Aug
09

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publication: August 15, 2013 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Format, pages: e-Galley, 368
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Romance
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

From Goodreads

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Quite frankly, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke gave me ALL the feels. There’s no other way to describe its highly addictive quality that makes me want to drop everything I’m doing and submerse myself into this breathtaking world. With an alluring blend of horror and romance, this is a perfect book to read while curled on a comfy couch on a rainy, Australian winter night. Personally I always had a soft spot for all things Gothic, so I found this story to be enjoyable on most part. If I still haven’t convinced you to read this book yet, well then… just look at that gorgeous cover. Enough said!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea can be seen as a coming of age story as we witness Violet growing up and facing the metaphoric horrors of the world. There is a strong sense of physical and emotional isolation that permeates throughout the whole book. Both Violet and Luke live alone in a large mansion by the sea that is withdrawn from the rest of society. Not only are they abandoned by their negligent parents, but they also have to deal the loss of their grandmother who was the only real parental figure in their lives. The novel’s premise may seem unrealistic due to the convenient ‘Disappearing Parent Syndrome’ which is very common to YA fiction. However it works well with the Gothic style of the novel in heightening the emotions of loneliness, despair and fear felt by the characters. With a bleak and foreboding atmosphere, Tucholke promises us darkness, death, melodrama and madness to come. And she does not disappoint.

Feb
13

This review may contain spoilers for the previous two books in the trilogy.

*

Title: Shades of Earth, Across the Universe #3
Author: Beth Revis
Publication: January 15th, 2013 by Razorbill 
Format, pages: Hardcover, 369
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★★ 

From Goodreads:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

WHY DID I PUT Shades of Earth OFF FOR FIFTEEN DAYS?!!! ARGHHH! Yes. Fifteen days is a long time to put off a book that was number five on your ten most anticipated books of the year. And a book that. Was. Just. Soooooooo. Good. And evil! And Good! No… IT WAS AWESOME!

‘What is in our hearts is real whether we name it or let it exist only in darkness or silence.’

Okay. So. Beth Revis is evila genius … an evil genius. Why can’t all YA authors be like her? Seriously. All those other authors need to step up to the plate and show some true bravery and release their inner mad[wo]man. It’s the words written by the psychopath side of you that will surprise whoever reads your book. It’s true. That’s something that will make me buy and read a book immediately. Speculating about what might happen would just be a huge waste of time and preparing yourself is the best that you can do – I knew since Across the Universe that Beth Revis’s books are just those you have to prepare for. But in Shades of Earth, I didn’t even think to prepare myself – there was no time to. Revis – literally – blew my mind before I had time to prepare my fortifications and protect what little innocence I had left. Her fiery barrages of surprises, twists and turns, smouldered that innocence to ash.

Across the Universe introduced us to Godspeed, to its functioning and purpose, to Amy and Elder, and to a mysterious and thrilling new story in space. A Million Suns raised the stakes aboard Godspeed higher, tearing the civilians in two, while more revelations about Godspeed came to light. Shades of Earth raises the stakes even higher, as high as they can possibly go, as high as the tallest building in the world. Yeah, that’s high. In Shades of Earth we see the shuttle with Amy and Elder, the thousand-and-something other Godspeedians, and the eighty-or-so cryogenically frozen people land on Centauri-Earth despite a few malfunctions. Once they land a number of events occur… And that’s where I’ll stop… Shades of Earth is no happily ever after.

What I would’ve liked to have seen is much more of Centauri Earth and the creatures that inhabit it. There certainly was quite a few twists in what little we did see of it, but just more of it would’ve been nice. Despite that, the world building is pretty incredible. Amy and Elder, the shipborns and the Earthborns, had no idea what they were getting into, had no idea what Centauri Earth is like. So Shades of Earth was quite an absorbing book as we discovered this new planet – or like I said, this corner of it – at the same time the characters did. Revis instills fear in the reader just as she instills fear in her characters, experiencing things together at the same time.

So much has happened to these characters we’ve grown to love or despise since Across the Universe to the end of Shades of Earth. I feel like there’s much more that can happen in this universe, on this planet, with how the trilogy concluded. Beth Revis could write another trilogy or other books, further expanding, further developing, further exploring the entirety of Centauri-Earth. I have already in my dreams thought about story lines that could be written post-Shades of Earth, story lines that a season 4, a season 5, a season 6 could possibly use if these books were ever adapted for the TV. I’d even alter the very ending of Shades of Earth so that the story would further develop and continually roll out the surprises that Beth Revis is known for. If I’m given the opportunity to adapt these books to the TV I would do it with dignity, with respect, with a love for the source material. But I digress.

The plot in Shades of Earth continually evolved, continually kept you questioning, on your feet, running, hiding, gasping for air, in astonishment, in terror, in shock. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! this book went, the explosions galore helping me since I did not have to shave before work the next day. The trilogy arc is something I’ve been quite impressed with – one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Whoever at Razorbill/Penguin told Beth Revis that the story could develop after Across the Universe, whoever pushed Beth Revis to write another two books, whoever believed in Beth Revis and her divine storytelling and the potential in life after Across the Universe should be awarded a medal of some kind. Seriously. Revis had a plan since the start and it ended in ways I did not expect. Shades of Earth was an explosive conclusion, raining down revelations and debris all around.

I must add something that I took notice of and must spotlight. There was this new character Adam. He was made to be a new love interest for Amy, someone to cause tension and conflict between Amy and Elder. But to be honest, whoever calls that a love triangle is seriously mistaken. Yes, she was attracted to his looks. Yes, she flirted. Yes, they spent some time together. But there was a moment where Adam leaned in towards Amy to give her a kiss. But Amy refused it, turning her head away. I had always loved Amy since the beginning, but this moment proved that she was mature, not constantly seeking attention, not wanting to make out and be with every guy she finds attractive under the sun. Because she is with Elder. And Elder is with her. This shows that she’s head-strong. This shows that she’s loyal – to Elder, as well as to others. It was a trait of hers that I found to be the most memorable. I guess I have to talk about Elder now too? Well, Elder was great. He was loyal, driven, brave, and determined to protect Amy and everyone, even those he had rivalled with in the past, putting himself in harm’s way for the betterment of everybody else. He was a hero; she was a heroine. Together they were gold.

‘I learned that life is so, so fragile. I learned that you can know someone for just days and never forget the impression he left on you. I learned that art can be beautiful and sad at the same time. I learned that if someone loves you, he’ll wait for you to love him back. I learned that how much you want something doesn’t determine whether you get it or not, that “no” might not be enough, that life isn’t fair, that my parents can’t save me, that maybe no one can.’

The conclusion to this trilogy is one not be missed. Although it might leave you with post traumatic stress disorder for the rest of your life, Shades of Earth is worth it. Whatever other book Beth Revis comes out with will be worth it. Being Beth Revis right at this moment would be a pretty good feeling. If I ever meet Beth… When I meet Beth… oh, man, I cannot fathom not meeting Beth and not being able to stroke the head that holds that brain built from epicness, the brain that produced such an awesome trilogy that is the Across the Universe trilogy.

Hi, Beth! … … … … *flails*

What others have said about this book:

Author Amie Kaufman:

I just… I loved this book. The author was brave. She went places. Get it, read it. Gosh, just read it.

Other books in this series:

1. Across the Universe (January, 2011)
2. A Million Suns (January, 2012)
3. Shades of Earth (January, 2013)

 


Jan
10
Posted by . This post has been sorted into "Marie Lu, Putnam Juvenile, Review" • 3 Comments

Title: Prodigy, Legend #2
Author: Marie Lu
Publication: January 29th, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Format, pages: ARC paperback, 371
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

From Goodreads

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

This review is coming to you six months too late. Maybe not six months too late, but rather this review was written six months after I read it so details may not be crisp clear. However, having said that, Prodigy was not as memorable as its predecessor Legend. Marie Lu wrote a fantastic sequel, adrenaline-filled and surprises at every turn we make, but it didn’t have that same emotional impact and the momentous occasions that Legend had, occasions that made indelible impressions on me. Maybe it was because I was reading Prodigy at the time I was getting my wisdom teeth out, which was a pretty momentous occasion in itself, stealing my interest away from the book. Maybe. But I’m not going to make reasons for why Prodigy didn’t stand out to me. I will definitely reread Prodigy to see if my thoughts change – most likely before the third book in 2014 – but for now, just know, that Legend was better.

In Prodigy, Lu expands the futuristic society of this world, which we only saw one piece to the puzzle of in Legend. Slowly, Lu gives us more pieces to the puzzle, and in the end creates a visually dynamic and dimensional map for the reader to immerse themselves in and experience. We discover how the continent was split into two separate areas: the Republic and the Colonies. We also see more of the Republic and what lies outside the Republic: a greater world that watches the Republic’s every news, every movement, every change. It is through Day’s and June’s adventures that we get the opportunity to visit a place that they never knew existed, a city of towers of glass and metal, much different to anything in the Republic and the Colonies. This new discovery of theirs comes at a cost, and although it exceeds their wildest imaginations, everything is not what it seems behind its mesmerising facade.

Surprises lurk throughout Prodigy, many you will not expect, with some pertaining to the characters while others about the world. The attraction between June and Day continues to blossom, but while one has someone else vying for their affection, that someone jealous of what they can’t get, the other questions their own situation, fighting an internal battle about who they fit much better with. Prodigy to me was a relationship-heavy book. For most of the time I’d turn my head away or roll my eyes because of the silliness that is present, but I soon realise that these parts of the story further develop each of the characters, the major and the minor. Day and June may seem invincible externally, but internally they fight their own wars, which ends in heartbreak and disillusionment, leaving you, the invested reader, crying out for the third book.

Marie Lu knows her readers, and I’m sure she will continue to use that strength of hers in book three. I’m looking forward to see how Day’s and June’s stories end. I. Need. You. Now. Book. Three! Maybe Prodigy was memorable after all, but like I said, not as memorable and permanent as the legend that was Legend.

A big thank you to Sasha from Sash & Em for sending me an extra ARC she had lying around. Much love!

What others have said about this book:

Steph @ Cuddlebuggery:

Marie Lu has me hook, line and sinker. I’m completely enthralled in this series and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Savannah @ Books With Bite:

Take it from me when I say this is YA at it’s best!! It’s raw and genuine. Nothing that I read before, Prodigy threatens every book out here. Prodigy is EPICNESS!!!

Books in this series:

1. Legend (November, 2011)
2. Prodigy (January, 2013)
3. Untitled (2014)

Jan
08

Andrea Cremer is one author I dearly love. She is not afraid to take risks (e.g., Bloodrose), and although many have still not accepted the damage Cremer has done to them, Cremer continues to bring out compelling stories despite that. Bloodrose was a favourite and it’s with hope that Cremer continues to deliver high levels of action, suspense, and superb storytelling. Rift and Rise were a fantastic prequel duology to the Nightshade trilogy, combining fantasy and historical elements seamlessly in a suspenseful and conflicting origins story.

To know of the existence of evil, true evil that corrupted the world, had forever altered her heart and mind. If she had chosen a different path, she wouldn’t have slept another night. Her head would have been restless as she thought only of the horrors that might be creeping outside her door, waiting to rend her flesh. She would not live a life as the hunted; she would be the hunter.

Title: Rift, Nightshade Prequel #1
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publication: August 7th, 2012 by Philomel
Format, pages: Hardcover, 431
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★½ 

From Goodreads:

Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer’s internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother’s life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

It didn’t feel like much happened in Rift until the big event towards the end and that this book was just a precursor to what was to come in Rise. However, having said that, I liked Rift very, very much. I don’t think something has evoked that much resentment in me to a few characters in some time. I found the beginning a bit slow as I was getting into the time period and the third person as I was so used to Cremer’s first person narrative in the Nightshade books, but once I learnt more about the Guard and Conatus I just could not get enough. Ember was a wonderful heroine to follow and I kind of do love her more than Calla now. The supporting cast as always were fantastically well-drawn too.

• • •

Title: Rise, Nightshade Prequel #2
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publication: January 8th, 2013 by Philomel
Format, pages: Hardcover, 432
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ 

From Goodreads:

The sequel to Rift and the prequel to the New York Times bestselling novel Nightshade.

Everything Conatus stands for is at risk. Hoping to gather enough resistance to save their order, Ember and Barrow attempt a desperate escape. But fate offers little mercy. When their mission is exposed, the  couple face relentless pursuit by the supernatural horrors that act on the commands of Eira’s ally: the mysterious Bosque Mar. A shocking revelation forces Ember out of hiding, sending her back into the heart of dark magic at Tearmunn keep, where she must convince her old friend Alistair of her love or face dire consequences. Ember’s deception offers the only chance for the resistance to succeed, but what she discovers in the shadows beneath the keep will shatter her world and bring about the Witches’ War.

Richly sensual and full of magic, action and danger, Andrea Cremer’s fifth book set in the Nightshade world is an edge-of-your-seat page turner.

I read Rise immediately after finishing Rift, and I couldn’t have read this duology any other way. Rift and Rise are basically one novel cut in two so it was only right to go through to the end after reading Act 1. Cremer flooded this book with suspense and drama, battle and conflict, creating a flawless plot for the varied ambitions of the various characters to tread along. I enjoyed learning how the Guardians (the wolves) and the four pieces of the Cross in the Nightshade books came to be – immensely. Rift and Rise were an intriguing prequel duology that kept me waiting for the moment of discovery and origins. I’m already longing for my return to the Nightshade world.

But, uhh, how can I not be excited for Cremer’s Nightshade world-set erotica books? I’m a nearly 20-year-old male with no desire to read erotica AT ALL, but my dear Andrea Cremer had to pull the delicious rabbit out of the hat and tempt me. And because these eroticas are by her and in a world I have come to love in five books, of course I’m going to be tempted. Wolves on wolves: utterly perfect. *laugh maniacally*

Thank you to Philomel via Edelweiss for an e-galley to review.

• • •

UK/AUS editions – Hachette/ATOM

  

Feb
27

Title: Hallowed, Unearthly #2
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publication: January 1, 2012 by Harper Collins Australia
Format, pages: Paperback, 448
Source: From publisher
Finished on: February 18, 2012
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Clara Gardner knew that as a part angel she would one day have to fulfill her purpose, rescuing Christian from a forest fire…what she never considered was what might happen if she were to fail.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend Tucker, Clara must deal with the repercussions of what happened the day of the fire as the two boys vie for her heart. And, as she is drawn further into the world of angels and part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain after a shocking revelation, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning…

Goodreads || Book Depository

I enjoyed Unearthly immensely when I read it just as it came out at the beginning of last year. Hallowed was a fantastic sequel, although I found there were a few things which took away that five stars. The only worry I did have was that you find out who is dying before halfway through the book and although you are mislead for the first quarter or so, it still dragged on for the rest of the book. And because of this, there was really no big climax towards end of the book – and definitely did not end in a cliffhanger. However, I guess being anticlimactic does make this sequel one to stand out from the rest as it is not a filler but rather provides you with a lot more information about Samjeeza, Clara’s mother, her father, her purpose, and answers quite a lot of the unanswered questions and events from Unearthly.

What I did love the most about Hallowed however, was that it practically was all about family. Many novels disregard the family aspect of these teens’ lives but Cynthia Hand gave us a family to look to for support and guidance although they may be formed on the supernaturals. If I had a very close friend or relative pass away, then Hallowed would’ve impacted and toyed with my emotions a whole lot more. I did not though, so it did kind of be a bit of a hit-or-miss type of story which may-or-may-not resonate with the readers and their experiences.

Hallowed was a fantastic sequel and I’m looking forward to how Cynthia Hand concludes this trilogy. And the love triangle in here was one I can deal with anytime, anywhere, any day of the week.

____________

Title: Bloodrose, Nightshade #3
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publication: January 3, 2012 by Philomel (Penguin)
Format, pages: Hardcover, 406
Finished on: February 14, 2012
My Rating: ★★★★★ 

Calla has always welcomed war.

But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

Goodreads || Book Depository

I had a few qualms with Wolfsbane but I forget about them now because… BLOODROSE WAS FREAKING AMAZING!! I mean it – This. Book. Blew. Me. Away (It really did blow me… away. I can’t say it any better than how I just did hehe.) And I know from reading others’ reviews – such as those on amazon.co.uk – that they had qualms with this one instead. But how could they? Just because Bloodrose didn’t end in a happily ever after? Because someone that was a dominant figure throughout all three books, and who also had a following, got killed? Because it wasn’t raining chocolate and sprouting fairy floss for the entire length of the book? Because this story didn’t end the way they wished it did, the way they wanted it to? THESE WERE THE REASONS WHY I LOVED THIS BOOK – it is now my favourite of the trilogy. After Bloodrose, Andrea Cremer has now stamped herself in my “books-by-this-author-I-need-to-buy-always-and-always-and-immediately” book. She has cemented herself in YA – and on my shelves – as one of my favourites. And mostly because of how this trilogy ended to be honest.

Unsuspecting endings and unexpected events in books are what makes that said book one to remember. And Bloodrose stamped itself as one of them. I don’t want to give away anything as it is one you just need to read and  experience to believe it. But be prepared to get emotional. Put tear-catchers beneath your eyes so none fall onto the pages of the book.

In Nightshade I was Team Shay. In Wolfsbane I hated Shay and became a Ren fan. But in Bloodrose, Ren still won my heart however Shay wasn’t hated at all. In fact, they both became equals throughout the book with no dislikes for either of them. It was great to not be swayed.

The disappointed fans can stay disappointed and frustrated for all I care. There’s no reason to begin disparaging this book if you didn’t enjoy it as much as you wanted to. Just don’t ruin it for those who have not yet read it and will possibly enjoy it way more than you.