Friday, June 28, 2013

Blog Hop: Feature and Follow #1

A good way to get more followers is by joining the #FF Feature & Follow Hop!

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? The goal is to increase blog followers and make friends. First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools — keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them “hi” in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win.

Thanks for stopping by!

Q. What is your preferred reading format?
Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc?

Ans. Although I'm not averse to reading ebooks I admit that I'm partial to paperbacks and hardcovers. For one they add a certain feel to reading...that characteristic smell, the satisfaction of finally holding the book that you've desired for so long in your hands...ahem...and the like. Admittedly ebooks are much more convenient and can be read on phones and tabs and are much cheaper but I guess to each his own....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ARC Review:- Dark Child(Omnibus Edition)- Adina West

Goodreads Synopsis

Perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, this intriguing urban fantasy follows the story of Kat Chanter, who discovers that the world she knows is controlled by ancient creatures who feed on blood. And she might just be one of them ...

Lately things have been getting weird for pathology technician Kat Chanter. She's been craving raw meat, and having dreams so realistic they're scary. When she accepts a job offer from the prestigious Hema Castus Research Institute, she hopes she'll have the chance to discover what's wrong with her, but instead, her move to New York thrusts her headlong into a treacherous hidden world, where the wrong move could be fatal . . .

Tarot, witchcraft and astrology all take on a frightening resonance in Dark Child's richly imagined alternative reality where vampiric beings live among us, hidden by magic. Dark romance tangles with paranormal fantasy and page-turning suspense in this enthralling tale of 'dark child' Kat Chanter, half-human and half-vampire, who has woken an ancient prophecy and must face a formidable destiny.

My Review

** I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review **

This is the first book I've read in which there are blood sucking creatures who are NOT vampires, which I might add provides a very refreshing change. Adina West created a whole new world of the Tab`erin- or as us mere mortals call a majority of them- Shape Shifters. The rest of this supernatural race, excluding the shifters are blessed with supernatural speed, strength and compulsion but not the ability to change form. Needless to say, the world building was definitely good, delicately balanced with legend and myth and cemented with logical arguments and an interesting history. The whole idea of a shady supernatural governing body posing as a research institute was quite compelling.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the characterisation and the plot. I am not sure I liked the protagonist Katerina Chanter OR the guys salivating for her. Kat's character was too neutral and drab and failed to generate any sympathy or appreciation. Both Alek the incredibly hot and Amarok the incessantly broody tested my patience at times. The entire love triangle was alarmingly cliche as well. Secondly, the continuous emphasis on Alek's otherworldly beauty and sexual appeal and Kat's predictable reaction to his seduction techniques was irritating. The entire unique scent and golden eyes routine was also distinctly Twilight-ish and hence extremely off-putting.

The plot was wishy-washy at worst and lame at best. There were SOME slightly surprising twists but apart from that the story was mostly predictable. There was no real character building either and that was a little disappointing.

So all in all, an overused concept executed in a different way and some cool world building makes it an okay one time read.

About the Author

Adina West grew up on a remote property on Australia’s east coast, in country New South Wales. She spent most of her childhood curled up with a book, and her first teenage job was shelving books at the local library, where she was cautioned more than once for reading them instead of putting them away.

Her first stories were laboriously typed up with two fingers on her parents’ old typewriter. Her dream of one day being a published writer progressed much faster after she learned to touch type and switched to a computer.

Now, Adina lives in Sydney’s leafy north-west with her IT guru husband, two children, and a couple of unwelcome possums who really don’t know how to take a hint. Her debut novel Dark Child, a new-age paranormal fantasy, is being released as a serialised e-novel by Pan Macmillan’s Momentum books starting February 2013. It’s an eclectic mix of ancient cultures, modern cities, tarot, lunar astrology, suspense and romance, and she loves that writing it made watching Vampire Diaries necessary research.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Blast: Culture Shock by Jeanette Pekala

CULTURE SHOCK is a witty tale of mystery and romance with a large helping of southern hospitality.

Macy Holmes is a seventeen-year-old socially-isolated introvert since her best friend's death a year ago. When her family decides to move from Manhattan to the quaint country town of Bougainvillea, Florida, Macy finds she's in a completely different world. Macy is no longer the outsider hiding behind designer clothes when she is sought out by three strange students, one of whom she is particularly interested in. The more time she spends with Chad the more things don't add up. When his true identity is finally revealed, Macy is pulled into a supernatural society with its saturation of inhabitants residing in Bougainvillea. 
You would think she has enough on her plate, but no, then her dreams become infiltrated by an external magical force, Macy and her band of supernatural misfits must find the culprit behind the magic-induced nightmares. They must dodge zombie assassins, shifty shape-shifters and high school bullies in order to stop this perpetrator before Macy, her friends or her parents pay the ultimate price. Especially when Macy has the sneaking suspicion that these dreams are reality...

Excerpts from Culture Shock by Jeanette Pekala

There were two guys and one girl. The girl had severely long red wavy hair and flawless fair skin. She was supermodel skinny. Heroin-addict supermodel skinny. Her back was to me so I couldn’t get a good look at her face. 

The first boy was sitting next to her. His back also to me, but when I first caught them spying, I noticed something peculiar about this boy. He was wearing a black hoodie, with the drawstrings tied so tight, the hood was covering nearly his whole face. He had dark aviator glasses on and gloves. Seriously, it’s like ninety-something degrees outside. Why on earth would you wear gloves? His skin, what was showing of it anyways, was even paler than the girl’s. 

We found a spot over by the water free of sawgrass. It was a beautiful view. On the back end of the lake was a dense forest. It was dark just beyond the first set of trees. That was the only end of the lake that had remained uninhabited. There was a syrupy mist rising slowly off the surface of the water. It was creepy, but romantic in a sinister way. The sights, sounds, and smells all mingled together to create a scene an artist would love to capture with the stroke of his brush. 

About the Author

After finishing her degree in Sociology from the University of Florida, Jeanette Pekala had no idea what she wanted to do with her life.
While her husband was deployed overseas, she focused on what she loved to do, write, where she has finally found an outlet for her overactive imagination. 
 She lives a not so normal life just a wee bit north of Bougainvillea where she resides with her husband and two children working on Shock Wave, book 2 in the Culture Shock Series.

Buy Links

Amazon eBook

Contact Links

Saturday, June 15, 2013

ARC Review: Save Yourself- Kelly Braffet

Goodreads Synopsis

SAVE YOURSELF has the narrative flair of Gillian Flynn and Adam Ross, the scruffy appeal of Donald Ray Pollock, and the addictiveness of Breaking Bad.

Patrick Cusimano is in a bad way. His father is in jail, he works the midnight shift at a grubby convenience store, and his brother's girlfriend, Caro, has taken their friendship to an uncomfortable new level. On top of all that, he can't quite shake the attentions of Layla Elshere, a goth teenager who befriends Patrick for reasons he doesn't understand and doesn't fully trust. The temptations these two women offer are pushing him to his breaking point.

Meanwhile, Layla's little sister, Verna, is suffering through her first year of high school. She's become a prime target for her cruel classmates, not just because of her strange name and her fundamentalist parents: Layla's bad-girl rep proves to be too huge a shadow for Verna, so she falls in with her sister's circle of outcasts and misfits whose world is far darker than she ever imagined.

Kelly Braffet's characters, indelibly portrayed and richly varied, are all on their own twisted paths to finding peace. The result is a novel of unnerving power-darkly compelling, addictively written, and shockingly honest.

My review

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

When I interpreted the synopsis I derived some theories on how the book might be. But I certainly wasn’t expecting what Kelly Braffet dished out in Save Yourself. I am in two minds about the book. On one hand I liked the characterization, the writing style and the way the author captured the barrage of emotions so inimitably; and on the other hand the ending left something to be desired and some of the things were majorly creeptastic.

A look at the dysfunctional crew of the book:-

1. Patrick- the pessimist. After packing off his own Dad to jail, being unjustly condemned by the society, losing his job, falling for his brother’s girl and getting involved with a minor, he just wants out. Can’t say I blame the guy…

2. Layla- the gothic teenager on the road to self destruction. Her hobbies include stalking random strangers, giving blow jobs to every other person she meets, getting sliced up by her psycho boyfriend, drinking his blood and so on and so-forth. So not only is she in some really deep shit, she is also attempting vampirization!

3. Caro- the adulterous daughter of a schizophrenic mother with some serious issues. She is looking for stability in life, something that she lost once her mother started talking to non-existent wall-gnomes.

4. Verna- the initially proverbial good girl. Tortured by peers for being the daughter of the man who waged war against sex-ed being taught in schools, she becomes the butt of cruel jokes and not-so-harmless pranks. She finds temporary solace with her sister and her misfit friends only to realize a while later that they are freakin’ crazy.

5. Justinian- the Satanist. He is fond of bloodletting and gives serious competition to the American Psycho. Enough said.

The characterization was pretty awesome. Each person’s pain and frustration could actually be felt beyond the pages of the book. Kelly Braffet flawlessly manages to portray the angst of a teenager tortured by her peers, a man shunned by the society for a crime he didn’t commit, a young girl looking for reason and rationality and the hypocrisy and general cruelty of the society. Loved the writing style- sometimes aloof, sometimes angsty, most of the time creepy….

The plot and ending though were a bit of a let down. The end was painfully ambiguous. 

Did Verna recover from The Great Apocalyptic Showdown?
What happens to her parents?
What becomes of the woefully wronged Mike?
These are some of the unanswered questions that have been bugging me ever since I finished the book. 

All in all a good read, in a gives-you-the-bad-kind-of-Goosebumps kind of way.

Rating:- 3/5 stars!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Clockwise- Elle Strauss

Goodreads Synopsis

Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she's accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward. Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just "brotherly" protectiveness? When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again. Which of course, she does.

My review

**I got a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

I admit that I was drawn in by the synopsis but unfortunately the book was nothing like I expected. The story was alarmingly cliched and the protagonist was downright irritating. Her habit of repeatedly swooning whenever she got too close to the crush of her life, the truckloads of self pity she harboured and the low self esteem, coupled with her inability to string together two sentences in her defence or talk back to bothersome bitches made her distinctly unlikeable. I suppose that her one and only redeeming quality was arsenal of survival instincts she had picked up over the years while time travelling. The fact that her POV comprised of moping about her social inabilities and harping on about the general hotness of Nate Mckenzie didn't warm me up to her either. Nate too seemed like a thick headed moron most of the time. He was quite slow on the uptake, and there was no real reason for him to be a part of the story, other than being eye candy for girls and playing his essential part in the lukewarm romance between him and Casey.

Furthermore there was more or less no concrete plot to carry the story. The book just seemed like an endless cycle of Casey pining after Nate, him acting like a douche, the accidental skin contact and the resultant time travelling. I had hoped that the author would at least make the characters from the past interesting. No such luck. They were as colourless and unexciting as Nate and Casey and nothing of much significance happened during the duo's accidental visits to the past. The ending was only slightly redeeming with some semblance of surprise, although I would have liked for the author to provide more info on the mechanics of time travelling.

I guess I was kind of hoping for The Time Traveller's Wife kind of reading experience. My bad. Books like that don't come out all that often. It wasn't a bad read per-say but it couldn't been loads better. Definitely not the kind I'd want to read over and over again to try to get past the awesomeness but not the kind I'd say was crap either.

Rating:- 2/5 stars!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

What a slut time is. She screws everybody.

Goodreads Synopsis

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

My review

I’d been putting off this review for a while. I guess my thoughts on the book were stars I couldn’t fathom into constellations. They still aren’t quite coherent yet but I’ll give it my best shot.

There are few books that offer such an extraordinary life/opinion changing experience as TFIOS has. John Green delivers such profound messages in such a subtle way, it’s astounding. And although it takes quite a lot for me to switch on the waterworks, some things in the book brought on the occasional sniffles.

I adored all the characters in the book- be it Hazel with her AIA obsession whose lungs sucked at being lungs, Augustus with his goofy smile and cancer ridden body or Isaac with his blindness. It was impossible NOT to connect to Hazel and Gus. Their characters were so real and yet somehow so enigmatic as well. I loved the optimistic approach that they had towards life- not letting the disease rule their choices and the casual way they addressed it. The humor was infectious and ever present in their friendly banter and wisecracks.

“Everything tastes like pennies. Aside from that, I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, kid,” Gus answered. Isaac laughed. “How are the eyes?”

“Oh, excellent,” he said. “I mean, they’re not in my head is the only problem.”

“Awesome, yeah,” Gus said. “Not to one-up you or anything, but my body is made out of cancer.”

“So I heard,” Isaac said, trying not to let it get to him. He fumbled toward Gus’s hand and found only his thigh. 
“I’m taken,” Gus said.

Augustus Waters is one character that’ll probably remain a favorite for a long time. Everything about him- from his flirtatious comments and worldly wisdom to his enthusiastic smile and crappy driving skills- made me grin like a goofball. Hazel’s POV had a perfect blend of humor, pain and heartbreak and a whole lot of other emotions. The whole idea about the An Imperial Affliction and its appropriately abrupt ending was pretty awesome. The ending was beautiful, although maddeningly sad. 

Some of things I loved best (in no particular order):-

1. The makeshift ‘pre-funeral’ and Isaac’s eulogy (it was heartbreaking and funny at the same time)
2. The ‘date’ at Orangee  (and it just wasn’t the sumptuous food or the excellent ambience either)
3. The aftermath of the disastrous trip to Peter’s house
4. Augustus’ Letter (kinda made me cry)
5. Isaac’s revenge (some tricks NEVER get old :P)

We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can’t stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it’s silly and useless—epically useless in my current state—but I am an animal like any other.

The truth of that particular statement hit me hard. What Gus puts forward so eloquently is such a simple concept that few understand. Staking claim on things or objectifying people is futile, not to mention ridiculous since death is the only inevitable thing in life. 

I’ll be forever grateful to John Green for writing such perfection. Highly recommended with 5/5 stars!

Monday, June 3, 2013

ARC Review: Gameboard of the Gods- Richelle Mead

Goodreads Synopsis

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

My Review

**I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Finished Gameboard of the Gods a couple of hours ago and I still haven’t got rid of the post-awesome-read bliss. I never really envisioned Richelle Mead writing dystopia.

My bad.

An extremely exciting futuristic setting coupled with Mead’s addictive writing style and her ability to weave magic with words totally makes an explosive combination. Really, dystopia doesn’t get any better than this!

Loved, loved, loved the post apocalyptical world of RUNA or the Republic of United North America- one of the countries which had risen from the destruction caused by the Decline, which refers to the catastrophic event in which the deadly Mephistopheles virus had wiped out a major portion of the world population and caused reproductive damage to its survivors. The entire setting of the story isn’t revealed until around page 80. Though some people might find that irritating, I think it added an element of mystique to the book that kept me coming up with wild assumptions and concocting baseless explanations for whatever happened in the first 80 pages. Everything was revealed in a systematic manner though, a secret at a time, allowing the story to flow smoothly. The technological enterprises, the layout of the fictitious countries, the caste system, the religious extremism and the characterisation were pure ingenuity.

The RUNA held three things responsible for the Decline: biological manipulation, religion, and cultural separatism. All of the early genetic mixing had gone a long way to stamp out group solidarity, and the loose Greco-Roman models the country had adopted provided a new, all-encompassing culture that everyone could be a part of.

Apart from dystopia there is plenty of supernatural stuff to sate the paranormal fantasy enthusiasts since this is Richelle Mead we are talking about. The entire concept provided a much-needed refreshing break from vampires, werewolves and other mythical creatures, so over-used in fiction these days that they have lost their appeal. Instead Gameboard of the Gods deals with…well you guessed it- Gods! Divine intervention, religious zealots, power-hungry cults, the crazy fanatics who believe in human sacrifice and what not….It was a revivifying change from the usual stuff these days- the teenage drama that sells under the guise of dystopia.

There were no melodramatic love triangles for one, not that the romantic part was lacking in any way. There’s still truckloads of angst and unresolved sexual tension to keep things from getting too drab. The story is told from the POV of three people. There is Mead’s trademark badass female protagonist who can kick butt left-right and centre- Mae Koskinen is a Praetorian (read deadly soldier) assigned to guard disgraced Servitor Dr. Justin March. Mae is dangerous and beautiful and actually makes Rose Hathaway look tame…enough said.

 I was in two minds about Justin’s character. There are two sides to him- the one where he acts like an alcoholic/drug addict/sex crazed bastard, and the other where he is the brilliant Servitor, dedicated to serving his country. He is manipulative, as is expected because of his job, and self confident to the point of being arrogant. His banter with Mae was engaging and his wisecracks and side comments made me snort with laughter. Tessa- Justin’s friend’s daughter- or his ‘prodigy’ as he likes calling her is the teenage Provincial or the non-Gemman citizen of Panama City. She is astute and clever and over all a distinctly likeable character.

The plot was spun quite intricately, making it impossible to guess what was going to happen next. The ending was a surprise and a cliffhanger to boot. Overall an excellent read and an intriguing start to what seems to be a promising series. Breathlessly awaiting the next instalment!

Rating- 4/5 stars!