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Friday, April 29, 2011

Feuding Friday (1)

Feuding Friday is a weekly meme created by Brittany over at Brittany's Fantasy where readers choose their favourite of two characters.

This is my first meme I've participated in and while I won't be posting this every week, I love the idea! What better way than to discuss (read: friendly fight) over who is hottest, most kick-ass, dreamy, trusting, annoying, swoon-worthy, or who's powers are better...just think of all the options of most's out there in YA fiction!


This week, in honour of Rachel Caine who is visiting Perth on Monday, who do you think is the resident hottie living in the Glass House from her Morganville Vampire series?

Mysterious musician Michael or smoking-hot slacker Shane?

Funnily enough, I always go for the musician but in this case, my heart goes to knight-in-shining-armour Shane :)

Who do you choose?

For all you Morganville fans in Australia, Rachel Caine will be visiting in May. Head to the Penguin Events page for tour dates.

My review of book one, Glass Houses

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ministry of Pandemonium by Chris Westwood

Title: Ministry of Pandemonium
Series: Pandemonium Book 1
Author: Chris Westwood

Release Date: 1st May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Another night shift, another lost soul - pray the good guys find it first...

When Ben Harvester meets the mysterious Mr October in Highgate Cemetery, nothing could have prepared him for the strange and dramatic turn his life is about to take. Soon Mr October is leading him towards his true calling - his work at the Ministry of Pandemonium, helping to guide the dead to the afterlife.

But Ben quickly discovers that there are terrifying forces keen to thwart the work of the Ministry and lead the newly-dead astray. And when Ben's mum suddenly becomes seriously ill, he questions whether he can continue with the important job he has been given.

My Review:
Thirteen year old Ben used to be a solitary kid who hung out in cemeteries with his sketchbook. But after his chance meeting with Mr October, he now helps protect the souls of the departed with his new friends Becky - who senses people, Sukie - who is clairvoyant, and Lu - a contortionist, from the Deathheads and the Mawbreed's. For every good guy there is a bad guy and as they travel the streets of London, looking for the next departed soul, they must keep their wits about them. With demons creeping behind every shadow, Ben and must use his gift to help protect others, if he can ever figure out what it is or how to use it.

Ministry of Pandemonium is a supernatural thriller that is fast-paced and filled with repulsive demons, confused souls and bizarre deaths. It can be funny, it can be sad, and it can be spooky!

It would be great for fans of Michael Scott, Derek Landy and Darren Shan and is aimed at the ten to fifteen age bracket.

My only criticisms are that I would have liked some more background on Mr October and how the Ministry came to be. I also thought there could have been a bit more throughout the book involving his mothers illness. But these are small things and and I'm probably nit-picking!

Thank you to Walker Books Australia for this review copy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Calling All BEA Attendees!

Calling All BEA Attendees!

Being all the way over in Australia, it is a little far, and expensive, for me to make the trip over to New York at the moment to attend this awesome event *makes sad face*. I will make it to BEA one year, but sadly, it wont be this year.

There are so many great titles that will be shown this year and I would love to get my hands on some. So, my proposition is, if you can get me any of the titles I list below, I will in exchange send you any Australian titles that have yet to reach the US. If you can get me two books, I'll send you two, three, I'll send you three books, etc. How does that sound?

So, if anyone is up to this challenge, comment below or email me jwillis87[at]hotmail[dot]com. I'd love to hear from you. I am going to be so, so jealous come BEA *pouts and sighs*

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick (Egmont)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Harperteen)
Variant by Robison Wells (Harperteen)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illus. by Maira Kalman (Little Brown)
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson (Macmillan)
Shelter by Harlan Coben (Penguin)
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Penguin)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Title: Black Painted Fingernails
Author: Steven Herrick

Release Date: 1st June 2011

My Rating: 5/5

'How about we toss a coin? Heads, it's west and a lift. Tails, it's still west, but no lift.'

James is heading into the country on his first teacher-training round when a mysterious girl asks him for a ride. Sophie has him all worked out: 'You live with your parents and they bought you this car, and a very nice car it is too...' At first James can't see past her wild hair and attitude, but then Sophie trusts him with a secret she's been keeping too long.

My Review:
This is a story about a boy searching for freedom, and a girl returning from hers. I love Aussie fiction, road-trips, new friendships, awkward male leads and confident females, so this was already a book for me before I even opened the first page.

It is a story that heavily highlights the pressure parents can put on their children rather than letting them choose the path they would like to take themselves which I think is a common issue for teenagers, and parents, alike. There were times I couldn't wipe the smile off my face, at Sophie's self confidence, spunk and boldness and at James's embarrassment at being in an unfamiliar situation. I was also brought to tears at one point when Sophie returns home. It's times like these that I wish I was more eloquent so I could really describe what I want to; I'm just really in love with this book!

James is one of those awkward teens who doesn't have any luck with girls and plays life very safe. Whether this is due to his mother's over-protectiveness, his lack of confidence or both, it means that when Sophie appears in his life, she is sure to turn things upside down. Sophie is a free spirit who left home to get away from the pain of loving people who leave, and the mindset of the small town she lived in. She is the total opposite of James, and just what he needs to help him discover what he wants in life. And James might just be the kind of person Sophie needs to face her family again.

Black Painted Fingernails is told in alternating chapters. James's chapters tell the story as it is happening in present time, with an occasional look back at the past. Sophie's chapters look at her life and how she ended up sitting in the car next to James, heading home for the first time in three years. I believe it is done this way because the problems that James faces are current whereas Sophie's issues all stem from her childhood. Both James and Sophie are attempting to face their problems but without their chance meeting, it may not have gone so smoothly. There are also chapters by James's dad and his mother. They each have a couple of chapters set in present time which help the reader to understand the environment that James has come from but also shows teens the difficulty some parents have when their 'nest' is suddenly empty.

Black Painted Fingernails reminds me of Swerve by Philip Gwynne and Wavelength by AJ Betts. All three books look at males in their late teens struggling with where to go in their lives and what will come next. In each case, a girl helps show them the way.

This was my first Steven Herrick novel. He usually writes verse novels which are not something I am a fan of, so when I discovered that his new book was going to be prose, and a 'road trip' style book, I was ecstatic. I have read so many great reviews of his previous books and listened to Nomes and Nic go on about how wonderful Herrick is that I knew I would have to try him eventually. I was in no way disappointed with what I found and might just have to give in and try one of his verse novels.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Little Sister by Aimee Said

Title: Little Sister
Author: Aimee Said

Release Date: 1st May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

I logged on to Facebook and mentally added the status update I would've posted if I didn't think most of Whitlam High would see it: Al Miller wishes she was an only child.

Al Miller is counting down the days until her over-achieving older sister Larrie finishes Year Twelve and leaves Whitlam High School for ever. Then, Al is certain, people will finally see her as more than just “Larrie’s little sister”. But when a rumour about Larrie spreads around school, Al finds herself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Who’s behind the rumour? And will it kill Al’s chances with school hunk, Josh Turner?

My Review:
Little Sister is for anyone who has ever felt out-shined by a sibling, felt under appreciated by family members or felt like the black sheep of the family. Even though I am the older sister and my sister is the over-achieving one, I was still able to relate to many aspects of the book and the sibling rivalry is something that many sisters (and those with brothers) will recognise. There are plenty of teen issues addressed in this book, especially bullying, cyber bullying and homophobia in schools. Friendship, personal identity, self acceptance, understanding and the labels people give others are all highlighted in an effective way.

I felt I could relate to Al and feel sympathy for her because I too thought the way she was treated was horribly unfair. But, when Al learnt of Larrie's secret, Al was horrified and extremely angry. She acted like a selfish, spoilt brat and really over-dramatised her situation. While I understand why she acted in this way, I didn't feel much sympathy towards her again until she had the realisation as to why she was behaving this way. Her reaction and annoyance could be misunderstood by the reader (as was the case with me), but I think that having that reaction, mirrors how Al is confused and it takes a couple of supporting characters to really help Al get to the issue at hand.

Al's behaviour all comes down to the fact that she is sick of being associated with and compared to her over-achieving older sister, scandal or not. It's not the secret that upsets Al, it's that she is never seen as anyone other than "Larrie's little sister". Thankfully Al does learn a lesson from all the events that take place.

"There is little to be gained by trying to compare ourselves with others. We all have our own talents and abilities, and we shouldn't let other people's expectations of us stop expressing who we really are. Our genes may shape us, but it is up to us to define ourselves."

And what say I concerning Josh Turner, Al's love interest? Predictable, but fitting, in true teen fashion.

Fans of Aimee Said's debut, Finding Freia Lockhart, will enjoy Little Sister just as much, if not more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Morganville Vampire Series by Rachel Caine

Some of you may have read my review of Glass Houses, the first book in Rachel Caine's hugely successful Morganville Vampires series. I've been wanting to review the rest of the series for a while now but have been torn with how to go about it since spoilers would be inevitable.

I've really enjoyed the whole series and am pretty pumped about meeting Rachel Caine in May when she comes to Perth (details for her Australian tour can be found below). The series is so easy to read and because they all flow on from the other, it feels like you are reading one big book. It's like a vampire/human soap opera with plenty of drama.

Morganville could never be dullsville for Claire and her misfit but loveable house-mates. There is always something happening, whether it be life threatening or life-changing. I can't fault the characters and I love reading about what they get up to in their down-time when someone isn't trying to kill them but also how they manage to tackle all the chaos of Morganville with such spunk and wit. They are characters you will become attached to and I'll be sad when the series comes to an end.

So, I've decided to do a semi-spoiler-ish post with a quick run-down of what happens in the rest of the series (books 2-9).

I rate the entire series 4/5.

My review of Glass Houses can be found here.

**Please remember that there are spoilers below so read at your own risk**

2. Dead Girls Dance - Shane's mysterious absent father shows up with a bang, much to the dismay of Shane and other Morganville residents. As he causes chaos around the town, Shane and his house-mates get caught up in his father's vendetta and Shane's life hangs in the balance after being accused of his father's crimes. Claire is faced with non-vampire danger when she is drugged by some frat boys, Michael's strange situation takes another unexpected turn and Claire does the unthinkable and signs away her freedom.

3. Midnight Alley
- As Shane struggles with the latest turn of events concerning Michael, Claire begins some unusual classes with the reclusive and unstable vampire Myrnin at the request of Morganville founder Amelie. There is a case of mistaken identity when one of the only good vampires, Sam, is staked and a new human enemy, Captain Obvious, threatens our friendly neighbourhood coppers Lowe and Hess, among others. Claire finds herself in trouble when she is kidnapped but is rescued by an unlikely source. A fight with Eve's psycho brother Jason lands Shane in the hospital and Claire receives some unfortunate news when her parents inform her they are moving to Morganville. On top of all this, an outside danger arrives in town threatening to ruin everything Amelie has created.

4. Feast of Fools - Outsider Bishop has everyone on their toes, even Amelie and Oliver, with the lives of the Morganville residents hanging by a thread. Claire and Shane's relationship is threatened as vixen vampire Ysandre takes a liking to Shane. Claire's parents discover Morganville's dark secret and Jason continues his violent spree by attacking a prominent member of Morganville.

5. Lord of Misrule
- Bishops' reign over Morganville continues as the whole town becomes a war zone with residents turning against one another and forming lynching parties. An old foe returns, more people are injured and the death of a Morrell occurs as a building collapses. Myrnin's crazy level peaks to the unimaginable and countless vampires disregard the sun as they are unconsciously called to Amelie in the fight against Bishop. Claire lands herself in more danger when she finds herself under the control of uber-evil vampire Bishop.

6. Carpe Corpus - Morganville goes head to head against Bishop as the city reaches breaking point. Will Bishop's reign hold or will Amelie have one more trick up her sleeve? Myrnin's 'pet' Ada goes homicidal and a Morganville favourite will not survive the final battle.

7. Fade Out
- As Morganville residents come to terms with the aftermath of Bishop and 'lick their wounds', Eve's life-long dream of being in the annual Morganville Theatre Production comes true when she is cast as the lead. But with it comes Kim, fellow theatre fan and ex-flame of Shane's. But Kim's not just interested in the local play, and when she goes missing, her other activities come to light, activities which could endanger everyone in Morganville. Michael meets a guy in the music business with an exciting opportunity for him, Claire is kidnapped (again?!) and we finally discover who is responsible for the multiple murders of young women in Morganville.

8. Kiss of Death - Amelie grants the four members of the Glass house temporary leave from Morganville to allow Michael the chance to record at a studio in the city but, only on condition that Oliver chaperones them. After leaving town, the five of them run into unexpected trouble that spirals out of control. When they happen upon another vampire 'settlement', the danger they find themselves in escalates and they discover an unlikely ally in wayward vamp Morley. Eve gets herself a new car and slowly begins to rebuild her relationship with her brother Jason while Shane presents Claire with a gift, one that leaves no doubt about how he feels about her. Amelie brings Michael, Eve, Claire and Shane back to earth with a veiled threat that they will never be allowed to leave Morganville.

9. Ghost Town - With the demise of Ada, Morganville's defences are non-existent. When Claire stakes a vampire in self defence, a crime punishable by death, Amelie presents Claire with an impossible choice. Forced into sleepless imprisonment until she repairs the town's barriers, Claire must fix Morganville's support system before she goes delirious from sleep deprivation. She successfully accomplishes the impossible but after Myrnin makes an adjustment of his own, the whole town is affected. As resident slowly lose three years worth of memories, Claire attempts to convince Amelie and Myrnin of the glitch, but runs into trouble when they forget who she is. With Myrnin more dangerous than ever before and Amelie and Oliver fighting over leadership, Morganville has never been more dangerous and Claire has never felt so alone.

Bite Club, book 10, will be released May 2nd 2011.

Update 2nd May 2011:
My review

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Tales Compendium Has A Button!

I have a button! I'm very excited to present my blog button to you all! I've been thinking for a while now about what it should look like and finally decided today....

If you would be so kind to link my blog I would be ever so grateful :D

Spread the Tales Compendium love!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

August by Bernard Beckett

Title: August
Author: Bernard Beckett

Release Date: 28th February 2011

My Rating: 2/5

Trapped in a car wreck, upside down, bleeding, broken and in pain, Tristan and Grace are staring at death. When dawn breaks, they might be seen from the road and rescued, or not.

They wait, desperately holding onto life, unravelling the sequence of events that brought them together.

Tristan is a philosopher struggling with the question of free will. Grace's life of hardship allows no place for such ideas. But a brief encounter changes their lives, setting them on a collision course with love and death, and each other.

Part philosophical thriller, part love story, August is a compelling novel about will, freedom and what it means to live.

My Review:
August was quite the head-tripper and wasn't at all what I was expecting. It is set in an alternative time where a Holy Council is in control and those who are not worthy, live beyond the city walls. Both Tristan and Grace are originally from inside these walls but as their individual stories unfold, we discover the paths they took which led them to inhabit the outer regions and the circumstances that have led to their paths crossing on this fateful night.

It wasn't until I was well into the book that I realised August is not really aimed at the young adult market, more adult or at the least, upper secondary. Like Genesis, one of Beckett's previous releases, it questions human nature and is a philosophical thriller. It looks at human weakness, free will and probability. I personally struggled with it due to the content as I am not one to ponder philosophy and religion. However, I do enjoy Beckett's style of writing, and am eager to try Jolt and Malcolm and Juliet as they sound a little more up my alley, but unfortunately, August was not for me.

Teachers notes can be found here.
My review of Genesis is here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aussie Fiction Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the three lucky people who have won one of three signed Aussie YA fiction books!

Isamlq from Sassyreads
has won a copy of Wave Length by AJ Betts

Kai from Amaterasu Reads
has won a copy of Fury by Shirley Marr

Rachel from Crack A Spine Book Reviews
has won a copy of 90 Packets of Instant Noodles by Deb Fitzpatrick

Rachel and Kai, I have emailed you.
Isamlq, I don't have an email address for you so if you could please email me with your postal address I can send out your book. My email address is jwillis87(at)hotmail(dot)com

Thankyou to everyone who entered and stay tuned for another give-away soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CBCA 2011 Shortlist Announced!

The shortlist for the 2011 Children's Book Council of Australia Awards were announced this morning.

The nominations for Book of the Year for Older Readers are...

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
About a Girl by Joanne Horniman
The Life of a Teenage Body Snatcher by Doug MacLeod
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

To view the shortlists for the other categories, click here.
To view the Notables for 2011, click here.

The awards will be announced and presented on Friday 19th August.

Congratulations to all the nominees and Notables. While I have only read three of the six nominees, I sincerely hope that Graffiti Moon takes the award.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wild Child by Mike Wells

Title: Wild Child
Author: Mike Wells

Release Date: 12th March 2011

My Rating: 3/5

Briana Fox is the wildest girl in school. She and Kyle have been friends for a long time...almost lovers. When Briana challenges Kyle to a swim across the lake, she's injured in a terrible accident, but also discovers a mysterious substance in an underwater cave. What seems to be a magical yet harmless "power drug" turns out to have unexpected properties. Briana soon becomes dependent on it for her very survival. When two government agents get wind of their discovery, they will stop at nothing to force Kyle and Briana to reveal its source.

My Review:
Wild Child is a short, fantasy story set in America about Kyle and Briana, who discover magical green water in a cave under the cliffs where they are swimming. When government agents become aware of the abnormal water, they make it clear to Kyle that they'll stop at nothing to gain access to it, but as Briana's life hangs in the balance, Kyle is put in an impossible situation.

My only criticisms are that it took me a while to figure out how old Kyle and Briana were. At the beginning, Briana acted rather immature, pressuring Kyle into doing things that were dangerous, and spoke as if she was fourteen or fifteen years old. But, there were small drug and alcohol references as well as sexual innuendo that led me to think maybe she and Kyle were in their twenties. By chapter five they were both acting more their age, which I found out is eighteen, and this carried through to the end of the book.

I personally don't approve that both of them were drinking alcohol while swimming out in the middle of nowhere. It's not the fact that they were underage (in America anyway) but more so that there was no lesson in it. It is so dangerous to swim when drinking and since the story is aimed at young adults and is read by high school students, I felt this small part of the story should have been omitted, as it wouldn't have made a difference to the plot.

That said, it was fast-paced and had me racing to find out how Kyle and Briana would get out of their predicament. It will leave readers choosing sides; do you live for the moment or stop to consider the consequences?

I liked Kyle and his loyalty towards Briana, even though he didn't agree with what she was doing, he was just so grateful that she was alive. I admired him for sticking to his opinions about the water when Briana pestered him to drink it and I liked that he stuck up to his father and the government agents even when they were threatening him.

Wild Child is a fast, suspenseful thriller with an ending I never saw coming.

Wild Child is an ebook and can be purchased through Smashwords, Amazon or Amazon UK.
For more information visit the author's website.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

90 Packets of Instant Noodles by Deb Fitzpatrick

Title: 90 Packets of Instant Noodles
Author: Deb Fitzpatrick

Release Date: 31st May 2010

My Rating: 5/5

Joel and Craggs are in it together. They drink booze together, they flirt with petty theft together and, when Craggs turns violent, they face the consequences together too. That’s until Joel’s dad makes a deal with the police. Craggs is off to juvenile detention and Joel to solitary confinement. Ninety days of fending for himself in a remote bush shack with no radio, telephone or fridge.

Miles from anywhere, Joel starts to like his own company, till one day the past tracks him down. Craggs is on his doorstep and he hasn’t changed a bit.

My Review:
90 Packets of Instant Noodles is refreshing story about 16-year old Joel, who has made some bad decisions in life. It is a novel primarily about peer pressure but also about how sometimes, it's not too late to change your ways. Told from Joel's point of view, we see the negative impact having a certain type of friend can have and the difficulty of cutting the ties of friendship. How far do the bonds of mate-ship go? When is it finally time to say 'enough'?

Joel, stuck in an isolated bush shack south of Perth, Western Australia, and comforted only by weekly letters from his girlfriend Bella, rather revealing letters from his dad, and a pesky fox he has christened 'Foxy', is at first miserable and angry at his dad for such an arrangement. He soon realises though, what a blessing the forced isolation is and discovers his own self worth. He realises that his life doesn't have to disappear down the toilet and end up in jail like his friends Craggs and Sull.

Just when he thinks everything is going to be alright though, Craggs shows up and is ready to get back to their old ways, starting with the remote town that has semi-befriended Joel since the start of his three month exile. While the good in Joel had just been buried for a while and he wasn't 'too far gone' , Craggs's time in juvenile detention only made things worse and fuelled the fire burning inside him.

Craggs has no desire to change and wants to drag his friends along for the ride. He needs someone else to be running amok with him because if he's not doing it alone then it has to be ok. How can Joel escape from this kind of friend when he knows how Craggs will lash out? The fear holds him back and that is exactly how Joel ends up in the shack in the first place, when Craggs goes too far and Joel doesn't do anything to stop him. Joel had even developed a stutter over the years because of his unconscious fear and nervousness of Craggs.

I really liked Joel's dad. He is a good guy who really wants to help his son. I like how their relationship gets stronger throughout the book even through the circumstances are not ideal. Same with Bella, she brought out the other side of Joel, the good side, and it was somewhat due to her that Joel wanted to turn his life around.

90 Packets does contain quite a bit of swearing as well as some drug use but aside from this, and the obvious unsavoury behaviour, I think this would be a good text for upper high school students to study. You can find Teachers Notes, courtesy of Fremantle Press, here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went
Series: If I Stay Book 2
Author: Gayle Forman

Release Date: 1st April 2011

My Rating: 5/5

It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life. And there years he's spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?

What I thought of If I Stay:
"This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story that is not only about love, but also about what makes a family, the meaning of friendship and the magic of music."

My Review:
I'm warning you now, this is going to be a long review because I absolutely loved everything about Where She Went. It picks up three years after Mia awoke from her coma in If I Stay and, unlike If I Stay, Where She Went is entirely from Adam's perspective.

Adam is in pain. After his band became the biggest thing in the music biz, thanks to the songs he wrote about the hurt and confusion he suffered after Mia left, Adam is hounded day and night by reporters and the paparazzi. Everyone wants to know the story behind the music, but Adam and the band aren't talking. Adam just wants to be left in peace. His love of music has dwindled and he floats through life with the aid of prescription drugs and cigarettes to calm his nerves and anxiety. He's lost all connection to everyone around him, including the band and always feels alone, even when he is surrounded by people.

I can't help but think about how, when I was younger, I'd read about the legions of artists who imploded - Morrison, Joplin, Cobain, Hendrix. They disgusted me. They got what they wanted and then what did they do? Drugged themselves to oblivion. Or shot their heads off. What a bunch of assholes.

Well, take a look at yourself now. You're no junkie but you're not much better.

Adam is heartbroken and I found it really interesting to experience this from a male's point of view, as most YA's I read where someone is suffering, is from a female perspective. Throughout the book, we are given the opportunity to see back before Mia's accident and see some of Adam's memories, but also what has been happening with him, and how Mia's accident changed his life, up until the point where we meet up with him in New York. I was really pleased to see Forman explore the effect the accident had on Adam because while what happened to Mia was terrible, people often forget or don't even notice the effect an accident can have on those around the victim.

Where She Went is an emotional roller-coaster ride for Adam and I really wanted him to burst out with his feelings of pain and abandonment to Mia as soon as he saw her, but of course then we wouldn't have a story or the anticipation of waiting to find out what was going through Mia's mind when she left. When she does finally relinquish her reasons, everything comes crashing down around Adam and he has to face some truths he has tried to forget. Quite often I found I had a lump in my throat and towards the end I really had to stop myself from letting some tears leak out.

Mia's words rattle something loose in me and suddenly there are tears all over my damn face again. I haven't cried in three years and now this is like the second time in as many days.

"It's my turn to see you through," she whispers, coming back to me and wrapping me in her blanket as I lose my shit all over again. She holds me until I recover my Y chromosome.

I am totally and completely in love. Not only with this masterpiece of a sequel that Gayle Forman has written but also with Adam; oh how I fall for musicians! And yay for young adult novels with older protagonists (Adam and Mia are now twenty-one). Forman has also spoiled us by including lyrics from Adam's songs at the beginning of each chapter. Where She Went surpasses the brilliance of If I Stay, has a place on my all-time favourites list, and is my current favourite contemporary book of the year.

On a personal note, I love that now, having visited America, I get so much more out of a book as my own experiences help enrich the story. When Adam and Mia wander through New York and different places are mentioned, my own memories of those places come flowing back. I love reading books that are set in cities I have visited. I had the same gushy feelings when I read Anna and the French Kiss.

What I say next basically tells you what happens at the end of Where She Went so do not read any further if you don't want the ending spoiled!
I would love to read another book in the life of Adam and Mia and have it called 'What We Did' but I have a feeling Gayle Forman has finished writing Adam and Mia's story. *sigh*

Monday, April 4, 2011

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Title: Die For Me
Series: Revenants Book 1
Author: Amy Plum

Release Date: 10th May 2011

My Rating: 5/5

Die For Me is the first of three books about Kate, a sixteen-year-old American who moves to Paris after the death of her parents. It introduces a new version of the undead with revenants, beings who are fated to sacrifice themselves over and over again to save others’ lives. Kate finds herself falling for Vincent, who she discovers is not the typical French teenager he appears: he is something else entirely.

My Review:
Words can not describe how much I love Die For Me.

As you can probably tell from the blurb, Vincent is a revenant, but that is all I will say on the matter. I didn't read the blurb properly before reading the book so what Vincent was, came as a surprise and I preferred it that way. What I will say is that revenants are original and as far as I know, they haven't been done in YA fiction before, especially since Amy Plum created much of the mythology herself.

Die For Me could not have been set in a more perfect city. Paris is romantic, magical and has that delicious feeling of something dangerous hiding amongst it's beauty. Amy Plum's writing swallows you up and I could feel myself being transported back to Paris (where I have been twice). You can actually have a look at the locations in Die For Me on Amy's website where she has marked all the places around Paris that Kate, Vincent and the rest of the characters visit, as well as providing her own photos of the locations. Check it out here.

Die For Me has such a wonderful selection of characters; Kate, Georgia, Vincent, Jules, Ambrose, Charlotte, Mamie, Papy, Jean-Baptiste, Gaspard. You can't help but love them. I really liked Kate. She's been through a lot and even though she is broken (and understandably so) she eventually manages to pull herself out of her misery and become a girl who is mentally strong and mature. She's not kick-ass, but she's not wimpy either. She loves books, museums and art and is the opposite of her care-free, extroverted sister Georgia.

"I wanted a heroine who wasn’t dependent on the man she loved. Self-sacrifice is admirable up to a point, but I wanted someone who was independent and smart – not just intellectually but emotionally."

From Amy Plum's website.

Kate isn't the kind of girl who needs a boy to make herself feel good or to be happy, and she doesn't need Vincent to swoop in and take care of her. But he is certainly blush-inducing with his old school charm and romance. Vincent, Jules and Ambrose all made me swoon, but not at the beginning. They all grew on me as Kate got to know them better and we saw more of who they really were rather than the front they put on. They reminded me of Edward, Emmett and Jasper from Twilight in the way they interacted with each other; joking around and being sarcastic, in a brotherly way.

This is an absolutely fantastic debut with a breath-taking cover. While this will be a series, there is no cliff-hanger and Die For Me could survive as a stand alone novel. I can't wait to read what Amy Plum writes next and to once again get lost in Kate and Vincent's world. I am so in love with this book right now. And did I mention there is sword fighting?!

Die For Me has earned it's place on my All-Time Favourite's list.

Thankyou to NetGalley for this review copy. I will certainly be buying my own hard copy once it has been released.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Wolf Letters by Will Schaefer

Title: The Wolf Letters
Author: Will Schaefer

Release Date: 1st May 2011

Genre: Adult Historical Thriller

My Rating: 4/5

Southern England, August 1936. An artefact from the dark ages – a wolf carved in jet – is stolen from the archaeology department of St Matthew’s College. A man is murdered in an antique store.

Historian George Haye translates two eighth-century documents for the investigating police, and is very soon nearly murdered himself. What is it about the documents? Aren’t they just letters from one Englishman to another? And why does the wolf from St Matthew’s seem to be at the black heart of all the evil that unfolds around him?

Haye is desperate. He must find the letters which lead him to the wolf, or he will die.

But Haye will find something else. Something he could never have imagined – something long forgotten, something terrifying

My Review:
As you can probably already tell, The Wolf Letters is very different to what I usually review. Aside from YA, I love a good thriller and when I was presented with The Wolf Letters, I couldn't pass up the chance of reading it, especially since it comes from a debut Perth author.

Now I am not much for historical reads. The book is set in both the 8th century and also England in 1936, and so you may think my reading it is a little strange, but despite its time period, I found myself ploughing through the novel. While I did find the first couple of chapters a little slow, I think this may have been due to getting my head around the time period and that the story was only just beginning.

And what a mystery it is. Our hero, George Haye is pulled into a chilling, century old mystery that involves 8th century letters, a jet wolf, unexplainable murders committed by unlikely suspects and a connection to the occult that he never would have believed a day earlier.

Haye is a genuinely nice guy, who is 'recruited' by Detective Sergeant Aage Nielsen to translate letters between Ohthere, an 8th century solider-priest, and Bishop Ecgwulf, detailing Ohthere's exile from England and his subsequent journey through Europe and the mysterious jet wolf which is causing so much trouble in 1936. As more letters surface and strange events continue to arise, Haye and Nielsen travel to Wales in search of answers, unsure of who to trust, with shocking and devastating consequences.

The biggest compliment I can probably pay The Wolf Letters is that I am someone who does not read historical fiction, and have never really been a fan of learning about it in the first place. But, I read this book in less than two days and thoroughly enjoyed it.

While I haven't read Dan Brown's books (my act of rebellion on the book industry), I have seen the films and in my opinion, if you liked his books, you will like this.

So if historical is not your thing but suspense, mystery and intrigue is, this may still be one of you. And if historical fiction is your cup of tea, then you have found a gem.

A fantastic debut.

For more information or to purchase a copy, head to the website.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Prom and Prejudice
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Release Date: 1st March 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Everyone is obsessed with the prom. Everyone except scholarship student Lizzie Bennett, who isn't interested in designer dresses or expensive shoes, even if her best friend Jane is - especially now that hottie Charles Bingley is back from London.

Will Darcy, on the other hand, is a pompous jerk. Lizzie assumes he dislikes her because she is a scholarship student - so why is she drawn to him anyway? Will Lizzie's pride and Will's prejudice keep them apart, or will there be a prom date after all?

My Review:
I love reading Elizabeth Eulberg. Her books make me happy. Prom and Prejudice has proved she wasn't a one-hit-wonder with her awesome debut The Lonely Hearts Club.

Prom and Prejudice is funny, witty, and sometimes fluffy, with great characters who react honestly and how you can imagine you might have in the same situation. There is the age-old class/status war between Lizzie and the snobby rich kids at Longbourn and Pemberley Academy and the consequences of assumptions, misunderstandings, misinterpretation that occur in the teenage world of love and lust. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There is danger from an unexpected source, anger, pain, distress, lies and the ever present risk of being emotionally hurt.

While Prom and Prejudice is a modern retelling of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, you in no way have to read the original as this one is a story in it's own right. I haven't read Pride and Prejudice because I am not a fan of historical fiction (don't try and talk me into it, I'm not budging). I know a lot of people who have read both versions- some loving them both and some only loving the original or the retelling. From my point of view, reading it without bias, or influence, I loved it.

Bernard Beckett Give-Away Winners!

Congratulations to the two winners of my Bernard Beckett Give-Away! Using random.org, the winners are...

Nic from Irresistible Reads has won a signed copy of August

Mummazappa from The Book Nerd Club has won a signed copy of Genesis

Both have been contacted by email.

Thankyou to everyone who entered and don't forget you can still enter the Aussie Fiction Give-Away to win one of three signed books by Perth authors. It's international so anyone can enter. Click on the image below to enter.

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