Saturday, September 28, 2013

25

Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to chat about the books we bought, borrowed, received during the month.

Book Haul

(In order)

Won
All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry (Thanks Kat Kennedy for the ARC from Cuddlebuggery's LBBA project!)
Every Breath by Ellie Marney (Thanks Melanie from YA Midnight Reads and Bloomsbury Sydney for the giveaway!)

Gifted
Snake Bite by Christie Thompson (Thanks Joy from thoughtsbyi. for the uncorrected proof copy!)

Bought
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (I really enjoyed this one, review to come... eventually)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Haven't read Throne of Glass yet however I've heard so many good things about it)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (For some reason the second copy was missing from my HP collection so luckily I got this hardback version for only $5)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews for this one, not sure if the writing is to my taste however it was $5 so I might as well try it)
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (Impulse buy, never read her books before so we'll see how it goes. Another book from the $5 sale)
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (Words cannot describe how much I adore her books! I'm so glad that I now have the hardcover version with all the beautiful illustrations, best $18.40 spent ever)

Friday, September 20, 2013

7

Review: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Release Date: 24/09/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Description from Goodreads:
In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Inhuman by Kat Falls is a fast paced, action packed novel that will thrill many readers to come. I went into this book without any expectations at all however I was pleasantly surprised in the end.

One of novel’s strongest points is its premise. From the very beginning, it immediately grabbed my attention and it certainly did not disappoint as the story progressed. The effects of mutation from the fictional, man-made virus were both chilling and fascinating to read about. In a way, the infected victims remind me of zombies as they can become psychotic and extremely aggressive under the virus’s influence. Certain individual aspects of the story may seem quite derivative and similar to other works in the post-apocalyptic/science fiction genre however in this case, the whole book was definitely worth more than the sum of its parts. Fall’s world-building was impeccable and credible as I could not find any loopholes or faults in its set up. Everything basically made sense, with all the intricate details falling nicely into their place. If a catastrophic plague hits the world one day with the victims exhibiting animal-like symptoms, it would not be too far from this story.

The rest of this review can be read over at Book Brobe.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

20

Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

Release Date: 02/04/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Bantam
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 2.0 out of 5 stars
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé
Description from Goodreads:
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

I really wished that I enjoyed The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé. The premise was intriguing and from the blurb, it seemed like a decent, quick YA read. With an alluring blend of historical fiction, fantasy and romance, it's rare that such combination can do any wrong. Unfortunately this was not the case here. Instead, I was left feeling underwhelmed and indifferent at the end, wondering why it was a good idea to drudge through this book. It's even more difficult to write a review about a book that you have no strong feelings for so there is nothing really going for me at the moment.

One of the things that I liked about this book was its beautiful setting. The descriptions of early 20th century London were lush and vivid which painted lovely images in my head. With a WWI backdrop, Abé was successful in creating an authentic historical feel to the story despite its fantasy filled plot. Furthermore I liked the eerie and foreboding atmosphere that was not only present on the streets of London, but also within the boarding school Iverson. I'm a huge sucker for gothic settings so Abé easily won me over with the expansive school grounds, quaint cottages in the middle of the woods, old chapels, aristocratic manors and secret passages in the school castle. The setting can be loosely compared to Harry Potter however that is the only remotely common link between them. I have not read Abe’s previous adult series that is set in the same world however I could recognise the subtle details and intricacies in the world-building that may be more apparent if you are familiar with her other books.

Abé’s prose is also very beautiful and poetic. It is clear that she is skilled writer as she does have a lovely way with words that makes every sentence such a pleasure to read. Unfortunately I felt that this book was all style but no substance. Despite its intriguing setting and atmosphere, it had a number of major flaws that significantly impacted upon my reading experience. The book started off on a strong foot with an intriguing and ominous prologue that immediately drew me in. Yet even an appealing premise and writing style could not hide the dull plot and characters. I felt utterly bored throughout reading this book and it was a struggle to finish it. There were too many YA tropes for my liking (those who dislike love triangles and insta-love between characters would do well to avoid this book) and the events were too predictable. I was never a fan of alternating POVs as they often detract the mystery and suspense from the story when poorly done. This was certainly the case with this book as the thoughts of the main characters were simply not engaging enough to make me want to be in their shoes.

I could not connect to any of the characters. Lora’s voice and personality did nothing for me and I was even less impressed with Jesse and Armand (the latter’s nickname is “Mandy” which personally sounds ridiculous in my head, especially when it replaced his proper name on most part during his POV). Also, does every YA novel that is set in a boarding school NEED to have so much drama, bickering, jealousy, gossip and backstabbing between girls who have to act so bitchy? (I’m looking at you Shadow and Bone). Although I understand the school is catered for the extremely rich and wealthy however I wished that it was been written in a less clichéd manner that doesn’t make me want to excessively roll my eyes. The plot was uninteresting and the pacing leaves a lot to be desired as you can skip about 50 pages and still not miss anything substantial. Despite the decent writing and world-building, the tension and conflict of the novel failed to engage me in any way. I did not feel that there was enough urgency or drive in the story to keep me interested. The climax was laughable and I could not sympathise with the characters' stakes no matter how dramatic it were.

Overall, this was an underwhelming, lacklustre novel that did not stand out to me at all. After being drawn to the blurb, this book was unfortunately not for me. I enjoyed Abé’s writing style so I may try her other books in the future in hope their storylines and characters are better. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a light, quick YA fantasy read and are going in with low expectations, otherwise there’s a chance that you’ll be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

19

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Release Date: 03/09/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 2.0 out of 5 stars
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Description from Goodreads:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I feel quite conflicted about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I really wanted to like this book and it could have easily been 3.5+ stars had another person read this instead. On one hand, the premise was intriguing however its execution left a lot to be desired. Furthermore the things that bothered me are very subjective and will most likely not affect other readers at all. It’s not exactly a bad story and I still think that this book is worth checking especially if you are a fan of Holly Black’s previous works. I was originally in the mood for vampires and went in with high expectations. Needless to say, I was ultimately left disappointed.

The rest of this review can be read over at Book Brobe.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

34

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to chat about the books we bought, borrowed, received during the month.

Book Haul

Bought
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
(The whole series was just $27.35AUD which was too good of an offer to pass up!)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (I couldn't wait for the release of the US paperback version which would match my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so I settled for the new UK one in B format instead...)

Gifted (books I'd gotten for my 18th birthday)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (This lovely gothic book was on my radar for quite a while and it definitely sounds like something I would enjoy. Plus it's written by an Aussie author!)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Seems like the most popular JG book out there after The Fault in Our Stars, plus it won the Printz Award so I'm sure it'll be a great read)

Won
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Thank you to Yolanda Sfetsos and Bloombury Sydney for the giveaway! I remember reading the original online version on Fictionpress 5 years ago so I look forward to reading final product.)

Other
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (I received a free copy from the publisher at the Sydney launch event and it has quite a lot of hype around it with its 7 book deal, J.K. Rowling comparisons and the movie rights already optioned. Definitely can't wait to read this one)

Ebooks (some awesome self-published NA gems here!)

Unteachable by Leah RaederSpeak Easy by Melanie Harlow

Unteachable by Leah Raeder (Just recently finished it and I loved it, highly recommended for those who have been disappointed with many current NA books out there)
Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow (I was hooked from the chapter sampler and so far it sounds like a well written, high quality NA historical fic)

Monday, August 12, 2013

4

Review: Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

Release Date: 25/07/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Description from Goodreads:
Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...

... but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all... the almost-girlfriend.

When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett is a perfect example of a sequel that successfully improves upon the previous book. The aspects that I disliked in Confessions of an Angry Girl were mostly absent here; the aspects that I loved were further expanded upon and I was still surprised at the new twists and turn of events that developed the story in a satisfying way. Despite having mixed feelings towards the first book, I’m extremely glad that I gave the Confession series a second chance as this book significantly felt more realistic in terms of the plot and characters. Rozett is no doubt an engaging storyteller who can effortlessly put us into the shoes of a 15 year old teenager and I would whole-heartedly include this book as one of my favourite YA contemporary reads this year.

"As Mike struts around checking the beer level of the bottomless red plastic cups that were given only to the prettiest freshman girls when they skittered through the tiki-torch gauntlet, Matt Hallis and the rest of the swim thugs are lined up on the edge of the pool like a fitting squad."

From the very beginning, I was immediately reminded of the frustrating high school stereotypes and clichés that were previously prevalent in the first book. We find the main character in the middle of a high school party as she witnesses even more bullying and hazing rituals. However instead of cheerleaders, the award for the biggest douchbags of the year now goes to the jocks from the swim squad, or “swim thugs” as Rose likes to mentally call them. Unsurprisingly, they are dumb, drunk, homophobic and downright dangerous sophomores as they gang up upon the new gay character called Conrad.

"The cups nail the freshman like a spray of bullets, and he staggers backward, arms pinwheeling as he tries to cope with the beer in his eyes and mouths. He missteps and falls into the water on his back. The thugs cheer as loafers pop up and float on the pool’s surface."

Rozett’s writing style has really started to grow on me ever since reading Confessions of an Angry Girl. The ridiculousness of these teenagers’ behaviour is emphasised through the use of VERY colourful language that portrays them as larger than life caricatures. Cheerleaders "screech" and have a "fake butter voice", with their lines filled with “like” and “totally”. They are literally "straight out of a nightmare”, “bouncing around" with pom poms. The swim quad doesn’t fare much better as Rose refers to them as "thuglets" and "brainless underlings". Now this is the sort of thing that would make me want to roll my eyes and tear my hair out like there’s no tomorrow. Although I strongly disliked these over-the-top clichés present in Confessions of an Angry Girl, they didn’t seem to bother me as much in this book. I think I’ve finally begun to appreciate Rozett’s satirical portrayal of high school which is reduced to a “caste system” full of gossip, politics, drama, angst and backstabbing. If it weren’t for the obvious exaggeration (or a least I hope it was intentional), I would have lost faith in every single high-schooler from the very beginning.

(I swear I will avoid quoting excessively from now on, I promise...)

Despite the initial clichés and stereotypes, what makes Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend stand out from other similar YA books set in high schools is the main character Rose Zarelli who is extremely engaging and likable. I’ve lost count of all the times where I’d written “Rose is awesome” or something similar in my notes. Her voice is very strong so a person’s reaction to this book will most likely depend on how they view Rose as a character. Personally I found her inner thoughts to be interesting to read and I absolutely loved her wry sense of humour and sarcasm. Rose is definitely far from flawless. She can be insecure, selfish, judgemental, immature, melodramatic, insensitive and seemingly devoid of a mental filter. Nevertheless despite all the stupid things she does, there is an unmistakably endearing quality to her that always makes me want to root for her no matter what. It was satisfying to see her develop and grow as a person as we can see the events in the book gradually shaping her perspective and identity.

Rozett’s portrayal of the supporting characters was also very well done. I liked how Tracey grows from the previous book and refocuses her efforts from trying to fit in with the popular cheerleaders to pursuing her interests in fashion. One of the interesting characters in this book is Conrad who turns out to be Regina’s brother. We catch glimpses of their troubled and complicated relationship and it was intriguing to see the tables turned as we watch how Regina, the antagonistic ‘queen bee’ in Confessions of an Angry Girl, reacts to her own brother being picked on. We also find out more about her relationship with Jamie and her family background, so it was refreshing to see her character being humanised and more fleshed out in this book. Speaking of Jamie, I STILL don’t get his appeal. I’m not a fan of his character so far as he always seems to be perfect/right all the time. Rose often feels very childish and stupid compared to him and I don’t think there is a healthy power balance in their relationship despite only being a few years apart.

Like the previous book, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend deals with a lot of issues such as peer pressure, homosexuality and self-esteem issues that most teenagers can relate to. It is easy to sympathise with Rose’s desires to start afresh with a new identity, her jealousy over the friends' success, her lingering grief over her father’s death and her resentment towards her family. Drama ensures and the complications from the first book are continued and further developed here. I liked how there was a lot more depth to the characters here and it was interesting to see their different sides (especially in regards to Regina).

Overall, this is a heartfelt, coming of age story about growing up, moving past obstacles and finding one’s self (excuse the cheesiness, I usually suck at summarising books). Obviously I would recommend this book for fans of Confessions of an Angry Girl however for those who had only lukewarm feelings, I still believe it’s worth checking out. Who knows, you may also be pleasantly surprised.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Friday, August 9, 2013

4

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Release Date: 15/08/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Dial
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Description from Goodreads:
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Quite frankly, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke gave me ALL the feels. There’s no other way to describe its highly addictive quality that makes me want to drop everything I’m doing and submerse myself into this breathtaking world. With an alluring blend of horror and romance, this is a perfect book to read while curled on a comfy couch on a rainy, Australian winter night. Personally I always had a soft spot for all things Gothic, so I found this story to be enjoyable on most part. If I still haven’t convinced you to read this book yet, well then… just look at that gorgeous cover. Enough said!

The rest of this review can be read over at Book Brobe.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Friday, July 19, 2013

31

Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to chat about the books we bought, borrowed, received during the month.

Book Haul

(In order)

Bought
The Farm by Emily McKay

For Review
The First Third by Will Kostakis (Thank you Penguin Australia for the finished copy at the Sydney LIVE event)

Won
Angelfall by Susan Ee from Goodreads Giveaway (Thank you Hachette Australia for the finished copy). See my review here.

Gifted (Thank you to the University of Sydney Business School awarding me a $100 Co-op Bookstore voucher!) 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

What books have you recently received? Comment below with your book haul links :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

8

Review: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

Release Date: 28/08/12
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett
Description from Goodreads:
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.)

(This review was also posted over at Book Probe. I'm a frequent guest reviewer there so come over and say hello!)

This book has a very fitting name. It certainly made me feel so angry for the characters that it induced strong homicidal tendencies from me. I never even thought I had a violent side in the first place, so it’s an impressive feat for a book to be able to incite such a passionate response from me. If you are the type of person who has already moved on from high school and never looked back since (gosh I feel so old saying this when graduation is months away), stay as far away from this book as you can. Can’t stand high school drama or clichés? The [X] button on the top right hand corner of this window will be more appealing to you than the rest of this review. This is my final warning.

Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett is a contemporary novel about a 14 year old girl Rose Zarelli who has to deal with the loss of her father as well as the absence of her brother as he leaves for college. She also shares a strained relationship with her therapist mother and is forced to endure the tribulations of starting high school as a freshman. Needless to say, you will find a lot of teenage drama and backstabbing in this setting full of cliques, cheerleaders and parties. It’s not exactly a light-hearted read either, as the book does dwell upon various issues such as sex, alcohol, peer pressure and bullying that many young people can relate to. I thought that Rozett had good intentions in the way that these things were portrayed and I appreciate the messages that she was ultimately trying to convey.

I liked Rose as the main character. She had an engaging voice and brutally honest narration that made the story quirky and interesting to read. There was a scene with the gynaecologist that absolutely cracked me up due to the way she described it, and it was definitely one of the most hilarious things that I’ve come across in YA contemporary fiction. Since she was only 14 years old, I had to give her some slack at certain parts of the story however she was overall a very believable character. In fact I didn’t think that she had any real anger issues at all, as most of her actions seemed perfectly normal to me considering her dire situation. She was also the only character in the whole book that I didn’t want to strangle at least 10 times, so I have no major complaints about her there.

On the other hand, I found Jamie Forta to be dull and definitely not worth all the fuss about. To be honest, I’d almost forgotten his name when writing this review at 4AM and the only thing that was interesting about him was the fact that he did Remedial English. Since male love interests in YA fiction are too often portrayed as overly smart/perfect, it was refreshing to see Rose having the upper hand in academics. Thank god she did not have to tutor him, because who hasn’t seen that plot device before. The whole romance between them was a huge ‘meh’ for me although I’m glad that it didn’t dominate the story. In addition, the writing was mostly simplistic and straightforward despite Rose’s attempts to use ‘AP English’. I also found the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each chapter to be underwhelming as even my 14 year old self would have known all of those words.

[Warning: Rant ahead!]

However, the most frustrating aspect of this book was the portrayal of cheerleaders as one-dimensional, cartoony villains. They simply existed for the sake of being responsible for almost every single bad thing that happens in this story, whether it’d be downing a 15 year old girl with vodka, forcing the said girl to dance half-naked in the cold with the act filmed and uploaded to YouTube as well as countless other outrageous acts of extreme humiliation. You think Voldemort and Sauron and [insert famous villain] are evil? Heck, think again. These cheerleaders will make them look like fluffy little bunnies in comparison (I know I’m exaggerating a LOT here but considering that this is freaking contemporary fiction, I just wished that there was bit more depth to all of these characters especially when my willingness to suspend my disbelief is limited for this genre).

The cheerleaders’ group was basically made up of larger-than-life caricatures instead of 14-15 year old teenaged girls you’d expect with pom poms. From the way they spoke and behaved, I half-expected them to be trolling and instead turn out to be aliens or something. Ha, wouldn’t that be a plot twist! I’m not naive enough to believe that bullying and hazing rituals don’t exist at all in the real world. I just felt that the cheerleaders were portrayed in an extremely clichéd and superficial manner that doesn’t do justice to Rozett’s otherwise decent book. There many times where I was so angry for Rose that I had to stop reading and put my e-reader down (after resisting the temptation to chuck it at the wall, which I nearly did since it’s an old, cheap and broken thing anyway). All in all, I know that other readers may be able to better relate to this book. Coming from a student who attends an all-girls secondary school in Australia, I’ve always viewed the American high school scene from afar through movies, TV shows and of course, books. I’m quite sceptical of the extent that which they translate to real life, so my incredulous reactions here are purely based on my personal (and somewhat sheltered) experiences.

Overall, this is a relatively quick light read once you get past the frustrating high school clichés and drama. I liked the book on most part and I have already picked up the sequel. I think most readers will enjoy it for its highly entertaining storyline and likeable main character. It certainly allowed me to be emotionally invested into the plot, albeit not in a very positive way. For that, I’ll give it a solid 3 stars.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

22

Waiting On Wednesday #1: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted on Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

It's technically 12:00AM Wednesday in Australia right now which means it's time for my first WoW meme :) The book I'm waiting on Wednesday this week is

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Release Date: 18/02/14
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Del Rey
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Description from Goodreads:
Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Excited

Words cannot describe how PUMPED UP I am for this book! February 18th 2014?! The wait is excruciating when there are so many 5 star ARC reviews popping up everywhere already. Don't believe me? Check out these awesome reviews and I dare you to tell me that you aren't excited for this book too after reading them!

*awkward silence*

Heh, thought so.

Add this to your to-read lists as Red Rising is THE dystopian book to look out for next year. I'm in love with the blurb and the cover also looks pretty damn epic. As further evidence of my anticipation, I've even pre-ordered the hardcover version (for those who don't know me, I RARELY buy hardcovers since I'm too stingy and 95% of titles printed in Australia are only in paperback form anyway).

230 days left until the release date? Yeah, it's not like I'm anxiously waiting or anything...

obsessively waiting

Saturday, June 29, 2013

16

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Release Date: 23/05/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Paperback
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Angelfall by Susan Ee
Description from Goodreads:
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Angelfall completely blew away all my expectations (although admittedly they were quite low in the first place). YA paranormal books about angels have easily been a huge disappointment for me in recent years, with prominent offenders including Fallen, Hush Hush and Halo (however Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an exception, along with Unearthly which I haven't read yet but have heard good things about). The point is, I was very sceptical prior to reading Angelfall due to its cliché sounding title and blurb and I honestly thought that it was just another one of those "angel books" that were all the same anyway. However it was due to the plethora of 4 and 5 star reviews from my Goodreads friends that made me pick this up. Clearly I was completely wrong as now I am forever in their debt for introducing me to this amazing piece of work!

Angelfall is a thrilling, fast paced post-apocalyptic story where angels have taken over the earth within the span of just six weeks. Set in the chaotic aftermath of the attack, humanity has sunk to a new low as gangs scrounge the streets and compete for survival. In the midst of it all, sixteen year old girl Penryn has to deal with her sister Paige being taken away from by angels for reasons unknown. She will do anything to get her back, even if it means allying with one of the enemy. I still can't believe that this book was formerly self-published. The quality of the plot and characters is exceptional and really puts certain traditionally published books mentioned above to shame. The first few pages immediately sucked me in and I was hopelessly hooked in no time.

I admit that the setup was nothing special at first, especially with the whole 'girl-looking-for-missing-sibling' trope that seems to be popular with many other similar YA novels. Her writing style is simple but easy and quick to read which is useful during intense action scenes (think The Hunger Games). Angelfall isn't a deep, mind-blowing book that will leave you contemplating the meaning of life or the nature of the human condition. It's pure, unadulterated fun and adrenaline that will leave readers both satisfied and ravenous for the sequel. I literally could not put this down and I was eventually forced to question the necessity of sleep. However a warning to any students out there; Angelfall is the worst book to read during exams as it has a dangerous capacity to seriously extend your procrastination levels. Fortunately I found it to be a quick read and I was able to devour it within a day.

I loved Penryn as the main character. She was a strong, engaging and likeable person and it was a pleasure reading from her perspective. I found her vulnerable moments to be realistic as she screws up and makes mistakes just like any normal person. There were a number of times in the book where she had made plans that SEEMED great at that time but of course things don't always work out which makes the story all the more interesting. Otherwise, I liked how she was smart and resourceful, if not overly harsh at times although I'll let that slide due to her extremely dire situation. It was also refreshing to read about a YA heroine who was not a Mary Sue or Too Stupid To Live and not once did I want strangle her throughout the entire book. Success!

The other characters in this book were also well developed and fleshed out. It was interesting to read about Penryn's mother who had paranoid schizophrenia and strangely enough, I quite liked her erratic antics and unpredictability. However at some moments, there were certain things she did that I felt were a little TOO convenient for the plot, but nevertheless she was an intriguing character that I can't wait to read more about. And finally there's... Raffe. I refuse to say anything more about him as it is something you should experience for yourself. All I can say is that he is NOT your typical YA 'hero' (if you even call it at that) and frankly he was quite an arrogant, self-aggrandising jerk at times. However I can guarantee you that there is no insta-love or a love triangle in this book. All I can say about their relationship is that it was realistic given the post-apocalyptic angel invasion situation.

The only slight flaw in this book (as many others have pointed out) is the lack of background information behind the angel attacks. Ee could have even afforded to add a little info-dump here and there as the plot was very fast paced and she barely gave me any downtime to stop and catch my breath. For those who prefer a book with very detailed and solid world building, you may be slightly disappointed although I still believe Angelfall has enough redeeming qualities to win almost every reader. The plot twist at the climax was very disturbing and shocking as I was anxiously sitting at the edge of my seat throughout the whole time. Ultimately I thought that the ending was perfect and while there was a lot of things left unsaid, and there was certainly enough resolution to bring the book to a satisfying close. Thank god for no cheap cliff-hangers here.

Overall, Angelfall is an addictive action-packed novel with a refreshing take on angels. I absolutely fell in love with this new series and I can't wait to read the next book World After (which is fortunately coming out near the end of this year!) For those who are still reading this long, convoluted review, what are you waiting for?! Just read it. End of story.

 

Header Graphic by Inside the Kaleidoscope