Saturday, September 28, 2013

24

Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to chat about the books we bought, borrowed, received during the month.

Book Haul

(In order)

Won
All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry (Thanks Kat Kennedy for the ARC from Cuddlebuggery's LBBA project!)
Every Breath by Ellie Marney (Thanks Melanie from YA Midnight Reads and Bloomsbury Sydney for the giveaway!)

Gifted
Snake Bite by Christie Thompson (Thanks Joy from thoughtsbyi. for the uncorrected proof copy!)

Bought
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (I really enjoyed this one, review to come... eventually)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Haven't read Throne of Glass yet however I've heard so many good things about it)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (For some reason the second copy was missing from my HP collection so luckily I got this hardback version for only $5)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews for this one, not sure if the writing is to my taste however it was $5 so I might as well try it)
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (Impulse buy, never read her books before so we'll see how it goes. Another book from the $5 sale)
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (Words cannot describe how much I adore her books! I'm so glad that I now have the hardcover version with all the beautiful illustrations, best $18.40 spent ever)

Friday, September 20, 2013

6

Review: Inhuman by Kat Falls

Release Date: 24/09/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Description from Goodreads:
In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy.

Inhuman by Kat Falls is a fast paced, action packed novel that will thrill many readers to come. I went into this book without any expectations at all however I was pleasantly surprised in the end.

One of novel’s strongest points is its premise. From the very beginning, it immediately grabbed my attention and it certainly did not disappoint as the story progressed. The effects of mutation from the fictional, man-made virus were both chilling and fascinating to read about. In a way, the infected victims remind me of zombies as they can become psychotic and extremely aggressive under the virus’s influence. Certain individual aspects of the story may seem quite derivative and similar to other works in the post-apocalyptic/science fiction genre however in this case, the whole book was definitely worth more than the sum of its parts. Fall’s world-building was impeccable and credible as I could not find any loopholes or faults in its set up. Everything basically made sense, with all the intricate details falling nicely into their place. If a catastrophic plague hits the world one day with the victims exhibiting animal-like symptoms, it would not be too far from this story.

The rest of this review can be read over at Book Brobe.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

20

Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé

Release Date: 02/04/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Bantam
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 2.0 out of 5 stars
The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé
Description from Goodreads:
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

I really wished that I enjoyed The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé. The premise was intriguing and from the blurb, it seemed like a decent, quick YA read. With an alluring blend of historical fiction, fantasy and romance, it's rare that such combination can do any wrong. Unfortunately this was not the case here. Instead, I was left feeling underwhelmed and indifferent at the end, wondering why it was a good idea to drudge through this book. It's even more difficult to write a review about a book that you have no strong feelings for so there is nothing really going for me at the moment.

One of the things that I liked about this book was its beautiful setting. The descriptions of early 20th century London were lush and vivid which painted lovely images in my head. With a WWI backdrop, Abé was successful in creating an authentic historical feel to the story despite its fantasy filled plot. Furthermore I liked the eerie and foreboding atmosphere that was not only present on the streets of London, but also within the boarding school Iverson. I'm a huge sucker for gothic settings so Abé easily won me over with the expansive school grounds, quaint cottages in the middle of the woods, old chapels, aristocratic manors and secret passages in the school castle. The setting can be loosely compared to Harry Potter however that is the only remotely common link between them. I have not read Abe’s previous adult series that is set in the same world however I could recognise the subtle details and intricacies in the world-building that may be more apparent if you are familiar with her other books.

Abé’s prose is also very beautiful and poetic. It is clear that she is skilled writer as she does have a lovely way with words that makes every sentence such a pleasure to read. Unfortunately I felt that this book was all style but no substance. Despite its intriguing setting and atmosphere, it had a number of major flaws that significantly impacted upon my reading experience. The book started off on a strong foot with an intriguing and ominous prologue that immediately drew me in. Yet even an appealing premise and writing style could not hide the dull plot and characters. I felt utterly bored throughout reading this book and it was a struggle to finish it. There were too many YA tropes for my liking (those who dislike love triangles and insta-love between characters would do well to avoid this book) and the events were too predictable. I was never a fan of alternating POVs as they often detract the mystery and suspense from the story when poorly done. This was certainly the case with this book as the thoughts of the main characters were simply not engaging enough to make me want to be in their shoes.

I could not connect to any of the characters. Lora’s voice and personality did nothing for me and I was even less impressed with Jesse and Armand (the latter’s nickname is “Mandy” which personally sounds ridiculous in my head, especially when it replaced his proper name on most part during his POV). Also, does every YA novel that is set in a boarding school NEED to have so much drama, bickering, jealousy, gossip and backstabbing between girls who have to act so bitchy? (I’m looking at you Shadow and Bone). Although I understand the school is catered for the extremely rich and wealthy however I wished that it was been written in a less clichéd manner that doesn’t make me want to excessively roll my eyes. The plot was uninteresting and the pacing leaves a lot to be desired as you can skip about 50 pages and still not miss anything substantial. Despite the decent writing and world-building, the tension and conflict of the novel failed to engage me in any way. I did not feel that there was enough urgency or drive in the story to keep me interested. The climax was laughable and I could not sympathise with the characters' stakes no matter how dramatic it were.

Overall, this was an underwhelming, lacklustre novel that did not stand out to me at all. After being drawn to the blurb, this book was unfortunately not for me. I enjoyed Abé’s writing style so I may try her other books in the future in hope their storylines and characters are better. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a light, quick YA fantasy read and are going in with low expectations, otherwise there’s a chance that you’ll be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

19

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Release Date: 03/09/13
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Buy the Book: Amazon | The Book Depository
My Rating: 2.0 out of 5 stars
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Description from Goodreads:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I feel quite conflicted about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I really wanted to like this book and it could have easily been 3.5+ stars had another person read this instead. On one hand, the premise was intriguing however its execution left a lot to be desired. Furthermore the things that bothered me are very subjective and will most likely not affect other readers at all. It’s not exactly a bad story and I still think that this book is worth checking especially if you are a fan of Holly Black’s previous works. I was originally in the mood for vampires and went in with high expectations. Needless to say, I was ultimately left disappointed.

The rest of this review can be read over at Book Brobe.


An electronic advance reading copy was provided by the publisher. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

34

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking the Shelves
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews - it's a way for us to chat about the books we bought, borrowed, received during the month.

Book Haul

Bought
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
(The whole series was just $27.35AUD which was too good of an offer to pass up!)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (I couldn't wait for the release of the US paperback version which would match my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so I settled for the new UK one in B format instead...)

Gifted (books I'd gotten for my 18th birthday)
Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near (This lovely gothic book was on my radar for quite a while and it definitely sounds like something I would enjoy. Plus it's written by an Aussie author!)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Seems like the most popular JG book out there after The Fault in Our Stars, plus it won the Printz Award so I'm sure it'll be a great read)

Won
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Thank you to Yolanda Sfetsos and Bloombury Sydney for the giveaway! I remember reading the original online version on Fictionpress 5 years ago so I look forward to reading final product.)

Other
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (I received a free copy from the publisher at the Sydney launch event and it has quite a lot of hype around it with its 7 book deal, J.K. Rowling comparisons and the movie rights already optioned. Definitely can't wait to read this one)

Ebooks (some awesome self-published NA gems here!)

Unteachable by Leah RaederSpeak Easy by Melanie Harlow

Unteachable by Leah Raeder (Just recently finished it and I loved it, highly recommended for those who have been disappointed with many current NA books out there)
Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow (I was hooked from the chapter sampler and so far it sounds like a well written, high quality NA historical fic)
 

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