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 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!


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!

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.

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.

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 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 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 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
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 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.


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.!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox! (39)

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!

More winnings arrived this week, yay!


Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz


The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross


Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - with huge thanks to Courtney Alison Moulton!! I've been desperately waiting for this one!

The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney
Fairytales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Swag - including Forgotten sticky notes, signed Perception bookmard, signed Kim Harrington bookplate, Under the Never Sky bookmark

I won the above pack as part of Lisa and Brodie's Valentine's Event! Neverending thanks to them for it and for hosting such an amazing event - it was a lot of fun! I was one of the winners of their Cover Puzzle, which I'm so excited about because I spent so much time on it to guess all 20 titles!! So yay!

What bookish things showed up in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Starting over sucks. When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up. And then he opened his mouth. Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens. The hot alien living next door marks me. You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. If I don't kill him first, that is. (summary from Goodreads)

Obsidian is an action packed thrilling read that should not be missed, full of sexy aliens, terrifying battles, and steamy romance.

Three years after her father's death, Katy's mother relocates the two of them to a small town in West Virginia for a new start. Katy isn't expecting much and plans to lose herself in her reading and blogging. She certainly never expected her next door neighbours, twins Dee and Daemon. Dee is sweet and her and Katy hit it off immediately. Daemon? Not so much. While pretty much the hottest guy Katy has ever laid eyes on, he is also a complete douche with an arrogant attitude. For reasons Katy can't even begin to comprehend Daemon seems to hate her on sight and is determined to keep her away from Dee. Dee has other ideas however, working hard to ensure Katy and Daemon get along. Weird things keep happening the more time Katy spends with the both of them...things she can't explain. After Daemon saves her life Katy becomes privy to a truth she never could have imagined. Daemon and Dee are aliens, known as Luxen, hiding on Earth from another race of aliens, the Arum, who are determined to track and kill every last one of them. Being witness to Daemon's power has marked Katy for every Arum to see and places her in grave much so that she has no choice but to stay close to Daemon until the mark fades. But once it does will she be able to stay away from Daemon?

For me, Obsidian was like a breath of fresh air and I couldn't get enough of it! From start to finish I was completely in love with Armentrout's story and characters, and so it's no surprise that this was another one sitting read. I don't think I could've stopped reading even if an alien invasion occurred...unless maybe one of those aliens was Daemon! Va-va-voom! But more of that later. Seriously, I needed this book at just this time. Sci-fi rather than paranormal, a romance I could truly appreciate, a completely gripping storyline, and bad guys that gave me the chills...everything about Obsidian is one giant enthusiastic YES!

I didn't mention a sassy, absolutely relatable, awesome heroine...well, meet Katy. Katy earns major points just for being a book blogger! Kudos to Armentrout for this, because as a blogger and total book lover, Katy's blogging talk had me giggling in appreciation - I couldn't help but adore her. It's more than my relating to her on that level though. Katy is just such a brilliant, developed, and realistic character. I love that finding out the truth about her neighbours sent her running, for instance, and that she never puts up with Daemon's attitude but gives as good as she gets. The spaghetti incident! A big woohoo for that! So many times I wanted to cheer out loud for it is, I never could quite wipe the grin off my face! And speaking of I'm tempted to give this boy a paragraph all his own...but here's the thing. He leaves me speechless. I was a big puddle of melted goo over Daemon while reading Obsidian and I've never quite recovered enough, especially in order to put into words what I think of him. Well. I have "hot", and "yum", and "guh", and "drool" - but my ability to string them into anything coherent is shot. I am in love. That's the best I can do. Daemon is the bad guy we're all instantly attracted to, despite the asshole attitude. And he has that in spades, let me tell you. But deep down there is a heart of gold, and no one can be fooled by the attitude after his protectiveness towards his twin sister, Dee, becomes apparent. As is usual, I was completely won over by the relationships of the book too.

Daemon and Dee's sibling relationship is a definite favourite, both hilarious and heartwarming. I loved how different they were but that they'd do anything for the other. Add to this Dawson's backstory and it makes sense. The relationships that define Obsidian however are those that both Dee and Daemon have with Katy. Dee and Katy's friendship is pure adorableness and well as a catalyst for much of the story. Daemon and Katy's is, in a word, volatile. In more words? Steamy. Explosive. Sexy. Much like Daemon himself, their relationship leaves me flabbergasted. I felt like I could combust at any second reading their scenes! When they're not trying to rip each others clothes off, they're at each others throats. I loved every second of their relationship. Their attraction simmers, their connection undeniable, but I love most that their romance is still ongoing. There's honest to God development...heck, by the end it's still simply developing! For this alone Obsidian gets a full rating.

Armentrout's story is just as attention grabbing as her characters and their relationships. I loved the details of her aliens - their powers, their history, their relationships. None of it felt too out there, and for the most part gave it a sense of believability. Certainly I never found myself rolling my eyes or just shrugging and taking it as part of the story, as it were. I will say though that I didn't feel like anything new and original was in play - much of the alien elements reminded me of other books or TV shows, but this isn't a complaint. Obsidian is thoroughly enjoyable overall and worth reading if it sounds appealing to you. As I said earlier, I couldn't put this book down. Every moment just built the tension until an absolutely heartpounding and breathtaking climax. It's so action packed that there's no time to think, you just go along for the ride and it's definitely one to keep you on the edge. The Arum play a big part in this, as the villains of the story and of the Luxen. Shadows to their light, these guys were the epitome of creepy and dark. They made my skin crawl - and I do love that. It's another layer of intensity to this amazing story.

I don't think I can further praise Obsidian without sounding like a broken record. This is such an addicting read and I'm desperately waiting for the release of Onyx. Obsidian is a book to get lost'll never want to be found.


Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Published date: 29 November 2011
Pages: 287
Format: Kindle edition
Series: Lux, book 1

Challenges: 2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge;

Friday, March 23, 2012

Follow Me Friday! (31)

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 the longest book you’ve read? What are your favorite 600+ page reads?

I believe it honestly is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 766 pages. At least, as far as I can remember. Oh, wait. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer at 768. Erm...that's a little shameful, I think! My brother certainly thinks so...he's been teasing me about how he's read George R.R. Martin, etc. Quick, someone recommend me a huge and awesome book!

Well, considering my record doesn't break 800 pages, my favourite 600+ titles are limited. Dear Harry Potter, always my standard answer of course!

Oh, I'm a little depressed now!!!


If you're new here, welcome, and be sure to check out my HUGE 200 Followers Giveaway! It's open internationally, ends 01 April and even better? There will be 3 winners of $50 each to spend at The Book Depository! So if you haven't entered, do so now! I'll be adding a 4th winner if I reach 400 followers!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match. (summary from IMDb)

The Hunger Games is everything I wanted and more! In a word - AWESOME!

I'm sure I don't have to go into detail about what this movie is about...if you don't know yet, well, where exactly have you been?! Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, I have been eagerly...even desperately...waiting to see this movie. There's been such a build up of promotion and anticipation surrounding it's release that I couldn't help but be excited...and seriously, I was almost giddy as I counted down the hours until I could finally watch it. It was like being a kid at Christmas, waiting for the time I could open my presents! I will also admit to being a tad nervous...I was worried that I'd been so excited that I might have set my standards too high. But you know what? There was most definitely no need for that worry, because I think the transition from book to screen has been done pretty much flawlessly!

Since the first casting announcements I've been damn pleased with the actors that signed up for this movie. I've thought that every one of them was going to be spot on...and they were. Each actor brought every character that I love - and hate! - alive. I really adored Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss the best. With the book being from Katniss's point of view, we were privy to her every thought, especially the times she was thinking one thing but had to put on a front. Where the movie couldn't get in her head quite the same, Lawrence was still able to telegraph Katniss's every emotion and thought to a T. I cannot praise her enough! I know not everyone has been on board with Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and that's always confused me...I wonder now if that thinking is different, because that boy overloaded me on cuteness and Peeta-ness, just like I knew he would. The cave scene? Oh yeah, you know which one I mean, right? Absolute 100% sa-wooooooon! He's just...both Hutcherson and Peeta earnest that it makes my heart soar!

Now I'm sure we're all prepared for the fact that no movie is ever exactly like the book...after all, there are just some things that can't translate. Now it's been a while since I've reread the books - I'd planned to, but decided to take it for what it is, as separate, and then reread and rewatch! For the most part I think The Hunger Games is pretty spot on...enough so that I don't think there should be any complaints, at least. I certainly don't have any. I loved the extras that were an the going ons with Seneca Crane and the production of the televised Games, Snow's tidbits (can I just say that I'm dying to see Sutherland take Snow into the rest of the series? Dying!), the glimpses of Haymitch, Gale, and the Districts watching, and the commentary from Flickerman and Claudius? I found all of this to be perfect, as it really built the tension and added a lot more insight that would've been missing otherwise. I don't believe anything too major has been cut or changed...the scene that stands out most to me is with the dog/cat/beast creatures at the end, where they skipped the heartbreaking fact of their genetics (I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling, but if you've read the book, I'm sure you get it). I also think something to do with District 11 was slightly altered? Way to be vague, I know. But again, I don't want to spoil my memory of the book is hazy on that one. Overall though, I don't think the movie could be anymore exact.

I wondered how people who haven't read the books would take to the movie...I saw it with my mother and cousin, both of whom haven't read them, and they both liked it. I kind of grilled them after it, I couldn't help myself!! My cousin (a total guy, ok?) wanted more blood and gore...and I know that there's been reviews that wished the same. For me, I'm effected more when it's not in my face, and I think The Hunger Games handled that brilliantly - the way the fight scenes were edited, to be fast and sharp and close, it increased the desperation and aggression to the point that I got so tense throughout them. Personally, I wouldn't want that changed. Now, a bit more of a major thing that I think lost a little of it's depth is the relationships between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. My Mum? Totally believed that Katniss was with Gale at the beginning, and so couldn't understand Katniss and Peeta. Now I take this with a grain of salt, as it were, because I really don't know how she made Gale and Katniss's relationship more...there wasn't any handholding or anything to suggest they were more than friends. So take this lightly if you've yet to watch the film, because I love my Mum...but REALLY?! However, as much as I adored the chemisty between Katniss and Peeta and think they nailed it overall, the flashbacks to that moment when Peeta throws Katniss the bread? I don't think they quite got across the importance of that moment for Katniss. If they could've someway, maybe my Mum wouldn't have judged the relationship between Katniss and Gale quite the same...but who knows? That is pure speculation. Most assuredly however, they got the point across that there's more of a love triangle going on!

So overall, The Hunger Games kicks ass. I don't think there's going to be any disappointment with this one, whether you've read the books or not. If you haven't seen it yet...oh my God, what are you waiting for? GO! NOW!


Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci
Production: Lionsgate
Release date: 22/23 March 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

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!

I'm counting the months, weeks, days for...

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson!

Once I was a girl who was special.
Now I am extraordinary.
And they will never stop hunting me.

The compelling follow-up to the bestselling ULTRAVIOLET, this psychological thriller will take your breath away... (summary from Goodreads)

Not much of a summary just yet, but I am beyond desperate for this one! I loved, loved, loved, LOVED Ultraviolet! It was my favourite read of last year and I look forward to finding out if Quicksilver will top the list this year!

R.J. Anderson's Quicksilver is expected to be released 6 September 2012!

Have you read Ultraviolet? What book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! (38)

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!

Die For Me by Amy Plum

"The waiter stopped swabbing my eyebrow to glance over my shoulder, and his eyes widened in alarm. Following his gaze, I saw that my table had been demolished by a huge piece of carved masonry that had fallen from the building's facade. My purse was lying to one side, but my copy of House of Mirth stuck out from where is was pinned under the enormous stone, exactly where I had been sitting." p. 28

Now there's a close call! I'm only just under half way through this one, and so far I like it...though I'm not quite in love yet...

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause. (Summary from Goodreads)

Mitchell sucks you into another time, full of mystical going ons, and leaves you aching!

Sent to spend the summer in Baltimore with her cousin, Mrs Stewart and her family, Amelia is excited to spend time amongst society, and even more so when her and Zora become instant friends. Nothing could have prepared Amelia for what the summer actually brings. First she meets Nathaniel, an artist who earns money attending dinner parties so the numbers remain equal, whom Amelia is instantly drawn to. Their attraction only grows as Nathaniel appears whenever Amelia thinks of him. Then one evening staring into the sunset, Amelia has a vision of Zora in a beautiful dress dancing with her crush...a vision that comes true. Her gift becomes immediately popular amongst society, and Amelia and Zora relish the attention. However when her visions take a dark turn, some question whether Amelia's gift is not in fact a curse. As her visions culminate in a multitude of terrible events, Amelia may wish she'd never looked into that first sunset...

So. The Vespertine was a bit of a surprise for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - that's not the surprise. Once I started, I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it, reading through to 3am again to do so. Which again, not so surprising considering Mitchell's first chapter - wow, what a way to grab our attention! I was sucked in right from the beginning! What is surprising though, is just how much I liked The Vespertine, considering certain aspects of the story that usually don't really appeal to me. Despite these though, The Vespe
rtine is a captivating read, as I found myself completely invested in both Amelia and Zora, wondering how their story would turn out. Added to this is the paranormal elements that gave The Vespertine just that little bit more of a mystical and mysterious edge, what with Amelia's gift having such an effect while being so unknown. I loved the portrayal of Amelia's visions, I think Mitchell did a brilliant job ensuring the originality of this aspect...though I wish some answers could have been provided as to why they simply manifested one day. Still, the mystery is part of the awe!

Firstly, the elements I found just that little bit disappointing. Well, I've said it before...I'm not a fan of insta-love - and Amelia and Nathaniel's romance was a case of just that, unfortunately. I could understand their being drawn to one another, and the tension and attraction of their first couple of meetings was nicely done. But from there came declarations of undying love much too soon and so I found their relationship lacking substance. I didn't feel the connection Mitchell was trying to create. To be honest, their declar
ations had me rolling my eyes, because without the development I crave, such emotions become soapy and over the top for me. Despite this however, their relationship fuels some of the drama and climax of The Vespertine, enough so that by the end I could look past the insta-love nature of their romance and simply appreciate their story.

Speaking of drama and climax, much of The Vespertine's twists were in fact somewhat predictable. This element is a bit of a conundrum for me. You see, in some instances, putting the pieces together, realising exactly what was going to happen, diminished much of the shock factor the story could have had...but then on the other hand, I was still on tenterhooks waiting for it all to happen, and so the gripping nature of the story wasn't lost at least. So while predictability isn't such a great thing overall, I think here Mitchell was able to use it to put us further into Amelia's shoes - knowing what would happen, but not the specific whens and hows of it all. Much of the alternating chapters between Amelia's present, where she's obviously been shunned, and her past, relating the events leading up to her returning t
o her brother, helps to push the tension of knowing mostly what is going to occur and simply waiting for it to play out. I can't say I don't wish there could have been some huge shocking twist that completely threw me for a loop, but Mitchell is still able to leave readers on edge despite some of The Vespertine's predictability.

What won me over the most about The Vespertine is definitely Amelia and Zora, and their friendship. I adored the easy nature of their relationship, their snappy attitudes providing a light and humorous touch to the story. The emotional connection lacking between Amelia and Nathaniel is more than made up for through the heartwarming friendship Amelia and Zora shared. It's this and the strain they endure by the end of the novel that had me hooked. I truly felt for each of them and was desperate to turn each page in order to get to what I'd hoped would be a happy ending for the both of them. The ending kind of left me a little up in the air in a few ways, as I'm sure it will or has many readers...Thank
God The Springsweet is due out in just a few more weeks, I tell you! I'm beyond excited to continue Zora's story!

Overall, The Vespertine is a wonderful read once past the less inspiring elements, completely winning me over and sucking me in!


Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Published date: 7 March 2011
Pages: 293
Format: Kindle edition

Challenges: 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge;

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In My Mailbox! (38)

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!

This includes everything I got over the weeks? I'm losing track of time! Not a lot, I was saving to visit Sydney for Harry Potter: The Exhibition!


Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney
Bunheads by Sophie Flack


Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

I've already read and loved Grave Mercy! Review to come soon!

What bookish things did you get this week?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Last Saturday I visited the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, NSW to check out Harry Potter: The Exhibition! For a while I thought I wouldn't be able to make it, but I am so glad that I did, because it was seriously worth it!

We (my mother, my brother, and myself) only spent the one night in Sydney, flying from Brisbane Friday afternoon and visiting the exhibition first thing Saturday morning before flying home that afternoon. A very quick trip! We were only there for the exhibition. Originally I'd planned to spend about 2 and half hours at the exhibition and booked our flights accordingly...but after checking with two different people that our return flight would carry both mine and my brother's electric wheelchairs at once, I got a call the day before we were due to fly out to let me know that actually, the return flight I'd booked would not carry both of them afterall and they had to put us on a flight an hour earlier. Which meant I'd only get an hour and a half at the exhibition. I was not impressed, but unfortunately there wasn't much of a choice. I'd read that it could all be seen in an hour, but that fans usually liked to spend 2 hours browsing, so I figured an hour and a half would be enough time...

It was. Sure, I would have liked the extra time I had planned, but in the end I saw everything, stared at every piece for a couple of minutes, read every plaque. I was determined to make the most of it! I loved it. I will admit that I was a little put off by how crowded it was...I expected it to be very popular, but just not that they'd be letting so many people in at once. It was a bit of a stuggle moving through the crowd sometimes, and trying to get close enough to see everything wasn't always fun! You'd be surprised how many adults would sidestep in front of me, whereas a lot of younger children would go out of their way to make room for me! So sweet. I loved seeing so many of them dressed up, they were so cute! I was tempted to dress in my Slytherin uniform myself, but in the end decided not to.

I've been asked what my favourite part of the exhibition was, and seriously, it's hard not to say EVERYTHING! Because seeing every little bit, from potions bottles to text books to costumes to furniture, was awesome! I was a little tempted to ram the barrier and hug the dummy wearing Snapes robes...I'm not even kidding. My fingers even twitched!! I adored seeing the costumes and the wands, the Quidditch equipment was cool, the Deathly Hallows were amazing, the sword of Gryffindor sparkled, the food from various feasts made me hungry, the Dementor and Angel of Death statue were creepy, Kreacher and Dobby were so real (seeing Dobby made me sad...), Hagrid's chair was HUGE and according to my Mum, quite was all so exciting to see, I had a blast. I felt like a kid and couldn't stop grinning!

And then there was the Gift Shop...I came fully prepared to spend a bundle, which I did. I bought a program, a bookmark, a bag, a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, a Quill set, Snape's wand, a set of House Crest Pins...all of which can be seen below! There goes any book buying for the next month!! worth it!

Have you visited Harry Potter: The Exhibition? If so, was there anything you liked seeing best? If you haven't, what would you have liked to have seen?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Follow Me Friday! (30)

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 the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?

Well, the best book I've read is Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers...I adored this one so, so much and can't recommend it enough! My review hasn't been posted yet, but keep an eye out for it!

As for the worst...I haven't read any book that I truly didn't enjoy or anything, but if I have to pick one I enjoyed the least, it'd be 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. I did like it, but it wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. Again, review is still to come.

Anyone else read either of these books? What did you think? What is the best and worst books you've read in the last month?