27 April 2012

Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Published: 22nd April 2008
Source: Own Copy

"Ruby, where is your mother?" Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she
hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give? - From Goodreads

With my love of contemporary fiction growing quickly, I now have another author to add to my list with Sarah Dessen. This was the first Sarah Dessen book I have read and I can assure you that it will not be the last!! I had heard many good things about her so I decided to randomly pick up one of her books to read and this was the one I set my hands upon. I knew what to expect from contemporary fiction, what I was not expecting was how this book would grip me and not let me go. I think if you could fall in love with a book, I would be on my way as I could not put this down.

Ruby has been living on her own for a while now. She has been trying to make ends meet and keep herself out of trouble at school so that no one will find out that her mother left a few months ago. After the authorities find out she is on her own she is placed in her sisters custody, the only problem is that Ruby has not seen her sister Cora in ten years. Ruby has no idea where she fits into Cora's life and would rather set off on her own again than stay and find out.

Ruby was a great character. Right from the start of the book I empathised with her and wanted her to find a safe home to live in with people who loved her. I was solidly on her side right from the start, however this did not stop me from wanting to grab ruby and shake her to try and stop her from making some really stupid mistakes. Even though she does really stupid stuff, you can see through this whole book how much Ruby wants to keep her life together and I found myself rooting for her the whole way through.

The other characters in this book are also great and there was no one in the story that made me want to punch them. Even Ruby's control freak older sister Cora is well meaning, even if some of her guilt and remorse is misdirected. In contrast, Nate the boy next door seems like he leads a charmed life and it seems like he has everything, but he is far more complex and as his story unravels we learn that Nate is just as tortured as Ruby is.

This book was not too deep or dreary and the story kept going at a good pace. I never felt like there were any parts that I was struggling to get through, the plot just kept pulling me along. There were nice touches throughout this book and I really liked that all the characters were flawed in some way, it made them all very likeable. This was a good story with an engaging character who does stupid things.

This was a great book, I don't think it was ground breaking in any way, but I was engaged for the whole book and I admit that I got a bit teary on occasion. I think that I will be reading more Sarah Dressen books whenever I am in need of some really good contemporary fiction. Is there a Team Sarah Dressen I can join?

Follow Friday 9

Welcome to another Follow My Book Blog Friday. Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is: Have you had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then "broke up" with later on in either the series or a stand-alone book? Tell us about him or her.

The character that immediately springs to mind is Gale from the Hunger Games. At the start of the series I liked him but by the end I did not want his name mentioned again, but that's an easy one! Another character that slowly I really started to dislike was Lissa in the Vampire Academy series. I started to really dislike her as a character around book 4 and it just got worse from there! I am hoping this is one character that does not make a reappearance in the Bloodlines series!!

25 April 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (34) - Sweet Shadows

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're pining after.

Title: Sweet Shadows
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Published: 4th Sept 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Medusa Girls #2

Three teenage descendants of Medusa, now united, must claim their heritage to fight the monsters escaped from the abyss.
Gretchen may have known she was a descendant of Medusa long before her sisters--after all, she's spent her life fighting the monsters that escape the abyss--but that doesn't mean it will be easy to teach the other girls the ropes.
Greer has pressing social commitments on her plate and precious little time to train in her newfound powers. But that wretched second sight won't leave her alone, and her fabled heritage seems to be creeping into her fashionable life.
Grace has worries closer to home--like why her brother, Thane, has disappeared. He's hiding something. Could it possibly be related to the secret heritage the triplets share? - From Goodreads

I loved the first book in this series and thought it was the prefect set up to the series. I can't wait to see what is going to happen next.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

24 April 2012

Review: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Title: Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe
Author: Shelley Coriell
Published: 1st May 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: eARC thanks to NetGalley and publisher

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home. - From Goodreads

The cover of this book drew me in immediately. As I have said before I loved Pump Up the Volume when I was younger and always thought I might be quite good at hosting a radio talk show as I never stop talking!! Well the cover of this book made me think that it might relight my interest in broadcast radio (even if it did not seem that this was an underground radio show!).

After her friends turn their back on her, for something Chloe does not even know she has done, Chloe decides to throw herself into her independent study programme. Unfortunately the school counsellor does not like her topic of choice and instead signs her up to do promotions for the school's failing radio station. After some rocky starts Chloe finds her place in the group of "outsiders".

Chloe is a flake. She is one of those people that stabs you in the back, but without any idea that that's what she is doing, in fact she probably thinks she is helping. I did find her a little annoying and thought that her life would be so much easier if she was a little more humble. Saying this I do remember taking my friends for granted too at this age. I'm not saying that I disliked the character of Chloe, she was so upbeat it is hard not to like her and she also has a passion for vintage shoes, this scores major points in my book. All in all i did quite like Chloe, she made a good, but flawed, protagonist.

This story starts to play out exactly as you would expect from the cover, but as you delve a little deeper some of the threads running through the story start to get a little more gritty. We meet characters who are pregnant teens, children trying to deal with parental divorce and even someone trying to deal with a parent who is hooked on Meth. I thought these story lines added to the overall feel of the book, however they were glossed over slightly and I wanted them to be a little more gritty and real. I think if you are going to add in plot points like these you really have to commit to them.

I really liked this book. I thought the story could have been worked on a little more and felt it skimmed over some parts where I wanted more detail. I wanted to know more about the periods where Chloe felt alone after her friends, and most of the school, shunned her. To me she never really felt lonely or alone. All in all, this was a very entertaining and enjoyable read.

21 April 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published: 24th April 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Source: eARC thanks to NetGalley and publisher

In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for. - From Goodreads

I had heard very little about this book and had blown it off as "just another vampire story". The reason I decided to read the book was Julie Kagawa. I have not read the Iron Fey series, it is one of those series I keep meaning to read, but I have heard so many good things about them. So with this series under her belt, I was hoping that Julie Kagawa would bring something different to the genre.

Allie lives in a future where society as we know it has totally broken down. A plague known as Red Lung has killed a massive number of humans, and in the search for a cure rabids were born. Now humans live in Vampire Cities protected from the rabids in walled cities, but there is a cost. Registered humans get food, but are kept as pets and willing blood donors. Allie is unregistered and this means that every day for her has been about surviving. Her whole world is turned on it's head when she is turned into a vampire and sent out to fend for herself.

I like Allie, she is quite a closed off character and at the start of the story when she was scavenging for survival I found her a little difficult to relate to. I began to warm to her, the internal struggles she had while discovering herself as a vampire were well written and made me like her even more. There are a number of other characters in the book that appear and then disappear. I liked Zeke, he made a great counterpart to Allie. All of the characters she encounters on her journey, from a human surviving in New Covington and on to a Vampire searching for Eden, were great. Don't get too attached to anyone though, this is an apocalyptic vampire book after all! 

We are all quite familiar by this point and some of them were beginning to feel really familiar. However the pairing of a broken society run, in the most part, by vampires made an interesting read. The story is a journey and there were a couple of times when the pace felt a little slow, but I always wanted to know what was coming next. The book is split into parts and these felt like they were well defined sections and I really enjoyed the change in tone or feeling that a new section brought.

I really enjoyed this book. The only thing I had a problem with was the cover. From the start we are told that Allie is a short Asian girl, but this does not fit with the girl on the cover. Details like this are a little annoying, how hard would it have been to find a model that looked like the description of Allie? Putting this aside, I will be reading the next book in the series, I need to know where Allie will be going from there!

18 April 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (33) - The Waiting Sky

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're pining after.

Title: The Waiting Sky
Author: Lara Zielin
Published: 2nd Aug 2012
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Seventeen-year-old Jane can’t quite face her mother’s alcoholism even though it sucks to spend all her time and energy keeping them afloat—making sure her mom gets to work, that the bills are paid when there’s money to pay them, and that no one knows her mom is so messed up. But when Jane’s mom drives drunk almost killing both them and Jane’s best friend, Jane can no longer deny her mom is spiraling out of control. Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left years ago to go to college. A summer away with him and his tornado chasing buddies may just provide the time and space she needs to figure out whether her life still includes her mother. - From Goodreads

This sounds great, a little bit of heartbreak, and some action thrown in there too. Also can we sing out for how amazing the cover looks, I just love that tornado in a jar. I can't wait to see how this story plays out.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know in the comments.

16 April 2012

The Immortal Rules

The Immortal Rules is the first in a new series from Julie Kagawa, author of the Iron Fey series. It follows the path of Allie in a time where the world is over run by Vampires and Rabids, but more on that in my review post later.

The Immortal rules is due for release on April 24th and as of today the website bloodofeden.com and the trailer are live. Here is a quick peek at the trailer to get you excited...

If you go to the Blood Of Eden website you will also see how you can access additional exclusive content by counting the number of Eden symbols you see in the trailer.

So go and visit the website and let me know what you think, are you excited for the release of this book?

I am so close to finishing and can't wait to share my thoughts with you!!

15 April 2012

In My Mailbox (23)

Welcome to this weeks in my mailbox where we discuss all the new books we acquired through the week. This weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren.

I have had a very light month. Go me for saving money!! I have a few plays I have been given to read for potential assistant directing opportunities so I have been trying to keep my reading load light. I did however pick up an exciting eARC for review. So here are the plays and the NetGalley -

For Review:

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) - Julie Kagawa Thanks to NetGalley and publisher

Plays for Decisions

What was in your mailbox this week?

12 April 2012

Review: Spellcaster by Cara Lynn Shultz

Title: Spellcaster
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Published: 27th March 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Spellbound #2
Source: eACR thanks to NetGalley and publisher

Finding your eternal soulmate - easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil - not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although...it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close....

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in ├╝ber-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own. - From Goodreads

After finishing Spellbound I was not jumping at the chance to read the next book in the series. In my head Emma and Brendan had faced the obstacles in the way of their relationship and the story was finished. So why was there another book? I could see it possibly focusing on another character, alas no, Emma and Brendan have another issue to overcome.

Emma and Brendan have faced down a centuries old curse which was destined to kill Emma once they couple were together. Not only this, but Emma has discovered that she is a born witch. Now with Emma and Brendan trying to figure out their relationship someone is gunning for their blood, literally. True love is the strongest type of magic and when used in a spell can grant the witch immense power. Emma and Angelique must figure out who is out to get her and how to stop them.

I really liked both Emma and Brendan in the last book, but in this book there were a few things that really niggled me! Emma felt a little less of the witty, spirited book I like in the first novel. I am unsure if this is a reflection of the super-possessive Brendan or if her character has run out of steam a little. Where did the girl go who may not have always stood up for herself but had some really funny comebacks in her head after the fact.I suspect it is the influence of Brendan. Brendan was cool in the last book, but in this book there are some serious boundary issues that I felt he crossed. I like a manly man, but I felt that Brendan smothered her and treated her like a child. Bad Brendan!

With all of my thoughts on those two annoying me every couple of paragraphs, I thought that this book had a pretty entertaining plot. If you can get past the nonsense about it being another story in this magical book (why have neither of them just sat down and read it if it is so important) which was one of Emma's past lives (!!!!) then there is an good supernatural mystery waiting for you.

I found this book a bit of a challenge to get through, although that could be due to the fact that I never felt like another book was needed in this story. I am hoping that this is the end and that in my head everyone can live happily ever after.

11 April 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (32) - Alice in Zombieland

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're pining after.

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Gena Showalter
Published: 25th Sept 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: White Rabbit Chronicles #1

She won’t resist until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish. - From Goodreads

My oh my, I go away for a few weeks to produce a play and the book bloggers all go and get a crush without me!! In catching up on what various bloggers have been talking about (and I follow loads of them) and over the past week this book has been everywhere. Doing a little bit of research on my own and I have jumped on to the bandwagon, I think this looks great!

They may be cropping up in a number of YA books at the moment, but I love stories revolving around zombies, they scare the living daylights out of me and it's amazing!!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

04 April 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (31) - Touching The Surface

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're pining after.

Title: Touching the Surface
Author: Kimberly Sabatini
Published: 30th Oct 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Life altering mistakes are meant to alter lives…

When Elliot dies for the third time, she knows this is her last shot. There are no fourth-timers in this afterlife, so one more chance is all she has to get things right. But before she can move on to her next life, Elliot will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed… and people she’s killed.

As she pieces together the mistakes of her past, Elliot must earn the forgiveness of her best friend and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever. - From Goodreads

I think this sounds like there are so many possible places for the story to go that it will be a compelling read. Also how stunning is that cover!! I can't wait to pick up this book and give it a read.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

03 April 2012

Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Title: Goddess Interrupted
Author: Aimee Carter
Published: 27th March 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Series: Goddess Test #2
Source: eARC, thanks to NetGalley and HarlequinTeen

Kate Winters has won immortality.

But if she wants a life in the Underworld with Henry, she’ll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry’s first wife, Persephone. - From Goodreads

I was so excited to read this book as the first book had really taken me by surprise. I didn't think I was going to like the Goddess Test, but it became clear to me within a couple of pages that I was going to love it! So after enjoying the first book so much I was excited to read the second. I was a little worried that it would fall into the usual pitfall of the second book not living up to the expectations set by a great first book. I should not have worried!!

After marrying Henry, Kate left for a summer vacation, with James, before she returns to live in the underworld with Henry for the winter. Within a couple of days of being in the underworld, all of the Gods are attacked by the only thing strong enough to kill them, a titan. Calliope is working with the titan to exact her revenge on the Gods and Goddesses that agreed to her punishment for trying to kill Kate. After Henry and some of the other Gods are kidnapped, Kate has to go and ask for help from Persephone, the woman she is trying to live up to.

Kate has won the Goddess test and is now Henry's wife. She now lives with him in the underworld for at least 6 months a year, but she is still incredibly insecure. What bugged me about Kate in this book was how insecure about her relationship with Henry he was. she never stops to see anything from his point of view and try to understand how it looks to him. She is married for 5 minutes and then runs off to Greece with James, and fails to see how this might look to Henry. I think most of her angst in this book could have been solved by a little bit of reflection on her part and it may have stopped her being quite so paranoid about Persephone. On the other hand I loved how determined she was to help and thought that some of her enthusiasm was endearing!

I also liked learning more about the other Gods and seeing how they prepared themselves for battle. I thought that as usual this had a good story line and kept me wanting to know what was coming next. The world created for the underworld was well thought out and I could imagine it easily and picture myself walking there with Kate and Persephone.

I found that I had finished the book faster than I thought I would and I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to see what comes next and I hope that Kate finds her feet in her relationship with Henry and stops being so paranoid all the time.