Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me!

This was a topic that was a Top Ten Tuesday last year and I do now own four of those ten books and have read three. I won’t include the other six books from last year’s list here because there are a thousand other books I’d love to receive!

I’ve decided to list ten (and trust me – it’s hard to restrain myself to just ten!) books that have been released and I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet.

  1. The Lies of Locke Lamora  by Scott Lynch – I only heard of this book a few weeks ago. Erica from Theft and Sorcery mentioned that for the End of Year Survey she would probably only use this one book. It sounds fantastic.
  2. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – Have you ever felt like a book is stalking you? This is one of those books that I keep seeing everywhere. I feel like it might be a sign that I should read it. I’ve read some great reviews for it and the premise sounds interesting.
  3. Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham (Also that one by Monica Seles [The Academy – Game On] if we’re going with Celebrity books) – I only really want to read this because I’ve been a Lauren Graham fan since Gilmore Girls.
  4. Holier than Thou by Laura Buzo – I always like to discover new to me Aussie authors and Holier than Thou looks right up my alley.
  5. The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot – As a Heather Wells fan since way back I can’t wait to get around to reading the wedding!

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Someday, Someday, Maybe Holier Than Thou The Bride Wore Size 12  (Heather Wells #5)

6. Once We Were by Kat Zhang – This is the second book in the Hybrid Chronicles. I thought What’s Left of Me (the first one) was well done and would like to see where Ms. Zhang takes the characters next.
7. Golden by Jessi Kirby – I have cover lust for this one.
8. Well Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines by Samantha Hahn – I’ve wanted to get my hands on a copy of this book since I saw Books and Quills September Book Haul. The illustrations are gorgeous and I like the idea of having quotes and drawings from fabulous fictional heroines.
9. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
10. The Golem and the Djinn by Helene Wecker – This is an adult book but it looks lovely. I borrowed it from my local library but had to return it before I finished it. And then – and you know it’s a great book when this happens – there was a few month wait to reserve it.

 Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles, #2) Golden Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines Love Letters to the Dead The Golem and the Djinni

I love making up wish lists. Realistically I can’t see myself unwrapping any of these books tomorrow but it was fun to write my list and if I get any gift cards then I already have my shopping list here! 😀

I apologize if there are any huge messes in this post. I’m babysitting my niece and she decided it was more fun to play on her Aunt’s computer than to watch Play School.. She loves the caps lock button and typing things that I’m sure make sense to her 20-month-old self. I triple checked to make sure there’s not any random Niece typing. Also – she loves reading and I’m sure that for Christmas she would love Mr Mo by Roger Hargraves. Or at least I hope she does since I bought her a copy!

Mr. Mo

 

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Book Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Trilogy, #1)

Title: Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy #1)
Author: Kerstin Gier
Genre: Young Adult, Time Travel, Paranormal, Historical
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: May 2012 (first published January 2009)
Pages: 324
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended – and rather eccentric – family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn’t been introduced to “the mysteries,” and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesly. It comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past.

She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any centrury . . .

My Review:

Gwen has always known that time travel is possible. Rare members of her family have been born with the time travelling gene allowing them to go back into the past. Her cousin Charlotte is one of the chosen few and has been training for her trips to the past since birth. But Gwen unexpectedly travels through time and isn’t ready for the pressures that being a time traveller brings. Her clothes are wrong, she can’t fence and languages aren’t her forte. Lucky for her that Gideon’s family also have the time travelling gene and whilst he may be unbearable – at least he knows Victorian era manners.

I’ve been excited about this book for a while and am glad that I finally took the plunge. As the first book in a series, Ruby Red does a brilliant job at laying the groundwork. Gwen is as new to the world of travelling though time as we are and its great learning about how the gene works as Gwen learns herself. There are some amazing characters from the best friend Lesly who is an expert at using the Internet, pop culture and has Gwen’s back no matter what to Gwen’s eccentric and possibly psychic Great Aunt Maddie. I was impressed with the wealth of detail regarding the difference between the past and present as well as some of the difficulties one might face if they were to go back in time. Another thing I loved was the insufferable Gideon – gorgeous yet obnoxious. It’s great to have a potential love interest that the heroine isn’t head over heels for the moment she meets him. There’s some bickering and frustration that I found to be fantastic.

There is a lot going on in this book and by the end a lot is still a mystery. Whilst it’s great at making me want to read the second book, Sapphire Blue, it meant that in terms of action, Ruby Red fell a little short. With all the descriptions and back story, there wasn’t a huge climax in terms of drama and activity in this first book. That said, and without having read the next book yet, Ruby Red is fantastic at laying the ground work. There’s so much happening – from Gwen’s inexplicable ability to talk to ghosts to a future hinted at though one of Gwen’s travels. It’s exciting and I loved being a part of the journey. The time travel is different from ones I’ve read before and I liked this particular take. The family mystery and quirky relatives are fascinating yet formidable.

Ruby Red was originally written in German and I wonder if perhaps that was a reason for why the novel read a little young for me. There were times when the book felt like it was more suitable for middle grade rather than young adult but it’s possible that some of the nuances were lost in translation.

I enjoyed this book and bought a copy of Sapphire Blue as soon as I finished Ruby Red! The main character, Gwen, is exciting, brave and intelligent. The banter with Gideon is a pleasure to read and there are so many secondary characters who are both mysterious and amusing. This was a great book to read and I liked the different take on time travel.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Discussion: Bookish Gifts

Thoughts bookish gifts

I love to give bookish gifts. I’m not ashamed to be a self-proclaimed ‘book pusher’ and often find myself buying multiple copies of books I loved to give to friends with the hope that they will love them as much as I did. I think that being told “you’re right! That book was amazing” is such an incredible feeling. But buying books as gifts can be fraught with some complications.

5 Reasons Why Books Might Not Make the Best Gifts

  • You don’t know their taste well enough
    Romantically, politically or religiously – there are some books that just might not be appropriate as gifts. I have been devastated before when I’ve given people books that I’ve adored for whatever reason and find myself disappointed when others don’t like them for the reasons I loved them. I once gave a male friend my copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen and was slightly shattered when he thought the romance was contrived and silly.
  • The person you’re buying for has read everything – twice!
    Book worm or book nerd – call them what you like but some people are so well read and read so much that it makes them impossible to buy. You may find that even after you’ve gone and bought something obscure and wonderful only to find out that your giftee has already read it. I think in this case its wise to keep the receipt and try not to be offended if they’ve already read your gift. Take it as a compliment that your gift is so right for them that they have already read it! (Note: a gift card might be best for this type of person.)
  • They don’t like reading books
    Some people find books to be too big a reading commitment or they like the shiny pages of a magazine more. Books aren’t for everyone and I think that it’s better not to push a gift that won’t be appreciated.
  • They don’t like reading the books you like
    I have a sister who enjoys reading the occasional book – but she can’t stand most of the books I love. If it’s fantasy or paranormal then she takes a wide berth. I should take my own advice and stop giving her books that aren’t her thing… as evident that she never even took the two I gave her last Christmas home with her…
  • Books just don’t fit in their lifestyle
    Too busy, not enough space – there are a number of reasons why someone might not want a bookish gift. If it’s a lack of time then perhaps a compilation of short stories could be an idea and for the space challenges maybe ebooks would be a good compromise.

 

That said – I still love to give books. They’re easy to wrap! They give people the opportunity to unplug from technology (ereaders aside) and relax. It’s cheap to travel to different worlds through a book and even cute fluffy reads can be educational.  I’m giving a lot of books to my family this Christmas – from my 21 month old niece who is getting a ten book set of Grug books to my sister who will be receiving the latest Bridget Jones novel – and I’m excited to see what they think.

I also hope to receive some books as gifts – or some bookish gifts! If you love to spread love of literature but you’re not sure how the written word might be received, you can also give some book themed gifts.

A few of my favourites include:

  • book quote scarves from storiarts on Etsy. They even have my favourite book Persuasion and sells for just under $50 AUD

Persuasion Book Scarf

  • Paper Passion perfume – apparently this smells just like freshly printed books. I love the idea but haven’t smelt it. The packaging is gorgeous – with the bottle resting in what looks like a hollowed out book ($65.70 AUD from Amazon)
  • I love to have a good cup of tea or coffee by my side when devouring a book and love literary mugs. I currently drink from a Little Miss Trouble mug but have been lusting after these Penguin mugs for a while. In fact it’s the entire Penguin collection of merchandise that I love. So many gorgeous things!

 

 

What are your thoughts about giving books as gifts? Do you like non-literary bookish gifts? What things are you gifting to loved ones this year?

 

Book Review: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Suite Scarlett (Scarlett, #1)

Title: Suite Scarlett (Scarlett #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Chick Lit
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: November 2013 (first published May 2008)
Pages: 368
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
If living in a famous art deco hotel minutes away from Central Park sounds like your idea of a pretty sweet deal – you should talk to Scarlett Martin. Having a hotel for a home really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially when you’ve got no guests, no money and no prospects for any fun thanks to your parents putting you to work all summer. Luckily for Scarlett, the Hopewell is about to be shaken to its foundations with the arrival of Mrs Amberson, a glamorous travelling socialite who’s planning on putting down some roots for a while – and hiring Scarlett as her assistant. With a new job, new friends, and (maybe) a new boyfriend on the horizon, Scarlett’s summer is beginning to look a lot more interesting…

My Review:

If all the world’s a stage, New York City has the best scenery.

Scarlett Martin’s friends are all having the summer of their lives but she is stuck in working in her family’s run down and barely functioning hotel. When a slightly eccentric guest checks in and appoints Scarlett as her personal assistant, Scarlett’s summer starts to look up. She gets involved with trying to save her brother’s acting career and has a flirtation with a gorgeous North Carolinian named Eric. But things start to fall apart around her and Scarlett needs the help of her family to help everything from becoming a disaster.

I’ve not read a Maureen Johnson novel before but quickly found myself absorbed in Scarlett’s story. The book begins on her fifteenth birthday but Scarlett is fairly wise and mature for her age. She’s a little irritated that she doesn’t have the opportunities that her friend have but she is responsibly enough to understand that her family isn’t like others. Her older brother Spencer is trying to do everything he possibly can to become an actor however realistically he knows that if he doesn’t make it soon he will need to find a more sensible career path. Lola, Scarlett’s older sister, is facing a dilemma due to her family disliking her boyfriend and her little sister Marlene – well… Marlene is slightly spoilt and people are afraid of hurting her feelings. I really liked the family dynamic within this novel. The Martin family are tight but not without their problems. They are financially challenged and things are changing with Scarlett’s older siblings after having finished high school and are now moving in different directions. I liked how they interacted with each other and that Ms. Johnson didn’t give Marlene a free pass to do as she pleased just because of her past.

Scarlett is a great character. She’s a writer who, despite her tender age, isn’t lacking for life experience. Her encounters with Mrs Amberson are humorous with the hotel guest having a flair for the dramatic. Scarlett gets herself into some quite outlandish situations but somehow manages to handle them. I liked that Scarlett is genuinely a good person. She gets placed in situations – at times due to her own doing – that cause her to question her actions and as a reader you could feel the moral dilemmas she was facing. This is a book where I felt with 97% certainty that things were going to end up being okay for everyone involved but the fun was seeing just how everything turned out. The romance in this book wasn’t quite what I was expecting but that only added to the realistic nature that love doesn’t always play out how you’d like it to.

This book was highly enjoyable. It’s cute and fun and shows off New York City in a delightful way. The characters are quirky and a little off centre but there’s a lot of love in the Martin family. I’m delighted that Maureen Johnson has written a second novel, Scarlett Fever, that continues exploring Scarlett’s adventures.

Thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2013

There are so many fantastic authors that I “discovered” this year. Here is a list of only ten of them.

Cristin Terrill – I adored All Our Yesterdays. It’s an amazing novel about one of my least favourite concepts: time travel. I loved the characters and the writing and definitely consider this to be one of my favourite new authors of this year.

Ambelin Kwaymillina – Last week I read her first two novels: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf and The Disappearance of Ember Crow. They’re brilliant dystopian novels about people with special powers and a government who is trying to capture them. If you’ve not read either of Ambelin’s novels before – I urge you to try them out. The Tribe is one of my favourite YA dystopian series that I’ve read so far.

Ellie Marney – Earlier this year I read Every Breath. It’s a murder mystery set in Melbourne and I loved it. The first in a series, I can’t wait to read the next instalments and see what Rachel and Mycroft get up to next!

Colleen Hoover – I read Slammed and thought it was lovely. That’s even despite having one of my least favourite types of romance in it (I can’t stand student/teacher relationships in case you were wondering). It lead me to attending my first (and so far only) poetry slam and this is definitely an author I intend to read more of.

Tara EglingtonHow to Keep a Boy From Kissing You was such an adorable read. There are times when you don’t want to read anything too heavy or life threatening and a cute contemporary story about a girl and her first kiss is exactly what you want. That’s what this book was for me. I’m currently reading the second book in the Aurora Skye series and it’s just as enjoyable as the first book.

All Our Yesterdays The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe #2) Every Breath  

AJ Betts -Her book, Zac and Mia, was a great realistic look at teenagers dealing with cancer. I liked her style and enjoyed the journey she took her characters on and me as a reader.

Tammara Webber – Easy is still one of my favourite New Adult reads. Real and sincere with characters I enjoyed and a NA plot that was more than just sex. I definitely want to read more from her.

Liz Fichera – As someone who is not the most athletic, I never thought I’d like Hooked as much as I did. But it’s such a great book that deals with racism, sexism and has some sweet and amazing characters. I loved Fred and am eagerly awaiting Sam and Riley’s story!

Gayle Forman – I read If I Stay and thought it was beautiful. The writing is really heartbreaking and heartwarming both at the same time. I haven’t quite mustered the courage to read the second book but it’s definitely one on my epic to-read list.

Samantha Shannon – I still can’t believe that the Bone Season was written by a nineteen year old. The writing is sophisticated and this is an incredibly well researched novel. The first in a seven book series, this series promises to be an incredibly journey.

Zac and Mia Easy  If I Stay The Bone Season

 

Here is my list for this week. I’d love to hear from you – what ere you favourite new to you authors this year? Any from my list that you liked as much as I did? Any you think I need to read? Feel free to leave a comment. 🙂

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Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1)All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Time Travel, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013 
Pages: 362
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

My Review:

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.” 

Finn and Em are trapped as prisoners by the Doctor. Somewhere – some time – everything went wrong. But together they have a chance to change the past to avoid this future.

I adored this book. Time travel is one of those concepts that doesn’t always connect with me but I admired how Cristin Terrill approached the idea. Travelling back, having two of one person in a certain time, was never confusing in this novel. Em, Finn, Marina and James are all well-rounded characters. Em is world wise and I really liked how her personality contrasted with the somewhat sheltered Marina. Finn is the same and yet different in his past and present forms and James is interesting. I found myself enjoying how oblivious and vague he was regarding Marina.

The time travel in this book is easy to grasp. There is  a changing in point of view from Em to Marina and back however for the most part of this novel events happen in the present time. There’s no confusion as to what is happening to whom and when. I loved the ideas in this book. It’s a cereal for dinner kind of book – the kind where instead of stopping to make a meal you just eat something easy and able to eat with one hand (so you can hold the book with your other hand)! There are a lot of twists and turns but they progressed in a way that felt natural and not just added to create some faux suspense. Em and Finn have some great chemistry and do a great job at moving the story along. There’s some heart-break and moments when I really felt for the characters and the trouble Terrill put them though. One of the things that stuck with me throughout this book and well after reading it was how much I liked Em loving Marina. I think it’s lovely that throughout it all, Em saw that she was a person worth loving and was proud of herself as a person.

This book works perfectly as a stand alone and I’m interested and surprised that All Our Yesterdays is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Terrill comes up with next to put her characters through. This book has been one of my favourite reads of 2013 and I highly recommend it to lovers of well writing and interesting young adult novels.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

2013 End of Year Book Survey

 

best books 2013 end of year survey

Welcome to the  4th annual End of Year Book Survey hosted and created by Jaime over at The Perpetual Page Turner.

I participated last year (see my 2012 End of Year Book Survey) and had a lot of fun reflecting on my bookish ways for the last year. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to take part in Jaime’s survey on their own blogs. IF you do fill in the survey on your blogs – please leave me a link in the comments. I love seeing what other people thought about books. 

Best YA book 2013

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Contemporary YA – The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson; Slammed by Colleen Hoover; Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith; Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic – Pawn by Aimee Carter

Paranormal — Daughter of Smoke and Bone & Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Science Fiction — All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill;

Fantasy — Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

Non YA — Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners;

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Beautiful Creatures and Looking for Alaska

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

Pawn by Aimee Carter. I’d read her Goddess Test series and enjoyed it but I wasn’t expecting her to wow me like she did with Pawn.

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I think that was probably Every Breath by Ellie Marney. I love getting people to read Aussie authors and this was a great contemporary murder mystery with a gorgeous romance too.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series (which I only read a few weeks ago but it still counts!) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Both amazing stories that are beautifully written.

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?

Cristin Terrill or Laini Taylor.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I don’t read a lot of translated fiction but I’ve read two in the past few months. The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol was originally written in French and Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier was originally in German. They’re both so very different from each other and not quite what I usually read but I enjoyed both. The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles is a more adult novel and it was a great romantic ensemble comedy with some out there characters.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – this was my cereal for dinner book. The kind where instead of stopping to make and eat dinner you just pour a bowl of cereal with one hand and keep holding the book with the other! I also read Allegiant by Veronica Roth in a matter of hours.

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t do a lot of rereads. I tend to prefer to read a new book than one I’ve read before but it’s highly likely I’ll re-read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins or This is what Happy Looks like by Jennifer E Smith. 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Angelfall by Susan Ee or These Broken Stars.

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska by John Green or Mangus Bane from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

I really enjoyed the writing in Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith. I also thought Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan was beautifully written. Same goes for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

This is such a hard question. I think I would have to say Easy by Tammara Webber. I was on the verge of giving up on New Adult altogether but really liked this one.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Looking for Alaska or City of Bones. They’ve both been around for a LONG time and are constantly mentioned on blogs I read. Well I got there! I finally get all the references!

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

“There once was a girl who found herself dead.
She peered over the ledge of heaven
and saw that back on earth
her sister missed her too much,
was way too sad,
so she crossed some paths
that would not have crossed,
took some moments in her hand
shook them up
and spilled them like dice
over the living world.
It worked.
The boy with the guitar collided
with her sister.
“There you go, Len,” she whispered. “The rest is up to you.”
― The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

“He’s on the verge of it–we can tell. He is on the verge of finding that very hard truth–that it will never be complete, or feel complete. This is usually something you only have to learn once–that just like there is no such thing as forever, there is no such thing as total. When you’re in the thrall of your first love, this discovery feels like the breaking of all momentum, the undermining of all promise. For the past year, Neil has assumed that love was like a liquid pouring into a vessel, and that the longer you loved, the more full the vessel became, until it was entirely full. The truth is that over time, the vessel expands as well. You grow. Your life wides. And you can’t expect your partner’s love alone to fill you. There will always be space for other things. And that space isn’t empty as much as it’s filled by another element. Even though the liquid is easier to see, you have to learn to appreciate the air.”
– Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”
– Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

The shortest was a novella – Blood Phantom by Rhiannon Hart at only 15 pages. The longest was Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia.

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead. Yep – this is one of those books that gave me all the ‘feels’ that people talk about. I actually put it down because I wasn’t sure I could cope… turned out to be only one page from the end because the rest of the book was just the first chapter of Vampire Academy. But still… Oh. My.

18. Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

I loved the friendship between Zuzanna and Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

The romance between Rachel and Mycroft in Every Breath is great. I also enjoyed the love between Lennie and Joe in The Sky is everywhere.

19. Favourite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Feeling Sorry for Ceila by Jaclyn Moriarty was a fantastic Aussie contemporary novel. I quite liked Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins too. And – if I’m including series then anything from Richelle Mead is on the list.

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It’s… there aren’t words. It’s just… one of the best books I’ve read. People have been telling me for SO LONG to read it and I think because of that I was very intimidated. But I finally read it (just finished this morning) and loved it.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. But I did read the entire Weather Warden’s series by Rachel Caine and reread the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Death from Endless Knight by Kresley Cole. Sam from Hooked by Liz Fichera. Finn from All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. And I know it’s not a new crush but I still adore Adrian from the Bloodlines series.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I want to say The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. I know I didn’t give it five stars and I did for other debuts but I was astounded by the author – it was so well researched and she was only 19 when it was published!

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. And also These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

How To Keep A Boy From Kissing You by Tara Eglington was fun. So was Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty and Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

On the Jellicoe Road made me tear up  – and I’m not one who often cries during books.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

The First Third by Will Kostakis. This is a great book. One that I started reading on the way home the day I bought it and I haven’t pushed it onto enough people.

reading-life-2013 

(optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013? 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

2014-books

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

 

 

Will come back to this during the month.

Blog Tour: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Button-long_captivate_final

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! On this very auspicious day I’m very honoured to be a part of the Harlequin Teen Australia blog tour for Vanessa Garden’s debut novel. Captivate. The cover is gorgeous and the book is a great read. Hope you enjoy my review and character spotlight on Miranda! 🙂

Title: CaptivateCaptivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

My Review:

A few days before the first anniversary of her parents’ death – and her seventeenth birthday – Miranda, her older sister Lauren and their grandparents holiday at their beach side shack on Bob’s Bay to try and escape. But during a midnight swim with Lauren, Miranda gets taken. Waking up in a mysterious place, Miranda is determined to get back to her family and her life. But a break out is not an option because Miranda has been taken to an underwater city known as Marin and she’s a very valuable asset. King Marko needs Miranda to save the city from his enemies and isn’t likely to let her go any time soon. Miranda’s only hope of escape is to hope that Robbie, the King’s personal guard, best friend and the very person who took Miranda in the first place, will help her return to her family. But with the dangers lurking below and Marin’s version of a sun memorizing her into forgetting her past, Miranda might be captive and captivated in Marin forever…

It took me a little while to get into this book and some time to warm to Miranda but once I did I loved getting to experience the world of Marin. The world building is one of its strengths and I thoroughly enjoyed learning as Miranda did about day to day life and the origins of the incredible underwater city. Whilst the citizens are not mermaids, I still liked the mermaid elements that we got to see.

Miranda is a character that I grew to like very much. Her bold personality and brave actions made her interesting to read and I wanted things to go right for her. She didn’t give up nor did she let her capture define or defeat her. I thought that she coped with her situation incredibly well. Her relationships with King Marko, Robbie and the other people of Marin were fascinating. I didn’t feel entirely convinced by the romance that bloomed between Marko and Miranda mostly because of the pacing but I do think they are a promising couple.

Captivate is a great start to what promises to be an interesting series. There are characters with some secrets and not entirely clear motivations, handsome love interests and a world that is nothing quite like any that I’ve read before. I’m glad I got to read this novel by Vanessa Garden and after the ending in Captivate am eagerly awaiting another instalment of Miranda’s Marin adventures.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Character Spotlight!

Name: Miranda Sun

Nickname: Randy

Birth date: January 13th, 

Age: 16 (turns 17 during Captivate)

Appearance: Long chocolate brown hair, 

Family: Lauren (older sister), Nana and Pop (grandparents). Parents died on Miranda’s 16th birthday in a car accident. 

Personality: Miranda is brave, stubborn and determined. She believes she is dangerous to everyone she loves. She’s fiercely loyal and a fighter who will do what she can to protect her loved ones. 

Other Interesting Facts: 

• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is her favourite book

• Can appreciate beauty of Marin despite her captivity there

• Feels inferior compared to her sister, Lauren, and lives in her shadow

• Is not the most graceful dancer

• Feels responsible for her parents’ death.

AUTHOR BIO

Vanessa Garden

A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

Vanessa is represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Author Links:

Discussion: Love Triangles

Thoughts Triangles

Love them or hate them – they are a prominent feature in YA literature. And chances are even if you’ve not read a young adult novel you’ve run into Team Edward or Team Jacob supporters. Love Triangles add a little extra spice and drama to a romantic relationship.

Love triangles are nothing new. Shakespeare often had them in his plays, Eponine, Marius and Cosette are entangled in Les Miserables and Dumas’ The Three Musketeers faced their share too. But it seems lately that I can’t go a week without reading a young adult novel with a triangle in it. True, these aren’t real triangles in the geometry scheme of things (they’re more angles than triangles) nor are they like the Triangular Theory of Love that I learned in my first year of psychology but I still think of them as triangles because whilst there isn’t a romance between all three sides, there’s a relationship between them all – with fierce rivalry between the two suitors.

The most common type I’ve encountered in YA novels is as follows:

LoveTri

The heroine has to choose between the nice guy (often the best friend) and the bad boy (usually mysterious and somewhat dangerous).

So how do I feel about love triangles?

Like with everything – it depends. There are times when I adore the give and take of the romantic leads. But it does rely on a few different factors.

The LOVE IS EVERYTHING! triangle – I’m not a fan of this type of triangle. This is the type when love is the be all and end all. Other plot points are secondary to the intense romance and feels that are going on. I need some more plot with my romance. They often focus on the female and this is a reason I tend to dislike them. They don’t seem to take into account the feelings of the different parties nor does it seem to be an issue if the woman is a little manipulative and using both sides (albeit at times the girl doesn’t realize she’s doing this). Twilight with the Bella/Edward and Bella/Jacob relationships is an example of this. I think I’m often confused by this type because they often feature girls who are apparently plain, dull and uninteresting and all of a sudden they’re fighting off drop dead gorgeous men with a stick. It feels unrealistic and more like fanfiction than anything else (and considering I went though a period where I read and wrote a LOT of Dawson’s Creek fanfiction, I know what I’m talking about).

The IT’S NOT REALLY A TRIANGLE BUT BOY IS IT CONFUSING triangle – Whilst I didn’t like Twilight, I enjoyed Stephenie Meyer’s other novel, The Host. This book involves a fairly confusing type of relationship with the main character Wanda sharing a body with Melanie. Melanie is in love with Jarrod and Jarrod with Melanie but Wanda (who is in Melanie’s body) is starting to fall for Ian and Ian for her. It’s not quite a triangle but I enjoyed how it all played out. I liked how this one played out because the romance did take a lot of page time but there was a lot of other plot going on and ultimately the romance didn’t overshadow everything else that was going on.

The BADASS HEROINE, LOVE COMES SECOND triangle – This is the type of book that I love best. The kind where the heroine is determined to do whatever it is her mission is and she doesn’t let her confusing romantic entanglements get in the way. This is the kind that appears in Throne of Glass, Vampire Academy, The Hunger Games and many other books that I’ve enjoyed. The females don’t try to play her suitors off against each other nor does she become a victim to her relationship. They’re strong on their own and if they do choose one of the guys, it’s because it’s true love and not just because they didn’t want to be alone.

The ONE GUY TO MANY GIRLS triangle – I admit I’m a lover of The Bachelor and I’m a little surprised I haven’t come across all that many books with this type of triangle. I think it’s possibly because when it’s attempted, the male character often comes across as a player and not the sensitive new aged guy he’s supposed to be. Books like The Selection feature this type but it’s a little more complicated with one of the females vying for the male is also in a separate triangle of her own. I don’t mind it in The Selection as it makes so many more possibilities of who is going to end up with who. This series doesn’t try to hide what it is and I don’t mind that it’s focused on romance because that’s what I was expecting going in.

 

I think what it comes down to for me is how well it’s written. If it’s believable and well written with characters I like and are trying to sort things out – I’ll enjoy it. I just don’t like relationships where characters are being unfair to each other or the triangle is the story’s focus and the biggest twist in the plot turns out to be who the apex of the triangle chooses.

 

What are you favourite love triangles? Any that you really didn’t like? Are there any series with amazing love triangles and relationships you would recommend that I read? 

Let me know what you think about love triangles. Comments are always welcome 🙂

Novella Review: Blood Phantom by Rhiannon Hart

Blood Phantom (Lharmell, #0.5)

Title: Blood Phantom (Lharmell #0.5)
Author: Rhiannon Hart
Genre: Young Adult, Vampires, Fantasy, 
Publisher: Curtis Brown Digital
Publication Date: 9th December 2013
Pages: 15
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Life in tatters and far from home, Rodden Lothskorn struggles to cope with the harming menace and his own harming nature. When an offer of marriage reaches his friend, Prince Amis, Rodden discovers that the bride’s inhospitable homeland might contain one part of the harming poison he would dearly like to get his hands on. But if summoned northwards, will Princess Lilith bring something – or someone – he dreads most with her? Locked in a years-long struggle with the Lharmellins, Rodden senses the battle is only now about to begin.

My Review:

This short novella gives us a brief glance into Rodden’s life before Zeraphina. I’ve always liked Rodden and I’m so pleased that Rhiannon Hart gave us this short story from his point of view. From the castle as Amis’ best friend and advisor right up till finding Zeraphina and learning what she is – this is a great addition to the Lharmell series. Roddin is the same amazing character that I liked from Blood Song and Blood Storm but seeing the world from his eyes – just made him more well rounded and enjoyable for me.

At only 15 pages, Blood Phantom is just enough to whet my appetite and I am now eagerly anticipating the release of Blood Queen that much more! This remains one of my favourite series and I recommend this novella to all fans of Zeraphina, Rodden and Lharmell!

Note:

I have to say that I adore the new style of cover that Blood Phantom and Blood Queen (expected publication is April 15. 2014) have compared to those of Blood Song and Blood Storm. I feel like this darker theme are more fitting to the amazing story within their pages than the first two books – which whilst gorgeous never seemed to fit for me.

Blood Song (Lharmell, #1) Blood Storm (Lharmell, #2) Blood Phantom (Lharmell, #0.5) Blood Queen (Lharmell, #3)

 

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from: