing action and evading of the bad guys and the information we received kept the pacing flowing well, the setting was vivid and the details of Mila’s android inner workings was explained well, I like the human/android balance and whilst I still have many questions there was still a lot explained in this book.

There were many bad guys in this book – Holland, Quinn etc. but there were also a few who I found to be quite intriguing; I still adore Lucas who seems to be forever there to help Mila, there are very few people who she can rely on now so it was nice to have him there as a support.

Overall, Renegade is filled with conspiracies, intense action scenes and a complicated romance that hasn't been forced or rushed; it left me satisfied yet eager to learn more.

Thank-you to Katherine Tegen Books for the opportunity to read and review Renegade via Edelweiss.


Debra DrizaAbout the author (website): I’m Debra Driza, and I’m a physical-therapist-turned-Young-Adult-author and a stay-at-home mom. Not to be confused with a stay-at-home mistress—those are the ones who eat bon-bons and watch soap operas all day long. The soap operas sort of fall by the wayside when you have a seven-year old, a three-year-old, three dogs (one of them seriously defective), one extremely messy husband, and deadlines to meet.
Seriously, though–my family is great. I wouldn’t change one second of our crazy, messy, unorganized lives. What this house lacks in a paper or dog-free spot on the couch, it makes up for in laughter and hugs.
I’m represented by Taylor Martindale of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.  The first book in my YA sci-fi thriller series debuts in Fall 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books/Harper Collins.

Feel free to email me at houndrat at yahoo dot com.

The stunning series covers!

Origins: The Fire (MILA 2.0, #0.5) Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1) Renegade (MILA 2.0, #2)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song (Blood of Eden, #3)The Forever Song

Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden
Pages: 416
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Amazon
Release date: 15th April 2014

Synopsis: VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS 

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? 

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. 

MONSTER 

Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. 

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

Review: 5 out of 5 stars

** This review contains possible spoilers **

The Forever Song is the perfect ending to the Blood of Eden series; in a world fraught with danger, darkness and despair it’s an edge of your seat, angsty read that I literally flew through as I was eager for answers.

Allison Sekemoto lost more of her humanity at the conclusion of the last book, The Eternity Cure so in The Forever Song we see her embracing her vampire side and not struggling as much morally and I did love this version of Allie with her kick-butt awesomeness and fearless determination to locate and end Sarren once and for all.

The complex plot is fast paced, full of bloodshed, sorrow and action as we see Allie along with her blood brother Jackal and her maker, Kanin journey to find the evil Sarren, the psychotic Vampire hell bent on destroying the world as brutally as he possibly can. There were a number of twists and turns I wasn’t expecting and one which left me devastated. The world-building in this series has been a strong point, the complexity of the vampiric lore is written to perfection and the setting and imagery draws you in; some details are downright freaky and the creatures all pure evil.

The romance was filled with angst and drama that I have to admit was a tad too much but these characters have been through so much I had to cut them some slack, I have always enjoyed Allie and Zeke’s interactions so to see them warring with themselves and each other was really difficult to see – throughout the series I couldn’t see them with a HEA so I was satisfied with the resolution.

The side characters are written to perfection, Jackal is a character I can’t help but love, his sarcasm and wit bought some much needed laughs to an otherwise dark book – the banter he shared with Allie had me giggling and I have always adored Kanin, a fabulous, mysterious creator and Allie’s biggest supporter; he was a brilliant sire and encouraged her to be the person she became. Sarren was evil personified; he was the sort of evil twisted vamp I love reading about.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book! It is how a series should end – The Blood of Eden series is one I highly recommend.

Thank you kindly to Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read and review The Forever Song.


JuliePicAbout the author (website): Julie Kagawa, the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.
When not swimming for her life, Julie immersed herself in books, often to the chagrin of her schoolteachers, who would find she hid novels behind her Math textbooks during class. Her love of reading led her to pen some very dark and gruesome stories, complete with colored illustrations, to shock her hapless teachers. The gory tales faded with time, but the passion for writing remained, long after she graduated and was supposed to get a real job.
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dogtrainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time.

Julie now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where the frequency of shark attacks are at an all time low. She lives with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian Shepherd who is too smart for his own good, and the latest addition, a hyper-active Papillon.