Monday, 18 August 2014

Short Hiatus

Sup everybody! So it's almost the end of summer, and in three days I will be heading off to the US to start university. Cue total freak out moment! I will be super busy over the next few days packing almost my entire life into a couple of suitcases (yes, I'll be back in Singapore this December for winter break but still).

And once I get to uni, I'll again be super busy settling in, meeting new people, etc. So I decided to take a little hiatus on the blog, just a couple of weeks until classes begin and I'm not confused about the whole process anymore.

So that's it for now, then! And I will see you guys again sometime in the beginning of September. I'm really excited to start a new chapter in my life, and a really important one at that. Living in a whole new country all the way across the world, it's going to be weird but I can't wait ❤ 

Also, I will finally get to meet authors and attend book signings/festivals and gosh it's going to be awesome.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Review: Rotten by Michael Northrop

Title: Rotten
Author: Michael Northrop
Release date: April 1st 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Pages: 246

Source: Author

A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away---a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

Rotten is a book that would appeal to dog lovers everywhere, as well as adolescent readers. It's an interesting story, and I loved the growing affection between JD and Johnny Rotten. There's also a mystery aspect that we don't get to find out much about until later.

JD spent the summer somewhere upstate, no one really knows where. Or what he was doing there. He's actually really mysterious about it all. When he gets back, there are only a few days left for school to begin, and he gets a surprise when he enters the house - his mom got a dog! Johnny Rotten (a.k.a. JR) is a rescue dog, which means he's been treated pretty badly in the past and had to be taken out of that hostile environment. So it's hard for JR to trust people, especially males. But JD and JR soon take to each other, and it's cute to see that. Until of course, something has to go wrong, and JD has to figure out how to save his dog before it's too late.

I really liked the way this book was written - it totally felt like a genuine teenage boy's thoughts. JD's interactions with his friends were especially amusing and pretty awesome, because these guys are legit and realistic teenage boys (despite their reputation). None of that annoyingly perfect/sexy/romantic attitudes that male YA characters all have now. I guess most people would call this a guy book, but really it's a dog book. If you love dogs, you'll love JR.

I wish we'd got to know some things closer to the beginning of the book, though. Maybe a little more information about JD's summer, or how he fell out with his girlfriend. JD and his friends also seem really immature, though maybe that's just to authenticate the teenage guy POV. I did find their jokes and conversations pretty funny, though!

There's a lot here about friendship and compassion, both human and with Johnny Rotten. I really felt for JR, and for JD as well when everything started going wrong. I adore dogs (though I sadly don't have one of my own), and it was cool reading about an adorable misunderstood dog like JR.

*Thank you to Michael Northrop for sending an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Friday, 15 August 2014

Review: Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Title: Rogue
Author: Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Release date: May 16th 2013
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Format: ARC
Pages: 227

Source: Author

Kiara has Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s hard for her to make friends. So whenever her world doesn’t make sense—which is often—she relies on Mr. Internet for answers. But there are some questions he can’t answer, like why she always gets into trouble, and how do kids with Asperger’s syndrome make friends? Kiara has a difficult time with other kids. They taunt her and she fights back. Now she’s been kicked out of school. She wishes she could be like her hero Rogue—a misunderstood X-Men mutant who used to hurt anyone she touched until she learned how to control her special power.

When Chad moves in across the street, Kiara hopes that, for once, she’ll be able to make friendship stick. When she learns his secret, she’s so determined to keep Chad as a friend that she agrees not to tell. But being a true friend is more complicated than Mr. Internet could ever explain, and it might be just the thing that leads Kiara to find her own special power.

In Rogue, author Lyn Miller-Lachmann celebrates everyone’s ability to discover and use whatever it is that makes them different.

Rogue is an intense and thought-provoking novel about a girl with Asperger's syndrome who tried her best to make friends despite everything she's been through. This is technically middle grade, although I wouldn't really recommend this to middle schoolers on account of the subject matter *cough* drugs and drinking *cough*.

Kiara has always had trouble making friends, especially since she's already labelled 'weird' and 'Crybaby Kiara' after a few incidents. She has trouble managing her anger, and that gets her kicked out of school. Kiara has a brilliant mind - it's just that she's not good with emotions. So when Chad moves in across, Kiara wants to make a friendship that will actually last. Except that Chad's got a lot of troubles of his own, troubles that Kiara gets dragged into. And she realizes that empathy is something she really is capable of, despite what 'Mr. Internet' says.

I loved that Kiara's obsessed with X-Men! I love the movies, though haven't read any of the comics. But I love Rogue too, she's awesome. Kiara relates her life to that of Rogue, and even relates people she knows to other X-Men characters. Chad is Gambit, and her brother Max's friend is Wolverine. I thought it was pretty cool, though no one in the novel does.

It was interesting to see into Kiara's mind as a kid with Asperger's syndrome. Though it's a little concerning that she's not actually diagnosed with it. No one knows what's wrong with her, not even her family. They think she was born different because of her father's chemotherapy before her conception. I don't know if that's legit, but I still think it's weird that no one bothered to find out what her condition really is. Kiara had to find out from the internet and tell her dad.

Speaking of Kiara's family, I was pretty surprised at how different they are! Definitely not your average family - they're all in a band together. Kiara's mother, father, two older brothers, and even uncles I believe. They go touring and everything, and Kiara goes along with them, recording concerts. Which is really cool! But I did find it weird that her mother speaks mostly only Spanish and barely any English, while her dad can't speak Spanish at all. Major communication issues!

Oh gosh, issues. There are so many issues in this book. Not even kidding! Really serious ones that I wasn't expecting at all, especially for a middle grade book. And that made things pretty hard to believe, because everything gets so messed up. I don't want to state them specifically, but I did mention drugs and drinking. Not together, don't worry. But it's way intense. And that's not even all there is. Which is why I think Rogue is a great book for teenage readers, like maybe fourteen or fifteen? Twelve seems too young to me, even though that's the age of the characters here.

Another cool thing about this book - the BMX riding. I've seen some do awesome tricks in a skate park, and reading about them here brought back the amazement I felt seeing that. It's a bunch of guys having fun and making videos of their stunts and wipeouts, and there's real talent everywhere. I'm a little jealous of Kiara that she got to see all of that up close! But of course, not all good things last. And things get really really bad soon in the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed Rogue in many ways, even though the intensity freaked me out a little. Integrating X-Men into Kiara's life was a great move, I think. It really did help me empathize with her and her situation.

*Thank you to Lyn Miller-Lachmann for sending an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Title: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Author: Sara Raasch

Release date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 277

Source: Edelweiss

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Snow Like Ashes is a great example of the awesome fantasy novels that are slowly taking over the YA fiction community. I loved the premise and the characters, and most importantly the writing. Sara Raasch has totally pulled me into her beautiful yet dangerous world, and I'm excited to see more from her.

Meira and seven others are the only Winterians who escaped sixteen years ago when Winter was invaded and defeated by Spring forces. Meira was just a baby then, and doesn't feel a true connection to Winter. But she strives to do whatever it takes to help Winter get back on its feet, and then she can finally have some Winter memories of her own. Magic in the kingdoms comes from objects known as conduits, and Winter's conduit is a locket. Meira decides to go retrieve the locket herself, which sparks the danger and action that begins soon after.

The basic concept is there are eight kingdoms in the land - four Season kingdoms and four Rhythm kingdoms. Each have a ruler. There are four male ones, and four females. The magic they have can only be passed down to rulers of the same gender. So basically the kingdoms with original female rulers should only have queens, as they are the only ones that can possess and control the magic. Each kingdom uses the magic as seen fit for their people. I think the concept is really cool, and I'm intrigued to know more about where the magic comes from and how the people came to possess it.

Our protagonist, Meira, is like the epitome of kickass YA heroines. I loved her! She's tough yet really compassionate, and so incredibly driven. I was also really amused by how awkward she can be. Though hardened by the life she leads, Meira is far from cold or aloof. In fact, all she's ever wanted (apart from saving Winter) is to be acknowledged and appreciated by Sir, the man who brought her up like a father.

I liked that there wasn't too much romance in this book. The focus is kept on Meira's character development and her search for her identity. I wasn't fond of the love triangle that emerged soon in the novel, but I'm glad it's kind of resolved by the end. At least, I think so. Mather and Theron are both great guys. Both are similar in the way that they have a lot of responsibilities, but their characters are pretty different. I gravitated more towards Theron - he's an artsy kind of guy, he loves paintings and poetry. And he seems really easy to be around. Mather on the other hand is the more broody type, and he kind of bugged me at times. But I still liked him regardless.

There are twists in the plot, some of which I saw coming and some that I didn't. I saw a big one coming quite early on, but I brushed it off because I was too caught up in what was going on. I was glad to see I was right! Anyway, I think the way everything is carried out in this book is perfect - smooth pace, no dullness, lots of action and tension.

All in all, this was an awesome read. I'm glad there was no cliffhanger at the end - in fact, it ended pretty well. If some little things had been changed, this might've even worked well as a standalone. There are so many great elements in this book. I hope a lot of them are explored more in the next one! Filled with ferocity, fighting and fear, Snow Like Ashes will keep you on the edge of your seat, compelled by the magic of the world within it.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Release Day Blitz: Flawed by J.L. Spelbring

Happy release day to Flawed (Perfection #2) by J.L. Spelbring! Check out the book below and enter the giveaway :D

In a world where Hitler won the The War, and perfection is constantly sought, Ellyssa has broken free from her austere life and has found another meaning for her existence. 

Family, friendship, and love. 

But her happiness is short lived. Ellyssa finds herself on the run, again. Her father's work didn't die with him, but lives on in her siblings, Aalexis and Xaver, and they are determined to complete his unfinished dream.

Release date: August 12th 2014
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Kobo | iBooks

About the author:

J.L. Spelbring lives in Texas, where she wanders out in the middle of the night to look at the big and bright stars. Besides knocking imaginary bad guys in the head with a keyboard, she enjoys being swept away between the pages of a book, running amuck inside in her own head, pretending she is into running, and hanging out with her kids, who are way too cool for her.

Her novel, Perfection, released in July 2013 and the sequel, Flawed, releases August 2014.

Find J.L. on:

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Monday, 11 August 2014

Review: Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Title: Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear #1)
Author: Michael Grant

Release date: September 23rd 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Format: eARC
Pages: 146

Source: Edelweiss

Michael Grant, author of the New York Times bestselling Gone series, has created a powerful and brilliant narrative that examines the nature of good and evil in every human.

Mara wakes in a field of dead grass, a heavy mist pressing down on her. She is terrified, afraid that she is dead. Then a beautiful young man dressed in black appears. He calls himself Messenger of Fear.

This boy is able to move effortlessly through space and time. He also sees the darkness in human hearts. He sees the evils done: the destructive lies, the cruelty, the bullying, the violence. And if the world does not bring justice to those who do evil, he will. He offers the wicked a game. If they win, they go free. If they lose, they will live their greatest fear. Either way, their sanity will be challenged.

It is a world of fair but harsh justice. Of retribution and redemption. And mystery. Why was Mara chosen to be the Messenger’s apprentice? What has she done to deserve this terrible fate? She won’t find out until three of the wicked receive justice. And when she does, she will be shattered.

Messenger of Fear is a really vague book. That's the best word I can use to describe it. The premise is original - I've never read anything like it before. But we also don't get many answers. I adored Grant's Gone series, and the writing in this book is just as good. But I'll need the next book before I can figure out what exactly I think of this series.

Our protagonist, Mara, wakes up in a place she's never been before, with no idea of her past or her own identity, except for her name. The Messenger appears to her, which should probably calm her a little, except he's even more mysterious than her surroundings. Soon Mara is told that he is the Messenger of Fear, and deals out justice to wrongdoers. Mara is his apprentice, although she has no memories and so cannot remember why she agreed to such a thing. Mara accompanies the Messenger as he goes about his job, discovering more and more about her new world. And simultaneously fearing it even more.

We really don't get to know much in this book. And it's a lot shorter than most novels, so it was basically an introduction into the world. I can't even decide whether I like Mara or not, because I don't know her well enough. She's really compassionate though, and sensible. We know a little more about what the Messenger is like, because of Mara's curiosity. He, too, was given the job of Messenger as a sort of punishment. Though he's just as compassionate as Mara, and really kind, he has to push all the emotion away to focus on his job. I really hope we find out more about who he is in the next book! But from what I've seen, I like this guy.

There are a few pretty violent scenes that I don't normally see in YA, and those were a bit hard to read but it's not too bad. This book definitely has a lot of darkness in it, though, so be prepared for that. No rainbows or butterflies here. I liked seeing a side of human nature that we don't normally see - the damaged and bad ones but not truly evil, as well as the ones with no compassion at all.

There's a twist towards the end that was actually pretty obvious earlier on, so I was disappointed by the predictability. Hopefully the next book stays away from that kind of mystery, because I'd like to know more about the characters. Not just Mara and the Messenger, but Daniel, who's kind of like their boss. As well as Oriax, a girl who works for another side. We don't even know what exactly that side is! So yeah, I want answers.

It's definitely intriguing, the plot. We have no idea about this world so experiencing it along with Mara is pretty cool. I'd have liked it to be longer, with at least some more background knowledge, and also some more about the Messenger. But I guess that's all being left to future books. Either way, this was a cool read, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 9 August 2014

In My Mailbox #35

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren which allows us to share the books we’ve bought, borrowed and received.

Some lovely titles this week! *Sigh* I love books.

For Review

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes*
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard*
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas*
Make it Right by Megan Erickson*
Perfection by J.L. Spelbring^
Day 21 by Kass Morgan^

*ARCs from Edelweiss (thanks HarperCollins!)
^ARCs from NetGalley (thanks Spencer Hill and FSB!)

Those three up there are all 2015 releases that I'm very excited about. So glad Harper put those up this early! I can't wait to dig into them, especially A Wicked Thing - that sounds amaaaazing. I read Make it Right a little while ago, it was a cute read :) Excited for the next one. And Perfection I was honestly surprised to see pop up on NetGalley since it released last year, but I still want to read it, so what the hell (Y) Also, I just got approved for Day 21, and I'm so so excited! This is the sequel to The 100, and I'm very curious to see what happens next.


Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Divided by Elsie Chapman

Aren't those covers just beautiful? I read both of these, and really liked them. Especially the second one. I don't know if there will be another book, but there's definitely the possibility of it and I'm hoping for one, because this dystopian world is really fascinating.


The Selection by Kiera Cass
The Elite by Kiera Cass

Got these from a friend and fellow book blogger - thanks for the awesome birthday gift, Rabiah ❤ I've been wanting to read this series for a while, and now that it's ended I can binge-read them anytime!

I'm really happy with all of these. And really excited for the ARCs I haven't read yet! What did you guys get in your mailbox this week? :)