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Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Title: Good Oil
Author: Laura Buzo

Release Date: 1st August 2010

My Rating: 4/5

Blurb:
'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei, and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia starts working on the checkout at Woolworths, she is sunk, gone, lost, head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies. But he's 21, and the six-year gap in their ages may as well be a hundred. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien, but will he ever look at her the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

My Review:
Reminiscent of Melina Marchetta, Laura Buzo's debut novel is a funny, witty story about a girl who experiences her first major crush.

The witty banter between Chris and Amelia is entertaining and the story itself is a funny and realistic image of young love. Amelia's favourite subject at school is English and it is one of the underlying themes in Good Oil. She and Chris are always discussing classic stories that Amelia is studying and I love how Amelia often uses certain characters situations to tell Chris how she is feeling as it can be taken at face value but it also allows her to tell him how she feels if he chooses to read into it. I like this as it is something I know I have been guilty of doing.

The main focus of Good Oil is Amelia's fixation on Chris. I think that most teenage girls will be able to identify with Amelia over her feelings towards him. Buzo is spot on with Amelia's obsessive behaviour. For a 15-year-old girl who thinks she has fallen in love for the first time, all she wants is to be around him and tell everyone how wonderful he is. She counts down the moments until she gets to see him again. Unfortunately, this means she is a bit self-absorbed and doesn't really think to ask her best friend Penny what's happening in her life and then resents Penny because she doesn't know something or isn't part of something that Penny is doing.

Amelia is a great character. I love that she can be so naive in one area of her life but then so opinionated and wise beyond her years in others. This is one of the things that draws Chris to her and why I like her too because I like that a 15-year-old can have so many important and interesting thoughts amongst all the other teen angst. I especially love the rants and tangents she goes off on, particularly Amelia's issues with her parent's smoking and her thoughts concerning feminism, how she believes it has ruined her mum's life. Amelia's father frustrates me so much and I feel bad for her mum. To experience this would be quite foreign to me as my own parents have always equally shared the raising of my sister and I and the household duties.

The story is told in alternative points of view between Amelia and Chris. Amelia's part is told in first person and so is Chris's, but his is in diary format. It is interesting as, while the story is mainly Amelia's, we still get to find out what Chris is thinking and his reasons for acting the way he does. My only annoyance with this is that these perspectives are told in large chunks so after reading Chris' thoughts, I had to try and remember back to how Amelia perceived his actions.

Anyone who has ever worked in customer service will be able to relate to the first paragraph...

'I'm writing a play,' says Chris, leaning over the counter of my cash register. 'It's called Death of a Customer. Needless to say, it's set here.' He jerks his head towards the aisles lined with groceries and lit with harsh fluorescent bars.

...and the clich├ęd staff are also easily recognisable as the different character types I'm sure almost everyone has had the pleasure of working with at some point.

My favourite thing about the book is actually the ending. It's not a fairytale ending. I feel it is realistic. I think the most powerful part of Good Oil is that it is a story which teenage girls can relate to as it is based around a huge part of being a teenager: the first crush.

I recommend this for ages 14+ as it does have some adult content.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Author Focus: Kate Evangelista

Introducing.....

I recently stumbled across the website and words of Kate Evangelista, the author of one completed novel and two that are currently under construction. Her novels have not yet been published and she is seeking an agent but I have no doubt that one will latch on to her soon.

Lunar Heat
Seventeen-year-old Phoenix Mckay is about to get expelled from the ultra-exclusive Barinkoff Academy for breaking the number one rule, no students on campus after five, but when she meets a beautiful yet bossy boy named Demitri after sunset, she realizes rules are meant to be broken.

Hunter's Moon
Sixteen
-year-old Selena Fallon is clairvoyant, and after dreaming of her death, the last thing she needs is to fall in love with the mysterious Dillan Sloan, but little does she know that he is the one who will make her dream come true.

Impulse
In Mob-ruled United Regions of Aurora, wars are settled through the brutal sport of Mini Cooper racing, and sixteen-year-old RC finds herself forced to join the dangerous races to pay off her father’s gambling debt to one of the most notorious Mob families within the regions.


Intriguing wouldn't you say?

You can have a read of chapter one excerpts for each title on Kate's site by clicking here.

Blurbs and cover art have been taken from Kate's website. For more information on Kate and the cover artists and designers, please click here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last Sacrifice Cover Officially Released

Today, Richelle Mead officially released the cover to the 6th and final Vampire Academy novel, Last Sacrifice!

Last Sacrifice will be released on December 7th 2010. For those of you unaware, Richelle has said that there will be a spin-off VA series coming in the future but it will focus around other characters, not Rose. For more information, check out Richelle's blog here.


If you haven't already started reading this series, do yourself a favour and go pick yourself up a copy of the first book, Vampire Academy. This is the best vampire series around, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Torment by Lauren Kate

Title: Torment
Series: Fallen Book 2

Author: Lauren Kate


Release Date: 30th September 2010


My Rating: 3/5


Blurb:

Lucinda is sure that she and Daniel are meant to be together forever. Now they are forced apart in a desperate bid to save Luce from The Outcasts, immortals who want her dead. As she discovers more about her past lives Luce starts to suspect that Daniel is hiding something. What if he has lied to her about their shared past? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?


My Review:

For those of you who have read my review of Fallen, you will know that I had mixed opinions about the story. Once again I am in the same frame of mind.

First off, do not read Torment until you have re-read Fallen. I read Fallen more than 6 months ago and have read at least 50 books since so I spent the first few chapters trying to remember what had happened, what the mythology was and which side different characters were on.

In Torment, Daniel sends Luce off to Shoreline, another school, to keep her safe while he focuses on keeping away those who want her dead. Shoreline is nothing like Sword and Cross and Luce manages to actually have a good time and make new friends, especially with Shelby and Miles. These characters are great and I love the time she spends away from Daniel.

I enjoyed Torment more than Fallen and I think the main reason is because I really dislike Daniel's character and he isn't in this book as much as he was the first. He is still very secretive and cryptic and it's so frustrating! I feel as if I am Luce and all the secrets are being kept from me because, as the reader, we don't know much more than Luce does. The suspense is built up a lot as we have to wait until the end to really find out any big revelations, but even then we are still left in the dark about many things!

Also, for those who pay attention to fantastic book covers, we once again have another stunning cover.

This is a frustrating series and I can't decide if I love it or hate it. As you know, I don't post spoilers, but I will give you a little something to keep building the suspense until this is released...I am totally Team Miles...

Friday, July 16, 2010

If My Life Had Book Titles...

I got this idea while I was checking out Holly's reviews over at Book Harbinger. Have a go, it's quite fun once you get started...

Using only books you have read this year, cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

I've decided to only use book titles of those I have reviewed.

*Describe Yourself: The Lonely Hearts Club

*How do you feel: Wish

*Describe where you currently live: Surf Ache

*If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
The Sky Is Everywhere

*Your favourite form of transportation: Flyaway

*Your best friend is: Beautiful Creatures

*You and your friends are: Infinity

*What’s the weather like: Linger

*Favourite time of day: The Last Thing I Remember

*What is life like to you: Beautiful Monster

*Your fear: Fallen

*Thought for the Day: Before I Fall

*How I would like to die: Hush Hush

*My soul’s present condition: Jekel Loves Hyde

So if your life had book titles, what would they be?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Title: Eighth Grade Bites
Series: Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Book 1
Author: Heather Brewer

Release Date: 2nd August 2010 (Australia)

My Rating: 4/5

Blurb:
Junior high really stinks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret. His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers and no one to teach him, Vlad struggles daily with blood cravings and enlarged fangs. When a strange substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. And then he realises he's being hunted by a vampire killer, and suddenly hunger, girls and bullies seem not quite such a problem after all.

My Review:
This is not a romantic vampire story. It is the tale of Vlad and his struggle growing up part vampire after his parents died three years ago in an unexplained fire. It is great to have a series where the main character is a boy with a story that will appeal to ages 10-14. There is suspense, humour, a mystery to solve, and Vlad's day-to-day difficulties like getting his blood fix and surviving school.

As an adult, it didn't capture me quite as much as other kids/YA books have in the past but I still enjoyed it and would like to read the rest of the series. I feel this will be a hit with the target age group and also a good book for reluctant readers as the language and behaviour (excluding vampire habits) are easy to relate to. This is not just a book for boys, girls will also enjoy it.
'Morning sunshine.'
Vlad blinked at her. 'Morning sulfuric acid.'
'Pardon me?'
'Well, isn't it just kinda wrong to call a vampire "sunshine"?'

While one mystery is solved in Eighth Grade Bites, there are unanswered questions that will lead you into Ninth Grade Slays, Tenth Grade Bleeds, Eleventh Grade Burns and the soon to be released Twelfth Grade Kills.


Books 1-4 will be released throughout August in Australia. Book 5 will be released October 2010.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer by Eden Maguire

Title: Summer
Series: Beautiful Dead Book 3

Author: Eden Maguire


Release Date: 8th July 2010


My Rating: 3/5

Blurb:
Six months have passed since the last mysterious teenage death, but Darina is still traumatised by the murders of Summer Madison and her own beloved Phoenix. She searches constantly for the Beautiful Dead, longing for their return.


Springtime sees Darina once more in Phoenix's arms. But spring is also a reminder of the hail of bullets that killed Summer in a random shopping mall shooting almost a year ago.


Can Darina and the Beautiful Dead catch Summer's crazed killer? Will Darina's love for Phoenix survive the ta
sk? One thing is clear - it's not finished yet, not by a long shot...

My Review:
I love the fact that this series is mostly focused on the mysteries surrounding the deaths of Jonas, Arizona, Summer and Phoenix. Yes it does have it's paranormal romance twist to it but I read it more because of these mysterious deaths that Darina has the task of trying to find the answers to.

I adored books 1 & 2 but, while I did enjoy this addition to the series, I did start to find Darina annoying some of the time with her whining about how often she gets to see Phoenix. I also feel like there should have been one more chapter to the book to sum up what Darina discovers and the impact it has for those around her, excluding the Beautiful Dead.

Overall, another good murder mystery, with more appearances (which I liked) from supporting characters than in the previous two books. I look forward to Darina's investigation into the gang fight that killed Phoenix in the final book.

Phoenix
, book 4, will be released 1st November 2010.

Click
here for my review of Jonas, the first book in the series.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chasers by James Phelan

Title: Chasers
Series: Alone Book 1

Author: James Phelan


Release Date: 27th May 2010


M
y Rating: 2/5

Blurb:

Four teenagers. One destroyed city. Thousand of infected predators.

Jesse is on a UN Youth Ambassadors camp in New York when his subway carriage is rocked by an explosion. Jesse and his three friends, Dave, Anna and Mini, crawl out from the wreckage to discover a city in chaos. Streets are deserted. Buildings are in ruins. Worse, the only other survivors seem to be infected with a virus that turns them into horrifying predators...

My Review:
I am in two minds about this book. On one hand I really enjoyed it but when looking back, not a great deal happened. It is like the movie you kept watching, even though it had no really big storyline, because you wanted to see what happened at the end.

This is James Phelan's first foray into YA literature and while the premise of the story is perfect, I do feel it is missing action, the kind that young adult readers need in a book to stay with the story. This could mean they don't stick with the story and therefore do not discover just how good it really is. While this wasn't the case for me, I do think it will be a problem for many that do pick it up.

That said, Phelan is a very good writer as I was constantly on edge waiting for the climax, reading the whole book in an afternoon. To me, the fact that the big twist didn't come until the last chapter didn't deter me as he has built the story up for book 2 in the trilogy to be really exciting (well I hope that is the case anyway). The first chapter of book 2 can be found at the end of Chasers and it sounds like there will be a great deal more action in it, with the reader finally get some answers to what has happened to New York City because at the end of Chasers, we still have no idea what caused the sudden destruction. The characters had plenty of theories but nothing particularly concrete. The story finished very much on a 'to be continued...' cliff hanger.

There were a couple of times when I got slightly confused as to the way a character suddenly reacted to a comment or action by another character. Sometimes it just didn't make sense and I wondered if it was a writing error or part of the story. Without spoiling anything, I can say that it was part of the story. This too applies to the rather annoying lack of speech marks!

Chasers has a lot of similarities to Charlie Higson's The Enemy; children fighting for survival, being alone with no authority figures, having to rely on themselves and their own instincts. I have to say that I prefer The Enemy as more happens in the story and there is more depth to the characters that Higson has created. Bottom line, if you don't have the patience to stick with Chasers until at least the second book, don't bother.

Book 2 Survivor released October 2010 and Book 3 Quarantine released 2011.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beyond Evie by Rebecca Burton

Title: Beyond Evie
Author: Rebecca Burton

Release Date: 1st May 2010

My Rating: 1/5

Blurb:
Charlotte doesn't talk about herself much. Her sister, Amy, is leaving her to start a whole new life, and since her dad's death, Charlotte and her mother don't seem to talk, either. Her friends are great, but they've got their own problems, so how can she tell them about what happened last year? How can she tell them about Evie?

My Review:
Charlotte lives a rather distant life. She loves sport and hanging out with her friends but mostly keeps to herself, especially her thoughts and feelings. But one day, Evie appears. Charlotte has no idea how she feels towards Evie, who is her complete opposite and is always confusing her; she never knows if Evie is being serious, truthful, or just saying something for the shock value. All she knows, is that she feels something.

Beyond Evie explores the relationship between our narrator, Charlotte, and Evie. The story is told from the perspective of Charlotte, addressing the reader as Evie, writing to her after the events of the previous months. We discover Charlotte's instant infatuation with Evie, her confusion as she questions her sexuality and the constant questioning over how Evie possibly feels towards her.

In terms of the characters, none of them are very likeable, with the exception of maybe Amy and Noah (Charlotte's sister and her boyfriend). While I can relate maybe to Charlotte on one or two points, I can't relate to Evie's nature at all, and I just couldn't like her as a character. I don't feel the personalities of the supporting characters are easy to like or relate to either.

This story is told with a huge amount of suspense, hinting to us the whole way through that something negative has happened concerning the girls and why Charlotte feels the need to be writing to Evie. It is all very cryptic and the only reason I pushed on with this read was because I did want to know what had happened. Unfortunately I felt the ending was rather anti-climatic and while the story is ultimately about what Charlotte learns about herself and her outlook on life, it just wasn't enough for me.
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