Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cover Reveal: Eternal


In the final book of the Winterhaven trilogy, Violet McKenna and her friends find themselves right in the middle of a vampire war. The stakes have been raised, the danger unavoidable now. As the Warriors’ senior year draws to a close, not everyone makes it out alive. Who will be left standing at the end of it all? Will Aidan be a part of Violet’s future, or is he just a specter of the past?
About The Author

YA author Kristi Cook is a transplanted southern gal who lives in New York City with her husband and two kids. Her YA debut, HAVEN, was released in Feb. 2011 by Simon Pulse.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#23)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  Here's what I'm looking forward to this week!

The MurmuringsTitle: The Murmurings
Author: Carly Anne West
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Released: 5th March 2013

A teen girl starts hearing the same voices that drove her sister to commit suicide in this creepy, suspenseful novel.

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not….

This sounds so creepy!  I really hope it is.  I feel like I need a good dose of creepiness. ;) 

What are you waiting on this week?  Let me know!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Book Blitz: The Voice - Excerpt & Giveaway

The VoiceTitle: The Voice
Author: Jennifer Anne Davis
Publisher: Lands Atlantic
Released: 29th January 2013

During her abduction and assault, Audrey begins to hear a voice. She hopes she’s not going crazy, because after what she’s experienced, that’s the most logical explanation. However, as she begins to listen to the voice, Audrey realizes that someone may be telepathically trying to help her.

Unfortunately, rescue isn’t all she needs. In order to leave behind the constant reminders, she flees to her Aunt Kate’s house in San Diego, and assumes a new identity. It works—until the eighteen-year-old twin boys who live next door threaten to break through the protective walls she’s worked so hard to build.

Between Caleb going out of his way to befriend her and Justin avoiding her at all costs, Audrey doesn’t know if normalcy will ever find her again. But one thing is certain: When a familiar danger resurfaces, it’s the same voice that she turns to—a voice that is not only real, but a lot closer than she realizes.

Gripping and tastefully told, The Voice is a story of healing, trust, and courage.

Excerpt: Chapter 1
Lying in the dark cabin, I tried not to think about the foul smell of body odor mixed with the stench of urine. I tried not to think about how hungry I was, or when I would eat again. About the plastic zip ties cutting into my wrists, or the spider crawling up my arm. I kept trying and failing. There was nothing to do but think.
    Audrey? he spoke in my mind.
    “Here,” I replied, still not understanding who or what the voice was, hoping I wasn’t going crazy. Though, after what I had been through, crazy wasn’t too far off. Instead, I focused on what the voice was saying. After weeks of being stuck here, he was the only thing keeping me grounded and giving me hope.
    I need you to do something for me.
    He sounded drained. “Are you okay?” I asked.
    I need you to scream as loud as you can. Now, Audrey! Scream!
    Bill had left the cabin only five minutes earlier, and I was afraid to make any noise. What if he was still outside and heard me? Would he come back in? I was so sore and bruised that I couldn’t handle anymore.
    Scream! he urged.
    Finally trusting the voice, I sucked in a deep breath, closed my eyes, and screamed as loud as I could. At first I sounded like a cat that was being strangled, the sound barely audible and grating on my ears. But I kept trying, and the noise transformed into something loud and fierce.
    Yell the word “help.”
    “HELP!” My throat was raw, but that didn’t stop me. I took all of my hurt and anger, and used those emotions for the energy needed to sustain the scream.
    Then a thumping came from the other room—maybe the front door. My body shuddered. Shimmying to the edge of the mattress, I tried to stand, but my legs gave out, and I fell to the rough, wooden floor, landing on my knees. With bound hands, I inched my way to the corner of the room, as far away from the door as possible.
    Keep screaming!
    I wanted to curl into a ball and disappear, but I did what the voice said and let out a shrill, loud cry for help. The sound bounced off the walls, echoing.
    Wood shattered in the other room. I kept yelling, wishing that I had the power to destroy Bill with my scream.
    The doorknob twisted. Please don’t hurt me again . . . please don’t touch me . . . no more, please. No more.
    The door exploded open. Instead of Bill, there stood three hunters dressed in camouflage and bright orange vests. One held a shotgun, and another held an axe. I froze in horror. The men looked at one another and then back at me.
    Audrey, tell them who you are. Your name.
    “I’m Audrey Marshall. Please help me.”
    “The kidnapped girl?” the older guy on the right asked. I nodded. “I’m calling 9-1-1. You’re going to be all right now,” he said reassuringly, his cell phone already at his ear.
    “Thank you,” I whispered to the voice. But he didn’t respond.
On offer is a Kindle copy of The Voice, open internationally.  If you don't have a Kindle, you can download one of the free apps from Amazon. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  Here's mine for this week:

Author: Emma Pass
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Released: 25th April 2013

ACID - the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.
I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong.

 I think it's safe to say this book has my attention.

The synopsis is really short but at the same time, it tells you just enough.  Not to mention the fact that its short length makes it much snappier.  The claim of murder and being locked away reminds me of Shatter Me, but I get the distinct feeling that that is where the similarities end.  The title is to the point, and I have to say, Jenna looks all kinds of badass there.

So.  Is April here yet? *looks expectantly*

Link me up, guys!  Let me know what you're all waiting on this week. :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mini Reviews: La Dame à La Licorne, The Trouble With Nightingale & Phoenix

La Dame à La LicorneTitle: La Dame à La Licorne
Author: Anne Marie
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 24th August 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very impressed with this story.  Kate's voice comes across wonderfully clearly right from the beginning.  She's strong, independent and she can fight for herself.  Absolutely not the whiny type.  Each character in this has their own unique voice and their personality comes across with extraordinary clarity.

Marie has created for us here something very different.  In the first instance, she has centred her story on a creature in fantasy that is very little explored.  In all the years I have spent reading, I've come across this only once, and that didn't work very well for me. But Marie made this engaging, and how?  Because she put a twist on it. This is an element of fantasy that we've built a lot of preconceptions and images of, yet in a stroke of brilliance the author has given it a completely different personality.  The 19th century French background made it all the more magical somehow; it was the perfect setting.

So what makes this so remarkable?  I talk like I've never come across these things before.  Well, folks...

This is a short story. (And I mean shorter than short.)  But despite this, the author has managed to get a lot in every page, from the first page.  You get a brilliant sense of who each character is, not to mention the feeling that they all have their own history. Anne Marie packs a lot of punch here.  Her writing is to the point and conveys a lot.  So if you're short on time and you're looking for something original, this book fits that criteria.  And not many books can say that.

The Trouble With NightingaleTitle: The Trouble With Nightingale
Author: Amaleen Ison
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 20th January 2011
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another recommended short story.  I really liked the world-building in this.  London...rubbishy old estate...demons.  It all really came together to create the perfect background and I definitely would not mind a full-length novel set against it.  Millie was a likeable protag.  You can easily tell she's been through a lot and now she's just trying to get through life.  I felt that despite the doubt, she was very quick to accept her situation - but then that's probably down to the fact that this is only short.  There's very much this sense of her having lost a lot already and now she refuses to let anyone take anything else away from her.

I quite liked Fabian too, with his cheekiness and his ability to turn into cute fuzzy animals while at the same time being able to fight.  I like that Ison created a hint of something between him and Millie that suggested they could potentially develop a relationship without actually making it one.  A new romance in a short story would not work, and the author has kept this in mind, something I appreciate.  Overall her characterisation and world-building made this very enjoyable.

PhoenixTitle: Phoenix
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Released: 11th May 2012
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow.  This was something incredibly different from your average story.  Jennifer Mason-Black has a truly beautiful writing style that captures emotions and thoughts perfectly.  Despite this being another short story, the auther expertly deals with issues like homosexuality and abuse.  Somehow she also mixed that with an almost supernatural element.  Phoenix left me with questions at the end, but for some reason I'm not frustrated with not knowing.  The ambiguity of it actually sits very well with me, a further sign of Mason-Black's brilliant writing.

The characterisation in here is amazing.  I truly felt for Tucker because of all the things he's been through.  We see him both as an adult and as a teenager, and it's great to see that as an adult, now living a better life, he doesn't just dismiss his past.  Instead he reflects on it and allows it to shape him in a way that makes him a better person; he still cares.  I could feel Gabriel's pain even though it was never overtly mentioned, and I smiled at the way he took care of Kelsey despite everything.  Kelsey herself talks a lot of what sounds like madness to the two boys, but whether it is true or not, it's obvious she's been through a lot.  Phoenix introduces Tucker as an adult, with most of the story being a flashback of one key time in his life as a teen, and the title and cover here are definitely appropriate.  This story was truly wonderful.

Even though these are short stories, I can absolutely recommend them - and I don't even like reading short stories.  You don't want to miss out on these.

A big thank you to Musa for providing copies of these in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Review: A Song for Julia

A Song for JuliaTitle: A Song for Julia (Thompson Sisters)
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Released: 5th December 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crank and Julia are two broken people from completely different backgrounds.  Julia attends Harvard and her family is exceedingly wealthy, her father in international relations.  But she carries a dark secret from when they were in Beijing that could have brought her father's career to a screeching halt when the scandal occurred, and it weighs heavily on the family's mind constantly.  After that experience she's determined that she'll never fall for a guy again.  Crank left home at sixteen to start a band and get away from his family; now he's still in the band, but it's only mildly successful.  His arguments with his father remain frequent, he never speaks to or even sees his mother and when he's not not rehearsing or doing a gig, he's either flipping burgers for a small amount of money or looking after his brother, who has Asperger's Syndrome.  The two meet at an anti-war protest and an unlikely relationship begins between them.

This took a little while for me to properly get into.  For one thing, the alternating POVs didn't really seem to work for me - and those of you who know me know that I'm usually fine with them.  I don't know what it was, if they just switched too quickly or if it was something else, but something about it didn't sit well.  Also, it was very repetitive.  I got slightly frustrated at hearing the same things over several times, over-emphasising certain aspects of the characters.  The same hints of Julia's secret were brought up frequently, and I think the revealing of the secret could have been drawn out a little more.  And as for Julia and Crank, I felt they were too quick to be so attracted with each other.  I'm very hesitant to use the phrase 'insta-love' because I don't think it's necessarily as deep as that: as far as Crank's concerned, she's just another girl, someone else he can get into bed.  In fact, scratch the insta-love.  But I do think that Julia was very incautious to begin with for someone who's had such a traumatising experience.  Having said that, she's still painfully broken and isn't willing to make the same mistake as before.  The thing with A Song for Julia is that it starts out pretty flawed, but then when you get into it, that's when the magic starts.

What Julia went through in Beijing really is awful.  Traumatising.  I felt for her completely and utterly.  I could not believe what she had been put through and then, making an already agonising situation unbearable, her family chose to believe the rumours and the press rather than actually ask Julia herself what happened.  Her mother specifically.  They of all people should have known how truth gets twisted in the media, and yet no-one bothered to ask her for her account of events.  Her father was pushing her down a certain study path and career, and her mother was one of the coldest you will ever meet.  She had no true affection for her daughters, and she couldn't even address them by their own names, instead barking orders at whichever 'young lady' she was unhappy with.  Apart from bitterness, this woman has almost no emotion to her.  I loved it when Julia started making a stand, putting forward her own thoughts and asserting her own control.  Julia grows significantly throughout the novel, not only by making her own future, but also learning to take a chance and let go of her past.

Crank is not a bad boy.  He is who he is.  He doesn't put up a pretence, he doesn't try to be tough.  He lives for his brother, his music and the girls.  But with Julia he views her as more than just someone to have fun with for one night.  I actually quite enjoyed seeing the relationship kind of turned around: usually we think of the guys as having commitment issues from what we see in books, movies, real life. But this time it was the girl, because of her experience.  The development in their relationship and the way they each revealed more of themselves to the other was beautiful.  I also adored the fact that Crank was close to his brother and tried to look out for him.  The author expertly managed to write about Sean with his Asperger's Syndrome, and I grew very close to him.  It was sweet to see him start to open up a little more, both within his family and with Julia.  The friendship between Sean and Julia is incredibly endearing, and it's one that makes you appreciate Julia even more.  Sheehan-Miles has been very successful in creating the relationships within this book.

This is a truly beautiful read.  It's packed with different emotions, different relationships, ideas of love, acceptance, growth.  I loved Crank, Julia and Sean, and even Crank's father, not to mention Crank's interaction with Julia's sisters and the way his family took her in like she was their own.  I adored seeing Julia step in for her sisters, grow closer to them, and also the concept of how she and Crank met.  It's quite an interesting mix of war or foreign affairs, and music, and the manner in which our two protagonists meet is definitely unusual.  If you like character-driven and emotional books, I can definitely recommend this, and I can't wait to read more of this author's work.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review: Angelfall

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 21st May 2011
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went into this with a little bit of trepidation, given my past experience with books surrounded by hype.  But anything I felt on starting this, anything I had going on inside me, whether it was expectations, nervousness, anticipation...this book totally obliterated them, leaving me instead filled with awe.  I contemplated whether to actually write a review for Angelfall in light of all the hundreds already out there, but I figured I'd write this for the one percent of readers who still haven't read it.  Because it turns out that somehow, I am not the last person on Earth to read this.

In opening the first page, we find ourselves six weeks into a now post-apocalytic world.  Instead of zombies we have angels; instead of dead bodies traipsing we have celestial beings flying.  Yet for some reason they have chosen to make a battleground of the entire planet.  Buildings that once stood tall are now reduced to rubble, at the very most bones of what they once were.  People have begun to turn on each other.  It's every person for themselves.  Everyone tries to stay out of the angels' sight, and of each other's, and it's this fear of being seen that most troubles Penryn when she and her mother and sister leave their old condo one night to move on.  But they don't get very far before an angel, broken and bloody, comes falling out of the sky, and not long after him are several more.  After watching them slice off his wings Penryn knows they have to get away as soon as possible, but one tiny little sound snags their attention and leads to her sister being kidnapped.  Determined to get her back by whatever means necessary, she makes a deal with the wingless angel, Raffe.  He will help her find her sister and she will help him survive as they make their way to the angels' fortress.

The plot that Susan Ee has created for us is absolutely fantastic.  Immediately thrusting us into the action, well after the apocolypse has taken place, was the perfect way to start the story.  From the word 'go' there was a heavy sense of tension and anticipation, and the pace of the story combined with the way the writing swallowed me whole meant I was turning the pages desperately.  Ee knows the meaning of the word creativity.  She knows the meaning of originality.  She knows the meaning of success.  Because the ideas in here?  The stages she has created for Penryn and Raffe, the creatures she has brought to life, every single component of the world described here?  They're perfect.  And they cannot be found anywhere else.  Her writing is gripping, flawless.  The world-building, the fight scenes, the characters, literally everything was written beautifully to come together to make this amazing book.

I loved Penryn right from the start.  Her character comes through astonishingly clearly even on the first page.   She is seriously one of the most badass heroines you will ever meet.  I loved that she was independent and knew how to fight for herself - not only herself, but her family too.  Her mother's schizophrenia and her sister's disability meant she was the protector, and my heart ached for her because she had to carry so much weight on her shoulders.  It would have been easy for her to give up and still she carried on, going after her sister with fierce determination.  There were few overt signs of her vulnerability, Ee choosing instead to show it more subtley.  She is an incredibly resourceful character and she constantly has her eye on her end goal: to get her sister back.  Penryn's voice is appreciable and amusing, making it very easy to not only like her, but support her in everything she does and wish that she does get her happy ending.

Raffe is the perfect counterpart to Penryn.  He too has his own goal in sight: to make it to the fortress and get his wings back on so that he can once more be whole.  He deliberately remains as closed off to her as possible and I adored the way he could always see right through her.  Now and then the sweeter side of him would show and every time it did, he stole a bit more of my heart (of course by the end, he had decided to just grab the whole thing and take it for himself).  He is strong but incredibly vulnerable at the same time, and it amazed me to just see him continue to carry on despite everything.  The relationship between Penryn and Raffe is wondrously slow.  Ee did a phenomonal job of creating the build-up in the romance between them; I greedily took in every word spoken between them, every touch, every look.  What made it even more perfect was the fact that not once did this romance overtake the plot.  Instead it accepted its position at second place and worked itself so that it enhanced the storyline rather than dominate it.  The relationship built slowly, gradually, to culminate in an ending so perfect, so bittersweet, that to have ended it any other way would have been simply tragic.

The ending.  Oh, God.  How do I describe to you how enthralling it was?  How it had me so hooked and how it was so unpredictable and incredible that one minute I'd be gasping, the next holding my hand over my heart, the next again holding it over my mouth?  This was where the author astounded me the most with her brilliant imagination.  This was where the most emotion was wrung out of me.  It was shocking, disturbing, painful, amazing, bittersweet, all at the same time.  This was genius.

There can be no exaggeration for just how wonderful Angelfall is.  Susan Ee has created a terrifically gritty and captivating novel whose characters are realistic and heart-wrenching, and whose plot is beautifully original.  To that remaining one percent, please.  Please go and read this book.  You honestly have no idea what you're missing out on, and this is a book that can't not be read.  As for you, Ms Eee...all I can do is thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating such an inspirational, beautiful book.

Thank you to the amazing Anatea for joining me in a read-along! A fantastic book is always better with someone to share it with. :)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Review: Doomed

DoomedTitle: Doomed
Author: Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: 8th January 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pandora is just like any other teen, hooked to the Internet and spending way too much time on her laptop.  Her mum is barely around, more often than not on a business trip somewhere, and she hasn't seen or heard from her dad in years.  That is, until her birthday.  Opening up her email, she's stunned to find twelve photos of her family from when she was younger that have been sent by her dad.  Unable to help herself, she clicks on the photos, never imagining that doing do would release a virus designed to knock out the Internet and electricity all over the world.  But the ultimate truth is far harsher, and if she doesn't move fast, not even the Earth itself will survive.

The world created in Doomed is, I feel, very true to what would happen if we really did lose our electricity and Internet.  It's amazing just how much we rely on these things today, so much so that it's impossible for us to really imagine what the world was once like, when society lived without them.  It's a major flaw of ours - everything is on computer; there is no back-up, no support, nothing physical for us to hold on to.  Everything is linked to a power source and for all our love of smartphones, they'd be useless in such a crisis.  Deebs very successfully portrays the panic and chaos that would ensue if indeed such a virus was released.  It was very interesting to see how people began to went from humanitarian to survivalist.  This book is wonderfully fast-paced, packed to the brim with action and tension.  I remember at the beginning I was wondering how the author had written this - given that Pandora has to play an online game and follow the photos her father sent her if she wants to stop the worm from fulfilling its ultimate purpose, I wanted to know if more of the story was based inside the game, kind of like Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.  Looking back, I really liked the way that the story was structured.  I also loved the Greek element that was introduced; this started with Pandora's name and was then developed inside the game.

To begin with I didn't like Pandora.  She whined, she freaked out a lot and she refused to face facts.  I just wanted her to suck it up and deal. Theo and Eli, the stepbrothers helping her, were coping just fine, so why did she have to lose it so much?  Gradually, though, she got stronger.  She forced herself to work past the difficulties and the pain and do what needed to be done.  There were actually signs of this side of her at the beginning, but they were few and far between; I was glad to see it develop further throughout the book.  I did feel for her because of the situation with her parents as well.  Her mother was cold and aloof, more concerned  with her career than her daughter.  Her father's decision to make Pandora implicit in his schemes after years of absence was just galling.  Of course like all madmen, he actually believed in what he was doing.  The ironic thing was that he actually had a point.  He was just going about it in entirely the wrong way.  Something he failed to realise.  With such failures for parents, I'm willing to give Pandora a little bit of leeway.  A little.

When presented with Theo and Eli, I knew immediately who I wanted Pandora to end up with.  Stepbrothers, they're completely different from each other.  Eli is blonde-haired, green-eyed and charming.  Theo has black hair, blue eyes and is of a more broody disposition.  Both have their good points, but one was more than just good, he was amazing; needless to say I was delighted when I saw that Pandora was more inclined towards him.  It was a love triangle, sadly, but it didn't become dramatic, it just resolved itself quietly.  I was glad to see that the romance didn't overtake the plot; instead it took a more subtle presence.  Eli and Theo also happen to hate each other with a passion, and it was touching to see them very gradually grow closer together.  I did have a couple of questions about their characters, Theo in particular, that I felt weren't really answered.  Not anything major, but I felt that certain aspects needed a more satisfying explanation, such as how they were both so willing to help Pandora and how they knew to be so prepared.  There was also a certain incident involving Theo and Pandora in their English class at the very beginning that was never recalled, which I felt should have been.  But overall, these two were really likeable (one more than likeable).

Doomed was a book that I couldn't put down.  It had me swept up in the action, racing through the pages to get to the next place Pandora, Theo and Eli needed to be and to see how they were going to get out of whatever situation it was that they were in.  Deebs didn't shy away from the seriousness of the effects on humanity of such a crisis, and the messages I got from this book were very clear.  Despite the character flaws, I still enjoyed reading about them and enjoyed the banter between them.  If you're even slightly interested in the sound of this, Doomed is a book I can definitely recommend.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  Here's mine for the week:

Nocover-blank-133x176Title: Landry Park (Landry Park #1)
Author: Bethany Hagen
Publisher: Dial
Released: 2013

... pitched as “Gone with the Nuclear Wind". It is supposed to be a cross between "Gone with the Wind" and "Mansfield Park", but set into the future 200 years from now. According to the author's blog the "crux of the plot centers around nuclear technology".

... is set in a world ruled by the lavish Gentry, who force a people called the Rootless to handle the nuclear material that powers their large estates. When a Gentry girl is attacked, sixteen-year-old Madeline Landry can't escape the rumors of revolution and retribution circulating through the ballrooms--and the city's new golden boy David is at the middle of them. Soon, she finds herself forced to choose between her duty and her desires, her ancestral destiny and her conscience.

I know mine is quite an open choice this week - no specific release date, no cover - but I must admit I'm intrigued.  I've never read Gone With the Wind, but I did really enjoy Mansfield Park, being an Austen fan.  It's curious to see that here, a society 200 years in the future sounds almost like it did in the 19th century, in terms of the Gentry - but mixed in with nuclear technology and revolution?  Certainly something I want to check out.

What about you?  What are you waiting for this week?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Blog Tour: Doomed: Excerpt

DoomedTitle: Doomed
Author: Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Walker Children's
Released: 8th January 2013

Beat the game. Save the world.

Pandora’s just your average teen, glued to her cell phone and laptop, surfing Facebook and e-mailing with her friends, until the day her long-lost father sends her a link to a mysterious site featuring twelve photos of her as a child. Unable to contain her curiosity, Pandora enters the site, where she is prompted to play her favorite virtual-reality game, Zero Day. This unleashes a global computer virus that plunges the whole world into panic: suddenly, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No utilities, traffic lights, hospitals, law enforcement. Pandora teams up with handsome stepbrothers Eli and Theo to enter the virtual world of Zero Day. Simultaneously, she continues to follow the photographs from her childhood in an attempt to beat the game and track down her father, her one key to saving the world as we know it. Part The Matrix, part retelling of the Pandora myth, Doomed has something for gaming fans, dystopian fans, and romance fans alike.

We've been walking maybe half an hour or so when Theo reaches into my bag, yanks out the two bags of M&M's.  "You need to eat," he tells me, opening one of the bags and shoving it into my hand.  "The sugar will give you something to burn, at least for a little while."
   He tosses the other pack to Eli, who catches it on the fly.  "So do you," I say, pouring out a handful of candy and then tossing the bag to him.
    "I'm fine."
    I snort.  "Who's being a martyr now?  Eat the stupid candy.  It's not much further to Colorado, right?"
    "Two miles.  Maybe a little less."
     "Cool.  Will we even be able to recognize when we pass?"
    "I've been thinking about that.  If we keep up this pace for another hour or so, we should guarantee that we're a couple miles in.  Then we can head back to the road.  We'll have missed the roadblock, and hopefully we'll be far enough away that no one will notice us."
    "What do we do when we get to the road?  We don't have a car.  We have money, but I'm not sure how much good it's going to do us."
    "We'll think of something."
    "Speak for yourself.  I am completely out of ideas."
    "That's 'cause your last one was so good."  Eli winks at me
    "Oh, yeah.  Right.  This is a fabulous idea."
    "Better than going to jail as cyberterrorists."
    I shrug.  "At least it would only be for six and a half days."
    Theo laughs.  "Wow, from despair to cynicism.  You've come a long way in eight hours."
    "What can I say?  Nothing lasts forever.  Obviously."
    "You're a real laugh riot today," Eli says.
    I look down my nose at him.  "Sarcasm is so unbecoming."
    "So's fatalism.  So get over it already, will you?"  He points at some nebulous area in front of us.  "Bet I can beat you to that cactus."
    "We're in the desert.  There are eight million cacti out here.  You're going to have to be more specific."
    "That huge forked one way up ahead.  You see it, over..."
    I'm off and running before he finishes the sentence.  Am I cheating?  Absolutely.  Do I feel bad about it?  Not at all.  But I figure if I'm going up against the two of them, it's only fair that I get some kind of advantage.
    I hear them pounding the sand behind me.  They're getting closer, so I put on an extra burst of speed and cross the finish line a split second before Theo.  Eli finishes about a second later.
    "You are such a cheater," Eli tells me breathlessly, then tugs on one of the locks of hair that have fallen across my eye.  "I'm going to remember to watch my back around you."
    "And why is that?"
    "Because you're dangerous," Theo says, opening a water bottle and handing it to me, along with yet another granola bar.  This one's apple-cinnamon flavour.  Lucky me. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Review: City of Lost Souls

Title: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Released: 8th May 2012
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I felt a tad bit ridiculous putting the series and author up there.  Because I mean by now, who doesn't know this series?  Even if you haven't read it, even if you hate it, who doesn't recognise these titles if you read YA?  Who doesn't know who Cassandra Clare is?  Magical author, creator of a magical world, inspirational, evil, torturer...*takes deep breath*  Let's face it, soon it really will be everyone who knows her name with the upcoming movie.  City of Lost Souls also holds a special place because I get to start this year on a 5 star review, the same way as I got to end last year on one.  Of course I (half) planned it that way, but still.

Jace is now bound to Sebastian; if one is hurt, so is the other.  If one is killed, the other dies too.  No-one has any idea where they are and after two weeks of hopeless searching, the Clave de-prioritises it in favour of other problems.  Only a small team of people - can you guess who? - are willing to save him, and they know they must do it in secret: should the Clave get hold of Jace, they will kill him, believing there to be no way to sever the bond and it the easiest way to kill Sebastian.  All of this, however, is done without Clary, who's doing something else on her own.  Now the stakes are even higher, and this could easily be the end of both Clary and Jace.

CoLS somehow managed to manipulate my emotions so that they were the opposite of what they were before, at least to an extent.  Take Alec, for instance.  I like his character, I really do.  Yet for some reason he was acting ridiculously here.  A little trust and common sense would not have been amiss.  Isabelle, on the hand, only grew in my eyes.  The way she stood up for Clary and the way we see more of her vulnerability strengthened my respect for her.  I don't think I've ever particularly liked Jocelyn, Clary's mum, but I think here that dislike intensified.  Also, I don't know if it's just me, but Magnus seemed more serious in this one.  Not in a bad way - I thought it reflected the gravity of their lives at the moment perfectly; I suppose you know it's really bad when even Magnus is so obviously affected.  At the end of the book I felt really sorry for him. It's clear he has his own worries and his own life apart from the Shadowhunters, yet no-one seems to notice.

Clary herself surprised me in the way I saw her.  I've never had a problem with her before, yet here I saw a couple of flaws which bothered me.  Has she always been like this, or is it something that just happened with this book?  I really can't say.  I wanted her to be more questioning and take a few more risks despite the danger of her situation.  However, when it was needed, boy did this girl kick butt.  Suddenly she was strong and fighting and taking control.  A true Shadowhunter.  And Jace...(yes, I hear the collective sigh.)  He breaks my heart sometimes; so much happens to him, and all I can think is, 'Why?'  Why does it have to be this broken, scarred, delicious, fierce, amazing person who has to suffer even more?  I loved seeing the contrast between Bound Jace and Jace Jace.  I swear, each book I think it's impossible to love him more and then the next one goes and disproves that.  As for Sebastian, well, I'm not sure what I feel about him.  He is evil and I hate him as such, but did my heart betray me?  Did I start to feel an inkling of sympathy?  Possibly.  Clary certainly seemed to be affected at times.  He himself acted surprisingly on occasion.

Of course Clare doesn't just outdo herself with her characters, but also her plots.  The storyline in CoLS was suitably complex and compelling, astonishing me with all the ideas there were.  I have to wonder if there were too many, given that there were a couple of things that conveniently disappeared until they were ready to be dealt with again.  Overall, though, it's safe to say that I am in complete awe of this author's imagination.  I loved the surprises she brought us, and all the new complications. Again this is told from multiple POVs.  Usually I have no problem with this, but I felt that sometimes the switch between characters was made too quickly.  This did start to improve over the course of the book.

Maybe now you're wandering why I've given this five stars even though this book clearly isn't perfect.  Well, the flaws are only small.  They don't become overly tedious and really, Clare knows how to keep you entertained.  Her writing is fantastic and any problems there were were immediately dispensed with once we reached the climax, the battle between the two forces - good and evil, Shadowhunter and Sebastian - at its most intense.  Not to mention all the brilliant Jace humour.  Despite not having true control over himself, he is still his witty, sarcastic self.  That really is all we can ask for.  So now my only problem is that we have to wait for 2014.  One day they'll ask for too much and I really will die of the agony that comes from waiting for so long.

And on that note, I will leave you with Simon, the one we all not-so-secretly adore.

'She sat back, her arms crossed over her chest.  "Do you want to hear it or not?  You have to keep it a secret."
    "I would pluck out my own eyes with a fork before I would give away your secrets," Simon said, then looked anxious.  "Wait a second.  Do you think that's likely to be required?"'

'Clary sat back.  "You don't just get to say no."
    "This plan involves me!  I get to say no!  No."
    "Simon -"
    Simon patted the seat beside him as if someone were sitting there.  "Let me introduce you to my good friend No."
    "Maybe we can compromise," she suggested, taking a bite of pie.
    "'No' is a magical word," he told her.  "Here's how it goes.  You say, 'Simon, I have an insane, suicidal plan.  Would you like to help me carry it out?'  And I say, 'Why, no.'"'

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Hey, guys!

I'm looking at the time, and it's already been nearly a half hour since 2013 officially started.  I just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!  I hope it brings you happiness, prosperity, and of course loads of amazing books. ;D

I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions, and usually I don't make them - except last year I think I resolved to be more organised...which, of course, didn't exactly happen.  I think I just got lazier.  But I figured this year would be a good one to actually make a couple in light of the blog.  So.  Here they are.

  1. Post moreWhile I do have school and this year is insane, I really don't want to see this blog continue to suffer.  Even if it's just mini reviews and promos, that would be better than not doing anything (I hope you guys will forgive me if that really is most of what would be posted lol).  Also, I'm going to try and be better at remembering my WoW posts.  Every Wednesday I walk into school and my friend asks me if I put it up and I just go, 'Um.  No.  Oh my God, it's Wednesday!' Yeah, my memory isn't what you'd call brilliant and as you can see, I tend to lose my mind.
  2. Be more organised Yes, this again.  I'm determined to beat the laziness, when it comes to both the blog and my studies.  I'm going to try and schedule posts so that the blog isn't empty for too long  I've found in the past that scheduling posts has made things much easier so I'm going to try and do that more often.  In terms of school, I think a lot of it is just to do with the fact that I'm exhausted by all the work and don't really have it in me to keep it up all the time, but I need to keep my motivation.  Exams are coming soon and if I fail, it'll only be my own fault.  So I'm going to work harder and be more focused! (That sounded way too peppy.)
  3. Comment moreThis also ties in with the laziness thing.  I plan on reading more blogs and leave more comments, showing my undying love for all the other amazing bloggers out there.  It should hopefully also bring more readers over here.
  4. Catch up with my review copiesSeriously, I have so many review books to read and the poor publishers will probably never allow me anything again.  So I'm going to do that as soon as possible and then make sure I don't go into overload with them again over the next few months.  Of course, when exams are over then it'll be fine 'cause I can read non-stop. ;)
So those are my resolutions for this year.  I'm just hoping I can sustain them at least until August/September, at which point things might change a little.  More on that in a few months.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions, bloggy or otherwise?  Let me know!  And again, wishing you all a fantastic new year. :)