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Monday, 30 March 2015

Real Talk #2: Acknowledgements


So...acknowledgement pages. You know, those dainty notes usually placed at the end of novels where the author expresses his/her gratitude to all the people who made the novel itself possible. I thought I'd chat a bit about this integral aspect of any novel and its relevance to me, personally.

I only started reading the Acknowledgements section a couple of months ago and my drive, admittedly, was not an actual interest in the persons working behind the scenes. Honestly, I believe I had just finished The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead and read the chapter sampler on Silver Shadows and I just wanted more so out of boredom, I read the acknowledgements and I was hooked. It has now become an obsession for me, an addiction of sorts or more precisely, a breathless anticipation of the time when I finish a novel and get the chance to learn about the author's figurative "ride or dies".

What's amazing to me is the myriad ways in which these thanks can be presented. There's no fixed structure, no template to follow. Really, creativity reigns when I read some acknowledgments. Most I've read are in prose, but I've also read some lists and the occasional poem. I particularly enjoy when the acknowledgements mimic the theme that is carried throughout the majority of the novel. For example, if a book is centered around high school and the trivial hierarchy present in that establishment, it's fitting and quite funny for the author to assign these roles to the instrumental people involved in the publishing of the book.

My point in writing this post is to simultaneously express my newly-found love for acknowledgements and also, to encourage you guys to read them if you don't already. You learn so much about authors from their acknowledgements simply because their personalities shine through. You see how funny and kind and grateful they are and we get to put a name to the people who are not seen but whose jobs really play a major role in the finished product.

Do you read the acknowledgements at the end of books? My curious little brain wants to know why or why not so tell me down in the comment section! Until my next blog post, I love you guys...to infinity and beyond!







Monday, 23 March 2015

Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Burn for Burn #1)

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Title:Burn for Burn
Author:Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publisher:Simon and Schuster Books
Publication Date:September 18th, 2012
Source:Bought
Format:Paperback
Pages:358

Goodreads|Amazon|Barnes and Noble|Indigo

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds.

But bad things can happen, even to good girls . . . and sometimes, the only way to make things right is to do something wrong.

Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her little sister from the same fate.

Kat is over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person--her ex-best friend. Someone needs to teach her a lesson, and, with Lillia and Mary behind her, Kat feels up to the task.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. Now that she’s got friends who have her back, he's going to be in big trouble.

Three very different girls who come together to make things right. Will they go too far?

MY THOUGHTS

Burn For Burn is narrated in three points of view and tells the story of three girls; Lillia, Kat and Mary, who by some mysterious force of the universe come together to exact revenge on the people who have wronged them.

I've never read a Jenny Han book before so when I saw this one in the bookstore, I was quick to snatch it up and I must say, I was not disappointed. This novel was so fast-paced and easy to read and I read it in record time. Burn For Burn was basically a combination between Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars, two things that I love to death and the plot just grabbed me and pulled me in. I was a big fan of the third-person narration that interchanged between Lillia, Kat and Mary and Kat, in particular, was my favourite character. The ending let me down because I felt that there were so many unanswered questions and that "gift" which Mary somehow possessed was not discussed and kind of brushed over.

Contemporary books are not usually my cup of tea for the simple reason that they tend to be very draggy and slow and do not hold my interest for very long. Burn For Burn, however, flew by and before I had even grasped what was happening, I was done. It was such an addictive read, I could not for the life of me put it down and I am suffering from a severe case of withdrawal now that it's over.

I don't feel like the plot of Burn For Burn was completely unique, it wasn't a new idea or anything but it was different than anything I've read before. The abstract idea of teenage revenge is present in many novels but in this one, it was masterfully used and it had me fangirling, I was fangirling! It was kind of reminiscent of Mean Girls and Pretty Little Liars and I adored every second of it!

The interchanging points of view between the three main characters, Lillia, Kat and Mary were amazing because my initial fear when I picked this up and read the synopsis was that more attention would be paid to certain characters and others would be ill-developed. Au contraire, the multiple points of view aided a lot in character development because it allowed the reader to see them in a very personal and introspective way. The transitions from the mind of one character to the next were also very smooth and not at all confusing like it sometimes can be in other books. I knew at all times whose eyes I was viewing the world out of because each girl was unique and we got to know them so well in this novel.

I must admit though, the fangirl in me would squeal every time we made the jump to Kat's point of view because of the three girls, she was the one that I could most relate to. She was fierce and strong-willed and brave and generally, just a total badass who couldn't care less what anyone thought of her. She was the fearless leader of the group and quite frankly was the most likable because Mary was too shy to be taken seriously and Lillia was too stuffy to be real.

In the end, it came down to the epic act of revenge that went horribly wrong! It was filled with unimaginable surprises, betrayals and electrical malfunctions. It was MIND-BLOWING or it would have been had that wave of awesomeness been ridden out. At the peak of conflict, the book was cut short in what I guess was supposed to inspire a deep want for the second book in the trilogy but let's be real, I would have read it anyway. In reality, what it did inspire in me was annoyance, a lot of it for that matter as there were so many unanswered questions and I know that there's more to come but it was still bothersome. Specifically, the incredible power that Mary harbors?

I really enjoyed this novel save for two out of three main characters that I was apathetic towards and the crummy ending. I will continue on with the trilogy because I have a feeling that it's only going to get better and I'm excited. I decided to give this one four cupcakes because it was not perfect but I liked it a lot.

Final Sentence in the Novel
"I just hope we get away with it" - Kat

Favourite Lines from the Book
  • I'm sick of waiting for karma. Karma can suck it. - Kat
  • I could only handle dudes-who-love-dirt-bikes talk for so long before I wanted to lock the garage doors, rev all the engines and die from carbon monoxide poisoning. - Kat
  • They yell "Clear!" and duck back out into the hall, continuing their search for a fire.
    They won't find one, but Alex is gonna get burned. - Kat
  • Don't worry, Rennie. It's coming. The bitch slaps to end all bitch slaps. - Kat

Book Highlight + GIVEAWAY: Touch Me by Skye Malone


Title: Touch Me #1

Series: Touch Me

Author: Skye Malone

Genre: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Wildflower Isle

Publication Date: February 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940617-30-5

Cover Designer: Karri Klawiter









Caitlin Faire was only expecting a simple night out to celebrate her best friend’s twenty-first birthday. But enter one gorgeous and mysterious guy, and inexplicable visions that can’t possibly be real, and you have an evening that becomes anything but simple.



Suddenly, she’s seeing visions everywhere. Being overwhelmed by strange impulses she can’t control. She thinks she’s going insane.



Until she almost kills the first man she touches.




Purchase:




Dark eyes meet mine.
Everything slows, like the world
melts into molasses and in it, I’m stuck. A guy stands in front of me, his body
only inches away, and suddenly, he’s the only one in the room. The dancers fade
into shadows and mist. The music is the low thrum that underscores the world.
And there’s just him. Black skin, dark as I’ve ever seen. Sculpted arms hinting
at a strong body, as if everything of him is muscle and sinew. He’s about my
age, at least six-foot-two, and easily the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid
eyes on. And he smiles like he knows me. Like he’s saying hello.
His hand reaches out. Brushes a
shadow, a girl, and shimmering mist ghosts away from her to caress his arm like
a lover. His smile broadens.
The mist absorbs into his skin.
He nods to me, still friendly.
Still like we’re acquaintances who’ve simply run into one another on the
street. And then he’s gone into the shadows and the crowd comes rushing back
again.
I gasp. Bodies buffet me on all
sides, crushing me, and my exhilaration is shattered. The music is too loud.
The lights spin like deranged kaleidoscopes, blinding me. I’m hot, covered in
sweat, and the emerald green dress is glued to my skin. My pulse is flying but
my body keeps moving like it can’t help itself, like it’s lost to the rush of
swirling lasers, pounding music, and fog.
Fog that’s pouring into me.
My eyes go wide. Flecked with
sparks of color and light, clouds of it rise from the dancers like mist over a
pond. Tendrils stream away from those nearest to me, moving like charmed snakes
to coil around my body, slipping over my dress, my skin, and then vanishing
inside me.
It’s so not a fog machine. Not this. Sweet God, what’s happening?





Skye Malone is a fantasy and paranormal romance author, which means she spends most of her time not-quite-convinced that the things she imagines couldn’t actually exist.

Born and raised in central Illinois, she hopes someday to travel the world — though in the meantime she’ll take any story that whisks her off to a place where the fantastic lives inside the everyday. She loves strong and passionate characters, complex villains, and satisfying endings that stay with you long after the book is closed. An inveterate writer, she can’t go a day without getting her hands on a keyboard, and can usually be found typing away while she listens to all the adventures unfolding in her head.

Skye also writes YA urban fantasy as Megan Joel Peterson and is the author of The Children and the Blood trilogy.




First Prize: Kindle Paperwhite (US Only)
Second Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card (International)

Click HERE to enter or click the image below!


Saturday, 21 March 2015

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

bookreview Rating:image description
Title:The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author:Holly Black
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:January 13th 2015
Source:Publisher
Format:ARC
Pages:323

Amazon|Barnes and Noble|Indigo

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they're destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she's found the thing she's been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does...

As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

MY THOUGHTS
I received an ARC of this novel from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are solely mine and I was not compensated for this review.

This was the first Holly Black book that I have ever read and quite frankly, it left me feeling so confused and unsure how to approach reviewing it. On one hand, it was remarkable and contained many gripping elements but on the other hand, there were aspects which could have been explored more and done better. I have separated this review into two sections; the first being the things that I enjoyed about this novel and the second being all the things that I did not quite enjoy.

FOR:
  • The writing style and breath-taking imagery. Holly Black has a way with words, one that sucks you in and makes you feel and see what the characters are seeing. I found that she was able to convey central themes and concerns in the story in a very quaint and almost romantic way, usually with the use of very lavish and beautiful descriptions. It added a lot to the novel, I think, because I've never read a fey book before and I don't think I would have been able to imagine half of the happenings of this novel without her help.
  • The relationship between Hazel and Ben.The relationship that existed between the two protagonists, Hazel and Ben, was very...interesting. It was delightful to read about as it was so pure and filled with love and I thought that it was fitting that the entirety of the conflict in the novel stemmed from a deal Hazel made with a faerie in order to secure something that Ben wanted.

AGAINST:
  • The sudden love that exploded between Hazel and Jack. Granted, I don't believe that it was insta-love because at the beginning of the novel, it was hinted that she had liked him since they were children but I did not feel it. There was no development of their feelings towards each other. Honestly, one day Jack said that he liked Hazel, they made out and just like that, they're madly in love. There was no emotional depth to their romance and because of this, it was unnecessary to the overall progress of the story.
  • The flashbacks in the story.I guess they were information-fillers at different points in the novel and helped me to understand certain things but at the same time, they altered the vibe of the book to a great degree. They made the characters seem younger than they really were...because there were a LOT of flashbacks! Sometimes, I'd have to stop midway during reading and remind myself that these characters were 16 and 17 and not 11 & 12. Nothing against middle grade books, I love them to death but it was not my expectation to read a middle grade book when I picked this up.
  • The crappy and cheesy af ending! Seriously, The Darkest Part of the Forest takes the cake for vague and suspenseful endings which would be totally fine if the book had a sequel! Which it doesn't! So, we the readers, are left with a boatload of unanswered questions which leads me to ask myself "Why, just why?". It was basically a story without a conclusion. Basically. And it pissed me off so much! I can't even! When I can't even, it means that there are no words for how upset this "ending" made me!

There some enjoyable moments in The Darkest Part of the Forest but for the most part, it sucked for me which means that I've still never read a GOOD faerie book. I gave this novel 1 and a half cupcakes because I hated it but...not completely. I think that if you own the book, you should give a go but I wouldn't personally recommend it to anyone.

Final Sentence in the Novel
There, a prince of the Folk takes up the mantle of king and embraces a changeling like a brother; with a human boy by his side, he names a girl his champion.

Favourite Lines from the Book
  • “Normal people think they're happy because they're too dumb to know any different." - Mr. Evans
  • Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice.
  • Destruction made it ordinary.
  • Once, normal had been a heavy, smothering blanket she feared being trapped beneath. But now, normal felt fragile, as though she could unravel it all just by teasing out a single thread.
  • She shook her head, equally baffled. "I think you impressed him by the sheer force of your stupidity. How did you find me?" - Hazel Evans
  • Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.
  • "I love you," Severin said, looking up, looking at nothing at all. "I love you like in the storybooks. I love you like in the ballads. I love you like a lightning bolt. I've loved you since the third month you came and spoke with me. I loved that you made me want to laugh. I loved the way you were kind and the way you would pause when you spoke, as though you were waiting for me to answer you. I love you and I am mocking no one when I kiss you, no one at all" - Severin





Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #7: My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is the top ten favourite books read in the past three years.

Hey, guys! I just want to point out that I live in Trinidad and Tobago (an island in the Caribbean) and here, Spring, Winter, Summer and Autumn are not seasons. The year is separated into two seasons: the dry season (where it's ridiculously hot all the time) and the wet season (where it's still ridiculously hot, it just rains a lot more often). Fair warning, since I've never experienced spring, my picks are very random and have no particular theme to them. They're just books that I really WANT to read during the Easter vacation from school.





LIST OF BOOKS SHOWN ABOVE (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
1) Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Burn For Burn #2)
2) Ashes to Ashes (Burn For Burn #3)------>What is with that FUGLY cover change?!
3) A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
4) Lux Consequences by Jennifer L. Armentrout(The Lux series #3 and 4)
5) Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout (The Lux series #5)
6) Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
7) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #1)
8) The Young Elites by Marie Lu (The Young Elites #1)
9) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
10) If I Stay by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #1)

What books are on your spring TBR? I'm curious to know! Comment down below and tell me! Until my next blog post, I love you guys...to infinity and beyond!


Monday, 16 March 2015

Release Day Blitz + GIVEAWAY: Numbers Game by Rebecca Rode


Dystopian, Young Adult
Date Published: March 16, 2015

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Treena can’t wait for Rating Day. Her high score will mean a life of luxury, showing the world that she’s a valuable member of society, not a pathetic waste of space. It won’t hurt her chances with her top-Rated boyfriend, either. But when the big day arrives, her true number shocks everyone.

To get her life—and boyfriend—back, she must go undercover and expose a military spy. Doesn’t sound too hard, except that someone seems to want her dead. And then there’s the mysterious soldier with a haunted past and beautiful brown eyes. Together, they discover a dark numbers conspiracy, one that shatters the nation’s future. They must band together if they are to survive the dangerous game of numbers—and the terrible war that rages within Treena’s heart.



Q&A with Rebecca Rode

Q: Will you tell us about Numbers Game?

A: Absolutely! In the New Order Republic of America, 16-year-olds are given a Rating, a number that encompasses what they’re worth to society. It determines their career, living conditions, and potential partners. This is the story of Treena, who gets a different Rating than the one she earned. She decides to fight for what is rightfully hers, determined to get her boyfriend back in the process.

Meanwhile, she meets Vance, a mysterious prisoner-turned-soldier who has his own agenda. When someone tries to kill Treena—twice—they uncover a dark conspiracy that risks much more than Treena’s Rating.

Q: Great. You probably get this question a lot, but the concept is so unique that I have to ask—where did you get the idea for Numbers Game?

A: I love this question! My husband sent me to the bank to finalize the loan on the truck he was buying. I looked at my credit score and thought how strange it was that one number was supposed to incorporate everything about me—my purchase history, how reliable I’d been, whether they could trust me to make payments, that sort of thing. And then I thought how strange it was, that we as citizens are so trusting of the accuracy of that little number, and how important it is in our lives. It spiraled from there—what is someone was manipulating the numbers? What if the number included appearance and intelligence rather than just financial history? It didn’t take long for the plot to unfold in my mind.

Q: What type of reader would like this book?

A: I tell people that it’s like a thriller version of The Scarlet Letter, but set in the future. With bombs. And kissing. Dystopian fans who like Divergent, Hunger Games, and Matched would love it.

Q: Who is your favorite character and why?

A: At first, Tali was my favorite. She knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t put up with anything. But now that the book is done, I think Vance has overtaken her as my favorite. The way he sees the world and struggles to survive while torn between two worlds really resonates with me.

Q: What was your favorite part of the writing process? What was the hardest?

A: I really enjoyed taking an idea and running with it. Once I had the world solidified in my head, it was fun to explore all the different aspects of it—political, social, financial, emotional, etc. I wrote myself into a dozen corners because I was just having too much fun.

The hardest part? Probably the time it took to finish it. When I began writing Numbers Game in 2012, I was also juggling a journalism career and three kids, and then my nonfiction book was accepted for publication, so that took all my remaining hours. When my fourth child was born, everything came to a screeching halt for a while. It wasn’t until Numbers Game won first place in a statewide writing contest in that I decided to buckle down and get serious with it.

Q: Why did you decide to make it a series instead of a stand-alone book?

A: You know how some authors say that their characters grab hold of the story and steer it in a different direction without their permission? That’s kind of what happened here. It just couldn’t end with this book. There was so much more that needed to be explored. Besides, Treena had a little more growing to do, and I think you’ll love the person that she becomes.

Q: Thanks for joining us. Where can we find out more?

A: Visit my website at www.AuthorRebeccaRode.com or sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bdwUKL. I give away free stuff sometimes, if you’re into that type of thing. But remember, Numbers Game is only discounted on Amazon for a few days, so you may want to snatch it up quick.








REBECCA RODE is an award-winning author, journalist, and mother of four. She is the author of the YA dystopian novel, NUMBERS GAME, and the inspirational book, HOW TO HAVE PEACE WHEN YOU'RE FALLING TO PIECES. She also writes for Deseret News, KSL.com, FamilyShare, and Provo Daily Herald. However, her true love is writing for teenagers. She enjoys traveling, reading, and martial arts, and she has a ridiculous addiction to chocolate-banana shakes. Visit her at www.AuthorRebeccaRode.com.
creativity.


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Twitter: @RebeccaRode




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Friday, 13 March 2015

Real Talk: Teen Angst in Young Adult Books



These tweets were posted by Ellen Oh, author of the Prophecy series, on the 21st of February and since then, I've wanted to weigh in on her statements but I just couldn't find the time.

I agree with the idea that she is trying to convey to a certain extent, that is, that YA should not be judged negatively for encompassing a multitude of seemingly immature teenage wants, values and actions. At the same time, however, I firmly believe that, at times, reviewers (like myself) are justified in saying that certain novels portray teenage characters in a laughably juvenile way.

Firstly, power to all the age 30+ YA readers out there because you help to make this community of YA book lovers a more beautiful and welcoming place and I hope to still be reading YA books when I'm 70 because it's such a beautiful and multifaceted genre. However, more often than not, I've noticed that books are being bashed not loved by reviewers (myself included at times) for having elements such as insta-love, love triangles and teen angst. And it's not hate that's centered around the way in which these features of the story are explored but hate of the fact that these things actually exist in the novel. Personally, as a teenager (I'm 16, if you were wondering), I find it refreshing to read about such issues. I think it'd be a stretch to claim that they "help me discover myself and deal with real life" but it is interesting to read about actual issues that real teenagers around the globe go through everyday such as disastrous confusions between what they think is "love" and the reality that it's actually infatuation. I find the naivety at which the characters approach unfamiliar situations to be rather endearing because that is how I approach life on a daily basis.

The insinuation that all YA characters, who are usually from ages 13 through 19 by the way, should be perfectly responsible individuals who approach situations with a maturity way beyond their ripe age and are immune to the emotions felt by their raging hormones is quite idealistic and has me like:


It amazes me when I read YA books about characters who have experienced no hardships that could have resulted in their hardening towards teen angst but they are the most serious and boring creatures. I'll yield and say that some novels take teenage tendencies to the extreme and it's absolutely ridiculous and takes away everything that is good and enjoyable from the story BUT I don't think that that is cause for anyone, adult or no, to go into a young adult book and degrade everything that makes it what it is in the first place because yes, overly-dramatic and unrealistically juvenile characters are the downfall of some novels but overly-mature and emotionless characters are also a downfall.

Bottom line: adults, young adults, seniors, everyone, if you're going to criticize the typical YA elements, don't criticize their existence but the way in which the author uses them as a medium to develop the story. Judge on their faults. Just saying "The characters were so immature" or "Teen angst, ugghh!" or "I hate love triangles" is not enough. Particularly for adults who have experienced more of the world, your perception of situations is altered, you know more and you would react differently. Remember that you're reading a young adult book that's targeted towards teenagers, narrated by teenagers and it will contain elements of teenage life.

What are you guys' views on this topic? I'd love to know. Do you agree with me or do you think I just spouted a bunch of BS? Comment down below and tell me! Until my next blog post...I love you guys to infinity and beyond!