Saturday, 19 November 2011

Interview with Lara Morgan (Rosie Black Chronicles)

Hey there awesome people! I've been AWOL for ages again, and I am this close to throttling - ahem - filing a complaint to our education system for tearing me away from blogging. But my last exam finishes soon, and I can't wait to be back reviewing and reading. Even the thought of it is brightening the thought of my massive pile of practise exams...

But in the meantime, I have a wonderful interview with the almighty Lara Morgan, the author of the Rosie Black Chronicles, right here at Book Couture, as part of an awesome blog tour. Lara. Morgan. Seriously, Mind. Blown. Alright, let's go...

Hi Lara! Thank you so much for taking the time to appear on my blog. I'm so thrilled to have you heere! The topic I'm really curious about today is writing tips, for all those aspiring writers out there. So first of all, I was wondering, what inspired you to write the Rosie Black Chronicles?

There were two inspirations for Rosie: first was my interest in our planet’s future given the mess of global warming and second my love of space adventure shows and movies like Star Wars and Firefly. I know, it’s a weird mix!  So basically I combined the two, exploring the kind of world both environmentally and socially we might have in the future if all the terrible effects of global warming come to pass and including against that backdrop an adventure story that involved spaceships and futuristic themes with an independent female heroine. I also found great inspiration for Rosie in Buffy. Not so much in the kind of person Rosie is but more in terms of her heroism in the face of sometimes terrible odds.



Hmm, global warming is such a topical issue at the moment, and Rosie Black's world certainly shows the frightening ramifications of inaction. And that is certainly an interesting blend of inspirational material!

Sometimes when I'm writing short stories (or actually, writing anything in general), I'll want to get the tone, the character, the phrasing, etc, right, and so I find myself agonising over every single word. I guess I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Then I find myself losing interest because the whole writing process feels too difficult. How is your own writing process like? And what would you recommmend beginning writers to do?

Ah yes, the agonizing is a very hard hurdle to get over. It’s also one I advise beginning writers to leap over because trying to get everything right before you move on can result in exactly what you’ve described and that is death to any writing. When I start work on a book I firstly do a lot of research into the kind of world I’m creating, so lots of reading (my favourite part!), and I scribble notes down about my characters. I don’t do very detailed sketches of them at that stage but I do think about who they are and where they might fit in the story. Then I get out an artist’s sketch block and start plotting out a story line. I draw a long diagonal line right across the page and at the beginning note down where I think the story might start, the scene and action. Then I make a dot in the middle of the line and note what a major plot point might be for the middle, then make a dot at the end of the line and note how I think the book might end, and I fill in a few points in between those three that might be some major plot points for the story. That’s it really, then I just start writing the first draft. I am one of those writers who work better if I don’t over plot. I need to do a bit of plotting, but while I’m writing the first draft I always revise my plot outline as I go so I tend to end up with several increasingly different versions. I rarely ever change the ending though. I always have a clear idea at the start where I’m heading and when writing a first draft I don’t edit as I go. If I find along the way that a character does something that affects what I’ve already written a chapter or so back I just make a note to myself to change it in the rewrite and keep going. It’s only when I’ve written the first draft all the way through that I really know what the story is. Then in the rewrite I can go back and refine it.

So I think my best advice for new writers is to stop agonizing over getting the perfect scene or sentence the first time and just get to the end. Remember all writing is rewriting. Relax, take a breath and give yourself permission to write badly the first time knowing you will be fixing it up in the rewrite. And never show anyone your first draft because the last thing you need at the beginning is someone’s well meaning advice before you’re even sure how your story goes.

That, is gold for aspiring writers. Reading is my facourite part too! And your visual approach to planning is very innovative and interesting. I've never heard of that technique before, and I think I might try it out someday. Thanks!
What's your personal cure for writer's block?

If I’m having trouble writing it’s usually because my creative brain isn’t quite sure what’s happening in the story next and is fighting with my ‘just-get-on-with-it’ side of the brain. I’ve found the best way for me to get over this is to stop trying to push through it and take a step back. I stop writing and just take a day or so to think about what the problem is. I leave my desk and sit on the couch in a different room with a notebook and just day dream the story a bit, making random notes if something comes to me. It can be very frustrating, but eventually – and often when I’m doing something unrelated like the dishes or sleeping – the solution will come and I can go back to work.

Looking back on your writing experience, is there anything you wish you had done differently? And anything you would recommend for beginning writers?

I wish I’d known more about promoting the book and myself at the beginning. When my first book came out I really didn’t know what I should do and I wish now I’d invested some money into going to conventions or getting out there more. It’s not something anyone tells you, so it’s something I tell new writers. You have to take on responsibility for promoting yourself as well. You can’t just rely on the publisher, especially not in today’s market and luckily now with the range of social media we have an outlet that can help with that. So advice? Get online, go to conventions, and if you’re not published yet also enter short story competitions. Winning or placing gives you runs on the board. I won a story competition and it lead to me getting an agent so they really can help, especially if the awards have a national profile. Don’t be scared just enter, it’s worth it.

Valuable advice, once again. It's great that a story competition sparked off your career. It gives me hope that with the right amount of talent, and some luck thrown in too, anything is possible.

Usually when I read a book, I'm only reading it for pleasure, and I tend to read it fast, preferring to allow the storyline to play out in my imagination, rather than analysing every word. In some ways, that contributes to the magic of books for me, because while I might not register every single word, my mind still evokes the overall sense of the book. So what I'm wondering is, what kind of reader are you? And after having written your own books, do you find youself becoming more of a close reader?


 I can still get lost in a story, but what I have found is I probably pick up on errors or lazy writing more quickly than I might have before and I’m probably a tad more critical. It makes me wonder what the editor was thinking/doing to let something slip by, while at the same time I know that mistakes happen when you’re dealing with reading the same thing over and over. I won’t finish a book anymore if it irks me though. Life is too short to keep reading if I’m not enjoying it.

What are some of your favourite literature tropes?

I love a good quest. Yes it’s been done, and done, and done – heck I’ve done it! – but it makes for such a good story, such a great structure to revolve characters around. I also love a good dark lord. What’s not to love? Look at Darth Vader, Sauron, Voldemort and the incarnations of the lord as evil empire are also smashing.

Nice, me too! I like the way that quests can fully immerse the readers into an adventure.What do you think are essential elements to any story? (i.e. what would make or break a book for you?)

Characters have to have shades of grey to them. Heroes can’t be all good and bad guys need to be more than they appear to be. I can’t abide two dimensional characters and will put down a book if not enough effort has gone into creating people I can believe in and care about. I read a book recently which clearly was written more as a treatise for a blockbuster film than a novel. It had bags of action and thrilling turns but I felt no connection with the people in the story at all, the hero could have died at the end and I wouldn’t have cared.  That was really disappointing. 

Great answer! The plot could be masterpiece, but ultimately, we are human beings, and a personl connection developed with the characters is what really brings the book "alive" for me as well.
On my bookshelf, I've got one whole role dedicated to wonderful dystopian novels, and I found it interesting that YA dystopians novels are increasing in popularity now (that's what it seems to me, at least.) What are your thoughts?


Yes definitely dystopian YA is becoming more popular now, but it has been around for a while. I’ve got a book on my shelf written ten years ago that is YA dystopian and dystopia itself has been a solid presence in adult fiction for fifty or more years. Why it’s popularity is growing now in YA is, I think, partly due to the massive success of Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, and maybe as a point of difference to all the paranormal romance which has taken centre stage of late.

Finally, what are some of your favourite books (fiction and non-fiction, YA and adult) and movies? Books/movies you find most inspiring?

Books: Ursula Le Guin’s The Earthsea Quartet, Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, The Lord of the Rings, The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku.

Movies/TV shows: Star Wars (the original three please not those awful new ones!), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The X Files, When Harry Met Sally and my feel good movie when I’m ill is Under the Tuscan Sun because it’s about a writer who buys a house in Tuscany – seriously what’s not to love there?

I've heard amazing things about those, but haven't yet watched/read them yet. Except The Mortal Instruments and Lord of the Rings. That's it. I'm going to spend my holidays trying to hunt down all those books and movies and watch them now. 

And...that's a wrap! Thank you for your wise and illuminating answers, Lara!

My pleasure!

After reading that, don't you just want to go check out a sample of Equinox? Or go and enter my competition for both Rosie Black novels released. It's open to Aussies.
And if you have a facebook, go and visit the rest of the blog tour. Get updates and giveaway links and such.

Hope you all have an awesome day. And keep smiliing. :)

xx Tina

Friday, 18 November 2011

My first BLURB. *still in shock*

Hey there awesome person! You have a beautiful smile.

This is a quickie post to record something very momentous and amazing for me....

Take a lookie at this, which was sent my way by the lovely Emilie at Emilie's Book World and Brittany at Nice Girls Read Books, via twitter (psst, come chat with me? I'd love to talk to you. :) )

My words. In print. In actual, honest-to-goodness black ink on book-creating paper. Stuff I said about Embrace by Jessica Shirvington. Cue the silly dancing and the loud music and party poppers, because this has made my week. I only started this blog to chat about me, reading, but wow, seeing that...it really makes a girl feel special, and honoured, and amazed.

Anyway, a cool interview with Lara Morgan coming up tomorrow! Stay tuuuned. ;)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Giveaway: Win Rosie Black Chronicles Book #1 and #2

How exciting is this? I'm hosting my very first giveaway ever...it's such a cool feeling. And I'm super happy because it's for two amazing dystopian books.

Hopefully this will excuse me from the fact that myblog has been awfully quiet again, and will be for the next month, until exams and such are finished.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia, I have a copy of Rosie Black Chronicles: Book 1-Genesis, and Book 2 - Equinox by Lara Morgan, to give away!

Equinox comes out in November, and keep your eyes peeled, because there'll be a blog tour for it coming soon, and a review of Rosie Black on Book Couture.



How to win a copy:
  • Open to residents of Australia only, age 13 or above.
  • Post a comment about your favourite dystopian book to get an entry in - be sure to leave your name (nickname will do fine too), and an email address for me to contact you with as well.
  • Spreading the word online linking to this comp will get you an extra entry too, e.g. tweeting about the comp (with @bookcouture), facebooking, blogging, linking...etc. Leave links as additional comments.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly, so it's pretty fair for all.
  • Entries close 22nd November 2011
 Good luck!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Shift by Em Bailey [Goodreads]
Genre: YA > Thriller
Release Date: 1st September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781742970578
Cover love? It's quirky and incredible and immediately drew me in. It fits the book perfectly, with the idea identity is always shifting, or shaped by others. 
There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she'd even arrived at our school. The first was that she had no parents - they were dead. And the second? They were dead because Miranda had killed them.
Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.

Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.
She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive's ex-best friend.

Yet from a distance, Olive can see there's something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost... parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.

But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her…

Even as the narrator, Olive Corbett’s past is shrouded in secrecy. While on the surface, Olive seems like your everyday teenage girl, with a fair share of problems at school and at home, there’s an unstable, insecure, but caring girl underneath. Without her best friend Ami to anchor her sanity down, she’d surely be lost. The beauty of her character was that she seemed to “shift” a lot between several personas, and I could never be certain who Olive was.

The question is, how did Olive fall from being one of the most popular girls in the school, to the paranoid “freak” that she’s now known as? Oh, and what exactly happened between Olive and her ex-best-friend Kate, the beautiful and popular queen of the school? 

This book takes the toxic effect that high-school life can have on a person, to a whole new level. Miranda Vaile transfers to Olive’s school amid a flurry of speculation, and wild rumours. Some say that she killed her parents, and while Olive is sceptical, she knows that there’s something really off about Miranda. This pale, wisp of a girl somehow latches onto Kate, and over time, seemingly draws the life out of her, until Kate is a shadow of her former self, and Miranda begins to glow with  the vitality that Kate had.

Em Bailey smoothly carries the reader forward on this rollercoaster ride of a plot, with her simple yet compelling writing style. The characters are flawed and therefore believable, and there is a cute romance between Olive and a hot new guy, Lachlan, that stumbles around as Olive keeps on trying to push him away from her, despite her growing feelings for him.

Shift is psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing and questioning the truth behind the story Olive tells. Is there really something strange going on with Miranda, or is it all in Olive’s head? I think I can safely say that have never, ever read anything quite as gripping and intoxicating. While this book isn’t for everyone, especially if you don’t like thrillers, it’s a refreshing break from mainstream YA, one which will creep up under your skin and claw at your heart, squeezing it at every thrilling twist and turn of the plot.

Rating:

Friday, 30 September 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Black

Series: Anna Dressed in Blood
Genre: Young Adult >Thriller/Horror
Publisher: Tor Teen/Hachette AUS
Release Date: October 2011
ISBN: 9781408319444
Cover love? It's so hauntingly gorgeous, with a dark and spooky atmosphere that suits the story perfectly.
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.


Review
I confess: I have never, ever read horror before. Back in the Grade 2 days, I had a tentative peek into a Goosebump novel, and it practically scared the crap out of me, so since then, I've always avoided horror like the plague. But Anna Dressed in Blood was so freaking amazing that I'm crying, begging on my knees for more from Kendare Black, and *gasp* yes, more horror!

Theseus Cassio 'Cas' Lowood is one badass character, so fierce and brave. He descends from a long line of ghost hunters, all committed to ridding the world of ghosts who have stayed behind after death, out for revenge. After his father was brutally murdered by a ghost that he'd set out to kill, Cas devotes himself to training and slaying the dead, honing his skills in the hopes that one day, he can return to exact revenge on the monstrous being that took his father's life. 

As a professional ghost slayer, Cas gets called to Thunder Bay to investigate the mystery of a particularly mysterious and violent ghost that the locals call "Anna Dressed in Blood". For the past 60 years, everyone who has dared to enter her house is torn apart, ripped to shreds. But when Cas faces this terrifying "goddess of death", he discovers that he's finally met his match - a ghost he can't destroy. But for some reason, she decides to spare his life.

Intrigued, Cas can't help but be drawn back to Anna's haunted house, again and again, attempting to discover the mystery behind her death, the reason why she is unlike other ghosts he's encountered. Because beneath the otherworldly and powerful exterior is a beautiful and fragile girl trapped by her dark past...

Kendare Black writes a spellbinding tale, entwining witchcraft and ghost mythology, tradgedy and hope, fear and adoration, until the reader is just as enraptured by Anna as Cas is. I adored so many things about this book - the gentle but fierce prose, the numerous twist and turns within the plot. My one lament is that the side characters aren't developed as well. I could sense that there was more to them, but I'll probably have to wait until Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood #2) coming out in 2012, to find out.

Black doesn't hold back on the violence or the gripping themes either - this is a raw and powerful book that will probably scare the living daylights out of you, but in a fantastic way that makes you hungry for more.  It kept me up well past midnight, on the one hand feeling too afraid and nervous to keep on reading, but also too creeped out and entangled in this beautiful and dark tale to bear putting it down. And when I finally finished, I just lay there in bed, thinking about it all night. My advice: read it in broad daylight, but for the brave looking for a good scare, I dare you to read it in the dead silence of the night.


Rating:
Parental Corner: Violence (heavy), sexual content (minor), profanity (occasional)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating:
Series: Birthright Series
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Crime
Release Date: 6th September 2011
Source: Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.
Links: PanMac | Goodreads

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight—at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Review

Imagine this.

New York, year 2028. You’re sixteen years old, dogged by the legacy of a criminal chocolate business your murdered father once lead. Your grandma, your only guardian, is the oldest person you know (born in 1995) and she’s bedridden. Your elder brother is gorgeous, and girls would love him, if only he didn’t have the mind of an 8-year-old.  Your little sister makes you ache to protect the rest of your family.

Not to mention that your a-hole of a boyfriend insists on sleeping with you.

So what do you do?  

I won’t tell you too much, but let’s just say that eventually, you get arrested for attempted murder.

All These Things I’ve Done is a book that whisked me off my feet and took me on a journey. A journey through one year of Anya Balanchine’s life as I saw an alternate, morally corrupt world through her eyes and explored the potential ramifications of extreme Prohibition laws. In 2028, chocolate, mobile phones and coffee are amongst the many items that we now take for granted that have been outlawed. The effect is a world that we recognise as our own, but disorientingly merges elements of the past and present, to bring them to the future. 

However, the dystopia of this world is merely hinted at, while Anya’s story takes the forefront. Anya is brave, smart and resilient, hardened by being forced to take over the parental role in her family after her father’s death. But she’s still young and impulsive, and nowhere near perfect, and I envisioned with bated breath, captivated, as she tumbled from trouble into disaster. Anya amazed me – I can’t imagine that any sixteen year old could have the wit, instinct and courage to experience what she does and come out as wholly as she does. She’s remarkable and extraordinary, but I felt her maturity was too unrealistic at times.

Gabrielle Zevin creates characters that unique, flawed and plausible, and through them, she portrays different facets of human nature. I believe that the best books are ones that make me think – hidden within are themes and ideas that bring up questions for me. I’m not a careful reader, but this book inspired me to try. The very title, “all these things I’ve done” suggests that the book is an exploration of the idea of  redemption. Do we all deserve a second chance, no matter what we’ve done, or are some acts too horrible to be redeemed? What is the threshold of human forgiveness? Does an ability to forgive others make you a strong person, or weak minded? Are we, as humans, inherently good or bad? I guess there is no clear, definite distinction between black and white, because Anya’s world and life is comprised of all shades of grey.

There are books that take me away with the romance between characters, and there are those that simply don’t.  While the synopsis portrays this as a story of a pair of star-crossed lovers, I didn’t really see that. I thought it was more of a subplot, and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes, when literally 15 pages into the book, we had already met the guy who would so obviously be the love of Anya’s life. I was frustrated that there was no real doubt or gradual falling in love; that they were automatically drawn to each other, despite Anya’s flimsy attempts to distance herself.  

Overall, All These Things I’ve Done is an intricately layered exploration of the ideas of redemption and sacrifice, set in a world where danger and deception lurk behind every door. Anya’s coming-of-age is an unforgettable story that I devoured in one sitting, and absolutely recommend to fans of crime, and dystopia.

My Rating:

Friday, 23 September 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels, Wolfsbane

These are some already-released must-reads that I read over my temporary hiatus from blogging. Why am I reviving them from their glory releases a couple of months ago? Well, coz they were pretty awesome reads and I thought I should let you know about them. Also, I wanted to record my thoughts, just for looking back on. :)

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare
[Walker Books Aus, released 5th April 2011] [Urban Fantasy]

What’s it about? The Mortal Instruments series shot straight into my all-time favourites the first time I read them, because there is just something so enchanting and enthralling about the world contained between their pages. Clary Fray finds herself thrust unceremoniously into the dark and dangerous world of Shadowhunters (demon-slayers) werewolves, warlocks, and vampires, a world that only she can see, as she attempts to uncover the mystery of her mother’s murder.

My thoughts? In City of Fallen Angels (book #4), interspecies politics, the love of a star-crossed pair, and the forces of Heaven and Hell intertwine in a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching tale. When I read this, I took it everywhere with me, because I couldn’t bear to be parted from the non-stop action and the pure emotions that the book wrought out of me.

Why should you read it? So, I can’t say that the premise of the story sounds all that original at first, but trust me, Cassandra Clare takes what could have been a predictable, clichéd plotline and infuses it with an unforgettable cast and a rich story world setting.  If you love action-adventure stories  with heart wrenching romances, I think you’ll adore this series as well.

You’ll like it if you liked: Well, I think you’ll like this one no matter what, but The Mortal Instruments series had a similar “feel” and genre to the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.  

Additional Notes:
  • The audiobook version is narrated by Ed Westwick (Chuck from Gossip Girl), and Molly Young (Castle).
  • Cassandra Clare also has a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments  - called The Infernal Devices, a steampunk series set in the 19th century, which is just as riveting.
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer 
[Atom Books Aus, released 26th June, 2011] [Paranormal – Werewolves]

What’s it about? For her whole life, Calla Tor has existed in a world where her kind, the shape-shifting wolf Guardians, have always been subservient to the Keepers, magic-wielders to whom the Guardians’ survival is inherently linked. Calla accepts that her destiny as an alpha female of the Nightshade wolf pack is to marry Ren, the alpha male of the rival Bane pack. For if Calla refuses, the Keepers will exact their fury upon her loved ones. But in Nightshade (Book #1), all that Calla knows to be true is cast into doubt when she begins to fall in love with a human boy, and discovers what sinister things the Keepers have in store for them both.
In Wolfsbane (Book #2), Calla finds herself fighting alongside the Keepers’ sworn enemies in an epic race to uncover the truth, save her friends from under the keepers’ oppressive rule, and salvage her relationships. 

My thoughts?  What I loved most about this book was how Andrea Cremer managed to interweave action scenes and plot development with enriching the world she’s built. In the beginning, Calla was thrust into the fight, leaving me (the reader) just as confused as she was. But gradually, we get to see more of the external forces acting on her world, and discover, alongside her, the truth of their past. Wolfsbane answers some of the biggest questions in Nightshade, but at the same time, creates more for book 3, Bloodrose.  

[SPOILER] I have to admit though, I was occasionally annoyed by Calla. Annoyed by her doubt and emotional confusion and her fallibility. Annoyed by the way that she was torn between her love for Shay and her lingering emotions for Ren, how she was tactless and emotionally confused. Perhaps the reason why was because I see myself reflected in her, and wished that she was stronger and more decisive, as fierce in love as she was in battle. And the relationship that she shared with Shay felt forced and superficial. Somehow, I didn’t feel genuine sparks between her and Shay, not like there was in the first book, but I attribute this to the fact that they didn’t have that much time together.

Andrea Cremer, however, often writes quite strong characters, which are distinct and flawed, with very human desires and reactions. None of her characters are close to perfect, so they’re realistic and believable. And what I love most of all is how she portrays same-sex relationships between her characters with finesse and tact. She, through Calla’s eyes, doesn’t place specific emphasis on their struggles or makes them the objects of ostracisation. She doesn’t over-glorify their love either, creating relationships that are genuine and caring. But most of all, I love how the characters accept same-sex relationships between other characters as ordinary, just like any other relationship. Maybe I’m being discrimatory by pointing out this, but I think this acceptance is beautiful, and ought to be praised. 

One more thing – there’s a plot twist in here that I caught onto early on, which is rare for me. I thought it was clichéd and too obvious, (although it was foreshadowed in the first book as well, which might have contributed) but I’m reluctantly intrigued to see how it’s explored. [/SPOILER]

Why should you read it? The Nightshade series is one that gets a place amongst my “love list” because it combines edge-of-your-seat action with real, emotionally complex characters, and best of all, a rich twist of the wolf mythology that draws you into the book and leaves you pondering the book well after the last page, questions dancing on your tongue. This book is kind of intoxicating, and I for one, couldn’t stop reading it until I had finished the journey within its pages.

Just a warning, apparently no YA book is complete without a classic love triangle and a bit of emotional drama to liven things up, and in this second book at least, I felt it was a little too much. 

Readalikes: Vampire Academy, Twilight, Blood and Chocolate.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Should we beware author blurbs?


Skye from In the Good Books wrote an interesting and thought-provoking post on author quotes (otherwise known as "blurbs" on the front of books. To paraphrase her, she says that quotes from authors she admires will make her pick up a book that she might have previously overlooked, but a taglne along the lines of "Fans of Twilight will love this book!" are a deal breaker.

I found myself nodding in agreeance, because to be honest, sometimes I'll get put off books that have a quote from an author, or some other sentence urging you to "read this book!".

Sometimes I can't help but roll my eyes at really cliched taglines, for example, "you will devour this book" or "this book will leave you breathless". I mean, c'mon, really?! These words have been so over-used that they've kinda lost their meaning. I don't believe them for a second. And well, publishers are in the business of getting readers to buy their books, so of course they're going to praise the book. This doesn't mean that their opinion isn't valid; they obviously love the book so much, they've chosen to put their full support behind it and get it published. This just means that we have to take words from a potential source of bias with a grain of salt.

But what about blurbs from authors? Well...

a) If it's an author I have read and admire who has recommended the book, then I might be more inclined to pick up the book, for sure. But if I don't like the book, then the author is discredited in my eyes. I'd probably be less willing to trust their judgement.

b) If it's an author whose books I did not enjoy, then I'm even less likely to read the book.

c) If I do enjoy the book, the it will be because the author did a good job, rendering the blurb irrelevant.

Also, I know that authors are sent new releases from their publisher/editor/agent for endorsements. And this is where things get tricky. It's beneficial to an author to stay "in the good books" (terrible pun intended) of their industry connections by giving a positive endorsement, yet in blurbing a book, they put their own reputation with readers on the line. Declining to review a book will undoubtedly step on a few toes, and will be detrimental in the long run when attempting to forge new connections or ask for favours. Gee, aren't politics fun?

Anyway, blurbs I read are often quite vague and general; sometimes  I can't help but be skeptical about the reliability of obvious and gushing praise, and I end up ignoring them, relying on my own reading of the book to give it a fair judgement. After all, reading experiences are subjective.

What I personally prefer is a book with just the title and author's name on the front cover. I often turn to my fellow book bloggers and my librarian for recommendations, and then I make my own judgements from my reading.

So the real question is, how effective is an author blurb anyway? Would you read a book based on another author's recommendation, or do you ignore them completely?Also, what do you think about book blogger reviews? Do they influence your book-reading decisions in any way?

Here's an informative and much more eloquent article I found, which explores this issue from a perspective of an author.

Also, thanks to Skye for inspiring this post!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is a feature hosted by the amazing blogger Kristi from The Story Siren. It's a weekly post where book bloggers can share what books they got that week - from publishers, gifted books or purchased ones. :) It's a pretty awesome meme, and lets you know about new books coming out. I'm always excited to see what other people are reading.

I haven't done an IMM for ages, so I'm not sure what no. I'm up to. So I'll just start from scratch. :) IMM #1 for 2011. :D

So in the last month: Thanks to these awesome publishers...I'm really honoured and thrilled to read these!


 Twisted by Gena Showalter [thanks to Harlequin Teen]
This is book 3 in the Intertwined series by Gena Showalter, so I've got to read the first two first. :) Anyone read this series yet?
Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen [thanks to Tina at Penguin AUS]
I haven't read Bright Young Things (book #1) yet, but I've been studying The Great Gatsby at school, and it's definitely piqued my interest in the Roaring Twenties/Jazz Age. I wonder if Godbersen's portrayal will also depict the hedonistic and morally decayed society that F. Scott Fitzgerald criticised, or whether she will glamourise the 1920s...

When We Were Two by Robert Newton [thanks to Tina at Penguin AUS]
Tina at Penguin told me that this was one of her absolute favourites, so I'm really eager to read this one! Gosh, I want the holidays to come soon!



 Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan [thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia]
Eeee! I LOVE SCI-FI and I loved Across the Universe, so I'm pumped for this one. The cover is sooo gorgeous, and the blurb is v v intriguing.

 All The Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin [thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia]
THIS WAS SO GOOD. I picked it up and did not stop reading until I was finished...so a review is coming soon!

 Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick [thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia]
It sounds along the lines of Gone by Michael Grant - a post-apocalyptic novel in which all the adults disappear after one mysterious phenomenon...leaving behind a world full of kids. I really enjoyed Gone, so hopefully I'll like this too - although I'll inevitably be comparing the two all the way through.


 The 39 Clues: The Medusa Plot by Gordon Corman
Conspiracy 365: Revenge by Gabrielle Lord
[thanks to Scholastic AUS]
Scholastic does amazing things with their books to make them appeal to a younger male audience immersed in modern technology. 39 clues comes with collectible cards, and the cover of Con spiracy 365 is really awesome and 3D. I haven't read any of the others, but I'm desperately wishing I had a younger brother to give these to. I'll try to review them though. :)


 Frostbite by Richelle Mead [swapped with Lux from The Paperback Heart - thanks!]
I've read this, but I love re-reading VA and I've been painstakingly collecting the whole series to lend out to my cousins/friends, and this one completes it. So thanks so much Lux!

 Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski [Thanks to Sue!]
Sue is a really nice and awesome person in general, so check out her blog here. I'm reading this book now, everytime I take (really long) breaks from doing Maths homework, hence the bookmark. 
She sent me a sample chapter about a week ago, and it's really good, so feel free to pop her an email or send me one at readingcouture@gmail.com and I'll forward you the sampler as well. :)

 Impossible by Nancy Werlin [swapped with Skye from In the Good Books- thanks!]
This book is about a family of girls cursed to become pregnant at 18, and the only way to break the curse is to fulfil the impossible demands outlined in the song "Scarborough Fair". Quite unique, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks heaps, Skye!

And that's my book haul of the month. Have you read any of these? What did you think?
If not, what books have you been reading?
And link me to your IMM too, if you have one. :)
Happy reading!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pottermore!

Hey guys, just a quick post about getting into Pottermore! I signed up on the second day, but got my email about a week ago, so I've done a bit of exploring already. The artwork on the site is so stunning, and I love reading the extra content from JK Rowling, especially McGonagall's life story *tears*. For those of you that aren't on the site yet, the coolest features are: getting your own wand, mixing potions, and of course, getting sorted!

I got sorted into..SLYTHERIN! I'm a little surprised, but happy all the same. It's a pretty cool house.

Do you have a Pottermore account? Leave your username below, or add mine (below), and we'll exchange gifts.

 QueenBlade198

What house (did you/do you want to be) sorted into? And thoughts on Pottermore?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Epic List of Book Crushes

There are some seriously awesome books that are coming out in the near future that I am bursting into spontaneous dances of excitement for. (Trust me, I'm a horrible dancer, it's not pretty.) But anyway, here they are:

(OMGOMGOMG GET RELEASED ALREADY YOU GORGEOUS THINGS. *hyperventilates*)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
 
If you haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss, beg, borrow, steal a copy (from a friend who wouldn't mind, of course). Because Stephanie Perkin’s addictive debut will have you falling in love with the gorgeous, imperfect Etienne, on a whirlwind year in the city of lurve, France. 

Lola and the Boy Next Door is the companion novel, and it’s coming out 3rd October 2011! I can't wait to fall into another funny, beautiful contemporary romance again.

From the cute cover, I can imagine that Lola has a LOT of spunk, especially with that purple hair. And that boy...*swoon*...


 

Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie  
 
Matched is the first book in this dystopian trilogy by Ally Condie. It draws the reader into a beautifully crafted world where girls and boys are paired to who the Society deems to be their perfect "match". Cassia is thankful to find that her Match is her handsome best friend Xander, but her whole world is thrown into doubt when she sees begins to tentatively fall in love with the mysterious Ky...

I'm really looking forward to reading Crossed, to discover what happens to Cassia next. Ally Condie's take on a dystopian future ironically has similar references to same kind of restrictions we see in historical novels - the arranged marriage and oppressive ruling. At the same time, the narrative is gentle and beautiful - a wonderful read. 

Crossed comes out 31st October 2011.


Bloodsong by Rhiannon Hart
 I've heard nothing but praises for this fantasy novel. It's got a beautiful dark, gothic cover that looks a little spooky, but stunning nonetheless. Here's the blurb:
When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.
Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.
Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares?


Craving blood? Oooo....I hope she's not a vampire, but I haven't read a fantasy for a while and this one sounds like one that'll take the reader on a real adventure.

The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies #2) by Pittacus Lore

Boys and girls will be captivated by the first book, I Am Number Four. It's dynamic, action-packed, and set in a world where there are two types of aliens who live secretly amongst humans on Earth.
There's the good guys (Loriens) that look like humans, but have supernatural powers. Oh, and they're on the run from another race of bad aliens (Mogadorians) who destroyed their planet and are hellbent on destroying Earth as well.

It's a bit cliche, and the writing isn't really eloquent, but the action scenes translated well in the movie adaptation starring Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron.

Book 2 just came out in August, and I'm pumped to readthe next part of this gripping series.


Sweetly by Jackson Pearce



Jackson Pearce wrote a dark, sexy and absolutely engrossing retelling of Red Riding Hood with Sisters Red last year. This cover is pretty spooky, and the face you can just make out scares the hell out of me.


It's a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, I'm excited to see how Jackson Pearce remakes the fairytale through Sweetly, which just came out in August.








Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

I adore Melina Marchetta's books, especially Looking for Alibrandi and On the Jellicoe RoadFroi of the Exiles is the sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, and I desperately want to read both! I wonder how Melina Marchetta, wonderful author as she is, will be able to step away from writing contemporary novels to fantasy.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home. Or so he believes.

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper.  But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds.  Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.


Other books on my radar:
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan - A sci-fi book set in space, said to be similar to Across the Universe?
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater - I loved The Wolves of Mercy Falls, fingers crossed that this series will be just as enchanting.
Legend by Marie Lu - A dystopian debut that promises to be as good as The Hunger Games. Eee!! 'Nuff said. 
Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - I haven't read Maureen Johnson, but a paranormal murder mystery set in London? Count me in.

Released books I want to read: 
Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski - The lovely Sue is offering a free sample chapter of Wolfborn on her blog, and please, please do yourself a favour and head on over to check it out. It's starting out to be a really, really good fantasy/supernatural novel that I want more of.
Divergent by Veronic Roth- This one is another dystopian, and I've only heard awesome things about it.
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter - I loved Heist Society (#1), can't wait to see what happens to the feisty Kat.

So there we have it! A list of books that I've been spending hours researching (obviously my social life is very hectic...not), and getting VERY excited about. :D

What are some books you want to read?
Not just new/recent ones, but any that you've come across: classics, ones you haven't gotten around to...etc.
Feel free to list a couple. I'd love to see your thoughts!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Review: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Love and Loyality Run Deeper Than Blood
 Genre: Fantasy > Vampires
Age Group:Young Adult
Release Date: 23/08/2011
ISBN-13: 9781921518881
Rating:  


BLOOD DOESN'T LIE . . .
Sydney's blood in special.  That's because she's an alchemist - one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires.  They protect vampire secrets - and human lives.  But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists.  And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line.

When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway.  But what unfolds is far worse.  Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding.  To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places: a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California.  The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires.  And now she has to live with one.

The Moroi court believe Jill and Sydney will be safe at Amberwood Prep, but threats, distractions and forbidden romance lurk both outside – and within – the school grounds.  Now that they're in hiding, the drama is only just beginning.

Review

When I pick up a book I’ve been longing to read, a wonderful and indescribable feeling builds up inside me.  The sight of the title and author printed on the beautiful cover spreads a grin across my face, and the feel of printed pages running between my fingers makes my heart race. But most of all, the sense of excitement and anticipation for the story that will unfold epitomises the very reason I love to read. Because for the time that I am reading this precious bound form of ink and paper, I am lifted from the ordinary into a world of magic and infinite possibility.

And Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is one of those rare books which does exactly that.
I’m sure many VA fans were busting for the release of Bloodlines, but at the same time, dubious as to how the story would unfold from Sydney’s fresh perspective. But honest to goodness, Richelle Mead does not disappoint. Bloodlines is another embodiment of Mead’s power to draw the reader in with intricate plotlines, a unique set of characters and a captivating world.

Mead’s writing is deceptively simple and straightforward, but somewhere within the paragraphs, she weaves a story that immediately captures the reader’s imagination and transports them to another world. This intricately crafted alternate universe, where a complex world of vampires live secretly alongside the human world, is so intriguing and fantastical that it has spawned six books – comprising the Vampire Academy series – and now this new spinoff series, Bloodlines.

The first few chapters start off with little action, but Mead quickly builds up a vivid depiction of the enticing vampire world fans of VA have come to love. Sydney is a very multi-faceted character, but quite the polar opposite of Rose. Where Rose is outgoing, strong-willed and completely badass, Sydney is an intelligent observer, somewhat naïve socially, but with no less determination and passion. 

Sydney’s mission to protect Jill Dragomir is accompanied by the witty and slightly unstable Adrian, and Jill’s guardian, Eddie. I love the way Mead builds on these previously minor characters while weaving new relationships between them. However, the forbidden love story at the heart of Vampire Academy was an enchanting, and irreplaceable part of the original series, and I can’t see a love story stronger than that one building up in Bloodlines. 
Book 2 comes out 1st of May 2012...
that's way too long to wait. Sigh.

But what completely drew me in, and had me reading late into the night, was the story itself. With Mead’s usual plot twists and mix of good and bad forces, this book stayed glued to my hands as its words carried my me away. I begged myself to stop reading at the end of every chapter, but every new twist was an invite drawing me back in. And Mead leaves readers hanging on a plot twist so big that I’m already counting down the days until the release of Book 2, The Golden Lily.

If you’re a girl (age 13 and up), RUN OUT NOW AND GET YOUR HANDS ON A COPY. While Bloodlines is no Vampire Academy (not yet anyway), it’s still an amazing, captivating book filled with dynamic characters, and carries a killer plotline that will keep your heart racing until the very last page.

Oh, and check out these awesome Bloodlines trailers.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

A new chapter in my life

Dear Blog Readers,

As you may know, I haven’t posted anything in over a month. Since the start of my school year, actually. I am so so sorry. Not only to you, but to myself as well. I began this blog half a year ago as a different person – young, naive, ignorant and a complete book addict.

Throughout last year, I was so focused on reading and blogging that it became a huge part of my life. My grades started slipping, and I stopped speaking to my friends as much.

Despite that, I loved that period in my life. There were just so many books out there, waiting to be read, so many worlds lined up neatly on my bookshelf, just waiting to be discovered. It was so thrilling to see books land on my doorstep, and I loved the joy of opening the packages and squealing with joy at the treasures inside, as if Christmas came every week. I would browse every bookstore I came across, and my heart flipped every time I saw books that I recognised from the blogosphere. Every time I wrote a review, I felt a sense of accomplishment. Every comment that popped up spread a grin over my face and every nice thought I read gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. And as I gradually made friends with my favourite bloggers, I never imagined that I would ever want to give this up.

But the coming of the new year marked a the beginning of a new chapter of my life. Since school started, I’ve had to adjust, to a new environment, a more specialised selection of subjects, a new expectation from teachers and completely different social dynamics. I’ve always been academically inclined, and over the past two months or so, I’ve been under more collective pressure than ever in my entire school life. I feel as if I’m always struggling to keep up with my schoolwork, hanging on by a thread. I’ve had little time for sleeping, yet alone reading and blogging. I even started avoiding my bookcase out of guilt, which before, was my favourite spot in the entire house. Reading was becoming a part-time job, a small liability, and less about the escape and more about the expectations.

This is why I feel that I’m at the stage in my life where I have to put reading on the back burner, until I have the time, money and interest again.But I’ve put so much time and effort into my blog, and I don’t want this to be another project I’ve let fallen by the wayside. I’ve never thought much about personal blogs, but just writing this personal post has felt like a much needed breath of fresh air a metaphorical loosening of tense muscles and stress. After writing something (that isn’t schoolwork) for myself, I’m left with a very positive feeling. I think I have an idea for where this blog could be headed….

In the meantime, I want to leave you with two songs that I’ve been listening to recently. I’m not quite sure what genre they are…I can’t seem to identify what my favourite genre is. Perhaps it’s similar to one’s identity – there’s never a label that fits just right.

All About Your Heart – Mindy Gledhill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGsU4vuJAIo

Giving it Up for You – Holly Brook (aka. Skylar Grey): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIjpK5J2AtA

Friday, 25 February 2011

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere by Author

Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group:Young Adult
Publisher: Walker AUS
Release Date: June 2010

Format: Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781406326307
RRP: $24.95 AUD
Source: Thank you to the publisher, who provided this book for an honest review,all opinions expressed are my own.
Cover love? This blue is so pretty, calm and peaceful. It's such a unique, and simple cover, but stunning.





Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. 
Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.


Review

This book is not like the others – literally. My UK copy is bound in a soft textured cover with a piece of elastic that keeps it close, much like a journal. The text is a blue colour, and scattered throughout the story are fully-coloured poems by Lennie herself, written on random surfaces. Absolutely gorgeous.


As for the story, I read it entirely in one sitting and spent the rest of the day in a happy, bubbly mood as the aftereffects of this extraordinary book washed over me. The writing is poetic and evocative and beautiful, and I drank all the words along with the emotion they brought. Jandy Nelson is a master of words – she can truly write and her choice of words is perfect.


The ultimate power of this book is the emotions that it evokes in readers – I felt upset, shocked, betrayed, overjoyed, heartbroken, confused, you name it. Lennie and her relationships with Joe and Toby are so raw and powerful and refreshing. I cried in so many places.


Easily one of the most enchanting, captivating novels I have ever read, The Sky Is Everywhere took my breath away with its honesty, sadness and beauty. I am determined not to spoil anything, lest I take away from the impact of reading the book, but this book is definitely an all-time favourite, and the reason why I love contemps.

Rating:



Links:
The Sky is Everywhere Official Website | The Sky is Everywhere at Walker AUS | Jandy Nelson's Website | Goodreads

Monday, 14 February 2011

Review: Eclipse Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz

You might think that this “Movie Companion” is for the most dedicated fans of the movie, but there is so much more to this movie companion than a photo album of movie stills. I’ve never really paid any thought to how a movie is made; I just pick a movie, pay for my ticket, head into the cinema, and enjoy the story that comes to life before my eyes. I've never imagined the many people behind the cameras who have dedicated their time and poured their soul into creating the intangible piece of art that is a motion picture.

The Twilight Saga is the cumulative effort of months of work by hundreds of people, from the talented Stephenie Meyer, who conceived the idea, to the costume designers, to the audiences who enjoy the movie. This movie companion gives us a detailed behind-the-scenes glimpse into how a $700 million box office blockbuster movie is made. The director, David Spade emphasised how he wished to stay faithful to Stephanie Meyer’s imagery, whilst bringing more intense visual imagery and darker undertones in comparison to the previous two films.

There is so much thought behind each individual, minute-long scene, and a valuable source of information in this book can be gained through the behind-the-scenes images. I was surprised to find out how the wolves had been brought to life, how the green screen was used rarely but effectively to bring the forest to life, and how the filmmakers had constructed a life-sized replica of the original Cullen house for the purposes of giving the scenes authenticity.

My favourite parts of the book were the ones detailing the costume creation and sets for the Quileute’s, Rosalie’s and Jasper’s flashbacks. They were my favourite parts of the movie, and added history and dimension to the film. Then there were the cast interviews. Most of the main cast had a page-long interview each, and it’s interesting to learn of the people behind the characters –the dedicated actors who wake up at 3am to do hair and makeup – and the people who help them become their characters.

Reading The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Official Illustrated Movie Companion gives one a greater appreciation of the making of each film: from the basic colours and settings that evoke mood, to the high-tech CGI imagery that brings wolves to life. An intriguing and visually luxurious read this Illustrated Movie Companion is something all movie fans should pick up.

Now if only it came with posters I could stick up on my wall… ;)

Mark Cotta Vaz, The Twilight Saga Eclipse: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion
Hachette Aus, July 2010. [details] [goodreads]
Thanks to Hachette for my review copy.

Q: If you could be a part of a movie,which would be your dream role? (e.g. director, crew, make-up artist, scriptwriter, actress/actor...)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Meg Cabot's newest YA series

First of all, I apologise for not posting for...almost a week. I've just started school again, and I'm in year 11 this year (Auusie version of a junior in high school), so a lot of things have been changing. I have a lot more homework - seriously, I'm doing 4-5 hours of homework per night - and things have fallen behind schedule here, compared to my posting frequency over the holidays.
Anyway, I'm extremely excited about this week's Waiting On Wednesday:

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, and it is a weekly post that spotlights upcoming releases participants are excited about. This week, I'm waiting on:

Abandon by Meg Cabot
This is first in a new young adult series, coming April 2011. I love Meg Cabot's books. I started with the Princess Diaries, moved onto theMediator series, and then read the Vanished series (1800-Where-Are-You). After that, there were her standalone YA novels (Jinx, How to Be Popular, Tommy Sullivan is a Freak...etc). There's just something so addictive and comfortable about Meg's novels - the tone/voice is similar, but the plot and characters always pull me in.
She knows what it's like to die. Now Death wants her back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.
That's how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who's made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.
Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.
What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows... just like she knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven. But she can't stay away from him, either, especially since he's always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.
But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.
And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that’s exactly where John sweeps her:

The Underworld.
What are you waiting on this week?

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Review: The Legacy by Gemma Malley

The Legacy by Gemma Malley
Series: The Declaration (Book 3)
 Read these first--> 1: The Declaration, 2: The Resistance
Genre: Dystopia
Age Group: 13+
Publishers: Allen and Unwin AUS
Release Date: October 2010
Format: Hardback, 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9781408800898
Cover love? 
An amazing cover that perfectly conveys the theme of the story and continues the design brilliance of the previous two books. I like the solitary rose, although I can't think of it's significance. A new beginning? Hope? Hmm...
Synopsis
A third gripping, powerful dystopian novel following The Declaration and The Resistance.

When a Pincent Pharma lorry is ambushed by the Underground, its contents come as a huge surprise - not drugs, but corpses in a horrible state. It appears Longevity isn't working and the drugs promising eternal youth are failing to live up to their promises. A virus is sweeping the country, killing in its wake, and Longevity is powerless to fight it. When Richard Pincent of Pincent Pharma suggest that the Underground has released the virus, something has to be done to put the story straight and once and for all alert everyone to the truth.


Review
The previous two installments in the series blew me away, and I looked forward to reading The Legacy a lot. Readers who loved Matched or Delirium will love this series, especially because it came prior to the aforementioned books.

The first book focused on Anna as a main character, and later, Peter and Anna's journey together. The Legacy, however, focuses mainly on Peter as the protagonist, much like The Resistance. Anna is relegated to the back seat, and regretfully, takes on a tradiationally feminine role, with less action, and in a more damsel-in-distress role. It's a shame, because Anna was a great character in the first book, but now she gives in too easily, no longer a headstrong female charater, though unnaturally mature beyond her years. But, Peter is a great character. He's loyal, brave and good...but also impulsive, stubborn and flawed.

This third installment reveals a slightly horrific and gripping backstory to the famous (or infamous, depending on your side) Richard Pincent's rise to fame. Thinking back, I should have expected it, but Gemma Malley's addition to the world of The Declaration gives it a new depth and brings a new understanding to readers. I also like the way that the story alternates between Peter's perspective and another sidestory, making the novel three-dimensional in it's omniescent view.

This series is very clever, and presents a vision of the world that is imaginative but highly probable, what with the advances in science and technology, and the growth of the world's population. I shudder to think of it, but the future that Malley paints is near, and possible. But according to The Legacy, nature will prevail in the end.

I love this series, as you can probably tell from my reviews of The Declaration and The Resistance. The Legacy is a truly compelling final book in a masterful dystopian series. Brillaint, heartfelt and epic, this series is a bestseller for a reason. 


Rating:





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