Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 Review of the Year


Last year I split this into three posts. This year, I'm just doing one big long one, so strap yourself in, make sure you have the drink of your choice to hand, and check out my favourite books from the year. They weren't all published this year, but of the 132 books I read this year, these were the ones that stuck with me.

Where I've reviewed the title the link takes you to my review (here or on Reading Lark), otherwise they to go Goodreads.

Happy reading, and I'd love to hear about your favourites this year!

January:



Cooper Bartholemew is Dead (click for full review) was the first book I read this year and I loved it. It broke my heart. Even though you know from the beginning that Cooper dies, I spent the whole book willing something to change and it not to be true. 












I read both the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series back to back in January. It was my first experience with both, and while I enjoyed Vampire Academy, I absolutely loved Sydney's story and these remain some of my favourite reads this year.




Friday, 18 December 2015

Bureau of Time by Brett Michael Orr - Cover Reveal and Release Day

The very lovely Brett Michael Orr's debut novel, The Bureau of Time, is now available on Amazon. Brett Michael is a young Australian author and blogger and an active member of the #LoveOzYA community, and I'm very excited to be able to share this title with you. I love the sound of this book, and can't wait to read it.

Cover - 


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

#BTCYA or More Books I Need to Read.


Last night the very lovely Amanda and Tim from HarperCollins YA came to Melbourne to talk about some of their favourite books from 2015, and to introduce us to some upcoming titles which will soon become favourites.

We arrived to find fabulous swag bags on our seats with these lovely goodies inside:




We were also given chocolates which may or may not have come from the hotel mini-bar.

Blog Tour - The Next Together - Guest Post

The Next Together is the story of two characters who meet and fall in love through many different lifetimes. You can see my review over on Reading Lark. I really enjoyed it and am excited to be part of the blog tour celebrating its release. The other stops on the tour are listed on the bottom of this post. Be sure to check them out!

The Next Together is a bit sci-fi and a bit romance. Lauren's characters appear in different historical time periods and it's obvious that she has a love of history, so I thought it would be fun to find out about her favourite historical romances.



The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller




This is a retelling of the Illiad set in Ancient Greece and exploring the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Interwoven with gods, goddesses and magic, at its core this is a romance of truly epic proportions. If you know the mythology, you know to brace yourself for tears and heartbreak.






Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bookish Halloween Costume

As the finale of Team Teal's Halloween Trick or Treat we all decided to create our own bookish halloween costumes. It's the morning after here in Australia, but we had a pretty busy day yesterday so I didn't find time to post, but the good thing about being one of the first places on earth to reach the new day is that it's still Halloween somewhere.

So because I love a kickass heroine, and I love the opportunity to frock up, I've gone for Tessa Gray, from The Infernal Devices as she might have looked wandering around London, perhaps heading for Blackfriars.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Illuminae - Book launch report and review

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Melbourne launch of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff at Dymocks. This book has received a lot of hype over the past months, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

You may know Amie as co-author of the Starbound trilogy, and Jay is known for The Lotus War trilogy. Together they are writing The Illuminae Files, and Illuminae is, funnily enough, the first installment.

So, back to Friday night. Amie and Jay thanked everyone who has supported them through this book, and their friends and family for letting them kill them all off in the book. Seriously, thousands of people die in this book, and many of them are named individually. It was fun to watch said friends go through the book looking for their names among the lists of the dead.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Trick or Treat Blog Hop and Giveaway - Ultimate Halloween Dinner Party



A little while ago, Nori at ReadWriteLove28 came up with the idea of the Book Blogger Creativity Project. Working in teams, bloggers came up with some new post ideas and we in Team Teal decided on a Halloween theme.



The list of blogs and posts is at the bottom, along with the giveaway (US readers only) which is being hosted by Rachel at A Perfection Called Books.

Monday, 26 October 2015

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date of Publication: August 20th 2013
Source: Review copy courtesy of publisher

Synopsis - 

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Review - 

This tale is set in a future version of London where social norms pretty much froze in the Victorian era. Jack the Ripper was identified and his transgressions blamed on clairvoyance. From that point on, Voyants, as they are known, became pariahs and face execution if discovered. An underground network of voyants has grown in London, and the various factions maintain control of designated areas. Paige highly ranked in her area, and prized by her employer, so when she's discovered and kidnapped, she's sure he'll look for her.

Taken to Oxford with a group of other voyants she discovers that everything she knew about her world was wrong. The Rephaite are a non-human race with considerable powers, and they need voyants. Paige does not adjust well to her captivity, or her new status as a slave to the Rephaite. She must negotiate both voyant and Rephaite politics if she is to escape with her life.

Warden, the Rephaite Paige is assigned to, treats her differently to how the other prisoners are treated, but she's reluctant to trust him. He is, after all, the enemy. But trusting him might be her only hope.

The Bone Season is a well written, fast paced story which holds the reader's interest throughout. I really enjoyed the world building and was fascinated by the different types of voyants and their particular skill sets.

When I finished, I couldn't wait to pick up The Mime Season (review coming soon!).





Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review Roundup: The Masked Truth, What We Left Behind, The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, Here We Lie, Cloudwish, Queen of Shadows

I also post reviews on Reading Lark, where I am the resident Australian reviewer. Sometimes I share them here, sometimes I don't, but since I've been light on reviews on here lately, here are some of my recent posts over there.




The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong.


Suspension of disbelief is rewarded in this YA crime thriller. Potentially unreliable narrators and an exploration of the stigma attached to mental illness add to this thrill ride of a book.


You can read the full review here.














What We Left Behind by Robin Talley.


Moving onto college and maintaining a long distance relationship is hard enough, but when you don't fit into society's gender norms and you're not quite sure what that means for yourself or your partner, even the strongest relationship can fail.

See the full review here.












The Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil.


For some people the end of school can feel like the end of the world. And for some, it just might be the actual end of the world. A beautiful portrait of a small country town and the people who live there.

Find my review here.









Here We Lie by Sophie MacKenzie.



A compelling mystery that asks how well we really know the people we love.

See the full review here.












Cloudwish by Fiona Wood.


When a girl who never gets what she wants finally does, how can it be anything other than magic? A wonderful, romantic coming of age story with just a dash of magic. And it's set in Melbourne.

My glowing review is here.















Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas.


Celaena Sardothien has survived being a slave in the mines of Endovier, training with the assassins of the Red Desert, the loss of her family, her lover and her best friend. She has faced a legendary Fae queen and won the loyalty of the most powerful Fae warrior alive. Now she is returning to Ardalan to reclaim her birthright, bring down the evil king, save her friends and free her kingdom.

This is one of my favourite reads of the year. See my review here.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Laptop woes

So my laptop came back from repair, but things still aren't working the way they should so it's going back today.

Unfortunately it's not being fixed by Sam Winchester, but here's something to look at while waiting for some more reviews.



You're welcome :)

I'm attempting NaNoWriMo again this year, so hopefully it will all be in working order by then. If you are participating as well and want to add me as a buddy, contact me on twitter and I'll give you the details.

In the meantime, you can check out the sidebar for my latest reads and ratings on Goodreads, and proper reviews will return soon.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Mini Review - The Enchanted Island by Ellie O'Neill


  


I normally like to do full reviews of the books I read, especially those I get from publishers, but my laptop has been sent off for repair to stop me doing something like this 

and I'm working on something only slightly more recent than this
so I think a little break in tradition is in order.





 The Enchanted Island by Ellie O'Neill


Published by Simon & Schuster on November 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Maeve O'Brien has got herself into some trouble. She's run out of credit on her cards and her best friend and room mate didn't appreciate it when she used her emergency card for a spot of botox and subsequently kicked her out. So when her boss offers her a job on a small, remote island, she jumps at the chance to get away. What she finds is a community shrouded in a mystery, where miracles happen at a cost. The locals aren't going to let anything change their island, and Maeve may get more than she's bargained for.

It took me quite a while to warm up to Maeve. Selfish and completely self absorbed, I just wasn't that interested in what would happen to her. Eventually it was the island itself that drew me in, and I wanted to find out its secret. The romance was well done, but because I didn't really care about Maeve, I wasn't that interested in whether she found her HEA.

If you don't mind an unlikeable protagonist, or like to see someone redeem themselves, then this might be more your cup of tea than it was mine.





Saturday, 12 September 2015

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Title: Fool's Quest (Fitz and the Fool book 2)
Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Date of Publication: August 13th 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Find links to my reviews of Robin's previous books here.

Synopsis

After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivalry Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose…


Review

This will contain spoilers for Fool's Assassin, so avoid if you haven't read it yet.

I would like to start by thanking the very lovely person at Harper Voyager who, when I sent a cheeky email saying, "I'd really like a copy of Fool's Quest," actually sent me one. I am fortunate enough to get quite a few review copies, but this was one I really didn't expect and it's a great privilege to have been entrusted with a copy just so I can give my opinion to you guys.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Review and Author Guest Post - Rachael Craw - Stray Blog Tour




Title: Stray
Author: Rachael Craw
Publisher: Walker Books
Date of Publication: 1st September 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


I am so, so happy to be part of the Stray blog tour. Stray is the second book in the Spark Trilogy by Rachael Craw, a sci-fi series about genetically modified humans who are Shields, the ultimate body guards. The downside of this modification is that it also produces Strays, who are the ultimate killers.

Today, as well as my review, I have a guest post from Rachael which features lots of fabulous gifs, which makes a nice change for this blog!

At the end of the post you'll find the links to the other fabulous stops on the tour. There are two or three a day, so it's as fast paced as the book! Please check them out.

If you haven't yet read Spark, the first book in the trilogy, you can find my review here. This review may contain spoilers for Spark, so proceed with caution!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Night Owls

Title: Night Owls
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Aus
Published: August 13th 2015
Source: Review copy via the publisher and NetGalley

Synopsis



Meeting Jack on the Owl - San Francisco's night bus - turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. 

On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is. But Jack is hiding much more - and can she uncover the truth that leaves him so wounded? 

A unique and profoundly moving novel, Night Owls will linger in your memory long after the final page.


Review

I loved this and read it in a day.

Bex and Jack meet on the night bus, a place neither of them should be, and there's an instant spark.

Bex is an artist, interested in anatomical drawing. Jack is also an artist, although some would call him a vandal. He's responsible for the golden words appearing in random places across the city.

The two circle around each other for a while, before giving into their mutual attraction, but there's always the chance that Jack will be caught and jailed for felony destruction of property, and Bex is keeping her own secrets.

The romance develops at a realistic pace, and it's sweet and lovely and much healthier than many relationships depicted in YA novels. There's one particularly frank discussion about sex which I thought was absolutely wonderful. Jack makes a comment along the lines of "If we can't talk about it, how can we do it?" Sexuality in general is depicted in such a positive and natural way in the story. I was really impressed.

The book also portrays mental illness in an accurate and responsible way without resorting to stereotypes.

Likable characters, a lovely romance and healthy relationships aren't always staples in YA contemporaries, so this makes Night Owls stand out all the more.





Thursday, 20 August 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Title: If You Only Knew
Author: Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Harlequin Australia - MIRA
Date of Publication: September 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.

Synopsis

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbour, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

 Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory — and their relationship — and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood. Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present, and find a way to get what they want most of all.


Review

Jenny moves into a lovely rented property and is instantly attracted to the handsome, but cranky, super Leo. The attraction is mutual, but Leo warns her he is for recreational purposes only - no getting attached. Inevitably, Jenny does get attached, but there's a very real reason for Leo's warning. At the same time she's trying to establish her bespoke bridal wear business in this new location, and deal with the fact that her ex husband, who didn't want children, is now having a baby with his new wife. And they both want to be her best friend.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Author Q&A - Sophie Ranald - You Can't Fall in Love With Your Ex (Can You?)

I've been lucky enough to have been an acquaintance of Sophie Ranald for the last 10 or so years. She's an incredibly clever and witty person, and that is reflected in her writing. She also has a very cute cat named Purrs.

I have reviewed her books in the past, and I'm very pleased to host this Q&A with Sophie to celebrate the release of her newest novel.

If you're a fan of contemporary women's fiction and you like your heroines to be sassy and sweary, then Sophie's books are for you.

You Can't Fall in Love With Your Ex (Can You?) is available from Amazon in the UK, US and Australia now. Find it on Goodreads.



What can you tell us about the new book?
The idea for You Can’t Fall in Love With Your Ex (Can You?) first came to me when a friend mentioned that an ex-boyfriend had sent her a friend request on Facebook. She was extremely nervous about accepting it – he was her first love and had broken her heart, and although her life was great, she worried that seeing his picture and reading about how he was living would bring back all the feelings she thought she’d put behind her. She did accept the friend request and was relieved to find that he had not only failed in many areas of his life, but had got fat and was going bald! But I thought, what might have happened if it hadn’t been that way? 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Guest post - Claire Varley - The Bit in Between



I'm honoured to share with you a guest post written by Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between which I reviewed earlier this month. This post is part of the blog tour which is still on going. You can find the other stops in the tour listed here on Claire's website.



How did you get the news that your book had been selected from the slush pile, and what was your initial reaction?

Everything changed on June 30 2014. The financial year ended and so did my years of wandering the desert of literary frustration. (So dramatic! Such Hemingway! Let’s keep moving…) I opened the email from Haylee Nash, Pan Macmillan’s Fiction Commissioning Editor, with my face already set in a stoic mask of acceptance at what would no doubt be another rejection letter, but instead she was asking to see the full manuscript. I don’t entirely remember what I did but I expect it involved swearing, crying or checking to see if it was spam. Or, most likely, all of the above.

Everything from that point on has really just been a series of protracted cardiac episodes, played out in a ridiculous interchange between my normal life and my dream life. For instance:
  • Because the initial email conversation in which Haylee told me she wanted to pitch it to the publishing team took place during work hours, I conducted the whole thing sitting in an open plan office trying to discretely answer her emails while minimising them if anyone walked past. Department of Social Services made everyone in the community sector reapply for all the service contracts last year so I was in the middle of writing eight grant applications whilst periodically sneaking off to lock myself in the toilet and dance ecstatically while shrieking mutely like an office- bound Kate Bush. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Myra and the Magic Motorcycle: The Business in Bermuda by Amanda Greenslade


Title: Myra and the Magic Motorcycle: The Business in Bermuda
Author: Amanda Greensdale
Publisher: Australian eBook Publisher
Date of Publication: 20th August 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of NetGalley


This book has been reviewed by by a special guest, 8 year old J.

Synopsis:


WHEN an eight-year-old Australian girl, named Myra, finds a shining yellow motorcycle in the shed, she doesn’t expect it to actually work. It has strange buttons on the display and something like an eyebrow on the headlight. There is a key in the ignition!

Along with her pet bird, Diver, Myra finds herself on an exciting adventure across the other side of the Earth. The magic motorcycle takes her to new places and she is able to meet some people who really need her help.

Turn the key and rev the throttle. You’re about to go on the adventure of a lifetime with Myra and the Magic Motorcycle.

Review:


Myra is a girl who came back from school, went into the garage and found this blanket over a magical motorbike. She pressed a button and it flew her across the world to another country. She has to help a family that she finds there. She helps them because the dad is in hospital and the mother can't work and look after the children at the same time.

The book was interesting because it's about a place I've never heard of before.

The pictures were easy to understand because they had good detail and were bright and colourful.

I think it's a good book for other 8 year olds.



Sunday, 2 August 2015

Review - In the Quiet by Eliza Henry Jones

Title: In the Quiet
Author: Eliza Henry Jones
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Date of Publication: 1st July 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Synopsis:



Cate Carlton has recently died, yet she is able to linger on, watching her three young children and her husband as they come to terms with their life without her on their rural horse property. As the months pass and her children grow, they cope in different ways, drawn closer and pulled apart by their shared loss. And all Cate can do is watch on helplessly, seeing their grief, how much they miss her and how - heartbreakingly - they begin to heal. Gradually unfolding to reveal Cate's life, her marriage, and the unhappy secret she shared with one of her children, In the Quiet is compelling, simple, tender, true - heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure.


Review: 


Cate is dead. She's not quite sure how she became that way, or where she is now, or where she is going, but for now she's able to follow the members of her family and see what is happening to them. She's also able to travel back through her memories, but she doesn't like doing this too much as it takes her away from what's happening now. Through Cate's eyes we meet her family, her husband Bass, children Jessa, Cameron and Rafferty and her sister Bea, and we see how they're coping with her loss. Or not coping, in some cases.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Blog Tour - The Bit in Between by Claire Varley

Title: The Bit in Between
Author: Claire Varley
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Release Date: 1st August 2015
RRP: $29.99
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

I'm very happy to be part of the blog tour for The Bit in Between. Today I have a review, but be sure to come back on the 10th when I have a guest post from Claire.

You can see the rest of the stops on the campaign over on Claire Varley's blog. Please do check them out.


Synopsis:

There are seven billion people in the world. This is the story of two of them. 

After an unfortunate incident in an airport lounge involving an immovable customs officer, a full jar of sun-dried tomatoes, quite a lot of vomit, and the capricious hand of fate, Oliver meets Alison. In spite of this less than romantic start, Oliver falls in love with her. 

Immediately. 

Inexplicably. 

Irrevocably. 

With no other place to be, Alison follows Oliver to the Solomon Islands where he is planning to write his much-anticipated second novel. But as Oliver's story begins to take shape, odd things start to happen and he senses there may be more hinging on his novel than the burden of expectation. As he gets deeper into the manuscript and Alison moves further away from him, Oliver finds himself clinging to a narrative that may not end with 'happily ever after'.

Review:

Oliver is heading home to Melbourne for his grandmother's funeral. Alison has had enough of her boyfriend and is heading back to the family farm. After meeting in a Malaysian airport, they assume they will go their separate ways, but it seems fate has other plans. Oliver offers Alison a lift to the train station. She misses her train and decides not to go home and soon after is joining him on his trip to the Solomon Islands where he plans to write his second novel.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Review and Give Away - Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Aus
Date of Publication: 1st August 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Harlequin Teen Australia have very kindly provided 5 copies of Never Always Sometimes to be given away. See the end of the post for details.

Synopsis


Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken 


Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

Cover Reveal: Push Me, Pull Me by Vanessa Garden

This is the first of two exciting posts on the blog today.

The lovely Vanessa Garden is the author of the Submerged Sun series (Captivate and Impulse) and Carrier. You can see my reviews for all three over on Reading Lark. As her previous books were all speculative fiction, this is her first contemporary title, and I can't wait to read it.

I'm very pleased to be able to share with you the details of Vanessa's new book, which will be published by Limitless Publishing in August.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon

Title: Chasing Chris Campbell
Author: Genevieve Gannon
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date of Publication: June 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb:


The hilarious and charming second novel from the author of Husband Hunters. For fans of The Rosie Project, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and all good rom-coms. 

Violet is saving money: living on rice and beans and denying herself chocolate eclairs all in the name of saving for a home deposit. Once they save enough, she and Michael can buy a house, settle down and live happily ever after. But when Michael does the unthinkable, Violet is forced to rethink her life choices. 

 A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she'd explore - Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi - on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it's too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?


Review:

Violet and her boyfriend Michael have spent five years scrimping and saving so they can buy a house. Going without even the smallest luxury, Violet is outraged when Michael spends several thousand dollars of their savings on a motorbike that he can’t even ride. Feeling the need to be equally reckless, she books a ticket to Hong Kong, looking for Chris Campbell – the one that got away. What follows is the kind of adventure that mild-mannered Violet could never have imagined, including 2nd degree burns, a case of dysentery, and possibly meeting the man of her dreams.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Prince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat

Title: Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince Book Two)
Author: C.S. Pacat
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Date of Publication: 24th June 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
Price: Paperback $19.95 Ebook $4.99

Blurb:


With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master Prince Laurent must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot. Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow . . .


Review:


You can read my review of book one in the series, Captive Prince, here.

After reading the first book in the series earlier this year with little idea of what to expect, I was more prepared for this second instalment in the series.

C.S. Pacat writes smart, sexy fantasy with great action sequences and steamy love scenes.

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Title: Because You'll Never Meet Me
Author: Leah Thomas
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/ANZ
Date of Publication: July 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb:


There are truths you can only tell a stranger, and this friendship is the strangest.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet, because if they ever did, one of them would certainly die. As recluses from society, they develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline.

But when Moritz reveals the key to their shared, disturbing past in a myesterious German laboratory, their friendship cases a test neither one of them expected.

This is a story of impossible friendship and hope from a brilliant new writer.

Review:


This book was such a pleasant surprise. Ollie is allergic to electricity and as such has led an isolated life in the woods, unable to leave his home or interact with modern technology in any way. Any contact with an electrical device leads to violent seizures.

Moritz is also not your average teenager. He was born without eyes, but he is not blind.

Ollie's doctor, Dr Auburn-Stache, suggests that the two boys write to each other as a way to help Ollie deal with a recent trauma, and the book is made up of these letters. I love epistolary novels, because it allows the characters to develop completely distinct voices and we see only what they choose to reveal to each other.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cover Reveal: Stray by Rachael Craw

It's a year ago today that the fabulous Spark, written by Rachael Craw and published by Walker books, hit our shelves. 

I'm incredibly pleased to be part of the cover reveal, not just because Spark is a fabulous book (link to my review is below), but because Rachael is a thoroughly lovely person. 


But first, in case you haven't read it yet (and why haven't you?) here is some info on Spark, the first in the series.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Blog Tour and give away: Thief's Magic









I am so pleased to be part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the paperback release of Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan. I'm not quite sure why Australia produces such great, female fantasy writers, but Trudi is certainly one of them.

The lovely people at Hachette sent me a copy to review, and having loved the Black Magician trilogy, the Traitor Spy trilogy and The Magician's Apprentice, I was more than happy to give this one a go.

The format for this review is a little different, but make sure you scroll to the end for the give away link and to see the other stops on the tour.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Risk by Fleur Ferris

Title: Risk
Author: Fleur Ferris
Publisher: Random House Australia
Date of Publication: July 1st 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

Blurb: 

Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor's fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants? From kissing Taylor's crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn't seem to notice when she hurts her friends.

So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.

But Sierra doesn't come back when she said she would.

One day. Two days. Three . . .

What if Taylor's worrying for nothing? What if Sierra's just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?

When Taylor finally tells Sierra's mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.

Can Taylor find Sierra's abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer? 

Review:

I'm going to say this straight up - everyone needs to read this book. Whether you're a teenager, a parent, or a teacher, you need to get your hands on this book. It is so important that stories like these are heard and that parents and young people have an understanding of what's possible on the internet, and how to protect yourself from it.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Lullaby by Bernard Beckett

Title: Lullaby
Author: Bernard Beckett
Publisher: Text Publishing
Date of Publication: May 27th 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb:

Rene’s twin brother Theo lies unconscious in hospital after a freak accident left him with massively disrupted brain function. There is hope, though. An experimental procedure—risky, scientifically exciting and ethically questionable—could allow him to gain a new life.

But what life, and at what cost?

Only Rene can give the required consent. And now he must face that difficult choice.

But first there is the question of Rene’s capacity to make that decision. And this is where the real story begins.

Bernard Beckett's Lullaby is a confronting story of love, loyalty and identity.


This is definitely a case of not judging a book by its cover. I found the synopsis really interesting and was very excited when the lovely people at Text Publishing sent me a review copy. I sat down and read this book from start to finish in 3 hours. It's not a long read, but it is fairly psychologically intense.

As the story starts, Rene is speaking to a hospital psychologist in order to establish whether he can give consent for an experimental procedure which may save the life of his brother, Theo, who is in a coma with no conventional chance of recovery.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes



Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of publication: July 1st
Source: Review copy courtesy of HarperCollins


Blurb:

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, and her ability to trust.

And when Minnow rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now the Kevinian Prophet has been murdered and the camp set aflame and it's clear Minnow knows something. But she's not talking. As she adjusts to a life behind bars in juvenile detention, Minnow struggles to make sense of all she has been taught to believe, particularly as she dwells on the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of; if she is willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

Powerful and compelling. this remarkable and brave debut novel reveals the terrible dangers of blind faith. And the importance of having faith in yourself.


My review of this title is over on Reading Lark today, so head over and check it out. I won't replicate it here, but will just share some thoughts.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Review: Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

Title: Bright Before Sunrise
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb:

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him.

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.?

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

Bright Before Sunrise was a lovely surprise, firstly because it arrived unannounced and surprise book mail is one of my favourite things, and secondly because it was a really enjoyable read. Have you ever had one of those nights where you meet someone, or find someone you know in a different context to normal, and stay up all night talking about everything and nothing? Those nights can change the course of your life. Bright Before Sunrise beautifully captures one of those nights.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Title: Nowhere But Here
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication Date: June 1st 2015 (Australia)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher courtesy of Netgalley

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.


I am a huge fan of Katie McGarry's work and so it's always a good thing when I get to read one of her books. Nowhere But Here marks the start of a new series, separate from Pushing The Limits. It still takes place in Kentucky, and there is a tenuous link with the first series, but this one definitely stands alone.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

Title: Rogue

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Harlequin Teen Aus

Date published: May 1st 2015

Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley.

Warning: This will contain some spoilers for Talon, so if you haven't read that yet, go and buy it and come back after you have!

You can read a chapter sampler of Rogue here.

Blurb:

Deserter. 
Traitor.
ROGUE. 

Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant.

Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. 

A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day...or start an all-out war?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Cover Reveal! The Last King


The very lovely Millicent Nankivell is a prolific blogger and passionate Google+ user. She is also a rather talented writer and I am very happy to be able to participate in the cover reveal for her upcoming title, The Last King, which will be released later this year.

The Last King is the first in the Anastasia Avignon series. You can find it on Goodreads here.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Missing You Blog Tour: Guest post by Kylie Kaden


In case you missed it, last Thursday I posted my review of Kylie Kaden's fabulous second novel, Missing You as part of its blog tour.

Today I'm thrilled to bring you this guest post from Kylie. Her first book, Losing Kate, was picked up from a publisher's slush pile. I asked Kylie how the experience of writing as a published author differed from her first experience.

I'd like to thank Kylie and the team at Random House for having me on the tour.

Enjoy!


Two Times A Charm?
You did it. You published a book. Sure, millions have before you.  It’s not a cure for cancer.  But there is a novel being bandied about with your name on it.  You’d have to be stoked and ride that wave of confidence all the way to Book Two’s end. Wouldn’t you?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Review: We all Looked Up - Tommy Wallach


Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Source: Review copy via Netgalley


From the publisher: 
Before Ardor, we let ourselves be defined by labels - the athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. But then we all looked up and everything changed. They said the asteroid would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we'd been, something that would last even after the end. Two months to really live.





My first impression of We All Looked Up was that it was The Breakfast Club meets Armageddon, and while that didn't change much as the book went on, it became so much more.

Wallach takes the high school stereotypes - jock, princess, slacker, artsy/bohemian, and develops them into fully fleshed characters who are not quite what you'd expect.

Review: Captive Prince by CS Pacat



Title: Captive Prince Volume One
Author: C S Pacat
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Source: Review copy via NetGalley

Blurb:
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave. Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country. For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else...



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Missing You by Kylie Kaden - Blog Tour



Title: Missing You
Author: Kylie Kaden
Publisher: Bantam (Random House Australia)
Date of Publication: 1st April 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher.



Blurb:

When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn't want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them. But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility. Until Ryan can't take it anymore. Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick - and doesn't come back. As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear. Particularly when blood is found in Aisha's abandoned car . . .


I am very happy to be part of the #MissingYou blog tour. I adored Losing Kate so jumped at the chance to read Missing You ahead of publication.

Next week I will be featuring a guest post from Kylie about the process of writing the book, so please come back on Tuesday and check it out, but for now, here's my review.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

One True Thing by Nicole Hayes

Title: One True Thing
Author: Nicole Hayes
Publisher: Random House Australia Children's
Published: 1st May 2015
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley


Blurb:

When is a secret not a secret? When your whole life is public. Frankie is used to being a politician's daughter, but it's election time, so life's crazier than usual. Add a best friend who's being weirdly distant, a brother to worry about, and the fact that Frankie's just humiliated herself in front of a hot guy - who later turns up at band practice to interview her about her music. Jake seems to like Frankie - really like her. But then everything crumbles. Photos appear of Frankie's mum having secret meetings with a younger man - and she refuses to tell the public why. With her family falling apart around her, Frankie is determined to find out the truth - even if it means losing Jake.




I love reading books that are set in my home town of Melbourne. Sydney might get more international attention, but Melbourne is a great city with so much to offer and so much character that it's great to see it featuring in novels. If you look very closely at the cover of One True Thing, it actually features Melbourne's skyline and I'm sure you'll agree, it's just gorgeous.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Review: Girl Underwater by Claire Kells


Title: Girl Underwater
Author: Claire Kells
Publisher: Bantam (Random House)
Date of Publication: 1st April 2015
Source: ARC courtesy of Random House Australia.


Blurb:
Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university's nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations, but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery's cross-country flight home makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and her team mate, Colin Shea, whom she's avoided since the first day of freshman year. 

Now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could have imagined.



This is not a book you want to start at 11pm when you have an early start the next morning. Trust me. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Orient by Christopher Bollen

Title: Orient
Author: Christopher Bollen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Aus)
Published: 1 April 2015
Source: ARC via NetGalley




Blurb:
At the eastern edge of Long Island, far from the hustle of New York City, stands Orient, a village that has been home to a few families for hundreds of years and is now - reluctantly - opening up to wealthy weekenders and artists from the city. 

On the last day of summer, a young man with a hazy past appears, and not long after comes a series of events that shatters the peace in this isolated community. A strange, twisted creature washes ashore on the Sound and then a human corpse is found floating in the water. A woman dies in bizarre circumstances and a house fire erupts out of nowhere. Fear and suspicion mount until everyone's secrets threaten to be exposed. But who is Mills Chevern? What is his real name and why is he here? As all eyes shift towards the orphan drifter, Mills elicits the support of Beth Shepherd, an Orient native who is hiding a secret of her own.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mini Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses




On Friday, I reviewed A Court of Thorns and Roses over on Reading Lark. You can see the full review here.

I'll just add some other thoughts here. How beautiful is that cover? It's absolutely stunning. Even the ARC, without the full cover art, was beautiful, with thorns creeping over the pages that start each chapter (is there a proper name for those? If you know what it is, please let me know in the comments!)

It also came with a cute little mask charm on a piece of string, and an Heir of Fire bookmark (which I have been putting to good use).

So thank you very much to Bloomsbury Australia for the package and the opportunity to review.

It's no secret that I'm a Sarah J Maas fan. Over on Reading Lark you can see my review for Heir of Fire, and my Book BFF post on Celaena Sardothien, so I was very eager to get a copy of this one, and I wasn't disappointed.

Feyre is a strong heroine who will do anything for those she loves, Tamlin is a charming leading man, and the secondary characters are well developed. While the story has a satisfying conclusion, there is just enough left unresolved to tease the sequel.