Friday, March 30, 2012

Catching Suki (Hunting Lila #0.5), Sarah Alderson

Title: Catching Suki
Author: Sarah Alderson (author website)
Release Date: February 1st 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

It’s no secret I—and every Aussie blogger I know—have a passionate (though perhaps one sided) love affair with Sarah Alderson. Her brilliant Hunting Lila and Fated blend tension and supernatural with pitch-perfect teen romance, and she does it again in Catching Suki—in only twenty short pages.

From Goodreads
The Unit are closing in and Demos needs one of his team to go deep cover.

Enter Suki.

Fashion obsessed, boy-crazy and more than a little kooky, Suki is a mind reader with a special talent for buying shoes and for listening in on private conversations.

Tasked with infiltrating the enemy (namely Jack and Alex) Suki rises to the challenge, leaving a trail of chaos, destruction (and a large room service bill) in her wake.

A prequel to the events of Hunting Lila and including many of the characters from the book, this short story told through Suki’s eyes, will have you laughing out loud and gripping the edge of your seat.

The Story:

A freebie short story, Catching Suki is set immediately before the events of Hunting Lila. Shoe obsessed, boy-crazy Suki Nakamura is a ‘psy’—a human with seriously-cool psychic abilities. What Psys can do varies, but Suki? Suki can read minds. It makes her a little eccentric, and prone to having conversations with people they don’t expect to be having, but it also makes her an ideal spy. On the run from shady special-ops team ‘The Unit’, Suki and her fellow band of misfits need all the intel they can get, so Suki’s mission? Get close to to Unit’s keyplayers: Jack Loveday and Alex Wakeman.


Adding a little extra depth and back-story to the already fabulous Hunting Lila, Catching Suki gives us an insider’s view on the group of Psy’s, and a look into the mind of one its most memorable characters. Unsure of herself, and of anyone around her, when Lila meets this group in Hunting Lila, she's ruled by mistrust, and unsure of what to believe. From Suki’s standpoint, we see them as they are, and it’s a fun and disarming look at a group of people who are just... friends. Not villains. People drawn together by circumstance, trying to survive, with a warm, affable bond.

In Hunting Lila, Suki comes across as eccentric at best, and possibly a pinch crazy. From her point of view, we meet a girl who runs at a hundred miles an hour, and is having a constant conversation with everyone in the room—whether she wants to or not. Hard to seem focused when five different people are thinking at you. And, if she’s not distracted enough by that, she’s mentally undressing (in more ways than one), every hot boy in sight. Goddess of characterising brilliant teen protagonists, Sarah gives Suki a completely unique voice. She’s an utterly distinct character, nothing at all like Lila, or Fated’s Evie, or anyone else for that matter. She’s opinionated and spoiled, but kind and fun. She remains light-hearted despite her genuinely life-or-death situation. She’s an enormously entertaining character to read: pure and simple fun.

In addition to getting to know Suki, we also see another side of Hunting Lila’s story—the moment Jack and Alex find out Lila’s coming to town, how they encounter Suki for the first time, and just WHAT Suki’s doing staring through Jack’s mailbox. Perhaps it’s best read after Hunting Lila for these reasons.

The Verdict:

Catching Suki’s a breath of fresh air. Fun, fast-paced, and an utterly delightful protagonist—what more could we ask? Sarah works her magic again, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a cup of tea and a half hour than with this—or any of her characters. Just what’s needed to pass the time between now Losing Lila.

Books in This Series:

  1. Catching Suki (#0.5)
  2. Hunting Lila
  3. Losing Lila (August 2012)

And you thought it was awesome before? Well... for a limited time, you can download Catching Suki for FREE, thanks to Sarah a GirlTank!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Shadowfever (Fever #5), Karen Marie Moning + GIVEAWAY

Title: Shadowfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning (author website)
Release Date: Jan. 18 2011 by Delacorte Press
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow(fever)

Buckle up, girls and guys. Shadowfever’s here, and Moning finally delivers everything she’s promised... and then some.

From Goodreads:
“Evil is a completely different creature, Mac. Evil is bad that believes it’s good.”

MacKayla Lane was just a child when she and her sister, Alina, were given up for adoption and banished from Ireland forever.

Twenty years later, Alina is dead and Mac has returned to the country that expelled them to hunt her sister’s murderer. But after discovering that she descends from a bloodline both gifted and cursed, Mac is plunged into a secret history: an ancient conflict between humans and immortals who have lived concealed among us for thousands of years.

What follows is a shocking chain of events with devastating consequences, and now Mac struggles to cope with grief while continuing her mission to acquire and control the Sinsar Dubh—a book of dark, forbidden magic scribed by the mythical Unseelie King, containing the power to create and destroy worlds.

In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves.
Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card?

From the luxury of the Lord Master’s penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac’s journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world... or destroy it.

With three billion people dead, the walls still down between Faery and earth, Mac has lost everything. Her sister, her home, her identity, her world, and now it seems the one remaining thread tethering her to what’s left of it. Bitter, jaded, and now as ruthless as her mentor, Mac will stop at nothing to find the cursed Sinsar Dubh, and bring an end to the Fae madness that has taken over the planet. But nothing’s as easy as it seems, and Mac must get to the bottom of a million-year old network of lies, deceit, prophecy and mythology to discover who she is, and who to trust, all while fighting to stay alive long enough to complete her task. More than ever, Mac must uncover answers: Who and where is the Unseelie King? Where is the Seelie Queen? What really happened to the concubine who set this whole series of tragedies in motion, and caused the Sinsar Dubh to be brought into creation? Mac may just be the only person with the answer.


With the final page closed on the Fever series, and looking back at the journey as a whole, I can honestly say I’d never imagined it would wind up here. When Pink Mac, or Mac 1.0, as she calls her old self, first stumbled, grieving her sister, through the craic-filled streets of Dublin, I don’t imagine she did either. I remember that Barbie-girl, and I remember wanting to shake her. Shallow and selfish, over-confident and outright silly, that girl is gone. Mac is battle-scarred, jaded and bitter, but she’s learned that “Hope strengthens, [and] Fear kills”, and she clings to that adage. Mac’s been brutalized, tortured, betrayed, and manipulated countless times, but rather than letting it destroy her, she’s let it build her, shape her into a stronger, better, version of herself. I can’t believe the girl I could barely stand in Darkfever is now one of my favorite characters. Mac is one of the best examples of character growth I’ve seen in literature. Ever. She’s unrecognizable from her old self.

That’s not to say this book isn’t a journey for her. When we open the page on Shadowfever, we find a stricken, broken woman, overwhelmed with towering grief and fury. That fury and grief turns to cold resolve, and that resolve leads to one hell of a journey.

In Shadowfever, the players become clear. We finally see the true faces of the good guys, the bad guys, and the questions we’ve been asking, the riddles we’ve been agonizing over for four long, brilliant books are finally, finally, finally answered. Infuriating, cryptic Jericho Barrons. Pernicious Sidhe-Seer Grand Mistress, Rowena. Fae Prince, V’lane. Mac herself. Who and what she is. All is revealed. And despite an obsession rivaling Mac’s own when it comes to the question of Jericho Barrons, it’s perhaps the question of Mac herself that is Shadowfever’s biggest mystery and revelation.

And finally, after hundreds and hundreds of pages of the most electric, palpable, frustrating sexual tension I’ve ever read, we get satisfaction. Real satisfaction. I almost expected disappointment. How could anything possibly live up to the towering build-up? Disappointment? Not a drip, not a drop. Jericho Barrons is neither hero nor anti-hero. He just is. One of the most prickly, acerbic, powerfully sexual and utterly compelling characters I’ve ever read, well, I never expected him to break my heart. Barrons and Mac are a match forged in the fires of hell, and cooled in the springs of heaven. Believe me when I say the wait has been worth it.

The Verdict:

Through five books, and over many hundreds of pages, Karen Marie Moning has built a world as dangerous, broken and terrifying as it is seductive, beautiful and compelling. She’s populated it with characters I love and loathe. She’s given it depth and painted it in colors beyond imagination. With the dozens of questions, cryptic clues, and frustrating mysteries she’s created over the series, I wasn’t sure how she could possibly wrap the series up, and deliver a satisfying dénouement. I don’t know what to say beyond, well, she does. Has Shadowfever left me with questions? Of course. Good books allow you to think for yourself. To imagine futures, and worlds and possibilities beyond a final, finished page. But has Moning delivered the satisfaction I longed for? The answers I needed? Yes, and then some.

The most sexually-charged installment of the series on a whole, Shadowfever delivers. I can’t possibly imagine the series ending any other way. Mac’s world will never be the same, nor will she. Yet despite unimaginable loss, tragedy, and heartache... they might just be better. Five books, one apocalypse, billions of dead, and an inter-dimensional war later, I still have the Fever.

Books in This Series:

  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever

What's that, you say? Oh yes! The GIVEAWAY!

I'll be publishing reviews for the rest of this series over the next few weeks, and to celebrate the fact that I'm feverishly addicted to the Fever series, I'm giving away 2 copies of the first book in the series, Darkfever. You know, share the addiction. If you've read Darkfever, but you're still waiting on a copy of another book in the series? Well, I could be convinced to send you a copy of Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, or Shadowfever instead ;)

So, want to enter? Entry below the jump!

Monday, March 26, 2012



Guys, I know... it's shocking, but the lovely Racquel of The Book Barbies has.. Wait, you're sitting down, right?

She has never read Harry Potter. Not a single book.

She's never experienced the bittersweet longing of wishing for her own Hogwarts letter. Never swung her ruler around crying 'Expelliarmus!' when her teacher picks up her chalk. Never fantasised about just how good Butterbeer and pumpkin pasties would taste on a cold day, and never checked her cupboards for Boggarts. Basically, she's never lived.

There are lots of things in this world we're powerless to change. But then there's things we can. So go on, choose today to make a difference! Add your name to Official Book Bully Petition to Make Racquel Read Harry Potter (OBBPTMRRHP--has a ring to it, don't you think?) .

Be the change you want to see in your world, today!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor (author website)
Release Date: Sept. 29th 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a rare creature indeed. It's storytelling at its best; its most potent, born of a kind of dark, seductive magic—complex, multi-tonal, beautiful—from the mind of a true writer: An artist, a creator. Laini Taylor is a craftsman, and her creation, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, is nothing short of magnificent.

From Goodreads:
Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I apologise, guys, this is a long one. I couldn’t do it justice with anything less.

The Story:

Karou belongs to no-one, and no world. A beautiful, tattooed, blue-haired girl, she’s an enigma, even to herself. Her friends think her wild stories and extraordinary sketches of half-man, half-beast creatures are fiction—exactly what she allows them to think. Just like she lets them think she colours her hair blue, when it in fact grows that way from the roots, thanks to a wish she made at the age of seven. Her friends don’t know she speaks twenty-seven languages, only one of them learned, not all of them human. Her friends think the Wishmonger, Brimstone, part man, part lion, part bull, is a fairytale, when in fact Karou was raised in his fantastical shop in ‘Elsewhere’. A shop where he grants wishes to humans in trade for teeth—both animal and otherwise. The door to which opens to cities all over the world...

But the world is changing, and war is brewing. Karou will be forced to choose between the human world, and the mysterious ‘Elsewhere’ she barely understands herself... and after seventeen years, Karou must finally learn who—and what—she is.

But this is not just her story... meanwhile, beautiful, tortured Akiva flies on fiery wings around the world, determined to put an end to Brimstone’s ‘evil’, and forever close the doors to Elsewhere. He never counted on encountering a strange blue-haired girl. A girl he cannot understand, yet who feels strangely familiar. A girl from whom he cannot stay away...

My Thoughts:

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”
This is such a strange book to review. To talk of any one aspect, in isolation from half a dozen others, seems to do it a disservice, as it’s the sum of so many different shades and layers of creativity that blend to make it such a dazzling whole. To talk of strange, lovely Karou, without talking of beautiful and mysterious Akiva, or to talk of her ‘Chimaera’ family, such as the Minotaur-esque Brimstone, or adoptive mother-figure—half-woman, half-snake—Issa, is to tell only a fraction of a story. To isolate any one aspect of Karou’s splendid self is to show a shimmering thread, but not the glorious tapestry: Lovely, but abstract, lacking the meaning it deserves.

It’s the context of every strange little quirk of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that makes it shine. Nothing within its pages is inessential. Every fleeting, ephemeral detail combines to form a masterpiece of fiction.
“Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.”
So perhaps we should talk of its creator. Laini Taylor. Taylor is nothing short of an artist. She has a way of presenting the bizarre in so matter-of-fact a fashion one can’t help but be charmed, and she tells her story with an imagination as brilliant and twisted as the inimitable Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling, or, dare I say it, Neil Gaiman. It’s this kind of imagination that breathes life into new worlds, gives breath to strange, beautiful new creatures, and forms a reality distinct and separate from our own, yet achingly familiar. The kind of world and reality you fall into, that immerses you, and that you find yourself shocked to be torn from. Taylor forms a place as real and magic and wonderfully make-believe as the Narnia and Hogwarts of a million charmed childhoods.
“For the way loneliness is worse when you return to it after a reprieve - like the soul's version of putting on a wet bathing suit, clammy and miserable.”
While every glittering facet of the glorious gem that is Daughter of Smoke and Bone shines, its characters need to be dwelt upon. A mystery even to herself, Karou is strange, beautiful and compelling. She has no family, beyond the peculiar creatures who raised her in Brimstone’s curious shop, and she has no attachments to the human world, beyond the fact that she is human herself. Her whole life, Karou has felt unwhole, as though she is missing something, and, as such things often to come to pass in such stories, she is. But despite her missing something, Karou is a whole and splendid character, as colourful and vibrant as her peacock-blue hair. Karou is imperfect, but it is her imperfections, her mistakes, and her occasional selfishness that makes her innate humour, selflessness, wit and intelligence shine. Her every word, thought, and secret longing burns with the glorious intensity of the sun, and she is a joy to read, to know, to learn.
“This new thing between them it was... astral. It reshaped the air, and it was in her, too—a warming and softening, a pull—and for that moment, her hands in his, Karou felt as powerless as starlight tugged toward the sun in the huge, strange warp of space.”
When we finally meet Akiva, haunted and broken, Karou’s world starts to make sense. Akiva holds the keys and answers Karou and the reader do not. Akiva is as beautiful and compelling in his own ways as Karou, but infinitely more bitter and broken. When the two meet, they are drawn together, a force of nature, a gravitational pull, like the moon and the earth—undeniable, elemental and unbreakable. Their story is as dazzling as starlight, as lovely as the moon, and as vast and breathtaking as the night sky with her entire treasure of sparkling jewels. As Akiva’s back-story is revealed slowly, in parallels with his and Karou's present, it’s as beautiful and heartbreaking as the rest.
“Love is a luxury.”
“No. Love is an element.”
An element. Like air to breathe. Earth to stand on.

The Verdict:

I’m hardly sure of where to start, or, for that matter, where to finish. The vibrant characters? Taylor’s stunning, lyrical prose? Misty, mysterious and lovely Prague? Brimstone's wishmongery, bizarre and eclectic in the elusive ‘Elsewhere’? Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a thing of overwhelming beauty. Every detail of it is rendered with a true craftsman’s attention to detail, and the world that results is vivid, strange, and strangely real.

As Daughter of Smoke and Bone drew to its inevitable close, I longed for it to continue. But just when Karou and Akiva's story ends—for now—it begins. Its closing pages are filled with beauty and anguish, glorious joy and fierce pain, heartbreak and tragedy, but beautiful tragedy. If Daughter of Smoke and Bone is just an opening chapter, what follows promises to be a truly extraordinary journey.

Throughout Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Taylor’s writing shines, her creativity glows, and I was repeatedly teased with chills; caught up in such sweeping, overwhelming beauty my chest ached. It’s a story of true scope, real brilliance, and unique vision. It could have been told by none less than Taylor, just as Harry Potter could have been told by none but J.K Rowling, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, or Narnia born of any imagination other than C.S Lewis’. It is thrilling and lovely and strange, and utterly distinctive. It’s beautiful. It’s dark. At its ugliest it’s resplendent. For me, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was perfect.

Books In This Series:

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (2011)
  2. Days of Blood and Starlight (expected 2012)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dreamfever (Fever #4), Karen Marie Moning + GIVEAWAY

Title: Dreamfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning (author website)
Release Date:Aug. 18th 2009 by Delacorte Press
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Brutal, uncompromising and black as pitch, Dreamfever, the Fever series' fourth, and penultimate installment, pulls no punches, and I'm starting to thing Karen Moning takes a kind of malicious glee from torturing her characters and readers alike...

From Goodreads:
MacKayla Lane lies naked on the cold stone floor of a church, at the mercy of the erotic Fae master she once swore to kill. Far from home, unable to control her sexual hungers, MacKayla is now fully under the LordMaster's spell....In "New York Times" bestselling author Karen Marie Moning's stunning new novel, the walls between human and Fae worlds have come crashing down. And as Mac fights for survival on Dublin's battle-scarred streets, she will embark on the darkest-and most erotically charged--adventure of her life.

He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister's murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted "sidhe-"seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac's every thought-and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust.

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V'lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister's diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac's greatest enemy delivers a final challenge...

It's an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth-about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons...and about the world she thought she knew.

Dreamfever is a very different creature from its forebears. Dublin has fallen. The walls dividing our world from Faery have come crashing down, and nightmares no longer hide their faces as they stalk post-apocalyptic city streets. Goodbye world, hello Unseelie wasteland. But the hunt for the Sinsar Dubh is not over, and all the major players have survived the cataclysm. The events of Faefever cost Mac terribly, but with the deadly tome still on the loose, she can't afford to wallow in her pain. Mac is back, baby, and this time, she has a gun.

Black Mac:

Mac couldn't have survived Faefever and come out the same. After the tragedy and perverse torture she survived, she's a very different girl. Princess Pink is gone, and replaced with, as she calls herself, 'Black Mac'. Watching the evolution of Mac over the course of the series has been a painful, beautiful thing. Darkfever Mac is no longer recognizable in the raven-haired, leather-clad woman in Dreamfever's pages. She has finally graduated into the action-chick she was always destined to me. Mac has truly evolved, and is still evolving. Literally. In surprising and inexplicable ways...

The Rest:

I could wax poetic about the delicious, cryptic, maddening Barrons for hours, but with Mac’s evolution has come independence. While not always making the right decisions, Mac is making her own, and it means Barrons is getting less page time… while still somehow playing an even larger part in the story. And the threads of a love triangle have solidified, in the sense that intentions have been declared. Fae Prince V’lane, and whatever-the-hell-he-is Barrons both want Mac… and have made it very clear. But, once again, after Faefever, things have changed. The world is unrecogniseable, and so is Mac… the relationship between Mac and Barrons is more intense and raw than it ever has been before. The strain and tension between the two is at fever pitch.

Young Sidhe-Seer prodigy, Dani, plays a much larger part in this book than ever before. In fact, for the first time, we get chapters from her point of view. The high-speed teen is fascinating, and the bond she shares with Mac is warm and sweet… but she’s hiding her own mysteries. And, of course, politics finally come into play with the Sidhe Seers, and Mac finally uncovers a couple of truths about her past. The Side-Seers play a far larger role in Dreamfever, and each of the pieces in the vast, complex game Moning is playing are moving into their final places, waiting for what can only be an epic conclusion in Shadowfever.

Riddles, Wrapped in Mysteries:

Dreamfever is one of the most surprising and cryptic installments in the series yet. Once again, I’m left with a myriad of questions. Not just who is Mac, but what? We finally learn something about her past and family, but precious little, and it leaves more questions. We get a tantalizing clue about the ‘what’ of Barrons, which creates still more questions. What the hell is the Sidhe-Seers’ part in this all this, and what is the, frankly pernicious Grand Mistress, Rowena, hiding? What does the Sinsar Dubh want, evil, sentient book that it is... And Barron's eight? Who and what the hell are they? What’s with the Keltar druids? What’s happened to Christian MacKelter? For all the questions Moning finally answers—or at the very least alludes too—we’re once again left with a dozen more.

The Verdict:

If the cliffhanger of Faefever was shocking, Moning’s done it again with gusto. Shocking hardly comes close. I’ve so many words for Dreamfever: deeper, darker, more complex, dangerous, beautiful and broken. It’s exactly what the series was always meant to be. Moning has finally pulled everything together and we’re just starting to see the bigger picture.

Where Moning could possibly take the next book, I can hardly imagine. Old enemies remain, and new dangers in the form of shady allies emerge. The stakes have always been high, but the danger and forboding is a constant in Dreamfever. The world has changed, and so have the rules. Dreamfever is one big infuriatingly cryptic riddle. The answer to which is just within sight.

Books in This Series:

  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever

What's that, you say? Oh yes! The GIVEAWAY!

I'll be publishing reviews for the rest of this series over the next few weeks, and to celebrate the fact that I'm feverishly addicted to the Fever series, I'm giving away 2 copies of the first book in the series, Darkfever. You know, share the addiction. If you've read Darkfever, but you're still waiting on a copy of another book in the series? Well, I could be convinced to send you a copy of Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, or Shadowfever instead ;)

So, want to enter? Entry below the jump!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blogspiration (10): Dreams

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

So make them reality, instead! You can do anything you put your mind to. Well, almost Now, to go about making my Hogwart's acceptance letter real...

Believe it or not, guys, but you almost got a non-Harry Potter themed Blogspiration this week. I know, shocking, right?

More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Alchemy of Forever, Avery Williams

Title: The Alchemy of Forever
Author: Avery Williams (author website)
Release Date: April 26th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star

Beautifully written, Avery Williams’ debut, The Alchemy of Forever is a sad tale, quiet in tone, and simply told in a way that lends it a painful poignancy. It’s a story of hope, redemption, loss and the weight and cost of forever.

From Goodreads:
After spending six hundred years on Earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world's riches but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to take the bodies of other humans from jumping from one vessel to the next, ending the human's life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she's done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body while trying to save her. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she's inhabiting--and falling in love with the boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she's his again, and every moment she stays, she's putting herself and the people she's grown to care about in danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that's eluded her for centuries: true love?

London, 1349, fourteen year old Seraphina Ames shares a stolen moment with the sweet, beautiful son of the Alchemist, Cyrus. Then she is stabbed. Dying in a dark street, Cyrus cannot let her go, and miraculously saves her life. Cyrus and Seraphina will live forever. But forever comes at a cost. Sera must take another person’s body to survive, and she must do so every ten or so years. In the process, the host’s soul dies, but Sera lives.

Six hundred years pass, and it is no longer her and Cyrus alone. Sera’s now part of a coven of ‘Incarnates’, immortals Cyrus has made like them. And Cyrus is no longer the sweet boy she once knew. Twisted and warped by six centuries of life, he’s cold, controlling and abusive. Sera longs for escape. To finally die. She’s on her way to do so, when she witness a horrific accident. Desperate to atone for her crimes, Sera attempts to save a girl’s life, but in the process, takes her body by accident. Sera becomes sixteen year old Kailey Morgan.

Once prepared to die, Sera finds herself living a life she’s maybe not so willing to leave. Sera may have moved on... but Cyrus has not.


Sad, trapped and introspective, Sera has this quiet inner strength I loved. At the start of The Alchemy of Forever, she’s resolved to leave her ‘coven’ and go to her death, and she does so with a quiet dignity and steely resolve. Despite the ennui and weight of six-hundred long years of half-life, she’s scared and uncertain. She’s flawed. She’s fragile. She’s spent almost her entire existence sheltered and oppressed for by the controlling—and frankly psychotic—Cyrus, her once-beloved saviour turned captor. Despite her long existence, she sounds young. While world-weary, she’s retained a sense of wonder in her life, and she sees beauty in the world in a way Cyrus cannot. I loved looking through her eyes, and I enjoyed her wry humour.

Heartache and Heartbreak:

As Sera finds herself assimilating Kailey’s life, she learns to love, and to really live again. She allows herself to hope that she can make this life work. It’s both bitterly beautiful, and overwhelmingly sad. For hundreds of years, she’s survived at the cost of others. What didn’t occur to me prior to reading the book is the simple fact that Sera has stolen a teenage girl’s life. As she walks around day to day, wearing her skin, and occupying her world, my heart ached for the loss Kailey’s friends and family don’t even know they’ve suffered, and the pain that will inevitably come when Sera must leave. It’s amplified by the fact that Sera is aware of this, and grieves it herself. She hates the heartache she’ll cause, and she comes to love Kailey’s people like her own. It hurts even more as a sweet, tender, tentative romance builds with the boy next door, Noah. The Alchemy of Forever is certainly not a romance, but this very subtle, realistic affection develops in the background, giving it yet another layer of sadness and heartbreak.

Black, White, and A Hundred Shades of Grey...

But. I found it hard to swallow it’s taken Sera six hundred years to try and leave Cyrus. Six hundred years of watching him lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and murder, and she’s only leaving now... and it leaves Sera in a kind of grey area. While Sera refuses to accept a body that is not close to death, or hasn’t been courting it, she is, for all intents and purposes, a killer. A killer with a conscience, yes, but not an utterly blameless victim, either. It’s fascinating, and Avery Williams doesn’t skirt the issue; she simply lays it out as it is for the reader to make up their own mind.

The Verdict:

The Alchemy of Forever is a beautiful story. It’s filled with moments of love and wonder and the joy of those first moments of new love... and tempered with a constant sense of loneliness and sadness. While Cyrus is physically absent for most of the book, the story has this feeling of constant menace and forboding, as he is always present in Sera’s mind. Despite the cliffhanger the book ends on, I found myself satisfied. It leaves a myriad of unanswered questions that both demand answers, but work unanswered.

But as much as I enjoyed the book—and I did—I found myself struggling to connect. It’s a surprisingly short novel—only 250 pages. So much is contained within, so much history, so much longing, hurt, happiness and anger... but I didn’t always feel these things as intensely as I’d like... perhaps distanced by Sera’s own distance from a life she’s living, but doesn’t truly know herself.

Despite a couple of issues, this is one of those stories I’ve turned the final page on, only to find it haunting me days later. It takes a magnificent imagination to birth a story which such a perfect blend of magic and science, beauty and brokeness. One thing is for sure: I can’t wait to see what Williams does next.

An enormous thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of The Alchemy of Forever!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Faefever (Fever #3), Karen Marie Moning + GIVEAWAY

Title: Faefever
Author: Karen Marie Moning (author website)
Release Date: Sept. 1st 2008 by Delacorte
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

“Evil books and mysterious players and plots within plots, and now prophesies, too,” comments Mac at one point in Faefever. And, well, there you have it. Evil, sentient books, cryptic players—both good and bad—and, yes, now we have prophesies, too. Once again, Karen Moning has upped the stakes, intensified the fever, and, after this, MacKayla Lane will never be the same again...

From Goodreads:
Mac's quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V'lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul.

As All Hallows Eve approaches and the city descends into chaos, as a shocking truth about the Dark Book is uncovered, not even Mac can prevent a deadly race of immortals from shattering the walls between worlds with devastating consequences.

Mac’s search for the ancient, evil book, the Sinsar Dubh continues in Faefever, but, as always, she's not the only person on the hunt for it. With enemies who should be allies, and allies who could as easily be against her--and just may be--she doesn't know who to trust. And the cryptic, mysterious Jericho Barrons and Fae Prince, V'lane are both vying for trust, loyalty, and something much more personal.

But time is running out. More Unseelie, the evil 'dark' Fae, are slipping through cracks between our world and theirs, and their prison may not hold. Mac's world is crumbling, and not even her powerful Sidhe-Seer abilities may be able to stop it.

The End of the Rainbow...

I thought Darkfever was dark. I thought Bloodfever was darker. If they were dark, Faefever reaches pure obsidian. No longer ‘Miss Rainbow’, Mac's grown, and become more independent. Rather than simply reacting to what's thrown at her (which is a LOT, give a girl a break), she's starting to make her own moves, plans, and she's asking questions. Yes, Mac's always been curious, she's always asked questions, but she's starting to ask them of herself. In Faefever, Mac is really asking herself who she can trust. And the answer she comes up with? Herself.

Mac finally puts her foot down, refuses to be a pawn to the players around her, whether Barrons, Fae Prince, V’lane, or Sidhe-Seer leader, Rowena. But my delight in her backbone is coupled with frustration: I’m desperate for her to look beyond words to actions. I want her to trust someone, and Barrons has been the only constant, the only one to prove his concern--far beyond the simple protection of his ‘investment’, over and over again.

The Players:

As the plot thickens, so does the complexity of its players. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this means you’ll get answers, though. Seelie Prince V’lane returns with a far larger role to play, determined to insinuate himself into Mac's life (and bed), and we see more of cold, calculating Sidhe-Seer Grand Mistress, Rowena. We finally meet other Sidhe-Seers... though not without great cost to Mac. Teenage faerie-hunter, Dani, pops up again, and it’s delightful seeing some light amongst the darkness of Faefever, in the form of a sisterly-bond they develop.

Mr Dark, Dangerous, and Infuriating

But once again, there’s one other ‘player’ who leaves me desperate for more, flicking scenes, pages, and whole chapters ahead: Jericho Barrons. The Fever series’ biggest riddle, we’re no closer to any answers. Who is he? What is he? Once again, the cryptic, inscrutable man gives away nothing, but for the first time, we’re given clues. Tiny hints about what he is, plenty of red-herrings, and still absolutely nothing remotely satisfying. The push/pull between Mac and Barrons intensifies, and I smell jealousy. Present in Bloodfever, it’s intensified, and now unmistakeable. Barrons’ poker face is slipping. I loved it.

The nuances of Barrons' and Mac's interactions are fascinating. None of their words are what they seem, and it's a reflection of the complexity of the series on a whole. Layer upon layer upon layer of meaning tied up in a sentence, and an expression. The unresolved sexual tension between Mac and Barrons is electric and scorching and maddening as ever, and I may just immolate if they don’t.

The Verdict:

It’s hard to look past the end of this book, the darkest hour, to the light within, to the detail, to its subtle nuances and how crucial it is to the series on a whole. Faefever is a key point, an essential fulcrum, to the progression of the series. The myth and folklore deepens, and we get closer to some long-awaited answers, including the origins of the sinister Sinsar Dubh. More questions are asked, and, of course, fewer yet are answered. Plots deepen, already complicated characters become infinitely more complex, and if I felt the previous two books in the series were dark, Faefever is dark, darker, and darkest still.

By the end of Faefever, Mac’s taken to places so dark, I don’t see how she can come back again. Surely she can’t walk away from this unbroken? Big, dark, cataclysmic things happen in Faefever, and the ending of this book was difficult to read. I’ve grown to love this girl, and my heart was torn open, shred apart, and swallowed whole by the fate she suffers. Fever fans, brace yourselves. And have book four handy.

Faefever is the first book in the series to end on a real cliffhanger, and its shocking conclusion left me horrified, shaken, and sick to my core. Easily the darkest place the series has reached so far, it’s also the most complicated, the most compelling, and once again, it’s left me desperate and feverish for more.

Books in This Series:

  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever

What's that, you say? Oh yes! The GIVEAWAY!

I'll be publishing reviews for the rest of this series over the next few weeks, and to celebrate the fact that I'm feverishly addicted to the Fever series, I'm giving away 2 copies of the first book in the series, Darkfever. You know, share the addiction. If you've read Darkfever, but you're still waiting on a copy of another book in the series? Well, I could be convinced to send you a copy of Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, or Shadowfever instead ;)

So, want to enter? Entry below the jump!

Monday, March 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (12)

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!

OK, so, this was a ridiculously exciting week for me... well, it's actually more of a week and a half, but hey, who cares? Personally, there's nearly NOTHING better in the world than coming home to find books in the mail... actually, there may be one thing better: coming home to find to find a box full of candy and mix CD's from internet BFF, Kristin, or a package with vegan mint slices and a card in the mail from your favorite evil overlord, but books are a REALLY close second.

This mailbox is further proof of the unrivalled awesome of BFF, Lauren (her blog's PURPLE! With skeletons! And I love her even more for disagreeing on just about every book we've read in common except Poison Study, which is our mutual love). Seriously, she is made of awesome, and she gave me THE FAULT IN OUR STARS AND CINDER! AAAAAH! Seriously, she's amazing, and you can't have her because she's miiiiiiiiine!

From top to bottom:

  1. Timeless, Gail Carriger
  2. Nightshade Series, Andrea Cremer
  3. Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  4. Choker, Elizabeth Woods *
  5. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
  6. Vampire Academy (graphic novel. WITH NAKED BADASS RUSSIAN GOD CHEST!), Richelle Mead
* An enormous thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a review copy of Choker!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blogspiration (9): Magic Spells and a Prince in Disguise!

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

Enough said, right? From

More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Andrea Cremer Aussie Blog Tour: Interview!

Excited? Uh, me? Understatement. The A M A Z I N G, quite frankly gorgeous, and ridiculously talented Andrea Cremer, author of the Nightshade Trilogy, is touring the Australian blogosphere this month, and, as I mentioned I AM CRAZY EXCITED to have her here to answer a few questions for you!

Read on to see Andrea tell us something you've never heard about Calla, how she feels on completing the Trilogy, and cement my love of her by admitting her Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman fandom!

Go check them out on Goodreads!
More places to stalk Andrea: Blog  |  Facebook  | Goodreads  |  Website

An ENORMOUS thank you to the lovely Laura from Hachette Australia and Andrea for their time, making this happen, and their all-round wonderful (it's a LOT of wonderful)! ♥

Question Time!

Can you tell us about the Nightshade trilogy in your words? I’m thinking, Nightshade: For Dummies!
Nightshade is the story of Calla – a seventeen-year-old girl who is also a wolf. Calla and her pack are fighting on the front lines of a centuries-old war between two powerful factions of witches. Set in present-day Colorado, Nightshade is filled with mystery and romance as Calla searches for the truth in a world full of lies where her fate hangs in the balance.
With the final page closed on the Calla’s story, how do you feel? Has the story all played out how you planned in the beginning? Is there anything that’s broken your heart, you’re particularly proud of, or looking back that you’d change?
It’s a bittersweet experience to complete a trilogy, but the story took shape as I’d always hoped and I don’t have any regrets about it and I wouldn’t change anything.
Was there any one scene or chapter in Bloodrose you particularly loved writing?
I love writing scenes that feature Ethan and Sabine, there’s something particularly delightful in writing characters so at odds yet so drawn to one another.
There’s been a lot of talk about two smoking hot boys, the girl torn between them, and her ‘choice’. Keeping it spoiler free, but was the ending of Bloodrose planned from the beginning? Did you always know who Calla would choose?
For me it was never about Calla choosing Ren or Shay it was about deciding how she wanted to live her life and who would be there for her after she’d found the path she wanted to follow. I knew how Bloodrose would end when I started writing Nightshade and that ending didn’t change at all.
You’re stuck on a desert island (don’t worry, we won’t leave you there). If you had to be stranded with any one of Nightshade’s characters, who would you choose?
Adne – since she could weave a door to get us out of there!
Can you tell us something about Calla that no-one else knows? Her favorite song/colour/food? Is she a leftie or a rightie? Does she harbor a hidden desire to run away and become a Broadway star, or does she always tie her right shoe-lace first? Anything at all!
Calla is right-handed, and she’s jealous of Sabine’s singing voice.
You write about a girl who turns into a wolf. If you could turn into any animal, what would it be?
A falcon. I’d love to be able to fly.
What are some of your favourite books? Favorite authors? A little bird told me you’re a Neil Gaiman fan (and a Joss Whedon fan! I kind of have a girl crush on you!)...
I’m a huge Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman fan, also Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut. Some of my favorite books are Marion Zimmer Bradley’s FIREBRAND and Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE.
Can you tell us anything about what you're working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished up RISE the follow up to RIFT. These two novels reveal the origins of the Witches’ War in medieval Europe.
Rapid Fire Round!
  • Superpower? Pre-cognition
  • Kryptonite? Early mornings
  • Sun or Snow? Sun
  • Tea or Coffee? Coffee
  • Paperback/Hardcover/eReader? Hardcover and paperback
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars
  • Bad Boys or Good Boys? Good Boys (She said Good Boys! I love her even more!)
  • Harry Potter or Twilight? Harry Potter
  • Morning or Night Person? Night
  • Last song you listened to? Neon Indian “Polish Girl”

Want More? Plus, a GIVEAWAY!

You still want more? Head over to Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic for an interview with Ren and Shay, Novels On The Run to see Andrea talk about the boys of Nightshade, and Eleusinian Mysteries of Reading, where she tells diabolical vegan-goddess/evil-overlord, Brodie, about how she grew up with wolves!

Oh, and a giveaway! Thanks once again to Hachette Australia, you could win a copy of every book in the Nightshade Trilogy. Excited? Are you crazy? YES. Say yes! Head over to these fabulous blogs for chances to win:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bloodfever (Fever #2), Karen Marie Moning + GIVEAWAY

Title: Bloodfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning (author website)
Release Date: Oct. 1st 2007 by Delacorte Press
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

In Darkfever Karen Moning brought us a world of secrets, lies, and psychopathic faeries. You know, the kind where the tooth fairy beats you up, then wears your molars around on a necklace made from your intestines... or, more accurately, where beautiful, ethereal princes take you to bed until you’re screaming for mercy and death. If you didn’t think it was possible, she ups the stakes even further in Bloodfever, and the pages are dripping with menace, action, and repressed sexual tension. Buckle your seatbelts. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride.

From Goodreads:
I used to think my sister and I were just two nice southern girls who'd get married in a few years and settle down to a quiet life. Then I discovered that Alina and I descend, not from good wholesome southern stock, but from an ancient Celtic bloodline of powerful sidhe-seers, people who can see the Fae. Not only can I see the terrifying otherworldly race, but I can sense the sacred Fae relics that hold the deadliest of their magic.  When my sister was found dead in a trash-filled alley in Dublin, I came over to get answers. Now all I want is revenge. And after everything I've learned about myself, I know I have the power to get it...

MacKayla Lane's ordinary life underwent a complete makeover when she landed on Ireland's shores and was plunged into a world of deadly sorcery and ancient secrets. In her fight to stay alive, Mac must find the Sinsar Dubh-a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over both the worlds of the Fae and of Man. Pursued by Fae assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she cannot trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and irresistible men: V'lane, the insatiable Fae who can turn sensual arousal into an obsession for any woman, and the ever-inscrutable Jericho Barrons, a man as alluring as he is mysterious.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them

Mac’s back.

She’s accepted what she is: a powerful sidhe-seer. After narrowly escaping death in Darkfever, she’s now waiting for inevitable backlash, in the form of a murderous fae, recovering from her injuries, and still bent on enacting bloody, violent revenge on her sister’s murderer... while she’s convinced she now has the murderer in her sights, she’s no closer to that revenge than before. Gone are the sunshine and rainbows, and sunny outlook the previously characterised Mac. They’re still there, to an extent, but they’re tempered with an edge of... well, let’s just say it can’t really be called ‘pessimism’, if it’s true. While Darkfever was about her discovering what she was, Bloodfever is more about discovering who she is at her core, what she’s capable of, and what she can live with... and deciding who to trust. A decision she still hasn’t come to by the book’s resolution, despite the so-far unflinching fidelity of a certain, infuriatingly cryptic ‘man’.

While Mac’s a little darker, she still carries an air of hope, and, for the sake of her own preservation, we hear Barrons remind her again that hope is essential to survival. Without it, you’re already defeated. I love that the series holds these surprising little insights and pieces of wisdom. Some occasional frustrations with Mac’s previous denial, current trust issues (however warranted they may be), and the numerous unanswered questions I was left with aside, there’s something I’m finding compulsively readable and utterly addictive about the Fever series. Though it is worth mentioning that, despite enjoying Bloodfever immensely, I was left feeling it hasn’t progressed the overall plot a great deal, and I’m desperate for answers to Darkfever's questions. Instead, I'm left with more than when I begun.

Bloody Barrons:

Ah, but there’s one question I want answers for most of all. One particularly cryptic, compelling aspect of the series. The one that just may drive Mac and me to the brink of madness: Jericho Barrons. The man is dark, cryptic, seemingly omniscient, and utterly infuriating. Incapable of a straight answer, it’s Barrons that keeps me flicking pages ahead, hanging on his every word, and hungry for more... despite the fact that he scares the hell out of me. The repressed sexual tension he and Mac share is scorching-hot, and I can’t wait for the moment it consumes them both.

The Verdict:

Where Darkfever built the theatre, set the scene, and positioned the players, Bloodfever is the dress rehearsal. We’re still building up to the main attraction, and the atmosphere is buzzing with foreboding, anticipation, the promise of action, and the absolute assurance of blood. People are beginning to take their places, and it’s getting (even more) interesting.

Blood fever is a book of questions: who is Mac, really? Who is the Lord Master? Who killed Alina? And O’Duffy? What on earth is going on with the Fae, and what do they really want? And perhaps the biggest question of all: what the hell is Jericho Barrons? Don’t expect answers. Yet Moning has a knack for making the journey every inch as exciting as the destination. the mystery thickens and deepens in Bloodfever, and it will leave you feverish for more.

Books in This Series:

  1. Darkfever
  2. Bloodfever
  3. Faefever
  4. Dreamfever
  5. Shadowfever

What's that, you say? Oh yes! The GIVEAWAY!

I'll be publishing reviews for the rest of this series over the next few weeks, and to celebrate the fact that I'm feverishly addicted to the Fever series, I'm giving away 2 copies of the first book in the series, Darkfever. You know, share the addiction. If you've read Darkfever, but you're still waiting on a copy of another book in the series? Well, I could be convinced to send you a copy of Bloodfever, Faefever, Dreamfever, or Shadowfever instead ;)

So, want to enter? Entry below the jump!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Blogspiration (8): Oh Yes, MORE HARRY!

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.


I'm being a little cheeky this week, folks, and linking you elsewhere for my Blogspiration. The amazing Faye over at A Daydreamer's Thoughts allowed me to take over her blog for a day, and share 25 Life Lessons From Harry Potter, or: Everything I Need To Know About Life, I Learnt from Harry Potter. So, for the third week in the row, my Blogspiration is Harry Potter-centric. Surprised? I didn't think so ;D

SO! Go! Say hi to Faye while you're there!

More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Le Rules:

  • Blogspiration posts will go live on Sunday. While you don't have to post on Sunday, you have one week to drop by and share your links.
  • Go check out the participating blogs! Feel free to comment/follow
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN with it!!
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a button and spread some BLOGSPIRATION!!

PLEASE NOTE: Kristin and I will use the SAME Linky, so please enter your Blogspiration links on one blog.




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