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Friday, 29 July 2016

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo



Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams - but he can't pull it off alone. 

A convict with a thirst for revenge. 

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager. 

A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. 

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. 

Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first.


Thanks to Ashleigh (who is awesome, btw!) from Hachette Australia, this year I got the chance to read the Grisha Trilogy. I enjoyed the books so much that I couldn't wait to see what all the Six of Crows fuss was about.

And of course, I have to admit that the beautiful eye-catching cover caught my attention instantly. I might even go as far as to say: it all started with the pretty crow on the cover. :)

Kaz is known by many names on the streets of Ketterdam--Dirtyhands, demon, thief--and he encourages the myths and stories. After all, he worked hard to create his legendary status. In order to stay on top of the Dregs, he needs more than brain and brawn. Inej is known as the Wraith because she can climb any surface and sneak into every corner. She's a valuable informant to Kaz, but even their mutual respect isn't enough to tear down each other's emotional walls.

Jesper is good with his pistols, but not so good at the gambling that dominates his life. Still, he's another valuable ally for Kaz. Wylan is a merch's son trying to escape his father, but has his own peculiar talents.

Nina makes no secret of the fact she's a Grisha--a heartrender and sometimes tailor who uses her talent in a house where girls are expected to do other things. Matthias is her one regret. A Djerdan witchhunter who hunts and captures Grisha. Their connection is a complicated one. They have a mutual dislike for each other, bordering on undeniable attraction. And constantly play a game of who's saving who.

So when Kaz is hired by a merchant to break into the world's most formidable prison facility, of course these five are the people he chooses to take on this huge heist. Their mission is: break into the Djerdan Ice Court, find a prisoner able to produce a drug capable of morphing Grisha powers and turning them into junkies, then bust him out.

Yeah, sounds easy. Well, not so much.

Wow. What can I say about this book? I've been wanting to read it for ages and kept hearing great things... which I can confirm were well-deserved. Just like the first Grisha book, I found this story snuck up on me. One second I was getting to know the characters and their surroundings. The next, I was so familiar with each one that I couldn't stop reading.

I know a book's special when that happens. Or when I can spend hours reading and wonder where the time went because I got so caught up. When I'll sneak in just one more chapter before bedtime...

Six of Crow is another amazing, thrilling and very well written addition to the Grisha world. It's an incredible fantasy story full of tension, action and double crossing. The new locations are lush with detail and the new cast of misfits become vivid, unforgettable characters. The tale unfolds in a way that draws the reader in slowly, before totally taking over and introducing an unlikely bunch of criminals you can't help but like. The stakes are high. The situations are dangerous. The risks are huge. The surprises keep coming. The past gradually catches up with the present. And you will be totally captivated by this book!

I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

Six of Crows, October 2015, ISBN 9781780622279, Indigo

CONTEST: Win a copy of Girl vs. Boy Band



Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia, I'm giving away THREE paperback copies of
GIRL vs. BOY BAND: The Right Track by Harmony Jones.

Girl vs. Boy Band
Talented but painfully shy Lark secretly writes feisty, heartfelt songs about school, crushes on boys, not getting along with her mum and missing her dad who lives in Nashville. But her songwriting becomes harder to keep secret when Lark's mother, a music record executive at her own label, announces that British boy band Abbey Road will be coming to live with them while they make their first album!

Sharing her L.A. house with three noisy, mischievous rising stars isn't as glamorous as she expected, especially when things aren't going smoothly with the band members. When one of them plagiarises one of Lark's songs and passes it off as his own, will she gain the courage to step into the spotlight herself?

I've read this super fun book, and loved it!
Plus that hot pink cover is totally adorable.

For your chance to win, just leave a comment on this post.

I'll pick the three winners and post them here on Tuesday, 2nd of August.
So don't forget to check back.

Good luck!


::CONTEST IS ONLY OPEN TO AUSTRALIAN ADDRESSES::

Friday, 22 July 2016

GIRL vs. BOY BAND: The Right Track by Harmony Jones

Girl vs. Boy Band
Talented but painfully shy Lark secretly writes feisty, heartfelt songs about school, crushes on boys, not getting along with her mum and missing her dad who lives in Nashville. But her songwriting becomes harder to keep secret when Lark's mother, a music record executive at her own label, announces that British boy band Abbey Road will be coming to live with them while they make their first album! 

 Sharing her L.A. house with three noisy, mischievous rising stars isn't as glamorous as she expected, especially when things aren't going smoothly with the band members. When one of them plagiarises one of Lark's songs and passes it off as his own, will she gain the courage to step into the spotlight herself?


I received this book from Bloomsbury Australia and, because I love to read all kinds of genres, I was looking forward to checking it out. Not to mention that the eye-catching cover is totally adorable!

Anyway, let's talk about the story.

Lark Campbell is a very shy thirteen-year-old girl with a bit of a secret. She loves to write songs, play her guitar and has a lovely singing voice. But the only person she shares these talents with is her best friend, Mimi. Who happens to be great with a camera. The two make music videos in Lark's lavish backyard, but keep it a secret. She's afraid to let her mother know she can actually sing because Lark has terrible stage fright. So bad that she passes out every time she sings in front of people.

Her musical gifts aren't a surprise though, because her father's a musician and her mother is building a record label in Los Angeles. Her parents recently split up, and while her dad still lives in Tennessee when he's not touring, she's stuck in LA. No matter how many months go by, she still feels homesick. But luckily, her mother's busy building her label and soon embarks on a crazy idea that involves bringing a boy band from England to America.

The thought of living with loud boys who like to fight, eat all the food and hog the bathroom doesn't sound ideal to Lark. But as she gets to know the boys, she soon realises that they're not that bad. Well, until one of them betrays her.

When Lark agrees to help her crush, Teddy, by performing with him at the upcoming school talent show, she finds her attitude changing. Which leads to her committing to her greatest fear: performing a song she wrote in front of the whole school...

I seriously didn't know what to expect from this book, but I loved it! It's a great middle grade story about a girl whose crippling fear of performing overshadows her talent almost as much as she misses the life she shared with her parents when they were together. Lark is an easy character to like. She's a nice girl with an awesome bestie--Mimi is seriously cool and clever--and is always willing to help anyone who needs her.

The British boys were also great characters. I love their band name and the significance: Abbey Road. And especially liked how different each guy was. Proving that they are all much more than just cute boys with good voices. They're all teenagers with the same problems.

Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track is a fun and clever story about a talented girl who has to accept her new life before being able to overcome her own shyness and fear. There are plenty of cool surprises along the way. Plus, this book is super cute! It might feature a young musician with an uncanny talent for music, but her growing pains are familiar and apply to everyone.

I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens after the exciting talent show!


Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track, July 2016, ISBN 9781408868546, Bloomsbury Childrens

END OF WATCH by Stephen King

Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the 'Mercedes Massacre' when a queue of people were run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield. 

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room. 

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill's heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city. 

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways ...


I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Plus I loved the first two books in the Bill Hodges Trilogy--Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers--so I couldn't wait to read the third and last book.

Bill Hodges is a retired cop and, along with Holly Gibney, runs a firm they call Finders Keepers. So when Bill gets a call from his ex-partner about what appears to be a murder-suicide, they find more than they bargained for. The quadriplegic victim allegedly killed by her mother was one of the many people mowed down by the disgusting Brady Hartsfield during the Job Fair at City Center six years earlier.

But something doesn't add up, and when Holly finds a strange game device in the home, they find themselves thrust into an impossible scenario. It appears that Brady, the heartless Suicide Prince, is somehow orchestrating something big from his bed in Room 217 at the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. Which makes no sense, since Brady is technically a vegetable: a useless husk of a man who can't do anything for himself. That doesn't stop the ward from circulating stories about strange, unexplained things happening around him. 

With the body count rising and the risk of a suicide epidemic to mark Brady's revenge and hunger for hurting others, Bill and Holly enlist Jerome to investigate what's going on. But Bill has other problems to worry about. His time might be running out, in more ways than one...

OMG. Stephen King is such an amazing storyteller! As soon as I started reading, I was sucked into this heart-stopping book. Every page pulled me deeper into this intricate story. So much that I didn't want to put the book down. King has an incredible way of tricking us readers into thinking we're reading a simple, straightforward story... then throws us into a tailspin. Every single time I turned the page, I was both nervous and excited to find out what was coming next.

Let's talk about the characters. I loved Bill, Holly and Jerome so much that I was dreading what might happen to them all the way through. I didn't want anything bad to happen to any of them. But Brady was on the opposite side of the spectrum. I hated him with the power of a thousand suns. I wanted him to die a horrible death, didn't want to share the page with him as his insane story unfolded. He's despicable. An awful excuse for a human being.

Yeah, King writes characters who become real people.

End of Watch was the perfect end to an intriguing, thrilling trilogy. Like the first two books, I was on the edge of my seat and enjoyed the ride all the way to The End. The last 50 pages are an amazing, fast-paced nightmare that leads to a very satisfying, yet sad ending. I saw it coming, but it didn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. I also enjoyed the messed up supernatural angle added to this story.

Stephen King, you've done it again! 


End of Watch, June 2016, ISBN 9781473634015, Hodder & Stoughton

Monday, 18 July 2016

A Writing Decision


Hey! How's everyone doing? I'm good at the moment, though I wish hubby was still on break. He took a week off from work recently so he could spend my birthday with me. It was really nice and relaxing, but I feel sad that he had to go back. :(

Anyway. I made a decision a few weeks ago. One that might surprise some authors/readers. But I feel is right for me right now.

A few months ago I posted a sad and confusing blog post about what would happen with the last unpublished book I had contracted with Samhain Publishing after they closed their doors.

I ended up getting my rights back for RAISING SOME HELL, but it left me feeling bittersweet. The thought of having this particular book homeless and separated from the others was very disappointing.

There were several reasons why I was upset about the book not being published:

  • Willow's book is one I really wanted to share because the story takes place five years after A STITCH ON TIME.
  • This happens to be the final book in the Elsewhere duology.
  • The kick-ass cover was perfect.
  • I was hoping the whole series would be published in one place.
  • I didn't know what to do with a book that continues the story of an already established UF series.

The above are all very relevant reasons to be concerned and upset. So when I found out that Samhain Publishing is not closing after all, it got me thinking...

I suddenly wondered if it might be a good idea to consider re-submitting RSH to Samhain... I mean, the other books in the series are already there. After some serious thought and several chats with hubby, I decided that it was definitely something worth doing.

So... I dit it! I've re-signed a contract for RAISING SOME HELL! Placing RSH with Samhain Publishing is the right thing for this book and series.

Willow's story is back on. I don't have a new release date. I don't know if the cover will be the same. I'm not even sure when the next step will happen. But to be honest, I'm in no rush. I'm just happy to have made this decision.

I know that Samhain's sudden No Longer Closing announcement has stirred very mixed reactions. But for this particular book, staying with them just makes sense. I hope that the company gets back on track and re-establishes the reputation it carried for so many years. It would be a real shame if it didn't.

So, there you have it: a real writing update.  :)

I'll be sure to post more as I get the details. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

DECEPTIONS by Kelley Armstrong


Last year I reviewed the third book in the awesome Cainsville series for Hachette Australia.

This year, the paperback will be released from Penguin Random House.


Olivia Taylor Jones’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancĂ©. 

 Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?


To celebrate the release, I thought I'd post my review again...


I really enjoyed the first two books in the Cainsville series, so I was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next.

Olivia Taylor-Jones has been through a lot of weird stuff since she found out she wasn't the biological daughter of the privileged Chicago family who raised her. Her parents are actually convicted serial killers, and are both in prison. But that's not all that's turned her life upside down. She can see omens, and has recently started to have visions which are taking a huge toll on her sanity and body. Yet, these are visions that she must allow to happen if she wants to find out the truth about Cainsville, her heritage, and if the Larsens really did commit the horrible crimes they were imprisoned for.

That's made harder by the fact that there are mysterious, dark forces at play. Creatures from the old world who are playing games and/or causing chaos in her life, and in the lives of the people she cares about. Not to mention that her ex-fiancé has become a seriously creepy stalker, and that her friendship with Gabriel seems to go through so many ups and downs she's not sure if they're okay half the time.

At least she's got Ricky. The biker and all-round nice guy who is fun, attentive and respectful. The one person who is not involved in all the craziness in her world and can make her forget about everything. Until she finds out that he's also involved in the sequence of events two different sides of the fae coin are trying to play out. 

This book was just as good as the two before it. Not only does it delve even deeper in the fae side of things so that we start to understand exactly who Olivia is and why the fae want things to happen a certain way, but we also get to find out a lot of truths. Of course, there are a bunch of deceptions laid out along the way, and some even threaten to drive Olivia insane. But what I really liked was that her visions have led to a place of understanding, so she can finally realise how important both Gabriel and Ricky are to her. 

Plus we finally get to find out the truth about her biological parents. Yikes! Didn't see that coming. 

Deceptions is another intriguing instalment in this thrilling series. I love how easily Kelley Armstrong is able to hook me into her stories and keep me glued there until bits and pieces of the bigger picture are slowly revealed. She's also created a fascinating trio with a very interesting angle. And I particularly love how she mixed so much myth, folklore and preternatural elements into an excellent thriller. 

The only thing I missed was Cainsville and its mysterious residents, which did make an appearance but were mostly in the background this time around. 

Still, I'm definitely looking forward to finding out more.


Here are the buy links for the paperback:

Amazon  


Happy reading!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Q&A with Sophie Hardcastle


Today I have a guest on my blog.  

Sophie Hardcastle is a young Australian author. I had the chance to read her debut YA adult novel and loved it. So when Hachette Australia asked if I'd be interested in doing a Q&A, I jumped at the chance.


Hi Sophie, congratulations on your first fiction book release, and thank you for stopping by.

Grace and Ben aren't just brother and sister, they're twins. I'm curious, what made you write a story about fraternal twins?

I started writing a version of this book when I was fourteen. At the time, I was skating and surfing every day with the boys in my neighbourhood. I hung out with girls at school, my best friend was a lot like Mia, but on the weekend and after school, I spent most of my time hanging out with boys. They were some of my best friends, so I think writing a character that was, in many ways, one of the boys came naturally to me. I had always wanted a twin brother growing up. My sister has always and will always be my best friend, but I thought it would be awesome to have a twin brother to go surfing with. Writing this story at fourteen, I almost experienced what it’s like to have a twin brother, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.


I've read that you spent some time in Bali while writing this book. Is that true? And if it is, what made you take such a step instead of writing the story in Australia?

The early version of this book was called Horizons. When I returned to it after writing Running Like China, I realised my fourteen-year-old self had known nothing about life, love or death so I left it in the cupboard and decided to write a story based loosely on the original. By this point, I’d fallen in love and understood how terrifying, heartbreaking and beautiful it is. In a way, you could also say I’d experienced loss when I became mentally ill and lost myself for a long time. But I don’t think I’d ever experienced loss and longing the way Grace had. I’d obviously never wish the events she experiences on myself, but I wanted to get as close to the feeling as I could. I decided to remove myself from the people I loved to see how it felt to truly yearn for someone. I put an entire ocean between us and felt the weight of that distance. Missing my love made my feel small, like the earth was getting bigger, pulling apart, like the sky was endless. He felt impossibly far away.

By chance, I also had to come off my medication after a toxic reaction and my emotions spiraled out of control. I experienced some of my deepest depressions and highest highs and I had no one around to help me get my bearings. Some days were so god dam awful, but when I came back to Australia, I had a wide breadth of emotional experience to draw on. It helped me to connect emotionally with my characters.


The surfing angle is very vivid, are you a surfer yourself? Or is surfing just something that captured your imagination?

I learnt to surf when I was four-years-old and was out surfing by myself on my fiberglass board by the time I was ten-years-old. Growing up, I surfed most mornings, most afternoons and all weekend. I couldn’t get enough. Surfing is unlike anything else, you’re part of something greater than yourself. You learn to read the waves and move in sync with the swells. It’s a love affair with something so powerful it has the potential to drown you, but also the promise to liberate you.


There were times during Grace's story that I didn't like her very much. She was totally spiralling out of control and frustrated me so much. Which was great, btw, because it's probably the emotion her actions were supposed to invoke. So my question is: did you do this on purpose? Or did Grace's actions develop while you wrote the story?

The part I enjoy most about my writing is when the story writes itself. My characters came to life for me in the second or third chapter and took control of their own lives. I feel like I know them as friends, and I have so much compassion and time for each and every one of them. I’d like to take credit for the emotions Grace’s actions invoked for you but the truth is, I feel like she did that all on her own.


And finally, what's next for you? Are you currently working on a new book?

I’ve just started working on my next YA novel. It is also set in Australia, which I’m really excited about. I’m only two chapters in and I’m still trying to get to know my protagonist. I don’t think I can give too much away, but I will say this…

Grace learnt to read the swells on the sea.

My new character learns to read the wind on Open Ocean.


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There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A as much as I did. Also, I can't wait to find out more about Sophie's new story. It sounds interesting!

I'd once again like to say thank you to Sophie for stopping by today and answering all my questions. I look forward to reading more of her books. Plus, a huge thank you goes to Hachette Australia for sending me an ARC and passing on my questions. :)

BREATHING UNDER WATER will be released tomorrow!


Friday, 1 July 2016

THE SUFFERING by Rin Chupeco


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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading The Girl from the Well, I knew I'd be interested in the sequel. And since it's a duology, and I usually find myself procrastinating the last few books in a series, I decided to get stuck into it as soon as I could. Lol.

A few years have passed since Tark and Okiku formed an alliance. They've been hunting child killers and awful men who kill the innocent and slip through the cracks. It's really sad because every kid they kill is forever stuck to them, their spirits not free to move on. So what Tark and Okiku do isn't just justice, it also allows these souls to move on.

Tark also helps a few kids at school with their supernatural problems. He's still mostly seen as the weird guy, but manages to catch the eye of one girl.

However, things start getting serious when during one of his many trips to Japan with his cousin Callie, he ends up going into Aokigahara--Japan's 'suicide forest'. Their close friend, Kagura has gone missing while helping an American ghost hunting crew. Because what is waiting for them in the middle of this forest is an awful curse that threatens to tear them apart.

Okay. I started out enjoying this book as much as the first one. I loved the fact that some of it would take place in the mysterious Aokigahara forest, but was disappointed that most of that time was spent on the cursed Aitou village trying to understand and end the curse that killed all its residents.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the creepiness of the Aitou vengeful ghosts and even the mystery and myth surrounding it, but I don't know... I guess I expected more time spent outside of it. And I also think that the book really could've ended a few chapters before it did. Some stories just shouldn't have a happy ending. If that makes any sense.

Anyway. In the end, I did enjoy Tark's voice and I've got a soft spot for Okiku, so I'm really glad I read this. Not to mention that it's very well written, and full of creepy imagery.

 
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