Sunday, October 30, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor

Release Date: 27th September 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Blurb:
Around the world, black hand-prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that colour. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-coloured eyes on her in an alley in Marrakech, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

In A Nutshell:
Awesome title. Fantastic characters. Forbidden love. Magical and Mysterious locations. Unique mythology. Definitely worth reading.

My Review:
What can I say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone that hasn’t been said before? Just like almost every review I have read and everyone I have spoken to about it, I loved it.

First off, what a totally awesome title! It’s mysterious and conjures up so many images but you have to wait until almost the end of the story to find out what it means. Our main character Karou joins the YA rank of fantastic female lead characters as a loveable and kick-ass character, with her blue hair and humour, but she also has a vulnerable side.

Like many YA supernatural/paranormal books, Daughter of Smoke and Bone uncovers the blurry lines between good and evil, enticing us with a forbidden romance (although thankfully no love triangle!) that while is sudden in some ways, as the story progresses, we see that there is more to Karou’s story than meets the eye. While this format is commonly seen in YA these days, the story that unfolds takes your breath away and provides Daughter of Smoke and Bone with that something extra that sets it apart.

My enthusiasm did slow three quarters of the way through with my uneasiness with the direction the story was taking but it picked up again and I am excited for what its sequel will bring. I would love to share more with you but this is one of those books where the mysteries can accidentally be spoiled with the wrong (right) word! You’ll just have to check it out yourself.

I should also mention the setting. How many YA books are set in Prague? This is the only one I know of and, as someone who has spent time in Prague, I think Laini Taylor has done a fabulous job bringing this magical city to the masses.

My favourite quote? I was going to share with you my favourite quote but I realised it continues for almost two pages. In my ARC copy, it starts on page 69 and continues half way down page 70. It is a discussion between Karou and her best friend Zuzana about the different types of butterflies you can get in your stomach, and what kind of guy sets them off. It certainly put a smile on my face!




Friday, October 28, 2011

The PengTeen Awards! Vote Now!

As promised, you can now vote in the PengTeen Awards, hosted by Penguin Australia's teen blog, Between The Lines.


There are some fantastic titles that made the short-lists and it's now our job to vote for our favourites!


To find out who made the cut and to vote in each category, click here.


Voting is open now until Wednesday 9 November, at midnight Australian Eastern Daylight time. Winners will be announced on Monday 14 November.

Fun? Yes I think so!
=D

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The PengTeen Awards!

Penguin Books Australia has announced a new annual award for all their YA books released over the year, The PengTeen Awards. Currently, readers can nominate their choices over at the Penguin Between The Lines blog where a new category is posted each day.


The categories are:

Favourite Villain
Favourite Girl Character
Favourite Boy Character
Favourite Kiss
Favourite Fight
Favourite Couple
Favourite Sidekick
Favourite Scary Moment
Favourite Funny Moment
Favourite Breakthrough Author
Favourite Cover
Favourite Author

Favourite Aussie Author
Favourite Breakthrough Book
Favourite Book

The Penguin titles eligible for nomination are:

Last Sacrifice: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Matched by Ally Condie
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
Twelfth Grade Kills: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Defiance: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando
Bite Club: Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
The Comet Box by Adrian Stirling
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
Undercurrent: A Siren Novel by Tricia Rayburn
Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
Alaska by Sue Saliba
Days Like These by Alison Stewart
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
The Power of Six: The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
The Fear: The Enemy by Charlie Higson
Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Froi of the Exiles: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
The Sending: The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
Last Breath: Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
Crossed by Ally Condie
Reckoning: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
Beautiful Chaos: Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

There will also be a Reader’s Choice Award which means you can vote for any book by any publisher that was released between 1 December 2010 to 28 November 2011.

For more information you can visit The PengTeen Awards: How It Works over at the BTL blog.

Happy voting!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Gayle Forman Titles Announced

So in case you missed the big news in the YA world this week, Gayle Forman announced she will be releasing two new books in 2013 and 2014. They are not a series, but companion novels, and will not have anything to do with fan favourites Adam and Mia.


From Gayle's website:
"Can you fall in love in just one day? Can you become a new person? How about in just one year? In JUST ONE DAY and its companion novel JUST ONE YEAR, sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey and easygoing actor Willem De Ruiter are about to find out against a guidebook-worthy array of foreign backdrops. Equal parts romance, coming-of-age-tale, mystery and travel romp (with settings that span from England’s Stratford upon Avon to Paris to Amsterdam to India’s Bollywood) JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR show how in looking for someone else, you just might wind up finding yourself."

Head over to Gayle's blog to read her answers to some FAQ about the future of Mia and Adam and more details about her new books.

Are you excited for Just One Day and Just One Year?
I am!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Slide by Jill Hathaway

Title: Slide
Author: Jill Hathaway

Release Date: 27th March 2012

My Rating: 5/5

Blurb:
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

In A Nutshell:
Slide is a murder mystery/thriller and a total page-turner. It joins the small list of YA detective style stories that are available and will appeal to fans of Veronica Mars (the TV show).

My Review:
I am super excited by the fact I got the chance to read an ARC of Jill Hathaway’s Slide, which is not due for release until March 2012. I’ve been following Jill for a while now and I became totally hooked by the premise of Slide; Vee, a girl who can slide into other people’s minds but has no control over who or when this happens. After seeing her sister’s best friend killed through the eyes of the murderer she decides to play detective and find out who the killer is. I am so pleased to be able to say that Slide lived up to my expectations, and then more, and I can’t wait to read its sequel!

Slide is a murder mystery/thriller and a total page-turner. It joins the small list of YA detective style stories that are available and will appeal to fans of Veronica Mars (the TV show).

I really like Vee, with her pink hair and awesome 90’s music taste. She’s not perfect but she tries hard to deal with her ‘episodes’ and slightly disjointed family. Vee’s father is a paediatric doctor and also councils people whose family members have passed away due to cancer, just like Vee’s mum did. He appears to be the hero dad, spending all his time trying to help and comfort others but he ignores what is right in front of him; his own pain and that of his daughters.

Even though Vee has to act like a mum sometimes, I really like the relationship between her and her sister Mattie. They clash at times, but they are there for each other and support each other as much as they can. This is a very real portrayal of a sisterly relationship. In many YA novels, siblings often play a very small background role and are not really part of the story, or the main character is an only child.

And what of our other supporting characters? The relationship between Vee and her best friend Rollins is predictable but not infuriatingly so. You have the hot mysterious newcomer Zane who seeks out the weird girl, Vee. There is Scotch, the stereotypical self-centred jock you just love to hate and the bitchy high school girls who are not all that they seem. The characters all have depth and their stories are incorporated into the storyline. Everything is connected and it isn’t just mentioned to fill up a word count. Parents and teachers also have parts to play. Just like the teenagers, they all have secrets and problems in their own lives which influence the story.

Slide does well to point out that the image someone projects, isn’t necessarily who they are and has the age-old warning (not in a preachy way), not to judge someone until you get to know them. Appearances can be deceiving and everyone has problems. It also highlights bullying and just how cruel teenage girls can be, but also how vulnerable they are.

With her wits about her, Vee must learn to control her ‘episodes’ to get to the bottom of the mystery and find out who killed Samantha. There are quite a few twists and turns, with misdirection and different theories and to who the killer is. It is suspenseful and entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

A big thank you to Jill Hathaway for including me on her ARC tour!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is Dystopian Fiction?

DYSTOPIAN FICTION. Being that it is the 'it' genre in YA fiction at the moment, I am quite often asked what it actually means, either at my job in the bookstore or when I talk to someone about the type of books I review. And even though I know what it is, it seems that I never really seem to have a good way of describing it. Or when I try, I just end up confusing the person who has asked me.
So, here are a couple of definitions for you.

From Wikipedia:
"A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian."


"Dystopian societies feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, various forms of active and passive coercion. Ideas and works about dystopian societies often explore the concept of humans abusing technology and humans individually and collectively coping, or not being able to properly cope with technology that has progressed far more rapidly than humanity's spiritual evolution. Dystopian societies are often imagined as police states, with unlimited power over the citizens.


"As fictional dystopias are often set in a future projected virtual time and/or space involving technological innovations not accessible in actual present reality, dystopian fiction is often classified generically as science fiction"


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Maggie Stiefvater Giveaway Winners


The winners of my Signed Maggie Stiefvater Goodies Giveaway are:

1st Prize - a signed paperback copy of Shiver
Nic from Irresistible Reads

2 x Runners-up - each will get a Forever badge and a signed bookmark
Tina from Book Couture
and
Kalasyn

Congratulations!
You have all been sent an email requesting your postal address.

Thanks to everyone who entered! Stay tuned for more giveaways soon.
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