Sunday, 31 March 2013

Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Title: Taken (Taken #1)
Author: Erin Bowman
Release date: April 16th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

I absolutely loved Taken! It's a very refreshing take on dystopia, and I found the premise incredibly intriguing. Just by reading the blurb, I knew I'd love it. Not to mention the beautiful cover! This book just kept getting better as I read on, and in my opinion, Erin Bowman has written an awesome YA debut.

The boys of Claysoot disappear the moment they turn eighteen, and this is a given. No one questions it, and everyone has accepted it as a norm. But when Gray's brother, Blaine, is Heisted, he can't seem to go on with his life. He finds part of a letter from his deceased mother, written to Blaine, and it hints at a secret about Gray. He needs answers, and he can only find them in one place. He has to climb over the Wall - the structure that keeps everyone in Claysoot inside because of their inherent fear of what lies beyond. But Gray could never have imagined what he actually discovered once he makes it to the other side with Emma, the girl he loves.

Once over the Wall, Gray and Emma find out that Claysoot isn't what they think it is, and their lives are turned upside down. Initially, it's quite hard to follow what's going on, but if you're a dystopian junkie like me, you'll get all of it really fast and you'll love it. On top of that, the thrill you get when all the mysteries are solved and the confusion is cleared is amazing! I think Gray dealt with the overload of knowledge pretty well, considering everything he once knew about his life is false.

I know some people wouldn't agree with me, but I really liked Gray's character. I felt like I could understand him while reading the novel, and that doesn't happen very much with me. What's even more weird is that Taken is from Gray's perspective, so I thought it would be harder to connect with the protagonist if he's a guy. But I could truly empathize with him. Gray is wild and reckless, and I think that's what drew me to him in the first place. He's definitely very different from his brother, Blaine. He's courageous, but flawed. And I think that's great, because I never like it when some main characters in books are portrayed as absolutely perfect. Gray's imperfections make him all the more endearing, and his character did develop a lot over the course of the novel.

Blaine, Gray's brother, looks almost identical to him (except for the eyes), but their personalities are so very contrasting. Blaine is gentle and calm most of the time, and he's wise. He thinks before he acts, and would never do anything rash. Gray depends on Blaine for so much, and Blaine knows that. I think he's really supportive of Gray in the book, and I really feel for him considering the burdens he carries on his shoulders. His relationship with Gray is very easy-going, and I loved reading about their childhood memories together. Even though Blaine is starkly different from Gray personality-wise, they share the same immense courage. Blaine looked his Heist in the face, and didn't show any fear at all when the time came. I really admired that about him, how he tried to reassure Gray at that moment instead of thinking about where he was going or what was going to happen to him.

Emma has been the object of Gray's affections ever since he can remember. But she's never shown anything other than platonic feelings towards him. At least, not until they are made to spend a month together after Blaine's Heist, and she really sees him for who he is. Frankly, I didn't really like Emma in this book. What she does, the decisions she makes... Let's just say I'm not a huge fan of her after that. I did like her in the beginning, though. Emma has a gentle nature, quite like Blaine's, and she's a healer. But she has a surprising amount of bravery in her! She follows Gray over the Wall, even though she knows she wouldn't make it out there for long. Her trust in Gray is amazing at that time. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't mention what she does later on, but I don't know if I want redemption for her.

One character I definitely loved was Bree. Gray meets Bree when he encounters the Rebels, and she knocks him unconscious during their first meeting. Bree is a lot like Gray - wild, rash, and sometimes quite crazy. More so than Gray, actually. Bree is refreshingly honest, and I really liked that, considering the amount of lying in this book. I loved the constant banter and exchange of insults between her and Gray. We also get to see a vulnerable side of Bree for a few moments, and that just made me like her even more. I'm definitely Team Bree in this book, and I doubt that will change in the sequel!

There are so many twists and turns in Taken that I couldn't keep track of them all. At every corner is a surprise waiting to knock you senseless, and you'll be left reeling after every one of them! The unpredictability is one reason I loved this book so much. I never knew what was going to happen, and my heart was in my mouth the entire time. Taken really picked up after Gray and Emma made it over the Wall, and from then on it was just bombs dropping! Not literally, of course. Just that there were a lot of revelations that you'd never see coming.

This book was so much better than I expected! I was drawn in by Gray's blunt and relatable voice, and the overall concept of the book is awesome. Some may say that it evolves into a typical dystopian, but I didn't see that. Mostly because I focused on the uniqueness of the book. With yet another shocking revelation towards the end, I honestly can't wait to read the sequel!

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

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Review: Wasteland by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan

Title: Wasteland (Wasteland #1)
Authors: Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan
Release date: March 26th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Format: ARC
Pages: 326
Source: Review copy from author/publisher

Population over age 19: 0.
Welcome to the Wasteland.

The citizens of Prin don't have the problems that plague typical teens. At 15, they marry. At 17, they reproduce. And at 19, they die.
There's also the looming threat of rampant disease, acid rain, starvation, and brutal attacks by the variants - hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin.

Esther thinks there's more to life than toiling under the relentless sun. Her best friend is a variant, and she longs to join the fringe community, to escape the judgement of Levi, the corrupt ruler who controls the Source. When a mysterious stranger named Caleb arrives in town, shady pasts begin to unravel, and the two rebels realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin.

Wasteland is the thrilling first book in a fast-paced trilogy with high stakes... of life and death.

Wasteland is an amazing start to an epic dystopian trilogy! I loved the fast pace, the concept, and the incredible writing. I did have a lot of unanswered questions throughout the novel, but on the whole I really enjoyed this one.

I admit I may be a little biased towards this book since it's a dystopian, but I was totally sucked in! The town of Prin and the people in it are very intriguing to read about, and the variants were another reason why this book really interested me. Esther's best friend, Skar, is a variant, and we get to see conflicting perspectives on these mysterious creatures. But even though I really liked the premise, I would have liked to have a little more background about the 'why' and 'how' of things. Though maybe details about this will be given in the next book. And in that case, I can't wait for the sequel!

I liked Esther from the start, because she is immediately set apart from the norm on account of the fact that her best friend is a variant, and they don't like following rules. Only three jobs exist in Prin - Harvesting, Gleaning, and Excavation. The people of Prin change jobs in two-week cycles. All of these jobs are for the benefit of Levi, the ruler of Prin. He provides the townspeople with food and water, in exchange for gas to power the Source. So basically - no gas for Levi, no food and water for the people. This is why the jobs are so important.

Esther shirks away from Harvesting, choosing to hang out with Skar instead. She's the only one who questions the rules of Prin, and who actually likes the variants. I liked Esther's rebellious attitude, and her bravery. She always stands up for what she believes in, and she's not afraid to show it. Esther is one girl who truly cares about people. She has a stable life in Prin, but everything changes the moment Caleb arrives in town.

Caleb is another character I loved. His loyalty towards his cause is admirable, and I think his ability to make the right decisions is quite amazing. Usually, characters make a lot of mistakes and have to pay for them, but in this case Caleb is simply paying for other people's mistakes. He's almost flawless in this novel! Caleb's relationship with Esther developed a bit too fast in my opinion, but it was sweet nonetheless. They make a great pair, and are really supportive of one another. They'd do anything for each other, and this is evident in the novel. I can't wait to see their chemistry further develop in the sequel!

The rest of the characters are a lot more complex, and harder to figure out. Levi and Sarah especially. Sarah is Esther's sister, but they are so different. Sarah is meek and submissive, always obeying the rules. But she is also very wise, and that's why Esther looks up to her so much. However, Sarah's naiveté is her undoing, and there are a lot of things she does that she can never take back.

Levi is, essentially, the villain of the book. He maintains order in Prin, though from a place further away - the Source. This is where Prin gets food and water from, and Levi basically keeps the town alive. At a cost, of course. Levi is sneaky and manipulative, and incredibly shrewd. He may have been redeemable at some point, but that's soon a lost cause. Even though Levi is tainted and dark, I like how unique a character he is. He's not easy to understand, and the complexity within him is seriously awesome.

Overall, I loved a lot of elements on this book, and I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. I'm actually surprised there even is a sequel, considering that this one ended really well. But hey, you never know what could happen to Prin next, and I can't wait to find out. Filled with heart-stopping action and amazing characters, Wasteland is one YA dystopian debut you do not want to miss!

*Thank you to Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan for providing a copy for review*

Rating: 4/5

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Title: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #1)
Author: Nikki Jefford
Release date: December 9th 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Paranormal
Source: eBook copy from Xpresso Book Tours
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

If there is one thing eighteen-year-old Aurora Sky wants, it’s to get off the iceberg she calls home. Being kissed before she graduates wouldn’t hurt either.

Then a near-fatal car wreck changes everything. Government agents step in and save Aurora’s life in exchange for her services as a vampire hunter. In Alaska. Basically she’s a glorified chew toy. All thanks to her rare blood type, which sends a vampire into temporary paralysis right before she has to finish the job… by hand.

Now Aurora’s only friends are groupies of the undead and the only boy she can think about may very well be a vampire. And if he’s a vampire, will she be forced to kill him?

Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter is an incredibly fun vampire read! I loved the premise - the fact that the government has hired Aurora as a vampire hunter. I really liked a lot of the characters in this book, as well. Aurora especially. And I loved all the action in this book, and the random bursts of humour were hilarious! Keep in mind, this book is New Adult, or perhaps upper YA, so it definitely shouldn't be read by tweens.

Aurora is pretty much your average unpopular high school girl - she sucks at sports, has only one close friend, and her classmates see her as a total dweeb. But all of that changes once she's in a car accident and wakes up to find herself on a government base.

I enjoyed reading from Aurora's perspective, because she's very realistic about everything. Also, her dry sense of humour was fun to see. I liked how straightforward she was - she never beat about the bush. I could really empathize with her in most parts, and I felt her anger, her happiness, and her determination, while reading this book. I found it easy to connect with her, and I think the reason is because her character is well-written and well-developed, too. Although there are a few aspects of her I didn't like. Her casual and nonchalant stance on sex and drinking was quite disturbing to see. But her positive features really shine through, and they overpowered the negatives.

Fane is a guy at Aurora's school, apparently one with 'The Worst Hair'. He's initially going out with Valerie Ward, the most gorgeous girl in the school. But as he and Aurora get closer, Fane breaks up with Valerie to be with Aurora. I liked Fane's character, he's really different from most guys I've read about. He's definitely not perfect, and that was nice too. I get kind of annoyed when every single guy in most YA books are drop-dead gorgeous. Fane's protectiveness over Aurora is really sweet, and I think they're really good together. But Fane's not exactly what Aurora expects, and she's not sure what to do about that.

There may be a possible love triangle in future books, involving Aurora, Fane, and Dante, Aurora's vampire-hunter mentor-slash-partner. Dante's pretty cool, but his lack of concern for anyone other than himself and his friend Janine. But he is quite useful in helping Aurora develop her skills and get over her car phobia, so I guess that's a plus. But I still don't think I'll be a fan of him anytime soon.

I loved the plotline of Aurora Sky, it was action-packed and very intriguing! I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel, Northern Bites. Especially after that ending! It's not exactly a cliffhanger, but it's enough to make you extremely eager for the sequel.

*Thank you to Giselle at Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with a copy for review*

Rating: 3.5/5


As part of the Aurora Sky blog tour, each blog is giving away an Aurora Sky door hanger, which can also be used as a bookmark. This giveaway is international, and the winner has 48 hours to reply to my email. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Cover Reveal: Frigid by J. Lynn

Hey everyone! Firstly I'm so happy to be back in Singapore after my 5-day trip to China, which was amazing, by the way :D
I know I'm a couple of days late with this reveal because I wasn't here, but I just had to post it because I'm SO EXCITED about it!
Here is the freaking awesome cover of Frigid by J. Lynn!

AHHH I love it so much  I can't wait to meet Kyler and Sydney!
Here's the official blurb - 

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Release dates: July 30th 2013 (digital) and November 5th 2013 (print)
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

About the author:

J. Lynn, also known as Jennifer L. Armentrout, is a # 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.
She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Find J. Lynn on:

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Review: The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

Title: The Murmurings

Author: Carly Anne West
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Edelweiss

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

The Murmurings is an intense thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time! I personally love horror movies and books, so I took to this one immediately. Even if you're not a horror fan, I think you'll like this, because The Murmurings will definitely have you riveted. The plot is fast-paced, and some scenes had my heart racing in anticipation!

Sophie hears voices and sees things no one else can. And no, she's not crazy. She knows that her sister, Nell, used to hear similar voices and see similar things before she died. All Sophie wants to do is find out the mysterious circumstances surrounding her sister's death, and she finds an unexpected ally in Evan, a Sweep monitor in her school and member of the JV football team. Sophie and Evan go on a dangerous journey to figure out what really happened to their loved ones.

I really felt for Sophie throughout this book. She's entirely alone, at least until Evan shows up. Her mom has been constantly in a drunk stupor since Nell died, and Sophie can't go to her for support. She has her Aunt Becca, but that's not really enough. Sophie's a great protagonist, but she does have her flaws. She's intelligent and brave, but incredibly reckless. This recklessness leads her to make impulsive decisions that she has to pay for later. But despite that, I really liked her character. She seemed very gentle, in a sense. And I loved how much she cared for everyone around her.

Evan teams up with Sophie when he finds out they're both pretty much in the same boat. But it's not until later that the two of them find out how much they have in common. I loved Evan! He's so incredibly sweet, and so understanding of Sophie. He's the only one who could put a smile on her face, who could make her feel like she's not alone. They have their ups and downs in this book, but it's very clear how much they care for each other.

The whole premise of The Murmurings is so intriguing. I've never read anything like it before, and it totally pulled me in from the start. Oakside Behavioral Institute - the place where Nell was taken, and the place where Sophie and Evan find their answers - felt so real to me! I could imagine exactly what it looked like, and what the patients were like. Dr. Keller, the head of the Institute, is a complete nightmare. But at some point I just began to feel sorry for him. Only a little, though. He's done way too many unforgivable things, and I don't think he's redeemable.

The Murmurings is a fantastic one-sit read, and an amazing debut from Carly Anne West. I'm definitely looking forward to more books from her! The plot and the characters were both unique, and I liked how the ending didn't leave anything hanging. FYI, that last part just now was an unintentional pun which you will understand if you've read the book ;)

*Thank you to Carly Anne West and Simon Pulse for providing me with an eGalley for review*

Rating: 4/5

Friday, 22 March 2013

Cover Reveal: No Attachments by Tiffany King

I'm very excited to share the beautiful cover of No Attachments by Tiffany King with you guys today! Here's the cover :D

This book sounds absolutely amazing, and I can't wait to read it!
Here is the official blurb - 

Ashton Garrison walked away from a privileged life in order to hide from the one thing she's not willing to face. She knows she left behind a trail of pain, but in the long run, her betrayal will hurt less than the truth. She now has one goal: Live life to the fullest with no regrets and no attachments. She has high hopes that a move to new surroundings will provide the escape she desires, but what Ashton doesn't count on is how fate always seems to find a way to screw up any good plan. Sometimes, when love comes knocking, the pull is too strong not to answer. Suddenly, what she thought she wanted to escape from is what Ashton now wants more than anything.

Nathan Lockton has one mission: find his target and complete the task he was hired to do—no attachments and no emotion necessary. He's done it over and over again. What he thought was a typical lost-and-found job has turned into a life examining moment as Nathan is forced to deal with something he has always ignored--his feelings. Now faced with a decision, Nathan must choose to either follow his heart or complete the job.

Love can come when you least expect it. The question is: If the odds are stacked against you, how far are you willing to go for the one you love?

Release date: April 30th 2013

About the author:

Tiffany King is the author of The Saving Angels Series, Wishing for Someday Soon, Forever Changed, Unlikely Allies, Miss Me Not and Jordyn: A Daemon Hunter Novel book one. Writer by day and book fanatic the rest of the time, she is now pursuing her life-long dream of weaving tales for others to enjoy.
She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iphone and ipad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.

Find Tiffany on:

Goodreads | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Blogging Update #1

Hey everyone!

Firstly I want to mention that I just reached six months of blogging a few days ago! March 17th, to be exact. I love it so much already and I can't imagine what it would be like to stop. I've met so many amazing bloggers, and read so many amazing books that I discovered from people in the blogging community. So I just want to say thanks to all of you!
Oh, and I just realized, today is the six-month anniversary of my very first blog post
YAYYY. *celebrating* 
In case you were wondering, my first blog post was the cover reveal for Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout ;)

Anyway, getting to the point of this post. Next week, I will be in China on Project Week. What is Project Week, you ask? Well it's a compulsory school trip which is entirely planned and carried out by students. Yeah, our whole grade goes off to other Asian countries in little groups to volunteer at NGOs or animal reserves, or even just go on a hiking trip. Without any teachers or adults, woot woot! My group and I are volunteering at a panda reserve in China! So that's a whole week of THIS -->

Aren't they ADORABLEE???  ❤ 
BUT what this means is that I won't be able to blog for a week :(
Not only that, I won't even be able to go on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube *GASP*
So yeah, I'll be off the Internet for that week.

Another Update - 

When I get back, I do have a two-week Easter break, but I will have to spend the entire time studying for my end of year exams which start right after the break.
What this means is that I won't be able to read or blog much at all for the next MONTH, since my last exam is on the 19th of April.
My blog tour posts will be going up as scheduled, of course, and I will be reading and reviewing particular books that I'm very excited for. But that's pretty much it, and it won't be much :/

Thanks for reading this unnecessarily long blog post, and thank you so much if you regularly check out my blog!
It means so much to me 

Review: First Frost by Liz DeJesus

Title: First Frost (First Frost #1)
Author: Liz DeJesus
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Ebook
Pages: 274
Source: Review copy from author

Fairytales aren’t real…yeah…that’s exactly what Bianca thought. She was wrong.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.

She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Magic isn’t about control or power. Magic is all about believing in the impossible.
First Frost is a captivating novel about a fairy-tale world, in which a seventeen-year-old girl called Bianca finds out she's a witch descended from Snow White, and has magical powers. I loved the premise of this book! I've read a few fairy-tale retellings before, but this one isn't a retelling - it's a story involving almost every single fairy tale or famous kid's book you've read. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and many more! Liz DeJesus has created a beautiful world of magic, and the adventurous elements of this book really drew me in.

Bianca lives with her mom, Rose, and the two of them run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, the only one of its kind in the United States. It has every single magical and fairy-tale item you can imagine, but Bianca doesn't really believe in their credibility. At least, until she witnesses magic with her own eyes. When Rose is kidnapped, Bianca immediately rushes to her rescue, along with her best friend, Ming. Their search takes them to Everafter, the magical world. First Frost follows Bianca as she strives to bring her mother back and, at the same time, discover who she really is and what she's capable of.

I liked Bianca's character well enough - she's brave, and I liked how dedicated she is to getting her mother back and defeating the witch who took her. Bianca is a fast learner, and she soon discovers the extent of her powers. Bianca's sense of adventure is great, and she's also incredibly smart.

However, I didn't take to her friend Ming very much. I mean yeah, she's a good friend to Bianca, but later on it's evident that she can't handle anything that's going on around her. Her character and personality seemed quite weak to me, at least compared to Bianca. But I did enjoy her snark and her sense of humour. It brought some comedy elements to the book!

Immediately after entering Everafter, Bianca and Ming meet Prince Ferdinand, the prince of Everafter, and his servant Terrance. Prince Ferdinand was hilarious, I loved his inherent stupidity! And it's ironic that he depends so much on Terrance for making decisions. Ferdinand really doesn't seem anything like a prince. Terrance, on the other hand, is really quite wise. He's also very understanding and caring, and just overall a great guy. The romance between Terrance and Bianca is sweet, but it seemed like it came out of nowhere. I also wish there had been more character development, but maybe there will be more of that in the sequel, Glass Frost.

I'm really looking forward to Glass Frost, after reading the ending of First Frost! In this book, Bianca discovers a lot about her past, as well as the world she truly belongs to. She also meets some surprising people along the way. First Frost is an enjoyable read, and the fantasy woven throughout it was quite enchanting!

*Thank you to Liz DeJesus for providing me with a copy for review*

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Review: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Release date: March 19th 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Format: eBook


A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

This has got to be the hardest review I've ever written. When I started reading Clockwork Princess, I was eager, excited, and terrified all at once. I didn't want it to end! But of course it had to. Clockwork Princess was absolutely beautiful. Each and every page of it. I don't even know what else to say... It was just so overwhelming to think about the fact that this amazing series has come to an end, that I would never get to read any more of Tessa, Will, Jem, and everyone else at the Institute, that their part of the story is over. This book actually made me cry. Twice. And I rarely ever cry while reading a book, so that's saying something!

In Clockwork Princess, the stakes are at the highest, and Tessa is in a race against time to do everything she possibly can to save Jem and defeat Mortmain once and for all. Everything changes in this book, for the better and worse. There are so many revelations in this book - some predicted, and others that just hit you in the face. My emotions were all over the place as I devoured this book!

Tessa is one of the few YA heroines that have always been really close to me. She's one of the few that I can't seem to find any flaws in, she's just that lovable. Tessa's loyalty really shines through in this book. Her loyalty to Jem, Will, Charlotte, and the Institute. She is braver and stronger, and her self-scarificing nature brings tears to my eyes. Tessa's heart is torn in two, and under the circumstances I admire how she found the resilience to fight back even though her emotions were in such a turmoil. We find out exactly who and what Tessa is, and what she's capable of.

Jem's health is deteriorating fast, and there is despair all around as the Shadowhunters search for a cure. I've always loved Jem's sweetness and kindness, his ability to give strength to the people around him, and his determination to make sure Tessa is happy and safe, no matter what. My heart broke many times over while reading this book, and a lot of those times involved Jem. He knows he's dying, but he wants to shine brightly for Tessa before he leaves her. I found that so incredibly sweet and selfless. That's just the way Jem is. You can't help loving him. Jem has a lot of difficult decisions to make in Clockwork Princess, and I think he made the right ones.

Will. Oh, Will. My heart broke for him, too, several times. Now that Will knows that there is no curse on him, he has to stand and watch as the love of his life is engaged to his parabatai. Will is obviously different in this book, but more so because Cecily, his sister, is living at the Institute. He's glad to be with her again but at the same time he doesn't want her in danger. I loved seeing his protectiveness over Cecily, Tessa, and Jem. It seems like he's always protecting someone. Will even becomes friends with Gabriel Lightwood, something we never would have seen coming. He's grown a lot over the course of the series, and he's been through so much. We get to find out the origin of the scar on his shoulder, the one he gets when he's touched by an angel, the one that gets passed down his family for generations. Will is brave and reckless throughout the book, but he's also passionate. And his love for books, which is shared by Tessa, never failed to bring a smile to my face. There is this one quote which he says which is probably my favourite non-spoiler quote in the book - 

Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read.

I think the most beautiful thing in Clockwork Princess - and this whole series, in fact - is the bond between Will and Jem. They are parabatai, yes, but their bond runs deeper than that. In this book, we see flashbacks of Will and Jem when they were younger. We see the day Will met Jem, which was also the first time Will showed some emotion on his face after the day he arrived at the Institute. Will and Jem are brothers in an outward sense, but their souls are bound together in a deeper sense, in a way we can't possibly understand. It was awe-inspiring, the way the two of them fiercely protected each other from everything they could, and the way they understood and always stood by each other.

The Infernal Devices has some of the most amazing book characters I've ever seen. I loved reading about Magnus again, because he's just so awesome. Magnus is an integral part of this book and in defeating Mortmain, which you'll find out when you read the book. I was most curious to see what Cecily would be like. And I loved her! She's so tough and brave, and I loved her incredibly stubborn and no-nonsense attitude. She's very similar to Will in some ways, but very different in others. It was sweet to see her getting close to Gabriel. Gabriel really steps up in this book. He's realized his mistakes, and he's willing to make up for them. It's hilarious how fascinated he is by Cecily! Gideon and Sophie finally get together in this book, thank goodness! I was rooting for them desperately. Sophie gets over her inhibitions, and embraces Gideon with open arms. Gideon is very protective of Sophie, and is also very in love with her. He'd do anything for her, and that is made crystal clear in this book.

Oh, and how could I forget Charlotte and Henry? The heads of the Institute, they have a lot riding on their shoulders in Clockwork Princess. Charlotte especially. She defiantly tries to prove to the Consul that she is fully capable of managing the Institute, but it gets hard for her. I love Charlotte's perseverance and her infallible love and loyalty towards the Shadowhunters under her roof. She'd happily sacrifice herself for them. Henry is as hilarious as ever, but we really see how much he loves Charlotte in this book, and how his life isn't all about inventions and machinery. Henry is another pivotal figure in defeating Mortmain. His inventions finally come through, and I was so glad about that!

There are so many quotes I want to put into this review, but they're all quite spoilery, so I can't. The beautiful writing makes you even more engrossed in this book, and makes you cry even harder at the sad scenes. The first half of the book is full of action, suspense, and drama. I loved every second of it! The plot slows a little after about halfway through, but the suspense is ever-present. Clockwork Princess overflows with brilliance! I loved the fact that all the loose ends were tied up at the end, and I got closure from the epilogue. Oh my god the epilogue. I don't want to say much about it, since I may give something away, but I will say this. It is very, very, bittersweet. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming and joyful and sorrowful all at the same time. It's the best ending I could hope for, so I'm very pleased with the way Cassandra Clare has written it. It's also very thought-provoking, and of course it brings out the waterworks. Brace yourselves for this one!

I can't express how much I loved and cherished reading this book. Not even this incredibly long and spoiler-free review can express that. I just want to say thank you to Cassandra for writing this beautiful series, and for making me fall in love with all these characters. Oh my god now my eyes are tearing up again! I will miss these characters so much. Clockwork Princess is a true masterpiece, and it will always remain close to my heart.

Rating: 5/5

Dear Cassie Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Title: Dear Cassie (Pretty Amy #2)
Author: Lisa Burnstein
Release date: March 5th 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Format: eARC
Source: Review copy from Rockstar Book Tours
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

I admit I haven't read Pretty Amy yet, but I immensely enjoyed Dear Cassie regardless. This book is a companion to Pretty Amy, but it works great as a standalone. I was immediately sucked into Cassie's crazy life, and it was an awesome experience! I definitely have to get around to reading Lisa's other books soon.

I loved how Dear Cassie is written like diary entries. We get to read all of Cassie's deepest thoughts, and the style of writing really helped me connect with her. Cassie is sent to a one-month-long camp for troubled teens, and when I say camp, I mean camp. Wilderness camp. Cassie and the others have to sleep in cabins, gather wood, and basically find out what it's like to live in the wilderness. Cassie hates being there, and desperately counts down the days until she can leave. She also stays the hell away from the other teens. Until, of course, Ben decides not to let her. He gets under her skin, and she's not sure if she likes that. Dear Cassie shows us how Cassie gets past her inhibitions and learns to trust again.

Cassie is freaking awesome. She does swear a lot, like A LOT, but I was totally cool with that. I get that she's gone through so much, and knows how harsh the world can be. She's hesitant to let people in, and that's her undoing. Cassie can't seem to let go of her past, or her so-called friends, Amy and Lila. I do wish I'd read Pretty Amy before this, so I could get a feel of their characters, but this book focuses on Cassie. And I love her character! She's snarky, and isn't afraid to let people know what she thinks. She may be a bit of a smart-ass, but she's a pretty funny one. I loved reading from her perspective. There's also a vulnerable side of her that Ben can bring out, and seeing that was really sweet.

Ben is a guy Cassie meets at the airport, and she's shocked to find out he's also headed to the same camp she's going to. Ben seems really care-free, and he's always grinning and joking around. I found it hilarious how he tried his best to get on Cassie's good side, but she never let him.

Either way, he was doing whatever he could to be my knight in shining armor.
Unfortunately, I was no princess.

This part cracked me up! I felt sorry for Ben considering how hard he tried. At least it didn't go to waste! I love the part where Cassie finally lets Ben in. Their relationship is intense but sweet at the same time.

All the characters in this book are so incredibly unique. I really liked Troyer, who was Cassie's only friend at camp. Other than Ben, of course. She didn't talk at all, but it was so great to see how easily Cassie connected with her, once she let her in. I definitely did not like the remaining girl, Nez. She was definitely something, but she just seemed so bitchy. Though she did redeem herself eventually. It's kind of weird that everyone at camp calls each other by their last names, so we don't even get to find out Troyer and Nez's first names until much later. As for the other guys at the camp, we don't find out at all. But one of them's an asshole and the other didn't do much, so I'm not exactly complaining!

There are sensitive issues addressed in this book that make it seem more NA than YA, but I think Lisa wrote them in really well. Cassie seems so incredibly real to me, because what she went through happens to a lot of people her age. But she got through it, and that's why I admire her strength so much. Cassie really is an amazing character. Seriously, I'd recommend this book to everyone! It's a beautiful contemporary, serious and fun at the same time. And it will make you tear up, I guarantee it. I'm now definitely going to check out Pretty Amy as soon as I can!

*Thank you to Jaime and Rachel at Rockstar Book Tours for picking me for this tour and providing me with a copy for review*

Rating: 4/5

About the author:

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.
She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.

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As part of this blog tour, all the hosts are having a giveaway for one paperback (US) and one ebook (International) copy of Dear Cassie. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour schedule here!