January 24, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Note: Received as an eGalley from NetGalley

: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Review: I have to start out by saying that no other author can make me cry like Lauren Oliver can. I never cry when I read, so this is a major achievement for an author - and for me to cry at both her books, well, it’s unheard of. Anyway, onto the proper review.
I loved Delirium right from the get go. Admittedly, some of the world-building at the start was a bit slow, but I could read Lauren’s prose all day so it didn’t feel like a chore to read. The world-building was integrated seamlessly into the story and honestly loved every word of it. I also enjoyed the paragraphs above each chapter that were supposedly from this new world’s handbooks and literature, they definitely gave me more insight into the world of Delirium.

Lauren has such a talent for creating believable characters, from the protagonist, Lena, to her best friend, family and every other character. Even the main characters feel rich and well-developed, like a book could be written about each of them as well. I especially like Hana, Lena’s best friend. She was fun and rebellious, and for a while I wondered why the author didn’t focus the novel on her. And although I loved her, I soon realized why Lena needed to be the main focus. Lena was very goody-good and never questioned the rules about the cure, and so she had the most developing to do. She had the most potential for growth throughout the story, while Hana was already there.
Now onto the part you really want to hear about - the love interest, Alex. He was utterly dreamy and I loved how natural his and Lena’s relationship felt. It wasn’t wham-bam, we’re in love, but rather well thought out and their relationship developed slowly but steadily. It felt natural, but with the right amount of paranoia added to the meetings - they could not be caught under any circumstances. The suspense was also very well written - my heart was often pounding right along with these characters as they got themselves in and out of some sticky situations.
Honestly, I was not expecting Lauren Oliver’s second novel to be as fantastic as her first, but I loved Delirium equally, if not more, than Before I Fall. I fell in love with the characters and needed to know how their stories turned out. The only complaint I have is that we have to wait another year for the next installment in the series! This is a definite must-read.
Rating: 5 out of 5

January 19, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (2) The Return - Midnight

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

PhotobucketTitle: The Vampire Diaries: The Return - Midnight
Author: L. J. Smith
Release Date: March 15th 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Synopsis:The vampire love triangle that spawned hundreds of thousands of fans-and inspired a hit television show-concludes in this powerful final volume of The Vampire Diaries. In Midnight, golden girl Elena Gilbert is back from the Dark Dimension, having successfully freed her vampire boyfriend Stefan Salvatore from imprisonment. Saving Stefan had an unlikely consequence: his vampire brother Damon Salvatore has become a mortal. While the trio reels from this latest twist, they must still deal with the demons that have taken over Elena's hometown, Fell's Church. As in every L.J. Smith novel, no matter how dark the night, there is always a happy ending. MIDNIGHT takes Elena, Stefan, and Damon to their darkest moments yet...Danger, romance, and paranormal mystery will keep readers fascinated with this captivating finale to the New York Times bestselling series.

Why I'm waiting on it: I really enjoy the Vampire Diary series, and although the last two haven't been the greatest, some of the events of Book #6 have intrigued me enough to keep reading. Besides, I really want to know how the love triangle pans out.

Let me know your picks!

January 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (2) Delirium

Delirium (Delirium, #1)Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser: Then he does the absolutely, positively unthinkable. He winks at me.
- Page 36, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

January 17, 2011

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Infinite DaysSummary: Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish. 

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?

Review: With so much vampire fiction around these days, it would be easy to dismiss Infinite Days as just another cliched, unoriginal novel. However, this is far from the truth and I was surprised at how much I loved this story.
The author did a great job of introducing Lenah to our world and her thoughts about adjusting to everything around her were believable. A lot of things that we take for granted today were completely new to Lenah, and it was intriguing reading the thoughts of somebody who was learning all about our world. 
The book had time jumps from the present day to back to her time in the coven. Time jumps are always a risk, because it’s very easy to turn readers off by having them interfere with the flow of the main story. Here, however, the jumps gelled seamlessly with the main story, and never felt jerky or out of place. I liked getting an insight into vampire Lenah as it helped me understand the self-loathing she felt for herself. The vampires in this novel are not vampires with a conscience, and some of the scenes from Lenah’s past showed just how cruel and manipulative her and her coven were. For all her cruelty though, I never actually hated Lenah and I think that is testament to the author’s writing ability to be able make me feel compassion for someone as horrible as Lenah was.
Human Lenah was much nicer than vampire Lenah. Although she still had a lot of vampire instincts - she regularly thought about killing people who got on her nerves and she had a fascination with seeing people’s veins - she was able to control herself and make friends. She meets a boy named Tony, who takes her under his wing and is there to answer any questions she has about the world. It was a bit unrealistic that Tony never really questioned why she was so naive about everything, but he was still a nice friend for Lenah to have.
Then there was the love interest - Justin Enos. He is a big part of the reason this book did not score higher from me. He was too flat for my liking - we never really find out very much about him apart from that he’s popular and good at lacrosse. Some of the dialogue exchanged between him and Lenah was painful and there was no reason for the passion between them. If he had been developed better and there was more of a build up to their relationship, I think I would have liked Lenah and him together. As it is, I never really understood the attraction.
Overall, Infinite Days stands out in the sea of YA vampire literature for being a bit different from the norm. Although it’s not perfect, I am highly anticipating the next installment in the series as I’m interested to read the conclusion to the unexpected ending. A promising start to what I hope turns into an enjoyable series.
Rating: 4 out of 5

January 13, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

PhotobucketSummary: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
Review: I have been excited to read Matched for ages now, I’ve read a lot of good hype about it. Although it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, it was still an enjoyable, though predictable read.
Matched starts by painting a dystopian world that has all but eradicated disease, obesity and crime. It almost seems utopian, but there is an inherent sense that all is not as it seems, with The Society deciding everything about all the citizens - their jobs, their spouse, how many children they will have, etc. We are introduced to the protagonist, Cassia, on the eve of her Matching ceremony - the ceremony that will reveal who she is to marry. She is matched with Xander, her best friend and is happy, until a friend from her past flashes on screen for an instant, confusing her. So begins her journey of disobeying the Society to claim the rights to make her own decisions.  
I was fairly indifferent to Cassia and Ky throughout the entire story and I never really understood the attraction between them. I much preferred Xander, and I wish Cassia could have seen past the glitch and accepted Xander for who he was. Ky seemed too flat to be the lead romantic interest and I never felt any emotional connection to him. He seemed to stereotypical to me, like the emo boy that Cassia felt she had to fix. 
I felt similarly to Cassia as I did to Ky - I couldn’t relate, nor develop any attachment to her. The author really needs to work on her character development, as this was the biggest flaw of the novel. If I had actually felt an attachment to the characters, the book probably would have scored higher, but as it is I didn’t particularly care about what happened to any of the characters.
There were some interesting aspects to the novel, like the idea of the 100 books, 100 songs 100 movies, etc. I thought that that was really interesting, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to only have 100 of all of these things for my entire life. The scene where Cassia’s dad was in charge of getting rid of an entire library was almost painful to read - all those books, just being destroyed. 
Ultimately, Matched felt too much like a lead up to the second book in the series. It didn’t feel like it’s own story and there was a lack of any forward motion for a large chunk of the book. However, with the way it ended, I’m hoping there’s going to be a lot more action in the sequel, and hopefully some serious character growth for Cassia. I’m interested enough in the series to give the second book a try, but if it is another letdown, then I won’t be really care enough to see how Cassia’s story pans out.
Rating: 3 out of 5

January 12, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (1) Steel

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Title: Steel
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Release Date: March 15th 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
SynopsisWhen Jill finds a rusty sword tip on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued—and little expects it will transport her through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Will a dark enchantment, salty kisses, and a duel with an evil pirate captain leave her stranded in the eighteenth century forever? 

Drawing on piratical lore and historical fact, Carrie Vaughn creates a vivid world of swaying masts and swelling seas, where blood magic overrules the laws of nature, romance is in the air, and death can come at the single slip of a sword.

Why I'm waiting on it: I've never read a pirate story before, much less one starring a female, but with that synopsis - well I'm sold. Bring on March 15!

January 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Infinite DaysTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser:
"I need her. If in five weeks she does not rise, I will dig her up with my bare hands," he said, and that's when I opened my eyes in the living room, gasping for breath and smelling lilac in my hair.
- Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel, Page 193

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

PhotobucketSummary: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorians. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. 
The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next. 

I Am Number Four is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth. 

I am Number Four.

I am next.
Review: I was really excited to read this book. My sister had loved it, and it sounded like a quick, entertaining read. However, it seemed to fall flat for me, with uninspiring characters, debatable dialogue and average action scenes.
The book’s first half was slow moving, but filled with descriptions of Lorien and the back story of how and why the Mogadorians took over. The imagery was strong and I enjoyed reading about the beauty of Lorien in its prime. There were also many references about the dangers of staying in one place too long, and a lot of emphasis put on Number Four not drawing unwanted attention to himself. 
Of course, things don’t go to plan and John soon agitates the head football captain, falls in love with said football captain’s ex-girlfriend and displays his powers carelessly. His guardian Henri wants to move, but John refuses and forces Henri to stay. I found this quite unrealistic, as at the first hint of danger in the past, they had moved, whereas now when there was more than a hint of danger, John was willing to stay, for little more reason than a crush. I understand that he just wanted to have a normal life, but frankly, when the fate of a planet rests on the shoulders of you and five other teenagers, a normal life is just something that has to be sacrificed. John was selfish, and he paid the price for it later in the book.
The character development left a lot to the imagination. John’s girlfriend, Sarah, especially fell flat for me. She was portrayed as kind and sweet, and wasn’t at all fazed when John revealed his secret to her. I can’t recall one flaw of hers that was mentioned, so she was not relatable at all, and I quickly grew tired of her. The same could be said about all the side characters - the guardian/teacher who acted more like a father, the stereotypical jock who’s maybe not as bad as he seems and the outcast who is the only one that befriends John.
This is a book for people who prefer plot over character development. Plenty happens and there are some fun action scenes, but overall it didn’t quite come together. I know that many will probably enjoy this book, and with the movie being released shortly, its popularity will see a rise in coming months. It just wasn’t the book for me.
Rating: 3 out of 5

January 6, 2011

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

PhotobucketSummary: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. 

Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. 

But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

Review: The Sky Is Everywhere was a poignant, one minute tear-inducing, next minute hilarious, gem of a book. I read it at the very end of the year, and I’m glad I did because it turned out to be my favorite book of 2010. There was honestly nothing I disliked about it, and countless things that I loved.
The main character, Lennie, was instantly relatable and often unintentionally funny. It was great to get into her head and the author made it easy to understand her often unpredictable mood swings from happiness to guilt and sadness about her sister. I have a sister, and I could see a lot of us in Lennie and Bailey’s relationship, so it was all the more tear jerking for me, when Lennie was thinking back to all the good (and not-so-good) times that her and Bailey shared.
Lennie’s poems about Bailey were another thing that made this book stand out. They were sprinkled sporadically throughout the book as photos of the places the poems were ‘found’. When I was reading the poems, those were the times that I could feel myself getting choked up, as Lennie recounted her last words to Bailey, or how gut-wrenchingly lonely she was without her. The poetry was a highlight of the book and served well to set it apart from other YA books dealing with grief and loss.
Another aspect I loved was the effort the author went to, to create rich and distinctive supporting characters. How could you not love Gram with her kind heart and love of green paint, or Big, Lennie’s pot smoking, love guru uncle? Then there was Sarah, the feminist best friend, who may not have always agree with Lennie's decisions, but always tried to understand them. And, of course, there was Joe.
Joe Fontaine was the new kid in town, who only knew Lennie post-Bailey. He was the dreamy love interest who made the sky burst open to allow Lennie to feel again. Their relationship never felt rushed, but natural, as Joe got to know Lennie by arriving at her house every morning, as a friend, for weeks before they became a couple. I also liked how Joe wasn’t just there for Lennie, but he also became a life raft for Gram and Big, who were also lifted by his infectious smile and ever-positive attitude.
The Sky Is Everywhere continuously inspired me to just live, and I truly loved every aspect of the story. It is a book I can see myself coming back to over and over, just to re-immerse myself in these unforgettable characters lives.
Rating: 5 out of 5

January 4, 2011

Torment by Lauren Kate

Summary: Love Never Dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel. But he waited for her. Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts - immortals who want her dead. During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives. But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?
Is it really their destiny to be together?
Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Review: I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of
Fallen, the first book in this series. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Torment, and although I wasn’t totally thrilled with it, it was enough for me to want to continue reading the remaining books in the series.

One thing that stood out to me as better than the first book was the dialogue. Some of the dialogue in
Fallen was cringe-worthy, so it was nice to see that the author had worked harder to make it more believable. I felt like the dialogue was a lot more realistic to how people - particularly teenagers - actually speak, so it was a lot easier for me to read.

I also loved Steven and Francesca’s lessons and the effort that went into creating a believable back story for the angels and demons that was unique and thought-provoking. The quote that said ‘the winners get to write history’ made me think a lot our own world and what may or may not be true.

However, there were definitely aspects of the story that I disliked. I felt that Luce had done no growing up, despite what she has seen, and was as annoying as ever. She was too whiney for my liking and it was frustrating that she couldn’t just take Daniel’s - the man she supposedly loves - word that some things are safer for her not to know. I also disliked how Daniel continuously told her not to do anything dangerous, while simultaneously putting her in danger every night by coming to the campus. It seemed very unrealistic that he wouldn’t be able to hold off for sixteen days, if it meant saving the life of the one he loved.

Another issue I had was that the plot ‘twist’ was much, much too obvious. I understand that the author was trying to foreshadow, but it really only to serve as to reveal where the story was heading, even at its very first mention. It could have been surprising if the author hadn’t made it so painfully obvious, but as it was, I was continuously asking ‘okay, when are we getting to the action?’.

Although I didn’t love
Torment, it had enough to keep me interested in seeing how this series plays out. Judging by the ending, the next book could be an extremely interesting journey!

Rating: 3 out of 5

January 3, 2011

RAK Wishlist

If you haven't heard about Random Acts of Kindness, go check it out here.

Here's my wishlist:

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Falling Under by Gwen Hayes
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Instructions For A Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Hex: A Witch and Angel Tale by Ramona Wrey
The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Haven by Kristi Cook
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsay Leavitt 
Sanctus by Simon Toyne

I'm an international blogger, so it would probably be best to use The Book Depository (free shipping!). Thanks!

January 2, 2011

Review Policy

Review Policy
Although most of the books I review on this blog are ones that I have purchased myself, I will happily accept requests from publishers and authors to read their books.
I read mostly young adult novels, and enjoy all genres within YA literature. I accept requests from both publishers and authors (this includes self-published authors). I accept both hard copies and e-copies of novels. My reviews are posted both on my blog and on Goodreads, and I will strive to review them close to the novel’s release date.
My reviews are not always positive, but are always fair. If something doesn’t work for me I’ll say why, not attack the author’s writing skills. I am open to hosting interviews, giveaways and guest posts. If this is something you’re interested in, please mention this in your request. 
All review requests and questions can be sent to my email 

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

 Summary: Cass and her drama-crazy best friend, Julia, were planning a road trip to California. When Julia is killed in a car accident, Cass decides to follow the original plan anyway. Even if she has a bicycle instead of a driver’s licence, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware.

This is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. And it’s a story about the kookiest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

Review: The summary of this book drew me in immediately and I thought I was going to be in for a fantastic read. Unfortunately, the story fell flat for me and I was left feeling disappointed.
Cass was a likable enough lead, but she just wasn’t distinctive enough to make a lasting impression on me. She could be very selfish at times, and had a real problem facing up to her issues. A lot of the story talked about how much Cass felt excluded when her best friend Julia made new friends, but in reality, if Cass had actually made any effort, she would have been readily accepted into the new group.
Speaking of the supporting characters, they were another issue for me. They suffered from a lack of development to the point where they all more or less blurred into one for me. They were also very stereotypical, don’t break the mold types of characters and I felt it was a real shame that the author didn’t take the time to flesh them out more, as strong supporting characters can often lift a book from being average, to being great.
The time jumps in the book were quite jerky and sometimes took away from the flow of the story. It could have been improved if the jumps to the ‘Then’ chapters actually related to what was going on in the ‘Now’ chapters, but to me, it just felt too much like two completely different stories.
Overall, the book was a sometimes fun, but mostly disappointing read. If the author had spent more time developing stronger characters, I think the outcome could have been quite different.
Rating: 2 and a 1/2 out of 5