Friday, April 13, 2012

Follow Me Friday! (34)


Follow Me Friday is hosted by Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers as well as follow their blogs. If you'd like to join in the fun, create your own Follow Me Friday post, then visit this week's Follow Friday posts (here and here) and sign the linky. Don't forget to also follow this week's featured bloggers!

Q: What is one book that you would be nervous to see a movie adaption of because you think the movie could never live up to the book?

What a coincidence! Just today I was thinking how I do and I don't want to see Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus as a movie. See, today I went to the Great Moscow Circus and I loved it. So on the way home I was thinking how I wished Le Cirque des Rêves was real...which then had me thinking of it as a movie. A movie adaptation is the closest I might ever come to seeing it brought to life...but I truly don't believe a movie could really capture everything The Night Circus is. That book is, quiet simply, wow. But I think it might be getting turned into a movie? So I guess we'll see...

Is there a book you'd be worried seeing as a movie?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey

Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become t
heir sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves. (summary from Goodreads)


Tracey has created an enthralling and original story with Witch Eyes.

Braden has known magic all his life - and not much else. Living with his Uncle John in the middle of nowhere is for his own good - or so he's told. Braden's special, even when it comes to magic. He has Witch Eyes, a power that allows him to see the world like no other, in an explosion of painful insight. When Braden has a vision of his Uncle's death, he's sure he has to leave to protect him - and so he goes where the vision leads him, right to Belle Dam. What he finds is a town built on magic and caught between warring witches Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe, new friendships, and a romance he never expected. But Belle Dam is hiding a lot of dark truths, and Braden is stuck right in the middle of them all. To survive, Braden will have to face a past full of secrets and magic...and possibly give up his chance at love.

Tracey's Witch Eyes is a thrilling tale of family feuds, magic, supernatural creatures, friendship, and forbidden romance that is a must read! A fun read, totally action packed and fast paced, I couldn't put Witch Eyes down...and it was over way before I was ready! I appreciated everything about this book and found myself completely connected to the story and characters.

I think it's been a long while since I've read a paranormal from a male point of view, and so from that perspective Witch Eyes is a refreshing narrative. I really liked Braden, right from the beginning. His power is so interesting and he's really funny - I loved so many of his thoughts and attitude, especially towards Trey and company. For the most part I admired his jumping in to all of the chaos that is Belle Dam - though, yes, I found it seriously foolish with so little information. But what became quickly obvious is that nothing is as it seems, and delving deep into it to get the truth is something Braden couldn't avoid doing. Despite throwing himself feet first into the fray, Braden is still cautious of his emotions, holding back just enough that he keeps questioning everything, and it's this that makes Braden stand out - I can't help but want everything to world out for him. Especially in terms of Trey. I'm such a sucker for a good romance, and Tracey hooked me with the tension between Braden and Trey alone. Everytime they interacted I turned into a tween version of myself, torn between giddy bouncing in my seat or giggling out loud. Anytime it became clear the sheer amount of secrets and obstacles they'll have to face, my heart would get heavy. That, and I wanted to smack the heck out of Trey. Maybe still do. But I digress. Any qualms I may have initially had about insta-love got totally shot to pieces, and I'm very desperate to see where Braden and Trey's relationship goes from here.

I mentioned earlier that nothing throughout this book is what it seems, and it's this that really drove the narrative for me. Braden notices so much, in detail or in passing, and you never know how it's going to come together...and trying to figure it out had me on the edge of my seat! It means that you can't trust anything or anyone, everything's a question, and this really pushes the mystery, and twists and turns. Witch Eyes is just the beginning however and so very few questions are answered yet. I am very much looking forward to learning about Grace and the magic of Belle Dam, about the family feud, and exactly what part Braden's Uncle plays in it all. It's all so very intricate that I don't doubt Tracey has a few surprises to throw at us yet. What we got with Witch Eyes alone provided heart-pounding action! Braden's visions are awesome, with so much information in one hit, and I was blown away every time Tracey described spells occurring. It's kind of amazing the detail involved in it all, and my imagination could run wild with this book.

Tracey's characters are surprising too, never quite what I expected...especially Jade. I adored her tenacity, but also her vulnerability. In much the same way, Riley and Drew stand out too, Riley for her bubbly nature and Drew for his secrets...and hotness, I won't lie. Their parts are sure to be huge and I can't help but to wonder where Tracey will take them. For now though, I really like the friendships they've formed. It's interesting to think about the possibilities for change - it puts me on edge, especially as with so much of what's happening in Witch Eyes, you can't be too sure who to trust in the long run. I tell you what though, I like so many of these characters, my heart's sure to be broken somehow!! While I don't hold much love for Jason and Catherine just yet...or ever, really...there's a lot of power and secrets with these two, enough to cause an explosion for sure. I'm saying it again...I can't wait to read the rest of this series!

If you're looking for a fast-paced read with a whole lot of magic, then Witch Eyes is for you!

Rating:

Publisher: Flux
Published date: 8 September 2011
Pages: 360
Format: Kindle edition
Series: Witch Eyes, book 1

Challenges: 2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge;

Friday, April 6, 2012

Follow Me Friday! (33)


Follow Me Friday
is hosted by Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers as well as follow their blogs. If you'd like to join in the fun, create your own Follow Me Friday post, then visit this week's Follow Friday posts (here and here) and sign the linky. Don't forget to also follow this week's featured bloggers!

Q: Have you ever bought a book BECAUSE of a bad review?

I don't think so...I know, I should remember, right? More often it's that I read a book I've already bought despite having read bad reviews for it. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I don't.

Have you bought a book because of a bad review?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (45)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

This week I'm eager for the release of...

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress!

Be your own hero . . .

Set in London at the turn of the last century, the novel follows the stories of three intelligent and very talented young women, all of whom are assistants to very powerful men: Cora, lab assistant to a member of parliament; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant to a martial arts guru; and Nellie, a magician's assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder—and the crimes they believe may be connected to it‐‐without calling too much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress's sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike--well, relatively ladylike--heroines poised for more dangerous adventures. (summary from Goodreads)

Another find thanks to the cover reveal over at The Story Siren! I am very much liking the number of Steampunk titles coming out this year, and this one is another! I'm most intrigued by the idea of three main characters, all very different...and a mystery to boot! If only I didn't have to wait so long...

Adrienne Kress's The Friday Society is expected to be published 6 December 2012!

Will you be adding The Friday Society to your TBR list? What else are you waiting on?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday! (10)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books to Read in One Day

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I can read any of these in one day and usually whenever I reread them, I do, because even now they are still too good to put down!

2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman - This one requires only a few hours...and a whole box of tissues.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Fast paced and gripping, the entire series is one you can't put down!

4. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - Killer nuns, Death, nobility, politics, scandal, betrayal, romance...this one is such an addicting read!

5. Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson - The writing of this one is so luscious and the twists so surprising it's hard to put this one down.

6. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Such a fun read with a fantastic main character, this one's a lovely read for any day!

7. Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar - I'm only just reading this one, and it is so good that I'm finding it hard to get anything else done.

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - The writing style and the descriptions of this one is amazing! You become so immersed in it!

9. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - Set over one day, it's only fair this one be read in a day...besides, it doesn't even take that long!

10. By the Time You Read this, I'll be Dead by Julie Anne Peters - This is a truly hard hitting book, too powerful to put down.

What books have you read in one day?

Teaser Tuesday! (40)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!


Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar

"But as I stop and turn to look at the door, I feel a change coming through the air. A pre-storm electricity that sends a wave of goose bumps over my skin, raising the hairs on the back of my neck and hardening my nipples. I take a quick, sucking breath, alarmed. The sensation grows, my skin tightening so much I can feel nerve endings snapping in my scalp." Location 551, Kindle edition.

I cannot stop reading this book, even when it's freaking me out so much I fear I'll never sleep! That door and Eagar's descriptions give me chills!

What are you reading this week?

Please note: The above quote is from the ARC and so may change.

Winners: 200 Followers Giveaway!

It's time to announce the winners of my 200 Followers Giveaway!! Thank you, again, to every single one of you for following my blog...I cannot believe that the number has doubled!! Over 400 followers! I am so amazed and grateful!

As I reached 400 followers I have 4 winners to announce, so without further ado, congratulations...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tolkien Reading Event @ Pages Unbound


Pages Unbound has been celebrating Tolkien Reading Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, every year on March 25 thanks to the efforts of the Tolkien Society.

Every day Pages Unbound is featuring posts and reviews all about the great J.R.R. Tolkien and his works. So be sure to check it out!

Today, my review of Tolkien's short story, Leaf by Niggle, is featured. I hope you'll stop by and leave your thoughts!

In the meantime, take part in the celebrations by posting your answers to the Tolkien Survey! I'm a little late to this, but here goes!

Will you or have you read a book for Tolkien Reading Day this year?

Why, yes! I read Leaf By Niggle, a short story from the Tolkien anthology Tales from the Perilous Realm. You can read my review here!

What books by Tolkien have you read?

Not a lot, I'm sad to say. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series!

Which ones are on your TBR list?

I plan to read the rest of the anthology, Tales from the Perilous Realm. I'm sure I'll be learning about more of Tolkien's works that I'll want to read thanks to Pages Unbound and their event too!

What is your favorite book by Tolkien? Why?

I truly can't choose. I love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series as a whole! What's not to love? Everything about these books is epic - the adventures, the battles, the friendships, the creatures. They're books to connect with and get lost in.

Who is your favorite character? Why?

Samwise Gamgee. He's the true hero of The Lord of the Rings, and his loyalty and bravery makes my heart soar! I'm also partial to Legolas...mostly because he's yummy.

Do you like The Lord of the Rings movies?

Nope...I LOVE them! They're some of my absolute favourites. My entire family enjoys the movies and we usually watch them whenever we see them air on television...especially my mother though, when it's The Two Towers. She carries a torch for Haldir...despite even the tragedy!

Are you going to see The Hobbit movie?

Most definitely! Nothing could make me miss it, I'm so excited! I cheered when the trailer finally came out...and then groaned when I realised I'd have to wait another year. Um. Is it December yet?!

On a scale from 1-10, how big of a Tolkien fan are you and why?

Honestly, I do count myself a big fan. I love what I've read of his work, and I don't doubt I'll love even more of it. I'm aiming to become a 10, but right now, considering what I've read, I'd say a 7. Tolkien's stories are infused with such imagination and emotion that I can't help but connect with his characters and their journeys...that's why I'll always be a fan.

How about you? Are you a fan of Tolkien and his works?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In My Mailbox! (40)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren. The aim is to share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!

As I visited Dymocks for the Lauren Oliver event on Friday I bought a lot of books this week!

Bought:

Revived by Cat Patrick
Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne
Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Tempest by Julie Cross
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
The Industry by Rose Foster

Kindle:

Angels Unawares by Sofie Couch
How to Date an Alien by Magan Vernon
Eternal Starling by Angel Corbett

NetGalley:

Velveteen by Daniel Marks
Flutter by Gina Linko
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

So many great books I can't wait to read! What did you get this week?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Author Event: Lauren Oliver

Last week I got the exciting news that the Brisbane Dymocks would be hosting the amazing Lauren Oliver, author of the best selling novels Before I Fall, Delirium, Liesl & Po, and the newly released Pandemonium, for an event on Friday 30th March. When I received the email detailing this I may have squealed! I also rang up and booked tickets immediately!

It was a great event, very small, which I enjoyed. All up there was only about 16 people in attendance, which did surprise me as I expected more. Still, it made for a nice evening. Lauren arrived a little after 4.30pm, and straight away signed any books we
had. Despite only reading Before I Fall and Delirium in recent months, I had all four books with me. I actually started Pandemonium that morning on the train (and haven’t finished it yet!) and told Lauren that I was already hooked. I told her too that my young cousin read Liesl & Po and that his verdict was that it was weird but he couldn't stop reading! She thought that was great! We also briefly discussed my dissertation topic – representations of power in dystopian YA – and she told me that Pandemonium would definitely be of use to me. She said Requiem, the final book in the series, would be even more so, but unfortunately it’s not due to be released until 5 or so months after my dissertation is due! Still, she has me very excited to finish Pandemonium and consider it as a primary text for my argument!!

After she completed signing everyone’s books, Lauren then proceeded to talk a little about herself and her writing process. I took notes throughout the entirety of her talk and the following Q&A, so here are the dot points (I took more notes than I originally realized, actually, so this is very long!):

* Growing up Lauren considered herself an avid reader, and counts that as the reason she began to write. She was always sad when books came to an end and would write stories so as to continue them. This was before she knew what fanfiction was or the availability of Harry Potter porn sites as she called them. She got quite a few laughs over this, and told one person who didn’t know about such things to ‘Google it!’
* Lauren went on to say that she is uninterested in genre or categories and grew up without such things pushed on her. She finds these types of structures limiting. Hence, she has a varied group of narratives published, as we well know.
* Her father writes non-fiction, true crimes, type books, and his advice to her was to write everyday. This has become her advice for writers.
* When she was young she’d write and create magazine typ
e serials for her best friend, and each would include a story where her and her friend would invariably end up kissing their crushes. She found one recently, and the story was titled “So he hate me, who cares? I do.”
* During high school Lauren wrote a modernization of an Austen
novel. She actually started writing her first novel when she was 13, but never completed one until she was 21. She offered a lot of great wisdom about this. That it’s normal to stall, and that continuing to start a new novel means practice – continuing to learn how to plot and stick with it until a novel is finished.
* She studied literature and philosophy and at one time considered b
ecoming a professor, like the other members of her family. Instead she completed a Masters of Creative Writing in New York. Through a lot of this time she’s learnt to identify when to take criticism on board and when to reject it. She believes this is necessary for all of life, not just with writing.
* While working for Penguin and reading 8-10 novels a week she became aware of YA, with its smart, gripping concepts, and fast pace.
* Lauren draws inspiration from her books from everywhere, mostly
the news and things that are happening in the world now.
* The idea for Delirium came about first from a quote about books be
ing about love and death. Lauren considered Before I Fell to have enough death and so decided to take on love. She mentioned that during the process of coming up with ideas, she’ll write a good one that can turn into a book (so, Before I Fall) and then 30,000 words of a bad one, before rejecting it for a new idea that is good again (so, Delirium). This is still her process. She also said that most of her best ideas come when she’s in the shower or on the treadmill, and that her laptops get wrecked when she runs out of the shower and her wet hair drips water everywhere while she hurries to type it out!! Back to Delirium – it started around the time of the swine flu panic which turned into nothing. It got her thinking about the power differential between people who have information and those who don’t. She also considered how love has all the same symptoms of many disorders treated with drugs! And so, Delirium was born.

* She believes Delirium to be about transformation, especially in terms of Lena, and she’s very happy to write plotless stories with a focus on characters and their transformations anytime. Pandemonium further teeters on transformation, whereas Requiem (due March 2013) no longer teeters but explodes!
* Lauren always knew Delirium would be a trilogy – it even began as a folder on her desktop entitled “Love Trilogy”. In considering how to keep it exciting she cha
nged the writing style – so Pandemonium alters between timelines and Requiem will alternate between two points of view. She’s always known the beginning and ending of Delirium, the ending of Pandemonium, and the ending of Requiem. When starting, she writes 20,000 words to see if the characters will speak to her. Then she steps back and begins to outline. She had more pains with Requiem then the others. It was 120,000 words and she went through and cut 20,000 words sentence by sentence.
* Lauren is constantly barraged by voices, of various characters
of ongoing or new narratives. To her, writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia! When she finishes a book the voices will go quiet, and that drives her crazy until she gets a new idea.
* Requiem is finished. Now she’s writing another realistic YA, a sort of return to the world of Before I Fall but from the wrong side of the tracks, set in a poor town in Oregon. This novel is called Panic and is due in 2014.
* She’s also working on an adult novel and she’s happy to be writing this for two reasons. First so people stop asking when she’ll write a book for adults, and secon
dly so that comments about writing YA in order to catch on to a trend will stop.
* When asked about her inspiration for Liesl & Po she claimed that it is her favourite of all the books she’s written, and that when she rereads it is the one that doesn’t feel like she wrote it. It took only a month to write and is somewhat autobiographical. When
her best friend and ex died of an overdose she went through a dark time. Liesl & Po is a response to his death and the fact that his ashes weren’t released where they should have been. For Lauren, she made right in fiction what she couldn’t in real life, and it’s a piece of her love for him out in the world. She dedicated it to his nieces.
* When asked if she ever worries about the response to her writing about hard/dark topics she said that it crosses her mind but that in the end she doesn’t truly w
orry about it because a teen has never complained to her about any topic of her books. She believes that if teens were only facing that sort of thing in books then maybe it would be something to worry about. She also believes that in the end her books have messages about love being redemptive and being kind to others (plus another which I missed!).
* In regard to Before I Fall, Lauren was asked is she feared readers would give up reading it with her killing off her main character so early. She said that she wondered but that a lot of Before I Fall’s popularity came from bloggers, etc, telling others to read it, so through word of mouth, to which readers then knew not to give up. Plus, her MC was quite
unsympathetic and she thought readers would probably like that she was killed!

* Talking more about her process of writing Delirium, Lauren tried to keep the world she created recognizable, which she thinks makes it a scarier concept. When changing something cultural it necessitates so many changes. For example, taking away love also took away the use of love and hate for anything, even the simple “I love (or hate) guacamole”. She thinks we sometimes forget that there are cultures in the world where things we might take for granted are restricted or prohibited, and she pulled from these. A lot of research went into creating the world of Delirium and not all of it went into the books.
* She also commented on the fact that some find Lena weak early in Delirium, that she doesn’t fight, simply believes what she’s told. Lauren doesn’t agree. In the end she believes Lena escapes because she has nothing more to lose.
* Creating a world without love wasn’t much of a stretch because the world is more medicated nowadays, with even children on certain drugs for this and that.

* Pandemonium, and more so Requiem, not so much about love but power when it comes down to it.
* Lauren thinks that a culture of one ideology is not good, and is even dangerous. In that world, absolutely anything can be said and everybody will believe it. The world needs clashing ideologies and dissent.
* Pandemonium’s having two alternating timelines – Lena’s then and now – was not deliberate. Lauren left Lena broken and so she honestly didn’t know if she’d make it through when she first started writing. She needed to believe Lena had a future so she started writing one for her before going back…and so, two timelines.
* When asked if she bases her characters on real people, Lauren said that she didn’t exactly, but rather used her understanding and observations of people around her to create them. She’s put herself in some, especially Lena and her fears and anxieties – that if the world did h
ave love, no one would love her so she’s safer in a world without it. Rob in Before I Fall is completely based on a guy Lauren dated in high school. She had a great quote, about novels being like dreams, all the characters are like you even if they’re wearing someone else’s face.
* In terms of Before I Fall’s unsympathetic MC, Lauren always loved Samantha. She knew who she’d become and so felt bad for her. As such, she didn’t feel good killing her off. However, a certain character gets killed off in Requiem and Lauren took great pleasure in that – her editor cheered too.
* Lastly she was asked about movie adaptations of her books – Before I Fall has a script and a director. Lauren’s read and loves the script; her only demand was that they don’t change the ending (which began a discussion of the terrible ending change to the film adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper!). As for Delirium, there’s a script which she’s reading now.

So, that’s it. The event was fantastic. Lauren is a great speaker, very funny and passionate, easy to talk to. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet her!

Have you met Lauren Oliver? Are you a fan of her books?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Follow Me Friday! (32)


Follow Me Friday
is hosted by Parajunkee over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers as well as follow their blogs. If you'd like to join in the fun, create your own Follow Me Friday post, then visit this week's Follow Friday posts (here and here) and sign the linky. Don't forget to also follow this week's featured bloggers!

Q: Do you read one book at a time or do you switch back and forth between two or more?

I've been known to read three books at a time, but usually I switch between two. I read one in print and one on my Kindle, depending on where I am, what I'm in the mood for, etc. If I'm travelling or reading in bed, I usually read something on my Kindle. Most of the galley's I get from NetGalley are on my Kindle too. During the day I usually choose to read a print book in order to catch up on my massive, MASSIVE, TBR pile.

How about you? How many books do you read at a time?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent d
estiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen
her heart? (summary from Goodreads)

Grave Mercy is an original and compelling story that will keep you glued to its pages...not to mention the assassin nuns!

Born with a horrific scar across her back thanks to the poison her mother drank in order to abort her, Ismae has grown up at the hands of an abusive father, fe
ared by the people of her village - for Ismae is a daughter of Death…or so she has been labelled. Forced to wed, and then abused by her new husband, Ismae is finally spirited away from those who would see her dead, taken across Brittany to a Convent of Saint Mortain. Here Ismae learns she really is a daughter of Death and finds her true purpose in life – to be Death’s handmaiden, an assassin. After killing an intended target, a French spy, Ismae is assigned to attend Court, keep an eye on Anne, the new Duchess, and discover the identity of a traitor – all while under the observation of Gavriel Duval, Anne’s brother and trusted confidant. Duval knows Ismae’s true purpose, but his questions cause Ismae to sway in her beliefs. As they grow closer, they can’t help but be drawn to each other. But Duval is the suspected traitor, and when the order comes to kill him, will Ismae be able to do so? Will she remain loyal to Death…or follow her heart?

Wow. Just wow, wow, WOW! I knew from the moment I first read the synopsis for this that I had to have it and would love it - I wasn't wrong. LaFevers is genius. Everything about this book worked in a way that left me giddy, eager for more. From killer nuns, to meaningful characters; kick ass action to fascinating mythology; LaFevers has created an intriguing world of power, politics and change...with a dash of romance!


This isn't eloquent, but...Ismae rules! She's everything I love in a heroine. Strong enough to rise above the abuse she suffered growing up, she isn't just kick ass, she's deadly - a trained assassin, able to see Death’s Mark and impart his justice. More than anything though, Ismae thinks, and I'm so appreciative of that. Too often I admire a strong female cha
racter but still shake my head at some of their rushing head long into a situation without thinking it through, just a little. Now don't get me wrong, early on Ismae blindly follows the orders of her abbess, but as she faces the world alone, learns and grows, she begins to question what she's been taught and define her own beliefs; she's willing to wait and piece it all together before acting. Then of course when she does act...be prepared to be awed and amazed...and possibly a little scared! Added to all of this though, is also the fact that Ismae cares, deeply. She’s strong and vulnerable all at once. I adored her growing friendship with Anne, and her caring for Isabeau. It is Ismae’s figuring out her purpose towards the end, on the battlefield, however that most resonates with me – LaFevers’ portrayal of her compassion is truly emotional and beautiful, to the point that I wanted to cry. Ismae is a character that is sure to be remembered!

I can’t not mention Duval here, our handsome hero! He plays such a big part in both the book and Ismae’s development as a character. Loyal, determined, pro
tective and caring for his sisters’ well-being above all else, it’s nearly impossible to not adore Duval. Certainly Ismae tries! I enjoyed the romance of Grave Mercy, as I’d hoped. While their relationship starts off rocky, Ismae and Duval soon warm to each other as they get to know one another and learn to admire their separate beliefs. They have these moments that just ooze tension and you simply can’t resist the need to keep reading in order to find out how they work out. They see each other for who they really are and anyone who can appreciate that is going to melt over these two!

There is a lot to Grave Mercy, especially in terms of the politics of the time and situation. Sometimes the story slowed down a little during the many discussions of Anne’s suitors and the best political options for Brittany, but at the same time it’s intriguing, and so I never felt bored, as it were. I think the detail is necessary for an historical fiction
, everything working to transport readers to this time and place completely. I found the mythology of the novel quite fascinating in this sense too. While LaFevers does not go into a lot of detail regarding the Old Religion and the many Saints, the tidbits shared regarding Mortain, otherwise known as Death, are truly interesting. His fathering young girls who become trained assassins, his handmaidens; their different abilities, from the Sight to being immune to poisons, to seeing his Mark on intended ‘victims’; his connection to Isame and her compassion; all of it is enthralling. In this way Grave Mercy is a wonderfully immersive read.

A lot of LaFevers secondary characters add to this too. As with much fiction focused on royalty and the nobility, there are many names to learn and purposes to distinguish between. From the Sisters and novitiate’s of the Convent, to Duval’s estranged mother and brother; the loyal knights, Beast and de Lornay, to Anne’s many suitors, including the shudder inducing Count d’Albret; from the members of the Privy Council to France’s representatives; each character has a part to play, whether small or large in the grand scheme of things. Sybella, Ismae’s fellow novitiate and Death’s handmaiden, is one of the more captivating of these characters. Despite a rather minor role throughout Grave Mercy, each scene she appears in or is even simply mentioned in, stands out, thrumming with tension – you can’t help but know there’s more to Sybella and want to find out the truth. Of course, readers have to wait for the publication of the sequel, Dark Triumph, which features Sybella’s story! Please, can I have it now?!

Grave Mercy is well on its way to being a favourite of 2012 for m
e. A thrilling story, every fan of historical fiction will want to read this…and even if you’re not a huge fan of historical fiction, give this one a go, because I think you might be pleasantly surprised!

Rating:


Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published date: 03 April 2012

Pages: 549

Format: e-Galley

Series: His Fair Assassin, book 1


Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley!!

Challenges: 2012 Debut Author Challenge;

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (44)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

This week I can't wait to get my hands on...

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff!


A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, land choked with toxic pollution, wildlife ravaged by mass extinctions.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary beast, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows thunder tigers have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a hidden gift that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire. (summary from Goodreads)

With it's gorgeous cover revealed today, I couldn't not spotlight Stormdancer! I adore the sounds of this one. Over at The Story Siren today there's an interview with Kristoff, and he describes Stormdancer as a "
high-speed collision between epic fantasy and Japanese inspired-steampunk." Doesn't that just make you want to beg for this book? I know I do! I really can't wait for this...come on September!

Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer will be published 1 September 2012 by Tor UK.

Are you interested in reading Stormdancer? What do you think of the cover? What other title are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday! (8)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list. This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I'd Play Hooky With

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and this one really caught me! Below is a mix, in no particular order, of titles that you should play hooky to read, that I have played hooky to read, and that I will play hooky to read!

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I played hooky to read pretty much every single one of these books. I started the first book right when I had a bunch of essays for Uni due...I never thought I'd truly love it, and so started it just to take a break. Well, I read it in one sitting, immediately bought the next three...and proceeded to hand in two of my essays late. I even read Goblet of Fire during the lecture where I was meant to be handing in one of those essays! So bad. To purchase and read the next 3 books I actually took days off work. Harry Potter? Total hooky material!

2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - I was doing a library shift for 3 hours one Saturday morning and my coworker gave me this early on, telling me I had to read it. I started it, just to see what it was like...and proceeded to keep reading through my whole shift! Thankfully it was a really, really quiet morning!

3. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver - There's a very good chance I'm about to play hooky with this one. I have an essay due next week and I'm trying to be good and finish it before I start reading this...I have a feeling I'm going to fail. It doesn't help that I'm attending Lauren Oliver's signing in Brisbane on Friday either!

4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - Definitely one to read while playing hooky. You need the time to get lost in it...plus to cry freely without having to worry about what you'll like after!

5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - I started reading this one as soon as it arrived in the mail and didn't stop until I'd finished...ignoring everything else that needed to be done.

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - My love for this book is beyond words. If you haven't read it yet, take a day and do so!

7. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor - The sequel to the above book, I'm so desperate for this one that as soon as I have my hands on it I'll be shutting the whole world out to read it!

8. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake - Ditto with this one, the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood! I must know where Cas and Anna go from that ending!!

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Like with Harry Potter, this one counts the whole series...play hooky for a few days, k?

10. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead - I got a little stumped for a final title, and then I remembered that I keep promising to finish this series and haven't yet...I need to play hooky and do so!

Would you play hooky to read any of these books? What other titles would you do so for?

Teaser Tuesday! (39)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give away too much! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!


The Academie by Susanne Dunlap

"I could not help noticing the way Bonaparte, if the conversation drifted at all from matters that concerned him, gazed at Captain Charles, and then at Josephine. He did not look happy." Location 951, Kindle edition.

Things are just starting to get juicy! Eliza, for someone so young and naive, notices so much! I'm enjoying this one...though I have this dreadful feeling that all these tiny little things are going to come together in a major way! We'll see...

What are you reading this week? Have you shared a teaser?

Please note: The above quote is from the ARC and so may change.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love. (summary from Goodreads)

Delirium will worm in it's way inside of you and never leave!

Lena lives in a world where love is considered a disease. Known as amor deliria nervosa, a cure has been discovered, and so every citizen, at the age of eighteen, undergoes a procedure that ensures the deliria
never infects them. Their government demands it. Lena cannot wait to be cured, and counts down the days until she turns eighteen. After witnessing the effects of the disease on her mother, Lena knows her life will be better without love. But her best friend, Hana, isn't so sure and begins to attend forbidden parties where the risk of deliria runs high. Following Hana to one such party in order to warn her of government patrols, Lena meets Alex. Alex has secrets of his own and as he and Lena get to know each other, Lena does what she never imagined she could...she falls in love.

I couldn't tell you why I've put off reading Delirium for so long. I honestly don't know myself. Maybe it's because I had a feeling this book would leave me gasping and in need of Pandemonium asap? Reading it now means lessening the agonising wait for more at least...at the time of writing this it's only mere weeks from being released. But just so you know - I'm aching it for it still! Delirium packs quite the punch, drawing you in bit by bit until you just can't stop reading. Oliver's writing is flawless, her story and charact
ers getting under your skin before leaving you whimpering...and desperate for Pandemonium!

The whole set out of Delirium is brilliant, masterfully depicting this dystopian world where love is believed to be a curable disease. Each chapter begins with an extract from a number of different government sanctioned texts detailing the amor deliria nervosa that provided an insight into how the world we presently know became the world Lena knows without going into an exhaustive backstory. Oliver's world really comes to life in the way. In some ways, it also adds to the emotion it the narrative, as each extract forces readers to ponder such beliefs. I must say, I experienced a lot of anger reading Delirium - I just could not wrap my mind around such a world, that brutally takes away love. The way Oliver portrays the effects of love though, I guess I can see why her characters think the way they do. But then I can't help but believe real, true love is something more than that anyways. And so it goes, my reeling between understanding and frustration - with this alone Oliver ensures my 100%
connection with Lena, Alex, Hana, and their story. I loved every bit of it.

Delirium starts off somewhat slow - which isn't a bad thing, I'm just not sure I can better explain it. At first Lena is so sure her government is right and can't wait until she turns 18 in order to go under the procedure that will cure her of love forever, and as the story is entirely from her point of view, this brainwashing, as it were, is actually a tad frustrating, as I couldn't help but want to shake and scream at her! But it's all part of Oliver's fantastic world building, and it works. Before long there's no complaining about a slow pace, because as Lena delves into the secret movement, gets to know Alex, falls in love, and learns certain truths about her government and her mother, the plot moves at heartpounding speed, hurtling toward the cliffhanger from hell before you're ready. Seriously! That ending! I can't even go there. Delirium is pitch perfect in terms of it's pace and development, building the pressure at just the right moments to keep you teetering on the edge of the cliff until Oliver is ready to shove you over...an
d so again. My God, that ending!!!

I really enjoyed the relationship between Lena and Alex. As they fall in love, I swear, you'll begin to believe the extracts at the beginning of each chapter...the longing, it makes you ache! I adore being able to lose myself in the emotion of a book, and Delirium has that exact effect. The first kiss between Alex and Lena is just stunning. It also really makes me want to fall in love, which I find somewhat hilarious, considering. There's more to Delirium in terms of love and relationships than just that of Lena and Alex's romance however. I really enjoyed how Oliver delves into the fact that 'curing love' takes away more than romance...it destroys everything, including the relationship between siblings, parents and children, best friends. As soon as these characters undergo the procedure they lose hope, dreams, imagination...and any truly meaningful relationship. Contrasted as they are with Lena falling in love, it's no wonder reading Delirium only makes me believe further in love.


Delirium is a hard hitting story that won't leave you anytime soon...much like amor deliria nervosa, it'll take you over and keep you wanting more. You won't regret it.

Rating:


Publisher: HarperTeen
Published date: 1 February 2011
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle edition
Series: Delirium, book 1

Challenges: 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge; 2012 Dystopian Reading Challenge;


Just a side note - has anyone read the short story, Hana? Without giving anything away, what did you think of the ending? I'm gobsmacked, to be honest. So glad I have Pandemonium to read right. now. Just...wow!