**QWERTY**

~ A Young Adult and Fantasy Book Blog ~



This giveaway hop is hosted by Kat and Steph over at Cuddlebuggery. Since I already held a giveaway for my top picks of 2012 (see End of the World Giveaway), I would like to offer a pre-ordered paperback copy of one upcoming title from January or February 2013 release instead. One lucky winner may choose one book out of these five books I've listed below. I personally haven't read any of these except Pantomine but I really looking forward to read them as all of these have received such amazing early reviews! Clicking the covers takes you to the book’s GoodReads page.


Con­test Rules:
  • To enter, please fill out the Raf­fel­copter form below.
  • The give­away is open INTERNATIONALLY as long as Book Depository ships to your country. 
  • Please note that you might not get the book with the cover shown above.
  • When the win­ner is cho­sen, it will be announced here and the win­ner will be emailed. Please check your email because I am only giv­ing the win­ner 48 hours to respond!  Oth­er­wise another win­ner will have to be selected.

This giveaway is made possible by Book Depository affiliates program. Help me put on more international giveaways by making your next purchase from the link below:



Easy by Tammara Webber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…
He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…
The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.
Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

Buddy read with Deska. You can read her thoughts here.

I have to warn you that this isn't exactly a review. More like my thought process written in scrambled words.


I swear to God this book would've find itself in my DNF pile if it's not because of all the buzz and hype. Instead of a swoon-worthy book, it was a snooze-worthy book. Sorry! But I need to stop giving these Contemporary/New Adult/YA books with deep message my knee-jerk five star ratings.

Although I have to confess I may lose my ability to enjoy this kind of books after Colleen Hoover's stunning debut, Slammed and her latest hit, Hopeless.

Hmm...yea it was sweet, empowering and all that but don't you think it's just tad predictable? And planned? Planned and awkward at the same time? You might hate me for this but the make outs were written awkwardly in my opinion. Like, I didn't even get the insta-love vibe and out of the blue, Lucas and Jacqueline make out? = insta-make-out? *shudders* Well, it isn't that sudden but the make outs sound really casual. I swear I felt more emotions when reading their e-mail exchanges.

I need to get myself checked,

I think.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Can I talk about Landon separately as if he isn't, you know... (don't want to spoil it for the not-yet-readers).

Hawt. LOL! An Economics tutor?

Hawt. Hawt. Hawt.

I took Economics in my college days too and that was one the best decisions I've ever made.

So I'm gonna be the smart-ass that I am and show you how I felt about Easy in terms of an economics curve.

Class, today we're going to learn about Phillips Curve!


Ignore the axis labels and just look at the curve. Needless to say the first chapter was brilliantly written but somehow the rest of the book failed to amuse me until the end.

Well, it was an easy read, no pun intended. :)

P/S: Sorry for my pseudo-smart-ass-ness show off. I miss studying Economics so bad.

ZA
3 poker faces
View all my reviews

Oh hai! Yes, I need to quit slacking off and start doing some the best/worst of 2012 lists like a good book-blogger that I am. But first, let me announce the winners of four giveaways I've held throughout this month. :)

End of the World Giveaway

Everyone's still here after the 21st? Good, because you ought to know who's our lucky winner for my End of the World Giveaway!

Congratulations, Giulia! She has chosen Obsidian as her prize! Wise choice, girl!


Return to Arèthane Giveaway

This was held as a one-day giveaway event on the 22nd. And the winner is;

Anne has won herself a signed paperback copy of an epic fantasy, Return to Arèthane.


Frost Fire Giveaway

This giveaway was held in conjunction with the book blitz organized by the amazing Giselle from Xpresso Book Tours

Brooke has won herself an e-book of Frost Fire!


Spellbound Series Giveaway

Another amazing giveaway organized by Xpresso Book Tours;

Maija won 1 Reading is Sexy sticker and signed book swag (1 Entangled bookmark and 1 Aurora Sky door hanger).

For the rest of you, words cannot describe how thankful I am for your participation in my giveaways. Don't miss the Grimm Diaries Prequels Giveaway that ends on on 1st January!


His Black Wings by Astrid Yrigollen

Claren Maidstone has been forced to flee her childhood home after the death of her parents and a vicious assault from a sadistic young man who intends to marry her. Claren changes her identity and finds employment as an assistant to the handsome Fredrick Lowood, a generous yet mysterious benefactor. However, she soon finds out his generosity comes at a price. Fredrick wishes for Claren to befriend his disfigured son who resides in seclusion at their estate, Westwind.
Fredrick Lowood knows what the history books do not teach, that the Grand Council built this new world of peace and beauty on hidden blood and greed. He has plotted for years to bring down the family that enslaved his own people. Suddenly, he has the last living heir in his grasp.
Etrigan Lowood rejects the world that forces him to hide. He is powerful, plagued with a terrible dark beauty: WINGS. It is these wings that carry him out only at night to watch the unwanted intruder in his home. A creature of refined instinct yet little social grace, he is strangely captivated by Claren but knows nothing of how her family’s dark past is intertwined with his own . Through their blossoming friendship, Etrigan realizes he still retains his human heart and yearns for Claren’s love.
Kurten Wandsworth is the only son of the Mayor of St.Marhen. Kurten lives his life fueled by cruelty and lust. Whatever he wants he takes and he wants Claren to be his wife even it if kills her. Scarred by Claren he hunts her down mercilessly until he can set a trap which she will never be able to escape from. 


Buy Links: Amazon

Media Links: Website / Twitter / Facebook

Astrid started her writing career when she begun work for the international video game giant, Sega of America. Working her way up the ranks, she began writing companion guides for games. With a love for writing fiction since childhood, she took her short stories out of storage and had her first story ever written published. It was only after that she found out that first stories are never published!
She has resumed writing full time and has succeeded in putting out the titles, TheDoughnut Tree, Mysterious Pootkins , and The Mosswoods to name a few. Her short stories have appeared in the literary Threshold Press␣ and Shock and Awe Magazine.
She finds writing for young adults both refreshing and challenging. She always wishes to provide examples of positive role models, conflict resolving methods and communication for young adults with their parents or guardians.



I've been slacking really, really bad lately. Sorry readers, apparently it's not easy to be consistent during this festive season even technically, I'm on my holiday! Today, I present to you a promo post for Surrender by Rhiannon Paille. I think an ARC of it can be grabbed off Netgalley now. :)

Tours



Surrender
by: Rhiannon Paille
Mini URL for Tour Page: http://ow.ly/eQuah

About the Book:

How far would you go to save everything you ever loved?

Kaliel was warned about her love for the Ferryman. One day he will marry the land and leave Avristar forever. She doesn't listen, and because of what she is-- a Flame-- one of nine apocalyptic weapons, she sparks a war. In a desperate attempt to save her home and her love, Kaliel tries to awaken Avred, not knowing she may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.


About the Author:

I was never a normal girl. My life was an urban fantasy wrapped in a paranormal romance and served with a side of horror. To escape my everyday weirdness I began writing fantasy. I studied at U of Sedona and MIMT, obtaining a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology. I'm married to a chef/comic book shop owner and I have a fondness for architecture. I frequent twitter and facebook, but if you really want to get to know me you should visit my site: www.yafantasyauthor.com


Find Rhiannon Paille




Enter to Win Link:



This one has print copies to win (2 print copies)

A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can't admit to seeing?

First, sorry for the mini hiatus.

Second, I will try my hardest not be bitchy with this review.

So...

...are you looking for a typical angel book? With classic good angels and bad angels? Good as in the usual guardian angels and bad as in the usual fallen angels? Do you crave for more lame good vs evil battle where human lives are the price to pay should the evil wins? Do you mind another trashy love triangle where somehow the girl is dumb enough to choose the heartless wimp over the friendzone guy who has done nothing but saving her ass? Insta love. Don't forget the insta love. Now the ingredient to yet, another shallow YA paranormal book is complete!

Okay, maybe that was a bit bitchy.

But what do you expect? I was really looking forward to read it. A girl who spent years in the asylum, who tries so hard to live her normal life only to find out her hallucinations were actually real i.e she can indeed see angels. It breaks my heart to say this but I think Tahereh Mafi handled Juliette characterization better than Lisa M Basso handled Rayna's.

So why 2-stars, you say. It's because the first fifty pages deserved a five-stars. No kidding! Although it reads like Twilight i.e. there's a new kid in school and Rayna feels an irresistible pull towards this guy bla3, it's because she sees that this new kid has wings. Totally acceptable, right? And on that very same day, a string of mysterious suicides begin to occur on people around Rayna. I did actually feel spooked whenever the story zooms into these bizarre suicide cases.

But the rest? A total trainwreck.

If you think Bella accident prone-ness is ridiculous, wait until you meet...

Bad Luck Brian Rayna.

At 10%... I jerked back. Too hard. My chair tipped over, talking me with it. I smacked Jeremy in my mouth on my way down. My head bounced off the floor...

At 42%... I messed up orders, spilled food, and broke plates.

At 42%... He stilled. "Actually I was going to tell you the coffee pot's overflowing. You added too much water."

At 50%.... The coffee pot shattered against the tile floor, littering me with tiny fragments of glass and a hot rush of coffee.

At 50%... I pulled the mop bucket out, accidentally doubling the normal amount of solution, and turned on the hot water.


ULTRA-HIGH-ANGLE REVERSE FACEPALM.

Trust me, I have nothing against clumsy people. I'm clumsy myself. But after screwing up so many times, isn't it ridiculous that she didn't get fired?

Le prose;

He wrapped his arms around me so tight, even my pancreas hurt.

Cam was the vacuum that took the bad away...


















Meh. I don't know. If this is my first angel book then probably I'd be impressed. Sadly, it's not.

2 unimpressed faces
**The ARC was provided by Month9Books in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
DNF. No ratings given.

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a government ′rehabilitation camp′. Ruby might have survived the mysterious disease that killed most of America′s children, but she and the others had emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now on the run, she is desperate to find East River, the only safe haven left for kids like her, and she joins a group of other runaways who have escaped their own camps. Liam, their brave leader, is falling for Ruby, but she can′t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all Liam. But there are also other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government.
Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice - and one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.


DNF. Stopped at 20%.

What's written on the page;

His eyes darted over me, from my haggard face down my forest green uniform to my mud-stained shoes. To the Psi number that had been written on their canvas toes in permanent marker. A look of horror flickered over his face. "Did you just come from a camp?"

What's actually in my head;

Psi....

Wait, that can't be right. He is Psy not Psi. *Chuckles* *Looks at the cover* That's the symbol of Psi! (Duh!) I think I saw the symbol before. In math? Or was it in Physic? *Googles Psi*

The letters Ψ or ψ can also be a symbol for:
psychology, psychiatry, and sometimes parapsychology (involving paranormal or relating with the supernatural subjects, especially research into extrasensory perception).

Whoaa, that makes sense!

Wait, where was I??

(And that was how the book ended up in my DNF pile)

You see, even before that, The Darkest Minds and I fell into this unhealthy relationship; I picked it up, I dozed off, I picked it back up, I got bored, I moved to other book, I tried to pick it back up, tried SO HARD TO CONCENTRATE, failed miserably, I ended up watching five movies, tried to pick it up again.

Repeat 188 times.

I gave up.



I'm sure this isn't a bad book. Teenagers with superpowers? I'd totally dig that. But I just don't have the patience. This book is really difficult to be read.

Giving up was one of hardest decisions I've ever made. It's like admitting that I'm actually intellectually impaired.

I honestly couldn't understand anything past the blurb!

The writing. It's chaotic. It's all over the place. It's everywhere.I couldn't keep track of who's who, who's doing what, where are they, what's going on. It's so frustrating. And I couldn't actually point out what's wrong either. The sentences were long but I've read books with longer sentences. No purple prose, no fancy vocabulary - I don't know, can I just say that the writing is...messy? One second I was in flashbacks, another second, there's action and confrontation, next, the scene reeled back to Ruby's own thoughts, and the next thing I knew, I'm in other people's memory.

**An ARC was provided by HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews



Return to Arèthane (The Elves of Arèthane #1)
by Kelly Riad

16-year old Emily has accepted her fate with each weakening beat of her heart, but after her best friend's brother and sister arrive in town and turn out to be more than what they appear, Emily's life is turned upside-down. When their friendship includes confronting wizards who harbor dark secrets and dancing with an elf prince, Emily discovers there are some things still worth living for.



Author Bio:

Kelly Riad is from Texas where she lived with her husband and a house overrun by pets. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is determined to bring the y'all to the West Coast.  While she published her first book - a handmade pop-up titled "The Lost Puppy" - in the fifth grade to much acclaim by the first graders, she only recently picked the craft back up. "Return to Arèthane" is her second published novel. Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

GIVEAWAY:
Each blog on the tour will host their own giveaway for a signed copy of the book. The giveaway will only be open for the ONE day of their stop.(ex. my giveaway is only open on the 19th) Stop by each of the blogs on the tour on their day for a chance to win on that day.


Open in the U.S. ONLY
Tour Schedule:
                - Mercy Amare
Dec. 19th - Just Me, Myself, & I
                - Jessabella Reads
Dec. 20th - Beth Art From The Heart
                - Splash of Our Worlds Books
Dec. 21st - BooksBooks&MoreBooks
                - Lost in Fictional Worlds
Dec. 22nd - **QWERTY**
Dec. 23rd - Escaping...One Book at A Time
                - Bookish Things & More
Dec. 24th - GingerRead Reviews
                - YA Book Addict
Dec. 25th - I Read Indie
Dec. 26th - Anatea's Bookshelf
                 - Fictional Candy 
Dec. 27th - Behind A Million And One Pages
                - Doodle's Book Blog
Dec. 28th - Just A Booklover
                - Paranormal Reads
Dec. 29th  - Vamps And Stuff
                 - Night Owl Reads
Dec. 30th - For The Love Of Film And Novels
                 - 5 Girls Book Reviews 
Dec. 31st. - The Stuff of Success 
                 - Pure Textuality 




   
      Return to Arèthane (The Elves of Arèthane)
   
 
 
 

Scan-1-1-2

Miss Fortune Cookie
By: Lauren Bjorkmamn
Mini URL: http://ow.ly/ft8cZ 
Hashtag: #MissFortuneCookieTour
Photobucket

Welcome to our tour of this wonderful funny, witty book!  Its about friends, family, and well Fortune Cookies!  Dont forget to come back when the tour starts to enter to win some great prizes!  

Book Description

November 13, 2012
  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
Meet Erin. Smart student, great daughter, better friend. Secretly the mastermind behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. Totally unaware that her carefully constructed life is about to get crazy.
It all begins when her ex-best friend sends a letter to her blog—and then acts on her advice. Erin’s efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor felonies, and possibly her very first romance.
What’s a likely fortune for someone no longer completely in control of her fate? Hopefully nothing like: You will become a crispy noodle in the salad of life.
Find Miss Fortune Cookie
Lauren Bjorkman

Biography

I grew up on a sailboat, sharing the tiny forecastle with my sister and the sail bags. Against all odds, we are still friends. We started sailing in California and ended in Argentina. My favorite stops along the way were Costa Rica, Panama, Isla Providencia, Key West, the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Brazil.

During our voyages, my sister drew beautiful paper dolls for the both of us. We sewed amazing wardrobes for our stuffed animals. We became excellent swimmers and beach combers. We made up new lyrics for old songs. Canned food dominated our meals on crossings, so we really appreciated fresh fruit when we came into port. I dreamed of ice cream on the open ocean.

We kept up with school through a program called Calvert out of Maryland.

My dad read to us at night by the light of a kerosene lamp. Since then, I've always loved stories and wanted to write my own.

I live in Taos, New Mexico with my husband, and two sons. We often see coyotes outside our window.

For more, please visit my website at http://www.laurenbjorkman.com
Find Lauren Bjorkman

Excerpt


You will have much luck and little hardship.
Or the other way around.

CHAPTER 1

My friends and I were riding home from school on Muni, clinging to an assortment of slippery handholds, when Linny almost blew my secret identity. Intentionally.
“Listen to this one,” she said, reading off her iPhone, a faint but smirky glint in her eyes. “‘Dear Miss Fortune Cookie. My cousin thinks I’m chasing her boyfriend. Her boyfriend and I never flirt, but sometimes we text. What can I do to make her believe me? Just Friends.’”
In fact, I—Erin Kavanagh, alias Miss Fortune Cookie—had posted this very letter on my anonymous advice blog, and Linny happened to be the only person in San Francisco to know that, the only person in the whole world, except for some random administrator at WordPress. She takes every opportunity to harass me about keeping my blog a secret. “What advice would you give, Erin?” she asked, winking this time.
I kept my face as neutral as possible. Luckily Darren and Mei were only paying attention each other. As usual.
Personally speaking, I think nano-deceptions are a good thing. I regularly use them to protect my friends from unpleasant truths. Should I tell Linny that her favorite knit hat makes her head look like a furry meatball? Or nudge Mei whenever Darren winces at her hyena laugh? Should I have cautioned Darren that taking AP physics would wreck his grade-point average? Absolutely not. Sincere lies keep everyone happy.
I blew the hair out of my eyes. “The cousin will never stop suspecting the two of them,” I said to Linny, “so Just Friends has to stop the texting. She could get her own boyfriend. Or move to somewhere far away like Moldavia.”
Muni, a sort of bus powered by electric wires overhead, jerked to a halt. A seat opened up, and Linny took it. “Exactly!” She had the happiest smile ever, so big it barely fit on her face. Metaphorically speaking. “Mei, don’t you think Erin is a natural at giving advice?”
“Hmm?” Mei said. She was somewhat entwined with Darren and therefore distracted.
“Nothing.” I jabbed Linny in the ribs to get her to stop talking. Gently of course. The three of us—Mei, Linny, and me—made an enviable friendship trio. I was the lesser third, maybe because Mei and Linny were gorgeously Chinese-American, while I was just Boring-American. A Person of Irish.
Mei knew nothing about my connection to Miss Fortune Cookie. We used to be best friends, and by best friends I mean we spent every afternoon and weekend together until eighth grade, when things fell apart between us. The truth is, Mei dumped me. Then Linny brought us together again during freshman year, inviting us both to eat lunch with her, forming a little group. A few months later, I mustered the courage to bring up the dumping incident with Mei, except she didn’t want to talk about it. So we became friends again without dealing with the past. Pretty much.
Except I didn’t trust her like I used to.
And she didn’t share as many intimate details about herself with me.
Linny beckoned me closer to whisper in my ear. “I have a question for Miss Fortune Cookie. A very personal one. But you can’t tell Mei.”
“Why not?”
She lowered her voice more. “You just can’t, ’kay?”
I nodded. Linny usually let both of us in on every detail about her life, although lately she’d been secretive about her new boyfriend. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t be boring. I turned my back toward Mei and said in my quietest voice, “Go ahead. I’m listening. What is it?”
Linny shook her head. “Not now.”
Just then, the Muni driver made the sharp turn into Chinatown, and three things happened almost simultaneously: a bicyclist veered into the road, the driver slammed on the brakes, and I fell into another passenger. We came to a halt fifty feet from the stop, and the bicyclist escaped unscathed. I could tell by the vigorous way he flipped off the driver. Then I caught sight of Mrs. Liu, bundled against the fog, among the passengers waiting to board.
“Your mom!” I whispered to Mei. “She’s getting on!”
Mei’s eyes widened. “What the what?”
Which demonstrates a problem with sincere lies—in this case, Mei’s lie to her mom about not having a boyfriend. They can be found out. Darren dropped his arm from around Mei’s waist and grabbed his backpack. “Bye,” he mouthed before zipping to the back and catapulting out the rear door. He’s considerate like that.
Mrs. Liu’s grocery bags thumped against the handrail as she marched up the steps. She has sharp, high cheekbones and is tall like her daughter. She and Mei both have blunt-cut hair that reaches their shoulders. Our favorite salon in Chinatown sometimes offers two-for-one specials.
Mei hurried to the front to take the two largest bags. “Ma, let me.”
Mrs. Liu stretched her swan neck toward the window. “Who is that with you?”
Mei shook her head nervously. “No one. Just Erin and Linny. I invited them to help with the turnip cakes.”
“No. I see boy before.” Mrs. Liu believed with every sinew in her heart that a boyfriend would distract Mei from her schoolwork, ruining her chances of getting into the number one university in the country, Harvard. So when Mei fell in love with Darren last spring, she kept it a secret from her mom. For thirteen whole months. Which showed amazing ingenuity and skill on her part, but once you start a lie, it’s hard to escape it.
“Who is boy?”
“Oh, him,” Mei said. “Someone from AP chem. We were discussing the homework. Chemical reactions.” She blinked fast. “And stuff like that.”
To be fair, most people have trouble lying to Mrs. Liu. Her eyes bore right through your skull and read your thoughts as if you accidentally uploaded them onto Facebook. It’s her superpower.

Giveaway!

Some of these items are for My Invented Life Giveaway 
running in Jan 2013!

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist.
There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.
He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat.
When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

Hew. Hew. I'm kind of nervous to rate and review this book because I think the whole world knows about my undying love for Naji The Assassin's Curse.

Before I start with my review, I need to clarify something - I haven't read anything but YA and High Fantasy for years, so this type of book isn't something I usually pick up. But I don't want to be one of those reviewers who likes to read book which I know, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it. Alright, I did that once. With Fade. But not anymore. See? I haven't rated any books 1-star for months! I feel like a saint now. Heee.

Anyway, my point is, I know I need to read this because it's by Cassandra freaking Rose freaking Clarke. And what a better way to start branching out other than reading something from your favourite author?

See that blurb? It's completely misleading. I don't get why a blurb could sound so dry and blegh while its purpose is to attract readers. The cover - when I did the cover reveal, I didn't understand the purpose of that enormous moon but now I know it's totally relevant.

This book was set in a huge time frame. It follows Cat when she was just 5 years old until she reaches about 30+ years old, I think. In just 400 pages, that's a hell lot of compaction. But Clarke managed it flawlessly and I think that's the major quality which I adore the most in her writing. She knows what kind of details to be emphasized and what to leave out and never once, the pacing stalls. TMSC is not a page turner, yet I always feel compelled to pick it up right back from where I left it off.

For me, the highest point being when it was narrated from the kid and teen Cat POV. Probably due to my familiarity with YA books. Halfway through, I felt really annoyed with Cat. She was selfish, cold and manipulative but she didn't realize that. Only until almost the end, I realized that Cat wasn't written in hope that she would be a likable character, she was written in hope that she would be a normal character. And I think that is a important distinction.

Finn, the android - of course I'm a fan. I couldn't say much about him because I don't want to spoil the book for you but I think Clarke did it again - creating a unique character.

In my opinion, this book is heavy on the romance side. The science fiction element is there but very subtle but not as much until it becomes superficial. Instead, it gives the story this otherworldly quality. I wouldn't be surprise if someone would actually cry while reading this book because it surely has the potential to become the next tear-jerking read you're looking for. As for me, I didn't cry because I'm heartless got distracted...

...with the sexy-times.

Before you think I'm a little pervert, I'd like to explain that I have a hard time adjusting. Sex in emotional reads is a new concept for me (yeah, yeah - surprise, surprise). Like, fries dipped with ice cream, it's foreign. Nothing too graphic, really - scratch that, the make outs aren't meant to be hot or steamy, but they still implied, well, sex.

SO, YEAH. THIS IS NOT YA, PEEPS!

But nevertheless, I still think this a wonderful read. I'm glad I tried it. It's powerful and emotive. I kept having this sound of tiny violin in the background throughout my sittings (not in a comedic way, but in a sad way).

Me gusta!
**An ARC was provided by Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews


Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.




Hmm...this review will be awkward since I felt a total indifference towards this book.

Eh, I wasn't that entertained as I first thought I would.

Sure, it's a nice book. I laughed, I felt sad, I blushed whenever Noah does his Noah thing. It has some serious, meaningful messages. It's crude, realistic - I could totally understand where Noah and Echo had come from. Of course, at first I was uncomfortable by how much Noah pays attention to Echo's butt and cleavage but he is just a high school student after all. Furthermore, Noah does prove himself to be more than this hot stoner guy throughout the course of the story.

I adore the slow building of Noah and Echo's relationship. I thought it was cute and believable. But halfway into the book, I felt like this tug war between Noah and Echo and also the family drama llama goes on and on and on and on...

...and on and on and on - you get the idea.

And I failed to empathize anymore.

Sure, they are teenagers and teenagers makes bad decisions. The adults in this book didn't do any better either. That's why I thought this book was nice but I think I sort of grew tired with it along the way.

I also thought the dialogues are natural (even though I never been to a high school in the US so who am I to comment on that LOL!). The characters including the secondary ones also felt like real people. The ending has this amazing sense of closure to it.

Meh, I don't know. I was looking for a teary read so I must say I'm disappointed that Pushing the Limits didn't deliver it. Not the book fault probably, but there you have it, 3-stars from me.

3 poker faces
**An ARC was provided by Harlequin UK in exchange for an honest review.

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Venom by Fiona Paul
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.


**This review contains mild spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

Had to stop at 40% into the book.

No, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NO!

Another interesting premise down the drain...

A historical fiction YA book set in Venice during Renaissance era? C-c-combo breaker! Sadly, the execution was done at a very sub-par level.

Okay, I believe in common sense. With that in mind, there are so many things that I found as ridiculous and non-sensible about this book. I disapprove this book until I would go to the extent of pasting Nicholas Cage picture on every single page of this book if what I have is a physical copy.

Nicholas Cage should feel so lucky because I only have a digital ARC of Venom.

Venom opens with the funeral of Liviana, a close friend of our main protagonist, Cassandra or Cass. Strangely, we weren't told of how much Liviana actually meant to Cass i.e. how Liviana was a good friend to Cass, how did they spent their times, and all the good memories. The only thing we learnt about Liviana is that she is a good girl. That's all. During the funeral, Cass seems to focus more on how tight her dress is, how the priest seems to target her personally, how her aunt is falling asleep...I mean, does she really care that her best friend is dead?

It turns out Cass likes to hang out in the graveyards. How...morbidly fascinating. I read something similar in Ember but contrary to in Venom, this kind of behaviour makes sense in Ember because the protag can actually sense death. But for an elite like Cass to actually likes hanging out in graveyards, well, I don't buy it. Let alone, when she actually had the nerve to dig out Liviana's grave.

Cass had her second encounter with Falco in the graveyard just after she dug Liviana's grave out and found the body had been replaced with an unidentified courtesan. This gets the ball rolling as Cass and Falco are set for a quest to find the murderer and Liviana's missing body.

Cass
Okay, I believe Fiona Paul had this vision of a strong, brave heroine when she wrote about Cass but Cass for me, came across only as a reckless and dumb heroine. She is so trustworthy of Falco despite having an absolute zero knowledge about him. Look, he met this guy for the first time when he somehow ran into her and he jokingly admitted that he did that on purpose. Second time they met, it was in the graveyard and Falco had Cass' journal but refused to give it back. Later, he talked Cass into not telling the authority about the murder, decided to break into possibly the murderer's lair, stole Cass' aunt gondola and claimed he has some business to tend to at 2 am in the morning. And oh, Falco also somehow knows about the secret knock to a brothel house!

Falco
Falco is not your classic 'I am a mysterious and dangerous guy', he is an immoral prick. Only idiots would find him attractive.

Furthermore, he always taunts and mocks Cass into doing all those stupid acts, challenging her 'unless you're too afraid to' or 'or you can't wait to go home to your satin sheets?'. lolwut? Was it Cass' fault that she was born into a family of elites? It was as if Falco views all the rich people as spoiled little brats. How mature!

Oh, I'm not done with Cass yet
Cass characterization can also be confusing at times. I understand that she also faces a death threat from the mysterious murderer but most of the time, her primary motivation is to find Liviana's body. Remember she acted like she didn't give much shit during Liviana's funeral? Moreover, when she found out about the identity of the murdered courtesan, she feels excitement and wonder and fear? Fear is understandable but excitement and wonder? Hate to break your bubble, girl but while you've been dumb enough to undertake this so-called little mission on your own, it doesn't hurt to react appropriately according to common sense.


So...this is a YA book, you say?

During Cass and Falco little visit to the brothel house, Cass accidentally stumbled upon a room in which a couple were you know, doing it. While of course I had issues with Cass seemingly content with watching people having intercourse and even imagining herself with Falco in their places, the narrative is kind of descriptive for a YA book.

Rich and vivid writing
Is the only thing good about this book apart from the setting (hence, the 2-stars). I could totally imagine myself in Venice during Renaissance Era while reading Venom. It's obvious that Fiona Paul put a considerable amount of efforts in putting this book together and it clearly reflected in the way she built the tone and setting of Venom.

The Verdict
I did try to reconsider taking this book back from my DNF pile by browsing through other reviewers' opinions. What I can gather is, I don't think it's worth to continue with the book. So yes, it will stay in my DNF pile for good.

Two unimpressed faces
**An ARC was sent by HarperCollins Australia in exchange for an honest review.

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By the summer, Tatiana “Nicky” Roman must learn to trust Xander Day if she’s ever going to discover the origin of her violent hallucinations. But centuries of being repeatedly murdered by him on July 17th are a little hard to forgive.
Over four hundred years ago, Xander thought the holy man’s prophetic words were as crazy as his eyes—that Alexander and Tatiana were destined to be together forever. But Xander misunderstood the mystic. He knows now forever meant forever taking the other’s life. If they never break the bloody curse holding them prisoners of fate, there will be only one outcome: death.


Author Bio:
Kelly Riad is an American writer who graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas with a degree in journalism. Because's she's always been a lucky little brat, her life has taken her all over the world from the hot, humid streets of Hong Kong and the crowded markets of Cairo, to the cobbles of Vienna and the ruins of Rome from where she has shamelessly stolen ideas and material for her stories.
She self-published her first young adult novel, Always Me, in September 2011. Other Novels include Return to Arèthane and Prince of Arèthane.
For more information on Kelly's young adult fiction, visit http://kellyriad.blogspot.com/
Links:
http://kellyriad.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/KellyRiad

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