Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Team Human, Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: Team Human
- Justine Larbalestier (website)
- Sarah Rees Brennan (website)
Release Date: July 1st 2012 by Allen & Unwin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

You know the story: girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a vampire, girl/vampire romance ensues and girl’s best friend stops at nothing to split them up... hang on. Team Human is a fun, satirical romp in a world where vampires and humans peacefully co-exist, but not everyone believes inter-species romance is quite so romantic...

From Goodreads:
Mel and Cathy and Anna have passed vampires on the street, and sat near them in cinemas, but they don’t know any. Vampires stick to their own kind, and Mel and her friends hang out with other humans—until a vampire boy in a bizarre sun-proof suit shows up at school and captures Cathy’s heart.

Mel is horrified. Can she convince Cathy that life with a vampire is no life at all? Should she? And then all her assumptions about vampires are turned on their head when she meets Kit, a boy who makes her laugh—a boy with a very unusual family history.

Will Mel’s staunch anti-vampire stance jeopardise her closest friendships? And where does Kit fit in? In the end, who will choose... Team Human?

The Story:

Mel Duan is staunchly Team Human. She doesn’t hate vampires, she just doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be one. Risks of dying in the process—or turning into a mindless, rotting zombie then dying—aside, why would anyone want to live a life without laughter, sunshine, and worst of all, chocolate? Needless to say, she’s horrified when her best friend, Cathy, falls for a one. A stuck up, pasty, humourless relic of a bygone era named Francis. She’s even more upset when Cathy announces she’s planning to become a vampire for the chance to share immortality with him—after less than a month. Mel sets out to change her mind. Which shouldn’t be too hard, because she knows Francis is up to something—why else would a supercentenarian seventeen year old boy start going to high school?

But Mel has other worries. Her friend Anna’s mum—their school principal—has been acting strange. Then again, what’s ‘strange’ when your husband, the vampire counsellor, abandons your family to run off with a client. Mel's drowning in drama, and for the first time in her life, may not have the answer to all her friends problems... but Francis’ human ward, a teenage boy named Kit, might.

The 101:

Going into Team Human, I expected a light-hearted, satirical look at the earth-shattering, all-encompassing love we all bemoan—yet still adore—in young adult paranormals. I expected to laugh. I didn't expect to cry. But Team Human has heart: at its core, it’s a story about friendship, what it means to be human, and acceptance. It’s a book very aware of what it is—more on that later—but it’s much like a good mediator: it doesn’t take sides, and is able to see all parties’ points of view.

Mel is a truly terrific heroine. Irrepressibly snarky, and unshakably loyal to her friends, she’s bloody minded, determined, and hilarious. Mel’s also tremendously opinionated, but she has a good heart, and always the best of intentions. Her concern for—and unshakeable resolve to 'help'—her friends is part of what makes her so likable, however misguided her actions are at times. Her terror at losing her closest friend to vampirism—afterall, transitions only have an 80% success rate—is palpable, and while Mel can be intolerant, it’s not difficult to see why.

Think of Cathy as your typical, infatuated, desperately in love vampire novel protagonist... on crack. Within a month of meeting Francis, she’s making preparations to transition. Cathy is, in ways, a romantic, taken to fancy, but before you roll your eyes, remember she's viewed through Mel's (very) opinionated lens, and she’s also intelligent, thoughtful, and thorough.

As Team Human progresses, there’s a gradual shift in roles, towards understanding and acceptance. Behind the story’s sparkling humour and vibrant characters is a much deeper message of acceptance and tolerance, one which Larbalestier and Brennan handle with skillful subtlety. Fear not if this is sounding heavy: Team Human is a very funny novel, and Larbalestier and Brennan poke fun at all parties with irreverent glee. Cathy and Mel serve as wonderful counterweights to each other, and this is why Team Human works: it is not a parody, but a humorous look at both ‘Team Human’ and ‘Team Vampire’ stereotypes.

The Verdict:

Irreverent, funny and clever, Team Human is immensely entertaining, with unexpected heart. Its vibrant personalities, the very sweet romance that develops between Mel and Kit, the mystery that runs through it with heartbreaking conclusion—it’s Team Human’s surprising nuances that make it something very special indeed. It doesn’t parody the Stephenie Meyers, Rachel Caines and Claudia Grays of this world—it celebrates them. Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan are a dream-team I truly hope we see more from.

Want it? Get it:

An enormous thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a review copy of Team Human

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Harry Potter Means to Me & Round-Up Poll

The end of Potterthon is upon us, and what a month it's been. We've laughed and cried, and re-read Philosopher's Stone together. Over the weekend, we asked if you'd neen paying attention, and quizzed you in our 'End of Year Examinations', and two of our brightest young witches went head-to-head, in a Team James vs. Team Snape debate that's currently so close I still can't call the results! But all good things must come to an end, and so we thought we'd leave you with something special.

At the beginning of the month, we asked you to share your stories, and let us know what Harry Potter means to you. Your responses have been overwhelmingly lovely, and I am so excited to share them all with you today. An enormous thank you to every one who participated in Potterthon, to everyone who has commented, promoted, shared, or even simply enjoyed the fun: we love you all.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blogspiration (29): Home

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.

Hogwarts will ALWAYS be there to welcome you home

Always ♥

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

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Team James vs. Team Snape

With the end of Potterthon nearly upon us, we've been saving the best till last! Yes, it's the Team smackdown of all team smackdowns--the one you've all been waiting for! In the pink corner (yes, that's glitter), represented by none other than our very favorite Hufflepuff, Sonia of the Story Queen, we have Severus Snape. Grease up your hair, and don your black robes, Team Snapers!

Meanwhile, in the the black corner, the one covered with--wait, what's she done to the walls?!--is James Potter, represented by our very own Ravenclaw-turned-Evil Overlord (who said all the bad wizards were Slytherins?), Brodie Ivashkov of Eleusinian Mysteries!

Grab your wands, potions and invisibility cloaks, witches and wizards, and tell us: are you Team James or Team Snape? And guys, to quote Sonia: "This whole post is SPOILER CITY if you haven’t completed the Harry Potter series."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Losing Lila (Hunting Lila #2), Sarah Alderson

Title: Losing Lila
Author: Sarah Alderson (author website)
Release Date: Aug. 2nd 2012 by Simon & Schuster Aus.
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Sarah Alderson's books are like the hot pizza delivery boy: delicious, satisfying meal, plus perks you didn't even expect... She won ardent fans everywhere with her sexy, action-packed debut, Hunting Lila, and she’s at it again in Losing Lila, only more so. The romance is hotter, the stakes are higher, and the explosions, gunfights and chases are even more exciting. Yep, it’s time to buckle your seatbelts and load your weapons: Sarah's delivered again.

From Goodreads:
Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit, which somehow is managing to track their every move. Whilst Alex is determined to keep Lila safe and her ability secret at any cost, Lila’s only thought is of finding a way back to California so that she can rescue her brother and mother from the military base where they’re being held.

Struggling to control both her growing power and her deepening feelings for Alex, Lila decides the time has finally come to stop running and start fighting. Together with Alex, Demos, and the people she’s come to think of as family, Lila plans not just to save her brother and mother, but to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for.

But the plan requires Lila to return alone to California, make friends with the enemy, and to risk losing everything - Alex, her family, and even her life.

The Story:

On the run, and hunted like an animal due to her telekinesis, seventeen year old Lila Loveday is a ‘Psy’, born with unique mental powers. Powers shady special-ops team ‘The Unit’ will stop at nothing to possess. But Lila’s done running. Teaming up with the group of Psys who kidnapped and saved her in Hunting Lila, Lila and her smoking hot, ex-Unit Marine boyfriend, Alex, are about to start fighting back.

Action, deadly secrets and espionage collide in the Lila duology’s thrilling conclusion.

The 101:

Losing Lila is the book stripped bare: while Hunting Lila was full of action, there was also a lot of build, setup, and teenage longing. Now, with the scene set, and players placed, Alderson jumps straight into the excitement. There's not an ounce of fat on Lila, nothing superfluous. Anything that's not heart stopping action or bone melting romance is absent. Alderson aims for blockbuster entertainment value, and succeeds.

Our titular protagonist is back, and she’s... better. Though set only days after Hunting Lila’s conclusion, Lila has grown. She’s tougher, more determined and stronger—in more ways than one. Lila’s still impulsive, but she’s grounded in the knowledge of what she’s up against, and what she’s truly capable of—which seems to be just about anything. Lila’s become an unstoppable force, and to her, there’s no such thing as an immovable object. But she does question herself, does think things through. Lila doesn’t hesitate to put herself on the line to accomplish her goals, but after her losses, she stubbornly refuses to allow those she cares about to do the same. She’s a wonderful, fun, vibrant character, and readers will delight in watching her truly come into herself, and her powers.

The romance between Alex and Lila is intensified, and there’s a shift from what seemed a one-sided infatuation for a good part of Hunting Lila, to something far deeper, something mutually acknowledged and shared; something beautiful. The chemistry between the couple is hot enough to melt rock, and Alderson ups the ante with scenes crackling with electricity, both eminently satisfying and deliciously frustrating.

Yet, once again, this is about more than romance, more than Alex and Lila: Alderson never loses sight of the bigger picture, driving her story at a thrilling, rocketing pace. The betrayals, secrets, and stakes are higher than ever before as we learn more about what The Unit is truly capable of, and are truly planning. It would be a crime not to mention the large cast of characters who each come vividly to life, from the hilarious, fun, flirtatious Nate and Suki, to the focused, driven Demos. All are fleshed out, more real and wonderful additions.

The Verdict:

It’s no surprise Sarah Alderson delivers the goods again in Losing Lila, but it is surprising how far she surpasses her already remarkable talent. An action-packed, sexy, pulse-thumping thrill-ride, Losing Lila reads like Jason Bourne meets X-Men (minus the camp). With no cliffhanger this time round, Losing Lila's compulsively readable, smoking hot, and enormously entertaining, what more could you ask for… other than Lila 3.0?

Books in This Series:

  1. Catching Suki (#0.5) (2012)
  2. Hunting Lila (2011)
  3. Losing Lila

Want it? Get it:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Borders | Dymocks | QBD

Psssst... want more Lila? Goodness knows I do! Stay tunedfor Sarah's Losing Lila blog tour, starting August 2nd!

An enormous thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia  for providing a review copy of Losing Lila

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author Interview: Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits

It's no secret I adored Pushing the Limits, the lovely Katie McGarry's debut novel. It's a wonderful balance of fantastic characters, smoking hot romance and that certain something that elevates a story from wonderful to pure magic. So I jumped at the chance to interview Katie, and I am so excited to share her answers with you today!  Whether you loved Pushing the Limits, or are dying to get your hands on it, read on to learn a little more about the lovely Ms McGarry!

Echo and Noah are both extraordinary characters--there's a real rawness and authenticity to them both. Where did they come from? Is there a bit of you in them?

Katie: I was actually free writing for another story when I found Echo’s voice. I loved her wit, but my heart also ached for her. She intrigued me so I continued to free write. Because of that, I soon met Noah.

When I write, I never consciously know that I put pieces of myself into my characters, but I discover it once I read the first draft. I’ve never put huge chunks of myself into them, but I do put pieces. Echo and Noah are not immune to this.

I was bitten by a dog in second grade and repressed the memory until college. I gave this experience to Echo.

I was very close to my friends growing up. In fact, they became my family. I gave this trait to Noah.

You handle the issues of abuse, trauma and the systems there to support their victims with real sensitivity, but also with a great deal of insight. How did you approach Echo and Noah's counseling and experiences?

Katie: I researched by reading articles and by talking to people who have had involvement with the subject matter whether professionally or personally.

Who would be your dream picks to play Echo and Noah in Pushing the Limits: The Movie? Let's say time travel's an option--anyone from anytime!

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been able to pick anyone to play Echo or Noah, but it is so much fun to see who my readers think should play them.

One of the things I loved most about Pushing the Limits was the love story. I mean, for many reasons, but I love the way you portrayed real love, not infatuation. It takes work, compromise and commitment. Was this something you deliberately set out to focus on?

Katie: I don’t think it was something I purposely focused on. I think it was just there. Echo and Noah could have just been attracted to one another, but they did fall deeply in love. The two battled against their trust issues and gambled on letting someone inside their heart.

In life, we’ll have people that we are infatuated with and there will be people that we love. From experience, real love takes those elements that you listed above: work, compromise, and commitment—from both people, not just from one side.

Can you tell us anything about what you're working on at the moment?

Katie: I’m currently working on revisions for DARE YOU TO, a companion novel to PUSHING THE LIMITS. DARE YOU TO follows the story of Beth, a secondary character from PTL.

Last one! Is there any one thing you hope readers will take from Pushing the Limits?

Katie: PUSHING THE LIMITS is a story of hope. I want my readers to know that regardless of the situation you find yourself in, there is always hope.

A big thanks to Katie for her time,and to the incredible folks at Harlequin TEEN Australia for arranging this interview! If you want to know more about the Amazing Katie McGarry, or Pushing the Limits, follow the links!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Potterthon Poll: Who's Your Favorite Villain?

We're in our last full week of Potterthon, and we're moving on to another poll! We've asked you who your favorite Hogwarts Students and Teachers are, and last week, which Order of the Phoenix member was your favorite (overwhelmingly Sirius, it seems).

We've been saving the best till last, of course. Stroke your Dark Marks and sharpen your talons: this week we're asking who your favorite Harry Potter villain is. I know who I hate the most: Umbridge. Hands down. As for my favorite? Mmm... it's a difficult toss-up between Voldy and Bella. Thoughts?

Happy voting, and may the Forge be with you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unravelling (Unravelling #1), Elizabeth Norris

Title: Unravelling
Author: Elizabeth Norris (author website)
Release Date: June 7th 2012 by HarperCollins Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

If the words ‘Science Fiction’ make you want to run for the hills, it’s time to reconsider*. Unravelling is certainly sci-fi, but it’s not what you’re expecting: this is no lycra-covered space opera, but thrilling mystery, heart-stopping action and a heroine with enough snark and savvy to give Veronica Mars a run for her money. If you’re running anywhere, let it be to the bookstore. You need this book.

From Goodreads:

Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life...

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process...

The Story:

With a largely absent—but painfully wonderful—FBI agent father, a bipolar mother, and a kid brother who doesn’t get fed if his sister’s not around, Janelle Tenner’s had to grow up fast. Too bad no amount of ‘grown up’ helps when you find yourself dead by the side of the road, hit by a speeding truck. But when Janelle wakes up, she’s sure of two things: that she absolutely, positively was dead, and that Ben Michaels—the stoner bad-boy she’s known most her life, but never even spoken to—brought her back.

Janelle’s not-quite-death raises a series of impossible questions that cannot go unanswered, the least of which being that the driver who killed her doesn’t exist. So who is Ben Michaels? Who killed her? And how is all this tied up in her father’s FBI investigation—one involving the appearance of horrifically burned, melting bodies, and a countdown that will stop in twenty five days? But the most important questions is: a countdown to what?

The 101:

Janelle’s slightly more than ‘near’-death experience changes everything for her: Given a second chance at life, she refuses to waste it, and it renders Janelle a very interesting character indeed. Faced with the crushing, the impossible and the heartbreaking , she approaches everything as an opportunity. Janelle’s smart, tenacious, sarcastic and badass, but most of all, she is completely irrepressible, and it makes for a truly fantastic heroine.

From her loyal, hilarious best friend, Alex, to her geeky, sci-fi obsessed dad and his FBI super-hero sidekick, Struz, its rich cast of characters are one of Unravelling’s highlights, and also allow for a very unique story to be told. One girl saving the world would seem inconceivable, if it were not for the people Janelle's surrounded with. How many seventeen year olds do you know with access to top secret FBI case files, guns, and crime scenes? Unravelling’s tightly plotted, impossible mysteries and edge-of-your-seat action are tense and breathtaking, rich with both thrilling and heartbreaking outcomes.

And then there’s the romance. The chemistry Janelle shares with Ben Michaels, the boy who may just have brought her back from the dead, is electric. From glancing touches to deep, bone-melting kisses, the heat is undeniable. But, as you might expect from a boy with the powers of resurrection, this is not smooth sailing, and Ben may be the key to unlocking some alarming secrets—and saving the world. There is little more that can be said without betraying some extraordinary mysteries, but Ben and his friends, Janelle’s accident, the FBI, the gruesomely deformed bodies inexplicably appearing across the city, and the countdown that numbers Unravelling’s chapters are all inextricably linked, drawn together in a twisted, precarious danse macabre.

The Verdict:

Slick, sexy, and action-packed, Unravelling is the literary lovechild of a Fringe and Veronica Mars pairing. Its unstoppable smart-mouthed heroine is the perfect match to end-of-the-world high-stakes, and its extraordinary sci-fi-leaning mysteries make for an electrifying debut. There’s only one problem with Unravelling, and that’s the twelve month wait for the sequel.

* No, seriously: IT’S TIME TO RE-CONSIDER. You’re talking to a card-carrying Browncoat, Whovian, wannabee Jedi-Knight who went to Star Trek conventions as a kid. Watch yo’ self.

Books in This Series:

  1. Unravelling (2012)
  2. Unbreakable (2013)
An enormous thank you to the amazing Harper Collings for providing a review copy of Unravelling

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blogspiration (28): Turn on the Light

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.

Which is really enough said, but I can't stress how true--or important this message is. There will always always always be someone or something--some drama--waiting to drag you down. But clouds do have silver linings.

This hasn't been an easy lesson for me to learn in life, and it's one I have to remind myself of constantly... but sometimes we need to look past the drama and look for the light.

Is there anything Harry Potter doesn't hold the answers to?

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Why I LOVE This Community

You'd have to have spent the last few months under a rock to have missed the drama surrounding the book blogging community.

But I don’t want to speak about this.

I want to speak about why this community is so freaking amazing, and what it means to me. It may sound trite, or saccharine, but blogging has given me so much joy, positivity and happiness. So much more than any amount of negativity it may at times succumb to. This community is driven by enthusiasm, love and passion. And you know what? I’m not talking about bloggers. I’m not talking authors, nor publishers, nor publicists; I’m talking about all of us. What makes our magical little corner of the interwebs so amazing is not any single person, nor any single faction, but the magic that occurs when all of our powers are combined. Yup. You guys: we’re Captain Planet.

The lovely Jodi Meadows recently contributed a wonderful guest post at Literary Exploration on working with bloggers from her view as an author, and said this: “with any group of passionate people, drama happens.” There are always going to be disagreements. Hell, if my best friend and I can rarely agree on a book (True story: She 1-starred one of my all-time favorites), what’s the likelihood that someone on the other side of the globe is going to have the same opinion as me, every time? Nada. But I love that. I love discovering why someone loved a book I hated, or the opposite. In fact, I’ve bought books many times based on intriguing negative reviews. I love that this community gives me a forum to discuss what I love: books. If you’re here, I think it’s fairly safe to assume you love reading, and you love books. Chances are you’ve fangirled over an author you love, and swooned over a fictional boy (or girl). If Harry Potter has taught me anything, it’s that love is the greatest magic of all. And I love that love unites us.
"[I love] the fact that it's a COMMUNITY. people are just generally lovely, warm, and supportive. we love books and we want to share the love."
- Elena, Novel Sounds
Blogging has introduced me to some truly amazing people. Before I started a blog, before I became a card-carrying Twitter addict, and before I had more books lying around my house than I knew what to do with—or have space to shelve—I thought authors were some flavour of elusive rockstar: distant and unapproachable, cool and aloof. I still think authors are rockstars, but I’ve lost the ‘aloof’ presumption. Authors are amazing, but mostly, they’re incredibly cool, generous funny people. I never thought I’d be talking to authors on Twitter, stalking their blogs, or, you know, actually speaking to them at all. The first time an author tweeted me back after I mentioned them in a review? I lost the freaking plot. I still squeal internally when my phone buzzes, telling me that the person who penned one of my favourite books is actually aware of my existence. And you know what? They are amongst the most humble, hardworking people I know. That author you love may be working a full time job, cooking dinner, and writing their next book in-between getting the kids to bed. They’re human. They have doubts. They have bad days and good days, but they do it for the same reason we blog about it: they love it. Most authors love this community as much as we do.

And you know what? We owe a lot to authors, for without them we wouldn’t have book bloggers. When I first decided to blog, I was lost. Then I met other bloggers. Bloggers I admired helped me… and then we became friends. I still remember the moment one of my two best friends in the world and I met: it was on Twitter, fangirling over an author we both adored. We exchanged e-mail addresses, and my life hasn’t been the same since. The friendships I’ve gained blogging are amongst those I value most in the world. The times I spend talking to you guys, ‘wasting’ on Twitter, and squealing like a tween with Bieber-fever over the Etienne St.Clairs and Adrian Ivashkovs of this world are amongst of my favourite.
"It is beautiful to have met so many wonderful people. To have this tiny space, in this colossal internet universe, to express and share our thoughts and love about this beautiful passion we feel towards the book world."
- Natalia, Dazzling Reads
Bloggers are some of the most generous, warm, friendly people I’ve ever encountered. From the word ‘go’ I’ve felt accepted, embraced, and like I belong ‘here’. THIS is what blogging means to me. THIS is why I love it. I belong to an army of thousands as passionate and crazy as I am, as in love with books as I, only more wonderful, friendly, bubbly and kind than I could ever hope to become... but you guys have made me a better person. You have shown me the joy of sharing, of giving, whether it’s a book, or a moment of shared laughter. From the fierce among you, who never fail to champion those who can’t do it themselves, to those who are always there to talk, to share, and to laugh, and to the utterly insane, who I adore most of all, you mean the world to me. Every single one of you has become a kind of family. A big, insane dysfunctional one I wouldn’t swap for the world.

If you need further evidence of the love that flows through every inch of the book blogging world, take a moment to look at what these bloggers had to say when asked what they loved about this community:

At times when drama overwhelms us, our everyday lives catch up with us, or negativity seems to prevail, it’s easy to lose sight of this. Persevere. I love this community because I love the passion, the positivity, and the love we all share. Bloggers, readers, authors, publishers—and everyone inbetween—you don’t need reminding, but I want to anyway: I love you. I love what we share. I love what we’ve built together. Together as a community, we have built something beautiful. Let’s not allow narcissism, nastiness and negativity to undermine that.

So this is my loquacious way of saying something simple. Thank you: For the books, for the laughs, for the good times and the bad. Thank you for everything. Let’s take a moment to focus on the good. Let someone know you love them. Send a tweet. Stop by somewhere and leave a comment, and if you wouldn’t mind, stay for a moment, and let me know what blogging means to you.

But above all, remember: I love you guys <3

Friday, July 20, 2012

Seven Harry Potter Moments that F*@#ked Me Up

We're well into week three of Potterthon, and what better way to celebrate than crying ourselves silly over the saddest moments in Harry Potter! Grab a box of tissues, a good block of chocolate to keep the Dementors away, and let's discuss Harry Potter's cruelest moments! Guys, I think this goes without saying, but this post will contain EPIC SPOILERS for the series.

1. Here lies Dobby, a free elf

No moment in the entire series messed me up quite as badly as the death of sweet, obnoxious, immovably loyal Dobby. There were many deaths in Harry Potter, but Dobby's felt symbolic of something more: the true cost of war, a complete and final loss of innocence. Throughout the books, even at their most perilous, I always felt Harry was safe, especially with Dumbledore around. I knew there had to be a happily ever after. I knew those I loved would make it. When Dobby died, I knew I was wrong.

2. Dumbledore's Death

My constant favorite throughout the series, losing Dumbledore felt like losing my anchor—I was cast adrift. In that moment, all magic left the world. All the wonder associated with Harry's first glimpses of Hogwarts was gone. Then, I swiftly went into denial.

3. 'Always'

Two syllables, six letters, all fans will know what I mean. How do I explain, aside from 'MY EMOTIOOOOONS!'

4. Sirius

What a cruel, cruel loss. Harry lost everything the night the Dark Lord took his family, and was finally given a tiny spark of hope when Sirius Black entered his life. When Sirius left it, I cried like a baby, more at Harry's grief and rage than the moment itself. When Harry sits in his dorm at Hogwarts, raging at Dumbledore in his pain, I thought it one of the most authentic depictions of grief in the series. But what I thought was so, so unfair was the ambiguity of his death, leaving behind a traitorous spark of hope for his return.

5. Merope Gaunt

Discovering the truth of Tom Riddle's parentage broke my heart. It highlighted both the alarming parallels and disparities between Harry and Tom: both were orphaned, both had difficult childhoods, both had potential for greatness, truly, there was only one difference: love. Every moment of his life, whether he knew it or not, Harry was loved. From the very moment of his birth, Tom was unwanted, uncared for, and cast aside. Lily Potter loved her son so much she gave her life for his... Merope could not even stand to live for her child.

6. Hedwig.

I was ready to throw Deathly Hallows across the room that first chapter. I kept thinking I'd read it wrong. Now I choose to believe Hedwig didn't perish. No, she's simply searching for Harry, and one day they'll find each other again.

7. George.

Yes, George. Admit it: you cried too. What upset me most about Fred's death was not his absence, but George being left behind, alone. Seeing one where there had always been—should always be—two. The thought of George going through life in a dream, a half-life, seeing Fred in every mirror, every word he uttered himself, with every laugh hollow, missing it's counter note destroyed me.

And I may have just cried all over again. So, what better way to end a week than in tears? Tell me, friends, what Harry Potter moment made YOU cry?

Like free stuff? US TOO! OMG. We, like, have SO much in common! Remember to head over to our giveaway for your chance to win some fantastic prizes, including a pre-order of The Casual Vacancy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Potterthon Poll: Who's Your Favorite Order Member?

It's officially week three of Potterthon, and we're moving on to another poll! We've asked you who your favorite Hogwarts Students and Teachers are (overwhelming Hermione and Professor McGonagall, respectively), and this week, it's another tough one: who's your favorite Order of the Phoenix member? Some remarked on Lupin's absence last week, so Lupin fans, here's your chance!

My predictions for this week? Hmmm... I'm calling Molly weasley and Sirius Black as the favorites, but hey: I've been wrong before.

Happy voting, Potterthonners, Godspeed!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pushing The Limits, Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Title: Pushing The Limits
Author: Katie McGarry (author website)
Release Date: July 25 2012 by Harlequin Teen Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:1 star2 stars3 stars4 starshalf star

A tortured bad boy, a beautiful, broken girl, and scorching hot chemistry, Katie McGarry pushes all the right buttons with Pushing the Limits, packing an emotional punch that will leave you reeling...

From Goodreads:

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins—the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket—explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

The Story:

Echo Emmerson used to have it all: the perfect boyfriend, the perfect friends and the perfect brother. But now her beloved brother is dead, she hasn't seen her mother in a year, and Echo's arms are covered in terrible scars. There's a gaping black hole in Echo's memory, and she knows she can't move forward with her life until she remembers the night she lost everything. Noah Hutchinson hasn't had it all in a long time. Screwed over by the foster system, Noah wants nothing more than to get out high school, and rescue his two young brothers from the same fate he suffered: a string of abusive foster parents and a broken system that's broken him.

Noah and Echo are just trying to survive, but when Mrs Collins, the erratic and quirky psychiatrist they share explodes into their lives, they may just get more than they bargained for...

The 101:

Beautiful, broken and lost, Echo, in many ways, feels like her name: a reflection of a sound, a memory of the girl she once was. And it’s a wonderful thing watching her push past her limitations, grow past her hurt and anger, and discover herself again. Noah is equally as damaged, angry, and untrusting, but is not quite the bad boy you may expect. He loves his brothers with everything he is, and at his prickliest, it’s impossible not to feel for him. As both re-learn to trust, and their secrets come unravelled, it unravels something within them, and I found it hard to resist an unravelling within me, as a reader.

Pushing the Limits isn’t about Echo and Noah discovering each other and working together to accomplish some great exciting ‘thing’ or deed, and it is certainly not a girl-and-boy meet each other and fall instantly, devastatingly in love story, either. It’s the deeper, more insular tale of two lost souls becoming whole within themselves, and being found in each other, and finding healing in themselves. There is a heartbreaking poignancy to Echo and Noah’s shared journey, and while, I pray, most readers will not have suffered the extremes this couple have, most will connect with and mourn along with them. Those who have suffered the soaring highs and devastating lows of depression, the yawning emptiness of loss, or the pain of betrayal will appreciate the delicacy with which Pushing the Limits handles these issues, and the rawness it doesn’t attempt to hide or gloss over. McGarry does not paint a simple happily-ever-after, instead showing a gradual path to forgiveness and acceptance—showing a journey, not a destination.

True loves takes hard work and compromise, and it’s a beautiful thing to see in action here. Indeed, it’s one of Pushing the Limits' most moving, affecting messages. It may not sound romantic, but when closer examined, is there anything truly more romantic than this? To love someone with everything you are, and love them so much you are willing to work and sacrifice for their happiness? This is a love story about the truth of true love. In fact, Jennifer Echols blurbed the book and puts perfectly: “McGarry details the sexy highs, the devastating lows and the real work it takes to build true love.”

But for all this talk of love and growth and healing—magnificent things—Pushing the Limits offers more: A cast of characters in shades of grey, some I loved, such as Echo and Noah’s shared counsellor, Ms Collins, and others I really wanted to hate, like Echo’s former friends. They add a depth to the world, and give the reader some perspective, showing our leads are not infallible, and not always right.

The Verdict:

Pushing the Limits is incredibly moving, packing a big emotional punch, but it’s not all weepy tear jerker moments: there’s friendship, a puzzling backstory, and a romantic chemistry so intense the book warrants one of those coffee cup warning labels: ‘CAUTION. Contents are HOT.’ A moving tale of loss, healing and love, McGarry delivers a masterful debut.

Books in This Series:

  1. Pushing The Limits (2012)
  2. Dare You To (Companion Novel) (2013)
An enormous thank you to Harlequin TEEN Australia  for providing a review copy of Pushing The Limits.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Event Anouncement: Author Appreciation August

2012 has been a fantastic year for us readers. We've had breathtaking debuts from the likes of Brigid Kemmerer, Jessica Spotswood and Marissa Meyer, and we've had follow-ups from our all-time favorites, Lauren Kate, Lauren Oliver, and the amazing Sarah Alderson—that’s not to forget the film adaptations of our faves, with The Hunger Games reaching screens around the world, The Perks of Being A Wallflower nearly out, and a release date finally set for Cassie Clare's The Mortal Instruments.

It wouldn't be possible without one rather incredible species of human: The Author. This elusive creature is dedicated, determined, and can be found on Twitter, touring bookstores, and spending hours typing away at computers in-between juggling children, jobs, and deadlines. I don’t know about you, but I think they deserve a big fat ‘THANK YOU’. So Becca from Reading Wishes and I have teamed up to bring you Author Appreciation August (AAA): a month dedicated to showing authors we care and appreciate them.

Kicking off on the 1st of August we’ll be bringing you an entire month of author interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to chip in and write a post about your favorite author and what they mean to you. Excited? It gets better. Take the time to comment, say ‘thank you’ to an author, or spread the word, and some truly amazing publishers will say ‘thanks’ back, with tons of incredible books up for grabs!

Appreciation Posts

Is there an author you really love? Want to say thanks? Write a post talking about your favorite author, share a story about what they mean to you, or just talk about why everyone needs to read this book. Whether you want to focus on an author individually or group a few together in a post; say thanks for a book or a series, it’s up to you!

Linky Love!

Throughout Author Appreciation August there will be Linkys available for you to share your Appreciation posts! Feel free to stop by and post your links so others can come by and read why a certain author or book is so special to you! Also, if you want to spread the love even more why not host a giveaway to celebrate your favorite authors! There is absolutely no pressure at all - you make the rules, set the dates and all that jazz. In a way it’s kind of like a blog hop except a very laid back version!


These are still being finalised, but thanks to some truly amazing publishers across the globe we already have dozens of books to be given away. Participate, promote and comment for the chance to win!

Amazing Authors!

Want a sneak peek at what to expect?
Throughout August, we’ll be bringing you interviews and guest posts from the likes of:

Brigid Kemmerer
Elizabeth Norris
Gail Carriger
Huntley Fitzpatrick
Jay Kristoff
Jennifer Echols
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Jessica Shirvington
Jessica Spotswood
Jodi Meadows
Kody Keplinger
Lauren Kate
Lauren Oliver
Maria V. Snyder
Marissa Meyer
Sarah Alderson

...and that’s just to name a few!

♥ Spread the Love! ♥

Would you like to help spread the word?
Thanks, guys! Pick a button, any button!


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