Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2), Veronica Rossi

Title:through the ever night veronica rossi Through The Ever Night
Author: Veronica Rossi (author website | blog)
Release Date: January 8th 2013 by ATOM
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Sequels are tricky things; even more so 'middle books'. With a happy romantic union cemented in book one, how does the author sustain chemistry? With a journey underway, how does she maintain momentum on route to a distant conclusion? Is it time to answer questions? Pose them? Fans are demanding creatures—the more ardent, the more so—but, as readers, our favourite authors win our trust for a reason, a reason Veronica Rossi demonstrates in Through the Ever Night.
From Goodreads:
Aria has struggled to build a life for herself outside Reverie. It hasn't been easy adjusting to life in the wilderness but that struggle has been worth it with Perry by her side.But Perry has other challenges. His people are looking to him for answers. Answers about what happened to his nephew and what's happening to their world. And they don't trust the privileged Aria, one of the enemy, in their midst.Soon he'll be forced to chose between the tribe that looks to him for leadership and the girl that looks to him for love.

We left Aria and Perry locked in a joyous embrace in Under the Never Sky, and it is where we find them in Through the Ever Night. But their reunion is not to be a drawn out, happy thing. Peregrine of the Tides is now Peregrine, Blood Lord of the Tides. Where once he enjoyed unfettered freedom, the weight of hundreds of lives now rests on his teenage shoulders, and his people do not take kindly to a daughter of the people who stole their children sharing their home.

Aria finds herself no less entangled. Charged with the hope of those who exiled her, Aria must find the Still Blue, a fabled land free from the deadly storms of the Aether sky, or face the death of all she holds dear.

It’s a dark place to find Perry and Aria, and where Under the Never Sky ended with hope, Through the Ever Night quickly forms fractures and wears it down. Aria, exiled from her home, without family, and trapped as a pawn of the manipulative Consul Hess, is isolated, even from Perry. She’s strong and selfless, and, having developmed a quiet wisdom, finds herself torn between love and sacrifice. Though Perry owns her heart, Aria—an outsider amongst the Outsiders—can see her presence undermining Perry’s new and fragile leadership. She’s faced with difficult choices, and each direction leads to pain and isolation. It’s the first of many obstacles the couple faces, and creates a wedge, forcing larger cracks.

The story separates the couple quickly and, apart, Through the Ever Night shows Perry’s analogous strengths and weaknesses. It seems that, in story, nuance and detail, Rossi may be playing favourites with her children. There’s a weight given to Perry’s story, an extra layer of complexity which render Perry’s pages the most memorable. If, perhaps, Under the Never Sky was Aria’s tale, this is Perry’s. Perry is caught in an unenviable position between right and wrong, instinct and reason. Seen as ‘rash’ by his tribe, he is judged not entirely by his actions, but a violent undercurrent of desperation. He’s torn between the ability to act with the freedom he has always known, and his responsibility for hundreds of lives. It is a painful thing to witness, but Perry, as Aria, demonstrates remarkable growth over of the course of the story. Both battle very real internal foes, as well as external: doubt, fear, desperation and betrayal are demons they both face in varying degrees.

While Aria and Perry are separated by distance much of the novel, they are never far from each other's thoughts, and each grows stronger individually. While second instalments frequently see couples breaking up and angst filled confrontations, the couple share something profound, and it shapes them, but they have purposes and goals. Neither abandons their friends and responsibilities because they cannot live without the other.

It seems as though Through the Ever Night could easily pose as a parable for the pressures of childhood and young adulthood in the modern world; the conflicting worship of youth, but the push to learn faster, grow faster, mature, absorb, and assimilate. The burdens its young heroes face are crushing and unfair, yet ultimately the story concerns itself more with love and friendship and family. There are messages to be found, certainly, but they are much like images seen in clouds on lazy days: there for those who choose to find them, regardless of their creator's intent.

The Verdict:

With the final page turned and many months free for reflection (the trilogy's conclusion is, after all, not expected for a year), I find myself reluctant to leave Aria and Perry's world behind. The Aether sky shines and flows in my imagination, and its characters whisper, beckoning my return. Rossi proves a talent for creating hope, sweet and pure as, despite the tale's darker moments (of which there are many), I find myself lingering not on the pain, but on its hopeful final pages, on reunion, smiles, and a wish for tomorrow.

Books in This Series:

  1. Under The Never Sky (2012)

  2. Through The Ever Night (2013)

  3. Into the Still Blue (Expected 2014)

Want it? Get it:

Amazon | Book Depository | Booktopia (AU) | Bookworld (AU) | Dymocks (AU)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sanctum, Sarah Fine (Guards of the shadowlands #1)

sanctum sarah fineTitle: Sanctum
Author: Sarah Fine (author website | blog)
Release Date:  Oct. 16th 2012 by Marshall Cavendish Children's/Amazon Children's Publishing
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My Rating:1 star2 star3 starhalf star

In Sanctum, Sarah Fine's début offering, nightmares walk the streets of a hellish city, normal girls can be fierce warriors, and tortured boys so much more. The world of Sanctum is terrifying and fascinating, the characters’ pain palpable, and the romance? Phwoar.

From Goodreads:

"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

"Would you risk your afterlife to save your best friend’s soul?" I’m not sure I would if the friend was Nadia, but Lela would. Especially since she owes Nadia her life. Nadia helped Lela recover from the darkest point of her life; overcome a history of neglect, abuse and depression... Only to succumb to darkness herself.

When the seemingly perfect, sunny Nadia takes her own life, Lela is shattered, unable to comfort herself with thoughts of Nadia being in a better place, afterall, she knows better. She’s haunted by dreams of a shell-shocked Nadia wandering the streets of a place Lela knows all too well--the place all suicides go on their death. A place worse than the life they fled from. Lela will do anything to save Nadia from her fate, even risk death, itself.

But Sanctum is not Nadia’s story. It is Lela’s. And while it is a story of love, and a kind of selfless friendship that crosses worlds, it’s a little something more.

Sarah Fine approaches her story from a unique background — she’s a psychologist. Sanctum deals with suicide, and it’s done well, Fine capturing conflicting feelings of guilt, despair, anger and betrayal from its ‘left behind’ protagonist, but what sat uncomfortably true was its departed Nadia’s hopelessness and pain.

It’s a dark book, dealing with dark matters, but, for the most part, it doesn’t feel like a book about suicide. It reads as Urban Fantasy, with all the dark, gritty hallmarks of the genre. What Sanctum does well is the creepy, the visceral, the haunting. Tortured souls wonder the streets of Suicide City, grasping at ‘things’ to fill their empty spaces; monsters hide within the shadows, and without. Nightmares grow and grasp like living creatures, and in one particularly disquieting scene, a building which feeds people their own fears in order to consume them left me with chills.

Sanctum’s heroine, Lela is tough, brave and damaged. At times she felt forced, and with her voice to guide me, it took me some time to fall into the story’s flow. But, once she held me her grasp, she did not let go. When she’s not posturing and telling the reader she’s tough and people don’t mess with her because she done time on the inside, yo, I liked her immensely. It’s the fragile, aching inside of her, not the tough girl exterior, I grew to love. She’s capable of great selflessness—as indicated by her willing trip to hell to save her friend’s soul—but there are times when her selflessness puts others on the line, teetering dangerously close to its antonym. There’s an interesting theme of choice here, or perhaps, if not choice, the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. The lines between both in Sanctum are vague, as they can be in real life.

Of course, at the core of Sanctum is a romance, intense and sexy as could be wished for. Lela falls for Malachi, King of the Underworld. Okay, okay, he’s not at all King or ruler. He’s a guard, a protector, with some very dark secrets. The two share an instant attraction and fascination with one another, and it develops, while alarmingly fast at first, into something far deeper. To put it succinctly, when I finished the book, my thoughts on the romance could be distilled into one word: phwoar. It’s totally a word, right?

That romance aside, Malachi himself was, for me, the story’s greatest draw, and as his long history unfolds in Sanctum’s final pages, I found it hard to look away.

The Verdict

So there you have it. Sanctum. Combine scorching chemistry and a creepy, living world, built of old and new. Add swords, knives, a kickass heroine and dashing, tortured hero. Then take another girl—a broken one; a friendship and loyalty powerful enough to reach across worlds, and you’ll have Sanctum. To quote another, far more eloquent, reviewer, Sanctum is “an amazing story of loss and redemption and courage and grief, but I know you’re all skimming this paragraph to hear about the boy, right?” Well, the wait was worth it, and I’m sure you, ‘dear reader’, will find it so, too.

Want it? Get it:

Amazon / Kindle Booktopia (AU) | Book DepositoryBookworld/Borders (AU)  Dymocks (AU)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Blogspiration (58): The End

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.


Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending.

Over a year ago, an idea took root in a blogger's brain. An idea to inspire those around her, and, in doing so, inspire herself. To release something positive into the world.

I was not that blogger.

That blogger was Kristin of GrowingUp YA.  For the last year, and longer, I've been privilege to call Kristin one of best friends, or, as we prefer, my 'boo' (don't tell her I called her that in public), and when she approached me this idea, and asked if I'd like to co-host, I said yes. Thus, Blogspiration was born.

Over the last year, it's been an honour and a privilege to share Blogspiration with you. Seeing what everyone has to share, every week, the wisdom they offer, and the happiness and inspiration you have all brought me is a gift I cannot adequately thank you all for.

I do not believe all good things come to an end. The very best things -- faith, friendship, hope and love -- can be boundless, stretching out over our lifetimes, and long past them, to change the world, indelibly, and leave it a better place. But life and death, beginning and end, are the nature of most things, and Blogspiration, too, has drawn to its close.

As Blogspiration was Kristin's dream, it seems fitting it reaches its conclusion as she, herself, takes her leave from blogging -- though whether or not that is permanent is not for me to say; she may very well return!

So, today is the very last day of Blogspiration as it stands. I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has made this little meme what it is, for your friendship, and for making our little corner of the blogosphere and better, more positive place.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Touch of Power AND Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

scent of magic maria v. snyder Australian cover   touch of power

It's Wednesday. It's cold. I'm sleepy.
And did I mention it's Wednesday?

So let's add some cheer to the mid-week slump with a giveaway! Thanks to the very kind folks at Harlequin TEEN Australia I have one prize pack including Touch of Power and Scent of Magic from the HEALER series, the latest offering from my long-time favorite author, Maria V. Snyder.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blogspiration (57): librocubicularist

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.



Librocubicularist, you say? Why yes, I believe I am. Though I also read on the couch, on the train, on buses, and while I'm walking down the street. Is there anything more wonderful than finding a word which had to have been made just for you?

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Penelope, Rebecca Harrington

penelope, rebecca harringtonTitle: Penelope
Author: Rebecca Harrington (twitter)
Release Date: January 24th 2013 by Virago Press/Hachette
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

It’s not every day a book like Penelope finds itself in one’s hands – or mailbox.

Accompanied by a personalised note singing its praises, and a double-sided page of gushing commendations from the staff of its Australian publisher, Penelope made grand promises, and charmed me from page one.
From Goodreads:
Prep meets The Marriage Plot in this uproarious debut novel, a send-up of campus life starring one singularly unprepared, socially maladroit, charmingly clueless freshman named Penelope.

When Penelope O'Shaughnessy arrives on the Harvard campus she is amazed: she has never seen such a vast and majestic Au Bon Pain. She has also never met anyone like her fellow freshmen. Everyone is overwhelmed and overworked, striving to get into the right social clubs and frantically pulling all-nighters at the library - and classes haven't even begun.Penelope's roommates aren't exactly the soul mates she had hoped for (Emma is a social climber intent on punching The Pudding, while Lan is a misanthrope who paints her room black). Meanwhile, her 'Images of Shakespeare' class seems mostly to involve angry discussions over whether or not the Bard was overweight; the dorm room 'pre-game' sessions never seem to lead to a real game; and the aristocratic upperclassman she has admired from afar never seems to be eating in the freshman dining hall, where she might woo him alongside the make-your-own waffle bar. When Penelope finds herself roped into a production of Camus' Caligula, she begins to worry that her entire college experience is beginning to resemble an absurdist play.

A laugh-out-loud depiction of college life, PENELOPE announces the arrival of a deliriously funny new writer.

The Story:

Those of us who didn’t have our day in high school, are often advised to wait. That high school isn’t everything. That, eventually, the popular kids will wind up selling cars or hamburgers, while for us, the awkward, the quiet and the outsiders, the best is yet to come. As Elizabeth Halsey sagely advises in Bad Teacher, “I’m thinking college is your window.”

So it is, with years spent cultivating personality, peculiar anecdotes about car seats and a Tetris addiction to rival Elvis’ love of cheeseburgers, Penelope arrives at Harvard ready for her day. And her first year is going to be a very long day.

The 101:

Now. I loathe the word ‘quirky’ with an irrational intensity. Yet I can think of no term which better suits Penelope and its titular protagonist. With its sweet, intellectual humour and matter of fact whimsy, there is a touch of fairytale to its pages.

Penelope herself is a peculiar character, hapless and naïve, yet practical – somewhat. There’s something of Amelie to her and, despite claiming to loathe whimsy in all its forms at one point in the novel, she’s possessed of a certain matter-of-fact dreaminess which fits the word perfectly. What makes her so utterly charming is how relatable she is as a character. From her social awkwardness and proclivity for playing Tetris on her phone instead of talking to her vaguely neurotic way of seeing any given situation, I rather felt I knew Penelope as I know myself.

With the familiar tone of a humorous observer and a plot concerned not with what is happening, so much as to whom, Penelope has been likened to the work of Wes Anderson, and it is not difficult to see why. There’s a delightful incongruity between Harrington’s writing and the book’s semi-adult subject, and it is this which lends the book its fairytale leanings. After all, infant-eating witches are not light reading, but when told with childlike honesty it lends new perspective. Penelope is hardly this dark, but the deceptive simplicity and levity of its tone hides something sweeter and deeper.

The Verdict:

Penelope is not a love story, nor a coming of age story, but a simple insight into Penelope and her friends' life with often humorous honesty. With an affable and ‘quirky’ protagonist and Rebecca Harrington’s charming prose, Penelope's delightful naïveté will prove a welcome balm to all who have ever felt out of place.

Want it? Get it:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Bookworld | Dymocks | QBD
An enormous thank you to the Australian publisher of Penelope, Hachette for providing a review copy of Penelope!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Blogspiration (56): Family

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.


Brodie from Eleusinian Mysteries has been one of my favorite bloggers since the start, and when she speaks like this, it's think obvious why. That's it, for this week. Happy Sunday, my blogging family and friends xx

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


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