Monday, 29 August 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (02)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey as a way to show what books have been read over the past week.

For some reason, even though I was pretty much doing nothing important all of last week, I got very little reading done. Despite having read, like, 10 books the week before, when I was ridiculously busy with packing/unpacking. I just don't get my brain sometimes.

Anyway, here's my IM!WAYR? (catchy, isn't it? :P) post.

This week, I'd read the following: 
 Passion by Lauren Kate; 1 star
Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz; 3.5 stars

At the moment, I'm currently reading:

 Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Oh man, Goliath is just really awesome. I've been trying to savour it, make it last forever, because it's already killing me that this is the last book in the series.
The Radleys by Matt Haig
I'm almost finished with this book, and it was been AWESOME. Vamps that don't sparkle, aren't beautiful, that try to be normal just like everybody else. I'm really loving it.

Reviews posted this week:

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J.Smith
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

How have your weeks been? Got many books read? Feel free to leave your links to your It's Monday! posts. :)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In My Mailbox (02)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I've had a lovely mailbox this week. And now that I've finished unpacking my books and organised my shelves, I have somewhere to put my new babies.

From bottom to top:

- Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev; I finally got this from The Book Depository. The cover is just so amazing. I can't wait to read it.

- Dark Angel by Eden Maguire; I got one copy from Hachette for review (thank  you!!) and another copy, I won from a comp that Hachette was hosting, so sometime in the future, I'll be giving it away.

- Beautiful Dead, 1-4 by Eden Maguire; Also won these from the Hachette comp. I was so happy when I saw the box on my front porch.

I also got a lot of bookmarks, which will most likely be a part of a future giveaway. Swag! Yay!
Yep, that IS a signed The Near Witch bookmark. Thank you, Victoria Schwab for sending it to me.
The other bookmarks are courtesy of Dymocks.

What did you get in you mailboxes this week? What do you think of the books I got? Feel free to leave your links in the comments.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Review: Once in a Full Moon

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Pages: 292, hardcover

ISBN: 9780061986505

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Date Released: December 28th, 2010

Genre: YA / paranormal / romance / werewolves

Source: library

Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend's Run is famous for them. She's used to everything in the small town until Brandon Maddox moves to Legend's Run and Celeste finds herself immediately drawn to the handsome new student. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight.
Her best friends may never forgive her if she gives up her perfect boyfriend, Nash, for Brandon, who's from the wrong side of town. But she can't deny her attraction or the strong pull he has on her. Brandon may be Celeste's hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend's Run.
Psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf are the perfect formula for what happens . . . once in a full moon.
(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

Wow, I was not expecting myself to like this book as much as I did.

The writing is simple, yet gets to the point. It's easy to read, and really fast-paced. It could easily be read in just a couple of hours--which is exactly what I did--and, it's actually fairly enjoyable and entertaining.

I liked Celeste's character a lot. She was flawed and did some silly things sometimes, but it was human. She has a heart that some may say is too big, and she's smart at times. This is in the beginning, though. After she falls in love with Brandon, she acts like a pathetic, lovesick puppy.

The romance started out nice and slow and teasing, and it wasn't necessarily insta-love. Until they kiss. When she and Brendan actually do become an item, all the traits that made Celeste an awesome character: the way she would visit the old folk's home, and write notes in her journal, she ceased doing them, only visiting Mr. Worthington once in several months. It just felt like she forgot who she was, and what was important to her once she focused on Brandon.

I liked Brandon. He was cute. he was a bit bleh and overly romantic at times, but I'm kind of trying to pretend that the last quarter of the book doesn't exist, and up until that point, he's a massive hottie.

The story was pretty fantastic, for what I was expecting. It kept me on the edge of my seat for the most part, and was really... fun.Yeah, I had a lot of fun with this book. The werewolf concept was woven really well into the story, especially when it comes to the part where the town starts to panic, and the myth of the werewolf seems very real to them. The fear of the town was so embracing, and I felt myself feel scared alongside them. 

So, if you're looking for a quick and entertaining read, with an interesting werewolf romance, I'd recommend this. It's not the greatest of books, but it's not too bad.

10 Second Review: Quick, hot romance, that sizzles out in the end, but the story will keep you hooked.

Cover Art: 2.5
Plot: 3
Characters: 3.5
Writing: 3
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 3/5 stars

Friday, 26 August 2011

Review: Lips Touch: Three Times

Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor with illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo

Pages: 272, hardcover

ISBN: 9780545055857

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Date Released: October 1st, 2009

Genre: YA / fantasy / romance / anthology

Source: library

A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging — literally belonging — to another world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to childbearing age.
From a writer of unparalleled imagination and emotional insight, three stories about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.
(Taken from Goodreads)
Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

It's really hard to properly say how I feel about this book without saying something like "OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER" or something along those lines. It would make for a very short, very awkward review.
I'd been hearing excellent things about this book and Laini Taylor's writing, so I had very high expectations. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Right off the bat, we are shown such beautiful images, which were done by Taylor's husband, Jim Di Bartolo. They don't really add anything to the story themselves, instead, they bring to life their own stories, like a prequel. As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words.

The writing is beautiful. It's the kind of writing that made me sigh and reread the last several pages. Laini Taylor has a way with words. She is extremely talented. There's no way to accurately describe how wonderful her words are, but I'll try. It feels as if she'd spent hours picking at each sentence, making sure that it could make a person weep, making sure that it packed punch, making sure that it flowed with magic. Each sentence is a work of art, something to be savoured.

Now, onto the stories themselves. As the title suggests, these stories are about kisses. First kisses to be exact, though not all of them are romantic. Each was better than the one before it. It started off small, with the first story being a stretched retelling of The Goblin Market. It was not a romance story. In fact, it was the complete opposite. It showed the perils of the drug that is first love. But even when you read it, knowing that the main character--Kizzy-- is being stupid, the words used, the magical, lyrical feel of them, it still grabs at your chest, making you feel as breathless and as in love as Kizzy. It doesn't matter if something bad will happen, you think that it's worth it, all for that one kiss.

The second story is a frightfully exotic and delicious tale set in a sort of Hell and India. Usually, tales set in India--or any other foreign place, for that matter--the setting is something of a novelty. As if the author is proclaiming, "Hey! Look at me! I'm writing a story in a place that isn't America/England! I'm unique!" and most of the time, they seem to get details frightfully wrong. But that wasn't the case here. Here, I could feel the hot, humid air of India, smell the lush flowers that littered the gardens, and taste the sweet juice of exotic fruits, feeling the sticky liquid run down my chin. It was so detailed, I might as well have been there. The story itself was stellar, with numerous breathless moments, and a plot that is gripping and enchanting.

Finally, there's the third story, that is something out of this world. I don't know where Taylor got her ideas from, but whatever the secret is, I want it! The final story is based on Zoroastrian folklore, and just touches on so much. The shock factor is high, the twists are as bendy as the roads in Ice Road Truckers.

This book is magic. All I can say is go read it now. Your life depends on it.
By the way, this book earns a place on the favourites shelf, so you know it's a big deal.

Cover & Art: 5
Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating: 5/5 stars

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (02) Scarlet

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

 Scarlet by A.C. Guaghen
Publisher: Walker & Co.
Release Date: February 14th, 2012
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Can I just say that I am ridiculously excited for this? I mean, a retelling of Robin Hood, where Robin Hood is actually a female? This sounds like my cup of tea. Plus, the cover is just so compelling, the girl looks strong, like she could beat your ass down in a minute. I like it. 

What do you think of the book? What are you waiting on this week? Feel free to leave a link in the comments. :)

Review: The Iron Duke

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Pages: 378, paperback

ISBN: 9780425236673

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Date Released: October 5th, 2010

Genre: Adult / romance / historical / steampunk / action

Source: library

First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

This was something that I'd been looking forward to for a while I love steampunk with all my heart. In fact, I constantly wish that I had been born in an alternate reality where society depended on steam and clock powered machinery, where the limits of society could be pushed. And that's what I think is the most appealing thing about steampunk: that the real social rules and gender expectations can be changed. In a dark, bleary world filled with smog and machinery, everyone needs to be strong, even the women. Here, there's a chance to make strong women who can handle their own.

The world building here is amazing. From the beginning, we're thrown into a world where England is recovering from being taken over by a foreign power called the Horde. They're technologically advanced,  depending on nanoagents to survive in the smoggy streets of London. With each word, I got more and more hooked into this incredible world.
And it doesn't just stop at London. No, they travel across the English channel, in an airship, sailing across a ravaged Europe that's been taken over by zombies. Even their time aboard the airship is fantastic, because it's new, it's steampunk, it's described as this awesome setting.

I loved most of the characters, except for the Iron Duke (more on him later). There was no shortage of strong female characters. Mina is a half-English, half-Horde detective, and because of that, she's seen as a sort of abomination. People still resent the fact that they had been dominated by the Horde for so long, and a lot of them express distaste towards her appearance.
In that regard, I liked the way the Horde was portrayed, because she herself has it running through her veins. But it didn't stop me from feeling uneasy every time the Horde was described as a people. The way the text described them was done so in a fairly racist manner. The Horde was clearly meant to be an Asian power of some sort, due to the constant amount of times they were described as Mongols, and having slanting eyes, and that an entire race of people are made into the bad guys, well, it just doesn't sit well with me. Now, I'm sure it wasn't the author's intention to villainise  an entire race/culture, but it's still kind of awkward to read.

Another strong female character that I loved was Yasmeen. Man, she was tough. She sure doesn't take shit from anyone. She's a captain of her very own airship, and literally does what she wants, when she wants (and sometimes for a hefty fee). Like I said, the strong female characters are certainly present.

There is so much action here, that you wouldn't believe. There's always something ridiculously fast-paced going on, and sometimes, there isn't time to take a breath before you get plunged into the next action-packed scene. This book has it all: plenty of explosions, zombies, kraken, devious plots, sword-fights. You won't tire of the story here.

One major downfall, though, is the romance. This is described as a romantic--or at least sizzling--steampunk novel. For the first half of the book, the Iron Duke harasses Mina, begging her for kisses and constantly propositioning her, despite her saying no very clearly, and many times.
Then he sexually assaults her, thinking that she couldn't possibly say no to sex if he shows her what she's been missing out on. After all, she just hasn't witnessed the greatness of his dick, or something along those lines.
Then, he rapes her twice: once while she's sleeping, and another time at the very end of the book--where she very firmly tells him no. But it's okay, because he's so sexy, that it makes the whole situation romantic, right? Ugh.
This book would have been a 5 star book, and would have earned a place on the favourites shelf and I would have bought myself a copy immediately. But the rape-y bits just made me squirm uncomfortably.

So, avoid this book if you're prone to being tirggered by mentions of rape. I wish I had known about that.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series, Heart of Steel, which comes out in November of this year, and apparently follows Yasmeen, which I'm excited about. 

10 Second Review: Fantastic world building, strong female characters, and enough action to make you think you're stuck in an 80's action flick. WARNING: rape scenes dressed up as romance.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 5
Characters: 3.5
Writing: 3.5
Level of Interest: 4

Total Rating: 4/5 stars

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (02)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish featuring a new top ten list each week. Everyone can participate- head on over to their blog and sign up.

Today's Top Ten topic is 'Top Ten Books You Loved But Never Wrote A Review For.'

That's a tough one. A few of the books I'm going to mention will actually be posted up sometime in the near future (either this week or the week after), but I guess it still counts.

10. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch - The tagline for this book is very accurate: What if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz? This book was hilarious and action-packed and so magical. I can't wait to read the second book in the series, Moon Over Soho.

9. A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly - A book about a 16 year old girl from 1906, who happens to be an aspiring writer. Fans of words and writing will find this to be an amazing read. I was left breathless for the most part.

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I'm not usually into contemporary YA, and romance really isn't my cup of tea. But when I read this, I fell in love. Sure, it might be pretty cliched, but it's still so cute, and I couldn't stop grinning whenever Anna and Etienne were together.

7. Room by Emma Donoghue - I read this at the beginning of the year, and it still crosses my mind every so often. This book really hits you hard, and I loved that it was told from Jack's perspective, where everything is simple and innocent and beyond his comprehension.

6. the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - This series is a lot of fun. I can't recommended it enough. Though the 4th and 5th books have ridiculously off-putting covers, I still love this series. I just wish there were more.

5. the Love by Numbers series by Sarah Maclean - This is the series that first got me interested in historical romance. It's funny, sexy, sigh-worthy. Read it, now.

4. Ash by Malinda Lo - I love fairytale retellings, and I thought that this was really well done. I don't agree with the romance (not because of the lesbianism, but because there just wasn't that spark), but the world and the magic was just amazing.

3. Boneshaker by Cherie Preist - Once again, I have to add Boneshaker. For the exact same reasons that I gave last Tuesday. I LOVE Boneshaker.

2. the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning - I've never been more surprised at a series. I came into it, not really expecting much, but by the end, I was salivating and wanting more. This is sexy, mysterious, addictive and kick-ass. And Barrons... Oh man, you will never encounter a man like Barrons. I wish he could just climb into my bed...

1.  the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - I'm too scared to review this series, because I'm very analytical, and there's a lot to analyse in this series. I'd end up writing pages upon pages of essays about the politics, the themes, the character relationships, and why they all tangle together to create this masterpiece. It'll drive away all my followers, no doubt. Maybe one day, in the distant future...

What books have you loved but never reviewed yet? What do you think of the books I listed? Would you want to see a review from one or more of them? 
Feel free to leave your links in the comments. 

Review: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

Pages: 240, paperback

ISBN: 9780340945018

Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

Release Date: July 5th, 2007 (first published September 28th, 1991)

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal / vamps

Source: library

Elena is the school beauty, but she's bored, until a new boy turns up in her class. Stefan is dark and mysterious - and she's determined to get to know him better. But Stefan is just as determined to resist her...until a series of attacks in the area terrify the town and Stefan is held responsible. Elena is the only one who offers to help and, falling in love with her, Stefan tells her his terrible story. He is a vampire, on the run from his evil brother, Damon, who doesn't share Stefan's qualms about drinking human blood. And Damon is the one Stefan suspects of really being behind the recent attacks...Can Elena help prove his innocence - without revealing his secret?
(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it From: Book Depository / Amazon

So, I'd been seeing all this fuss about the TV show, and when I finally got around to to watching it, I was blown away. It was really good--well, at least compared to my expectations of it. After a few episodes, I decided that I should check out the book that it was based on.

Now, this book is rather poor compared to the show. Maybe I think that because I was exposed to the show first. I don't know. But despite the poor quality of the book, I found it ridiculously entertaining.

Elena is a bit of a horrid bitch in the book. She sets her eyes on Stefan and decides that she must have him despite already having a boyfriend. And, despite showing absolutely no interest in her, Elena is still set on 'winning' him, so to speak.
I found her to be a really difficult character to relate to. I just kept hoping that something horrible and painful would happen to her, because her overall attitude towards people is just atrocious. She acts like the stereotypical cheerleader bitch cut-out.

The writing is nothing special, the only redeeming features being that it's really quick and easy to read. You could probably read the entire book in an hour or two.

I noticed a lot of similarities between this and Twilight, which was a bit jarring, though it was interesting, since this book was released, what, 15 years before Twilight?

I ended up reading the rest of the series, for continuation's sake, and man, they read like a cheesy vampire drama for teens... Oh wait, that's exactly what they are. Nevermind.
It's hardly quality literature, but there's something weirdly addictive about them.

10 Second Review: The original Twilight. Cheesy, with a bitchy main character. This is a quick read, that's a good filler for a bad day.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Monday, 22 August 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (01)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey as a way to show what books have been read over the past week.

I've been in the middle of moving house these last few days, and have finally settled down. I'm pretty surprised at the amount of books I've managed despite being busy with packing and unpacking.

This week, I've read the following:

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
Overbite by Meg Cabot
Fables, vol 8: Wolves by Bill Willingham
Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe
Small Blue Thing by S.C. Ransom
Thyla by Kate Gordon
Fruits Basket, vol 6 by Natsuki Takaya
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
And at the moment, I'm currently reading:
Passion by Lauren Kate
I'm not really enjoying Passion too much, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Already, Luce is acting like a complete idiot. Blehh.

And the reviews I've posted in the last week:
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Lights Out in Wonderland by D.B.C. Pierre
Earl of Darkness by Alix Rickloff
Graveminder by Melissa Marr

How have your weeks been? Got many books read? Feel free to leave a link to your It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post. :)

In My Mailbox (01)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren where bloggers showcase the books they received over the week.

I've been pretty busy this week, moving house and all, but I still got a few things in my mailbox. Since I'm still in the unpacking stage, and can't find anything, I can't use my camera, so you'll just have to make do with pictures that I find off the internet.


- The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

- Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

- Witch Song by Amber Argyle

- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My mailbox was very nice to me this week. All of these books, I've been lusting over. While I'm not too big a fan of Shiver / Linger, I bought the books because Maggie will be touring Australia in a couple of weeks, and that's a big deal. No one awesome ever goes to Australia.
With Miss Peregrine's, I'd been lusting over it for ages, since it's a creepy book (as proven by the ridiculously creepy pictures), and I LOVE weird and creepy things. 
And the other two books I had pre-ordered because, well, the covers looked pretty. Can you blame me? I'm pretty excited to read The Near Witch. I've tried to make room for it on my teetering to-read pile.

What did you all get in your mailboxes?