Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March Books I'm Looking Forward to

I have already constructed my list of new releases I'm looking forward to for the year so I thought towards the end of each month I would show you what I'm excited to be reading/getting for the upcoming month.  I only have a few books this month but I am pretty excited to read them all.

Here are the March new releases I'm looking forward to.

Point Your Face at This by Demetri Martin

What can I say?  I just really love Demetri Martin, I think he is hilarious and so I'm looking forward to this one.

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

I haven't even read the first book yet but I just know that I'm going to be wanting this one as well because I love Jeaniene Frost's books and Vlad is one of my favourite characters.

There are only a couple of books on my list this month but they're both books that I am looking forward to reading.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday

Title: Social Suicide

Author: Gemma Halliday

Published: HarperTeen, 2012

Pages: 277

Series: Book 2, Deadly Cool

Summary: Twittercide: the killing of one human being by another while the victim is in the act of tweeting.

Call me crazy, but I figured writing for the Herbert Hoover High Homepage would be a pretty sweet gig. Pad the resume for college applications, get a first look at the gossip column, spend some time ogling the paper's brooding bad-boy editor, Chase Erikson. But on my first big story, things went . . . a little south. What should have been a normal interview with Sydney Sanders turned into me discovering the homecoming queen-hopeful dead in her pool. Electrocuted while Tweeting. Now, in addition to developing a reputation as HHH's resident body finder, I'm stuck trying to prove that Sydney's death wasn't suicide.
I'm starting to long for the days when my biggest worry was whether the cafeteria was serving pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos. . .   (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Having really enjoyed Deadly Cool I was looking forward to Social Suicide and I have to say that I was not disappointed.

Mysteries have always been my thing and with Social Suicide I found myself thinking that I would just read one chapter and then read about five.  It has such and addictive quality to it that I found myself flying through the pages.

I had an inkling of who the murderer in question was and I was so excited to be right.  Gemma Halliday does this awesome job in writing mysteries, there are red herrings and clues that lead to the real killer if you look closely and this time I looked closely and guessed it.

Hartley was still as awesome as ever and the whole book I was really hoping that her and Chase would just get it together already!  Sam was awesome as the best friend too.  I feel like Sam and Hartley just have this awesome friendship that is definitely enviable.

I absolutely loved Social Suicide so much and I really hope that there will be a third book featuring Hartley, Chase, Sam and anyone else.

Source: Purchased

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Title: Grave Witch

Author: Kalayna Price

Published: Roc, 2010

Pages: 325

Series: Book 1, Alex Craft

Summary: As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around...

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life...and her soul.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I loved Grave Witch it was so freaking awesome!  I read the synopsis and it sounded like a really awesome book so I read it almost straight away after buying it.

The mystery kept deepening and I found myself really caught up in it.  You think that things are straight forward; or as straight forward as they would be in the magical world, but then something else would go wrong and it was just so engrossing that I couldn’t help but keep reading.

The characters were all really interesting and I loved Alex, she was independent and kick ass which makes her amazing.  Death was a curious character; I was definitely intrigued by him even though we didn’t actually get to see a whole lot of him in the book.  Falin was also another interesting character and throughout the book I found myself guessing about what he could be hiding.

There were a couple of surprises in the plot that I was really surprised at.  I’m curious to know how they develop some of these further in later books.

I really liked the way the world was built in Grave Witch.  It’s like our world but with a little bit of magic added in.  I’m curious to find out if there are only fey and witches or if other supernatural creatures will show up later on.

Overall, I absolutely loved Grave Witch and I am so glad I have the next book on my shelf because I cannot wait to read it!

Source: Purchased

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pop Culture References in Books

After reading a book that alluded to songs that were supposedly popular but not actually saying either a real name or a fake name of a band and song I started thinking about how authors deal with pop culture references in books.

For instance, in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries books she actually refers to the real life artists etc.  There is a mention of Britney Spears in the books.  Other books refer to products such as iPhone’s etc.  This tends to add in a realistic feel to it.  However, it also dates the books.  I do know of instances where some of the books have been updated to go with the changes but those are in the minority.

I don’t have any examples off the top of my head but there are some books that make up pop culture in the books universe and talk about those as being what’s in or popular at the time.  One example I can think of is the Airhead books by Meg Cabot, they feature celebrity Gabriel Luna.

Then there are the other ones that just allude to some singer or song being popular without actually mentioning a name or title.  I can’t really think of any books off the top of my head but there are some that do.

It’s something that I’ve often thought about and it makes me wonder which one is better to do and I think that in some situations the different ones are better.  I think that the one I’m the least favourable of is the one that mentions the actual pop culture reference such as Britney Spears etc. because it does date the book a little bit although it doesn’t bother me as much as it could.

I think that I prefer the ones where they actually don’t mention a name or title or anything like that at all because it means that you can imagine it for yourself depending on when you read the book.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on pop culture references in books.  Do you have any thoughts to add?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Framed & Dangerous by Kim Harrington

Title: Framed & Dangerous

Author: Kim Harrington

Published: Scholastic, Inc., 2012

Pages: 192

Series: Book 3, Sleuth or Dare

Summary: Who's the culprit?

Norah and Darcy are still in a fight, but crime doesn't stop just because the girls aren't speaking. Someone has set fire to their school's brand-new field house. And the prime suspect is Zane Munro, the cute boy Norah can't help crushing on.
When Zane asks Partners in Crime for help, Norah and Darcy must band together to investigate. Norah knows Zane is innocent, but the clues are not in his favor. Can she and Darcy mend their friendship, crack the case, and clear Zane's name before it's too late?  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: Norah and Darcy are back to solve another mystery.  This one has a more serious tone to it as there is a person injured in somebody’s arson job.

Because this is for a middle grade audience the clues are quite visible and it isn’t hard to guess the whodunits but I still found Framed & Dangerous to be a really interesting book.  Kim Harrington just has a way with mysteries.

I really enjoyed this one, right before the ending it pulled me into the story and I just had to know how things would end.  I had guessed at it but I was curious to see how things would be handled.

Overall, there are just so many clues in Framed & Dangerous hinting at so many different things that it was really cool guessing at which ones were right and which were wrong.  I really enjoyed the story and I am curious to see if there will be a fourth book in the series.

Source: Purchased

Friday, February 15, 2013

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina

Author:  Rachel Hartman

Published: Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012

Pages: 451

Purchase Links:
Book Depository*

Series: Book 1, Seraphina

Summary: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy novel, so I was pretty excited to read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman as I absolutely love dragons, strong females and books in a high fantasy setting.  Needless to say Seraphina did not disappoint me.

There were parts of the book that left me feeling a little heartbroken to be honest.  There were moments when Seraphina was feeling so alone and isolated that I had tears in my eyes because I could feel her pain.  There was one certain scene that had me on the edge of my seat just wishing I could have been there for Seraphina.

Rachel Hartman’s writing is so amazing.  Pages flew past me because I was so caught up in the spell that is her writing.  Each word spilt onto the page just added so much to the story that I really felt like I was there and that I could relate to everyone and everything in the story.

As someone who loves dragons I knew I would love this book and I did.  The dragons are so interesting and I love how they think and see the world so differently to humans.  It just makes the book all the more interesting.

As far as characters go I loved so many of them.  Seraphina, Kiggs, Orma, Glisselda, Lars, there were just so many amazing characters that it would be hard to just name one as my favourite because they’re all strong and unique individuals that I just couldn’t help but love.

The mystery aspect was everything I could have asked for; there were clues, some possible suspects, a red herring or two and the reveal which was just great.  I didn’t even guess at who the culprit was.

Overall, I absolutely loved Seraphina and I feel like I could go on about it forever.  My only issue with it is that I now have to wait for the sequel.

Source: Own copy

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dael and the Painted People by Allan Richard Shickman

Title: Dael and the Painted People

Author: Allan Richard Shickman

Published: Earthshaker Books, 2011

Pages: 155

Series: Book 3, Zan-Gah

Purchase Links:
Book Depository*

Summary: When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the tribe of the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it, he made a powerful enemy. Luckily, Dael had friends-including a troop of crows-and his own mystical powers. The disturbed and violent hero learns from the Children of the Earth, and from his submissive wife, a new way of life that is peaceful and generous.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: It has been a while since I read the first two books in the series and I wasn’t sure how much I had remembered from the first two books but I had actually remembered quite a lot so I was fine reading this one.

Allan Richard Shickman writes in such a way that he pens such fantastic imagery and I can really immerse myself into the world and genuinely see myself there.  His descriptions of the world are really well written.

As far as the story goes, I thought it was quite entertaining and intriguing.  This one is all about redemption and making up for the past and just healing as people.  I thought it was really good because it has themes that are prominent in today’s society but it was written in a past setting.

I almost feel like Dael and the Painted People was my favourite book in the series, it felt more thought out and more mature.  It also showed the characters in a different light and I just really enjoyed it.

Source: Earthshaker Books for review

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Hidden by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hidden

Author: Jessica Verday

Published: Simon & Schuster Children's Books, 2011

Pages: 400

Series: Book 3, The Hollow trilogy

Summary: May contain spoilers! Abbey knows that Caspian is her destiny. Theirs is a bond that transcends even death. But as Abbey finally learns the full truth about the dark fate that links her to Caspian and ties them both to the town of Sleepy Hollow, she suddenly has some very hard choices to make. Caspian may be the love of her life, but is that love worth dying for?  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I have been such a fan of this series for such a long time that I didn’t want it to end, but at the same time I knew that all good things must come to an end eventually and The Hidden provided the end to the Hollow trilogy.

The book continues with the morose tones only in this one Abbey is even more down than usual and I found it to be really depressing.  There were so many sad moments in The Hidden that it left me feeling a little sad.  I barely even remember if there were laughable moments because there were so many sad times.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from The Hidden in terms of the plot because the ending could have only gone two ways and I have to say that I’m really disappointed with the way that it did end.  It just didn’t feel right to me.  Without giving anything away, I feel like it disregarded a lot of people’s emotions and I just didn’t like it really.

The introduction of a new character was really cool and I thought she seemed really interesting but I also felt that she didn’t get a lot of face time and not a lot of an explanation either.  I mean, there was some explanation given about her, but I felt that her part in the story was a little underdone.

As much as I absolutely adored the first two books in the series I have to say I was a little disappointed in the third and final book.  I still really loved Jessica Verday’s writing style and right up until the ending I was loving it.  I just feel that the ending was a little drastic and not particularly to my taste.  I guess I was just looking for a perfect ending that just couldn’t happen in a positive way.

Source: Purchased

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ways to Find New Books to Read

After some discussion, some friends of mine and I decided that it can be quite an arduous task to find new books to read and so I have made this little list of ways that I find new books to read.

Publishers Websites: Finding imprints you like and searching through the website for similar titles.  I know that I had recently been enjoying books by the Harlequin MIRA imprint and have discovered a trove of new series to read just from looking into more books from this imprint.

The back pages of other books you love:  Sometimes when you read a book there will be advertisements in the back for similar book suggestions and these give a synopsis for the book.  Sometimes there are some pretty good suggestions there; I know I picked up a few books from that.

Book blogs:  Book blogs of course, are a way of finding new books to read.  Find some book bloggers who share your taste or opinions in books and you may find that they have read some books you haven’t that you might actually enjoy.

Scouring the library shelves:  Sometimes you might find a spine or cover that catches your eye and it makes you pick up the book.

Friends:  Friends can often have some really good book recommendations; they may even let you borrow some of their books to read ;)

Author love:  Reading a book by a random author but then falling in love with their writing which encourages you to read more of their books.  Some examples for me: Kate Ellison and David Almond

Goodreads: There are so many books on goodreads!!  Sometimes when I look up a book I love, there are little suggestions on the side or lists that include that book and you can just sort of get swept into this huge maze of finding awesome books to read.

So, those are the ways in which I find new books.  What about you, do you have any other ways of finding new books?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

Title: Phantom of Terawhiti

Author: Des Hunt

Published: HarperCollins NZ, 1 February 2013

Pages: 256

Summary: It's the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He's living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington's wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.  (Taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: This is the second book by Des Hunt that I have read and I feel like I was even more impressed with this one.  I sat down to start it and basically ended up polishing the book off the same day.  It was a really entertaining read and I had a lot of fun reading through it.

I found the story line to be really good.  It has a mysterious element to it which I really loved and I just thought it was so engrossing.

The characters were really believable and I really liked Zac.  I did find Jess’ actions to be a little annoying though, I really want to tell her to just listen to Zac and then things wouldn’t have gone as far as they did.  I did think she did redeem herself a little bit in the end though.

The writing is simplistic and straightforward which is to be expected as it’s written for a younger YA audience and I feel as though it just made the book flow on smoothly and made it really easy to just fly through the pages.

Overall, I thought that Phantom of Terawhiti was a really good read and I am definitely keen on reading more by Des Hunt.

Kiwi Spotlight:

This kiwi indicates that this book was written by a New Zealand author. It is also set in New Zealand.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe that the first month of the year has gone by already.  January and February are the months where I tend to get more books read than any other month because it's the time when I'm on summer holidays for the year.  This month however, I didn't read as many books as I usually do in a month but I kind of expected that to be honest.

The books that I managed to read this month were:
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I didn't purchase any books this month which is good because it means that my tbr pile went down even if it were only by a couple of books.

Monthly Revisit:
So I feel like a bunch of my older reviews don't get visited any more and so I just wanted to bring some books back into the limelight.  This month I have chosen How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford.

Also, here is our giveaway for February which is the same as last month, a book of choice from the book depository of up to $15 NZD.  Just fill out the form below to be entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway