***The Tales Compendium blog is currently on hiatus. However you can still following along via the Instagram feed!***

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Warlock by Michael Scott

Title: The Warlock
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Book 5
Author: Michael Scott

Release Date: 1st June 2011

My Rating: 4/5

About the Series:
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is an urban fantasy series set in present day time but relies heavily on some of history and mythology's best known heroes and villains, from Joan of Arc, Mars - God of War and of course Nicholas Flamel (best known to the children of today from the first Harry Potter book), to Medusa and William Shakespeare.

In the last four books we have discovered that Sophie and Josh Newman, two ordinary fifteen-year-olds from San Francisco, are actually the twins of legend, prophecised to save or destroy the world. As Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel take them from America, to France, England and various shadow-realms searching for those who can awaken the twins and train them in the four elements, they are also in a race against time to stop Doctor John Dee, magician, necromancer and all-round bad guy from using the stolen Codex to bring destruction to the world.

***Do not read ahead if you have not read book four, The Necromancer***

The Newman twins have finally been divided. The end is near.

In San Francisco, Josh has chosen a side - and he will not stand with his sister, Sophie, or the Alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel. He has chosen to fight along side John Dee and the mysterious Virginia Dare. Sophie will do anything she can to find her brother, but her training must continue. Earth Magic is next; with Perenelle and Nicholas as weak as they are, Niten must help her to find her instructor. Someone Sophie already knows very well…

In A Nutshell:
Fans will not be disappointed as favourites are put in danger, magic is tested, Dee creates mayhem and lives are risked. Connections between characters become known and a shock-inducing cliff-hanger will leave you speechless.

My Review:
The Warlock, the fifth book in Michael Scott's six-book series, picks up right where The Necromancer left off with Sophie and Josh choosing separate sides, Sophie with the Flamels and Josh with John Dee and Virginia Dare. As both groups flee Dee's crumbling 'Enoch Enterprises' building after Coatlicue is sent back to her shadow-realm with Aoife sacrificing herself, Sophie and Josh struggle with the others' betrayal, as each twin believes they are on the right side.

Every chapter switches back and forth between a whole host of different characters as they all prepare to come together for the explosive final book The Enchantress, due mid 2012. Josh, Dee and Virginia Dare head for Alcatraz where Machiavelli and Billy the Kid are waiting to release the cells of monsters onto an unsuspecting city of San Francisco. Sophie and Niten set off to find Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches, while the extremely weakened Prometheus escapes his crumbling shadow-realm with an exhausted Perenelle, and Nicholas, who is near death.

Scatty, Joan, Saint Germain, Palamedes and Shakespeare have travelled back in time with the mysterious hook-handed man to destroy the lost city of Danu Talis. Characters such as Prometheus and Tsagaglalal who are with Sophie in present time, are also featured on Danu Talis with Scatty and the others since they were there when it was destroyed. Once you get your head around the time warp, it can actually get quite funny, especially when they run into Prometheus who has no idea who they all are (and Scatty is his niece!).

There are also appearances from Gilgamesh, Black Hawk, Mars Ultor, the Witch of Endor, mysterious Elders Isis and Osiris, the Old Man of the Sea, Elders Hel and Odin and Codex creator Abraham the Mage. Many of them, despite their centuries old rivalries, come together with Sophie, Perenelle, Tsagaglalal, Niten and Prometheus to try and stop Dee, their common enemy.

Fans will not be disappointed as favourites are put in danger, magic is tested, Dee creates mayhem and lives are risked. Josh remains suspicious of Dee's motives but Sophie also begins to questions Perenelle's actions when she becomes reckless. As the fifth book progresses, a lot of connections are made between characters who have appeared throughout the series, some that will make you sit back and go, 'ohhhhhhh.'

And the ending? OMG what an ending! But what, how?! I knew something like this was coming...but not THIS! The shock-inducing cliff-hanger opens up so many new questions that will leave your mind reeling and absolutely desperate for the sixth and final book. I can already tell, it is going to be AMAZING!

I've stuck with this series now for four years and I really am quite desperate to read the final book, especially now, since The Warlock finished on the biggest cliff-hanger possible. A whole year! Seriously?! Maybe Michael Scott, to say thank you to all your loyal fans, you could release The Enchantress much earlier? Say like in six months time? That would be really great. Thanks.... I can dream right?!

A big thank you to Random House Australia for providing me with a review copy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling

Title: The Comet Box
Author: Adrian Stirling

Release Date: 1st June 2011

My Rating: 4/5

It's 1986 and Halley's Comet is hurtling towards Earth. Everyone's talking about what the comet will bring: wishes could be granted, great disasters could happen.

Andrew's wish is that his runaway sister, Amelia, will finally come home. But as the comet approaches, he begins to learn why she left, and the more he knows, the more he wants to forget. Will Amelia's return tear his comfortable world apart?

In A Nutshell:
A slice of Australian suburban life in the 80's when a teenage boy becomes curious about the secrets of his neighbours and his own family. An insightful page-turner.

My Review:
The Comet Box is the story of one boy as he searches for answers in his slice of suburban Australian life in the 1980's. I don't think I have ever had so much trouble writing a review before. I really enjoyed it, but I have no idea why! I'm failing to put it into words but it's just a feeling that I had while reading it. It was a total page-turner but I can't pinpoint why it was, which is absolutely useless when trying to write a review!

Andrew is a curious fourteen-year-old who likes knowing what is going on around him. He believes he is pretty clued in to everyone and that there isn't much he doesn't know about his classmates and neighbours. What he discovers throughout The Comet Box is that curiosity is not always a good trait to have because once you know something, you then have the responsibility of what to do with that knowledge. How will your decision effect others? What do you do when things fall apart, when you find out that your perfect world is actually not so perfect?

I think the intrigue is because all the secrets and lies that are floating around in Andrew suburbia could very easily be those of anyone's neighbours. And the problems that Andrew's family faces, could be any family's problems. You never know what is going on behind closed doors. Everyone tries to present the perfect life to prying eyes, but usually, nothing is as it seems.The story isn't propelled by major action or teen drama, but is more subtle, with an underbelly of secrets swarming around the streets of Merton. As it simmers, it pulls you in.

Thank you to Penguin Australia for this review copy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Prime Minister's Literary Awards Short-list

Today here in Australia, the 2011 short-listed titles for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were announced.

In the Young Adult Fiction category the titles are:
About a Girl by Joanne Horniman
Good Oil by Laura Buzo
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

I have read three of the five titles (click on the title for my review) and while I really liked all three, my vote goes to Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon.

In the Children's Fiction category the titles are:
April Underhill, Tooth Fairy by Bob Graham
Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Now by Morris Gleitzman
Shake a Leg by Boori Monty Pryor and Jan Ormerod
Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

I have only read Flyaway by Lucy Christopher, although Morris Gleitzman's Now has been on my TBR list for a long time.


The winners will be announced in the first week of July. To view the adult short-listed books click here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Solstice Cover Love

I have recently discovered the debut novel, Solstice, by P.J. Hoover.

Isn't it pretty?!

Where Mythology and Dystopia meet...

Piper’s world is dying. Global warming kills every living thing on Earth, and each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy humanity. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives with her mother who suffocates her more than the chaotic climate. When her mother is called away to meet the father Piper has been running from her entire life, Piper seizes an opportunity for freedom.

But when Piper discovers a world of mythology she never knew existed, she realizes her world is not the only one in crisis. While Gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper's life spirals into turmoil, and she struggles to find answers to secrets kept from her since birth. And though she’s drawn to her classmate Shayne, he may be more than he claims. Piper has to choose whom she can trust and how she can save the people she loves even if it means the end of everything she’s ever known.


Solstice is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords and has certainly been added to my by TBR list!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Author Interview: Amy Plum

Today, the wonderful Amy Plum has stopped by to chat about her debut novel Die For Me, what we can expect from it's sequel Until I Die and...Willy Wonka.

I absolutely LOVED Die For Me and you can read my review here.


Can you describe Die For Me in three words?
Gothic Parisian romance.

Where did the idea of revenants come from?
It was my attempt to do a mash-up of two mythological creatures: gods and zombies. But as I went further along with the development of their story, I truly had a feeling that they were something that already existed, and that I, as a writer, was charged with discovering. Everything about them makes sense and lives quite comfortably side-by-side with existing mythologies.

Can you share anything about the sequel Until I Die?
Yes. There are a few new characters. I packed in lots of fun new Parisian locations. More of the revenant mythology will be revealed. And now that Vincent and Kate are together, they will be faced with huge questions about how they can actually make a revenant-human relationship work.

Die For Me is going to be a trilogy. Do you already know how the last book will end?
I do know how the last book will end. But I am not quite sure how I will get there!

Excluding Vincent and Kate, do you have a favourite character in Die For Me?
That’s actually a really hard question. Because I am incredibly fond of several of my characters: Jules, Georgia, Ambrose, Charlotte, Mamie...even Gaspard. I feel like I know them all really well, and if I could actually stand in front of any of them, I would throw my arms around them for a big old American hug!

Which fictional character would you like to trade places with?
Any fictional character that can fly and eat everything they want without gaining weight. Because, besides not having those two qualities, I’m pretty happy with my life!

What is your favourite word?
I have been told that I use the word “magical” WAY too much. But I would have to say that the French word “pamplemousse” is my favorite for the way it rolls around in the mouth. That and my daughter’s middle name, Tallulah.

What are some of your favourite YA books at the moment?
I am re-reading Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed and really enjoying it. She has such an amazing way with words! Just started Cassi Clare’s City of Bones, and know I’m going to devour the series. And I had never read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy before a friend sent it to me a few months ago. Have read the first two books and LOVE THEM!!!

Who are some of your literary crushes?
Eric Northman. Aragorn. Mr. Darcy (in both Pride & Prejudice AND Bridget Jones’s Diary). And (I know this is really strange) Willy Wonka.


A massive thankyou to Amy for taking the time to answer my questions. I am so excited about Until I Die and am going to try my best to wait patiently for it...although I will probably fail epically.

My review of Die For Me
Amy's website
Amy on Facebook
Amy on Goodreads

Friday, May 20, 2011

Graffiti Moon Love

Over the last week, the winners for The New South Wales Premier's Literary Award and the Australian Publishing Association Book Design Awards were announced.

The NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2011
I am very excited because Cath Crowley won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature for her totally awesome YA novel Graffiti Moon. I am super happy about this because Graffiti Moon was one of my favourite books from last year and I highly recommend it.

To view the other category winners, click here.

APA Book Design Awards
We're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover right? Well that's exactly what this award is all about. There are nineteen categories but I'm only going to comment on the Best Designed Young Adults Book Award. The winner as you might have guessed from my post title was Graffiti Moon! Congratulations to designer Melanie Fedderson! The really funny thing is that I originally didn't like the cover but over the last 6 months it has really grown on me :)

For the full list of winners and commended titles click here.

Read my review of Graffiti Moon
Read my review of Cath Crowley's other book A Little Wanting Song
Read my interview with Cath Crowley

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

Title: The Dead I Know
Author: Scot Gardner

Release Date: 1st May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can't explain, and memories he can't recover. Death doesn't scare him - his new job may even be his salvation. But if he doesn't discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

In A Nutshell:
I loved The Dead I Know. It was suspenseful, heart-breaking, touching and hopeful. It can get a bit dark at times so I would recommend it for ages 15+.

My Review:
The Dead I Know begins with a lot of mystery surrounding our main character Aaron. He has shown up for his first day working at a funeral parlour looking worse for wear and with an antisocial attitude. We don't know a lot about him except that he's a bit of a loner, lives in a caravan park with Mam, who we assume to be his mother, and that she has some kind of mental illness. Because of Mam's apparent illness, Aaron has to play the role of the parent the majority of the time and since it is just him and Mam, there is a lot sitting on his young shoulders. On top of this, he's having trouble with his violent and drug-addicted neighbour and he has recently started sleepwalking and having disturbing nightmares. It is evident he is troubled but the question is, what traumatic memories are hidden away in his subconscious?

"If Mam were an alcoholic, her mental state would be easy to explain. If she'd taken drugs or had an accident, her luck-of-the-draw world would make more sense. Sometimes she was lucid and practical; other times she was a stormy two-year-old. There was no rhyme or flow, just what she was served. Yet, for all her shifting states, she never woke with a stranger's broken hairbrush in her hand."

Aaron needs mindless, repetitive tasks to stay focused and keep himself calm, meaning being an assistant at a funeral home is perfect for him. He doesn't have a problem with death. That doesn't however make him a morbid, angry teenager wanting to kill everyone.... he just understands it. I know that the fact the book is set in a funeral home might deter some people from picking it up, but please don't let it stop you. There are a couple of moments when you might get a tad squeamish but it's really not the focus of the book. It's about Aaron and whether or not he can put his past behind him and find peace of mind.

"The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be."

The Barton's, who own the funeral parlour, are such lovely people and I thought that John Barton was the perfect person to help Aaron during this particularly difficult time. John takes him under his wing, subtly providing him with a support network without Aaron really realising it. Throughout the story, Aaron's past slowly comes to light, expertly drawn from him by John's precocious 12-year-old daughter Skye (who I started off really disliking but quickly found the value of her personality). What we come to realise is that Aaron is a broken boy struggling with not only the horror of his past (which is so tragically sad!), but also the pain, pressure and denial that comes with having a loved one suffering from dementia (something I am all too familiar with).

I honestly really loved The Dead I Know. It was suspenseful, heart-breaking, touching and hopeful. I read the whole thing in one sitting, I was just so desperate to know what had happened to Aaron and that he would be ok. I really came to care for him as a character and was able to identify with him in reference to his struggles with Mam. Recommended for ages 15+

And if that's not enough, it comes recommended by John Marsden, "I have never read a book more gripping, nor more triumphantly alive"

Thankyou to Allen and Unwin for providing me with this review copy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Attention Perth Bloggers! How About A Meet-Up?

Hello fellow Perth Bloggers!

Danni from The Book Nerd Club and I have been talking about organising a Perth YA Book Bloggers Meet-Up for a quite a while now and the time has come for us to get our act together.

So if you live in Perth and run a young adult reviewing blog (or adult is fine too) then come along to our first ever meet-up! There are so many bloggers over east but there are only a small amount of us here in Perth and it would be awesome to have the chance to meet each other. Young or old, we don't mind as long as you blog! And if all goes well, we'd love to make it into semi-regular thing.

If you are interested in coming along, we will be meeting at San Churros in Subiaco at 4pm on Thursday 9th June. It would really be appreciated if you could email me to RSVP just so we have some kind of idea as to how many people to expect.

San Churros can be found on the corner of Rokeby Road and Roberts Road in Subiaco. It is right across the road from the Subiaco train station. Next door is Jus Burgers and across the road is the old Subi Market site.

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to send me an email at jwillis87(at)hotmail(dot)com. You can RSVP to it as well.

Um, can you say yum?!

Heads Up! - Changes Coming!

Hello loyal Tales Compendium followers!

You may have noticed that last month I had a poll on the sidebar asking your opinion on what I could do to make The Tales Compendium better. So along with some of my simmering ideas, I actually listened to what you had to say.

More author interviews and give-aways seemed to be the big things people were interested in and I'm pleased to say that both of these are getting a boost. You may have noticed I've had both Rachel Caine and Steven Herrick featured in the last few weeks and I have more exciting interviews from Amy Plum and Antony John (to name a couple) on the way in the coming weeks. I'm also planning some cool give-aways.

I've been thinking about my ratings system for a while now and have decided that the time has come to change it. For over a year now I've been rating books out of ten but I've decided that it gives me to many different options and I think it needs to be easier to know exactly how I feel about a book. So from now on my ratings will be out of five. All previously reviewed books, for the time being, will stay with their current out of ten ratings but I hope to change them all over to my new system over the next few weeks.

1/5 - I didn't like it
2/5 - It was ok
3/5 - I liked it
4/5 - I really liked it
5/5 - OMG words can not express my love for this!

And, as you may have noticed, as I have, that my reviews have been getting longer and longer and I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing. I have so much to say on books these days and they might just be getting a bit too long for some of you. So, I've decided to add a little "In A Nutshell" spot before my full review so you can get a quick opinion on the book before I go into why I love it so much. It will essentially just be a little snippet of what the longer review says.

I hope everyone likes the changes and continues to read The Tales Compendium. Thanks for sticking with me!

Jess xxx

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Author Interview: Steven Herrick

Today I have a special treat for you all. Australian author Steven Herrick has very kindly answered a few questions about his soon to be released YA novel Black Painted Fingernails.

Herrick has written more than eighteen novels for all ages in either verse or prose.

He has won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards twice (and been short-listed three times), the Australian Speech Pathologists Book Award in 2005, been short-listed for the Australian Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award four times, his 2010 release, Slice, was one of the Notable Books for Older Readers with the CBCA, had two books named on the honour lists of the CBCA and been highly commended by the Children's Literature Peace Prize.

It seems to me, he is a force to be reckoned with.

Where did the idea for Black Painted Fingernails spring from?
It began as a verse-novel about an insecure young man who meets a free-spirited woman, but after many attempts at writing the main female character in verse, I gave up and left it alone for two years. When I approached it afresh as a prose novel, I found it much easier to write. And it allowed me to also add chapters on the parents, which I enjoyed immensely. These chapters were written after our two sons had left home, so I felt keenly the pain of the parents.

You usually write novels for young adults in verse. What changed your mind when you wrote Black Painted Fingernails?
I was at a stage where, after ten verse-novels in eleven years, I felt I'd said all I could say in that form. My last three books have been prose and I've enjoyed the challenge. Having said that, I used a multiple narrator form in 'black painted fingernails' which I've used before in my verse-novels. I guess I like to tell stories from multiple perspectives... there is no single truth.

Can you tell us a little about James and Sophie from Black Painted Fingernails?
I had lots of fun writing Sophie in particular - a woman who is strong-willed and independent. In many of my previous books, the male character has been to the fore... not in this book. But, most of all, I loved writing the parents - their sense of bewilderment and loss at being left alone as their only child sets off into the world.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Black Painted Fingernails?
That we all carry around our own insecurities, obsessions, feelings of love and loss, ambitions... each day.

Can you describe Black Painted Fingernails in three words?
It's a book! No? Okay...umm, how about - love, loss... landscapes

Last year Slice was released. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write it?
I really wanted to write about about the everyday minor details of a young man whose mind and mouth sometimes run ahead of themselves! It's a simple story, I hope, of a man trying to make sense of what being a man really means - how do you respond to love, bullies, friends, school, family - all those crucial little things of being sixteen and a little lost. That's where the title comes from - it's slice of life stuff.

What are you reading now?
For pleasure, I regularly read books about football (soccer) - often on the politics of world football. I've just finished a wonderful book called 'Why England lose' - which attempts to look at football from a scientific and empirical data perspective - sounds boring, but it wasn't. I'm also rereading the first draft of my next book - a verse-novel for children tentatively titled 'Pookie Aleera is not my boyfriend!'

A massive thank you to Steven for taking the time to answer my questions :)

Black Painted Fingernails will be published by Allen and Unwin in June. You can read my review here.

Slice was published by Woolshed Press via Random House in 2010. I haven't read it yet but you can read Nomes' review of it over at her blog inkcrush.

All Steven Herrick titles are available via The Book Depository for those of you outside Australia.

Visit Steven Herrick's website here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

2011 Teen Book Video Awards! Calling Australian High School Students...

Random House Australia is hosting a very cool competition for Aussie high school students.

Your task? To create a 90-second video trailer for one of sixteen Random House young adult books.

The winning entry will win $1000 as well as $1000 worth of Random House books for their school library!

Entry Conditions:

* You must be an Australian high school student
* You may enter as an individual or as a group
* The trailer must be for one of the sixteen titles chosen by Random House
* The 90- second video trailer must best represent the book you have chosen
* Entries close 30th September 2011

For more specific details click here.

Head over to the Random House website where you can register, find more information and get a list of the books you can use.

This is such a cool idea and I almost wish I was back in high school so I could enter :D

Have fun!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces (2)

Amy Plum's debut book Die For Me has officially been released in Australia. Here is a little clip of Amy trying Vegemite for the first time and thanking Aussie bloggers (including yours truly :D)

The winner of the signed copy of Bite Club is...

Congratulations Arielle, I have contacted you by email and thankyou to everyone who entered.
So I'm a little bit late with posting this but here is the magical
book trailer for Forever, the third and final book in Maggie Steifvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. The trailer features a track written by UK band Jonas & Plunkett, "Summer Girl" - with lyrics from Shiver.
Also, Cassandra Clare, author of the best-selling Mortal Instruments series is due to arrive in Australia this week for ten days. If you live in Sydney or Melbourne there are a number of different events where you can meet her. Click here for details.

And finally, head over to my Coming Soon page were new books by David Levithan, Andrea Cremer and Jay Asher have been added.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time Witch by Jacqueline Corcoran

Title: Time Witch
Jacqueline Corcoran

Middle Grade Fantasy

Release Date:
1st March 2011

Blurb: Twelve year old Genevieve, in search of her missing single-parent mother, finds her way to another world where competing dynasties of witches battle, as time ticks backward, for control over a magical clock and a winged horse as part of an ancient prophecy. Genevieve discovers that she is the niece of the Snow Queen on whose island Genevieve is initiated into magic.

When the Snow Queen appears to be killed by her frozen prisoners, Genevieve must carry on to the Black Crystal Witch's castle with a herbologist slave she meets on the way. With a critical combination of spell-crafting, herbology, and the exponential power of witch bloodlines, Genevieve plays an integral role in vanquishing the Black Crystal Witch's hold over time.

My Review:
Time Witch is the story of 12-year-old Genevieve who, while searching for her mother (who has mysteriously disappeared), discovers that the magical world she made up with her best friend, is actually real. Mistakenly she enters the fantasy realm and comes face to face with flying horses, treasure hunting trolls, the evil witch Duvessa and her terrifying hawk. Here she joins forces with snooty princess Ciera and the dashing prince Rowan to find the three missing pieces of a magical crystal clock and get them to the last remaining rose witch, The Snow Queen, before Witch Duvessa can lay her hands on it and make time disappear forever.

The magical realm that Genevieve creates is based on fairy tales she has read, the sparkling rocks at the Natural History Museum in Washington DC (where she lives), and the classic troll dolls with funky hair. This is the kind of story-world I would have created when I was younger.

Overall it was an enjoyable read and is perfect for ages 9-13 who love fantasy worlds with magic and daring adventures. For fans of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Time Witch is available as an ebook from eBookwise, Solstice Publishing and Amazon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vampires Drool! Zombies Rule! by Rusty Fischer

Title: Vampires Drool! Zombies Rule!
Author: Rusty Fischer

Release Date: July 2010

My Rating: 4/5

The Vampires and Zombies at Barracuda Bay High School have a long-standing truce: don’t mess with us, we won’t mess with you.

Of course, if the human kids at Barracuda Bay High knew they were sitting next to the Living Dead in homeroom, well… all bets would be off.

So when Lucy Frost tries to use the fancy heat-sensored paper towel dispensers in the C-wing girls’ room during a busy break from classes, Fiona Rutherford, the nosiest reporter on the Barracuda Bay Bugle, just happens to witness it. But when she jokingly refers to Lucy as a “zombie,” in the next day’s paper, Fiona unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will change Lucy’s life forever.

Now the vampires want to do away with Fiona, and the only zombie who wants to save her is Lucy. Suddenly Lucy is the only hope Fiona and the rest of her friends have of surviving!

In A Nutshell:
With plenty of zombie humor and sarcasm, Rusty Fischer has adapted the general zombie lore to make way for zombies to have a proper place in YA fiction. Very cool.

My Review:
Lucy is just a normal high school girl trying to get through classes, avoid drawing attention to herself and hope that her crush asks her to the Fall Formal. She's also a zombie. The freezing cold, eat your brains, strong as steel kind. After one tiny little mistake, Lucy has one school day to try and defuse what a Normal decided to publish in the school paper before the zombie and vampire equivalent of the secret service pay her a visit.

Written with plenty of zombie humour and sarcasm, Lucy must come up with a plan to avoid a zombie-vampire apocalypse, go up against the absolutely repulsive vampires that also attend the school, try to avoid getting her new AV Club human friends killed, not freak out the boy she likes and save her own zombie self. Is that too much to ask? Maybe...

I must say, Lucy is one crafty zombie. Unlike a lot of zombie folklore, these zombies are actually pretty smart and fast moving. I mean, they eat brains, shouldn't that make them smart? Lucy comes up with some sneaky plans to avoid the vampires and then attack them but can she count on her zombie friends not to stab her in the back when she tries to save not only the person who outted her, but a human?

I really like the way Fischer has adapted the general zombie lore. It's very cool and makes way for zombies to have a proper place in YA fiction (rather than the mindless drones that are usually featured).

Rusty Fischer is the author of countless zombie short stories (my current favourite being Zombies Don't Sleep) and poems, as well as the newly released novel Zombies Don't Cry. I found that being able to read some of Rusty's work before buying his new novel was really helpful and I was left craving more of his zombie stories.

To download the ebook of Vampires Drool! Zombies Rule! or to read it online, click here.

For information on where you can find Rusty's stories and poems, some of them for free, head to his blog.

To buy Zombie's Don't Cry, head to Amazon or The Book Depository

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen

Release Date: 30th May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Mclean never lets herself get too attached...

After the scandal of her mother's affair, Mclean and her dad chose life on the road. But since losing her family and home, Mclean has lost herself too; she's been Eliza, then Lizbet, then Beth - changing her name as often as she changes towns.

Until now. Her neighbour, Dave, is like no one she's met before. It's as if she's always known him, and just like that, she becomes Mclean again. Is it finally time to stop reinventing? Or will Mclean turn her back on the new life she loves, without even saying goodbye...

My Review:
What Happened to Goodbye has a subtle storyline, one where the true point of the plot develops over time and I felt quite content sitting back and reading how Mclean's life would unfold. There were no massive revelations that shock Mclean to the core. Instead, the story starts two years after a major revelation and focuses on Mclean as she continues to struggle with the outcome of her mothers infidelity and her new family.

Mclean thinks she is fine. Sure her relationship with her mother is still rocky, but in general, she is happy living with her dad and moving around to different cities, being able to reinvent herself each time. She just floats through life, going through the motions. I felt watching Mclean struggle with her emotions towards her mother was very well written and realistic as well as how she is torn as to how attached she should get to her new friends. When Mclean finally realises that maybe she hasn't actually been happy and she finally lets herself feel at home, she realises that who she wants/needs to be, is actually herself.

Mclean and her mother really struggle with their relationship, with her mother constantly hounding her, only leading to Mclean pulling away more. Mclean struggles with the fact that so many circumstances are beyond her control. Her whole way of life and anonymity, disappeared and she is hugely frustrated that things can't just go back to the way they were. And even now, after everything is over, she still can't have control of her life the way she would like. It's frustrating and something a lot of teens can relate to.

I really enjoyed all the quirky, oddball characters, especially Deb and Jason. I thought they really made the story and I just felt at home reading about them. Unlike in other Dessen books, romance kind of took a backseat with it very slowly creeping up on Mclean. Dave didn't appeal to me as much as some of Dessen's other male leads have as just like the whole story, Dave is subtle. This said, all of Mcleans new friends are lovable and enjoyable to read about.

Before picking up What Happened to Goodbye, I had read four Dessen books, and enjoyed them all, with one being an all time favourite of mine. So starting a new book I felt very excited and all warm and happy inside. I enjoyed WHTG and I think Dessen fans will be super excited to get their hands on another title. This said, I think some might be disappointed due to the lack of major romance or plot turn-arounds but to me, this story wasn't supposed to be like that and I like its subtle approach.

If you are a first time Sarah Dessen reader I would recommend either The Truth About Forever, Along For The Ride, or my favourite, Just Listen. While WHTG is not my favourite Dessen novel, it does slot in nicely beside her other books and fulfills the hunger that fans have had since Along for the Ride was released in 2009.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dangerously Placed by Nansi Kunze

Title: Dangerously Placed
Author: Nansi Kunze

Release Date: 1st March 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Alex Thaler can't wait to start her dream work experience placement at Virk, where staff from all over the world mingle in an astonishing virtual office. But when an employee is found murdered, the dream becomes a nightmare - because Alex is the prime suspect. Fortunately, Alex's friends are willing to brave shark tanks, disgusting pathology specimens and even a nude beach in order to clear her name . . .

Can a hippy chick, a goth girl in a lab coat and two guys with a taste for blowing things up really help solve the mystery - before Alex becomes the next victim?

My Review:
Dangerously Placed is a fabulous fast-paced thriller filled with misdirection, danger, a little romance, a mind-blowingly cool virtual reality system and a murder mystery that is guaranteed to keep you guessing.

In the course of Alex's investigation into finding the murderer, she also discovers a conspiracy to bring down the company and that she has a stalker! This may sound over the top, but it's not. The plot works well and Alex and her friends are extremely likeable. The virtual reality workspace is something that hasn't been done before in YA fiction and I found the concept really interesting. It was really quite mind-blowing and I would love to know if there is actually technology like this around at the moment?

I was honestly completely surprised as to who the murderer was. I spent the whole book trying to guess and I never saw it coming. I really enjoyed this as a lot of books can be so predictable! I really hope YA continues to see more teen detective stories in the future. It is a genre that is lacking on YA shelves, but one that many people love.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Conversation with Rachel Caine

As posted the other day, I had the chance to meet and interview Rachel Caine as part of her Bite Club tour in Australia, to celebrate the release of her latest book in the Morganville Vampires series.

Rachel was an absolute champ and answered so many questions for me and our hungry audience.
So, as promised, below is most of our interview for those of you who couldn't make it.


Can you describe Bite Club in three words? Violent Bad Shane!

In Bite Club, we get to see some of the scenes from Shane's POV. What made you decide to do this?
Bite Club has a lot going on with Shane -- and it stirs up a lot of his past, his issues, and we see some of the hidden anger that he keeps under such tight rein. I felt it was important to really get inside his head for some of what was happening, because Claire is so much on the outside of many of the events, and without his perspective I felt readers might get too much of a one-sided view of why he was behaving as he was. I also really like writing Shane's POV ... I've done it in short stories (most notably Murdered Out, a short story included in an early UK edition, as well as a few more) and it seemed a good experiment to do in the novel.

Where did the idea for Morganville come from? Did it just pop into your head or was it something that slowly came to be?

Do you have a favourite character and why?
I enjoy writing them all, and different characters at different times, but I do love writing about Shane and Myrnin. I always know what Shane will do and I never know what Myrnin will do, so if I put them in a scene together, who knows what will happen! Monica, oddly enough, is also fun to write.

Why did you choose to write about a sixteen year old
college student rather than a normal high school or college student?

I know music is a must for you when writing. If you had to pick one band/artist to represent the series, who would you pick?
Such a difficult choice, but I think I'd have to say either
Lacuna Coil or H.I.M. -- but I have a very wide musical taste, all the way from '70s rock to trance, techno, alternative and blues. I tend to change the style of the music from one book to another, which is why I included all the extensive playlists at the back!

Do you know how many books you will write for this series?
At the moment there will be 12 books. If readers are still interested in Morganville after that then maybe there will be more! I love going back to Morganville. Book 12 is currently untitled and Last Breath, which is book 11, will be released in November.
And when the time comes, do you already know how it will end?
I don't know if there is an ending, a town like Morganville just goes on... but obviously I would wrap up the stories of the characters in it. There's bound to be another generation of people with whole new problems though!

Is there anything you can tell us about Last Breath?
From the beginning of the series, the question about why Morganville was located in sunny West Texas has been a tricky one ... apparently. But there's a very, very good reason, and I'll give you this one hint: it has to do with water. There will be some shocking and scary events in this upcoming book, I can promise that, but also some deeply emotional scenes as well.


You write a couple of other series. Do you stick with writing one book until it's finished or do you swap between them all? I will write the first draft of one consistently, but there is always a lot going on so when writing that draft, I might be re-writing a second draft of something else or proofing, etc. It's easy to swap between series, but I do have to do some traffic control issues in my head sometimes, and time management when you're juggling three series is quite an interesting challenge.

Apart from Last Breath coming out in November, you also have a new series that will be released in Australia. Can you tell us about that?
I have a new adult series coming out in August called The Revivalist. The first novel, Working Stiff, introduces Bryn Davis, who is a young funeral director discovering that her new bosses are reviving the dead, for profit, in the basement. That's only the beginning of Bryn's problems, which include tangling with a giant and sinister pharmaceutical company in the first book.

Have you ever had a fan-girl moment? *laughs* All the time! Although meeting Jennifer Lynn Barnes was very exciting. I've always loved her books. Carrie Ryan is also a huge literary crush of mine, and she's delightful in person, too. I also squealed quite loudly when I met Charlaine Harris for the first time.

Which fictional character would you like to trade places with?
From Morganville I should pick Amelie because she always survives! But I think Eve would be a lot of fun. She has great fashion sense and drives a hearse! From other works I would say Dr John Watson so I could watch Sherlock Holmes at work.

If it was made into a film, who would you like to see portray your characters?I would love to see David Tennant play Myrnin! I really don't have a lot of great insight into who would be perfect for which characters ... it always turns out that who I'd pick for a role in other peoples' novels gets filled by an actor I'd never have picked, and they do brilliantly. Which is why I'm a writer, not a casting director!

Favourite word?

Crap *laughs*

Least favourite word?

Hard - my editor kept circling the word 'hard' throughout one of my drafts and asked me why I liked the word so much. I said 'I don't!' So now, I search and destroy it as often as I can.

Favourite sound?

Birds. I love birds. One of the most fun things about coming to a new country is to walk outside and listen to birdsong -- it's so different and beautiful!

If you were not an author, what would
your dream job be?
A screenwriter, is that cheating?

What have you always wanted to do but never tried?

Scuba diving. Although as I'm deeply disturbed by the ocean, I probably never will!

How would you spend your last day on earth?

Writing. It's very rewarding and I look forward to it every day. Okay, I'd probably take a break to hold hands with my husband, but I'd obviously HAVE to finish all my stories, right?

Once again, a massive THANKYOU to Rachel, and Felicity at Penguin Paranormal. And remember, Australian residents can enter my competition to win a signed copy of Bite Club. Enter here.

My Reviews

Glass Houses #1
Morganville series #2-9
Bite Club #10
Rachel Caine Event and Bite Club Giveaway

Rachel Caine Links

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