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Friday, February 26, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society
Author: Ally Carter

Release Date: 25th February 2010 (Australia)

My Rating: 4/5

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie travelled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own, scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history, or at least her family's (very crooked) history.

I really enjoyed Heist Society, it's fun and has a good amount of suspense to it. It reminds me of Oceans 11 but with teenagers and I would really love for it to become a series. I liked Gallagher Girls but I think Heist Society has just that little bit more substance to it that allows it to be more enjoyable for those of us who are slightly older than the target audience. Ages 11+

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Linger
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver) Book 2
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: July 2010

My Rating: 4/5

Now that Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.

Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of anger and hurt. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.

For Grace, Sam and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces, wolf and human, with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

I was extremely lucky to get an advanced copy of Linger and I was so excited as Shiver was one of my favourite books of 2009. Just as good as Shiver, I feel it paves the way for what is sure to be an amazing book 3 which I believe will be called Forever.

Just like in Shiver, we get to hear the story from the perspectives of Sam and Grace and I can't think of any fictional characters or couple that I like more than sensitive Sam with a love of reading and indie music, and strong, independent Grace. What I like about Linger is that we also get to read the story from the point of view of two other characters as well, new wolf Cole and troubled Isabel, which I feel gives the story more depth.

While I don't want to spoil what happens in Linger, I will say that I was not surprised by the path the book took, nor was I surprised by the ending. That said, it did not take away my love for the book or my excitement as I went from chapter to chapter. I have quite simply fallen for the characters in this world Maggie Stiefvater has created. And my favourite line from the book?

'I never knew there were so many different ways to say goodbye'

Fans of Shiver will not be disappointed! My only criticism is that it was too short and I now have a very long wait for book 3!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Series: The Hunger Games Book 1

Author: Suzanne Collins

Release Date:
1st March 2009

My Rating: 5/5

16-year-old Katniss lives with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States.
Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she see's it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

This series was such a wonder
ful surprise for me. I put off reading it for months and when I finally picked it up I couldn't put it down! This is a very well written and engrossing story set in a future world full of challenges as the remaining population tries to survive against an emotionally empty and corrupt government. Fast-paced, suspenseful, gripping and heart-wrenching. This is a must read, you will not be disappointed!

Look out for the sequel 'C
atching Fire' which is just as fabulous as the first book. The title of the 3rd Hunger Games book has just been announced! 'Mockingjay' will be released 24th August 2010!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hourglass by Claudia Gray

Title: Hourglass
Series: Evernight Book 3
Author: Claudia Gray

Release Date: 9 February 2010 (Australia)

My Rating: 4/5

Bianca has found refuge again with the Black Cross, and she and Lucas work desperately to keep her secret. In this company, being a vampire is a death sentence, and the two of them live and train alongside the hunters without anyone noticing her increasing need for blood. Even though she's with the boy she loves more than anyone else in the world, Bianca can't help worrying about the family and friends she left behind.

Caught between three feuding worlds, it's starting to feel as though she'll never be entirely at peace again. When another betrayal puts the lovers in mortal danger once more, they realise that all they truly have is one another. But with the secret of Bianca's birth taking hold, not even Lucas can help her win her toughest fight.

I really liked Hourglass with more excitement, action and changes in the world of Bianca and Lucas. I'm not so sure I like what happens in the last few chapters, I will have to wait for 'Afterlife' to come out before my verdict is in.

The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan

Title: The Last Thing I Remember
Series: Homelander Book 1
Author: Andrew Klavan

Release Date: 2nd April 2009 (Australia)

My Rating: 3/5

Charlie West is a good kid. He studies hard, trains in martial arts, has just gotten the number of the prettiest girl in his class, and wants to join the air force after graduation. At least, that's the last thing he can remember.

But he has woken up in a nightmare. He's strapped to a chair, and someone outside the door just ordered his death. By calling on his deepest reserves of strength and focus, Charlie manages a desperate escape . . . only to find out that this nightmare isn't ending. There's a whole year of his life that he can't remember, a year in which he was convicted of murdering his best friend and working with terrorists.

Now, with the police hunting him and a band of killers on his trail, he's got to find the answers to some of the deepest questions there are: Who am I? What do I stand for? And how am I going to stay alive?

There is plenty of suspense and mystery in this story which will continue into the sequel as things unravel. It reminds me of a cross between the Jason Bourne books and Gabrielle Lord's Conspiracy 365 series. The sequel, The Long Way Home, will definitely be interesting as Charlie tries to uncover the truth and clear his name.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Swerve by Phillip Gwynne

Title: Swerve
Author: Phillip Gwynne

Release Date: 31st August 2009

My Rating: 5/5

17 year-old Hugh has had his whole life mapped out for him. He is an almost nerd (a Ner or Erd) who happens to be one of the country's brightest and most promising cellists. Oh and he has an obsession with everything to do with cars.
A week before the most important audition of his life, Hugh's newly found grandfather decides it is the perfect time to go on a road trip to Uluru, and Hugh's driving...and driving his dream car all the way there, a 1970 Holden HG Monaro GTS 350 V8.
Suddenly, completely out of his sheltered and pampered life, Hugh and Poppy hit the road for an adventure that will open Hugh's eyes to a whole other world! Little does he know that Poppy has an ulterior motive ... one that would take both their lives in a direction they never expected...

I absolutely loved this story and couldn't put it down! The writing is fantastic and it was great to read another YA fiction book that is not fantasy/science fiction or teen angst-y. As Hugh participates in a sort of 'right of passage' road trip from Sydney to the Red Center, he discovers there can be more to life than following all the rules. Gotta love Poppy as well, such a great character!
Reading this book took me back to the YA books I used to read almost 10 years ago, from the fantastic work of Margaret Clark (Care Factor Zero, Back on Track, Living With Leanne, On Ya Sonya), Glyn Parry's Scooter Boy, Jaclyn Moriarty's Feeling Sorry For Celia and Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry and the books by John Marsden. These were the books that first got me interested in reading when I was 12 or 13 and they still remain some of my favourite books to this day. Swerve took me back to this style of writing and everyday teens living in Australia with their own issues and insecurities. I can't quite explain what made them so special, but they are.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Author: Mary E. Pearson

Release Date: 1st February 2009 (Australia)

My Rating: 3/5

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

When I picked up this book I had a very different idea/impression of what the story was going to be about. Ultimately I really like the concept of 'how far is too far?', medical ethics and scientific developments. It is very different to what is around in the YA market at the moment. I was quite surprised with the ending concerning Allys. Also, Jenna's other classmates were introduced as though they were going to play a pivotal role but it just didn't happen. And what about Dane, 'Mister Mysterious' who never really gets explained. While I understand the story is about Jenna finding herself and her family, I think the storyline with her classmates should have lead somewhere. Still, this is a great novel that asks some serious questions and deals with plenty of issues (medical ethics and technology, identity, everyday teen struggles, independence and family).

The Pain Merchants by Janice Hardy

Title: The Pain Merchants
Series: The Healing Wars Book 1
Author: Janice Hardy

Release Date: 1st February 2010 (Australia)

My Rating: 3/5

Fifteen-year-old Nya is one of Gevegs many orphans; she survives on odd jobs and optimism, finding both in short supply in a city crippled by a failed war for independence. Then a bungled egg theft, a stupid act of compassion, and two eyewitnesses unable to keep their mouths shut exposes her secret to the two most powerful groups in the city: the Pain Merchants and the Healers League. They discover Nya is a Taker, a healer who can pull pain and injury from others. Trouble is, unlike her sister Tali and the other normal Takers who become league apprentices, she cant dump that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it from person to person, a useless skill that's kept her out of the league and has never once paid for her breakfast. When a ferry accident floods the city with injured, the already overwhelmed Takers start disappearing from the Healers League and Nya's talent is suddenly in demand. But her principles and endurance are tested to the limit when her talent turns out to be the only thing that can save her sisters life.

This was a really cool read. At first I thought it would be one of those fantasy books with names I can't pronounce and worlds that confuse me, but that was not the case. I found it was easy to read and understand. It was suspenseful, exciting and unique! I'm really looking forward to the sequel.

I would probably compare it most to when I read 'The Hunger Games'; a different and unique type of life where teenagers are forced into hardship and have to be strong for their families. The characters are likable and their actions believable. Ages 12+
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