Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: The Testing

Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Edition: Templar Proof/ARC
Release: August 1st 2013
Series: The Testing #1
Pages: 384 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Sixteen-year-old Cia Vale is honoured to be chosen for The Testing – a series of exams set by the United Commonwealth that selects the brightest young adults to become leaders of their war- stricken world. But when candidates start disappearing and Cia witnesses unimaginable horrors done in the United Commonwealth’s name it becomes clear that these are no ordinary exams, and Cia is forced to realise the truth: this is no longer about winning, but surviving.

To be honest, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd like this book. I'd read quite a few reviews where bloggers had said it was like a mash rip-off of The Hunger Games and Divergent, and since they are two of my most favourite books, I wasn't sure whether or not this book would be worth my time. But the premise of this book refused to let me pass it up - my curiosity always gets the better of me sooner or later! - and so I opened it up, deciding that I should see, for myself, what to think of it. And I am so glad I did. I adored it!
 
Admittedly, I could see slight resemblances between The Testing and THG/Divergent. To begin with, I was near enough analysing every sentence for similarities but after a while, thankfully, I settled into it and started appreciating this book for what it was in itself. If you're scared that you'll react to the similarities stronger than I did then you might be glad to know that the ending of this book is steering this series in a completely different direction than either The Hunger Games or Divergent did. So, overall, I really did like the storyline. I especially liked the 'tests' the main character had to sit - it really showed off Cia's skills. Sidenote: Don't get attached to some of the characters like I did. :(
 
Now, more about Cia. Or should I say, Malencia. What a strange but pretty name, eh? Anyways, I LOVED her. She was just so smart and intuitive. They were probably the qualities I loved most in her. She managed to notice things in the 'tests' which I never would have - which leads me to think I would do extremely badly in those tests *chews lip*. She was also a really brave and strong character and I had such high admiration for her. I really liked Tomas as well. He was also really smart, as well as just plain loveable.
 
To conclude, I really, really enjoyed The Testing. I adored the main character along with some of the other side characters and the romance was a really nice addition. I also loved the amount of action in this book because, as you probably know, I'm an action-junkie! Yes, there are resemblances to other dystopian books but this didn't affect my enjoyment as badly as it did others. The ending has certainly left me wanting more. Unfortunately, there's going to be over a year long wait for me before the sequel will come out! I don't know how I'm going to stand not knowing what happens next. I just can't wait! I also really want to find out more about this government. Overall, a fabby read! :D

FOUR STARS FOR THE TESTING! :D
Huge thanks to Templar for providing me with an ARC of this book to review!
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Why I Love Faery Books!

So some of you may remember that one of my New Years resolutions was to write more discussion posts, and well... I've not exactly been doing that. Luckily, there's still seven months left in the year for me to start living up to that promise. So today, my friends, will be the first of (hopefully) many more discussion posts!
 
Today's topic, you ask? Well, it's why I love faery books! :)
 
And, yes, you may have gathered I've spelt it faery rather than fairy, and the reason for that is, simply, I prefer spelling it that way - maybe it's because it's spelt that way in quite a few books I've read but I'm honestly not very sure when I started doing it. Anyways. That was just a side note. Now on to the real deal!
 
There's something about faeries that really gets your imagination going. Maybe even makes you feel a little nostalgic. For me, anyway. At one point, I was obsessed - and I mean, obsessed - with faeries. I was given this big, beautiful, almost authentic-looking, lilac book a few couple years back all about faeries and the legends surrounding them and straight away, I got caught up in it all. I loved the idea of there being little people with wings hiding and flying around gardens and forests and, to me, who had - and still has - a wild imagination, it just seemed so possible.
 
I think that's why I enjoy faery books so much. It gives the inner, whimsical child in me what she wants. To believe in the possibility of faeries, even though she spent hours searching for them to no avail. I probably sound bonkers to some people but if you have big, wild imaginations like my own then you will probably understand where I'm coming from. ;)

Of course now that I've given you my reason, I need to give at least one book recommendation! The one that instantly springs to mind is the Wings series by Aprilynne Pike. Now, I know some people didn't enjoy this series but, since I am a faery-enthusiast which you've probably already managed to grasp, I LOVED it! I really do recommend this series to you if you think it's something you'd enjoy! There are also a few supernatural books I have read where faeries have been involved... But that's another thing I just adore about them. Every author has a different take on faeries. It's just perfect for someone like me! :D
 
Do you enjoy faery books? Have any recommendations for a faery-lover like myself? Or, are you the opposite, and don't enjoy faery books at all? Why? As a child, did you also believe in faeries? Were you obsessed - or still are - with any sort of magical/mythical creature? Well comment below and tell me!
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Showcase Sunday #18

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits & Tea where we showcase all of our recent book grabs.
 
I only received three books this week and were so excited about them, I managed to read two already!
 
Without further-a-do, here are this week's books! :)
 
For Review:
 
Spy for The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin:
This one actually came through the mail yesterday as a surprise - I wasn't expecting it at all! So it's safe to say I don't know too much about it. It looks interesting though so I'm excited to see what I think! Huge thanks to Random House for sending me this copy! :)

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (ARC):
I'd actually read mixed reviews on this one but I came to the decision that I wanted to try it out for myself. I mean, every book deserves a chance, y'know! ;) In the end I really did enjoy it! My full review will be up sometime this week. Huge thanks to Templar for my review copy!

Purchased:

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey:
I can't even begin to describe to you my feelings when this book came through the door. I mean, there are such amazing reviews of this book floating around the blogosphere and so I knew I just had to have it! As soon as I had it in my hands, I tore through it and even though, admittedly, I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked, it was still a great read! :D

So that's all the books I got this week. What about you? Leave links in the comments and I'll stop by as soon as I can! :)

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Review: The Elite

GORGEOUS COVER! *.*
Author: Kiera Cass
Edition: HarperCollins Paperback
Released: April 23rd 2013
Series: The Selection #2
Pages: 323 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author Website, Youtube Channel | Buy the book!

**Review SPOILER FREE for both books in this trilogy!**
 
America Singer is one of THE ELITE and Prince Maxon only has eyes for her.

If she wins the competition for his heart, she will leave her pre-destined life for a world of luxury. But the outcome is less than certain; the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls is escalating into war and bitter rivals are ready to take her down.

And as America's feelings for Maxon grow stronger, ex-lover Aspen waits for her in the shadows. Where do her loyalties truly lie?
 
One sentence to sum up my relationship with this book? MY FEELINGS ARE COMPLICATED. Never have I liked a book and yet found it so frustrating at the same time. There were both good parts and bad parts to this novel though, honestly, I did find more things to my disliking than I would have preferred. However, let me stress that I did enjoy this book! Just not as much as I expected. So if you're ready for a ramble, sit back, relax and read on! ;) 
 
To start off on a good note, here are some parts of the story I did enjoy. ONE, I really like Marlee's character. She is so strong (especially after what happened to her!) and a great friend to America. When her *secret* was revealed, I was completely shocked! I hadn't suspected a thing! TWO, I really like America's maids and the relationship she has with them. She doesn't treat them like their nothing (like some people *draws daggers at someone in particular*) and actually talks with them and laughs with them because she sees them as friends. THREE, we do actually get some more glimpses of the Rebels and find out a little more about them. Plus, we also get some action scenes along with them! Though I'm still curious as to find out more about why they're doing what they're doing.
 
Now, here's where the rambling starts. Oh, Maxon! You are one infuriating - and I mean, infuriating - boy! You're always going on about how you'll give America time to think about what she really wants and how you'll wait for her and then you go and do that! Why, Maxon? WHY? Then you want America to trust you? Really?! I wouldn't be fully trusting you either, mate! I know America ain't the best at opening up to you but that is a bit extreme! However, I guess I can't dislike you too much since America's sort-of doing the same thing - though not as bad. I do like how you're standing up to your dad more! Keep doing that! That King needs to get taken down a peg or two! Then there's you, Aspen. Why you so persistent? I might warm up to you more if you just leave America alone and stop confusing her! But, alas, I doubt it will help you any. Even with all the things you've done for America and how Maxon's sort-of making me want to slap him, I still want Maxon and America to be end game. So maybe you should, y'know, give us some space? So Maxon and America can sort through stuff. Thanks!
 
You probably all think I'm mad but... what can you do? ;) Anyway. Although I still feel the love triangle is more of the main story-line than anything else and neither boy is impressing me much, I did still enjoy this book enough that I can't wait for the final book in the trilogy, The One. Though I was also near enough shaking America at the beginning of the book for jumping between each boy like the ticking of a clock, I ended up settling into it more and more as it progressed. Personally, I liked America's character but I really hope she gets some more of a backbone and chooses who to be with early on in book three. As for Kriss? I'm not sure what I feel about her as a character. And don't even get me started on Celeste *glares*. So, overall, taking everything into consideration, The Elite was still a good book. If you liked book one, read it!
 
THREE AND A HALF STARS! :)
A big thank you to HarperCollins for sending me out a review copy of this book!
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Blogger Guest Post: My Favourite Places to Read!

Hey all! Today I have the lovely Maya from The Book Nook on the blog for a guest post in which she'll be telling us all about her favourite places to read. It's a great guest post so I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I do! Afterward, you should all head on over to her wonderful blog and give it a follow! :)

my book nook!
My all time favourite place to read in is my book nook. It's a cupboard under the stairs containing an armchair, a small desk, a book case and, of course, hundreds of books. Only some of the books actually fit in the book case, and so most of them are just in piles along the walls. (Oh, and there are also two 3-week-old chicks in here at the moment - but that's a different story.) I'm allowed to draw on the walls on here, and I've also pinned up some book cover posters and a world map. The desk is not so much as a board of wood which has two piles of books underneath it as legs. It isn't very high up so I sit on a cushion on the floor and use the 'desk' to write at. I love it in here; it's so cosy and I love having all my books close to hand.
 
me reading in my book nook!
Another nice place to read at is my kitchen table. When I have breakfast, I'm usually the only person at the table (on weekdays my mum and sister are up earlier than I am and my brother up later, and on weekends I'm always the first one up) and I always sit down with my book to eat. At the weekend, I often sit here for at least an hour and it's really nice first thing in the morning.

where I like to go 'ralking' ;)

On warm days, I like sitting on the bench outside my house to read. When I do this, a cat will invariably come padding along and decide that my lap would be a great place to have a nap on.
 
Another thing I enjoy is going for walks, and sometimes I take a book with me to read and walk at the same time. I have yet to come up with a name for this activity - 'ralking' just sounds strange.


Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Where do you like to read? :)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Review: Texas Gothic

Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Edition: Corgi Books Paperback
Released: July 7th 2011
Series: Goodnight Family #1
Pages: 404 approx.

Amy Goodnight's family are far from normal. She comes from a long line of witches, and grew up surrounded by benevolent spirits and kitchen spells. All fairly harmless, but Amy can't wait to get to college and escape the "family business".

But things take a darker turn when she and her sister Phin spend the summer looking after Aunt Hyacinth's ranch. Amy is visited by a midnight spectre who is clearly trying to send her a message. It seems that the discovery of an old grave on a neighbour's land has been the catalyst for an apparent ghost uprising.


Aided by local friends and Ben, the handsome cowboy who just can't take his eyes off Amy, the sisters investigate. And they soon find that there's something strange and dangerous going on, deep in the heart of Texas...

Some of you may know I don't really get along with witch books. The concept of witches and magical powers never holds an appeal to me and so, consequently, I steer clear for the most part. Well, here's something you may not know. There has always been one exception. One witch book that I actually have enjoyed. That book you ask? Texas Gothic. I'm not even sure what powered me to pick up that book and start reading it in the first place but I am thoroughly glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it! So I think it only fair to give it the justice it deserves and review it. Don't you agree? ;)
 
If you're like me and are wary of witch books then you'll be glad to know that one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book was because the whole witch side of things was very realistically portrayed and it wasn't the main focus - there were other, more demanding, plotlines. There were also quite a few comical moments in this book that kept me entertained! I couldn't help but snigger every now and then - that 'underwear' scene was hilarious! This book could also get quite creepy at times but, call me weird all you like, I actually enjoyed the creepy scenes! The underlying mystery of the ghosts though, admittedly, confusing at times, was also well developed and enjoyable.
 
The main character, Amy, is snarky, confident and can stand up for herself and so, obviously, I adored her. The cowboy of the story, Ben, was something else altogether. He was broody, secretive and just plain irrestible. I LOVED him. The relationship between him and Amy was definitely one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much. They absolutely detested each other for a good part of the book - which made up for some of those funny scenes I was telling you about! - and so the author deserves a pat on the back for developing a romance that was practically non-existent to begin with. Easy to say there is definitely no insta-love in this book! ;)
 
Overall, I really recommend this book. The characters are great and the author is extremely skilled when it comes to writing comical scenes! If I ever come across another book by this author I will be sure to check it out. If you don't see the appeal in witch books but would like to see what the hype is all about, you should give this one a go - I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Not only has it got a snarky witch, it also has ghosts, a steamy (plus hilarious!) romance and a well-developed mystery. It can easily be enjoyed by a range of different audiences!

FOUR STARS FOR TEXAS GOTHIC! :')

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo
 
PS: Is there a certain witch book you really love and would recommend?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Super Spies and The High School Bomber Excerpt!

This is the second part to the excerpt posts (scroll down to see part one) and today it's from book two in the Super Spies series by Lisa Orchard, The Super Spies and The High School Bomber! Again, this post will include the synopsis of the book, the excerpt and then more about the author. So let's get to it!

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Teetering from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. His fire retardant coat doesn’t fit and his hat’s too big. She decides to investigate. Suddenly, the FBI arrives on the scene. Now Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. Trying to keep her family together, Sarah and the Super Spies take it upon themselves to find the motive behind the bombing and the bombers themselves. Working with the FBI, the Super Spies race to catch the bombers before they set off another bomb. Will they succeed? Find out by reading the next book in the Super Spies series. “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber.”

A whoosh of roiling hot air lifted Sarah Cole and flung her against the kitchen wall like a fumbled football. At the same time, the windows burst into millions of pieces, showering everything with tiny shards of glass. Sarah crumpled to the floor, still clutching the phone. She lay there stunned, unable to inhale or exhale.

“Sarah! Sarah!” her younger sister, Lacey, screamed from the bathroom, where she’d been drying her hair.

The ringing in her ears was so intense, Sarah could barely hear her. Groaning, she opened her eyes and saw only red through her right one. Dread rippled through her body.

“Sarah! Sarah!” Lacey cried again.

Sarah dropped the phone, and put her hand up to her eye. She fingered the area gently before pulling her hand away. Blood. “Lacey,” she croaked, unable to manage more than that.

“Sarah! Where are you?”

“The kitchen,” Sarah said, finally able to breathe. She blinked her eyes twice and her vision cleared. Relief flooded her body and she wilted against the floor.

“Holy Moley!” Lacey shrieked.

Sarah jumped at the sound of her voice. She didn’t realize Lacey had come up the stairs and into the kitchen. The ringing in her ears was almost gone.

“You’re bleeding!”

“No kidding,” Sarah said, covering her right eye with her hand and glaring at Lacey with her uncovered one. She brushed her shoulder length blonde hair away from her face and gasped at the blood running down her arm.

“We’ve got to get you to the hospital!” Lacey screamed in a voice edged with hysteria.

“Stop freaking out!” Sarah gave Lacey the old one-eyed glare again.

“Sarah, there’s blood everywhere,” her sister whimpered as she wrung her hands. She gazed around her. “What happened? Did our furnace blow up or something?”

“I don’t think so.” Sarah shook her head, dust particles and slivers of glass cascaded to the floor. She furrowed her brow and absentmindedly brushed off her clothes. “I think something exploded outside. Help me up.”

Lacey held out her hand to Sarah and pulled her into a sitting position.

Blinking, Sarah gazed around the kitchen. On most days it was a sunny room with pineapple wallpaper and pine cabinets. It was the most popular room in the house—everyone congregated there during the holidays. Sarah blinked again. Dust floated through the air and glass littered the yellow linoleum floor. She groaned and turned her attention to her arm. As she examined the blood running down it, another wave of panic flooded through her body. Sarah’s legs wobbled when she stood and she stumbled as she reached for a kitchen towel that lay on the counter. She used the soft cloth to blot her eye. When she pulled the towel away, she was shocked to see the amount of blood that had soaked into it. Sarah gulped, trying to swallow her fear as beads of sweat broke out on her forehead.

With unsteady feet, Sarah stumbled into the hall where a mirror hung.

She was afraid to look. Taking some deep breaths, she stared into the cracked mirror and noticed a cut in her eyebrow. The amount of blood that seeped from the cut was enormous compared to its small size.

Lacey walked past Sarah on her way to the den. The crunch of glass under her sister’s feet caught Sarah’s attention, and she sighed. Thank goodness we had our shoes on. A wave of relief washed over her body and she exhaled another deep sigh. The girls had been getting ready for school when the windows exploded and covered everything with glass.

“Sarah, come here! You’ve got to see this!” Lacey yelled.

Sarah whirled around and spotted her sister walking from the den—her eyes were round and full of shock.

“I think all the windows have been smashed. Come and look.”

Holding the towel against her cut, Sarah followed her into the den. “Holy crap!”

She gazed into the room. Shards of glass covered the furniture and the floor. The sun streamed through the window, shining on the jagged bits embedded in the carpet. It appeared as if tiny diamonds were buried within the fibers.

“What in the world happened?”

Sarah shook her head. “I have no idea.”

The shrill ring of the phone made Sarah jump. She dashed back to the kitchen and found the phone where she had dropped it earlier.

“Hello?”

“Sarah?”

“Jackie?”

“Yeah, it’s me.” Jackie’s voice eased some of the tension in Sarah’s body. Jackie Jenkins was her best friend. They had met when Sarah and her sister moved in with their aunt and uncle three months earlier.

Sarah glanced down at her legs and for the first time saw tiny nicks where she had been hit by flying glass. She bent down and examined the cuts further. They were not deep, and were already clotting.

“All of our windows exploded! Do you know what’s going on?” Sarah asked.

“There was an explosion at the high school.”

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews. After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Monday, 13 May 2013

The Super Spies and The Cat Lady Killer Excerpt!

Today I have an excerpt to share with you all from Lisa Orchard's Super Spies series, The Super Spies and The Cat Lady Killer. This book is the first book in the series and this post part one of two posts (the other of which will be up tomorrow featuring an excerpt from book two). So, without further-a-do, here is the excerpt from the first book along with the synopsis and author bio. :)

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission. The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

Alarm bells rang in Sarah’s head—this has to be out of character for someone who never leaves their home. She turned back and whispered to the other girls. “Hey!”

Jackie poked her head out. “What?”

“The storm door’s open.”

“So?”

“So…what do I do?”

“Duh…Ring the door bell.”

Sarah shrugged and pushed the doorbell. It let out an irritating buzz and she had the feeling it had been broken long ago and never fixed. She dashed down the stairs.  The cats scattered, alarmed by the sudden activity. Reaching the shrubs, Sarah hid with her sister and Jackie.

            Gasping for breath, Sarah waited for a reaction from the old woman. Her heart pummeled her ribs and she pressed her hand to her chest to calm it.

After a few minutes, Sarah started to pace. “Well…nothing’s happened.” She peeked out from behind the shrub and saw the screen door hanging ajar. “I bet she’s not even home. I’m going to try again.”

Jackie shrugged. “Be careful, remember she’s a witch.”

Sarah shook her head, and then peered out from behind the shrubs. Once again, she climbed the stairs. She was braver this time and it didn’t take her as long to make it to the door.

She looked inside, her heart lurching in her chest. She tiptoed to the picture window and peered through it. Gasping, she ran back to the entryway. Pulling it open, she lunged inside.

Sarah stared, unable to tear herself away.  Shock ran through her body like an electrical current as she eyed the scene before her. The crumpled form of the Cat Lady lay on the living room floor, just inside the door. No life flickered in the old woman’s staring eyes. Her mouth gaped open in a silent scream and her hands were up around her head as if she were warding off blows. Turning away from the Cat Lady’s body, Sarah gagged as the coppery scent of blood assaulted her. There was blood splattered everywhere, on the wall, on the carpet and under the Cat Lady’s body.

Suddenly, Sarah’s throat constricted and she gasped for breath. Fearing she would faint, she stumbled back out the door and collided with Jackie and Lacey on the porch.

Jackie grabbed Sarah’s arm and shook her. “What are you doing? Are you crazy? I never said to go inside!”

Sarah didn’t speak—she just stared blankly at the porch.

Jackie shook her again. “Are you under the Cat Lady’s spell?”

Lacey whimpered. “Hey, Sarah….can you hear me? Sarah?”

“She’s under the Cat Lady’s spell,” Jackie said waving her hand in front of Sarah’s eyes.

“Oh my---,” Sarah moaned and clutched Jackie’s arm.

“What is it?” Jackie shook her again. “Speak…say something!”

“Th-th-the C-C-Cat Lady, sh-sh-she’s,” Sarah stuttered.

“She’s what?” Jackie demanded.

“Sh-she’s dead.”

Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews. After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Showcase Sunday #17

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits & Tea where we showcase all of our recent book grabs.
 
This week, I only received two books. So not much, but I'm pretty excited about both and can't wait to read them! :) As always, leave links below to your own hauls and I'll stop by as soon as I can. Without further-a-do, here are this week's books! :)


For Review:

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch:
This book sounds phenomenal! I'm actually so excited to read it! Everyone seriously needs to click on the link right now to see what it's about! Spoiler: It sounds AMAZING! ;) I think this is the author's debut book so I hope she leaves a lasting impression! :) Huge thanks to Random House for providing me with an early copy of this book for review!

Freebie Finds:

Between The Land and The Sea by Derrolyn Anderson:
Ever since the lovely Zoe over at Bookhi reviewed this book on her blog, I have wanted to read it. Even though it was a long time ago now, when the author commented on one of Zoe's posts saying the first book in the Marina's Tales was free for Kindle, I got super excited and instantly went to download it. It just looks like something I would really enjoy so I can't wait to start it! :D

So that's what I got this week. What did you get? Leave links below!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Friday, 10 May 2013

Review: Requiem

Author: Lauren Oliver
Edition: Hodder & Stoughton Paperback
Released: March 21st 2013
Series: Delirium #3
Pages: 352 approx.

**SPOILERS! Do not read synopsis or review if you have not read the first two books in this series, Delirium and Pandemonium!**

Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena's emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever...

First thought? This has been a lovely series. Admittedly, not my favourite, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver has created a vision of the future which is most definitely thought-provoking, introduced characters that have developed well throughout the trilogy and her style of writing is delicate and beautiful and perfect to escape into. So I'm extremely glad I decided to pick up these books.
 
To begin with I wasn't sure whether or not I would settle into the alternating chapters between Lena and Hana's POVs but, to my surprise, I did - and really enjoyed it! It got to the point where I was always looking forward to Hana's chapters! It was so interesting to catch up with her after her procedure (and also that thing you'll know about if you've read this book or the short story, Hana) and see how it affected her. The way Fred treated her was disgusting! I constantly wanted to slap him when he was horrible to Hana! I really admired her when she helped Grace out. I'm happy Lena's cousin made a re-appearance because I just adored her in this book!
 
Lena, Lena, Lena. Where to start with you. Yes, you're one tough cookie and I love you for it, but did you really have to keep snapping at Julian? He was nothing but kind to you the whole time and you'd always take out all your rage on him. Why, Lena? WHY? Never mind, I'm not too angry since I didn't really connect with either Julian or Alex in this book. Some of you will know that I wasn't too big of a fan of Alex in Delirium (didn't really connect with him) but that I did actually really like Julian in Pandemonium. I just don't know what it was in this book but Julian just appeared clingy and Alex just plain bothered me because I didn't think he had that great an excuse to be as horrible as he was. I do think Julian should have been treated better by Lena though.
 
Despite the love triangle which didn't really draw me in, I did still enjoy this book. Lauren Oliver's writing style is beautiful and it really involves you in the story. Though a little more action wouldn't have been out of the question for a concluding book in a series, it was a book that made you take a step back to really think. I recommend this series to you if you one, like dystopian, two, like romance and three, if you like the sound of it. A lot of people have expressed how unsatisfied they felt with the ending but I didn't mind it so much. Maybe that's because I'm not a die-hard fan of this series though. So, overall, a great series! :)
FOUR STARS FOR REQUIEM! :D
 
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo
 
PS: If you've read this series, what did you think of the ending? Just curious. ;)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

What's on My Bookshelves?

A few days ago I put up a poll asking if anyone would like to see a 'Bookshelf Tour' and, to my surprise, quite a number of you did. So, here I am today - several photographs later - to show you my most sacred collection. Here we go!

just click on the picture to see it larger! ^.^

So, as you can see, I did try to decorate it up a little with an assortment of bookish things I've acquired over the years. There's the Eragon dragon book plates that came in the review books I got which pulled off from the spine. Anna Dressed in Blood book plates that came with a giveaway I won a few months back. A signed photograph from Cathy Cassidy which hangs proudly in the centre, and a bunch of random bookmarks on the second top row. I'd also tried to organise my books by the colours of their spines - rainbow style - but it didn't really work out well considering most of the spines were practically the same colour! :')

So, yes. It was a short post today but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless! I tag YOU to to a 'What's on My Bookshelves' post!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Interview with Book Blogger, Jack!

Hey all! A couple of days ago I had the great privilege to interview book blogger, Jack from YA Book Stop. He's sufficiently new to the book blogging world but his blog is already doing great and his posts are always interesting and fun to read. I suggest you all go follow him now! ^.^
 
Hey, Jack! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your blog?

Well, I'm a 14 year old who lives in Dublin. I have a book blog called YA Book Stop. I'm not that great with names, okay! I love to music, art, writing, reading, really anything involving the creative arts. My book blog is basically a place where I write reviews for books in the YA genre, and sometimes moan or rant about other stuff in the world of YA books. I love Ireland, but I'd like it more if it wasn't constantly overcast and we weren't freezing 24/7. Other than that, it's great. I love the way that one second you could be walking through the city, and when you turn a corner you could be in the countryside. Anyway, I only discovered my love of books not too long ago and I'm so happy I did. Now I'm addicted and my bookshelf is overflowing!
 
What sort-of genres do you read the most? Why - what do you like about them?

As you've probably guessed, I like Young Adult books. I also enjoy Dystopian, Contemporary, Humour, and Mystery. I like Dystopian books because they can be thrilling and spookily realistic at times. It makes me think about our future and how our society will evolve. Who doesn't love a good laugh? That's why I like comedic novels. And I've always loved Mysteries. I like it when there is a sense of mystery in a novel. They're my favourites, but I try to give everything a go. For example, some of my favourite Adult Fiction novels are The Cold Eye of Heaven and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. 
 
If you could spend any day with any author, who would it be and what would you do?

Well, I would say Michael Grant, but I already have. Sorry, that was me bragging :P. Okay, I would probably choose Veronica Roth. The Divergent series is one of my favourites and I love Veronica's writing style. Divergent and Insurgent have such creative story lines, and I'd love to meet the author behind it. It's a great achievement when a series gets a movie deal and is such a success. So yeah, I'd love to meet Veronica Roth. 
 
It's the Choosing Ceremony. Which faction are you going to choose: Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor or Erudite? Why?

This is an easy one for me. I would choose Amity. I'd love to live in a society that's so peaceful. And all the apples you can eat! It would be such a nice place to live, no fights, no arguments no snarky remarks. Just living in peace with each other, surrounded by nature. I guess there's some down sides to it as well. I'm not really that enthusiastic when it comes to being 'environmentally friendly'. Yeah, I'm a bit lazy that way. But I'd still pick that faction over the others. All the others seem to harsh and mean. What can I say, I'm a nice guy!
 
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Oh God, hard one. I think I'd like the power to make money grow on trees. That way I can buy all the books I want to read. I can also buy a huge mansion for my family, a holiday home. Pay the mortgage, you know, all the essentials. I'm serious! But I think I have a better chance of winning the lotto than developing that power!
 
What fictional character reminds you the most of yourself?

Well, I would say a mixture of two characters. Alex from Flip by Martyn Bedford and, although I'm only currently reading it, Dash from Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. Alex because likes all kinds of music and plays musical instruments. He also likes poetry and is not afraid to be who he is, and has an outgoing personality. Dash because he loves reading and spends a lot of time in the book store! He can also try to be funny, when he's actually not. So yeah, a mixture of Alex and Dash.
 
The zombie apocalypse is here! You have time to grab one book and one other item. What have you chosen? Why?

I don't know what book I'd choose. Probably one I haven't read before, maybe The Host. It's a long book and would lay me a while, and I've heard great reviews. I'd probably also grab some sheet music or a photo. Whichever's closest!
 
Our world is under attack! Portals have opened that can transport you into one fictional world! What world would you pick - why?

Ooh, there's so many. I'd probably pick Wonderland from Alice in Wonderland. There's a surprise at every corner you turn. It could be anything you want it to be, since it was Alice's imagination I'm sure you could add aspects from your own imagination. It looks like a fun place, and I was laughing all the way through Alice in Wonderland when I was reading it. I'd never be bored there.
 
Quick-Fire Questions!
 
White or dark chocolate? Dark
Dogs or cats? Ahh! Dogs
First or third person? Ahh!! First
Blue or Green? Ahh!!! Depends... Blue
Dystopian or Contemporary? Dystopian
 
Can I just say that they were some of the hardest quick-fire questions I've ever had to answer.
 
Thank you Rachel for having me on your wonderful blog! I really enjoyed answering all the questions! :D
 
Thank you for being on my blog - it has been a pleasure! I would also love to spend the day with Veronica Roth! She's a brilliant author! Having the power to grow money on trees would be pretty awesome... and very useful too! Ooooh and good luck in Amity - just don't go drinking any of that water! *If you've read Insurgent, you'll understand! ;)

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: If anyone ever wants to swap interviews, just get in touch! I love creating and answering questions! You can just shoot me an email. ^.^

Monday, 6 May 2013

Novella Review: Last Off

Author: Laughton Chandler
Edition: St. Ambrose Press epub
Released: January 1st 2013
Pages: 108 approx.

Four young stowaways — illegal passengers, below even the 3rd class — find themselves on the R.M.S. Titanic, the grandest ocean liner in the world on her maiden voyage. At first unknown to each other, hailing from four different countries, they begin to learn about each others’ pasts as they bide their time in the bowels of the ship, united in their hopes of making a new life in America. When disaster strikes, what will become of them? Who, if any, will be able to escape the epic tragedy Walter Lord described as ‘the death of a small town’?

When I was contacted by the author to ask whether or not I wanted to review this novella, I wasn't sure I would. Yes, stories about the Titanic always intrigue me - because, ultimately, we know many of the characters fates and we want to see how the author handles such a delicate topic - but what made this one special enough that I would give it a go? Though, eventually, curiosity did get the better of me and I started reading - realising, after the final page, this book was completely what I expected and what I didn't.

I think I'll start with the criticism side of things first. One of the main issues I had with this book was the lack of action and terror. I suspected that the characters would all escape their make-shift "cabin" and end up fighting for their lives as the ship began sinking. I was expecting running, screaming, swimming, climbing... All four boys trying to get to the top-most deck of the ship. However, two of the characters left less than half-way through the book - to see what the all the noise was about - and didn't return (I'm sure I can guess what happened to them but I would have liked the author to have focused on those two more so I could have known exactly what they went through) while the other two were sealed in and trapped. The majority of the story follows the two trapped boys and how they cope being stuck. It just seemed to me like they acted too calm at times and not at all realistically for being in such a desperate situation.

However, I did find myself rooting for the boys from the first lurch and pitch of the ship. Especially Hugh... I really liked how the author created four very different, contrasting personalities and how each boy had a back story. Though the characters weren't quite developed enough in the respect that I empathised with them to an extreme level, I did feel for them deeply and want them to make it out alive. Of course, it did have a bittersweet ending but what else can you expect from a book set on the Titanic? I did have a lump in my throat by the end. The boys were so young - thirteen/fourteen - and all with such big dreams of making a better life for themselves in New York and they had to go through that. I just sat in silence for a moment once I had read the final page. The Epilogue crushed me.

I really like the significance of the title Last Off. It's perfect and goes with the mood of the book well. The scene with Hugh when he remembers what Paddy told him made me almost tearful. It was an extremely admirable and sweet thing to do. I definitely think I rooted for him the most but all the boys were likeable in their own way. Shy Max, book-loving Hugh, trusting Emile and the leader-like figure of the group, Paddy. So, overall, though this wasn't the best book, the ending did stir up enough emotion from me and the characters were likeable enough that I would say it wasn't a bad read at all. Bittersweet definitely, but not bad. 

THREE STARS FOR LAST OFF!
Thanks go out to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Have any of you read a book set on the Titanic? What did you think? Do you like the sound of this one?