Sunday 28 April 2013

Weekly Highlights: the short edition

Welcome to this week's Highlights, the meme borrowed from Faye. This is a feature highlighting things that happened on and off the blog, somewhat replacing my On My Bookshelf. It is inspired by The Story Sirens In My Mailbox, Books, Biscuit and Tea’s Showcase Sunday, Kimba Caffeinated’s Sunday Post, and the British Letterbox Love.

On the Blog
Review of Perfectly Dateless (3 stars)
Embracing My Inner Geek for Lucy's blogoversary

Currently Reading
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa - taking longer than I thought to read this one, but it is so good!

Behind the Blog
No new books this week, though I am expecting some next week. However, I do want to mention that the next few weeks are going to be tense for me, as I finish my final year at university. So, reviews will be once a week and I have some discussion posts lined up to appear soon, but I'm afraid you're going to have to be patient with me; it'll only last May, as my last presentation is on the 20th. I'm not going to disappear but don't expect me around as much. Wish me luck!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Embracing My Inner Geek

To celebrate Queen of Contemporary's first blogoversary, I thought I'd join in the fun and talk about my geekiness. Lucy is a new discovery of mine, but I really like her blog and her tweets are funny and also full of great book talk!

So there are a few ways you can tell I'm a geek. Most of these are in my bedroom. Want to see?

So first up we have the very cool life-size cut out of the Tenth Doctor. If any of you saw my Bookcase Showcase over on Kirsty's blog, then you will know he sits next to my bookcase in the corner of my room. You may not have realised that he also stands at the end of my bed. Which is not as creepy as it sounds!

Sticking with the Doctor Who theme, I also have a collection of posters and pictures stuck on the inside of one my wardrobe doors, a mini Tardis, both sonic screwdrivers, and a Tardis mug, all pictured below.

Onto my other big obsession: Harry Potter. This has been with me since I was about 13 or so, a form of escape from the otherwise mundane and bully-filled life. So, over the years I have managed to collect quite a few themed things, like all the books including 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' and 'Tales of Beedle the Bard'; magazines and photos; posters; a toy Hedwig, an interactive spellbook, chocolate frog cards, bags, badges, to name but a few!
Pictured is the big posters on the other wardrobe door, some of my sticker albums and magazines, and - randomly - part of my collection of bookmarks. But more on that in a moment. Back to Harry Potter, I may be a pretty big HP nerd but I actually love that I have bonded with so many of my friends over this obsession! Something about the Boy Who Lived brings people together, don't you think?

Oh yeah, the bookmarks. So one my things, which may or may not be considered geeky, is that I collect bookmarks. This isn't on purpose, I just have a lot of them!

Other things that show I am a geek and proud might not be so obvious. For instance:
- carrying a book with me everywhere I go
- the way I zone in on Big Bang Theory or The Avengers stuff in HMV
- not being able to walk past a book shop without going in
- wearing Doctor Who or Wrock t-shirts
- playing Minecraft and watching Red Dwarf or Firefly
- making my own Deathly Hallows badge

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip into my geeky world. Wear your geek like a badge and have a look around the blog-verse today to find all the other geeky people like us!

Oh, I just remembered: by the time this posts, I'll be at a local sci-fi convention! Just another way I am a huge geek and am so very happy that my boyfriend is too!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck

Publisher: Revell
Published: 1st July 2010
Format: ebook
Pages: 259
Daisy Crispin has 196 days to find the right date for the prom. There's only one problem--her parents won't let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she's totally invisible at school, has to wear lame homemade clothes, and has no social skills. Okay, so maybe there's more than one problem. Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempt to completely ruin her life?With hilarious and truthful writing, Kristin Billerbeck uncovers the small--and large--mortifications that teen girls encounter. Readers will fall in love with Daisy's sharp wit and resourcefulness as she navigates the world of boys, fashion, family, and friendship.

'My image of perfection clouded God's vision'. This is actually at the end of the book, Daisy's big realisation, but it does show the impact Christianity of her family and it was really interesting to read about a family where their faith is a vital part of their every day lives. This is Daisy's story of her senior year at high school and her desire to get a perfect date for prom. It was split between her diary entries and first person narrative throughout her days at school and work.

I had my ups and downs with Daisy - I really liked her but then she had a moment where she seemed flaky or selfish or she just didn't say what I wanted, and expected, her to, which unfortunately only grew as I continued reading. I don't know if it was her personal insecurities or the effect of living under such strict rules, but she did not behave the way I thought she would, with boys, her best friend, her boss. Considering she was looking for the perfect date for prom, she was incredibly naive when it came to boys and lust and even acting normally around them. And as we are inside her head for the story, you'd have thought we'd understand her motivation and constant changes in her opinions. But I didn't.

I also had my moments by her parents. I understand the faith part of it, but I do not understand how her parents could not let her follow her own dreams of college. I mean, Bible college? Why shouldn't she go to college to learn finance or neuroscience or whatever it is that she wants? Why do they want to narrow her life and protect her from everything, not let her learn from mistakes by dating? But then, at the big dramatic conclusion, you realise why they have been sheltering her and it is understandable, although I still wanted to whack Daisy upside the head for being so selfish after all that.

But that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. The whole middle bit made me want to tear my hair out because Daisy was being a fool but at least she actually learned something at the end of it all. I think. Actually, I'm not sure she did, well she learned not to trust someone you don't really know and to trust your instincts, but seeing as she only learned that by having a house burn down... No one was who they seemed in this story and I'm not sure if that was intentional or Daisy really could not see the way the world really worked. All in all, an interesting read for the faith aspect but maybe a little young for me, as I had so many issues with the protagonist.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Weekly Highlights: the first

Welcome to a new feature on my blog, borrowed from A Daydreamer's Thoughts. It will be a post highlighting things that happened on and off the blog, somewhat replacing my On My Bookshelf. It is inspired by The Story Sirens In My Mailbox, Books, Biscuit and Tea’s Showcase Sunday, Kimba Caffeinated’s Sunday Post, and the British Letterbox Love.

So even as this is the first one, there won't be a whole lot of news as I am stupid busy with essays and my dissertation - eep! But there is a nice blend of post highlights and new books

On and Around the Blog
Only one review this week: Velveteen by Daniel Marks (4.5 stars)
In other news, I was interviewed by Michelle, aka Clover, over on her blog! Check it out here

Currently Reading
Adorkable by Sarra Manning - been reading this practically none stop for the last few days and I love it! Nearly finished, which is kind of sad because it has been a great story. 

On My Bookshelf
Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse
Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete's body and a poet's brain. But when she's mocked at a college party, she kows there isn't a boy alive who'll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille's dream boy, Frankenstein-stylee. But can she make him love her?

A nice score from Waterstones, wouldn't you say? And, Dead Romantic is signed! Can't wait to start both of these!

You Don't Knew Me by Sophia Bennett 
It was all so good. Sasha and Rose. Best friends in a band, singing together. Right up to the finals of Killer Act when the judges tell them one of them must go Suddenly their friendship is put to the ultimate test. On TV in front of millions. Two girls. One huge mistake. Can they ever forgive each other?

How cool does this look? Thank you to Chicken House

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Publisher: Delacorte Books
Published: 9th October 2012
Pages: 464
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem. The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind. Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.  It’ll be brutal... and awesome. But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker. Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

I have lusted after this for months. Seriously, dark heroine and ghosts and killers? It's like it was written for me! And while it didn't turn out to be what I expected, it was still pretty epic. Velveteen was murdered, the victim of a serial killer, and now haunts purgatory where she leads a team of other ghosts to look out for souls that are trapped on Earth. That's how she meets Nick, a soul trapped in a crystal ball, used by a body-snatcher to wreak havoc on the very structure of purgatory. Although not exactly interested in boys - who would be when your dead? - Nick grows on her, proving to be funny and smart and a quick-learner.

Marks' debut was dark and funny, with some proper creepy moments but still fantastic, all dark clothes and macabre attitudes. The synopsis turned out to be kind of misleading, as I expecting a story about a dead girl haunting her killer, instead got an - in my opinion - equally awesome story about purgatory and the hot new guy who proves to be vital in the revolution that could bring down the whole of purgatory. When Nick follows Velvet and her team back through the doors to purgatory, understandably he has questions. But with the shadow-quake, the idiot revolutionaries who think that purgatory is a scam and losing a member of her team to going on to his final resting place, Velvet has no time for Nick's questions, or his wandering hands. She has been tasked with finding out who is behind the revolution and how to stop it, all with the added burden of trying to stop her killer from claiming another victim.

Sounds pretty intense, right? It was, but in a very good way! Drawn right in to Velvet's dark mind, her bleak and sarcastic attitude and what she has to deal with in purgatory, her story is a fantastic one with loads of great one-liners, heart-felt moments, wicked characters and an amazing love interest. Seriously, Velvet and Nick's chemistry was just right, with the tension of working together and the unwanted attraction that kept bubbling up, plus he proved to be an incredible help in her obsession with Bonesaw and the concluding action of the revolution.

All in all, an epic read for the goth lovers, with plenty of gore and snarky characters, a really good story, as long as you don't mind being disappointed with the lack of hardcore revenge and expect more of a almost political look at life after death and stubborn ghouls wanting to live again.

Saturday 13 April 2013

On My Bookshelf (15)

My version of IMM, and UK's Letterbox Love.

Wow, two in as many weeks? Blimey! I'm really trying to cut back on book buying, and in fact I haven't bought any since... last week *facepalm*. But I really do have to mention my post and pretty new ebooks. Oh real quick, in other news, you can now officially follow my blog on bloglovin! Button's on the side bar, just under my goodreads currently reading :)

The Eternity Cure by Julia Kagawa
Allison Sekemoto has vowed to rescue her creator, Kanin, who is being held hostage and tortured by the psychotic vampire Sarren. The call of blood leads her back to the beginning—New Covington and the Fringe, and a vampire prince who wants her dead yet may become her wary ally.

Even as Allie faces shocking revelations and heartbreak like she’s never known, a new strain of the Red Lung virus that decimated humanity is rising to threaten human and vampire alike.

Yay, yay, yay! So excited for this, I loved The Immortal Rules! Thank you very much to MiraInk!

Swag bag from Melissa Marr
So I won a competition a few weeks back on Jess's blog for a bunch of swag to celebrate Scarlet's release, the second in the Lunar Chronicles, and it arrived last weekend! Isn't it pretty? Now I just need to get my hands on the books...

The Hit by Melvin Burgess
Take it. Live it. F*** it.
A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It's the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.
Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend's over him, his brother's gone. So what's he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It's up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him...

Looks awesome right? And pretty intense, so might have to sum up courage to read this! Sent to me by Chicken House - thank you!

Drowning by Rachel Ward
What happens if you've done something terrible? But you can't remember what. And you don't know how to put it right ...When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. What happened in the water? He can't remember And when he glimpses A beautiful girl he thinks he recognizes, she runs away.Suddenly he knows he must find her - because together they must face the truth before it drowns them.

Another dramatic, thrilling book that looks like I won't be reading before bed! Thank you to Chicken House for another awesome-looking book!

Summer Falls by Amelia Williams
Ok, so it's not really by Amy Pond, but I think it's awesome that the BBC wrote the book that was featured in The Bells of St John. And of course, being the huge Doctor Who nerd that I am, I bought it. You can buy it here.

Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck
Reading this right now, pretty damn good so far - a Christian daughter that no longer wants to be perfect, being perfect sucks when you have minimal friends and most of your school doesn't know you exist, so she plans to get the perfect date to senior prom.

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles
How incredibly sweet does this sound? Can't wait to read it, thank you to netgalley and Random House

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza

Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 12th March 2013
Format: ebook
Pages: 480
Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie.

She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past—that she was built in a computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much, and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology.

Evading her enemies won't help Mila escape the cruel reality of what she is and cope with everything she has had to leave behind. However, what she's becoming is beyond anyone's imagination, including her own, and that just might save her life.

Mila is trying to be a normal girl, only she can't remember anything from before the fire that killed her father. And she can hear things that she shouldn't be able to. And she moves crazy fast sometimes, like ninja fast. In fact, you almost forget Mila is supposed to be different. Then new hot guy comes in, best friend goes all psycho on her and then said "best friend"  banishes her to the back of truck and goes joyriding, causing Mila to realise that when her arm is cut open, it really should be bleeding. Honestly, I couldn't believe what I was reading, I couldn't put my kindle down!

My heart in my throat for most of the story - so well paced, even with all the action sequences. It moved seamlessly from typical high school, frenemies and a hot new boy, to fighting for her life and running away, getting caught by the people who made her and now want to terminate her for having emotions. You know how some books can have awesome action sequences but with all the descriptions it all gets kinda flustered and confusing? Well Mila 2.0 was not like that!

As for Mila herself, I really liked her. She was lost and confused at a new school, not to mention the whole holy-crap-I'm-a-robot thing. And even though she seemed to fall for Hunter stupid fast and was all overly-romantic, I thought she was sweet and bad-ass at the same time. I actually really liked her relationship with her mum - despite wanting to slap her upside the head at the beginning, when you find out why her mother was so distant and weird, you totally want to hug her.

So while there were some parts I completely saw coming, most of it was pure awesome, gripping the edge of your sit type fun. An amazing read for anyone who loves a girl android, science fiction or great action writing.

This went towards by ebook and genre variety challenge. Thank you to Harper Collins and netgalley for my copy.

Saturday 6 April 2013

On My Bookshelf (14)

My own personal version of IMM, the UK's Letterbox Love and I suppose Weekly Highlights.

Speaking of Weekly Highlights, I'm considering switching to that, make me feel like I'm actually part of the blogger community ;) Plus, hopefully after I finished my dissertation and my third year of university in May, I'll have more reviews and discussion posts. What you guys think?

Anyway, on to the books!

An Abundance of Katherine's by John Green
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight Judge Judy - loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself. 

An Easter present from my boyfriend - you may remember last year he bought me Looking for Alaska? We decided to keep that tradition going and I picked out this!

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges...
Leila's psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn't sure what the future holds. If that weren't enough, her lover, Vlad, has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she's also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won't admit that he loves her.

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity...
Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity.

Yay! Love Frost's books so much and the next book about Vlad and Leila just came out and it's actually kind of late because my local Waterstones didn't stock it and I had to order it but whatever! It's here! 

Ink by Amanda Sun
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Ooh, does this look incredible or what? Thank you to MiraInk, I think this looks amazing - and Japan! Would love more multi-culture YA!

A Riveting Affair by Patricia Eimer, Candace Havens and Lily Lang
An anthology of Steampunk romances, with titles such as 'Beauty and the Clockwork Beast', 'Demon Express' and 'The Clockwork Bride'. Link to goodreads here

Tuesday 2 April 2013

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

Publisher: Headline
Published: 4th April 2013
Pages: 404
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 

When Ellie gets an random email, the stranger on the other end becomes a friend to talk to without judgement. For Graham, it is a relief to talk to someone who doesn't feel intimidated by his movie-presence, someone he doesn't have to pretend with. So when he gets a chance to film his new movie in Ellie's home town, he thinks it's the prefect opportunity to meet her. Of course, doesn't really start off very well. First, the town is turned upside down with production trailers, film stars and paparazzi. Then Ellie's friend is wearing her name tag at the sweet shop and a slightly embarrassing case of mistaken identity later, Graham is finally on the right track.

I haven't read Jennifer Smith's first book - trust me, I want to and after reading this one, now I really, really want to! This was sweet and cute, yet dealt with more pressing issues than 'does he really like me?' Which is impressive. It was not the usual love story; I liked how it focused more on their own personal development rather than them trying to get together, like with Graham's parents not understanding his new acting world, and the mystery behind Ellie's father. Yet even with all their other drama, Ellie and Graham had instant chemistry without even trying.

Ellie was really sweet, the only daughter to a single mum, with money problems, loves poetry and when she strikes up with email correspondence, there is a sense of secrecy and worry that she doesn't tell anyone. And Graham was so lovely, I couldn't believe he'd been sucked into the double-standard world of acting! I loved especially how neither of them pretended to be anything different than who they were in their emails - even if they didn't reveal identities, they let themselves be real with each other. And as much as I loved the characters, Henley was just perfect. The sense of small-town America was adorable and touching and really felt a world away from everything else.

The email's inter-spacing their real-life interactions were lovely, this sense that they still communicated in the way they started. But alongside this was how they both grew; Ellie got the confidence to find her father and Graham made stronger connections with his family. Before I gush too much, I just want to add that I loved how they came together at the end, overcoming their fears of what could happen with the fame and just enjoyed each other's company.

Thank you to Headline for my copy.