Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (22/12)

3 days left until Christmas!
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where bloggers can spotlight and share "upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating".
I've got two this week, and they're both debut January 2011 releases that I'm really pumped for.






Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court.  But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection.  Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.
Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks.  But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl.
Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever.
A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.
The cover of The False Princess is so beautiful, much like that of Anastasia's Secret, which I adored. This book sounds like a historical fantasy set in an alternate universe, and is a debut novel, so keep an eye out for this one, and put it on your lists.

  • XVI by Julia Karr
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
 This one sounds like a chilling dystopian novel, definitely would be popular with those who like The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Declaration, The Resistance, The Hunger Games, The Chosen One and Matched. Which ticks all the boxes for me, because they're all excellent dystopians. I'm definitely looking forward to this. Hell, I want to read this, stat!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave a link below so I can check it out!

x

Friday, 17 December 2010

Plot or Characters? Friday Meme!

Book Blogger Hop

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee, where bloggers spread the love by following each other. Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books, where book bloggers can "connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!"


Question: What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?
I am actually still in high school, and the Australian version of college is "university". So I'm not in uni yet, although it's not too far off. And I'm still utterly confused as to what I want to do with my life. I feel like I should aim to do medicine/health sciences, or something equally as prestigious, but I'm not sure if that's something I could spend the rest of my life doing. I'd love to be able to be a doctor, but I can't imagine myself in the same career for my entire life. I feel like there's so many years ahead, so much potential for more, and that I would just be wasting Any tips?

Question: What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?
Wow, tough question! They're usually intertwined - all elements of a good story, and each could not survive without the other.
A good plotline really carries the story, makes it stand out from all the rest. I feel that there is less variation between characters in YA, and many tend to have similar characteristics that make them appeal to the target audience. The characters kind of become what they need to be in order to fulfil the author's plot idea. When I look at it that way, the plot is more important.
But then a good story with bad characters, and by a bad character, I don't mean the character necessarily has to be evil or have bad intentions, but they may be too perfect - a "Mary Sue" or "Gary Stue" - or simply not well-rounded. They won't stick in my head, and I won't really identify with them at all. Anyway, good plots with bad characters can only go so far.
What I'm trying to say is that these two elements come hand-in-hand. But think of all the elements of a good story as little gears in a clock. If one goes missing, or is damaged, then the clock ceaes to function. A good clock is one with all gears in tune, just as a good story is one where all elements are present and well-thought out.



Recently on Book Couture: 
Leave a comment below so I can check out your blog and follow, and please take the time to check out some of my recent posts.

Tina's Tutorials #9: How to add external links to menubar

This tutorial will teach you how to add external links (links to non-pages) to your menu bar.

e.g. If you click on the link to "About Tina" on my menu bar above, you'll see that it leads to this site:
http://bookcouture.blogspot.com/p/about.html

Notice that there is a "p" there? This indicates that "About" is a Page on my blog.

But what if I want to link to a site that isn't a page? For example, the Book Contest Directory?


Click on the "International" link under my menu bar. Notice that the external website opens up in a new tab or window. This is what this tutorial will teach you to do for your blog.

Step 1:
Go to your blog Dashboard, and access the page Design, and the subtab Edit HTML.
Remember to backup your blog template by Downloading Full Template and saving it somewhere easily accessible.


Step 2:
Check the box Expand Widget Templates.

Using CTRL + F, search for <b:widget id='PageList1'.

You will then see code that looks something like this. Under <b:loop>, add the code in bold.

The parts you need to change are highlighted in red. Where it says URL, replace it with your link. Where it says Link Name, replace it with the name of the link you want visible on your menubar.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

<b:widget id='PageList1' locked='false' title='Pages' type='PageList'>
<b:includable id='main'>
  <b:if cond='data:title'><h2><data:title/></h2></b:if>
  <div class='widget-content'>
    <ul>
      <b:loop values='data:links' var='link'>
        <b:if cond='data:link.isCurrentPage'>
          <li class='selected'><a expr:href='data:link.href'><data:link.title/></a></li>
        <b:else/>
          <li><a expr:href='data:link.href'><data:link.title/></a></li>
        </b:if>
      </b:loop>
      <li><a href='URL' target='_blank'>Link Name</a></li>
    </ul>
    <b:include name='quickedit'/>
  </div>
</b:includable>
</b:widget>

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Then click on Save Template and then View Blog to see your external link in your Menu Bar.

You're done! To add more, simply copy that line and repeat it, changing the URL and Link Name when needed.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

More Tips & Tricks from Tina:

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Review: Linger by Maggie Steifvater

  Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) 
by Maggie Steifvater


Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy (Book 2 of 3)
Genre:Paranormal > Werewolves
Age Group: Young Adult - 13+
Publisher:Scholastic
Release Date: July 2010
Format: Hardcover, 362 pages
Source: School Library
ISBN: 9780545123280
Additional Information:
Forever, the third and final installment in the trilogy, will be released in 2011.
My Shiver Review


Cover love? Absolutely beautiful - the unique forest theme continues on in this second installment of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. From the blood drop, to the wolf and the girl's silhouette, everything suits the theme perfectly. I assume the girl is Isabel, and the boy is Cole?





In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love - the light and the dark, the warm and the cold - in a way you will never forget.






For some strange reason, I put off reading Linger for a few weeks. I don't know what possessed me to do that - perhaps my neutral feelings towards Shiver? But when I finally got around to picking up Linger, I immediately wished I had started reading it the minute I got it.

The reason for that is: Linger is a beautiful novel, that managed to evolve into a greater, wiser novel than the one before. One particularly wise quote that I feels demonstrates this is:

"Most people had an acquired beauty. 
They became better-looking the longer you knew them 
and the better you loved them."

It's a remarkably true and absolutely brilliant observation.

As I've mentioned in my review of Shiver, Maggie Steifvater's writing is absolutely breathtaking. Poetic, you would say. She has a way with words - each syllable fits perfectly into your mouth, like a piece of sweet and warm chocolate that slowly melts across your tongue. It feels perfect, luxurious and delicious. She uses this magic to forge the realistic bonds between the characters and the readers.

Linger is unique in it's narration. While each character narrates from a first-person past tense, there are four narrators. Rather than adding a sense of confusion, we instead gain perspective and understanding of each of the characters' actions and feelings.

The characters have been developed further, as their personalities are explored and defined. The introduction of Cole was perfect - by the end of the novel, I felt as if Cole was meant to be part of Sam, Grace and Isabel's life.

And while Cole is a celebrity, we don't really see him as one. We see him as a confused, self-destructive boy who has the problem of being famous and incredibly handsome. Cole's issues felt real to me, and as a character he literally leapt off the page at me. (If you read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about.)

I can't talk about Cole without discussing the dark subject matters in this book. It's interesting to see Maggie Steifvater's delve into the dark side of the world of celebrities. There are drugs, women, fights and loss. She manages to convey this theme into Linger with minimal explicitness, and I think that this should be commended. Cole is a complicated character, and I am glad to see how he has been immersed into the storyline.

As you can guess, I really do like Cole. Not in terms of desirability, but as a character.

Sam and Grace's relationship has a perfect equilibrium. They are completely devoted to each other,  but their unbearable need for each other is understandable, and not overdone. Some aspects of their relationship felt a little fast, but it is overall, a sweet and beautifully written relationship.

The novel ends with a predictable outcome (as Steifvater slowly builds up the inevitable result, right from the prologue), but I was surprised, nonetheless at the reasoning behind it. It's a medically rational plot twister that brings their lives into chaos once again.

Final words: Maggie Steifvater writes with a poetic beauty that draws her supernatural characters seamlessly into reality. The combination of solemnity and light builds a breathtaking novel of love and loss.

Rating:
355 


Links:
Goodreads | The Book Depository

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS COVER REVEALED!!

I just heard this from the lovely Cynthia from A Blog About Nothing, and discovered that the cover of CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS by Cassandra Clare, the much-anticipated fourth installment in the very popular Mortal Instruments series, has been released. Voila!


Read the article here: EW Exclusive.

Vital info you need to know:
  •  The book is set to be released in March-April, 2011.
  • City of Fallen Angels is an embargoed book, and that means that there will not be any Advance Reader Copies, and there will be a strict International sale date.
  • There is no excerpt for CoFA online (well, at least there shouldn't be), see Cassandra Clare's message about it here.
  • Teasers for CoFA are available here.

Cassandra Clare reading an excerpt from CoFA:



 Synopsis:

City of Fallen Angels takes place after the events of City of Glass. It splits its focus between Jace and Clary and Clary’s best friend, Simon, and how he adjusts to life as a vampire, but it’s still an ensemble-cast story, and all the characters from the Mortal Instruments series appear in it: Jace, Isabelle, Alec, Magnus, Luke, Jocelyn, Maia, and many more. (It even helps to have read The Clockwork Angel before you read CoFA, because some of the characters from the ID series do show up in it. However, it isn’t required.) In City of Fallen Angels, someone’s killing the Shadowhunters who used to be in Valentine’s Circle and leaving their bodies around New York City in a manner designed to provoke hostility between Downworlders and Shadowhunters. Internecine warfare among vampires is ripping the Downworld community apart, and only Simon — the Daylighter who everyone wants on their side — can decide the outcome; too bad he wants nothing to do with Downworld politics. Meanwhile Jace and Clary investigate a mystery that has deeply personal consequences for them — consequences that may strengthen their relationship, or rip it apart forever. Love, blood, betrayal and revenge: the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.


CASTING NEWS
On another note, Lily Collins of The Blind Side has been cast as Clary in the 2012 adaptation of City of Bones! She's so stunning, and I think she looks like a perfect fit for the role of Clary. I don't know about her acting skills though...



I am so excited!! Have you guys heard any more news?

Waiting On Wednesday (15/12)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where bloggers can spotlight and share "upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating".
I've got two this week, and they're both debut January 2011 releases that I'm really pumped for.


In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees. . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what it is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place--and out of place, at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make--between honesty and deciet, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
My name is Meaghan Chase.

I thought it was over.That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stay by my side. Drag me into the core of a conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.
What are you waiting on this week? Leave a link below so I can check it out!

x

Monday, 13 December 2010

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments (Book 1 of 6)
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Age Group: Young Adult
Release Date: August 1, 2007 (Already Released)
Format: Paperback, pages
ISBN-13: 9781406307627
Australian RRP: $19.95 AUD
Source: Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Cover love? 
The character on the front cover is Jace. The cover looks great with the others in the series, although the fact that Jace appears god-like and half naked makes the book look like it's an adult novel, and might deter readers.


 Synopsis
Clary Fray is an ordinary teenager, but everything changes the night she witnesses a murder, committed by a group of teens. The group are Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to driving demons out of this dimension and back into their own. Drawn inexorably into a terrifying world, Clary slowly begins to learn the truth about her family - and the battle for the fate of the world.


Review


I've heard of this series for over a year or so, but for some reason that I cannot fathom now, I never got a chance to read it. Then word about Cassandra Clare escalated with the release of Clockwork Angel, the first of a companion series set two centuries ago, in the same world. And I knew I had to check out this series. And I'm telling you now, it is freakin' amazing!!

The Mortal Instruments series combines elements of paranormalcy: Vampires (Children of the Night), Werewolves (Children of the Moon), Faeries (the Fey), Warlocks (Lilith's Children), Demons, and Shadowhunters (Nephilim - a mix between angels and humans). And the awesome thing is, all these paranormal creatures stay true to legend, whilst all combined in this epic urban fantasy.


Cassandra Clare's writing is utterly memorable, and I felt absolutely absorbed in the twists and turns of Jace and Clary's adventure. She has a brilliant way of presenting dialogue that I admire. In particular, her "street talk", including swearing, is very cleverly included to allow this book to identify with all readers. She rarely puts the actual swear word in writing, preferring instead to describe it. The reader knows exactly what the character has said, but the actual word is never used. Now that is intelligent writing, "showing, not telling". 

I fell completely in love with her characters. One hottie by the name of Jace, in particular. Clary is an apt heroine, albeit fitting into the cliched role of the "beautiful-but-doesn't-know-it-girl-who-discovers-a-whole-new-world-and-awesome-magical-powers-that-come-naturally-and-gets-the-guy". You know what I'm talking about. 

And then there's Alec, Isabella and Simon - awesome characters with dynamic personalities. Alec gets his own side story which I don't want to spoil... but it was a pleasant surprise and I admire Cassandra Clare for bravely including that story in there. 

There's a twist in this book that simply left me speechless. I was so full with emotion that I gasped and almost screamed out loud in frustration. It's definitely a plot twist that will leave readers hanging on for more. Cleverly done, and had me hook, line and sinker.


Cassandra Clare's pure brilliance has catapulted her and her series to one of my all-time favourites, up there with JK Rowling, Richelle Mead and Suzanne Collins. If you have not read this yet, I beg you, please read it!! This is a book that all readers (even avoiders of paranormal) will love, because every new page is a treasure, waiting to be uncovered.

Rating:
 

Links:
City of Bones Official Website | City of Bones at Walker Books AUS | Cassandra Clare's Website | Goodreads | Mortal Instruments Wiki

(Reviews coming for these novels:)
City of Ashes Review | City of Glass Review | Clockwork Angel Review

Review: The Resistance by Gemma Malley

http://www.allenandunwin.com/BookCovers/resized_9780747587736_224_297_FitSquare.jpgThe Resistance by Gemma Malley
Series: The Declaration Trilogy (Book 2 of 3)
The Declaration (Book 1) | The Legacy (Book 3)
Genre: Sci-Fi > Dystopia
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Allen and Unwin AU (Bloomsbury)
Release Date:July 2009
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
ISBN-13:  9780747587729
RRP: $17.99 AUD
Source: Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
 
Cover love? I adore the Declaration covers, and while this one is slightly darker, it is still amazingly beautiful.

Synopsis
The year is 2140. Peter and Anna are now living on the Outside as Legals. As an agent in the Underground, Peter is tasked with infiltrating Pincent Pharma Corporation and find out what's happening in the secret Longevity programme. Peter must feign a reconciliation and win the trust of his grandfather, Richard Pincent, one of the most powerful men on the planet, whose company, Pincent Pharma, is chasing the holy grail of modern science - a drug which will reverse ageing and make people look young again.
But his grandfather has his own plans for Peter - plans which involve Peter and Anna signing the Declaration and endorsing Longevity+. Richard Pincent will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means ripping Peter and Anna's new life apart.
At the heart of the organisation he most despises, Peter stumbles across something more sinister than he could ever have imagined, as powerful forces are gathering to crush the young couple's dreams.


Review


The Resistance is the exciting sequel to Gemma Malley's bestselling young adult debut novel, The Declaration, and my mind is still reeling from it's gripping plotline.

The world Gemma Malley paints is set in the future, year 2140, where the "battle against ageing has been won and people can now live forever" through pills known as Longevity. Immortality is a concept that has fascinated mankind for eons, and Gemma Malley explores it with depth and intelligence, combining the science of cell rejuvenation with a captivating story. She has cleverly imagined a future where the consequences of human immortality quickly depletes finite resources. The end result is population limitations, where illegally born children are shipped off to Surplus Halls, and labelled a "Surplus". Anna is one of them.

The second installment is largely forcused on Peter, another illegal child, and Anna's boyfriend? Spouse? (How would you describe two mature teenagers who are virtually married?) I'll settle for "partner". Anyway, Peter takes the reins in The Resistance as he goes undercover into Pincent Pharma in order to discover the haunting secret within it's depths - the plan revolving Longevity that not only keeps people alive, but will make them eternally young.

Gemma Malley's writing is easy to understand, but manages to convey the deeper themes hidden between the lines. While her central characters are well-rounded in terms of having both strengths and weaknesses, they are typical of an adventure storyline - the boy who is a natural hero, the girl who is shy and kind, but brave and fierce when she needs to be, and the fearless leader of the rebellion who is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Despite the typical roles, each character possesses a depth to them that is crucial to the story.

The novel that ensues is part of a heartstopping saga that takes ethical questions to the next level whilst delivering a captivating plot, perfect for all ages.

Rating: 


Links:
The Resistance Official Website | The Resistance at Allen & Unwin AU | Goodreads

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Review: iBoy by Kevin Brooks

iBoy by Kevin Brooks

Series: Standalone but there may be a sequel
Genre: Contemporary Science Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date:August 12th 2010 (Already Released)
Format: Paperback, 293 pages
ISBN-13: 9780141326108
RRP: $18.95 AUD
Source: Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Cover love? 
Combining cool graphics and a smooth presentation, this cover is awesome.

Synopsis
Before the attack, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey was just an ordinary boy.
But now fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain and it's having an extraordinary effect . . .
Because now Tom has powers. The ability to know and see more than he could ever imagine. And with incredible power comes knowledge – and a choice. Seek revenge on the violent gangs that rule his estate and assaulted his friend Lucy, or keep quiet?
Tom has control when everything else is out of control. But it's a dangerous price to pay. And the consequences are terrifying . . .


Review

What happens when an iPhone cracks your skull and its electrical components become embedded into your brain? 

Well, in the iBoy world, it gives you superpowers, with skin that lights up in a myriad of pulsating colours, hands that can shoot electricity and a brain that can surf the net, call phones and hack into government networks. That’s exactly what happens to Tom Harvey, and armed with his amazing newfound powers, he is faced with a decision: should he take revenge on the gang that attacked and raped his friend Lucy, or should he take no action at all?

I looked forward to reading iBoy. Having read and liked Being by Kevin Brooks, and being a big fan of science fiction and cyborg stories, I opened this book with expectations of a slightly violent, but absorbing action sci-fi novel. Sadly, this book didn't live up to my hype.

First of all, let me make this clear. Kevin Brooks’ books are not pretty books with brave heroes, a clear villain, clean language and a happy ending. There are sex scenes (less so in iBoy), drugs, weapons, street violence and death, sometimes with a hero who discovers he has been technologically advanced. In the case of Being, the protagonist was an android (robot that looks like a human), and in iBoy, the hero is a cyborg (human with robotic enhancements). There is also frequent usage of coarse language, which I found annoying and excessive. The writing in general was fast paced and very truthful at times, but choppy to convey Tom's thoughts.

However, these combined elements work together to evoke the setting: the streets of outer London. I didn't like this setting, because I thought the iBoy idea, of a boy with the powers of an iPhone,  had a lot of potential to be something big. But a street setting meants that iBoy's powers and scope extended only to attacking the bullies in his neighourhood. Perhaps Kevin Brooks was going for a deeper meaning, such as an exploration of social issues or the abuse of power, but I didn't connect with that.

The technological aspects attracted me, as a sci-fi lover, but I thought it wasn't explored well. Tom is hit by an iPhone, and when he wakes up, he has incredible amounts of power, while we are never given a cool scientific reason as to why. The components are in his brain, but which part of his brain? And why does several chips from an iPhone, embedded in his brain suddenly give him so much power? Such as electricity coming out of his hands? Tom is left alone through the novel to explore his immese powers, and there are many questions I was left wondering with.

Also, the fact that an iPhone 3G is described in this book places a year label (2009) on this story. It's like a "use-by" date. In my opinion, good novels do not indicate a specific date, thus immortalising the story and characters, and limited only by the language. However, I like the use of quotations from articles and the binary chaptering system.

The characters in iBoy weren't very strong. Usually, I relate to a particular character, or have a admire one for all their flawed and postive qualities. I didn't with this book, perhaps because there were little characters and the main character began to act without thought. This was eventually explained, but by the end of the book, what little of Tom's personality had been there previously was not regained.

This book is not as strong as Being was, and I couldn't connect with the characters and darkness in this book. But its inner themes are gripping, and several moments are very intense and action-packed. The male protagonist and his powers relating to a modern device would definitely appeal to a young male audience.

Rating:



Links:
 iBoy at Penguin AU | Interview with Kevin Brooks | Goodreads

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Across the Universe Trailer!

Sorry for bombarding you guys with news again...but hey, this is really exciting! To me, anyway. ;)
I assume you've heard about this book, and seen at least one of it's two covers?

Old Cover                                            New Cover

 If not,here are some details:

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis [blog]
Links:
acrosstheuniversebook.comAcross the Universe @ Penguin Aus

AMY has left the life she loves for a world 300 years away
Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she's due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy's lost on board and nothing makes sense - she's never felt so alone.
Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her; and more if she'll let him.
But who can she trust amidst the secrets and lies? A killer is out there – and Amy has nowhere to hide . . .

AND

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed. She expects to wake up on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed's scheduled landing, Amy's cryo chamber is unplugged, and she is nearly killed.

Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed's passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader, and Elder, his rebellious and brilliant teenage heir.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she? All she knows is that she must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

Across the Universe is Titanic meets Brave New World.

A futuristic dystopian romance with elements of space and time travel? Count me in! The lovely folks at Penguin Australia gave me a copy for review. I love the white cover of the ARC, but I do hope that the new cover will be released in Australia. I noticed on the website, the cover hasn't been changed to the new one...
If it's already been printed though, then we'll probably just have the white cover, because reprinting will cost a lot, wouldn't it? If the book sells well (which I hope it does), then maybe there'll be a second "special" edition with the new cover.

Do you notice the (subtle) differencesbetween the two covers? The new one has a filled-in background of course, but the guy has been photshopped to appear slimmer. Notice the chin, lips, forehead and cheeks? Then, of course, author blurbs have been added.
I think it's more visually pleasing, but the photoshopping irks me somewhat. It's just less natural, you know? When did the lines between the publishing and beauty industry begin to blur? Sigh...it's not always about looks.

Anyway, look what YouTube just told me about? (I subscribe to Penguin Aus on Youtube)

It's the new trailer for Across the Universe by Beth Revis:




There's no acting involved, which is a shame, but hey, the graphics are very pretty. And the voiceover (done by Lauren Ambrose from Six Feet Under), is great! She sounds too serious and a little old for Amy though, less personal.

What do you think?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Cover Craze

Matched came out a few days ago in Australia (2nd of November 2010)...psst...read my review?


Ally Condie's blog, she reveals that the second book of the Matched trilogy will be called Crossed. It's going through stages of revision and will be released in November 2011, with the third book coming out in November 2012.
So what do you think the cover might mean? Does Cassia's path cross with Ky again, or something completely different?

Other cover news...have you read the awesome Embrace by Jessica Shirvington? If you've check out my author interview with Jessica Shirvington, you'll probably know that the sequel, Enticed, is coming out next year. But the cover has arrived:

So beautiful, right? I'm really looking forward to it. The release date is about March 2011!

Anyway, what other new covers have you seen recently?

Review: Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Debut Novel - will there be a series?
Genre: Paranormal/Thriller
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher:Allen and Unwin (AUS) 
Release Date:April 2010
Format: Paperback, 360 pages
ISBN-13:  9781741758801
RRP: $19.99 AUD
Thank you to Allen and Unwin, who provided this review copy for an honest review.
Cover love? 
On first glance, the cover seems plain, normal. But if you look closely, you can see a detailed forest on the girl's back. That is some awesome photo manipulation! The text colour is exactly the girl's hair colour, and the typeface reflects the Maori nature of the book.
  
Synopsis
'In less than a day I had been harassed, enchanted, shouted at, cried on, and clawed. I'd been cold, scared, dirty, exhausted, hungry, and miserable. And up until now, I'd been mildly impressed with my ability to cope.'
At her boarding school in New Zealand, Ellie Spencer is like any ordinary teen: she hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; obsesses over her crush on a mysterious boy; and her biggest worry is her essay deadline. Until everything changes...
In the foggy woods near the school, something ancient and deadly is waiting.
A gripping fantasy set on the shifting boundary between what is real and what is legend. Can Ellie discover a power she never knew she possessed?

Review

To be completely honest, this is a book that I would not normally pick up. I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to books with "Dead" in their title, and I tend to avoid horror novels. I've also never read any books set in New Zealand. But boy, was I blown away by the originality and depth in this book.

Eleanor (Ellie) Spencer doesn't really fit in at her New Zealand boarding school. She's rather tall, a black belt in tae kwon doe, and her only friend is Kevin, who all girls seem to like. Ellie discovers that there's more than meets the eye with her crush, the mysterious Mark Nolan, and he reveals to her a power and an alternate world that she never knew existed, but has always coexisted with her society.


Guardian of the Dead is brilliantly original. It's set in New Zealand, and central to the plotline is the ancestral Maori legends, including the fabled patupaiarehe. She also weaves several separate storylines (including a crime plotline that involves a series of murders by Eyeslasher), that managers to come together brilliantly at the end. Ellie Spencer is a strong heroine who does things on her own terms and can defend herself perfectly well, certainly a unique protagonist that stands out from the slew of cliched young adult main characters. The book also delicately explores an issue that I've never read before - themes of teenage asexuality - in Ellie's best friend Kevin.
Then there's the complicated family history that ties Mark and Kevin to the patupaiarehe legends. It completely unexpected, but it fit well with the story. Be warned, the family ties make for a very creepy part of the plotline though. In general, however, the plotline is fast-paced, thrilling and immensely captivating. Karen Healy's masterful writing complements this well, with an authentic voice that carried the many plot elements and created an intense story. The book is a paranormal thriller, and some points were downright frightening. Combined with the fact that I'm not a quick reader, you can imagine my shock when I discovered myself halfway through the book two hoursafter picking it up.

In the beginning of the novel, I couldn't relate to Ellie very well. In part, this was because I'm very different to her, but also, I felt that I didn't learn enough about Ellie's background to identify with her as a character. The romance between Mark and Ellie clearly defines this as a young adult novel, with its genuine emotions and rare (compared to other young adult novels), but incredibly sweet moments.

By the end, I was completely blown away. I've said this a couple of times, but I must reiterate. I've never read anything as authentic, gripping and intelligent as Guardian of the Dead. If you want to learn more about New Zealand culture while enjoying a paranormal thriller, read this book.

Rating: 4/5 stars




 Links:
Guardian of the Dead at Allen & Unwin

NB. I'm wondering if there will be a sequel, as the book certainly left space for one, and I would certainly read it.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Follow Friday 3/12/10

Book Blogger Hop


Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee, where bloggers spread the love by following each other.
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-For-Books, where book bloggers can "connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books!"

What do you do besides reading / reviewing as a hobby?
Hobbies? Psh, this is my life.
Nah, just joking. I normally just surf the net (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs), mope about the house, draw manga for a bit (which I've always loved) and well...that's it. I don't really have that much to do, which explains why I get so bored on the holidays.

What very popular and hyped book in the blogosphere did you NOT enjoy and how did you feel about posting your review?
Well, Fallen by Lauren Kate was really hyped up around the blogosphere, mainly due to its beautiful cover. So I borrowed it from my friend and read it...and lets just say, I didn't like it very much. I am looking forward to reading Torment by Lauren Kate though, because apparently it's quite good. My review of Fallen is here, if you're interested. The  review was written a while ago though (about 3 months), and it's the one I'm least proud of. Actually, don't read it...ergh.


Books that have lived up to the amount of hype it received though, are The Hunger Games and Matched. AMAZING books!




Recently on Book Couture:
Leave a comment below so I can check out your blog and follow, and please take the time to check out some of my recent posts.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Genre: Contemporary > Polygamists Society
Age Group: 13+ YA/MG
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 1st December 2010
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-13: 9781847389381
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.
Cover love? 
It's gorgeous and a little sad, Kyra's hair symbolising her innocence being undone.


Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters. That is, without questioning them much - if you don't count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.






The Chosen One is a dark but truthful story of a girl called Kyra, whose community forces her to become the seventh wife of her 60 year old uncle. It’s not a dystopian or historical novel; it’s a story set in our own time, reflective of the lives of people living in polygamist communities such as these.

Kyra father has three wives, and she has over twenty siblings. They live in trailers on a piece of fenced-in land owned by the Chosen Ones. She doesn’t have the opportunity to go to school, and must help take care of the younger children in her family. But Kyra has secrets. She borrows books from the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels, she despises and curses the dictatorial Prophet Childs in her head, and above all, she’s fallen in love with Joshua Johnson, who is absolutely forbidden to her.

Carol Lynch Williams’ writing is simple and fluid, bringing Kyra’s voice to life, allowing me to be completely immersed in her world. The Chosen One puts the lives of polygamist communities into perspective, and through this book, I’ve gained a greater understanding and sympathy of these “cults”. 

I’ll give you a warning now: the book is not a happy one. It’s sad and a little dark, without the classical happy resolution in most books. Through Kyra, I saw how unfair the society was, I was outraged at the tyrannical force with which Prophet Childs and his Apostles ruled the community, and I was disgusted at what the Prophet forced the girls to do.

And while I didn’t feel satisfied by the poignant ending, I thought it was the right place to finish this chapter of Kyra’s life. Like real life, we don’t know what comes next, salvation does not reach everyone, and there isn’t always a fairy-tale ending. But I don’t think this book could have been ended any other way while still retaining its effect.

Through the eyes of a girl who fights her way to freedom, The Chosen One is story that climbs over the barbed fence and opens our eyes to the truth behind victims of cults. It's beautiful and heartbreaking, definitely a must-read.

Rating:



Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: Outside In by Chrissie Keighery

Outside In by Chrissie Keighery
Genre: Contemporary > Teen Issues
Age Group: Young Adult 13+
Release Date: [Already Released] August 2009
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
ISBN-13:  9781921502361
RRP: $16.95 AUD

Cover love? 
At first, I thought little of the cover, until I recognised it's significance in the book! It's a beautiful piece of artwork, and I love the watercolour blending.



   
Synopsis
The cool group at school is not as luminous as it seems. Sure, they appear to have it all, but there are problems lurking just below the surface.
Beautiful Jordan is struggling to cope because of her newly divorced parents, Meredith covers her past by playing the clown, Cecilia hides her feelings and a shameful secret, Sam is growing up, and Jack is caught off-guard when he falls in love for the first time.
And then there's someone else. She's not part of the group. The others have no idea she's there. But she knows that there are cracks. She watches them from the inside, out. From the outside, in.
A beautiful novella about figuring out who you are and how you fit in.

Review

Outside In is a short and beautiful novella about finding where you belong in the tumultuous, confusing complexity that is teenage life. I read it in one sitting and was stunned by the truth that emanated from this powerful story.

This story describes the friendship dynamics between the "luminous" group at the narrator's school. The narrator is a new girl at the school, never identified until the end, who feels like she is always on the outside, the fringes of society, looking in, but never truly a part of it. The "luminous" group comprises of four outwardly content girls whose lives seem perfectly okay on the surface, but beneath the facade, there is tension as each girl secretly goes through individual trials and tribulations.

The book switches focus between all the characters, but never returning to any one, except the narrator. From her position outside the group, the narrator is able to sense more about the dynamics between the friends than the girls themselves. I liked this choice of structure as it truly is unique, lends a voice to every character, and shows us the troubles beneath the cool surface. However, this left little room for the characters to truly develop.

The writing is not something that stands out to me, but Keighery intelligently explores the themes of appearances versus reality. While each character has their own, very different but innately related, set of problems, they are characters that all could relate to. All social issues explored - divorce, low self-esteem, isolation, hurt, betrayal, friendship, love, eating disorders - are just as serious as each other, because of the immense effect that they have on that person. And I'm sure that at least one of those issues has affected everyone.

Outside In is a powerful story that lights up the darkness in the lives of others, and the raw emotions explored in this novella touched my heart with their truthfulness.

Rating:
 

Links:
Outside In at Hardie Grant Egmont | Chrissie Keighery's Website