Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Review & Giveaway: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Published: May 1st 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad. Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike. But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

WARNING: Seriously long review. I'm sorry. I couldn't shut up. This was too good to talk about in a fewer amount of words… It deserved at least a thousand.. *coughs*

Bare with me here. I have a lot of excess excitement to offload. Was I impressed by The Immortal Rules? Yes, and that would be a severe understatement!! This was my first Julie Kagawa book and she simply blew me away with her fascinating mythology, strong characters and never-ending plot twists that quite literally stopped me from putting the book down. Indeed I read this 450 page book in one sitting, in one night, and immediately had to fight the urge to re-read it again. I'll just say it now: Julie Kagawa is the QUEEN of vampires. Way to make such an overused supernatural creature outstanding!

I admit, I went into The Immortal Rules a little warily, firstly because of the whole vampire aspect but mostly because the book sounded so plot-heavy and out of this world. Vampire city? Blood craze? Rabids?! Well let me tell you, it's not that complicated and is constructed so perfectly that you will have no trouble at all acclimating to the story. Allison Sekemoto from Sector 4 of New Covington is an Unregistered, 60 years after the plague, living outside of the Inner City where the vampires now dictate and have full control over their slaves. Being Unregistered means you're off the system and don't have to subject yourself to monthly bloodletting, but it also means that you're without food tickets and that you can simply vanish (read: be killed by a vampire) without anyone being the wiser. As soon as the book begins we see the full effects of the vampire hierarchy on society. The Unregistered scavenge for morsels of food and are executed if they're caught. Confined by the hours of night, step outside when it's dark and it'll be your own fault if you don't come back! Kagawa's vampires are fierce, powerful and frightening, using their physical abilities to their very full advantage. What's worse than wild vampires? Organised ones. There's an entire chain of command filled with sires and pets that you will love discovering all about. There was no info-dumping whatsoever, with Kagawa cleverly dispersing them throughout many points of the book. What more can we ask for?

Well…here I go with my TEAM ALLIE shirt. One wrong decision left her vulnerable and surrounded by a group of hungry, savage rabids. They tore her apart and would've killed her, had it not been for a mysterious vampire who offered to turn her. She'll be dead both ways but Allison desperately wants to be alive to see the world change…so she says yes. With the help of her mentor, Kanin, Allison learns the ropes of being a vampire and strengthens herself for survival. The hunted has now become the predator and it was a stunning transformation. A good half of the book is spent with Allison alone and damn was it the best decision Kagawa ever made. Developing this character to such high levels before bringing in the large cast of others was what made this book spectacular. I was so overjoyed to find an author that understood getting characters right, especially the main ones. Allison is officially my favourite YA heroine of all-time. She never has a problem depending on herself, is so determined to be a good vampire, although chances are slim, and oh my goodness she has a sense of humour! A wicked and sharp one that will make you laugh and grin in all of the right places. Unbelievable, I know, but get used to being surprised in this book. Kanin is a favourite character of mine and he provides 90% of the twists. You don't even expect them because they're not part of the main plot. But shock after shock, Kagawa will leave you absolutely reeling and wondering what else we haven't fully dissected and thought through!! Kanin MUST be related to Allie because his sense of humour is just as good. Prepare yourself for an endless supply of his face-palming and exasperated sighs at Allie. I'm being completely serious...

While I could continue raving about the goodness that is Allison and Kanin, I'm sure you want to know about everyone else… After being forced out alone into the outside world, Allison picks a direction and wonders if other cities exist without the rule of vampires. After painful and long days of walking, she stumbles onto a group of wanderers and is coerced by a boy named Zeke into joining them. It's never a good idea to make friends and enemies with so many people when all you can think about is sinking your fangs into their jugulars, especially when you're trying to keep up the illusion of being a human! Even though these secondary characters did not individually play a huge part of the story, together the group formed many levels of tension and complication for Allison. She's the mystery who came from a big vampire city and is tagging along to aid in their search for Eden. You'll meet jealous girls, sweet children, mean leaders and delusional old ladies too. Zeke's not who you'd expect Allison's love interest to be but in some ways I think he's just perfect. Kind-hearted and loyal, Zeke's sweetness will touch your heart from the word go. There is such a push and pull between the two because of their sparking chemistry and you just know they'll be a brilliant couple. They're almost polar opposites and ignite something so passionate in each other that I almost lost my mind! Kagawa supplies us with an abundant amount of scenes where you can appropriately scream, cry, swoon and laugh. Once again, she just nails the characters. I dare you to find a fault.

With her katana in hand and gang in tow, Allison travels across the country in search of Eden, which may or may not exist. Her relationships and struggle as a new vampire are the leading focuses in The Immortal Rules, and is all developed through the amazing troubles they face with vengeful vampires and stalker gangs. You'll love the fast action sequences that leave nothing to be desired and the wonderful blend of everything else. Kagawa isn't afraid to kill her characters so be warned and prepared early on… Think you can find the cure for rabidism and save a friend while you're at it? Run along and join this battle between the forces and try not to fall in love with Zeke along the way! This book will torture you in the very best ways and keep you on the edge of your seat for its entirety. There is not an existing adjective that can describe how good this book was. Magtastawezingful? I know you'll attack Kagawa on Twitter as soon as you finish this, pleading for the next book.. How can you not after that ending?!

"What are you doing to me?" is my favourite line. If you've read the book, you'll know. If you've read the book, SCREAM WITH ME. As you can see, I'm reading the Iron Fey series right now and loving them to death. TEAM ASH! <3

Find Julie on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy The Immortal Rules from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.

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Thanks to Harlequin Australia and Morey Media, I have one delicious copy of The Immortal Rules to giveaway. All you need to know is that it ends May 12th and that it's for Australian residents only. ENJOY!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In My Mailbox: 29/4/12

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. Let us know what books you've bought, borrowed or received for review!

Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
Umm…finally? I know I've been living under a rock and am one of the few people who have not read this series..but better late than never! And what luck that these came after I fell in love with The Immortal Rules :) Very excited for more Julie - she's brilliant!

Until I Die by Amy Plum
I've only got a small section of this book to go but I'm really enjoying it so far! Love the Revenant world and I'm looking forward to the turning point of the novel! Ready to see some more badass fighting ;)

Raven Lucas: Dead Wrong by Christine Harris
So I actually read the first book of this series not too long ago and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to this! :D Nice to have a fun mystery that doesn't make your brain explode every once in a while ;)

The Dead of Night by Gordon Korman
This is the third book of the series and I'm feeling a little bad that I haven't read them yet LOL. For good reason since they are MG but I WILL get to them when I can. *giggles* Playing cards are fun? Haha, I love interactive stuff. I think it's interesting that a different author writes each book too! This is a spin-off series so if I enjoy it I'll have to look up the originals...

Green Heart by Alice Hoffman
This one sounds interesting - it's the first and second book put together. Green loses her entire family in a disaster and has to find herself… (there's magic!) Not sure if I'll be reading this before November though.

Thanks to Hachette, Harlequin and Scholastic for the review copies!

What's in your mailbox?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Series: TBD
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Published: May 8th 2012
Source: Net Galley for review

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her. Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come. Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Mia Price is addicted to lightning. It seems to find her wherever she is and even with her million scars and periods of baldness, she craves the feeling of crackling electricity running through her veins. After Mia moved to Los Angeles with her mother and younger brother, Parker, she had been hit-free for one year. Then, the city turned almost post-apocalyptic after a devastating earthquake...but little did she know that it was just the precursor to the real apocalypse that's looming around the corner. After the sixth seal is broken, the skies will open and kill everyone, except for those who pledge their allegiance to the Prophet, an evangelical television personality who claims to have a direct link to God himself. While Struck was much more based around religion than I expected, it was still an amazing debut that swept me up in its storm!

After their mother was diagnosed with Acute Stress Disorder from the earthquake, Mia and Parker are finally going back to school now that it's open again. Offering free lunches and more rations for those who attend, the fear of starving to death is much worse than leaving their mother alone for the first time. Immediately upon entering the school, we're made aware of the Seekers and the Followers, rivalry groups each with a secret agenda. While the Followers are loyal to the Prophet and demand that everyone else join their cult, the Seekers are more mysterious and it's a while before you discover who they really are. When I say the book is religious, I only mean that there's a strong religious group that's central to the plot and, well, the apocalypse has everything to do with religion. So don't get all worried that this'll be like going to Church because I think you'll find this book much more entertaining. Struck is extremely mysterious and filled with secrets that take a lot of effort to decipher. You'll love how complex the storyline is and Bosworth does an outstanding job with the world-building. I think every review you read for this book will praise that aspect because it's been done magnificently. What a realistic atmosphere!

Mia suffers from chronic insomnia and one night finds herself staring at the silhouette of a boy standing over her bed, poised with a knife in hand. She's alive by morning but thinks it's all a dream. When she meets Jeremy in her first English class the next day, she's taken by his intelligence, bravery and hot Clark Kent glasses. While we know that he was the mystery man…she doesn't and it's an absolute thrill to watch their love blossom. Although their secret attraction for each other is sizzling from the very beginning, Jeremy hides himself from her and we're left in the dark as to who he really is. Why did he try to kill her? If he hates the Seekers but tells Mia to avoid the Followers too, which side is he on? What's his agenda? Intense plot aside, Jeremy will make you swoon with his protectiveness and downright delicious kisses. He's so hot that he makes Mia faint every time he touches her. *coughs* Okay, so it's for another reason but STILL. These two made a fantastic couple and all of the different sides to it? GOLD!

All of the characters were written extremely well. So many times I wanted to strangle Mia's mother for being so negligent and blindly devoted to the Prophet. Parker had a strong personality and his willingness to disobey his sister…very brave and stupid at the same time. I thought that the characters from the Seeker and Follower groups were all unique and well developed also! I really can't say much more than that without going into detail and ruining all of the fun for you! I love that we're left to wonder about which characters we can trust, especially since the prophecy says that both groups will try to use Mia for their own benefit. To what extent and for what reason? It's a mystery! Mia herself is an exceptionally strong and thoughtful character you can't help but love. Everyone, give Bosworth a hug for her fabulous effort!

Struck is a truly amazing book that will impress many with its strong world-building, exciting storyline and addictive characters. With a perfect blend of realism and religious mythology, you'll feel as if you've stumbled onto something grand, as prophecies always are! Watch the fight between destiny and free will play out, and pick your side for the fight. It's not until the very end that we receive answers to all of the questions that have been piling up from page one, and boy are there some epic twists along the way. The book is exhilarating from beginning to end, which is why I was admittedly a little disappointed with the resolution. It seemed too easy and perfect but I won't dwell on that too much since the rest was brilliant. Struck is BADASS and if you want to be too…you better read this! I can't wait to see what Bosworth will write next! The ending leaves the story open to a sequel and hints at something more... *bats eyelashes* PLEEEASE?

Awesome trailer, right?!?! Who's read or will be reading this? Thoughts? :)

Struck may or may not get a sequel. It all depends on US, the READERS, so you better all run out and get this book so you can love it to death! Can't wait to buy a pretty print copy!

Find Jennifer on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her website.
Buy Struck from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Title: Goddess Interrupted
Author: Aimee Carter
Series: The Goddest Test #2
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Published: March 27th 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it. Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future. Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

WARNING: There are spoilers for the The Goddest Test in this review so watch out if you haven't read it. It will ruin any surprise…

I went into reading this with some apprehension because I was not a fan of the dull characters and plot from the first book. Was Goddess Interrupted an improvement? Definitely! At the end of The Goddess Test, Calliope was sentenced to spend time with each one of Henry's potential wives she had killed and wouldn't be set free until every single one forgave her. You'd think she'd be stuck there forever (really…would you forgive her?) but you'll be shocked to discover that her father, Cronus the King of the Titans, is awakening and slowly regaining his power with her help. If Kate and the other immortal gods don't stop them, the world will be destroyed and everyone will die. No pressure, right?

After going to Greece for six months with her best friend, James, Kate is finally returning to Henry so that she can finally become Queen of the Underworld and, more importantly, Henry's wife. Excited to continue her relationship with him, Kate's horrified when he doesn't even give her a kiss hello and still seems like a reluctant participant in their relationship. Henry's deep set fears about her leaving him have prevented him from really falling for her. He fell in love with Persephone, Kate's sister, hundreds of years ago and she went and left him for the gorgeous but mortal Adonis. Kate and Henry's relationship becomes so much more complicated in this book but in a good way. We see something other than Henry being passive, and we get to explore a lot more of his vulnerabilities. There are quite a few moments that will provoke cheering and others…crying. What a rollercoaster! It really is a mystery to figure out whether Henry will ever return Kate's feelings for him full force. Is he marrying her out of obligation to the Underworld or is he only keeping himself alive? (Immortals die without a purpose.) Get ready for progress to be made before it's wiped out in just seconds... Oh my poor heart…

When Henry's kidnapped by Cronus, the only way they can defeat him is if they find where he's been imprisoned. To do that, Kate must wander aimlessly through the Underworld until she can find Persephone who, other than Henry, is the only person who knows where that is. Kate was a much stronger character in this book, I think. She took charge and made it her mission to do what everyone else was afraid to do and was willing to risk her life for Henry, even if he didn't want her and even if she had to ask his ex-wife for help to do so. She grows a backbone, successfully manipulates her enemies and even develops the ability to see things that are happening elsewhere, sort of like astral projection but asleep. Yes, she's "needy" at times but her determination to save everyone is very admirable.

Many relationships come to light in Goddess Interrupted. Persephone and Kate's other best friend, Ava, refuse to stop arguing about men and their beauty (SO entertaining), James offers Kate his love instead of Henry's and….you'll learn lots more about the relationships between the other immortals that I'll keep a surprise for you ;) They're all very messy and a little shocking! If you hated the lack of action in book one, this sequel will definitely satisfy because everyone is constantly on the move. There's so much uncertainty surrounding Kate's romance with Henry…I may have punched the book a few times and wiped at some misty eyes. Still, my heart feels heavy and filled with worry…especially after that cliffhanger. There's the mid-tragedy cliffhanger and then there's the "No, don't stop! I WANT MORE!" cliffhanger. This one's the former with some gasp-worthy twists mixed in… Eek!

Have you read this? How did it compare to book one? :)

Find Aimee on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy Goddess Interrupted from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday & Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Characters

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

So I read Onyx yesterday and it was absolutely amazing. Even better than the first book. Possible? *faints* Definitely one of my favourite series!

Daemon rose slowly, holding my gaze. My whole body tensed as he neared and placed his hands on either side of me. Then he bent over the chair between us, resting his forehead against mine, He inhaled deeply and it came out in an unsteady rush. When he spoke, his voice was rough. "Do you know what I've been thinking about all day?"

I'M SURE WE CAN GUESS! So many delicious moments in this book. Can't wait for you all to read it!

What's your teaser this week?

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This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Oh my goodness. Understand that this list is TOTALLY incomplete. There are so many more characters I love and I feel like an absolute traitor right now.. *sniffles* I'm only looking at book characters otherwise I'll be even more screwed for choosing.
Of course, these are in no particular order. If you don't know the characters (shame on you!) then clicky on the link and add the book to your TBR right away!

Allison Sekemoto - The Immortal Rules
She is hands down my favourite female character right now. Hilarious, badass and secretly sweet? Oh dear lord. She was the one who made this book absolutely amazing. JULIE! Why do you have such kickass characters?!

Peregrine (Perry) - Under the Never Sky
This one's pretty self-explanatory. Tell me you didn't swoon when he was all protective asshole on Aria…and when he let her be a mother-hen to him when he was injured. Gah! He was perfect <3

Noah Shaw - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
DROOL. I said Noah was the hottest YA character back when I wrote my review. We can remember his sexy lines and funny banter with Mara, yes? Where's my fan?! Did you see the beautiful cover for the sequel today? :D And Michelle's pictures of the photoshoot last year were just… *gapes*

Daemon Black - Obsidian
*coughs* Well this is awkward. Daemon kind of kicked Noah from his little "I'm the hottest" pedestal. If you've read this book then you'll have experienced the sexiness that is Daemon. I AM A PUDDLE. There's so much wonderful character development going on here too… TEAM JENNIFER.

Linh Cinder - Cinder
Another fantastic YA chick! She's not even human. Awesome, much? She fights baddies….wants a little Prince Charming…is completely selfless and sooo much more. We NEED more of these girls in YA, I'm telling you.

Adrian Ivashkov - Vampire Academy / Bloodlines
*squeaks* ADRIAN! WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!? Seriously why don't I have The Golden Lily right the hell now? *breakdown* This amount of awesome should be illegal. I love his cheekiness but damn when his soft side comes out.. <3

Tobias (Four) - Divergent
INSURGENT. It's out next week. *breathes into paper bag* My review copy is unfortunately delayed (STILL!) but..oh my god, soon. Soon I will reunite with this complicated hell of a guy. Did you read the exclusive scene HarperTeen released today?! FOUR'S POV OF THE KNIFE SCENE!

Finley Jayne - The Girl in the Steel Corset
Just read Clockwork Collar the other day and it was fabulous. Finley must've found an extra bucket of AWESOME somewhere and bathed in it. I love how she's tough but still has those "normal" girly reactions. Torture the heck out of Griffin? HA! Yes, please.

Brendan Salinger - Spellbound
It's no secret that I have it bad for this guy. Have been for over a year and Cara is probably sick of the drool that is currently collecting on her floor. *hides* It's not my fault. He's the definition of a perfect boyfriend <3

Jace Wayland - The Mortal Instruments
CLASSIC. I will always love this boy. Fingers crossed he behaves in COLS because he was quite naughty in COFA. I can't believe it'll be here in a fortnight. We've waited so long! *climbs onto his runed back* HELLO GORGEOUS..

This post was probably just a mumble jumble but sorry. I can't exactly put into words how much and why I love these characters... =S

Where's your list? SHARE! Do you love these characters too? :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

STORM BLOG TOUR: Chris/Becca/Hunter Interview & Giveaway

SEVERE WEATHER WARNING: 9 Bloggers, 9 Days, 1 Epic Storm

HELLO EVERYONE! Welcome to the first official stop of the epic Storm Blog Tour for Brigid Kemmerer's amazing debut. I LOVED this novel and you can read all about it in my review.

So just so you know what you're in for in this interview, Becca is the main character of Storm and her love interests are Chris and Hunter. Chris controls the element of water and...Hunter's a mystery ;) ENJOY! You'll get to meet everyone else very soon...

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Hi guys! Thanks for joining me today! Chris, it's a pleasure seeing you again *wink* Did you give Gabriel my number? I hear he's been asking about me….

Chris: (Sighs.) He won’t shut up about you.
Becca: Or Brodie.
Hunter: (Rolls eyes.) Or pretty much any of the book bloggers he’s met on this tour.

Now might I remind you, we are in a completely violence-free zone and anything you say here today will stay IN THE ROOM. So boys, is there anything you'd like to get off your chests and say to each other right now before we get started?

Chris: If I can’t hit him, can I at least say that he’s a total--
Becca: Easy.
Hunter: No, no, let him finish. I can always hit him when we leave.
Becca: (Sighs) No one is hitting anyone.

There came a point where you resorted to physical violence against each other! Did that go against your moral compass or do you believe in violence when necessary? Was this one of those times upon reflection?

Chris: I have three older brothers. Physical violence is a daily occurrence.
Hunter: I don’t pick fights. But I can defend myself if necessary.

Becca, you obviously got more than you bargained for with these boys. Do you think it was all worth it or would you rather have stayed safe and oblivious to the Elemental world?

Becca: It was worth every minute.

How would you all describe your approach to relationships?

Becca: I’m pretty cautious now. I jumped in head-first with Drew, my first boyfriend, and I basically cracked my head on the bottom of the pool.
Hunter: I don’t do anything halfway.
Chris: Dude, you sound like a d-bag.
Hunter: At least I didn’t avoid the question.

Someone is romantically interested in you. How would they catch your attention? What do you look for in a partner?

Becca: Right now, I’m getting enough negative attention. So just being nice would be a good start.
Chris: I like a girl who can stand up for herself.
Hunter: Yeah. (A pause.) Me too.
Becca: Did you guys just agree on something?


I want people to remember me as being………
Becca: Strong
Chris: Am I going somewhere?
Hunter: *shrug* People can remember me or not.

My name is in the dictionary under the word………
Becca: Complicated.
Chris: I’m pretty sure “Chris” is actually in the dictionary.
Hunter: So is Hunter.

I'm fighting in a large broom closet and my choice of weapon is………
Chris: Is there water?
Becca: Why am I fighting in a large broom closet?
Hunter: My hands.

I can't live without………
Chris: I would say “my brothers” but they might be reading this.
Becca: I would say “my mom” even if she were reading this.
Hunter: Take away everything. I’d do all right on my own.

My one wish is………
Chris: To be able to live without getting hassled.
Becca: Ditto.
Hunter: I have a lot of wishes.

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Brigid's characters always banter back and's awesome. Brodie and I did an interview with ALL FOUR HOT BROTHERS in February and well....yes. Gabriel's too hot for this room.

Here's the rest of the tour schedule!! There are some truly amazing exclusives here so be sure to keep an eye out every day ;)

Tuesday  24th April: This or That with the Boys of Storm - Shiirleyy’s  Bookshelf
Wednesday 25th April: Fantasy Casting - saz101
Thursday  26th April: Brigid Q&A: YOU ask the questions! -  Eleusinian  Mysteries
Friday  27th April: Keeping up with the Merrick Twins + Review  Roundup - Badass  Bookie
Saturday  28th April: Storm Excerpt - Forget-Me-Not
Sunday 29th April: Video chat - Book Probe
Monday  30 April:  Chris Interview - Reading Wishes
Tuesday  1st May: Guest Post by Brigid: Five Secrets of the Elemental  Series - Amaterasu  Reads

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 There are 14 PRIZE PACKS up for grabs! Australian and International entrants welcome!! Check out the full awesome prize list HERE.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Title: Choker
Author: Elizabeth Woods
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Published: April 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has always been a loner, even more so since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, a few years ago. Cara mostly spends her time avoiding the popular girls who call her 'choker' after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria, and watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her. Then one day Cara comes home and finds Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With Zoe back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and before she can blink, Cara is flirting with Ethan and getting invited to parties. And best of all, she has her best friend to confide in again. But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect ~ including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving very strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to be able to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

This is a really tough one to review. On one hand, I had issues with the book but the shocking ending is making me question everything I read. I'm now left wondering if I read it again with new eyes, will I better appreciate the story Woods has constructed? I would say yes, but upon deeper reflection I've decided to review this book based on what I thought while reading it - we'll get to the ending later!!

Cara Lange is a lonely teenager who longs for the most desired boy at school. She sits with people who ignore her at lunch and unsuccessfully tries to dodge the extreme bullying by the popular girls. Alexis Henning is the mastermind behind the terrorising and also happens to be the girlfriend of Cara's crush, Ethan Gray. She's only ever had one friend, that being a girl named Zoe, who she hasn't seen in over five years. Choker begins with a flashback and we instantly see that Zoe is a disturbed character to avoid. One thing that was great about the book was Woods' ability to turn up the creep factor. So many disturbing things happen and you'll want to do nothing but shout at Cara to keep her distance! So when Zoe mysteriously ends up in Cara's room and asks for a place to stay…things get nasty.

The focal points of Choker are the chilling deaths and disappearances of Cara's bullies, and Cara's budding friendship with Ethan (who, I must say, wasn't very likeable). The apprehension built up from the prologue directly continues as soon as Zoe makes her reappearance. She claims she ran away from her stepdad, who she "dealt with", and begs Cara to keep her presence a secret. Are the alarm bells ringing yet?! For the majority of the book, Cara is largely dependent on Zoe and bends over backwards trying to keep her happy. This was a very frustrating cycle that had me ripping my hair out. How could someone be so ignorant and blind, even if they are desperate?! Zoe's jealous rages only become more prominent the more Cara goes to parties and hangs out with Ethan. Smoke is literally coming out of her ears right now.. - duck for cover? Throughout the book, you'll feel an overwhelming amount of worry from knowing what exactly Zoe is capable of. While Cara's oblivious, we're on the edge of our seats just waiting for the worst to happen.

So what didn't I like about this book? Cara. Yes, she's a victim but I always have trouble reading books with weak protagonists, especially when they lack the depth and proper growth to make it work. I felt that Woods didn't develop the characters well enough and we only had the real surface images of Deranged Friend and Sad Loner. I was looking for more complexity, which Choker sadly lacked. Ethan wasn't a great love interest at all. Why would you be in love with someone who does nothing about the bullying their girlfriend dishes out? For me, Ethan was just another bland and stereotypical "popular sports captain". What a shame! So as I said before, the twist at the end doesn't excuse the poor characterisation. It's an essential element to any good book, and it really could have been done well with this type of story.

This review may look like I'm dumping a whole lot of "this and that annoyed me" on you, but there are certainly some fantastic qualities to this story. Woods' portrayal and strong message of teen bullying is very powerful. Even if you do hate Cara as a character, you can't help but want to give her a hug for everything she's endured at her young age. If not for that, you should stick around for Zoe. She'll keep you in suspense with her unexpected mood changes and if I had to describe her in two words? Psychotic and Manipulative. While I absolutely hated her, she is probably the only thing that kept the story going. The epic twist was brilliant. I would never have guessed it but judging from other reviews, other people did because they paid close attention to detail. While I'm tempted to read this again just to see if I can spot the clues…I don't think I can deal with Cara again. So if you haven't read this book and are meaning to, definitely pay attention and try to figure out the twist. Choker could have been better but I applaud Woods for giving her debut a good whack with this great idea!

Find Elizabeth on Goodreads.
Buy Choker from Amazon, The Book Depository and Barnes & Noble.

STORM BLOG TOUR: Exclusives, giveaways and more!

SEVERE WEATHER WARNING: 9 Bloggers, 9 Days, 1 Epic Storm

A Storm is coming! Over the next week, forecasts are predicting a massive Storm front progressing steadily across the Southern blogosphere. Authorities warn of effects being felt across the globe, with multiple storm point touch downs, interviews, exclusive extras and massive prize packs. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to batten down the hatches for one epic storm event.

Whether you're one of these lucky people who've already read Storm by goddess-turned-author Brigid Kemmerer, or you're impatiently waiting, you have to know that this is one of the most exciting young adult paranormals 2012 has to offer. Over the next nine days, nine bloggers are very excited to be bringing you the Storm Blog Tour! Tune in to your feeds and favorite blogs for never before seen character interviews, a video chat, an interactive Q&A with Brigid, and an exclusive excerpt from Storm itself! If that's not exciting enough, there are fourteen massive prize packs up for grabs, both AU/NZ and internationally! Check out tour dates below, and be sure to tune in to each stop to enter the giveaway!


Monday 23rd April:  Chris/Becca/Hunter Interview - Read Me Love Me Bookmark Me
Tuesday 24th April: This or That with the Boys of Storm - Shiirleyy’s Bookshelf
Wednesday 25th April: Fantasy Casting - saz101
Thursday 26th April: Brigid Q&A: YOU ask the questions! - Eleusinian Mysteries
Friday 27th April: Keeping up with the Merrick Twins + Review Roundup - Badass Bookie
Saturday 28th April: Storm Excerpt - Forget-Me-Not
Sunday 29th April: Video chat - Book Probe
Monday 30 April:  Chris Interview - Reading Wishes
Tuesday 1st May: Guest Post by Brigid: Five Secrets of the Elemental Series - Amaterasu Reads

Giveaway Packs:

International Prize Pack 1:
Elemental (ebook) + Storm + Spark preorder 
International Prize Pack 2: 
 Elemental (ebook) + Storm + Spark ARC
International Prize 3:
Copy of Storm + Spark Pre-order

Australian Prize Pack: 
Storm ARC + Spark preorder

Australia/New Zealand Prize Packs (10 winners):
1 copy of STORM + 1 STORM book jacket  + 1 SPARK book jacket
Thanks to Allen & Unwin and Brigid!!
We are SO excited to share this tour with you guys. Thanks to the amazing Brigid Kemmerer for donating so much time and effort into this! <3 Pick up your copy of Storm - it's out this week!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In My Mailbox: 21/4/12 & Giveaway Winners!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. Let us know what books you've bought, borrowed or received for review!

*coughs* I'm sure you all notice the sad absence of my INSURGENT review copy. Umm...postal delay. Horrid. *sniffles* I wish I lived on the other side of Australia.... *teleports*

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
This is one of the best books I've read...EVER. It's THICK but I nommed it down in one night. I would never have picked this up, had it not said Julie Kagawa on the cover. Seeing as how she has a fabulous reputation....I took the chance and boy did it paid off. The summary sounds wacky and not something I would usually read but this book is seriously BRILLIANT. This is the first book I've read by Julie (I know, shocking) BUT I should be receiving my very delayed set of Iron Fey books from Harlequin next week.. What did you guys think of the Iron Fey series compared to The Immortal Rules? Same level as awesome? Nearly? More?

Allegiance by Kayla Kluver
Okay, so you might not recognise this because of the Australian cover but...this is the amazing book with the cover of the beautiful girl on her pretty horse.. *grins* I love this series and read the ARC of this book a few months ago on Net Galley so here's my review! Did you all see the GORGEOUS cover for Sacrifice? <3 RED!

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins
Two words: AMISH ROMANCE. So according to the lovely publicist, this book has a super super sweet and swoony romance so she just had to send it to us. Errm...sold? Really looking forward to reading this one!! <3

The Glimpse by Claire Merle
Ever since I came across this book and was given the chance to release the new gorgeous cover, I've been drooling over the summary and desperately wanting to get my hands on a copy. I LOVE DYSTOPIAN WHEN IT'S DONE RIGHT. My fingers are tightly crossed that this is an amazing read. Should be my next ;)

Fated by Alyson Noel
I actually decided not to request this when I received the publicity newsletter but it came unsoliticed so I guess I'll be reading it! A bit worried by the so-so reviews on Goodreads but I'm hoping it'll surprise me. I really didn't care for the sound of Alyson's Immortals series....and people have said that the two are somewhat similar? If you've read this, what did you think? :)

A big thank you to the beautiful Harlequin, Allen & Unwin/Faber & Faber and Pan Macmillan for the review copies!

What's in your mailbox this week? Let me visit!
Thoughts on these books? :)

Thank you to everyone who joined in and helped celebrate my blogoversary! <3 So as promised, three winners will receive their choice of one book. Congratulations!
Winners have been emailed and must respond within 48 hours otherwise a new winner will be chosen.
THE INDUSTRY by Rose Foster
Again, thank you to Harper Collins Australia for offering 10 giveaway copies!! The lucky lucky winners of this amazing book are:
Angela T
Erin W
Karen H
Michelle A
Rachel C
Rosa T
Mary P
Shirley G
Alice S
Teresa L
Your details have been forwarded onto the publisher and hopefully the books will arrive in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Losing It by Julia Lawrinson

Title: Losing It
Author: Julia Lawrinson
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Published: March 21st 2012
Source: Publisher for review

To avoid Losing It in the bushes with some random guy in a heavy-metal T-shirt after too many tequila shots, four best friends make a bet: to lose it before schoolies week – and preferably in a romantic, sober way that they won't regret. What follows is a sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, but always compelling comedy of errors as Abby, Mala, Bree and Zoe each try to find their Mr Right . . . or at least get laid.

In this story about getting an inconvenience out of the way and finally entering womanhood, four young girls realise that sex isn't all it's cracked up to be. But then again, how often is it when it's not with someone you're attracted to and only lasts ten seconds...? Thinking they'd rather be in control of their devirginisation without the ugly side effects of alcohol, Zoe, Abby, Mala and Bree create the Great Virginity Challenge in hopes of losing their V-cards by the end of the year. They vow not to tell each other about their progress until the Challenge ends, so how will they fare with the slim pickings being offered?

Losing It is told in five parts, the first being a short introduction to the Challenge, and the others all following the individual journeys of the four girls, giving us four unique stories in the one book! I thought this format was a brilliant choice and suited the novel extremely well, as the differences between them became startlingly obvious and were laid out bare for all to see! For such close friends (Group Nickname: the GeeGees), they really couldn't have been more different! Losing It is filled with short flashbacks and with each perspective, we see new takes on some of the same situations. Not only do we get to see the formation of their group many years ago, but also the obstacles they met along the way... This review is very difficult to write because I don't want to spoil anything. Even though it's a contemporary about teen sex, there's a good amount of mystery in it! What are the girls really like deep down? Who do they have sex with and how does it happen? It's highly enjoyable watching the story unfold! After a short while…you'll notice something fairly INTERESTING and well, you'll be rushing to the end from there. I know, I'm vague…… *grins*

I thought Losing It was a quick and light read that brought a sense of realism to the plate without being too serious. There are certainly some hilarious coincidences in the story that ratchet up the entertainment factor but essentially, we have four Australian teenagers with the common idea of "getting it over and done with". Some of these stories are sweet, some are sad and others are just plain awkward - "shut your eyes and pretend people can't see you if you can't see them" awkward - but all in all, I found the journey and the four main characters highly likeable! Lawrinson has done a great job tackling this sticky issue (excuse the pun...) so definitely give it a try if you get the chance!

What do you think of this one? Interested? Yay for more Aussie authors!

Find Julia on Twitter, Goodreads, her website and blog.
Buy Losing It from Amazon and The Book Depository.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine! Each week, bloggers spotlight what upcoming release they're eager for.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Released May 1st

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I'm about to die. I've been waiting for this book for what seems like years! In reality, just one...but it's easy to become delusional when you're reading fabulous reviews left and right. 

Anxiously waiting for my review copy to arrive... Will today be my lucky day? Eastern blogger buddies got this last week so hopefully the book's had enough time to fly a few thousand kilometers.. *sobs and sits by mailbox* It's raining.

*ends sobfest* What are you waiting on? 
Have you read Insurgent already? Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Storm
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #1
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia
Published: May 1st 2012
Source: ARC from author | Publisher for review

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death. And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca. Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

How do I even begin to review this amazing book? Not only do we have five (count 'em, FIVE!) male characters you will go absolutely insane for, but the story involves the exciting powers of the elements. I'm a huge sucker for these types of stories so I think I was in big trouble before I even started! Storm is filled with intense action that we begin experience at oh.. page two? After Becca gives a lacklustre performance in her self-defence class, she's horrified to hear the sounds of a vicious fight brewing in the dark parking lot. Caught between the urge to flee and help the outnumbered boy, Becca's decision will change her life forever.

Being a work of fiction, the heroine obviously races in to save her Prince Charming and what a fine choice it was! Physically, she was no match, but after giving Chris Merrick her bottle of water… Villains, watch out! Gifted with the element of water, we soon discover that his three brothers possess the others: fire, earth and air. The storyline of Storm is consuming and suspenseful, with bullies who are more dangerous than they really let on and cryptic Guides lurking in the background waiting to spring up and attack. It's an entire adventure just to uncover one secret, and the author easily strings us along in her manipulative clutches. Things that seem insignificant at first come to haunt you later on in the story (keep your eyes open for the foreshadowing!!) and suddenly everything will make sense like a big conspiracy. Kemmerer, you are the queen of twisty stories. Please continue to amaze us with your ability to keep tabs on six main characters and write consistent dual narratives.

The Merrick brothers and Hunter will easily make you revert back to your fangirly teenage selves. Each one of the characters is unique and wonderfully developed by Kemmerer, although we'll receive even deeper insight in the following sequels. Think the Perfect Chemistry series, but in roughly the same time frame, with more story variation and contribution to the overall story arc. You can look forward to a different story every time you open a book of Kemmerer's, but you'll still be very closely surrounded by all of the characters you love! Nick and Gabriel are twins, the former being a self-proclaimed hottie and the latter simply a dirty, hot, shameless Adonis flirt. *coughs* You will have no problem at all falling for their charm but you'll have to get in line.. There's a permanent one right outside their bedroom door. *points* Michael is a little harder to relate to with his abrasive personality and tendency to think the worst of people, but as we discover his devastating past (read about in the prequel, Elemental - highly recommended!), it becomes a little easier. Hugs, anyone?

The relationships Becca forms with Chris and Hunter are easily the highlight of the book. While we like to hope for wonderful romances from the get-go, Chris always did like to make things difficult! He's ungrateful and short with Becca even after she saves his life, but it's soon clear as day that the poor boy is suffering from ATTRACTION AND NERVES. So when he grows a pair and sits at her school lunch table? *faints* What a wonderful example of a well-developed relationship without the horrible insta-love. Even though there is probably more plot than romance, it's just written in a way that makes its importance undeniable. And when you throw in the mysterious new kid who's tattooed, pierced and not afraid to be badass? *picks self up from floor and faints again* After Hunter and his fierce German Shepherd, Casper, save Becca from Chris' bullies, their friendship blossoms from there and leaves Becca unexpectedly torn. Hunter is much more straightforward with his affection for her (everyone swoon at their epic kisses now!) but there's no way she can just forget about the alluring Chris. Oh I could just go on and on about why both are amazing but I fear you might slap me in the face or decide you're going to steal them for yourselves.. Not happening.

Becca was a brilliant protagonist and it was wonderful watching her "rise to power" and gaining her strength. She overcomes the slut label Drew McKay sticks on her forehead and proves to the Merrick brothers that she's after more than just a ride. She's an essential element to their survival and once again, the intriguing story is able to capture this really well. Exciting and supported by a cast of magnificent characters, Storm is the first book of what will be a favourite series of mine. If you want a book with complicated relationships between family, untrustworthy characters and shocking twists, look no further because Kemmerer has bundled it up in this beautiful blue package and slapped Chris' face on it. Grab a bib and enjoy!

So this is the gorgeous US cover, which I had the wonderful privilege of kissing holding when Brigid sent me her ARC a few months ago. Which cover do you prefer? :)

Find Brigid on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her website.

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