Monday, 30 April 2012

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron King (Iron Fey #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: February 2010

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart. 

My Review: 
The Disney-fication of fairy-tales has gone a long way to sanitise what where once sinister and dark tales. Tinkerbell and Cinderella's Fairy Godmother are the quintessential fairy type that I grew believing in, however these animated characterizations deviate wildly from fairy folklore. In Julie Kagawa's novel The Iron King, fairy's are given back their wicked inclinations and are much more cruel, dark, and,to be frank, freakin' scary then Disney ever imagined them to be. 

In the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Meghan Chase, a sixteen year old girl, who feels unappreciated by her mother and step-father, and is unpopular at school because she comes from a poor, pig farming family. Meghan gets dragged into Fairyland or the Nevernever, when her younger brother is swapped with a changeling child and she vows to get him back. To be honest it took be a little while to get into The Iron King, however it definitely grew on me over time until I was completely immersed in the story by the end and raring to pick up the next book in the series.  

What captivated me the most was the way Kagawa was able to build and bring to life the Nevernever. The descriptions of this other world were not tedious or drawn out but flowed in a way that enhanced the story and created a vivid and richly detailed image of this world in my mind.  There was also hardly a slow moment in the book, as Meghan was faced with danger and peril at nearly every turn. So much so that by the end I was feeling sorry for the poor girl - she just couldn't catch a break! 

Meghan was a well written and likable protagonist. Her strength in character in the face of adversity and her determination to rescue her brother were extremely admirable qualities. Secondary characters in The Iron King were all well fleshed out, and Grimalkin, a talking cat reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat, was a standout character in this book, for me. I think I even loved him more than the dark bad boy Prince of the Winter Court, Ash. 

The Iron King was a captivating action packed read that made me change my stance on reading fairy books. It reminded me a bit of the 1986 Labyrinth film starring David Bowie, which is an awesome movie by the way. I really loved that the main story line and setting was well developed, and that there was a dash of romance but not too much. The Iron King is an exciting and action-packed read that I highly recommend. 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Stacking The Shelves #1

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that is all about sharing what books we've added to our shelves lately. 

Here are some books I picked up during my latest library haul. I don't know what I would do without my local library <3 .

Love Shy by Lili Wilkinson 
Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo 
Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar 
Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Three of the four are Australian titles which I'm super excited about although I do wish my library would stock up on more US and international titles too! Oh well you can't win them all. So what reads have you added to your shelf? I can't wait to check out what you guys are reading this week and discover some gems I'm sure. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Book Review: Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney

Title: Dead, Actually 
Author: Kaz Delaney
Released: March 2012 
Summary: Willow's having a bad week. A dead body, a funeral and now she's being haunted by the star of it all, the dead queen of Ruth Throsby High herself, JoJo Grayson. Being dead hasn't made JoJo any nicer. She's still venomous and vacuous and, unfortunately, determined to stick around unless Willow finds out what happened. But the mystery keeps multiplying. There's a missing phone. An anonymous blackmailer. Dirty secrets that won't stay buried. And the blame is being cleverly pointed right at Willow. The only good thing? The gorgeous Seth Pentecost. He's got his own agenda but it looks like he's going to help Willow out. Could solving this death be what it takes to finally bring him into her life?

My Review: 
Every now and then a book comes along that I just can't put down. Even though I have to get up early in the morning, and have class, and assignments, and deadlines I just can't stop reading. Dead, Actually was a wish-I-could-put-it-down-but-maybe-I'll-just-read-one-more-page kind of book. 

Set on the Gold Coast of Australia, an area renowned for mansions on the beach and amusement parks, Dead, Actually is a glitzy and glamourous read with a paranormal twist. The story is told from the point of view of Willow, daughter of ex druggie rock-star parents, best friend of social justice teen blogger Macey and lusting after her bestie's older brother, Seth. Despite being born into the lives of the rich and famous Willow is a classified D-lister who finds herself in the midst of A-lister drama when their leader, JoJo, dies in a car accident and takes up residence in Willow's bedroom. 

Willow is a lovable character and not one bit the vapid mean girl that she could be given her circumstances. Her snarky attitude had me chuckling quite a bit though out the novel. One of the blurbs for Dead, Actually describes this novel as 'scathingly funny', and I couldn't agree more. I know I've said it before, and I will say it again. I love a good mystery in my YA fiction. Dead, Actually had it all, a bit of mystery/suspense, a bit of drama, a bit of romance, some laughs and a lot of fun.

I'm a sucker for these Gossip Girl-esque stories, and Dead Actually did not disappoint on that front as it is oozing with backstabbing, bitchiness, and blackmail. Oh and designer clothes of course! This is pure entertainment and a delightfully fun read that is most definitely so not last season! 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #3

Adorkable by Sarra Manning 
May 24th 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian's 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World. And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane's boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common - she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can't she stop talking to him? - Goodreads 

Quirky characters. Contemporary YA. Opposites attract. Sarra Manning. Cuteness overload!!

What are you waiting on? 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Released: November 2011
Summary: It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. - Goodreads

My Review: 
Remember being a teenager and being utterly confused about well...almost everything? Everything felt so definite; the choices you made sometimes felt like they could be the biggest decisions of your life. What classes to take, what Universities to apply to, what friends you kept and the ones you let drift apart. Now imagine if you had the ability to look into the future and see exactly how these choices effect your life. Pretty sweet right? However as Emma and Josh in The Future of Us discover knowing the future is problematic, as it changes their current choices and sends out a ripple effect that changes their future in a multitude of ways. 

The novel is told from the alternating view points of Emma and Josh, next door neighbors and best friends who have recently drifted apart due to Josh's unrequited feelings for Emma. This style of writing works well to move the story along quickly and highlights both characters journey of self discovery in the novel as the impact of knowing what their future will look like changes the way they behave in the present. Josh gains more confidence after discovering that his future self is married to the hottest girl in school, while Emma begins to question everything about her current life when she discovers that she appears to be deeply unhappy in the future. 

While the characters don't delve into much outside of their own insular issues of 'who will I marry?' and 'what job will I have in the future?', the beauty of The Future of Us is it's ability to open up readers minds to what their own future will look like in 15 years. Not only was it thought-provoking and engrossing read, The Future of Us was overflowing with references to the mid 90s. Older readers will love this nostalgic walk down memory lane, back when we had CD-ROMs, Disc-mans, and dialing up to the Internet went hand in hand with listening to that crackling and beeping sound. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

Follow Friday #4

Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Q: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

I think it would be amazing to see two of the most emotionally flawed, frustrating, strongest, and unforgettable female characters of all time battle it out. Which is why my pick is: 

   Scarlett O'Hara                                                          Catherine Earnshaw
      (Gone With the Wind)                                  Vs.                               (Wuthering Heights)

So who would you want to see duke it out? 

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Book Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter 
Released: April 2011
Summary: It's always been just Kate and her mom--and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won't live past the fall.Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she suceeds, she'll become Henry's future bride and a goddess. - Goodreads

My Review: 
I didn't really know what to expect going into this book. I knew that there was a lot of love surrounding it when it first came out a while ago because of the amazing cover, but I had no idea what it was about. So lo and behold I found myself reading another Persephone/Hades retelling; the 2nd one for this year (I previously read and reviewed Abandon ; Meg Cabot's take on Persephone/Hades).

The Goddess Test is a retelling of greek mythology with a modern day twist. The relationship between protagonist,  Kate, and her dying mother was one of the most endearing qualities of this book and one of my favourite elements of the story. Kate's actions in the novel are largely driven by her relationship with her mother and her strength in character stems from her perseverance to do right by those she loves. The novel has a dash of mystery and some twists and turns throughout it; some were predictable and others weren't so. The writing in the novel flows in a way that makes for an easy and enjoyable reading experience. Henry, the main love interest and ruler of the Underworld, is a delightfully brooding and aloof character and the relationship between Henry and Kate, although somewhat shallow, progresses nicely throughout the story. Overall this was a lighthearted and fun read, and I look forward to picking up the second novel in this trilogy Goddess Interrupted.

Waiting on Wednesday #2

Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar
April 26 2012 

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Summary: Imagine there is someone you like so much that just thinking about them leaves you desperate and reckless. You crave them in a way that's not rational, not right, and you're becoming somebody you don't recognise, and certainly don't respect, but you don't even care. And this person you like is unattainable. Except for one thing... He lives downstairs.

Abbie has three obsessions. Art. The ocean. And Kane.

But since Kane's been back, he's changed. There's a darkness shadowing him that only Abbie can see. And it wants her in its world.

A gothic story about the very dark things that feed the creative process. 

1. It's a new story from the author of Raw Blue (one of my absolute favourite YA reads of last year) 
2. It's set on the beach - and Eagar knows how to write about the ocean like no ones business. 
3. It's Aussie YA 
4. Gothic!!! 

What are you waiting for this week? 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th. Unless you live in the US, then it's probably still Thursday the 12th. So your safe....for now *insert evil cackling*. 

I've never been a superstitious person, however I should point out that I avoid walking under ladders, hate all cats in general and often say 'touch wood'. I also heartily believe that more crazies come out during a full moon. I have no idea why, it's just a fact. 

When I was 14 years old I loved watching scary movies. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Scream, Urban Legend; I thought they were great. Over the years my affinity towards scary movies has waned. To be brutally honest I've become a great big scaredy cat.  I couldn't even sit through The Woman in Black. I mean come one, its PG-13 and has Daniel Radcliffe in it! Despite my wimpy ways I've decided to spotlight some of my favourite spooky stories in honor of Black Friday.

So do you believe Friday the 13th brings bad luck? What's your favourite spooky story? Are there any YA horror stories that you would recommend?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #1

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
June 5th 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Summary: Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorced dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great. Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together. - Goodreads 

Why? I really loved The Duff and Shut Out and I'm sure this is gonna be just as good as Kody Keplinger's previous novels. 

What are you waiting for? 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Book Review: Struck by Rhonda Stapleton

Title: Struck: Stupid Cupid; Flirting with Disaster; Pucker Up
Author: Rhonda Stapleton 
Released: December 2011

Summary: Felicity Walker believes in true love. That’s why she applies for a gig at the matchmaking company Cupid’s Hollow. But when Felicity gets the job, she learns that she isn’t just a matchmaker...she’s a cupid! (There’s more than one of them, you know.) Armed with a hot pink, tricked-out PDA infused with the latest in cupid magic (love arrows shot through email), Felicity works to meet her quota of successful matches. But the path to love is not always a straight shot....Laugh-out-loud funny and irresistibly romantic, this delightful bind-up is ideal for fans of both romantic comedies and paranormal romance. - Goodreads

*Struck is a compilation of the three books in Rhonda Stapleton's Stupid Cupid series. I am only reviewing the first book in the series, Stupid Cupid. *

My Review: I wanted this book to be great. I loved the idea of a teenage cupid who uses a hot pink PDA to make love matches. While the idea was good, the execution was, for me, lacking. Felicity was a likable main character, she's a good friend to her besties Maya and Andy and handles her job as a teenage cupid without too many mishaps despite not following the Cupid rule book. However, none of the characters in the book had much depth to them and I had a hard time connecting with characters in the book. This is a YA book that is on the "younger" spectrum of things, which may have been why I wasn't compelled to read the other two books in the series. I would have loved for the cupid element to be more fleshed out and I would have liked to have learned more about Felicity's employer Janet who ran the cupid agency. There were a few funny moments, but if you want depth this book isn't for you. Overall this is a light, fluffy read that could have benefited from more detail and depth in the characters and story line

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Bookish Things #2

Cute things around the interwebs that I wish were mine...

1. Romeo & Julienne Cutting Board from lfla - I imagine chopping carrots and potatoes wouldn't be such a chore when using this. 2. Bookopoly from lfla- I've never really enjoyed playing Monopoly but I would give this version a try  3. Library Card Note Pad found on Svpply - I have some of these library cards but not bound into a notepad. 4. CB In The Library Perfume found on Svpply - I really want to know what this smells like. 5. Wuthering Heights T-Shirt from lfla  - Display your love for books across your chest. 6. Kate Spade Library Books Mug found on Svpply - I've recently started collecting mugs from my travels overseas. I think this mug would look good next to my NYPL and Library of Congress mugs. 

Follow Friday #3

I have no idea what happened to March. It just disappeared. Poof. Gone. Goodbye March, hello to April and on to another Follow Friday question.

Q: Have you ever bought a book BECAUSE of a bad review? 

No. Unless the things that the reviewer dislikes in the book are things that I like. I like to read a few different reviews of a book before purchasing it as it just goes to show that everyone's tastes are different. But if the reviews were overwhelmingly bad, and there seemed to be no redeeming qualities at all in the book then I would definitely not buy it.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green, David Levithan

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson 
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Released: April 2010

Summary: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical. Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans. - Goodreads

My Review: We all know that being a teenager can suck. There are probably a hundred reasons why it sucks to be a teenager but here’s just one: Unless you are home schooled or live in a tribal community on the fringes of society you have to go to high school. Navigating the shark-infested waters of high school is no easy task, and for Will Grayson the only way he knows how to survive is by living by his motto, “1) Don’t care too much and 2) Shut up”. Another Will Grayson survives high school by wearing black and imagining ways he and the people around him could die. In this tale of two Will Grayson’s – one dorky and awkward with a gay best friend ironically named Tiny, and the other poor, suffering from depression and in love with Isaac, a guy that he met online – the reader is taken in to the inner psyche of the teenage boy (a very scary place, indeed!). The story unfolds with alternating chapters from the point of view of the two distinct Will Grayson’s and their voices couldn’t be any more different. John Green’s Will Grayson is everything you expect from a John Green male protagonist: nerdy, self conscious, tangled up in knots over an unattainable girl, and with an amazing and unusual best friend. David Levithan’s will grayson is differentiated by his use of short sentences and small caps, his morose thoughts, and is the more compelling of the two Will Grayson’s. However the real show stopper of the story is the larger than life secondary character Tiny Cooper. Tiny is the force that connects these two divergent stories of Will Grayson and enables the transformation and coming of age that occurs in both Wills’. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is sometimes laughing out loud funny, sometimes heart wrenchingly sad and sometimes outrageously over the top (just like Tiny). It is about all the things that encompass what being a teenager is all about: friendship, heartbreak, love, fitting in, figuring out who you are, and who you want to be.

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