Wishlist Releases for June and July!

Thursday, 31 May 2012
Hey everyone! Today I had planned to write up a book review but instead, since it's the last day of May, I'd like to post up some upcoming wishlist releases for June and July! But don't worry, I won't forget about the review - this is just something to mix it up a bit! ;)
Sidenote: These are in no particular order! :)

Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson
June 5th 2012

Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet—especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague ravaging the rest of the world.

Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe—government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors—and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument…

The Glimpse by Claire Merle
June 7th 2012

In a near future, society is segregated according to whether people are genetically disposed to mental illness. 17-year-old Ana has been living the privileged life of a Pure due to an error in her DNA test. When the authorities find out, she faces banishment from her safe Community, a fate only thwarted by the fact that she has already been promised to Pure-boy Jasper Taurell.

Jasper is from a rich and influential family and despite Ana’s condition, wants to be with her. The authorities grant Ana a tentative reprieve. If she is joined to Jasper before her 18th birthday, she may stay in the Community until her illness manifests. But if Jasper changes his mind, she will be cast out among the Crazies. As Ana’s joining ceremony and her birthday loom closer, she dares to hope she will be saved from the horror of the City and live a ‘normal’ life. But then Jasper disappears.

Led to believe Jasper has been taken by a strange sect the authorities will not intefere with, Ana sneaks out of her well-guarded Community to find him herself. Her search takes her through the underbelly of society and into the pits of the human soul. And as she delves deeper into the mystery of Jasper's abduction she uncovers some devastating truths that destroy everything she has grown up to believe, but she also learns to love as she has never loved before.

Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
July 3rd 2012

When foster teen Jane Williams is invited to attend elite Birch Grove Academy for Girls and escape her violent urban neighborhood, she thinks the offer is too good to be true. She's even offered her own living quarters, the groundskeeper's cottage in the center of the birch grove.

Something's not quite right about the school -- or is it Jane? She thinks she sees things in the birch grove at night. She's also beginning to suspect that the elegant headmistress and her sons are hiding secrets. Lucky is the gorgeous, golden son who is especially attentive to Jane, and Jack is the sardonic puzzling brother.

The school with its talented teachers and bright students is a dream for a science and math geek like Jane. She also loves her new friends, including hilarious poetry-spouting rich girl, Mary Violet. But the longer Jane stays at Birch Grove, the more questions she has about the disappearance of another scholarship girl and a missing faculty member.

Jane discovers one secret about Birch Grove, which only leads to more mysteries. What is she willing to sacrifice in order to stay at this school...and be bound to Birch Grove forever?

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
July 3rd 2012

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

How good do all of these books sound? If I had to pick the one I'm most excited about, it'd have to be Dark Companion - doesn't it sound absolutely amazing, and that cover? Gorgeous! I also really like the sound of Tiger Lily because, well duh - PETER PAN! And The Glimpse and Shadows Cast by Stars (what a unique plot, don't you think?) are both dystopian so... as an avid dystopian lover it's no question that I need to read them!
Ooooooooooooh, I can't wait!! xD

Are any of you waiting on June/July releases? Which ones? Do you also like the look of these books?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Blog Tour: Want by Stephanie Lawton Excerpt

Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Hey everyone! Today, I'm taking part in a blog tour for Want, an upper YA Southern Fiction and Romance novel. Following you will find the synopsis of this book, an excerpt and an author bio. Enjoy! :)

Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her.

She can’t understand why he suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball—the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite—forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.

If you want vampires and werewolves, faeries, fallen angels or zombies, you won’t find them here. I know a real-life monster. She drains the life out of me and tears at my flesh with words and fingernails that sink deeper than fangs ever could. I’m not her only victim, just her favorite.

Even the thick walls of our ancient house couldn’t absorb the crash of a delicate heirloom when she’d aim at Daddy’s head for his latest transgression. My six-year-old self used to peek around the corner and along the steps to where the monster did battle with Daddy. The night I saw her hit him was the night I knew it’d soon be my turn. I was right, and it’s gotten worse over the last eleven years, especially since my brother R.J. went off to college.

Tonight I’m studying for finals. Our air conditioner wheezes in the evening heat, and sweat drops stain my history book. There’s a knock on my bedroom door, but Daddy doesn’t wait for an answer before opening it. I’m glad he’s finally home from work, but it’s weird that he’s in my space with a constipated look.

“Juli, it’s Mr. Cline.” I stop breathing. “He’s in the hospital.”

I’m going to be sick. “And?”

“He had a stroke. Half his body’s paralyzed, but the doctors think it might only be temporary. Try not to get worked up.”

“Try not to get worked up. Right.” My piano mentor and stand-in grandpa might be a vegetable but I shouldn’t get worked up.

“He’s already asking for you. His sister said you should try to visit after school tomorrow.”

I swallow back tears and nod.

I think about Mr. Cline all through school next day. If I lose him, that’s one less person who knows the real me. If I lose him, my chances of getting into the music school I want melt like gum in the sun. I bolt for my car as soon as the last bell rings and drive like a maniac to get to the hospital before visiting hours end.

More About The Author:
After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.
A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.
On her thirtieth birthday, she mourned (okay bawled) the fact that in no way could she still be considered a “young adult,” so she rebelled by picking up Twilight and promptly fell in love with Young Adult literature.
She has a love/hate relationship with Mardi Gras –where does all that money come from?–and can sneeze 18 times in a row.

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Destined by Aprilynne Pike

Monday, 28 May 2012
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Edition: HarperCollins Paperback
Released: April 26th 2012
Notes: Wings #4
Pages: 363
Rating: See below review.

Laurel lived happily as an ordinary girl—until she discovered that she was a faerie. Since then her heart has been divided—Avalon or the human world? Safe reliable David or wild, charismatic Tamani? But now an enemy unlike any before, threatens Avalon and unless the faerie world can win out, there may be no choices left...

Laurel faces the fight of her life to save everything, and everyone, she loves.

When I was offered the chance to review this final installment in the Wing's series, I jumped at the chance. I have read and loved all of the three previous books and I'm glad to report back that Destined was no exception. This series definetly wound up with a bang!

Since this book is like the ultimate showdown (between who, I will not say because of spoilers) I was glad that it contained a whole lot of action. I sincerely thank you, Pike, for doing this. The action scenes were very easy to follow - unlike some where they go too fast or just don't make sense at all - and understand. You could pratically see Tamani with his spear!

Of course I continued to love all of the characters! Even the ultimate villian was so well-developed I couldn't help but enjoy the scenes she was in! My favourites did continue to be Tamani and Laurel but I did warm up to a whole load of other characters too! I've always loved Tamani's character ever since book one and this didn't change a bit in book four - he is still brave and loyal. Laurel has definetly developed since we first met her and, even though my favourite type of heroines are those that kick-ass, a very intelligent faerie is a very close second! ;)

The writing also continued to be brilliant! For some reason I absolutely love Pike's writing style. I can't even begin to explain why. I think it's because she has this way of pulling off subtle description that is very easy to understand but still has a rather beautiful quality to it.

I hope that we'll see more of this author's works again soon. If they're anything like Wings has been, I will definetly be first in line to buy! Now that this series is finished I am both satisfied with the ending and a little sad. I will no longer be going on adventures with Laurel and the rest of the crew... Anyway, it was definetly great fun while it lasted!

I would like to thank HarperCollins for providing me with a review copy of this book! :D

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Sorry about not posting a Showcase Sunday yesterday! I was super busy all day (soaking up the rare sunshine and all that, y'know)... ;D

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Saturday, 26 May 2012
Author: Cassandra Clare
Edition: WalkerBooks Paperback
First Published: December 1st 2011
Notes: The Infernal Devices #2
Pages: 496
Rating: See below review.

Love and lies can corrupt even the purest heart...
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, while her desire for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will – the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the truth leads the three friends into peril, Tessa's heart is increasingly torn, especially when one of their own betrays them...

Wow, oh wow, oh wow! This is shaping up to be one brilliant series! I absolutely adored Clockwork Prince - it had more insight into the characters, more sub-plots, more action and more of the love triangle which, for the most part, infuriated me! It was also quite sad to tell the truth. Overall, a perfect sequel to Clockwork Angel!

First off, the writing style. It was beautiful! The one thing I have to admit is that, at times, I could get a little confused. Whether is was due to some of the old fashioned language used, description of places or even parts of Tessa's dresses, hehe. I did still manage to get the just for the most part though, so it was nothing major. Another feature about this book worth noting is that it does include a lot of book qoutes and even some singing on Will's part. ;)

Which, inevitably leads me to Will. Oh, how I love him! He's probably my favourite character of all time! He's mysterious, secretive, brave, stubborn, sarcastic... and most definetly, swoon-worthy! I absolutely adore him! I cannot explain enough how great a character he is! Especially when you learn more about him and what he's been through... I'm definetly Team Will!

Tessa is definetly a great character as well. The only thing I wish she had more of was a kick-ass quality. But I suppose that isn't too much of a let-down since we've got Will! ;) I don't even want to get into Jem. If I do, I'll probably just start blabbering on about how he can never compare to Will, which I feel is slightly unfair since he is still a great character. Let's leave it at I feel Jem is a better friend to Tessa than a love interest (*ahem* Will *ahem*).

Obviously, I can't finish this review without mentioning the many twists and turns! I was actually on the edge of my seat at times! Oh, and what is up with that ending?! Ahhh, I need book three now! Do you hear me? NOW! If you haven't picked up this series yet, you are definetly missing out!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: For those of you that have read this book - Team Will or Team Jem?

Blog Tour: Thorn by Intisar Khanani Excerpt & Giveaway

Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Hey everyone! Today, Booktastic Reviews is taking part in a blog tour! Following is the synopsis of YA fantasy novel, Thorn, an excerpt and a giveaway, plus more about the author! Enjoy! :D

Princess Alyrra’s strength lies in silence. Scorned by her family, she avoids the court, spending her time with servants. When her marriage is unexpectedly arranged with the prince of a powerful neighboring kingdom, Alyrra feels trapped. As the court celebrates her match, dark rumors spread about the unexplained deaths of the women of her new family. Alyrra beginsher journey with mounting trepidation. Betrayed while traveling, she seizes an opportunity to start a life away from court.

Walking away from a prince whom she doesn’t know should have been easy. But from the moment she sets eyes on him, Alyrra realizes that her freedom could cost him his life. Without any magical defense of her own, she is plunged into a lethal game of sorcery and deceit. Now Alyrra must decide whom she can trust and what she’s willing to fight for—before her silence proves fatal.

“Why has the king come to visit us, then?”
Daerilin tosses back the last of his wine and waves his goblet in the air. “To find a bride for his son, little princess. How would you like to marry the Menaiyan prince?”
My chest feels hollow. I force myself to breathe, to keep my expression still. From the corner of my eye, I can see the king’s long-fingered hand lifting his goblet. He speaks with my mother quietly; I can only just catch the faint lilt of his voice, the resonating strangeness of his accent.
“We are hardly a strong ally for them,” I whisper.
“Perhaps they’re just looking for a mouse to snap up,” Daerilin replies as the servant fills his goblet. “Their women do seem to die young. They wouldn’t want to upset their closer allies by accidentally killing off the bride.” Daerilin smirks. “I daresay no one would raise an outcry if something were to happen. To you.”

Giveaway: CLOSED
Now, on to the fun part! One lucky winner will receive a signed Thorn bookmark. Oh, and it's international! The giveaway will close on the 6th June 2012 (the winner picked using Random Number Generator) and all you have to do to enter is fill out this form! Good luck! :D

More About The Author:
Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five. She now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and young daughter. Intisar writes grants and develops projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which is as close as she can get to saving the world. Her approach to writing fantasy reflects her lifelong passion for stories from different cultures. She is currently writing a trilogy set in the same world as Thorn. This is her first novel.

Showcase Sunday #2

Sunday, 20 May 2012
Showcase Sunday is a meme hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits & Tea where we showcase all of our recent book grabs.
I am SUPER, SUPER, SUPER excited about my book buys this week! >_<

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare
Yay! I loved book one, Clockwork Angel (review here) and can not wait to get cracking on this book. Team Will! ;)

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda
This dystopian sounds awesome. No more words needed. :)

172 Hours on The Moon by Johan Harstad
Ahh! You can't see me now but I'm pratically jumping up and down! This has been on my wishlist for a while now and it sounds absolutely amazing! It's another dystopian, woo! :)

That's all from me this week! Share your link below and I'll stop by as soon as I can! :D

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Thursday, 17 May 2012
Author: Julie Kagawa
Edition: Mira Ink Paperback
Published: April 24th 2012
Series: Blood of Eden #1
Pages: 485
Rating: See below review.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

I really don't know how long I'd wanted to read a Julie Kagawa novel but now that I have, I've definitely got high expectations for all the rest! The Immortal Rules was great - a real stand out! Who would have thought of having a dystopian city controlled by vampires?!

I've not read many vampire books but I could still appreciate Kagawa's twist on them. If it had just been the usual type, I would have probably found it a little bit of a let down... but I'm glad to report that I really liked how she made them her own. Overall, I really liked the plot but even now, I'm not sure whether or not it was too much for the one book. The weird thing is, at the same time of finding it almost too much, it was quite a good set-up for a first book... I'm hoping that makes sense!

The characters, you ask? Well, let me give you a little heads-up. The main character, Allison Sekemoto, is one hell of a kick-ass heroine! I'm serious. She's one of the strongest characters you will ever meet! I couldn't help but admire her! Especially since we, as the readers, get to see the emotional battle between the monster inside and the part of her clinging to humanity. I'm still in awe of how Kagawa managed to produce such a great and well-developed character! Another character I really liked was Zeke. In some ways, he was almost the opposite of Allie, but at the same time you could still see similar traits. It was really refreshing having such a vast range of characters.

The ending is also worth a mention! Ohmygoodness, I need to know what happens now that... oooooops, almost slipped a spoiler there! Let's leave it at, I need book two as soon as humanly possible!

Overall, I really enjoyed The Immortal Rules with it's well developed characters, unusual plot and kick-butt heroine! The only thing I have that is close enough to criticism is the few storylines - I have mixed feelings but it doesn't really affect the rating too much. Anywho. I can't wait to read more from this great author - she has certainly given a good first impression!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Milledgeville Misfit by T.L. Gray

Monday, 14 May 2012
Author: T.L. Gray
Edition: Vabella Paperback
Published: January 31st 2012
Pages: 168
Rating: See below review.

Fourteen-year old Juniper "Junebug" Summerville loses her parents and her ability to talk in a car accident. Against her silent protests, she is sent to live in a remote swampland infamous for its ghosts, federal prison and insane asylum.

As Junebug struggles with her emotional scars, she begins to heal with help from six other orphans at Dearborn, a once famous Milledgeville Plantation. Just as she begins to enjoy the peace she’s long desired, she finds herself in a fight for her sanity when she stumbles upon a tear in the fabric that separates the possible from the impossible, and she must choose which to believe.

Damnit! How am I ever going to give this book the justice it deserves?! Milledgeville Misfit, put quite simply, is amazing. Beautifully written, emotional, thought-provoking... to be perfectly honest, I think I need to install a whole new rating system just for this book!

Please excuse me if I sound a bit gushy, but it's just that I absolutely loved this book! It was so unbelievably sweet how all of the orphans had such a connection with each other. I felt like I was experiencing something even more powerful than the love of a real family - something deeper that only a group of children can form in the absence of parents. I'm really not kidding when I say that this book will tug at your heartstrings.

Since, unintentionally, I've already got straight into the characters, I suppose I will tell you a little bit more about Junebug and her "family" as she puts it. First, Junebug. Ever since the car crash that left her parents dead and her without a voice, Junebug has felt like a part of her died along with them. That is, until she finds friendship in a group of orphans at Dearborn. I really don't want to go into too much because I'll probably end up revealing spoilers but I'll definitely tell you that this book is one of a kind and not to be missed. Anyway, back to Junebug. To me, I could never have thought of a more perfect main character. I felt almost privileged to watch her recovery and the development she goes through. I seriously don't think I can pick a favourite character, I just loved all of the six orphans and Junebug the same! I'd love to do nothing more than to talk about each of them but for now I will agree to talking about just the one. Abby. Little Abby is the youngest of them all and she practically had me hugging her through the pages. She was just so sweet and I could picture her so clearly. Well, come to think of it, I could picture them all so clearly.

Let me just leave it at the characters were all wonderful. Now on to other things. Gray has an absolutely beautiful writing style and she portrayed everything perfectly through Junebug's eyes - I really felt that involved in the story! I also loved how she managed to wrap up everything. The ending was spot-on, not to mention emotional! She also has a great way of threading mystery and keeping the reader hanging by a thread.

Overall I absolutely adored Milledgeville Misfit. I feel like the book really spoke to me and I think I will remember it for years to come. It has very rightfully found a spot on my favourite-books-of-all-time bookshelf! With a beautiful writing style, great characters, an unusual mystery and a story that will have you smiling sweetly and then almost in tears, this book is definitely one I recommend to all!

Milledgeville Misfit is a young adult novel that deals with grief and healing, and has an ending that leaves the reader with the choice of what to believe.

I'd like to express my thanks to Vabella Publishing and T.L. Gray for giving me a complimentary copy of this book and to Jessica at Booked Up! for hosting the giveaway! :D

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Showcase Sunday #1

Sunday, 13 May 2012
Showcase Sunday is a meme hosted by Vicky over at Books, Biscuits & Tea where we showcase all of our recent book grabs.
Sorry about the absence of these posts - I've just not had enough new books to post about for a few weeks!

For Review:
Spirits of Glory by Emily Devenport {source: author. review here}
Milledgeville Misfit by T.L. Gray {source: publisher/signed by author}

Passion by Lauren Kate {mixed reviews. i wonder if i'll like it or not...}
Insurgent by Veronica Roth {review here}
The Immortal Rules by Julia Kagawa {YAY!}

What about your book haul? If you leave your link below, I'll promise to stop by as soon as I can! :D

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Sorry for the bad quality pic!

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Saturday, 12 May 2012
Author: Veronica Roth
Edition: HarperCollins Paperback (UK)
Published: May 1st 2012
Notes: Divergent #2
Pages: 525
Rating: See below review.

Unavoidable Divergent spoilers! I warn you now!

I have done bad things. I can't take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price. Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever... because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Let me just begin by saying Insurgent's prequel, Divergent, is one of my favourite books ever and I definitely had high expectations going into book two. Divergent had an original storyline, strong characters, lots of action and even some romance, so for Insurgent the continuation of all those factors was definitely a biggie for me! And even though, yes, it did meet all of that criteria, I just didn't find it as enjoyable as Divergent - but it was still fab! :)

Since Divergent left us in a state of shock and anticipation you could definitely say I was counting down the days until Insurgent's release! We were left with some MAJOR questions and, I don't know about all of you, but I was desperate to know what came next! I practically ripped off all of the pages in this book when I got it, I just couldn't turn them fast enough! I want to do nothing but ramble on and on about everything that happened (and let me tell you, that was ALOT!) but I'm going to restrain myself since I want everyone to experience this awesome series! I will let you in on one thing though; there are quite a few unexpected, mouth-hanging-open moments!

Tris continued to be brave, strong, smart and cunning. She was probably even more so in this book than in Divergent! I still can't believe just how brave she was and how far she was willing to go for the people she loved! It was a very admirable quality! You also get to see how skillful Roth's writing style is in this book because not only does she make Tris out to be an assured, invincible heroine, she also captures the emotional battle Tris is having in her head. How killing Will affected her greatly and how she looks at herself. Let me just sum up by saying that Tris is definitely a very respectable and likable main character (pushing aside the little bitching moment she had about Amity at the start)! Not only do we get more insight into Tris and Four and all the other characters but there is also a returning character from book one who I didn't think we'd see again!

I felt that in this book the romance between Tris and Four was taken to a new level. They just felt more... real, I suppose. I did feel quite sorry for Four at times though because he knew Tris wasn't telling him something and he wanted her to confide in him instead of beating herself up about it. He was a great love interest for Tris. They're quite alike but not quite the same. They just fit together.

Unfortunately I got really confused at some parts. Even re-reading some parts I still didn't get them (hopefully this isn't due to the fact I refused to put it down near midnight)... I think I managed to grasp the main points of the storyline though!

Overall, I'm going to give this book the rating of four stars with the one mark lost for the confusing parts and because it just wasn't as fshjfbkahgjhsb as Divergent, even though it was sjfhabjfbg. Criticism aside, Insurgent has strong, distinctive characters, action-packed scenes, unexpected twists and a rollercoaster of a romance! Not to mention, that the ending completely blew me away! What a cliffhanger! Seriously. WOW. Why do I need to wait a whole year for book three? That's sooooooo unfair!!!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED. Reason: I was tired when I wrote the first draft (you'll be pleased to know that all the spelling mistakes are fixed - sorry about that)! :D

Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins

Monday, 7 May 2012
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Edition: Simon Pulse Paperback (UK)
Published: March 1st 2011
Notes: US Title: Demonglass, Hex Hall #2
Rating: See below review.

Warning: Spoilers for first book!

Sophie Mercer's first term at Hex Hall turned out to be quite eventful. First the ghost of her evil grandmother haunted her every move, then her best friend was accused of murder and of course there was the discovery that Archer Cross, aka the boy of her dreams, was actually an undercover demon hunter - which would probably be something she could have worked on, if she hadn't also discovered that she was actually the demon Archer was hunting…

So, despite their issues, Sophie is actually relieved to be spending the summer in London with her father. But when your father is Head of The Council of Prodigium and your summer is being spent at the headquarters of everything magical, then a quiet holiday isn't really that likely. And, as Sophie struggles to come to terms with her new found demon powers, she finds herself thrust once again into a world of dark magic and conspiracies. The only thing that could possibly make things more complicated would be for Archer Cross to show up again, which of course he wouldn't, would he?

I am so, so, so glad that there is finally an author out there that, in my eyes, can write a sequel every bit as good as the first book! Raising Demons was fantastic! It had great characters, an enjoyable plot and, of course, romance!

In the first book, one of the things I admired was Sophie's character, and I'm glad to report back that in this book she is every bit as sarcastic and witty as she's ever been! I loved her as a whole and just could never imagine this book being as good as it is, if she wasn't the main character! Since it is all from her perspective you just can't help but love her whole attitude - she even made me laugh out loud a couple of times!

Of course, I just have to talk about the romance! Two words: love triangle! Well, it only really appeared in full at the end but still... Anywho, the two boys involved are Archer (woo!) and Cal. For those of you that didn't pick up on the meaning of woo! - I'm Team Archer! But just by a millimetre! Cal is just so lovely and sweet and brave, I feel guilty, but Archer is just... well, Archer! Frustrating, brave, sweet, menacing and irresistible! Don't you just hate it when you like them both?!

Since Hex Hall was set in a boarding school (for all you new readers, I'm obsessed with boarding school settings, note that down for future reference!) I didn't think it was possible for Raising Demons to be just as good, but I was wrong! The action, mystery, romance and characters definetly made up for the loss! Plus, the ending! Ahh, cliffhanger! I need book three now!

Overall, Raising Demons was amazing and definetly worthy of being awarded the title of much-loved sequel! I definetly recommend everyone to read this series! I feel like I'm gushing right now, but I don't care! I loved it! Characters with attitude, a mysterious, action-packed storyline, a love triangle with some swoon-worthy boys... everything a girl could wish for, right?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: I'm not even going to apologize for the overuse of exclamation marks! xD

Spirits of Glory: Review & Guest Post

Saturday, 5 May 2012
Hey everyone! Today, I've got a two-part post for you all! First, I am going to review the book, Spirits of Glory and then there will be a guest blog by the author herself. Enjoy! :)

Author: Emily Devenport
Edition: Smashwords Ebook
Published: October 24th 2010
Rating: See below review.

One morning, the people of the North woke up and the people of the South were gone. That’s the first thing every child learns on the colony world of Jigsaw. But for one girl, knowing about The Disappearance is not enough. Hawkeye wants to know why. Her curiosity won't let her refuse a journey to the Forbidden Cities, even though she's going into more danger than she can imagine.

There's something really magical about finishing a book and realising that, whilst reading it, you were absorbed up into a completely, different world. And no. I'm not talking about the feeling you get with every book once the last page is turned, that feeling that you've been on an adventure with the characters. I'm talking about the feeling of having experienced a completely, different world which, during reading, you were part of.

Spirits of Glory is a unique and unusual page-turner that will have you swooped up into an adventure from page one. I'm not quite sure why, but I just loved the whole uniqueness of it all and found it very refreshing. I managed to finish the ebook in a day because I just couldn't tear my eyes from the very much unusual adventure.

The main character, Hawkeye (aka. Amber) was strong and brave but the one quality that stood out the most for me, was the love she gave to her assistance animals. Actually, come to think of it, I really enjoyed the roles of Brat and Wolfy (her very intelligent cat and dog). Unlike most stories now-a-days where the heroine is usually perfect and beautiful, Hawkeye is crippled. However, this just makes us see how strong she is for struggling through. Another character I quite liked was Boss. Boss is a Neighbour (part of a species that live alongside the humans in Jigsaw) and I liked how he was a reserved character at the start and more forthcoming toward the end.

Another reason I really liked this book is because it is a mixture of genres. It has some mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and even a little splash of romance. Meaning it can appeal to all types of audiences. The only criticism I have is that a few times I did get a little bit confused but most was resolved near the end so it was all good!

Overall, Spirits of Glory is a very enjoyable read with a unique storyline, strong characters and a mixture of genres which can appeal to everyone. I definetly recommend giving this a read to anyone and everyone - if you're not fond of ebooks maybe it will interest you to know that it's relatively short and at great prices both on Amazon and Smashwords!

Guest Blog by Author, Emily Devenport:
The Best Advice I Ever Received About Writing

I had already been published for ten years before I got the best advice I've ever received about writing, and it was so practical, so beautifully nuts-and-bolts-y, I wish I had heard it years before. The guy who passed it on to me was an author named Michael A. Stackpole. Among other things, Michael wrote an online newsletter called The Secrets. He called it that because when he (and I) started writing, we had to teach ourselves the skill – few professionals seemed willing or able to pass on the lore of writing to beginners. If we were lucky, we'd eventually sell a novel and start working with a really good editor, and they would teach us a bunch of stuff about how to write well.

It was a long road. When you first get bitten by the writing bug, there are a lot of things you don't know that you don't know. (No, that's not a typo.) You may have a way with words, and maybe you've been a voracious reader all of your life. You've learned something from those writers you enjoyed so much, and now you have this overpowering drive to write your own stories. Perhaps you got “A”s in high school and college for stories and essays. But even the best of us don't realize that we can't spell as well as we think we can. Thank goodness for spell-check – back in the bad ol' days, we had to spot those boo-boos ourselves, and we often failed. It was pretty embarrassing.

Another thing that trips writers up is that even if we know there's a difference between it's and its; there, their, and they're; you're, your, (and even yore), we often type them incorrectly – and the spell-checker won't catch them. So you may think the great advice I mentioned earlier is that you should hire an editor to go over your manuscripts. That actually is pretty good advice, but there are a couple of other things we all need to do before we even get to that point. The first thing is about attributives (he said, she said). The second thing is about the overuse of the word was.

Clarity should be any writer's first priority. Attributives clarify who is speaking – a nice thing to know if you don't want to get confused. But attributives also slow down the action, so you should try to use them as little as possible. Fortunately, there are some tricks that can help you with that. Using action with speech is a good tactic. Take the following example:

George shone his light into the closet. “No monsters in here, Boss. You want me to check under the bed?”

We know George is the one who's speaking, so we don't need to type he said anywhere in that paragraph. Another trick is to clarify who's speaking at the beginning of an exchange, then just let the characters run with it. For example:

“I”ll check under the bed,” said Dr. Van Helsing. “You check the attic.”
“Ah, Boss,” said George, “Do I have to? I'm allergic to dust.”
“Wear the gas mask. That's why we brought it.”
“Oh. Yeah. I forgot.”

Keeping your attributives to a minimum will let that scene roll along at a nice clip. Now let's look at the word was. Consider that sentence about George and his flashlight. Some writers would say:

George was shining his light into the closet.
rather than:
George shone his light into the closet.

That's a less direct way to express something. It's not wrong, but it's more passive. You sacrifice clarity when you're not willing to let your verbs do the work they were designed to do. Does that mean you should never use was in a sentence? Not at all. It's really up to you how much you'd like to use it. And sometimes you can't help it. For example:

Dr. Van Helsing aimed his crossbow at the vampire. “I was going to shoot you with the silver- tipped shaft, but I decided that would be overkill.”

Was is a very useful word. But using it too much is lazy. If you can't rely on it every time you have a bit of action to write, you actually have to think about what's going on. Likewise, if you can't scribble he said or she said after your characters speak, you have to clarify where they are and what they're doing. That helps you advance the story instead of slowing it down.

That's why these two bits of advice are so helpful. If you understand them, you feel more in control of what you're doing. Once you've got the nuts and bolts in place, you can concentrate on characters, setting and plot. Even if you're not quite sure where it's all going yet, you'll have the confidence to tell your story. That's the most important thing any of us can learn.

Nine of my novels were published as mass market paperbacks by NAL/Roc before I started publishing ebooks. I wrote under three pen names and was published in the US, the UK, Italy, and Israel. My novel, Broken Time, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award. Now I write exclusively as Emily Devenport, and I've written some new novels, including a YA Dystopian titled Spirits Of Glory. It's available in ebook format on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, and other ebook sites. I'm married to artist/writer Ernest Hogan. I'm studying geology and I volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Here's my blog:

Thanks, Emily!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: I'd like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ebook! :)

Feature & Follow Friday {2}

Friday, 4 May 2012
Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted over at Alison Can Read. Every week there is a featured blog and a fun question. =]

What is one thing you wish you could tell your favourite author?

Ahh, I've got so many favourite authors, how can I possibly choose?!
I'd probably most like to tell Veronica Roth that she has an amazing imagination! Divergent has one of the best storylines ever, in my opinion. I love how she's dreamed up a futuristic chicago split by factions, each with their own beliefs and how initiates have to pass an initiation test to be able to be part of one - it's just so different and unique!

What's your answer?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Interview with Author, John Vorhaus

Thursday, 3 May 2012
Hey everyone! Today I've got an interview with author, John Vorhaus. He's wrote a ton of books and you can find more about him and his works on his goodreads page. He's joined us today to tell us all about one of his latest novels, Lucy in The Sky. Enjoy! :)

First off can you tell us a little about your book, Lucy in The Sky?
Lucy in the Sky is a coming-of-age story set in Milwaukee in 1969. It tells the story of Gene Steen, an earnest, intelligent, truth-seeking teen stuck in a suburban cultural wasteland. He wants to be a hippie in the worst way, but hippies are scarce on the ground in the forlorn Midwest of Gene’s 15th year. Then, propitiously on the Summer Solstice, his life is turned upside down by the arrival of his lively, lovely, long-lost cousin Lucy. She’s hip beyond Gene’s wildest dreams and immediately takes him under her wing. Lucy teaches Gene that being a hippie isn’t about love beads and peace signs, but about the choices you make and the stands you take. Yet for all her airy insights into religion, philosophy and “the isness of it all,” Lucy harbors dark secrets –secrets that will soon put her on a desperate dash to Canada, with Gene by her side.

Gene wanted to be a hippie, as a teenager did you know what you wanted to be?
Well, I really, really wanted to be a hippie, but I was just a shade too young. I was fascinated by hippie culture, though, and used to ride the bus into Westwood, California, near the campus of UCLA to “look at the hippies” and pick up copies of the LA Free Press, or “Freep” as we called it. It’s probably just as well that I was just too young, because I don’t think I could have handled all the freedoms and responsibilities of being a hippie if I had really gotten involved with that culture at my tender age. During the 1970s I more than made up for lost time, though, emerging as “a punk with hippie sensibilities.” From a career point of view, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be, except that – in true hippie fashion – I wanted to “do my own thing” and not get cornered by the constraints of nine-to-five living, even at the pinnacle of white-collar professional pursuits, like medicine or law. As a consequence, I had a brief flirtation with advertising after college, but quickly “dropped out” to become a singer-songwriter, first step on my lifelong path as a writer and teacher of writers.

How did you plan your characters? Did you know what you wanted them to be like before you even started writing?
I don’t do any character mapping at all before I start writing. I discover my characters by putting them in situations and examining the actions they take and the choices they make. Sometimes I then strip those initial actions right out of the narrative; it’s great if they become part of the story, but perfectly acceptable if they’re “only” exercises in discovery. Sometimes I start with just a name, and make a decision based on that. Before I wrote The California Roll, I was enamored of the name “Radar Hoverlander” (which is another way of describing the technology for placing vehicles on other planets, a “radar-guided hover-landing device” or radar Hoverlander). I thought I would like to use that phrase as a character name, but knew that the character would have to be special in order to “own” it, and so assigned Radar the personality of a con artist, and a very much larger than life one, at that.

With Lucy in the Sky, I knew that Gene, the fifteen-year-old boy, would be the protagonist, the character in need of change, and would therefore start out pretty “normal.” I also knew that Lucy, his seventeen-year-old hippie cousin, would be his antagonist, his change-agent, and should therefore be charismatic and shine pretty brightly. After that, I just put them together and let them start figuring things out.

If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Teleportation. When I’m not writing, I’m traveling around the world teaching and training writers (for example, as I write these words I’m consulting on a Norwegian situation comedy in Oslo). I get tremendous value and joy out of this enterprise. I go to fascinating places where I exchange information for experience and money. But I do wish it weren’t such a hassle getting from point A to point B, and if I could do it via Star Trek transporter or via astral projection, rather than via airplane, I would be a happier lad. Some people say that “getting there is half the fun,” but they’ve obviously never spent a nightmare layover at Heathrow.

Do you have any current books in the making? If so, can you tell us a little about them?
I’m currently writing a “soft-boiled detective novel” called Secord and Smoke: Scream Bloodless Murder. It’s intended to be the first in a series of short novels involving police detective Anne Secord and her partner, curmudgeonly police consultant DAVE “SMOKE” SAWYER. The bad guys are members of a splintered religious cult who seem to be committing ritual murders in the name of the cult but are actually, in a very weird way, culling the herd. It’s a departure for me because it involves real murder, something I haven’t spent much time with on the page, and it’s the first time I’ve written from a cop’s perspective. To tell you the truth, I’m really only writing it to see if I can – but then I guess that’s true for almost everything I’ve ever written. I’ve always embraced projects as a challenge, an opportunity to advance my craft.

Quick Fire Questions:

Favourite animal? Honey badger. Honey badger’s not afraid.
Favourite sport? Ultimate Frisbee. I’ve been playing twice a week for 36 years, but I can quit any time I want.
Favourite colour? Aquamaroon, because it doesn’t exist.
Favourite season? Endorphin Rush. Oh wait, I thought you said seasoning.
Favourite genre? Sunshine noir, because I invented it.

Thanks, John!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Author: Amanda Hocking
Edition: Tor Paperback
Published: July 12th 2012
Pages: 293
Rating: 5/5

When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.

Switched has had a vast range of mixed reviews. Some have loved it, some have hated it and some found it alright. However, I loved it!

Straight away I knew the storyline was going to be one of my favourite parts. Faeries, mermaids, angels and demons can all move out of the spotlight, here come the trolls! At the start I was dubious about how such creatures that have always been portrayed as the big ugly "baddies" in fairytales would turn out in this novel. Luckily I settled into the prospect and approved (and enjoyed!) Hocking's twist on them. Trolls aside, I have to say that the powers, magic and rivalry in the Trylle's (aka. trolls) world, were also really fun to read about!

The characters were also a great edition. The main character, Wendy had just enough attitude for me to like her. Another character I also really enjoyed was Rhys. I can't reveal too much about him for risk of major spoilers but I can say he was super sweet and just an all-round lovely character!

The romance in this novel was definetly eventful! There was Finn who totally won me over... but then there was Rhys! For all you out there that have read this book; is it a love square?! I'm not completely sure (does Tove count)? Clarification please? x) However, since this is the first book and everything was more focused on Finn I'd have to say that at the minute I'm leaning more towards him with Rhys a millimetre behind!

Overall I really enjoyed this book! Amazing storyline, great characters and an on-your-toes romance with some action thrown in for good measure! I hope to get my hands on the sequel really soon! I need to know what happens to everyone!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

EDIT: Turns out that a love triangle is introduced in books two and three. I must have been looking too far into the whole Rhys and Tove thing (since neither of them are even in the triangle, hehe)... Rhys does appear to have a crush on her from what I've gathered from the ending though...