28 February 2014

Debut Showcase: March 2014

The purpose of this feature is to show you guys which YA debuts I'm most looking forward to, and which ones I've enjoyed. Hopefully it'll also help build some buzz around some of these debuts. There will be one post at the beginning of each month showing all the debuts that are being released in that month. I'll also be linking to my reviews of debuts from the previous month so you can see which ones were a hit!

27 February 2014

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
Uninvited #1
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

Having heard a lot of negative reviews about Jordan's first YA series, Firelight, I was hesitant to read Uninvited... but also kind of curious. The synopsis is what ultimately made up my mind, because I love a good dystopian where the government claims to be able to detect Kill Genes or Kill Instincts, or anything of the sort. This happened in The Forsaken as well, and it's always intriguing to see how the government deals with it. 

26 February 2014

Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

Secret by Brigid Kemmerer
Elemental #4
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Star Rating: 
Rating: Essential

Nick Merrick is stretched to breaking point. He's trying to keep his grades sky-high or he won't get in to college. He's trying to keep his brother's business afloat or the Merricks will be out on the street. He's trying to keep the secret of where he's going in the evenings from his twin brother Gabriel - or he fears he'll lose his family. And he's trying to keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who is his 'girlfriend's' partner.

And then Quinn takes to hanging around his sworn enemy, and an Elemental Guide is counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers. Storms are brewing. On all sides.
Gareth Brody sat in a chipped plastic chair in the prison waiting room, listening for the guard to call his name.
Since reading the novella, I have been very excited for Nick's story. He was never my favourite Merrick brother; in fact, while I certainly liked him, he was always my least favourite. I didn't feel as though I knew enough about him to really like him. But the novella changed that, and after reading it I had hoped that he would grow on me more. 

25 February 2014

Top Ten Books I'd Give A Theme Song To

Top Ten Books I'd Give a Theme Song To

This was such a fun list to write! Some of my choices are a bit obscure (cf. #10), but I'm not even sorry. Feel free to link up your lists in the comments below so I can see which topic you've chosen to do this week!

24 February 2014

New Releases: February 25 - March 3, 2014

A couple of these sound really good, particularly the contemporaries! I'm in a contemporary sort of mood at the moment. Which releases are you looking forward to? Also, I wanted to thank all of you who comment on these New Releases posts. I was considering stopping doing them so I could post more reviews and discussions, but since a lot of you seem to find them useful, I will carry on. I'm glad to help!

21 February 2014

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Under the Never Sky #3
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Star Rating: 
Rating: Bland

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

Under the Never Sky has been a trilogy that I've been very much enjoying. I was a giant fan of the first book, and the second book was great. Unfortunately - yeah, you all see where this is going - Into the Still Blue fell completely flat for me. 

20 February 2014

Grave Mercy by R.L LaFevers

Grave Mercy by R.L LaFevers
His Fair Assassin #1
Release Date: June 7th, 2012
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Source: Amber
Star Rating: ★★★★

Young, beautiful and deadly. Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

This was a Christmas gift from my favourite person and I loved it tbh :') A historical fantasy about assassin nuns?? SIGN ME UP. The novel follows the story of Ismae, a young girl recruited by nuns who are actually badass assassins with a hand in political matters. And by that I mean they send recruits off to kill those people unfortunate enough to end up on their hit list; I find myself wondering how much more efficient modern politics could be with the threat of assassins hanging over politicians' heads. Hmmmmm. Ismae is taught the art of killing in a convent (!!!), learning everything from poisoning to using her sexuality and femininity to isolate potential victims. Armed with these skills Ismae is sent to the royal court and eliminate all threats. Also romance, because this is YA and that's like a necessary requisite around these parts, I guess.

19 February 2014

Love Triangles and Instaloves and Why I Hate Them

Gather round closely, lovely people, and let me talk at you all for a while!
Okay, I’m going to start off this discussion with a little known secret about myself: I used to be a fan of The Vampire Diaries. The show, I mean, not the books (because has anyone actually read those? I have, by complete accident, and I am fairly certain my 9 year old daughter could write better prose than that. Hell, even my cat could write better). It’s actually how I became friends with Amber and Tatum (although they don’t like this secret getting out, so let’s just keep that between us, okay? Okay). Anyway, when the show was first advertised, I actually made a point of avoiding it, because it just did not look like something I would enjoy, but when my little brother (who actually has terrible taste in tv shows now that I think about it - he still watches TVD and refuse to watch Supernatural I mean. Why? What is wrong with you?) told me that the first season finale was amazingly awesome, I sighed and decided to give it a go. And I actually got hooked enough that I ended up a member on a forum and I met Amber and Tatum and Dee and a load of other people who I ended up liking a hell of a lot more than the show because I worked out quite quickly that the show itself was actually a load of terribly written drivel. But yes, that’s my big (but little known) secret.

18 February 2014

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Blogger and a Reader

I love being a blogger because...
1. Interaction and New Friends
I have joined many different communities and forums in the past through various hobbies and interests, but the book blogging community has been one of the friendliest and most accepting of them all. I don't think I would have kept my blog up if I wasn't interacting with other bookish people and making friends from all over the world. I get to meet new people everyday, and it's definitely the most important thing about blogging for me.

17 February 2014

Love for Books Readathon

Jessi and Amanda are hosting a readathon right now! I'm a little late to sign up, despite discovering this readathon last week, because I wanted to make sure I was still in a reading mood. Unfortunately, I'm on the brink of a reading slump, but I'm hoping that this readathon will get me out of it! I think you all should join me, because readathons are lots of fun and I need people to help push me along.

New Releases: February 18 - 24, 2014

This week is a slow release week, so you can all relax now! I'm not looking forward to any of these, since one is the sequel to a book that I didn't enjoy, one is the sequel to a book that I haven't read, and the other is one that has been getting bad reviews.

16 February 2014

Love-a-Thon 2014: Book Blogger Awards

I only had time to do one of the mini challenges today, but I think I chose the best one! This is the one that I've been most excited for. I have only given each blogger one award each even though they might fall into multiple categories, because there were so many people that I wanted to give awards to!

15 February 2014

Love-a-Thon 2014: Mini Challenges Day 1

Here is my mini challenge post for day one of the Love-a-Thon! It'll be updated a couple of times, so be sure to check back in a few hours when the next mini challenge goes live. 

Mini Challenge #2: Book Valentines
For this challenge I had to write a love letter to my book boyfriend(s)/girlfriend(s). Since Valentine's Day was actually yesterday, we have already exchanged our letters and let me tell you, they're not fit to be shared in public. I think Nick (Altered/Erased) in particular would want to kill me if I showed you some of the stuff I have been writing to him. But never fear, I had a look through the treasure chest and found one that's fairly decent:

Dear Captain Thorne, 

Ever since that day on the ship, I haven't been able to stop thinking about you. . It feels as though the distance between us grows further with every moment we spend apart. Now can I have my bloody ship back?!

Your co-captain,
Amber x

Mini Challenge #3: Mad-Lib
I'm not really sure how this happened. I was very sleep-deprived when I wrote this. I apologise in advance!
One day, I was picnicking with Tod Hudson. Out of the blue, a hell hound came out of nowhere! It was so loud, scary and yet invisible. At first, we were afraid, we were petrified, but we channelled Dean Winchester. We hopped on a tricycle to make our getaway.

As we escaped, we turned up the radio because Call Me Maybe came on and made me dance. Everything was extremely smooth sailing until a Hippogriff appeared in the middle of the road. We swerved to avoid it, but while Tod stayed on the tricycle, I got thrown onto my side into the woods.

I couldn't get up, and felt paralysed as I lay there staring up at the trees. What was I going to do? I heard a rustle among the leaves, and felt scared. Surely, this was going to be my end. As my eyes fluttered shut, the last thing I saw was a head of brown hair and blue eyes.

When I woke up again, I was on a wooden bench. My body hurt a whole lot less, and I could sit up. There was a laptop and bookshelf in the room along with doughnuts and vodka. The door suddenly opened to reveal Christian Ozera, a concerned look on his face. I blushed and averted my gaze, but he sat next to me and said, "Don't be shy. It's okay."

He came over to sit by me, and we started talking after I told him my name. We chatted about reading, Once Upon a Time, and vampire slaying, and realized we had a tonne in common! I thought he was dreamy and couldn't help feel a little light-headed. 

Just as he reached out for my hand, the door crashed open and in came Captain Thorne. "Don't let him charm you away, my love!" He yelled, running at Christian. They each had rolling pins in their hands and began to fight. "Stop!", I yelled, feeling so frustrated. They didn't listen to me. Before I could intervene, Christian fell to the floor and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. 

"What was that?" I asked, staring at the empty space. Thorne dropped his weapon, and came over to me. "Magic, but you are safe now, sweetheart." He hugged me close, and I suddenly knew that this was the real deal and not just a dream.

Just as Frisky started playing in my head, I woke up. I cursed by shitty luck. Why had it only been just a dream?

Love-a-Thon 2014: Blogger Interview

This is my first time participating in Katelyn and Alexa's Book Blogger Love-a-Thon! I saw the event happen last year, but I didn't sign up in time, unfortunately! So when I saw it was happening again, I jumped straight in. 

I'm very excited about this weekend and all the different events and challenges that are going to go down. I'm looking forward to meeting new bloggers, as well as having fun with people that I already know. Since there are a lot of mini challenges, I won't be overwhelming you all with a trillion posts, so don't worry. I'll be posting today's mini challenges in one post together, and then do the same again tomorrow. Hopefully your readers and inboxes won't be too cluttered!

Kicking off this event are the blogger interviews. I was paired with Paige from What's Next? The Readers Go To Blog to Find Out What's Good, who started blogging early last year. We interviewed each other, and you can check out my answers to her questions over on her blog. 

14 February 2014

The Returned by Jason Mott

The Returned by Jason Mott
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: Publisher (NetGalley)
Rating: ★★

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time ... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

This was not a good book t b h. This was one of my first reads of the new year; I'd requested it late last year because the description intrigued me but the novel wasn't at all what I'd expected, and not in a good way either. Basically the plot describes a phenomenon in which the dead return to life - instead of an undead uprising, this novel presents the dead as they were in life. Government authorities are formed to deal with the phenomenon, mostly to return the dead to their families, which presents many unforeseen problems. Our main characters, Harold and Lucille, an aged married couple face this issue - their eight old year son, drowned in an accident many years ago, is returned to them. The plot drags literally from the first page; literally nothing interesting happens, then something mildly interesting happens but don't worry it soon becomes boring again, until the end in which bemusing shenanigans occur before boredom gets settled again. Soooooooo much talking, by characters I didn't care about, and not much doing. I just...

13 February 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: January 30, 2014 (UK)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Source: Publisher

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words ...And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...
After reading Eleanor & Park last year (thank you, Judith), I knew that I would have to check out some of Rowell's other work. While Eleanor & Park wasn't a favourite read of mine, I did think that Rowell was very talented and some parts of the story struck a chord with me. So when I was offered Fangirl by the publisher, I was happy to accept.

12 February 2014

Book Club: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

My crazy friends and I decided to start a book club for 2014, and The Naturals was our first read. We had a lot of fun reading it, even though there were some stumbling blocks when Lauren and Dee thought a weekly goal was a good idea, and just as much fun discussing it, even though it took bloody ages to get everyone together in one spot. Here is a spoiler-free discussion post for you to enjoy! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

10 February 2014

New Releases: February 11 - 17, 2014

There are so many interesting releases out this week, but hands down the one that I'm most excited about is SPLIT SECOND. FINALLY. I have been waiting over a year for this book to come out, and the day is almost upon us. I can't wait to get stuck in.

07 February 2014

Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Sky Chasers #3
Release Date: January 16, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books UK
Source: Publisher
Star Rating: 
Rating: Essential

Waverly and the other members of the Empyrean have been scattered, and their home ship destroyed. The mission to rescue their parents didn't go quite as planned, and now they're at an even greater disadvantage: trapped with their enemies on the New Horizon, trying to find a way to survive. Will Seth's health hold out long enough to help Waverly topple their enemy? And will Waverly find a way to unite her friends before the final battle? Nothing is certain and every second is a risk in this explosive finale.

The wait between the end of Spark, and Flame's release has been torturous. Spark, the second book in the Sky Chasers series, pretty much broke me. I had a breakdown on Goodreads, cried all over Twitter, and basically didn't want to go on. I've been anticipating Flame for a year now, and I am happy to confirm that it lived up to my expectations. 

06 February 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Star Rating: 
Rating: Bland

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I went into Cruel Beauty expecting great things. It's been talked about all over the blogosphere. Every time I go onto Twitter people are fangirling over it, and recommending it to others. I was expecting a wonderfully dark story with Beauty and the Beast connections. Instead, all I got was a confusing novel that almost seemed nonsensical at times.

05 February 2014

Why I Don't Care About the Female to Male Ratio in YA

Having been a part of the YA blogging community for almost three and a half years, I've seen a lot of stuff happen and read a lot of different opinions. One thing that I have seen often repeated is that people want more male protagonists in YA. People celebrate and cheer when they discover a new book told from a male's point of view, and I have to admit, I used to be one of those people. Discovering a new book told from a male's point of view would fill me with joy, because in the YA Bookosphere these books are pretty much an endangered species. 

I haven't conducted any research myself, but you can tell just from browsing your own bookshelves that the amount of female protagonists compared to male in YA is staggering. Anyone could tell you that the scales are certainly tipped in favour of women. And I'm here to tell you why I don't care.

04 February 2014

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry

Was this topic made specifically for me or what? I love reading books that make me cry, and I'm sure everyone knows it by now. It's not just because I like to torture myself, although that's part of the reason why. It's because I feel like if I cry over a book, it means that I've connected with the characters or the story on some deep emotional level. And that's the mark of a good book, in my opinion. This is why most of the books on my 2013 favourites list were ones that made me sob into my pillow.

03 February 2014

New Releases: February 4 - 10, 2014

Cress is finally out this week! YAY! I've already had the chance to read it, and it's fantastic. You can check out my review if you like. I also quite liked Alienated, and I'm so, so excited to try Something Real. It sounds great! Which releases are you looking forward to this week? Have you read any of them already? Let me know!

02 February 2014

Epic Recs: February 2014

A few months ago, Judith and I started up an impromptu book club called Epic Recs. The aim of this was to force each other to read books that we have previously loved. You know, because Judith is a self proclaimed book pusher, and I just like forcing people to do things.

A couple of months ago, we opened Epic Recs up to the public, and in December a hell of a lot of people signed up, either to be paired by us or after pairing themselves. Judith and I are so pleased at Epic Rec's success. We truly hope everyone enjoys this as much as we do!

This month we're doing the same thing, there's a form you can fill in if you want to be paired with another person, or you can sign up right away with someone of your choosing using the Linky.

01 February 2014

Debut Showcase: February 2014

The purpose of this feature is to show you guys which YA debuts I'm most looking forward to, and which ones I've enjoyed. Hopefully it'll also help build some buzz around some of these debuts. There will be one post at the beginning of each month, this time showing all the debuts that are being released in that month. I'll also be linking to my reviews of debuts from the previous month so you can see which ones were a hit!