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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Title: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers

Release Date: 19th June 2012

My Rating: 3/5

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

In A Nutshell:
This Is Not A Test is a compelling novel that looks at the psychological state of 6 teenage survivors as they fight to live during what appears to be a zombie apocalypse. A story of hope and finding a reason to live.

My Review: 
This Is Not A Test is a compelling novel that looks at the psychological state of 6 teenage survivors as they fight to live during what appears to be a zombie apocalypse. Although there is some action, the story isn’t based around the teens as they constantly battle the undead. Instead we look at each person’s state of mind and how they evolve during their time holed up at their now empty high school.

Sloane had planned to end it all after a lifetime of being a punching bag for her father. But before she could, the apocalypse started. This could have been the perfect opportunity for her life to end but while sitting in the middle of the street waiting for a zombie to come and munch on her (that wasn’t supposed to sound comical), two guys she went to high school with stumbled across her and helped her to ‘safety’. Sloane has no desire to ‘take anyone down with her’ so while she waits for the perfect moment when she can surrender to the banging on the otherside of the wall, she spends her days surrounded by people who want to live and are struggling to adjust to suddenly being faced with death. But perhaps what is even more significant is that without realising it, Sloane begins to form a type of bond with some of the others, possibly giving her a reason to fight, if not for herself, then maybe another.

It was a gripping novel with a message of hope but I finished it feeling rather blasé. For some reason, and I can’t quite put my finger on what or why, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

Title: Confessions of an Angry Girl
Author: Louise Rozett

Release Date: 28th August 2012

Age Recommendation: 14+

My Rating: 3/5

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make…

1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)

(Sorry. That was rude.)

In A Nutshell:
Confessions of an Angry Girl is about that horrible and confusing stage when you are in your early teens and it feels like everything is changing and you have no control. Although the characters can sometimes be irritating, it is realistic and compelling.

My Review:
Confessions of an Angry Girl is about that horrible and confusing stage when  you are in your early teens and it feels like everything is changing and you have no control. It's like magically, overnight, you are supposed to care about boys and clothes and makeup. And being popular should apparently be your top priority. For fourteen-year-old Rose, this isn't the case. She wants everything to stay the same. She doesn't understand why her best friend suddenly wants to join the cheerleading squad and is talking about sex. Everything is moving too quickly and Rose is still trying to come to terms with what her life means after the death of her father in Iraq over the summer.

Rose’s world has fallen apart. She’s angry, although she’s not really sure she is ready to confront why. She’s sad and doesn’t really know how to express herself and her grief. She’s vulnerable and feels alone but doesn’t voice this. 

The main problem for Rose is that she can’t understand why her best friend is suddenly changing. She gets frustrated with Tracey because she refuses to listen to her but what Rose needs to realise is that most of the time, you can’t tell someone something and expect them to believe you hands down, especially when it concerns matters of the heart. They have to come to realise these things on their own and as a friend, all you can do for them is be there for them when everything goes pear-shaped. I think almost everyone has experienced having a friend who has sold them out in their quest for popularity and it certainly hurts, but what Rose fails to see is that she is not completely innocent either. She has her faults, just like everyone else. And that is ok. That’s human nature.

Other things of note?

I read the book in one sitting. Despite the fact that certain bits annoyed me, it was realistic and compelling.

Rose and Tracey both got on my nerves but they are young and naïve and need to learn from their mistakes. What matters is how they come out at the end and deal with their respective situations.

There are underlying lessons throughout the novel that are important, such as explaining why and how friendships can change and that is ok to not what not follow the crowd and to be yourself. There is also the all-important sex-ed class. 

I haven’t said anything about the boys in the book. Matt, Tracey’s boyfriend, is a jerk and it is obvious from the beginning. Robert is a nice guy but really needs a reality check. Jamie is a bit of a mix and I’m undecided about him and Angelo, Jamie’s friend, is very sweet and I hope he has more page-time in a follow up.

Speaking of a follow up, I was slightly annoyed with the ending as I felt it left some things unresolved. I'm hoping that Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, due for release in 2013, will be a sequel of sorts and tie up some loose ends.
Thankyou to Harlequin Teen Australia for this review copy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles #1
Author: Gena Showalter

Release Date: 1st October 2012

My Rating: 5/5

She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

In A Nutshell:
I loved Alice in Zombieland and was drawn into the story right from the beginning. I couldn't put it down and would love to fall into the metaphorical rabbit-hole with Cole any day, and maybe kick some zombie butt in the process!

My Review:
I admit I was slightly apprehensive before starting Alice in Zombieland as I had heard mixed reviews from other bloggers. But, I was drawn into the story right from the beginning and couldn't put it down.

Alice is a very likeable character who takes everything in her stride and wants to fight and stand up for herself, no matter who she is facing, whether it be someone at school or something that goes bump in the night. After her family is killed suddenly one evening, Alice moves in with her grandparents and starts at a new school. There she finds a loyal and sassy friend in Kat and unlikely shadows as the roughestest boys at school pay her extra attention. Too bad she seems to be having waking dreams about their 'leader' Cole.

The whole novel is filled with punchy language and attitude, but it doesn't over do it, and was thoroughly enjoyable. Showalter has created an amazing world that pulls you in and holds tight as Alice becomes immersed in a whole new life she never believed existed. What Alice soon finds out is that Cole and his motley crew are just as involved in what goes on after dark as she is. As she learns to harness the skills her father taught her before he died, Alice falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole to a world that threatens to show her what her father feared the most.

Cole is the kind of bad boy that girls drool over. He's dangerous but protective, damaged but worthy with looks that leave a girl speechless and the ability to demand control. The chemistry between him and Alice sizzles and you will completely fall for him. I also love the background issues that go on with Kat and Frosty :)

For Alice, living with her grandparents is tough at the beginning but they are very sweet people who just want the best for her. It's funny reading their parts because they try to talk to Alice using what they think is cool and hip 'teen-speak'. They are adorable.

Many of the reviews I have read seem disappointed that the novel doesn't seem to be a reworking of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not sure if maybe it was marketed this way or if people just assumed but I didn't expect it to be a retelling. I can find ways it reflects Alice in Wonderland symbolically, but I don't think it was ever meant to be a literal reworking of it. Anyway, I loved it and I hope you do too.

I read this just before I disappeared on a month-long holiday to Europe and now that I am back and have written this, all I want to do is read Alice in Zombieland again!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mini Break

Hello lovely book people!

Just wanted to let you know that the blog has been a bit quiet because I am currently gallivanting around Europe. I'll be back in a couple of weeks but until then, here are some photos to make you jealous!

 At Zonienwoud Forest in Belgium

Can you spot me at Efteling Fairytale Theme Park in The Netherlands?

At Fisherman's Bastion in the Castle District of Budapest

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington

Release Date: 28th August 2012

My Rating: 5/5

Also by Hannah Harrington: Saving June

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret… Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast — and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence — to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting everyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way. People she never noticed before. A boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself…

In A Nutshell: 
Words can't really describe how awesome this book is, no pun intended. It is a story about standing up and doing the right thing, even if the consequences may seem too much. Being yourself and finding true friends and happiness is always an option, if you let it be one. I have big love for this book.

My Review:
Wow. I am absolutely speechless, no pun intended. This book was amazing. I had very high expectations after the brilliance of Saving June, and Speechless totally lived up to them.

Speechless is a novel about bullying, homophobia, self-esteem, the meaning of friendship and forgiveness. It is about thinking before you speak and how your actions can affect others.

Chelsea is an incredibly strong character. She never used to think about what she did or said because it meant she got to be popular and she felt it was justified because being part of the "in crowd" at high school is the only way to survive. It’s no excuse for her behaviour but Speechless shows how you can change for the better and still find happiness even if everything you once thought was important is taken away from you. As she distances herself from toxic friendships, she discovers that not all friendships require so much work and that there are people out there that wont try and change you, but will like the real you and let you be you and wont make you feel guilty for the things you like in life.

There will always be people like Warren and Joey and Lowell and Derek. But there will always be people like Asha and Sam, Lou and Dex, Andy and Noah. Stand up to bullying. Find your voice. Don’t be Speechless. Words matter. There are always consequences. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reaping Me Softly by Kate Evangelista

Title: Reaping Me Softly
Author: Kate Evangelista

Release Date: 30th October 2012

My Rating: 3/5

Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?

In A Nutshell:
Reaping Me Softly is about the things people do for love, loyalty, strength and the ability to overcome the terrible things that can happen in life. An enjoyable read but be prepared that the ending may not be your cup-of-tea.

My Review:
Reaping Me Softly is about the things people do for love, loyalty, strength and the ability to overcome the terrible things that can happen in life.

I liked Ari. I thought she was strong and while I was annoyed with her for putting up with the bullying, I admired her ability to do so and her values that prevented her from exposing why she was getting bullied by Darla in the first place. I liked the relationship between Ari and Ben. It was nice to have a boy-girl friendship without the usual romantic tension that tends to show up in YA novels as a love triangle. Theirs was a true friendship, one of honesty and loyalty and I’m glad that this dimension was included in the novel.

I liked the reaper world and the hierarchy that Death created. The different personalities of all the reapers made Niko’s world ‘real’, rather than him being part of a world we knew nothing about, and in their weird way they were family to each other. I even liked Death. His character was quite amusing, as were Niko’s minions (Ha! ‘Minions’ still makes me laugh, maybe I’ll just call them his helpers?).

Ari and Niko’s relationship was sweet and predictable. What was not predictable was the ending! Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything. What I will say is that I loved the whole book, until the ending. Suddenly, I was in tears. It just felt so…extreme. I mean, I know we are dealing with Death but I kinda got to the point where I liked the guy, and then BAM, he went all brutal!

Don’t let my shock at the ending deter you though. I know some people think it was a fantastic ending and I really did love the rest of the book. So I suggest you give it a go.

I also highly recommend Kate’s first novel, Taste, which was really, really awesome. Read my review here.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This review has been part of the Reaping Me Softly Blog Tour, hosted by AToMR Tours. There are 10 ebooks of Reaping Me Softly to win so enter below.a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are lots of other people participating so click here to see what others thought of Kate Evangelista's latest book.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October Housekeeping

You may have noticed I've been a bit absent the last few weeks. Fear not, I'm back! I've just handed in my last uni assignments for the year and I now have five glorious months off to spend however I want.

First off, I'm still yet to email the winners of my Melina Marchetta Giveaway which finished two weeks ago. I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN YOU. You are on my list of things to do today so keep an eye on your inbox (and junk too).

Meanwhile, Aussie authors Ursula Dubosarsky, Jackie French, Morris Gleitzman and Melina Marchetta have been nominated for the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which is the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature. They are four of 207 candidates from 67 countries around the world who have been nominated for this prestigious award. The winner will be announced 26 March 2013.

Coming up on The Tales Compendium...

I will be reviewing a heap of really cool books which have been my motivation to get my assignments finished. Having all these books staring down at you is a great reminder to hurry up!

  On  26th October I'll be guest posting over at Following the Reader for Amy's Halloween Spooktacular and on 30th October I'll be participating in Kate Evangelista's blog tour for Reaping Me Softly

Also, while I was busy studying, my page views surpassed 100 000 so a big thankyou to everyone who continues to visit The Tales Compendium.
Thanks for hanging around and I look forward to appearing in your news feeds once again :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Author Interview: Katie McGarry

Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits
Debut author Katie McGarry burst onto the YA scene in July with her amazing novel, Pushing the Limits. Readers were instantly pulled into the devastating lives of Echo and Noah as they strived to find 'normal', something they both desperately wanted. We fell in love with them and they are arguably one of our favourite YA couples this year.

My Review In A Nutshell:
Pushing the Limits had me staying up until the early hours just to read a bit more of Noah and Echo’s story. First of all, the chemistry between the two… Yeesh! It was fiery, highly charged and fever inducing and totally had me blushing at some points. But, it is an emotional roller-coaster as two lost, lonely and broken people attempt to rebuild their destroyed lives. Does that  sound  too depressing? Never fear, you will fall in love with this book and the characters within.

You can read the rest of my Pushing the Limits review here.

For those of you who want questions about Noah and Echo answered, Katie answers a fan question on her blog each week.

For those wanting to know what Katie plans to write next, she will be writing a companion novel to Pushing the Limits, featuring Beth. This will be called Dare You To and will be released in 2013.

I would like to welcome Katie to The Tales Compendium and thank her for answering a few questions about herself.


I was the kind of kid who... had a million make-believe friends and I went on make-believe fabulous adventures with them. I was a storyteller before I knew what a storyteller was.

My mother always told me... that you’re lucky if you can count on your hand the number of true friends you have—those people who will stick by you no matter what.

The biggest lesson I learnt at school was... to stick by your friends, regardless of other peoples’ opinions of them.

My first big crush was... in first grade. I didn’t know his name so I nicknamed him Ronald McDonald. He never corrected me when I called him that and when I gave him my phone number he called.

I earnt my first pay cheque... babysitting in middle school.

I really hate it when... my characters won’t talk to me. That leads to writer’s block.

I’m very good at... remembering lyrics to songs.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done is... say goodbye to my best friend. She died when we were twenty.

I’m frightened of... cemeteries.

When I’m in the shower I sing…
um, lately? Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5.

The last book I read was... Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I LOVED it. Go buy it. Now.

I would love to meet... S.E. Hinton. The Outsiders was my favorite book when I was a teenager.

When I get the munchies I eat... cheddar flavored rice cakes.

I hope I never... stop laughing at myself.

Life is... good today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart

Title: Blood Storm
Series: Lharmell #2
Author: Rhiannon Hart

Release Date: 1st August 2012

My Rating: 4/5

Previous Book: Blood Song

The rain wanted to be ocean; the ice in the mountain caps wanted freedom. I never knew that water held such longing. The clouds above my head rumbled like a growling wolf, impatient to release their burden. I held the rain there a moment longer. I turned to Renata, heard her gasp and knew my eyes glowed blue.

I spoke a single word. 'Rain.'

In the Second Book of Lharmell, Zeraphina and Rodden must travel across the sea to find the elusive ingredients that will help them to win the coming battle against the Lharmellin – but shadows from Rodden’s dark past may come back to haunt him. And while she learns to harness her new abilities, Zeraphina still fights the hunger that makes her crave the north – not to mention avoiding her mother, who wants to see her wayward daughter married to a prince at all costs.

In A Nutshell:
An atmospheric and addictive series that pulls you in and begs you to get lost in Zeraphina and Rodden’s world.

My Review:
It has been several months since Zeraphina destroyed the leader of the Lharmellins and she has spent her time ‘holidaying’ in Pergamia. Her real reason is to learn more about the Lharmellins from Rodden, and to avoid her mother who is on a mission to marry her off to a prince. Unfortunately, her home is where yelbar can be found, a metal deadly to Lharmellins, which Rodden and Zeraphina desperately need. So they leave Pergamia under the cover of night, heading across the continent of Brivora, for Amentia.

Hart’s descriptions were perfect. I could picture all the different locations so clearly and did not get lost in heavy detail. As they travel through deserts, across oceans, through the rich and the poor cities, they meet new people that help and hinder their quest. With harmings hunting them down and their safety depending on one another, the intimacy of trying to survive and the trust they hold in each other leads Zeraphina to question her growing feelings for Rodden. And thankfully, Rodden’s secretive nature finally breaks down midway through the book when he shares his devastating backstory. 
Throughout their journey Zeraphina works to harness her new abilities and upon arrival in Amentia, she battles with her mother over her engagement to an arrogant, abusive prince. The injustice of her arranged marriage and the questions of choice and royal expectations are raised in the second half of the book which I thought was a nice offshoot from Zeraphina and Rodden’s quest. 

As the second book comes to a close, both their heavily guarded feelings for one another become more obvious as another encounter on Lharmell becomes eminent. Old foes return and their lives hang in the balance, not just from the threat of harmings, but also from the assumptions made by royal families after Zeraphina and Rodden disappeared on the trip together.

Despite a somewhat devastating cliff-hanger, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Storm and am so please it lived up to the expectations I had after loving Blood Song. As I think many of you know, I often struggle with fantasy, but for some reason Rhiannon Hart’s novels just pull me in and beg me to get lost in the world she has created.

This has been an official stop on the Blood Storm Blog Tour. Check out the other stops featuring reviews of both Blood Song and Blood Storm, as well as guest posts.

SEPTEMBER 20 Inkcrush

SEPTEMBER 21 Refracted Light

SEPTEMBER 22 Little Book Owl

SEPTEMBER 23 Intrepid Reader

SEPTEMBER 26 The Tales Compendium

SEPTEMBER 27 Larissa Book Girl

SEPTEMBER 28 The Eclectic Reader

SEPTEMBER 28 Beauty & Lace

SEPTEMBER 30 Ticket to Anywhere 

Other Links

Blood Song on Goodreads
Blood Storm on Goodreads
Rhiannon on Facebook
Rhiannon on Twitter
Rhiannon's Blog
1st Chapter of Blood Storm
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