Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unravel Me (The Juliette Chronicles #2), Tahereh Mafi + GIVEAWAY

unravel me tahereh mafi australian coverTitle: Unravel Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi (author website | blog)
Release Date: 1st February 2013 by Allen & Unwin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Once upon a time, on a day much like any other, a girl had An Idea: What if Rogue had a purple suit? And a boyfriend? She sat down to write, and Shatter Me was born. Soon to follow was a sister named ‘Unravel Me’, and the other X-Men joined the tale. Unravel Me was fair and lovely, quickly surpassing her older sister, and, oh yes, she got all the boys.
From Goodreads:
Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. A place for people like her - people with gifts - and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.She's finally free from the Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch. Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.Haunted by her past, terrified of her future, Juliette knows that in her present, she will have to make some life-changing choices.
Choices that may include choosing between her heart - and Adam's life.

What a broken heroine Unravel Me has. We join Juliette two weeks after we left her, but for all that hope Shatter Me offered in its dénouement, Juliette is shattering all over again. Adam is distant, and if she thought she found a place she belonged, with people like her, who could accept her, the wary stares and constant isolation say otherwise.

Broken, isolated and misunderstood are familiar places for Juliette, but was there ever a lonelier place than the kind felt surrounded by people? Juliette is a most singularly damaged heroine, and it’s difficult finding her withdrawing into her shell and shouldering so much blame for problems outside her control – both from herself and those around her. While it would be easy to find fault in her anxieties and self-pity, it’s important to acknowledge her unique position: while Juliette runs afoul of good opinion with her inability to assimilate in the new community in which she finds herself, surrounded by 'special' people who can relate to isolation and discrimination, it's important to understand there is no way she could.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blogspiration (55): Discoveries

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.

The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren't looking for it. morgan matson – amy and roger’s epic detour

Today's quote comes from Morgan Matson's Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. My very good, very amazing friend, Elena, from Novel Sounds, has started a feature where she creates gorgeous wallpaper with her favorite bookish quotes. And what a wonderful one this is. Happy Australia Day, people! xx

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Scent of Magic (Healer #2), Maria V. Snyder

scent of magic maria v. snyder Australian coverTitle: Scent of Magic
Author: Maria V. Snyder (author website | blog)
Release Date:  Jan. 1st 2013 by HarlequinTeen Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

There’s a comfort returning to the pages and world of a favourite author: a sense of familiarity and trust that where she leads, you will follow. With this firmly in mind, I enter any Maria V. Snyder novel with excitement, and, in Scent of Magic, was well rewarded. With romance, intrigue, magic and war, I was thrilled, but even more delighted to find myself surprised.
From Goodreads:
Hunted, Killed—Survived?As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again

After healing the dying Prince Ryne at the cost of her life, no-one’s more surprised to find herself alive than Avry of Kazan. We join Avry and Kerrick where we left them, together at last, but Avry’s ‘death’ provides opportunities too good to ignore, and the couple are soon separated, providing the catalyst for the first of many surprises Scent of Magic has in store.

As Avry and Kerrick separate, so too does Scent of Magic’s narrative, a first in Snyder’s novels. While Avry assumes a new identity, travelling to join the army of High Priestess Estrid, Kerrick reunites with Prince Ryne, helping to rally his troops and join Estrid in the fight against the evil King Tohon. If this has you confused, you’re not alone. While Scent of Magic is not the place to enter this series, and it took some few chapters to acclimate, its world and characters re-emerge from the shadows swiftly, and at this, it takes off.

Scent of Magic is, perhaps, Snyder’s most action-packed novel to date. When ‘The Plan’ goes awry, Avry and Kerrick’s paths careen off in disparate directions and, with each alternating chapter ending on a high-stakes note for both leads, maintains a rocketing pace, an element sometimes lost to the minutiae of High Fantasy — though a typical fantasy novelist this author is not.

Snyder has a particular talent for writing strong, capable and intelligent leads, and Avry is, of course, no exception. Even better, Avry’s grown since Touch of Power, and been shaped by her experience. No longer running from danger, she confronts it. She assumes a ‘woman of action’ role in Scent of Magic and, separated from her lover and protector, readers are shown what she’s truly capable of. With magical healing abilities, feared powers, and a knack for finding herself desperately entangled with the Powers That Be, Avry could easily be compared to Snyder’s most memorable heroine, Yelena, but possesses a spark and a special magic all of her own.

Kerrick, meanwhile, gets his moment to shine like no other Snyder hero has, and his job is harder, even, than Avry’s. Beaten, kidnapped and held captive, he becomes a more flawed and relatable hero, and through his eyes we learn more about the magic and construct of the Fifteen Realms. Kerrick’s intimate knowledge of his world’s workings is a welcome addition, offering form and familiarity to a complex world system that would otherwise prove confusing.

While it’s no surprise a Snyder novel offers wonderful leads, there's an interesting moral ambiguity in the Healer series’ characters, one which seems absent from Snyder's previous work, at least in comparison. It boasts a vile, narcissistic, megalomaniac villain, made all the worse as he genuinely believes his evils are justified in the scheme of things, for the greater good – and may just have a point. Meanwhile, the ‘good guys’ themselves don't seem quite ‘good’, and it offers a plethora of opportunities for unexpected twists, turns, and surprises.

The Verdict:

High stakes, gripping intrigue and an immersive magical world, Maria V. Snyder delivers yet another fantasy romp which will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore, not to mention the inimitable Maria, herself. This is Snyder at the top of her game. Filled with unexpected betrayals, double crosses and an expansive cast of warm, wonderful supporting characters, Scent of Magic is surprising and compulsively readable, and one of Snyder’s finest offerings to date.

Books in This Series:

  1. Touch of Power (December 2011)

  2. Scent of Magic (January 2013)

  3. Taste of Death (Expected December 2013)

Want it? Get it:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Bookworld | Dymocks | QBD
An enormous thank you to Harlequin Teen Australia for providing a review copy of Scent of Magic

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blogspiration (54): Freedom, Books, Flowers and the Moon

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.

With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?

Such a lovely sentiment. While, truly, I do believe it's a little too general a statement to give too much weight, but it's lovely all the same, no?

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini TaylorTitle: Days of Blood and Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor (author website)
Release Date: 8th Nov. 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

Following Daughter of Smoke and Bone was never to prove an easy task. How could any book trump the romance, the beauty, the glittering darkness of its predecessor? Of course there was no cause for concern. While Days of Blood and Stalight may not ‘trump’, Laini Taylor builds, breathing life and magic into an Eretz yet unknown to readers. She abandons romance. This time, it's war.
From Goodreads:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living - one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers' arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon's secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel - a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.

Returning Karou and Akiva’s world and doomed love is a painful journey. We left them in horror and pain at the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and they are found, in Days of Blood and Starlight, even deeper in darkness. The opening pages are like those few brief moments of peace, of happiness, between falling asleep with the knowledge of some terrible, asphyxiating grief, and waking, the world crashing down twice as dreadful as before.

Karou and Akiva are separated, but fighting. A war is being faught, and while the Seraphim believe themselves victorious, and the Chimaera population is decimated, all is not as lost as it may seem. It’s a story different in tone from its predecessor. Where Daughter was filled with light and love and hope, even in its darkest moments, Blood and Starlight is a tale beautiful, still, but bleak. It carries a feeling worse than that of hopelessness, but of hope lost – but perhaps not forever. The hope tangled in its pages will be drawn more from readers – lovers of these characters and their world and their creator – and faith that things must get better. After all, at the tale’s conclusion, it is difficult to see how they could get worse.
 “Dead souls dream only of death. Small dreams for small men. It is life that expands to fill worlds. Life is your master, or death is”

Days of Blood and Starlight is a tale of war and vengeance – of all the associated horrors and atrocities and needless violence. Readers are shown much of its greater impact, of genocide, of murdered or twisted children, of a pervasive learned hatred, and while Taylor never seems to be pushing an agenda, or concealing an underlying message, it’s fascinating to consider how this applies to life; especially in light of a recent quote she posted (do go read it. It’s short, and brilliant).
 “You have only to begin, Lir. Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.”

It is certainly the greater impact of the eons old war between Chimaera and Seraphim which carries Days of Blood and Starlight’s greatest horrors, but it’s the personal, more intimate facets shown that drive it home. Through the eyes of an escaped slave girl, a seraphim sentry, a soldier, and our beloved Karou and Akiva themselves, Taylor shows the price of hatred, of greed, of bitter, empty bloodshed for its own sake.

And it is, of course, Akiva and Karou who form the book’s emotional core, and its most crushing moments. Where once upon a time, the lovers dreamed together of a new world, a better one, one free from endless war and killing, they are now separated by more than distance and race and ancient enmity.
 “A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.”

The two work separately, clinging to their tattered dream. There is still innocence in that dream, however bloody it becomes, but innocence, while a beautiful garb, is not always the best armour. Akiva, consumed with gnawing agony and guilt, is a shell, and Karou as beautiful as ever, is lost. Where, once, Karou could almost be synonymous with life, she is robbed of it, drowning in grief and anger and sorrow. It’s devastating watching such beloved characters suffer so greatly, but even more so as it blinds them to the machinations and manipulations of others.
 “You could look out the window today, see the sky raining fire, and say that it has all been for nothing, everything we've ever done, because now we've lost. But folk were born and lived and knew friendship and music in this city, ugly as it is, and all across this land that we fought for. Some grew old, and others were less lucky. Many bore children and raised them, and had the pleasure of making them, too, and we gave them that for as long as we could. Who has ever done more, my friend?”

There is light in this dark tale, however, in the form of Zuzanna and Mik who, separated from Karou by worlds, don’t give up on their friend. Zuzanna brings laughter, and Mik humour, and together, a friendship and romance which grounds the otherwise fantastical tale in reality, where the human world would be otherwise lost to Ertez.

The Verdict

Told between two worlds and the yawning pit between them, Taylor weaves her tale of war, of magic, and of course, blood and starlight, in a fashion uniquely hers. Crushingly sad and beautifully written, Days of Blood and Starlight is, as its predecessor, a triumph of fantasy and of prose, but it offers precious few answers, instead building towards a yet unknown climax and conclusion I’m not quite sure if I should dread or celebrate, but one I most keenly anticipate. Once again, Taylor delivers magic.
 “One world on its own is a strange enough seethe of coiling, unknowable veins of intention and chance, but two? Where two worlds mingle breath through rips in the sky, the strange becomes stranger, and many things may come to pass that few imaginations could encompass.”

Books in This Series:

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (September 2011)

  2. Days of Blood and Starlight (November 2012)

  3. As yet untitled (expected 2014)

Want it? Get it:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Bookworld | Dymocks | QBD
An enormous thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of Days of Blood and Starlight!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blogspiration (53): Happy Endings

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.

Happy endings happen in real life, too

This is taken from The Oatmeal's newest comic. Guys, I'll warn you. This one is happy sad. It's strange. But if you want to cry from laughing, then cry from sadness, then cry again from the bittersweet, it's a good one. Though perhaps you have to be an animal lover for the tears.

This quote rang true for me. Whether you write, or whether you read, there's a sense of escape. It's easy to emerge from a fictional world and feel your own life will never have such moments of pure happiness, resonance, or meaning. But happy endings do happen, in real life, even when it's easy to forget.

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Under the Never Sky, Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky, Veronica RossiTitle: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi (author website)
Release Date:
Re-published by ATOM (AUS) 8th Jan. 2013
Originally Published January 2012
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

With a world both beautiful and brutal, skies of liquid blue fire over endless wilderness, fearless savage warriors and beautiful lost girls, Under the Never Sky reads something like a fairytale. With all the sex, blood, magic and violence one can find in those Grimm tales, perhaps it’s not so poor a comparison, for Rossi weaves as certain strange, familiar magic into her story, making for a spellbinding debut.
From Goodreads:
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure

The Story:

Aria has lived her whole life safe within her enclosed society, safe from deadly aether storms, toxic air and savage cannibals under a protective dome. But When her search for answers about her missing mother goes terribly wrong, Aria finds her friends dead, and herself as good as: exiled into the world outside.

But perhaps the outside is not quite as it seems.

Aria is rescued by a 'savage' boy named Perry. A boy who is also searching for someone dear. Together, they set out in search of what they've lost, and find something in each other entirely unexpected...

The 101:

Under the Never Sky is a hard book to label, and perhaps that’s a good thing. To call it ‘dystopian’ doesn’t quite fit — like squeezing into too-small pants and seeing everything overflow. Rossi’s world is vast and deep and lovely, and the book carries a sense of wide-eyed wonder at the world more than it does a sense of suffocating oppression.
"She stepped out of the elevator to a new sky, shot through with swirls of blue light. The eddies ran calm above her, but turned brighter and faster on the horizon. It was Van Gogh’s Starry Night, right before her eyes."

Almost a character itself, Rossi’s world, and its eponymous ‘never sky’ are captivating. Each facet of the world, from the swirling blue Aether sky, to the desert, to the lush forest flooded with blue light is spectacular, and it's shown through new eyes, each scene vivid and fresh and filled with a child's wonder as Aria truly sees for the first time.
"In the Realms, falling off a horse hurt. Twisting an ankle did too. But pain was just an effect, sprinkled in to boost the thrill. They couldn’t actually get hurt in the Realms. This felt different. Like there was no limit to the pain. Like it could go on forever."

In Rossi's take on a post-apocalyptic world, the people in Under the Never Sky are split into two separate societies: ‘Dwellers,’ safe from the world’s fiery sky in futuristic domes, and ‘Outsiders’– those who survive the climate’s fury in more primitive tribes. Aria has lived her whole life ‘inside’, where her days are spent with her friends in Virtual realities as limitless as imagination. Aria’s entire civilisation runs digitally, with classrooms, entertainment and work existing in the ‘Realms,’ a reality which pronounces itself “better than real.” When Aria finds herself expelled from this world, from her home, to an outside she has never seen before, she truly does begin to see. Each flower, storm, stone and tree are new, exciting, and her curiosity and surprise in the most basic elements of creation — of the real — carry a sense of magic – not to mention the talents of outsiders she encounters which really do border on magic themselves.
"Perry could see a sliver of the Aether swirling in the sky. On calmer days, it was like being on the underside of waves, seeing the Aether roll and pitch above. Other times it flowed like rapids, furious and blazing blue. Fire and water, come together in the sky."

The novel’s other star – and perhaps its brightest – is Peregrine. Perry is not a mere love interest, a boy created simply to admire. He is rich, layered, conflicted and rash. He’s passionate, kind and unpolished. For all his faults – and both Aria and he have their fair share – he’s near impossible to dislike, and he carries an authenticity to him; he feels like a real teenage boy. Filled with fire and drive and conflicting confidences and insecurities; he does not always know the right thing to say, nor does he possess a flare for grand romantic gestures – his best friend, Roar, is the polished, urbane one – yet he is more beautiful and perfect for his imperfections.
"Some force had pulled their hands together. Aria looked at their fingers as they laced together, bringing her the sensation of his touch. Of warmth and calluses. Soft and hard together. She absorbed the terror and beauty of him and his world. Of every moment over the past days. All of it, filling her up like the first breath she’d ever taken. And never had she loved life more."

For Aria and Perry there is, of course, a love story, and it’s a wonderful, sweeping one, reminiscent of that much beloved John Green quote: “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.”. The connection shared between Dweller and Savage develops slowly, slyly, underneath the noses of both, followed by a tide of emotion and a sudden connection, like a jigsaw finally falling into place. The tentative bond, with all its words unspoken and feelings unshared is tender and touching and devastatingly romantic. It feels like first love, the powerful rush of feeling so overwhelming it’s blinding. But both keep their heads, and there is much left unsaid by the novel’s close. A close which left me desperate for more.
"She knew how to put one foot in front of the other even when every step hurt. And she knew there was pain in the journey, but there was also great beauty. She’d seen it standing on rooftops and in green eyes and in the smallest, ugliest rock. She would find the answer."

The Verdict:

Under the Never Sky is a tale of a rare quality: it is not writing, nor imagination, nor characters or world building alone which make it what it is, but a complex alchemical formula artfully combined to create something splendid and beautiful and unique, even in its genre similarities. It is no difficult task to discover why Rossi’s debut is lauded as one of 2012’s finest. Fantasy quest meets breathtaking dystopia in a novel which feels like a dream I still don’t want to wake up from.

Books in This Series:

  1. Under the Never Sky (2012)

  2. Through the Ever Night (January 2013)

  3. Into the Still Blue (2014)

Want it? Get it:

International: Amazon | Book Depository
AU: Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Bookworld | Dymocks | QBD

Want to win a gorgeous hardcover copy of Through the Ever Night? Enter my Summer Giveaway »

SUMMER GIVEAWAY: Win One of 2013's Hottest Releases!

It's Summer in Australia, but let's turn up the heat even further with the chance to win one of early 2013's hottest releases. Entry is simple: just fill out the Rafflecopter form below the jump.

shades of earth by beth revis cover splintered a.g. howard cover through the ever night by veronica rossi cover unravel me tahereh mafi the archived victoria scwab cover the indigo spell richelle mead cover prophecy ellen oh cover scarlet marissa meyer mind games kiersten white cover everbound brodi ashton clockwork princess cassandra clare etiquette and espionage by gail carriger cover

Win a copy or a pre-order of one of these smoking-hot books, all due to release in the first three months of 2013. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!


Want to win a copy of Clockwork Princess AND a Book Depository book of your choice? Head on over to my brother-in-booking, Braiden, and enter his giveaway. Even better? Entering HIS giveaway will get you an extra entry in mine!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Blogspiration (52): Happiness & Bookiness

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.

You can't buy happiness, but you can buy books, which is kind of the same thing

And did you know today marks the official 52nd week of Blogspiration? That's a whole year, and a WHOLE lot of inspiration! Thanks so much to everyone who's made Blogspiration what it is. It's been a joy doing this thing with you, and as we kick off a brand new calendar year, and a brand new year of Blogspiration, I hope it's a good one for all of you!

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

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Best of 2012 Young Adult Results — As Voted by YOU!

Best of 2012 Young Adult
You've voted, we've counted, and the results are in! Together with the lovely, clever and diabolically evil Brodie from Eleusinian Mysteries of Reading I'm super excited to announce the winners of the 2012 Young Adult Reader Choice Awards! A big thank you to everyone who took the time to vote and spread the word. Did your favorites win? Are you surprised by any of the results? Let us know in the comments!

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy:
Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor

days of blood and starlight laini taylor

Cinder, Marissa Meyer

cinder marissa meyer

Days of Blood and Starlight, Laini Taylor

days of blood and starlight laini taylor

Insurgent, Veronica Roth

insurgent veronica roth

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

the fault in our stars cover john green

Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare

clockwork prince by cassandra clare

Girl of Nightmares, Kendare Blake
Alice in Zombieland, Gena Showalter

girl of nightmares Kendare Blakes  alice in zombieland gena showalter

The Evolution of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin

the evolution of maray dyer michelle hodkin

Short Story/Novella:
Free Four, Veronica Roth

free four veronica rossi

Best Debut:
Storm, Brigid Kemmerer

storm brigid kemmerer

Best Book:
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

the fault in our stars cover john green

Best New Series:
Lux, Jennifer L. Armentrout

obsidian jennifer l armentrout


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