Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COVERLICIOUS: Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12), Charlaine Harris


From Goodreads:
Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Now the vampires and the shapeshifters are 'out', you'd think the supernaturals would get on with each other. But nothing is that simple in Bon Temps!

Release Date: May 1st 2012 from Gollancz
Pre-Order: Amazon  |  Book Depository

I'm a BIG Sookie fan. Aside from Twilight, the Southern Vampire Mysteries are really what turned me onto paranormal fiction, and started an outright obsession. I'm always excited for a new Sookie book, despite the criticism the moe recent books have garnered. I love escaping to Bon Temps. I love the people, I love the supes, I love Sookie's house, and the cemetary separating it from Bill's. A trip to the Sookieverse is like a visit with old friends.

In Australia, we have really stereotypical paranormal covers for the Sookie books, so it's really fun seeing the US ones. They're nothing like what I'd have pictured for these books, but I love that they're quirky and left of field, a bit like these books themselves, and Bon Temps. While I like them, I have a friend who hates them. What do you think?

Still no real blurb, and not much to go off, but all the sneaky little clues in the cover! The cluviel dor, the letter, the wolf pack! Are you excited? I am :D

Waiting On Wednesday (5): Touch Of Power, Maria V. Snyder

What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Touch Of Power
by Maria V. Snyder (author website)
Pre-Order:  Book Depository  |  Amazon
Pub Date:  Dec. 20, 2011

From Goodreads:
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Ever since I devoured Poison Study, and could think of nothing but Yelena and Valek and Yelena and Valek and Yelena and Valek and getting my hands on the next two books now now now now now, I've been an dedicated fan of Maria V. Snyder. BFF and I were lucky enough to see her at an author event in Sydney (AU) earlier this year, and she was very fun indeed!

I've heard such good things about this book, and I'm so So SO excited. Looks like Christmas will come a couple of days early for me this year :)



And Maria has just today given us a peek at the Australian cover! Check it out! It's SOOO pretty! Guess what? She's also offering a signed copy of Touch Of Power. Head over to her blog for a chance to win it!
So tell me: what are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Silence (Hush, Hush #3), Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Silence
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick (author website)
Release Date: October 1st 2011 from Simon & Schuster
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

One smoking hot bad boy? Check. One brainless, reckless, but still cool heroine? Check. One diabolical baddie? Check. And a twisty, eerie, story woven with mystery and menace? Check. Oh yes: It’s a new Hush, Hush novel. And I was taken by surprise: I freaking loved it.

From Goodreads
The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

Three months have passed since the final pages of Crescendo, where we left Patch and Nora as they were torn from each others’ arms by the villainous Hank Millar. Nora wakes up in a cemetary with no memory of the last five months. No nephilim, no fallen angels, no revelations of shady parentage, or plots on her life… no Patch.

After three months missing, Nora returns to find things have changed. People are keeping secrets, and she doesn’t know who to trust. With a gaping hole in her memory, Nora know she can’t move forward without first facing her past. What happened to her? Who should she trust? Should she sneak out in the dead of night after escaping kidnapping? Start a fight with her mum for no reason? Perhaps throw herself in front of a Mack truck? And who do the black, silky eyes that haunt her dreams belong to?

Firstly: Silence has the most exciting, scary, suspenseful first chapter/prologue ever. I was hooked from page one. I couldn’t put Silence down, even when I needed to.

We Need to Talk About Nora:

I enjoyed Hush, Hush immensely, despite being seriously freaked out that the whole storyline revolved around a romance developed specifically with the intent of the romancer murdering the romancee. It was mysterious and creepy, and a sense of menace was was woven throughout the story. Then Crescendo came, and I don’t remember ever hating a character as much as I hated Nora. This girl is about as sharp as a pool noodle. Well, I had the same problem with Silence, but I must admit—blissfully—to a far lesser degree.

When Nora mysteriously reappears after twelve weeks missing, so she sneaks out in the dead of night to a cemetery. Alone. Her mum's being kind and understanding? She hurls abuse at her. The girl's mood changes direction faster than the wind can. She gave me whiplash. I couldn't blame Patch if he'd taken the opportunity to hightail it out of there, and hope the amnesia stuck. But alas, no luck. Yes, Nora still has an unhealthy proclivity to run headlong into danger, but in Silence she at least seemed to acknowledge when she was being slightly reckless, and she had cause to. I wound up quite enjoying her after a while, and I admired her grit and tenacity. Something’s been stolen from her—something huge—and she’s sure as hell not going to stop until she gets it back. Go Team Grey!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I’m talking the poem, but man oh man I <3 that movie)

Coming into this book, I thought I was going to hate the amnesia plot device, but it worked for me. One of the things that worked so well about Hush, Hush was the feeling of mystery and menace (that’s the third time I’ve used the word ‘menace’ this review. Now it’s four!) that hung over it and enveloped it’s pages and plotlines. It was dark and twisty and kept me guessing. In parts, it left me genuinely jittery and frightened. As we experience Nora’s uncertainty and confusion in Silence, we recapture that feeling: she’s lost, but caught up in a web of lies, trickery and danger she can’t leave behind, all while being completely oblivious to it. The people she trusts to be honest with her are lying, and the honesty ends up coming from a place we’d least expect it...

Scottie The Hottie (And Friends):

I hated Scott in Crescendo. Yet another irk with that book. I was genuinely surprised to find a likeable character in him in Silence. He’s grown-up, he’s developed, he’s learned a lot. And he’s good to Nora. I groaned in annoyance and pity when things started to unravel for him.

Vee’s back, but in a much more minor role than previous installments. As always, she’s funny, annoying (in a good way!), and I love the constant inane chatter that comes out her mouth. Nora’s Mum is back, and, well… Mum. It’s hard to watch Mrs Grey in Silence, as she goes through a lot… and doesn’t even know it. She genuinely cares for her daughter, and despite being hard on her sometimes, I try to put myself in her shoes: Nora would not be easy to have as a daughter.

Queen Bitch Marcia Millar is back too, and in a larger role. I was surprised to find myself genuinely caring for Marcie towards the end of this book.

All our favourite (and least favourite) characters back, and there’s development and growth to be seen, which is surprising, as it seems they don’t get a huge amount of page time. Out of necessity, Silence revolves largely around Nora and her often solitary quest to recover her stolen memories. This means we get a lot of Nora, a surprising amount of Scott, and of course...

P A T C H!

Oh, lordie. Patch is baaaack! I loved Patch in Hush, Hush, but he scared the bejeezus out of me. He was there in Crescendo, but the book was drama-drama-drama with Nora. After a fair bit of hold out at first, we see a deepening of the relationship between Patch and Nora in Silence, and with no hidden or ulterior motives. For the first time, I saw real, genuine feeling and care between the two. Patch showed exactly what he was capable of, and the lengths he would go to in order to protect Nora. There are a few really intense—emotionally as well as physically—scenes shared by our two lovebirds in Silence, and it’s delicious.

Patch shows a bit more of his bad-boy side in dealings with Hank, and we get a few tantalizing hints of his past, though really nothing more.

The Big Bad

Hank Millar is diabolical. At one point in this book, he genuinely had me fooled—there was a moment I thought he might have a soul. Nope. Dude's an asshat. He makes for a fantastic foil and villain. Unpredictable, hard to get a read on, and freaking scary.

The Verdict:

I actually think Silence may be my favourite entry in this series. The sense of menace (five!) and mystery that made the first book such a winner is back, and the amnesia element of the storyline allows us to re-learn the series and discover what’s going on along with Nora along with her. Fans of Patch will be very, very happy with this book, as we see a lot more of him, and a much deeper side to him than we ever have before. Fans will also be happy to see Fitzpatrick address the issue of an immortal fallen angel and a very-mortal seventeen girl having a long-term relationship in a very interesting—and very unexpected—way. Prior to reading it, I was slightly annoyed Silence wasn’t going to be the final Hush, Hush installment, I wanted that Happily Ever After! Now I’m dying for the next. Mystery, danger, romance and all-round general awesome, Silence is awesome, action-packed excitement.

Books in This Series:

  1. Hush, Hush
  2. Crescendo
  3. Silence
  4. As yet unamed (expected 2012)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (2): Books I Bought This Week


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!


I feel like I've been waiting for The Scorpio Races and Silence FOREVER. I'd planned on leaving Silence for Christmas (pfft, yeah, right), but I ordered The Scorpio Races at the same time as I ordered Shatter Me, and I've been impatiently waiting ever since. I was so, SO excited when it arrived in my mailbox... right after I returned from the shops with Silence in hand :D

Boneshaker's an interesting one. I'd seen it around, been intrigued by the Steampunky cover, and smiled, shrugged, and walked away. Well, BFF borrowed it from the library after reading Gail Carriger's Soulless series, but decided she didn't want to read it, so passed it off to me. Perks of BFF working at a library? I have it for six months :D

From top to bottom:

  1. The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater (bought)
  2. Silence, Becca Fitzpatrick (bought)
  3. Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (borrowed)

What'd you bag this week? Share!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Digging Up a Favourite: At Grave's End (Night Huntress #3), Jeaniene Frost

Cat doesn't wear pants.
Pants are for wusses.

Title: At Grave's End
Author: Jeaniene Frost (author website)
Release Date: January 1st 2009
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
My Rating: 1 star2 star3 star4 star

What's The Deal?

The Night Huntress books, by fabulous evil-author, Jeaniene Frost, are, one of most favourite my UF/PNR series. So, because I can, every Saturday for the next few weeks, I'm going to dig up reviews of the first five books, and the two Night Huntress World books. I would love to hear your thoughts on these books. Love them? Hate them? Can't wait for a double dose of Vlad with the Night Prince books next year?

This is edition #3: At Grave's End, the third book in the series.

Competition?

Guys, I'd love your feedback: would you be interested in a competition to win a copy of the first book or most recent book in the series, or the Bite Before Christmas short story collection? Is it worth it? Or do you all already have it? Let me know. If there's interest, I'd love to evangelise folks to this series, and give away a copy or two of the book when I'm done.


BEWARE: This review could contain spoilers for the first and second books in the series.

From Goodreads:
Some things won't stay buried . . . at grave's end

It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover's finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave. 

Review:

The third installment in the Night Huntress series is breathtaking: with At Grave's End, Jeaniene Frost ramps it up once more. No, these books aren't intellectual, and don't require a lot of thought. What they are, is incredibly well plotted and paced, and have a cast of very strong, utterly unforgettable characters.

Cat and Bones have finally settled into a relationship. Cat's told her mother, Justina, to like it or leave it, and, after coming to an agreement with the special department of Homeland Security Cat works for, Bones now works by her side. But Cat's become infamous, and it's making her job harder and more dangerous, and someone from Bone's past is emerging with a vendetta.

Once again, the book is non-stop action, but we a see a lot less of that action between Cat and Bones in the bedroom. I'd read a few people lamenting the loss of this, but I can't say I did. Don't get me wrong--these are one of the things I really do like about the series (I feel like a pervert!), but we see a deeper connection between Cat and Bones here, which I appreciated even more than just watching them get it on. The energy between the two is still crackling, and I enjoy it just as much, but we're seeing a deeper emotional side to all the characters here.

Without spoilering, about two thirds of the way through this book, 'something' heartbreaking happens, and the fallout left me in tears. The grief is palpable, and this is as well written as anything else I've encountered in the genre. There is a scene between Cat, and a new--but famous--addition to the Night Huntress cast, which I thought was perfect. It made my heart ache.

We see a new side to many of our favourite characters, and the humour inheritant in these books that I love so much is there, absolutely sparkling. There are two notable scenes that had me laughing out loud involving Bones and Justina, and another with Cat and a new addition to the cast: Vlad. Vlad is a LOT of fun.

The showdown in the end of this book had me holding my breath. It actually reminded me of the finale of one of my favourite vampire slayin' shows, now long-gone from TV (not the first time in this series have made me recall a show involving a certain slayer, and certain sexy british vampire). This final showdown, with everyone choosing to stand their ground, and 'choosing their death' (a reference to one of Bone's long-dead friends from the first book) had me on the edge of my seat.

If you've read the first 2 books in the series, this installment is an absolute must-read. I don't know how she's done it, but Frost is getting better and better.

Books in This Series:

  1. Halfway To The Grave
  2. One Foot In The Grave
  3. At Grave's End
  4. Destined For An Early Grave
  5. First Drop Of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)
  6. Eternal Kiss Of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2)
  7. This Side Of The Grave
  8. One Grave At A Time (September 2011)
  9. As yet untitled book 7, expected 2012.

Want It?

Get it from Booktopia
At Grave's End at Amazon

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow My Blog Friday (4) & TGIF (3)

Oh. My. Goodness. Can you believe it's one month to Christmas? *freaks out*

Follow Friday

'Follow My Blog' Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The idea is to meet other book bloggers, and get to know one another. What a fun idea, and opportunity!
Featured blogs: The Book Addict & Books and Beyond.

Q:  It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. so we want to know what you are Thankful for – blogging related of course! Who has helped you out along the way? What books are you thankful for reading?

I'm thankful for Tara from 25 Hour Books. She probably doesn't know it, but she inspired me to start blogging. Back in the day, I followed her 101 challenge, and when she started her blog, followed her over there. It's because of her I read the Night Huntress books. And Oh my gosh, you guys: words can't explain. I'm also ridiculously thankful for Brodie from Eleusinian Mysteries for leaving a comment on my blog this week that me grin like a crazy person, giggle/snort with glee, and who now probably thinks I'm a total nutjob. But hey, thanks for appreciating my weird little M&M problem XD

I'm MASSIVELY thankful for Goodreads. I've discovered so many books I'd never have even heard of otherwise, and it's what made me start writing reviews.

And most of all, I'm thankful for the Book Blogging community, and my amazing followers. YOU! I've only been doing this (seriously) for two months, and everyone has been so helpful, and made me feel so, so welcome. Whether it's comments on FF, or any day of the week, Parajunkee's amazing BB101's, or the myriad of other posts, reviews, chats, and everything else. You. guys. are. AMAZING.

Big, BIG love, and a happy Thanksgiving to all you lovely Americans!

TGIF


When You're Not Reading: What occupies your time when your nose isn't stuck in a book?

You know, this looks like a long list, but it's not.

1. Coffee Caffiene:
I love coffee. Caffiene. Whatever. I drink it like I breathe. It's bad, I know, but hey, we all have our vices, right? So when I'm not reading, I'm drinking caffiene. My Mum is my regular coffee date, and my other BFF.

That be Husband Man skiing in Canada
in February this year. Have any of ya'll
been to Whistler? Oh, la! It's stunning.
2. Skiing:
I LURVE to ski. On snow. With my husband. I'm extremely blessed to have had a Dad who took me skiing every year from the time I was six, until I hit sixteen. Serendipity struck when I met my husband: he loves skiing as much as I do, if not more so. He's been skiing as long as I have, and he's better than me, which drives me NUTS.

Did I mention I'm slightly competitive?

3. TV & Movies:
I wish I could be one of these folks who could say they didn't waste hours parked on the sofa, but I'd be lying. I spend hours watching TV and movies with my husband, Mum and BFF. True Blood, Torchwood, Community, Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, Big Bang Theory, Star Trek, Stargate. Uh, so basically, if it's nerdy? I love it. Movies? I'll watch anything. But my faves off the top of my head: The Princess Bride, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Shaun of the Dead, The Matrix, The Labyrinth, Zombieland, Hot Tub Time Machine, Kill Bill--make that ANYTHING Tarantino--A skiing doco called Steep, a gazillion others... I've also developed an unhealthy obsession with BBC period dramas. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent watching Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. Seriously, that's 5.5 hours each time...

4. Doctor Who:
The Doctor gets his own category, separate from the above. My life revolves around Doctor Who. I've flaked on any number of things to stay home and watch Doctor Who. I don't even lie about it: 'Sorry, I can't come on the family holiday that day--I'll miss Doctor Who.' My Mum and I already have Boxing Day planned around the Christmas Special that is being fast-tracked to Australia! Cue the EPIC SQUEE!


5. Reading
No, seriously you guys: I have a real problem. On the bus, when I'm walking, when I'm going to buy coffee at work, on my lunch break. I've walked into street-signs and poles in the past because I had my head stuck in a book. I spend whole weekends where I do nothing but read. The laundry doesn't get done, nor do the dishes... Husbandman does shiftwork, so I spend a lot of time on my own. Books keep me company :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beautiful Chaos (Caster Chronicles #3), Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Chaos
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Release Date: Oct. 18th 2011 from Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 starHalf star

I have mixed thoughts on Beautiful Chaos. On one hand, I love Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s writing and, like always, it shines through. The second half of the book was seriously exciting, and left me not just in tears, but crying. Ugly crying. On the other hand, the ending felt like a kick in the gut, and I really struggled to get into the story after a very slow start. For me, Beautiful Chaos was not easy to read.

From Goodreads:
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

OK, so imagine the movie trailer voice: THIS SUMMER, THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING TO GATLIN. We join Ethan in a darker place than we have before, and something is wrong. He's losing the plot. In addition to dangerous dreams, he’s forgetting himself. Memories, phone numbers, everyday details, Ethan's losing little pieces of himself one bit at a time. Not good. He can’t even confide in Amma: she’s gone darker than she ever has before.

Since Lena claimed herself, both the Caster and Mortal worlds seem to be falling apart. I wasn't joking about the apocalypse. Drought, pestilence, swarms of locusts. The Caster's powers are misfiring, which is kind of dangerous when you can set fire to things with your brain. Where Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness were about choosing your own path, and taking control of your destiny, Beautiful Chaos is about dealing with the consequences, and perhaps about the inevitability of fate.
“The Mortal world is in a state of beautiful chaos, which will ultimately lead to an exquisite end.”
These books are so immersive. As Beautiful Chaos commenced, some quality or cadence of tone sucked me once more into the tiny world of Gatlin, and had me enthralled by that lush, hypnotic, flowing prose Garcia and Stohl have mastered. The short version: I love Garcia/Stohl's writing. The quality and feel of it. But I struggled to get into the story.

Beautiful Chaos has SO. MUCH. GOING. ON. that for the first half—that’s 250 pages, folks—it felt like nothing happened. So much time was spent on setting up so many different plot threads, events, and carrying over ones from the previous book, it was overwhelming. I struggled through the beginning of Beautiful Chaos like I was walking through knee-deep mud. But then, thankfully, it got GOOD. Pages 250-500-something are exciting, mysterious, high-stakes and everything I expect from these darned-talented authors.

Did Someone Turn Out The Lights?

The Caster Chronicles have always been dark, but Beautiful Chaos is darker. The bleak tone and hopelessness of the situation in Gatlin weighed down on me, and as much as I love revisiting the world of this series, for me it made Beautiful Chaos hard to read.

Once again, people are keeping secrets, but this time, the people we trust to have the answers—Amma, Macon Marian and the other Casters—are at a loss themselves. The safety net’s gone. The stakes are higher this time; the dangers seem more real. Characters we’ve come to know and love get hurt. And, as the cover copy promises: this time, there’s no happy ending. There’s a feeling of desperation hanging over our favourite Caster-Mortal blended/extended family, and it rubs off on the reader.

One of the darkest points of Beautiful Chaos for me was Amma: like Ethan, we’ve come to count on Amma as our pillar of strength, but Amma’s falling apart at the seams. Seeing Amma like this was heartbreaking and frightening. The lady's a seer--if she’s that worried, well, people: we have problems.

Did I Say *Tiny* World?

One of the things I love most about the Caster Chronicles is Gatlin: it’s as much a central character as Amma or Macon. It’s not just a backdrop, but a living, breathing thing. Wake’s Landing, Marion’s library, Ravenwood, the tunnels, the cliquey school, the self-righteous, bigoted DAR and quirky sisters combine into something larger than themselves. I love Gatlin. It excites and terrifies me. It’s like the TARDIS: there’s more than meets the eye—it’s bigger on the inside!
“Don’t you start Mercy-Lynne. You know vegetabalism is one step closer ta a world without panties an’ preaches. That there is a documented fact.”

Hmmm... So Basically:

For me, Beautiful Chaos didn’t feel like its own book, but more a culmination of the events of those preceding it. The whole book was climax Climax CLIMAX! Then it ended. Seriously. Mega-uber-massive cliffhanger. And not in a good way. Beautiful Chaos was five hundred pages of build-up to an event that didn’t happen in this book.

I’m the first to admit I don’t love cliffhangers, but I can respect a good one... and in a way, I suppose this one was, but, at the same time, there was no resolution to any of the events within this book, and that frustrates me. I was left knowing (almost) as little on page 516 as I was on page 1.

Despite these complaints, I enjoyed Beautiful Chaos. The writing is gorgeous, the stakes are high, the characters I know and love are all there hiding their secrets, and Gatlin? My oh my I love Gatlin.

Beautiful Chaos was dense, convoluted, overwhelming, heartbreaking and... while fabulous on some levels, unsatisfying, on others. Either way, it’s achieved its goal: I’m eagerly anticipating book four, if for no other reason than to find out how this one actually ends! If you're a fan of the Caster Chronicles, definitely read Beautiful Chaos. If you're already undecided on this series, Beautiful Chaos will do little to change your mind.

Books in This Series:

  1. Beautiful Creatures
  2. Beautiful Darkness
  3. Beautiful Chaos
  4. As yet unamed, expected 2012

Want It?

Get it from Book Depository
Get it from Amazon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (4): The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater (author website)
Order:  Book Depository  |  The Scorpio Races
Pub Date:  Nov 29, 2011

From Goodreads:
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Okay, okay, I KNOW it's already published, and I know you're all like 'huh?', but I'm STILL WAITING FOR MY COPY TO ARRIVE IN THE MAIL AND IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY, AND WHY, BOOK DEPOSITORY, WHY?! WHY ARE YOU TAKING 5 WHOLE DAAAAAYYYYYS TO SEND IT INTERNATIONALLY TO ME WHHHAAAAAA!

*cough* So now that's out of the way, I'm very excited and impatiently waiting to get my hands on this :D

So tell me: what are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi

Sorry guys, I still don't have a good explanation
for the cover. At least it's GORGEOUS, right?
Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi (author website)
Release Date: 15th Nov. 2011 from Harper/HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Paranormal Twist
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

I’m not sure how to put voice to my thoughts on Shatter Me. Undoubtedly the most hyped debut of this year, I had very high expectations from Tahereh Mafi's offering. And it exceeded all of them—over and over and over again. Guys? I think I’m in luuurrve.

From Goodreads:
Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

So much has been said about Shatter Me, and while I was expecting it to be good, I was shocked at just how good. I think I must have read the whole book either holding my breath or gasping. I was sucked in by Juliette’s voice, and I still can’t get it out of my head—I keep hearing her thoughts whirring around my brain. Shatter Me is so many things: exciting, breathtaking, and a beautiful journey of self discovery, but, ultimately, it’s about learning to love yourself.

The stand out of Shatter Me, what makes it so exceptional and SO amazing, is Mafi’s writing. Flowing, gripping stream-of-consciousness, Tahereh Mafi puts you in Juliette’s head, and it’s remarkable. I couldn’t escape. The book is peppered with struck out thoughts, words and lines of text. All the things racing through Juliette’s head that she can’t admit to herself, that she wants to say and can’t bring herself to, or can’t allow herself to indulge in.

I <3 Juliette:

I loved the quiet parts of Shatter Me, when little was happening. Whether it was Juliette and Adam just being together, or Juliette and Juliette, her thoughts whirring and circling and misfiring. When you’ve lived a life in isolation, the only company you have is yourself, and Juliette’s mind is fascinating. She counts everything: days, minutes, seconds, fingers on hands, cracks in walls, words spoken or left unsaid. She’s compelling, real, fragile, but with a molten core of fiery courage and strength that she’s only just beginning to discover herself. The images she paints with her words are evocative, vibrant and beautiful, and I’ve never ever enjoyed being in a character’s head so much as I did hers. Where she should be bitter, and, in part, I suppose she is, she still hopes. She hasn’t allowed the abuse she’s suffered to crystallise into hatred. I feel cheesy saying this, but Juliette is genuinely inspirational.
“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

Phwoar!

Given it’s YA, I was surprised by the level of sexual tension and heat in this book. Though they’re never gratuitous or graphic, the pages Juliette share with her love interest, Adam, crackle with electricity.
“I'm oxygen and he's dying to breathe.”

Imagine, your whole life, never knowing the touch of another human being. One of the most basic facts of life we take for granted. And then you can. Juliette discovering touch for the first time in her life is magical. It’s like hearing music for the first time, or tasting chocolate, but a thousand times more potent and powerful.
“You can't touch me," I whisper. I'm lying, is what I don't tell him. He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him. Please touch me, is what I want to tell him.”

Scarily Close To Home:

Of the dystopians I’ve read, Shatter Me is the most real. I believed it, and I was frightened to see a very possible future for our own world. Global warming is reality, famine has taken hold, and so have all the superbugs and diseases we fear. The world of Shatter Me is already a reality in parts of ours today. Places exist in our world where people can’t afford to eat, there is no clean water, where crops are too expensive to grow, medical care is unattainable, and government is corrupt. How many times have we seen corrupt regimes overthrown, to be replaced with one just as bad? It scared me, because I was reading it going, 'oh my goodness, this could really happen. It has happened.' This is happening in our world today, and is what has happened in Shatter Me. For me, it brought the reality of Juliette’s world home.

Closing:

My only negative with Shatter Me is that, for me, the ending felt a little flat and anti-climactic. The book is really largely insular: Juliette's internal struggles, her dealing with inner changes and turmoil, and thiscomes to a very satisfying conclusion. Julietter grows a lot over the course of Shatter Me. But there is obviously a storyline involving external conflict and peril, and it felt like there was a lot of build towards something that comes and goes very quickly. This is followed by what I'd normally think was a quick denouement, but kept on going for another few chapters. Don't get me wrong: I LOVED it, but I want more!

I can’t get Juliette’s voice out of my head. I can’t stop wondering what’s next, and I keep finding myself daydreaming, staring out windows in wonder at how lucky I am for the world around me. Unlike The Hunger Games, to which this has been compared again and again, and to which Shatter Me easily stands up to, Shatter Me doesn’t leave me with a stomach full of lead. It never felt bleak. It left me with hope. It deserves the hype.

Shatter Me is, in a word, magnificent.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Follow My Blog Friday (3) & TGIF (2)

'Follow My Blog' Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The idea is to meet other book bloggers, and get to know one another. What a fun idea, and opportunity!
Featured blogs: Lauren's Book Blog & Books and Barks.

Q: Letter to Santa: Tell Santa what books you want for Christmas!

Dear Santa,

Your sack's magic, right? Can I just have a library? No? Oh :(
If you're feeling generous, I bought eBooks of  Some Girls Bite (Chloe Neill/Chicagoland Vampires) series, and the Bloodhound Files (D.D. Barant) books. I'd love Love LOVE to have these as real books... because I want to lend them to my friends and make them read them, too! I'd LOVE a copy of A Million Suns, too, and maybe A Touch of Power (Maria V. Snyder)?

If you're feeling really, REALLY generous, and really, really magic, any chance you could make the fifth Nalini Singh Guild Hunter book come out early? And Biting Cold, by Chloe Neill? And Rapture, by Lauren Kate? And Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore? And... XD

Love,
Sarah.

P.S. I left milk and cookies. If they're missing, follow the trail or crumbs. there, you'll find Cleo.
P.P.S. Move quick, she might decide to eat you, too.


Q: Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?


Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
Okay, okay, you've see this everywhere, right? But I'm really, really grateful for Twilight. Twilight for me, as for many of you, was a gateway drug to my obsession with reading as an adult. Throughout my life, I've had a few books that have hooked me on reading, but this was before I knew what a book blog was, or Goodreads or Amazon was around, so it lasted for a while, and--while I've always enjoyed reading--Twilight came at a point in my life where I was able to go 'hang on, I want to read more stuff like this!', and had the tools to be able to find that stuff. I have huge thanks and love to my BFF for lending my Twilight, and sending me spiralling into addiction.


Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1), Charlaine Harris
My BFF bought this one for me. She hadn't read these books, but thought I'd like them. Boy, was she right. This book switched me on to adult PNR/UF, and I've never looked back. I owe my love of Jeaniene Frost, Nalini Singh, and hey, just about every other 'grown up' book to Dead Until Dark, and my fave BFF.


The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
I can't articulate how very much I adore Neil Gaiman. No, really, I can't. I'm overwhelmed. So I shan't. I'm just going to tell you all that if you haven't read anything by him, do. Start with this, or Stardust. Thanks to MY AWESOME MUM for lending me this. It was my first Gaiman book.


The Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy, The late, the great, Douglas Adams
Thanks, Dad. To this day, ask me what my favourite book is, and I'll (usually) answer with Hitchikers. I remember re-reading Hitchikers' on the train a few years ago with tears in my eyes from trying to repress the laughter.

“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”  



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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires #5), Chloe Neill

This review containers SPOILERS for Hard Bitten. Read at your own risk :)

Title: Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires #5)
Author: Chloe Neill (author website)
Release Date: November 1st 2011
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star

I was so excited for this book. I read books one through four in an obsessive haze, and was left in a stunned stupor when I finished Hard Bitten. Drink Deep is fast paced, exciting, funny. At times fun, and at times painful. Drink Deep is everything I've come to expect from a Chicagoland Vampires book. But it felt like half a book.

From Goodreads:
Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and Merit the vampire can't tell if this is the darkness before the dawn, or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times have never been more precarious for the vampires. If only they could lay low for a bit...

Then magic rears its ugly head when Lake Michigan turns black. The mayor insists it's nothing to worry about, but Merit knows a panic is coming. She'll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who's behind this, and stop them before it's too late for both the vampires and humans.

I give up. I’m incapable of writing a short review. So I'm not trying anymore.

Two months have passed since the events of Drink Deep. Cadogan House is still grieving its Master's loss, and no one feels that loss more keenly than Merit. She's haunted by ominous dreams of disaster and Ethan. As threatened, the house has gone into receivership, and is being overseen by vile GP (the vampire lord high council) bureaucrat, Frank Cabot. Intent on destroying the house from the inside out, he has placed it on blood rations. The new mayor is pushing for mandatory vampire registration, and the feel in the city isn’t good. Merit’s BFF, Mallory, is cracking under the stress of her sorcering exams. And if all that's not enough, the lake suddenly turns black. Now Merit has to handle protesting humans, BFF drama, and make sure elemental forces don't tear the city apart, if the politicians don't do it first.

After the shocking ending of Hard Bitten, I found it hard not to read Drink Deep with one goal in mind: read until I find out exactly how Neill's going to deal with The Ethan Issue. Ethan's absence noted, I still enjoyed the book. I was expecting a kind of 'filler' book. The book where Neill undoes what she did in the last one. But it's more than a filler book: this is a pivotal point in what's been building for a while now. Drink Deep is the culmination of 4 books worth of planning and prophecy. This is a turning point.

Things have been wrong, and getting wronger for a while. Merit's been a little oblivious to what has been going on in the lives of the people around her. After reading these books back to back, I can see the hints and threads coming together,  to form the pattern starting to reveal itself here.

Merit:

Political and social tensions mounting, dealing with the loss of a loved one, and fighting to maintain equilibrium between Greenwich Presidium's expectations, as well as the community within which she lives, we join Merit in a darker place than we have in the past four Chicagoland Vampire books. With Ethan's absence, Merit has lost a partner, a teacher, and someone much more important to her on a personal level. I guess we could say this is the book that had to happen for Merit...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (3): Kiss Of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2), Jennifer Etep

I really miss the gorgeous eyes this cover model has.
They were AMAZING on A Touch of Frost
What is it? 
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Kiss Of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)
by Jennifer Estep
Pre-Order:  Book Depository  |  Amazon
Pub Date:  Nov 29, 2011

From Goodreads:
I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

I'm really looking forward to Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep. I was pleasantly surprised by A Touch of Frost, as I had a few gripes with Estep's Elemental Assassin series, despite really enjoying the storyline. I'm itching to find out what Logan Quinn is hiding, and where Estep takes this relationship. Squee!

So tell me: what are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (1): Books I Bought This Week


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!


This is my first week participating in IMM, and I feel like I should be embarrassed. I need to stop buying books. Seriously.

I wish I could saw some of these were galleys or freebies, but I really can't. Everything except for Matched, which I borrowed from a friend, I actually bought with real monies this week. I can say that I a few of these books only cost a few dollars--I bought some on sale. That makes me feel better :D

But you know what's worse? This isn't everything. I ordered The Scorpio Races, Lord Of The Abyss, Shatter Me, and A Touch of Power this week also, and I'm waiting for them to arrive. That'd be on top of the five Kate Daniels books I ordered last week. Who needs lunch money when you've got books, right?

From top to bottom:
  1. Warm Bodies (Isaac Marion)
  2. Beautiful Chaos (Garcia/Stohl)
  3. Cryer's Cross (Lisa McMann)
  4. Matched (Ally Condie)
  5. Paranormalcy (Kiersten White)
  6. Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires #3) (Rachel Caine)
  7. Glass Houses (Morganville Vampires #1) (Rachel Caine) 
  8. Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires #5) (Chloe Neill)
  9. The Replacement (Brenna Yovanoff)
Umm... Folks, my name is Sarah, and I have a problem...

What'd you bag this week? Share!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Digging Up a Favourite: One Foot In The Grave (Night Huntress #2), Jeaniene Frost

Title: One Foot In The Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost (author website)
Release Date: May 1st 2008
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
My Rating: 1 star2 star3 star4 star

What's The Deal?

The Night Huntress books, by fabulous evil-author, Jeaniene Frost, are one of most favourite my UF/PNR series. So, because I can, every Saturday for the next few weeks, I'm going to dig up reviews of the first five books. I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books. Love them? Hate them? Can't wait for a double dose of Vlad with the Night Prince books next year?

BEWARE: This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Halfway To The Grave, reviewed last week.

 You can run from the grave, but you can't hide...

Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She's still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.

Being around him awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline kick of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head—wanted: dead or half-alive—means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard she tries to keep things professional between them, she'll find that desire lasts forever . . . and that Bones won't let her get away again.

Review:

Cat's back. But now it's Special Agent Cat Crawford...

It's been four years since Cat left the love of her life, Bones, sneaking away in the hopes of protecting both his life, and her mother's. Screw her own happiness. It could never work out with Bones anyway, and she'll never be happy without him. So as long as they can't be together, she'll keep him safe. She's now working for a secret department of Homeland Security, dealing with the undead like only she can.

A job Cat's working takes an unexpected twist, and when Bones shows up at her best friend's wedding, well... will she be able to control her attraction to him? Pfft, you know the answer: hell to the no.

Cat has grown a lot in the last four years. She's now a foul-mouthed, gin-swilling, 'raging bitch'. By her own admission. And boy, is she bitter. She's living for her job: killing the undead. Without Bones, she doesn't really have much joy in her life. Cat drove me nuts in the first Night Huntress book, Halfway to the Grave. She was immature and prejudiced, and while I understood this (and it was an important part of the story), I really appreciate that she's grown into the character she was clearly intended to be. Seeing Cat adjust her outlook on the future of a relationship between her and Bones is very sweet, and watching her finally stand up to her vindictive bitch of a mother is worth gold.

The pace in this book is rocketing--it's non-stop action. Whether it's Cat and Bones, or Cat and Bones kick ass, Frost keeps it moving along like a freight train. This installment has more action, more excitement, and more *ahem* everything than the last.

We also see far richer worldbuilding than the previous installment. Where Halfway To The Grave focused mainly on the mystery and sizzling tension between Cat and Bones, One Foot In The Grave has a far richer background. Secondary characters are now more than a backup cast: they're rich and multi-facted. Cat has friends, colleagues, and the added dimension these add to the story and world are invaluable. As much as I don't necessarily like him, Cat's relationship with Tate is interesting, and important, I think, in grounding her.

As with Halfway to the Grave, the book's really a vehicle for the sizzling interaction and relationship between our two heroes. It has some of the hottest scenes in it I've ever read (or seen on TV), and actually had me blushing (chapter 32--you'll know what I mean).

All the issues I had with Halfway to the Grave are gone in One Foot in the Grave. Cat's grown up, Bones doesn't push her around as much, and we have the two on much more equal footing. There are so many laugh at loud parts of this book (Bones v. Tate, and Bones and Justina). The Night Huntress series have filled a Buffy-shaped hole in my heart, and this instalment is infinitely better than the last. If you enjoyed Halfway to the Grave, you'll LOVE One Foot in the Grave. Read it.

Books in This Series:

  1. Halfway To The Grave
  2. One Foot In The Grave
  3. At Grave's End
  4. Destined For An Early Grave
  5. First Drop Of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1)
  6. Eternal Kiss Of Darkness (Night Huntress World #2)
  7. This Side Of The Grave
  8. One Grave At A Time (September 2011)
  9. As yet untitled book 7, expected 2012.

Want It?

Get it from Booktopia
One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress) at Amazon

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