30 October 2012

TRAILER TUESDAY #3

The purpose of my weekly trailer teasers is to highlight some fab books (and/or their related movies). Here are this week's trailers:

The first is a tribute to Halloween. It is the trailer for Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter published earlier this month by Mira Ink. A perfect read for Halloween!!

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.


*****

Although I haven't read the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, I love the trailer for Finale. It really does tempt me to start the series! For those who want the last installment in the series, Finale was released a few days ago by Simon & Schuster:

Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Timesbestselling Hush, Hush saga.
Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend's ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can't conquer?



28 October 2012

REVIEW: TIME BETWEEN US

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Doubleday
UK Release date: 26th October 2012
Genre: YA, Romance
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.
As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.


I seem to have come across a few books or films lately that involve some sort of time/space travel, but for some reason I still find it really interesting. With Time Between Us, I was instantly intrigued and pulled into the story, particularly because of the mysterious prologue that was set 15 years before the rest of the book. I also liked that the story was set in the 1990s, with its grunge and rock references (where were you when Kurt Cobain died?). The time travel element added thought provoking "what might happen if" questions that made me think about not only the characters' potential futures but my own.

Anna was just amazing. I liked the way she tied her hair up with a pencil (something I do), wanted to go travelling, and liked rock/grunge bands. She was independent, down to earth and very cool, in a ‘I don’t even realise it’ kind of way. Whilst she wasn’t like her friend Emma who seemed to ooze charm and a sense of her own pretty outward appearance, Anna had so much passion and potential to do something different and interesting with her life, and I really wanted her to get the courage to go for it.

Although we didn’t know as much about Bennett, because he was the secretive ‘visitor’, I really liked him. Despite his gifts he was unpretentious and a nice, caring guy. His mysterious disappearances and appearances, whilst strange to Anna, weren’t quite so suspicious to me (having read the synopsis). But what I didn’t know was how things tied together later on. Being able to jump between times, there is likely to be some crossover of appearing in the same time, and it was these points that I found intriguing and kept me guessing. In fact I would have liked a little more on this to add a bit more complexity and mystery to the plot. Having said this, Time Between Us was well written and plotted out with events from different times or versions linking together and resonating nicely.

I also loved the ending to the book and the "message" that it conveyed. I don't want to spoil the book, so all I will say is that I wish I was more like Anna; brave and with her own amazing dreams and aspirations.

Time Between Us is a heart-warming romance fraught with suspense and mystery.

Rating: 5*

26 October 2012

REVIEW: REVIVED

Author: Cat Patrick
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Electric Monkey
UK Release date: July 2012
Genre: YA

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life. A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency's true goals, she realizes she's at the center of something much larger -- and more sinister -- than she ever imagined

Having absolutely loved Cat Patrick's Forgotten, I couldn't wait to read Revived. Like the former, Revived was a sharp and succinct standalone book. The theme of the book revolved a lot around life and death and had serious and sad undertones at certain points. Rather than feeling overwhelming and unnecessarily heavy, this was delicately balanced with the blossoming romance between Daisy and Matt and the heartwarming friendship Daisy had with Audrey.

Daisy was such an adorable protagonist. She's the girl-next-door kind of girl, at least when she's not moving around the country, because she's down to earth and very likeable. And I really liked how much of a good friend she was to Audrey. I always think you can tell a lot about someone by the way they are with their friends. Their friendship was a surprise within the book, and what happens later on in the book was such an ironic and sad contrast to what Daisy has experienced and what she knows.
The one potential downside about Daisy, which was a purposeful characteristic based on her own experiences, was her blase attitude towards her own safety. She could be reckless and thoughtless, but not in a bad way.

The unique development that has affected and shaped Daisy's life so much is Revive, an experimental and highly secretive drug that can bring people back from the dead. The fact that it was so secretive added mystery, and hints of paranoia/suspicions to the plot, and made it feel like Daisy was part of the FBI. Although the Revive drug gives the basis for the story and is an intriguing and slightly scary concept, I have to admit that Cat Patrick's character development and writing almost surpassed this for me. The secondary characters, including Audrey, Mason and co-blogger Megan, were brilliant. I loved the idea of Daisy and Megan's blog which drew on both random and relevant points in the story.

Revived is a beautiful blend of science fiction, humanity, emotional turmoil and romance. Another stunning read from Cat Patrick.

Rating: 5*

25 October 2012

REVIEW: PANTOMIME

Author: Laura Lam
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Strange Chemistry
UK Release date: 7th February 2013
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

The rich setting for Pantomime encompasses elements of magic, fantasy and historical Victorian period. Ellada has all the finery of the rich upper class, contrasted against the poor and the beggars. Whereas Gene has all the luxuries of the rich, she still suffers from the restrictive traditions and formalities and from the burdens of a mother that wants her to marry well and be like every other girl coming of age. 

Then there is the circus; a whole different world in itself. As soon as you start reading Pantomime you are thrown into the Circus of Magic. I loved reading about what circus life is really like behind all the glitz and magic. There were so many different personalities and characters like the 'freaks' and clowns, and whilst I expected them to be like a big family I didn't quite expect the dark and sinister 'hazing' that Micah received when he started there.

The magical element in the story is Vestige and the mysterious Penglass domes. I wasn't really sure what exactly Vestige was, although it had a steampunk feel to it. I'm hoping that the world building and magic is explored in more detail in subsequent books, as there is so much potential for this to develop into something beautifully complex and colourful. Whilst this book focused more on the characters and their development, I would really love to find out more about the different countries and their dwindling magic.

What makes Pantomime different from so many other books out there is the big twist in the story. Actually I think there are two surprises. One I picked up on fairly early into the plot, as there were some little hints floating around. But the other I hadn't quite guessed, although it made sense when I found out. I can't tell you what these twists are, because it would completely spoil the story. But I will say that Pantomime will get you thinking, it will open your mind, and hopefully remind people that no matter what our differences everyone deserves to live their life how they want to, with freedom, equality, and respect. I also really admire Laura Lam for writing a book that dares to pick such a unique and slightly taboo topic and write it with really sensitivity.

Pantomime is a dark, gritty world where all the fun of the fair can turn sinister at any time.

Rating: 4*

23 October 2012

TRAILER TUESDAY #2

The purpose of my weekly trailer teasers is to highlight some fab books (and/or their related movies). Here are this week's trailers.

The first trailer is Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer, which will released by Atom. The novel is based on the film of the same name. The film won't be released until 2013, but the Struck by Lightning book will be available in November of this year.

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.



*****

The second trailer is for Shymers by Jen Naumann. This book is out in November 2012 however I can't find it on Amazon or any of the bookstores yet, so I will have to keep my eyes peeled for it.

In a distant future, Olive Mensing is raised in the solitude of the forest by her parents, away from Society. For a time she is happy and content, trusting in everything her parents tell her, and thinking she has the rest of her life ahead of her. But not long after her father’s mysterious death, Olive and her mother are torn from their home and thrown into the very place Olive was raised to fear. There she will discover the brutal truths her parents had tried to keep from her - a Society divided by two classes (Shymers and Futures) based on how many days people have to live, and a government that locks people away for rebellious behaviors.

Although everything seems backwards and hopeless in this new world, Olive makes a few new friends and develops her first crush on a handsome boy. But even then, things aren’t as easy as they should be. She finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of hatred, sadness and lies that spins out of control, forcing her to choose between what her heart wants and what she knows is right.





21 October 2012

LETTERBOX LOVE

Letterbox Love is a new meme hosted by Lynsey @ Narratively Speaking for UK based book bloggers to showcase the books that they’ve received each week.

Recently the books I've got have been ones I've bought or downloaded free onto the kindle. I've also been very tempted by some philosophical classics which I may not even by able to read and understand but I have always wanted to give them a go.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (bought).

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


Faust by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (free on Kindle).
(Inspired by Maureen Johnson's Devilish, I decided to give this a try first on kindle to see if I can actually understand it before buying a proper copy.)

Here indeed is a monumental Faust, an audacious man boldly wagering with the devil, Mephistopheles, that no magic, sensuality, experience, or knowledge can lead him to a moment he would wish to last forever.


Pantomime by Laura Lam (kindly given by Strange Chemistry).

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.


Darkness Falls by Jessica Sorensen (free on kindle).

When the disease spread through the world, people had no choice but to go into hiding. The Colony is hidden deep underground, far away from the vampires—humans that were transformed by the disease. The vampires are hideous, starving, and they will kill any human they come across.
Seventeen-year-old Kayla is a Bellator, a warrior that protects The Colony. In order to survive, there are three rules she must follow:

Rule #1—Never go out after dark.
Rule #2—Always carry a weapon.
Rule #3—No matter what, never EVER get bitten.

But what happens when the rules Kayla has always lived by can no longer apply? 
The Highers run The Colony and accept nothing less than perfection. One slip up can mean death. Kayla has always worked hard to follow the rules and strive for perfection. But during a moment of weakness, she lets her imperfections show. Her punishment is worse than death. She is chosen for The Gathering and is thrown out into a world full of starving vampires. 
No one has ever survived The Gathering, at least that’s what Kayla’s been told. But when she runs into a group who insist they were once part of The Gathering, Kayla discovers the Highers have been keeping secrets. Secrets that could lead to a cure.


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (bought)
Having read some good reviews on this one, I'm really looking forward to reading it (when I get the time!).

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.


What's arrived in your post this week?

18 October 2012

REVIEW: DEVILISH

Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: HarperCollins
UK Release date: June 2012
Genre: YA
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

The only thing that makes St. Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls bearable for Jane is her best friend Ally. But when Ally changes into a whole different person literally overnight the fall of their senior year, Jane's suddenly alone—and very confused. Turns out, Ally has sold her soul in exchange for popularity—to a devil masquerading as a sophomore at St. Teresa's! Now it's up to Jane to put it all on the line to save her friend from this ponytail-wearing, cupcakenibbling demon . . . without losing her own soul in the process. This YA take on Faust in a Catholic girls' high school is clever, fun, and full of tasty surprises.

I'm actually pretty torn about how to write this review, because I did enjoy reading Devilish. It's a quick and funny read, perfect for a long train journey or weekend read. And although it has a deeper meaning to it (which has made me very interested in reading Goethe's Faust, which this story is based on), there was something rather simplistic about the plot and characters. I stormed my way through this book, although ultimately I would have liked a little more depth and substance to it.

The plot behind Devilish focuses on one young girl trying to beat the devil (or his stylish young assistant) at their own game. The writing is humorous, clever and quick paced, with plenty of mischief, wit and cupcakes. It will certainly keep readers entertained, and have you trying to figure out a way to beat the devil's deal. It definitely got me thinking whether I would trade my soul for my best friend! I did however find the "devil" a little one-dimensional and would have liked her character and identity explored in more depth.

Jane is incredibly clever, feisty and brave, but she's been through a bit of a rough patch after breaking up with her first boyfriend. She was also an amazing friend to Allison and I felt sorry for Jane, who sacrificed so much for her friend. I did however love the humour, sarcasm, and energy her character gave to the plot.

To be honest I thought Allison was a bit of a sap. I wasn't the kind of confident girl that could stand up for myself when I was a teenager so I'm not completely against Allison. And I definitely felt sorry for her when she vomited in front of the whole school. But I just didn't see anything to show she was a good friend to Jane. Perhaps this was because the story jumped straight into Allison's new found looks and popularity. But I did think she was very lucky to have a friend like Jane and almost didn't deserve her. A little more development around their friendship at the start of the story might have justified why Jane went to so much trouble for her.

Devilish is witty, quirky and fun tale of one's girl battle against the devil.

Rating: 4*

16 October 2012

TRAILER TUESDAY

So I've decided to follow in the steps of lots of other bloggers that highlight recent trailers for books (and films).

First up is the bio and trailer for Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1) by Fiona Paul. Venom is out on October 30th 2012 from Penguin.

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.



******

Second up is the trailer for the film Detention starring The Hunger Games' Peeta or Josh Hutcherson. Below is the bio for the film, which was released in April this year in America. It went straight to DVD in August here in the UK which is why it completely missed my radar.

This comedy/horror movie is about a group of teens who go to Grizzly Lake High School. When one of their class mates is killed by someone dressed up as 'Cinderhella' (a character from a popular horror movie) they are all under suspicion. But when they all get detention, they try to work out who it is. 

15 October 2012

REVIEW: MYSTIC CITY

Author: Theo Lawrence
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Corgi
UK Release date: 11th October 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

Mystic City has lots of references and parallels to Shakespeare, most particularly the forbidden love between two young people from rival families. I loved how this classic theme was paired with dystopian and paranormal elements; New York had been transformed into a futuristic Venice with the global-warming flooded streets in the Depths and its motorised gondoliers. With the contrast between luxurious high rises and the humble Depths, the setting was perfect for two star-crossed lovers to find each other.

I loved both Hunter and Aria. Aria, although brought up in a very wealthy and powerful family, was a sympathetic and caring person. Her family's power doesn't seem to have been built on honest foundations, and rather than go along with it and enjoy all the luxuries thrown at her, Aria was determined to find out the truth and fight for what was right no matter the consequences.  I thought Aria and Hunter were a perfect pair and really wanted to see them together. Hunter was a mysterious, mystic rebel, combining a dark and dangerous side with a funny, charming and protective personality. I liked the way he teased Aria, and was  a sensitive and caring person with real charisma. As an undrained mystic rebel, he was going against the city laws, but honestly who could blame him. He was standing up against the oppression and persecution of mystics which gave him a passionate, moral and slightly wild edge.

Although huge chunks of the plot were easy to foretell, I didn't mind because I was so invested in Hunter and Aria and their potential relationship. Their escapades to the Depths, especially during the old-fashioned carnival, were so romantic. When Aria was sneaky around and hiding from her family there was palpable tension and also plenty of mystery as Aria tried to fill in the missing gaps of her memory and figure out what the interesting little locket meant. This tension reached some big climaxes as she was discovered by her family and forced into some very horrible situations. Quite frankly I don't know how such a selfish, evil family brought up such an amazing girl!

Aria's friends were your typical spoilt socialites. They were selfish, ignorant and just a little annoying. Their speech included words like "upper" to describe anything cool. It definitely made the point that they were the popular girls, although it bugged me a little. But more importantly, their behaviour gave a strong contrast to Aria's; whereas they wanted to shop, eat and look good, Aria wasn't bothered attending parties or climbing the social ladder, caring instead about equality, fairness and truth. I did however love Turk, Hunter's best friend. He was witty, cool and cared about his friends, and I would much rather have him as a friend.

Mystic City is a gripping tale of forbidden love, magic, politics and fighting for what is right.

Rating: 5*

10 October 2012

REVIEW: BREATHE

Author: Sarah Crossan
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Bloomsbury
UK Release date: 11th October 2012
Genre: Dystopian
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . . The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air. And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to? (Goodreads)


Oxygen and breathing is something we take completely for granted despite how essential it is to our survival. In Breathe, oxygen is a luxury only the rich Premiums can afford. The poor have their lives' controlled by the amount of oxygen they use, and for them energetic lovemaking and exercise isn't something they can enjoy freely. Their world within the Pod seems so barren, without trees or greenery, and with so many restrictions on how they can live. But the reality of a world where trees have been cut down and oxygen levels have been depleted doesn't seem that far-fetched, which makes the Pod seem scarily realistic and all too possible. I almost wish everyone would read this, so that they can start appreciating nature a little bit more and the vital role trees play in our lives.

In Breathe, the story is told from the perspective of Alina, Bea and Quinn. Each has a very different background and belief system. Quinn for example is a premium and used to have a life of luxury with as much oxygen as he wants. I often found him to be childish and naive, which is probably normal for someone of his upbringing. It was only towards the end that he started to show some real backbone and gain a bit of favour with me. However the two girls really stood out for me. Although Bea was more quiet, reserved and obedient, like would be expected of an auxiliary, I really liked her. She had strenth and courage when it was needed, but she was also caring and compassionate. And because I liked Bea, I was automatically hesitant to like Alina because she was unwittingly a rival for Quinn's attention and affections. At first glance she seemed very forthright, passionate, brave and a little dangerous. But as I started reading from her perspective, I saw her in a totally different light. She would sometimes put on a brave face and a bit of a front to create a certain image, so it was really interesting to hear her thoughts and see the real her.

The plot is packed with fast paced scenes, tension, and nervous energy, especially when Alina, Bea and Quinn are in the wastelands and facing a whole host of dangers from a lack of oxygen to drifters. There were some unexpected moments I had expected the Hub to be some idyllic place, filled with hippy types. But as the home to the resistance, they could be ruthless and cruel too especially their leader and her strange rather creepy pet. But their ideals were very honourable - if I was Alina or Bea I would be right behind saving and growing trees.

Breathe is dystopian with a scarily real feel to it. This could be our future.

Rating: 5*

Here is the trailer for Breathe:


8 October 2012

REVIEW: BLACK CITY

Author: Elizabeth Richards
Series: Yes, #1
US Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
US Release date: 13th November 2012
Genre: YA
Kindly lent by Casey at Dark Readers

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


The world building in Black City was a lot more atmospheric and dystopian than I expected. The city where Ash and Natalie lived was a crumbling, burnt mess after the post-apocalyptic bombing that waged war between the two races: Darklings and humans. For some reason the boundary wall built to separate Darklings and humans reminded of the Berlin wall. In this case, the boundary wall prevented Wraths and Darklings from mixing with humans and killing or infecting them. Despite the fact that Darklings, like vampires, do bite and drink blood there was a lot of prejudice towards them as approved and incited by the government and sentry. This prejudice and violent discrimination gave the plot heaps of tension and also made the budding romance between human Natalie and half-blood Ash completely forbidden and illegal.

I loved the simultaneous hatred and passion that Natalie and Ash felt for each when they first met. Their dialogue exchanges were biting and witty. Coupled with the fact that any feelings they might have felt had to be hidden, this made their developing romance so exciting. I loved the two of them and wanted them to be together. Although Natalie was like the privileged rich kid, she had a real sense of morals and was able to stand up for herself and her beliefs. And although Ash was the dark and dangerous half-human, he was kind and sensitive, and deeply charismatic and attractive.

The plot had plenty of tension, romance excitement, and intertwining stories. Particularly towards the end, the plot took some dramatic and surprising twists. One of the events involving Ash and twin-blood Evangeline did annoy me. I won't say why, but I will say I was disappointed in Ash's decision making and reasoning. He lost a little of my trust in him, and he will have to work hard to earn it back in Phoenix.

My only little peeve with the writing would be the word "fragging", which was regularly used by several of the characters. I know it's more of an American and teenage thing, but I would have preferred the characters to either have sworn or said something completely different instead. This is just my personal preference, so it probably wouldn't bother anyone else.

Black City is a dark, atmospheric romance story set in a dystopian world where humans and Darklings are segregated at every turn.

Rating: 4*

5 October 2012

REVIEW: THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Strange Chemistry
UK Release date: 4th October 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be. (Goodreads)


Ananna is gruff, tough and most certainly rough around the edges. But as a pirate's daughter that has grown up aboard a pirate ship, who can blame her. She's not the sort of girl that I would want to meet in a dark alley, and to start I didn't take an instant liking to her. But she very quickly grew on me, as she  wouldn't take stick from anyone. I loved the way she could stand up for herself, fight her way out of a situation and give as good as she got. And despite her stubborn and coarse nature, she seemed to develop a little soft spot for the assassin sent to kill her.

I loved that Naji and Ananna were bound together by an Impossible Curse. There’s something very fairytale and romantic about the idea, and the fact that they had to remain within a certain proximity of each other meant they were forced to spend time together and get on to some degree. Although Naji was completely blind to Ananna and her feelings and also very reticent about sharing anything, I could see why Ananna might start to fall for him. Because Naji is an assassin that wears black clothes to cover his entire body and face, he has this dark, mysterious appeal. His scarred face gives him a vulnerable and self-depreciating quality.

The story is set in some magical, exotic and rugged places, from deserts, the ocean and a magical jungle on an unusual floating island. These different places add to the action and the plot and give the story a really mystical air. I'm really intrigued to see where Ananna and Naji might visit next and I really hope it's some where new, different and special.

Plot-wise, the story starts with Ananna running away and very soon after sees her and Naji set off on a journey fraught with danger and adventure. There is dark magic mixed in and strange women from other worlds. Like Ananna I didn't know who could be trusted, and coupled with being on the run this made Anannna's situation seem very scary. She seemed to relish a lot of this danger though, getting involved in the action whenever she could.

A slight pet peeve for me was Anannna’s use of incorrect grammar, to make her speech more colloquial and pirate-esque. She regularly used double negatives even when she intended for the end result to be negative. I'm not know sure why this bothered me so much, it just did. Despite this, I still really enjoyed   this book.

The Assassin’s Curse is a pirate fantasy bursting with romance, action and adventure.

Rating: 4*

3 October 2012

REVIEW: THE PECULIAR

Author: Stefan Bachmann
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: HarperCollins
UK Release date: 18th September 2012
Genre: Steampunk faery fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.
In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.
One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.
First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong. (Goodreads)


In The Peculiar, Bachmann has created an alternative England where a door to the faery world was once opened. This alternative world incorporates elements of Victorian England, gothic steampunk and magical fantasy, and is both wonderfully vivid in its opulence but also darkly dangerous. Since the destruction of Old Bath and the introduction of faeries to the country, there has been an uneasy alliance between humans, changelings (half humans half faeries), and the different types of faeries from sprites and gnomes to Sidhe. Neither side understands or trusts the other. And it is unfortunately the half bloods or changelings that bear the brunt of this prejudice and mistrust. I do love this world that has been built, but I do feel more could have been done to add depth and development to the characters.

My feelings towards Mr Jelliby are a little ambivalent. He’s the kind of upper-class gentleman that doesn’t like to rock the boat and is rather ineffectual. But despite the fact that he can be indecisive and cowardly, he doesn’t just idly sit back and let events unfold without trying to intervene. I’m not fully convinced this was down to character development, and I did sometimes doubt the believability of his actions. Would such a nervous character really be able to step up as the hero without more persuasion than just thinking ‘well someone has to do it’?

Poor changeling Bartholomew and his little sister have been forced to live hidden away from everyone else. It is only when the curious Bartholomew spots a mysterious lady magically whisk away his young neighbour, that he sets out into the wide world. I felt I understood and liked Bartholomew a lot more, with his desire to have a fairy helper and yet even greater desire to protect his sister.

The story is written in third person from Bartholomew’s and Mr Jelliby’s perspectives. Occasionally the perspectives overlapped, to give an omniscient narration within the same chapter. I found this a little  disconcerting, as my preference is to keep third person perspectives quite separate. Something that also stood out about the writing was that the story gave no context straight away to what the characters' motivations were. You are plunged straight into the story and have to figure out what is going on as the characters Bartholomew and Mr Jelliby do, and decipher what Mr. Lickerish might be up to. I actually liked this though, as I had to keep guessing and wondering how their paths might all cross and come together.

Despite some of the narrative and character niggles, I enjoyed The Peculiar as a visually splendid Victorian delight, mixing up steampunk and gothic, faery fantasy to create something that children will love.

You can read an excerpt of The Peculiar on Goodreads and you can also listen to Peculiar Pieces, the music written by Stefan Bachmann to accompany the book.

Rating: 4*

1 October 2012

REVIEW: FALLING TO ASH

Author: Karen Mahoney
Series: Yes, Moth #1
UK Publisher: Corgi
UK Release date: 27th September 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal
Read via NetGalley
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Trapped between two very different worlds, newly made vampire Moth is struggling to find her place in either. Not only does she have to answer to her strict Irish-Catholic Dad, but her over-protective maker, Theo, is intent on making her the star attraction in his powerful Boston vampire clan. Moth will have to pull off the double-act of the century to please both of them...
Adding to her problems is the dangerously attractive Jason Murdoch, a trainee vampire hunter who loves to play cat and mouse in his spare time (Jace = cat; Moth = mouse). But when the teenagers of Boston’s wealthiest families start to disappear, it forces Moth and Jace into an uneasy truce. Will they be able to solve the mystery behind the disappearances—before someone winds up undead? (Goodreads)


I have to admit, I'm a bit fed up with vampire stories. But Falling to Ash didn't bore me at all. For starters, Moth is a little rough around the edges as a vampire. She wears a leather jacket, steel toe capped biker boots and is extraordinarily witty. It kind of made me feel good though that even as a vampire, Moth wasn't unnaturally perfect all the time. The fact that Moth could still feel pain and had to overcome that to get things done made her character tougher and somehow more humane. Having been turned against her will, Moth is undergoing the emotional turmoil of trying to reconcile her new vampire life with with old life and family. Her protectiveness of her younger sister was really sweet. Moth may be a kickass heroine, but she will capture your heart.

Although the murder mystery was easy to predict, there was plenty of action and twists to the story. Surprising things happened after the murders, which I won't tell you about but were a little gruesome and made some interesting links.

I loved the relationship between Moth and Jace and the fact that they already had a backstory that affected how they interacted at the start of the book. Jace, following in the footsteps of his fathers, was a monster-hunter. And Moth was considered the monster. Despite the fact that Jace had been brought up to kill vampires, Moth and Jace were perfectly balanced. Both in strength and charisma. When they both start investigating the murders of local teenagers they form a tentative alliance. And as Moth is so down to earth, Jace slowly started coming around to seeing her as a person and not just a human blood-sucking killing machine. The fact that he could overcome all the believes his father had instilled in him was impressive and endearing.

This may sound patronising, but it isn't meant to be in the slightest. As Karen is a British author, I was really impressed by how authentic the writing was to the American setting. OK so I haven't  ever been to Boston, where the book is set, but the locations described felt so real. And the language and style really did make me believe Moth was a born and bred American. With Irish roots ;)

Dark, witty and with a dash of romance, Falling to Ash is a refreshing addition to the vampire genre.

Rating: 4*