Friday, 31 December 2010

Top 10 of 2010

I know I haven’t been around much for the last couple of months amd I haven’t read nearly as much as I wanted to, but of the books I did read, there were a few that really stood out.

And so here are my ten favourite books of 2010 in no particular order:
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
This was my most highly anticipated book of the year and I wasn’t at all disappointed. Suzanne Collins’ portrayal of Katniss final chapter was intense, shocking, heartbreaking and beautifully done. A perfect ending to an extraordinary trilogy

The book began a love affair for me. This fey world is so vivid and full of life that you literally fall into it. And of course there’s Ash…

Kat Falls has created the only dystopian world that I’d happily live in with her cinematic storytelling and engaging characters. This book didn’t get nearly as much love as it should have.

Forbidden will stay with me for a very long time. It caused me heart-wrenching pain, ridiculous levels of inner conflict and awe at the talent of Tabitha Suzuma. If you haven’t read this, you’re missing out.

Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
My love for Cassandra Clare’s books is no secret so that I loved this should be no surprise. Her world-building skills are second to none and I love all of the characters she creates. Especially Will.

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
This was another of my most highly anticipated novels of 2010 and it to lived up to my expectations. I was incredibly sad to see this series come to an end as I’ve really fallen in love with the feisty Rose and godly Dimitri.

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
The cover was what initially attracted me to this book, but inside that was even better. I loved the myth and lore of Nightshade and I devoured it very, very quickly.

I loved the idea of a love triangle with a ghost and was intrigued as to how this would pan out. Brilliantly is the answer! The way that the supernatural and normal worlds merged and the pace of Aura’s grieving was refreshing.
Inside Out - Maria V. Snyder
I didn’t love Snyder’s Posion trilogy so I was hesitant to read this, but I loved it. It‘s a fantastically created world full of action and adventure. (My review of this will be posted later this month as part of a tour.)

Stephanie’s debut was the book that surprised me most this year. This Regency tale is full of charm, humour and warmth and I loved every page of it. This is one that you can lend to your little sister and your mum.

2010 was a brilliant book year and 2011 is already shaping up to be just as amazing. Bring it on!
Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Contest: Witch and Wizard by James Patterson (CLOSED)

Thanks to the lovely people at Random House, I have a brand new papaerback of James Patterson's Witch and Wizard  to give to one lucky UK winner.

To enter:
- Leave a comment with your name and email address. No email address, no entry.
- +2 for followers
- +2 for spreading the word (twitter, facebook, blog post etc.)

You do not have to be a blogger to enter this giveaway.
I will draw the winner on Monday 10th January, entries closing at 11:59pm GMT on Sunday 9th.

This contest is UK only. Sorry guys!

Good Luck!


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Matched - Ally Condie

Matched – Ally Condie

Pages: 366 (ARC)
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 2nd December 2010

Watched by society.
Trapped by rules.
Freed by love?

On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life.

Except he’s not.

In Cassia’s society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die.

But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own.

And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel...

Ally Condie’s debut is one of the most highly anticipated YA novels of the year and I had very high expectations, and I was majorly disappointed.

I found Matched to be very slow-moving. Not very much happened in the way of action until the last hundred or so pages; it seemed to be very character driven and paid a lot of attention to establishing Cassia’s world and its rules. But, boy, what a world! Ally Condie’s dystopian world is controlled to the extreme, creating a ‘perfect’ society. Everybody is healthy, educated, working to their strengths, matched to their genes and personalities and die at the same age. They have no choice and no freedom.

Due to the Hundred Committee – people choosing a hundred poems, books, paintings, historical moments, etc. – Cassia can't even know of the world the Officials have supposedly saved them from. The idea of the Hundred actually terrifies me. Imagine a group of people limiting art and culture like that! This really enforced the feeling of the forbidden in everything that Cassia does, feels and thinks.

Even though I didn’t particularly like Cassia and I struggled to keep reading at some points, I can't deny that Matched was beautifully written and there were two quotes in particular that really stayed with me: ‘Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.’ (p.65 UK ARC) and ‘Some things are created to be together.’ (p.213 UK ARC). Both are beautiful and very, very true.

Even though I doubt I’ll carry on with the series, Matched will appeal to fans of dystopia and forbidden love.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Friday, 24 December 2010

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer

Nightshade – Andrea Cremer

Pages: 452 (ARC)
Publisher: Atom (Little, Brown)
Release Date: 28th December 2010

From Goodreads: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

Nightshade is a fantastically engaging and compelling debut from Andrea Cremer that had me hooked with the very dramatic beginning.

This is an unusual novel regarding the usual conventions of YA paranormal romance. Instead of a normal human girl being thrown into the midst of a supernatural world and having to be introduced to its lore and have things explained, we join Nightshade’s protagonist, Calla, in the centre of the action. As she is already such an integral part of the supernatural elements the lore is revealed naturally and as it is needed. This approach is very refreshing in a genre that’s becoming clichéd.

I found the pack dynamics fascinating. All of the hierarchies and power plays that ruled the Bane and Nightshade packs were complex and very specific to wolves. Andrea Cremer then introduced the origins and lore of the Guardians and Keepers. It’s completely unique and original. I did find it a little confusing in the beginning with which wolves were members of which pack and other details like that, but I did eventually get everyone sorted out.

I’ve always believed that to love a book I need to love the protagonist, but Nightshade proved me wrong. It’s not that I didn’t like Calla, it’s just that I didn’t really feel anything for her. But saying that, I was cheering her on throughout the novel and I had a very clear idea on who I wanted her to be with: Shay, as I didn't like Ren at all. The relationship between Calla and the two boys were fiery and intense, made even more so by Andrea Cremer’s sensual and seductive writing.

Nightshade is a brilliant novel and left Calla’s story in such a way that has me dying for Wolfsbane.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Blog Tour: Nightshade

Today I have the exclusive first part of the first chapter of Andrea Cremer's fantastuc debut novel, Nightshade, to share with you. Enjoy!
I’d always welcomed war, but in battle my passion rose unbidden.
 The bear’s roar filled my ears. Its hot breath assaulted my nostrils, fueling my bloodlust. Behind me I could hear the boy’s ragged gasp. The desperate sound made my nails dig into the earth. I snarled at the larger predator again, daring it to try to get past me.

What the hell am I doing?

I risked a glance at the boy and my pulse raced. His right hand pressed against the gashes in his thigh. Blood surged between his fingers, darkening his jeans until they looked streaked by black paint. Slashes in his shirt barely covered the red lacerations that marred his chest. A growl rose in my throat.

I crouched low, muscles tensed, ready to strike. The grizzly rose onto its hind legs. I held my ground.

Bryn’s cry sounded in my mind. A lithe brown wolf darted from the forest and tore into the bear’s unguarded flank. The grizzly turned, landing on all fours. Spit flew from its mouth as it searched for the unseen attacker. But Bryn, lightning fast, dodged the bear’s lunge. With each swipe of the grizzly’s trunk-thick arms, she avoided its reach, always moving a split second faster than the bear. She seized her advantage, inflicting another taunting bite. When the bear’s back was turned, I leapt forward and ripped a chunk from its heel. The bear swung around to face me, its eyes rolling, filled with pain.

Bryn and I slunk along the ground, circling the huge animal. The bear’s blood made my mouth hot. My body tensed. We continued our ever-tightening dance. The bear’s eyes tracked us. I could smell its doubt, its rising fear. I let out a short, harsh bark and flashed my fangs. The grizzly snorted as it turned away and lumbered into the forest.

I raised my muzzle and howled in triumph. A moan brought me back to earth. The hiker stared at us, eyes wide. Curiosity pulled me toward him. I’d betrayed my masters, broken their laws. All for him.


My head dropped low and I tested the air. The hiker’s blood streamed over his skin and onto the ground, the sharp, coppery odour creating an intoxicating fog in my conscience. I fought the temptation to taste it.

Calla? Bryn’s alarm pulled my gaze from the fallen hiker.

Get out of here. I bared my teeth at the smaller wolf. She dropped low and bellied along the ground toward me. Then she raised her muzzle and licked the underside of my jaw.

What are you going to do? her blue eyes asked me.

She looked terrified. I wondered if she thought I’d kill the boy for my own pleasure. Guilt and shame trickled through my veins.

Bryn, you can’t be here. Go. Now.

She whined but slunk away, slipping beneath the cover of pine trees.

I stalked toward the hiker. My ears flicked back and forth. He struggled for breath, pain and terror filling his face. Deep gashes remained where the grizzly’s claws had torn at his thigh and chest. Blood still flowed from the wounds. I knew it wouldn’t stop. I growled, frustrated by the fragility of his human body.

He was a boy who looked about my age: seventeen, maybe eighteen. Brown hair with a slight shimmer of gold fell in a mess around his face. Sweat had caked strands of it to his forehead and cheeks. He was lean, strong—someone who could find his way around a mountain, as he clearly had. This part of the territory was only accessible through a steep, unwelcoming trail.

The scent of fear covered him, taunting my predatory instincts, but beneath it lay something else—the smell of spring, of nascent leaves and thawing earth. A scent full of hope. Possibility. Subtle and tempting.

I took another step toward him. I knew what I wanted to do, but it would mean a second, much-greater violation of the Keepers’ Laws. He tried to move back but gasped in pain and collapsed onto his elbows. My eyes moved over his face. His chiselled jaw and high cheekbones twisted in agony. Even writhing he was beautiful, muscles clenching and unclenching, revealing his strength, his body’s fight against its impending collapse, rendering his torture sublime. Desire to help him consumed me.

I can’t watch him die.

I shifted forms before I realized I’d made the decision. The boy’s eyes widened when the white wolf who’d been eyeing him was no longer an animal, but a girl with the wolf’s golden eyes and platinum blond hair. I walked to his side and dropped to my knees. His entire body shook. I began to reach for him but hesitated, surprised to feel my own limbs trembling. I’d never been so afraid.
A rasping breath pulled me out of my thoughts.

“Who are you?” The boy stared at me. His eyes were the colour of winter moss, a delicate shade that hovered between green and gray. I was caught there for a moment. Lost in the questions that pushed through his pain and into his gaze.
I raised the soft flesh of my inner forearm to my mouth. Willing my canines to sharpen, I bit down hard and waited until my own blood touched my tongue. Then I extended my arm toward him.

“Drink. It’s the only thing that can save you.”
I promise you that it gets even better, though you're probably wondering if that's possible! Look out for my review at the end of the week to see just how much I loved this.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Guest Blog: Sybil Nelson

My Interview with Sybil Nelson

By Priscilla Sumner

Hey, I’m Priscilla from the Priscilla the Great book series. I got an English assignment that’s due in like 20 minutes so I thought I’d get your help. I’m supposed to interview with someone I admire. But since Wonder Woman isn’t exactly a real person, I decided to interview Sybil Nelson, the author who created me. Why don’t you read it and let me know what you think?

Priss: Hey Sybil. Thanks for helping me out today.

Sybil: No problem. Glad to be your back up plan. I wouldn’t want you failing English now would I?

Priss: That would be awful. I’d get grounded. Literally, grounded. Mom and dad would take the keys to the jet away. Once you can fly an invisible jet anywhere around the world, getting a driver’s license seems lame.

Sybil: I’ll take your word for it.

Priss: So tell me how you came up with the idea for Priscilla the Great starring me, Priscilla.

Sybil: Well, I really wanted to write a book that embodied “girl power.” I wanted to show that girls could be strong and funny and save the day. I wanted a spunky girl superhero. The original story was called The Adventures of PMS Girl and it was about a girl who got super powers when she got her first period.

Priss: Gross.

Sybil: Gross, but funny. You have to admit it’s a hilarious concept to be able to shoot fire out of your fingers once a month. It’s a girl’s dream come true. Anyway, I decided to change the concept to make the book more palatable to the masses and so now we have Priscilla the Great.

Priss: Okay, I don’t know what palatable means or what this has to do with mass, but moving on. Are any of the characters in the book based on you?

Sybil: Your best friend Tai is a little like me. When I was her age I was a super nerd, always studying, reading, or making science fair projects. Even now, I’m working on my PhD in Biostatistics. In fact, we may need to hurry this up. I have a final exam tomorrow.

Priss: Once again, I don’t know what Biostatistics is. I’ll have Tai explain it to me. Anyway, why don’t you give us a quick summary of the book for people who have no idea about it?

Sybil: Well, you live in a small town called River’s Bend with two secretive parents, a hunky older brother, and annoying maybe twin brothers.

Priss: Wait. Did you just call my brother hunky? Gross on so many levels.

Sybil: Anyway, one day after a particularly embarrassing conversation with a cute boy, you discover you can shoot fire out of your fingers. You and Tai investigate the phenomenon and find out that you’re not completely human. One of your parents was genetically engineered to be a super weapon and you inherited some gifts.

Priss: Good summary, Syb, but there is so much more to the story. I think people are really going to be surprised by how funny I am.

Sybil: Well, they can find out soon enough. Priscilla the Great book 1 will be available December 15th. Be sure to go to the website to read excerpts, watch movie trailers, or vote on who plays the characters in the movie.

Priss: Wait. Movie? There’s gonna be a movie?

Sybil: Yep, movie rights have already been sold.

Priss: Well, who is playing me???!!!

Sybil: Go to the website and see who’s winning the poll. And everyone should sign up for the newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will get a discounted autographed version of the book, plus they’ll be entered to win a $25 iTunes gift card.

Priss: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me Sybil. This better get me an A.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy: Last Sacrifice – Richelle Mead

Pages: 584
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Release Date: 7th December 2010

Other Titles in the Series: Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound

It all comes down to now.

The queen is dead and the Moroi world will never be the same.

Rose Hathaway is awaiting wrongful execution and there exists only one man who can stall this terrible fate. Rose must look to both Dimitri and Adrian, the two great loves of her life, to find him.

With her best friend, Lissa, in a deadly struggle for the royal throne, the girls find themselves forced to rely upon enemies and questioning those they thought they could trust.

But what if true freedom means sacrificing the most important thing of all?

Each other.
 Before I start raving about how amazing Last Sacrifice is, I should warn you not to read this review if you’re not up to date with the Vampire Academy series. I won’t include spoilers for this book, however.

As the last book in one of my favourite series, there was a lot hanging on Last Sacrifice. But Richelle Mead has never let me down before and she most definitely didn’t this time. I was captured from the very first sentence and spent most of the novel tense and on edge.

Now Rose is one of my favourite fictional heroines and this made the emotional trauma of the last two novels difficult to read so it was so good to see her back on form. Kind of. She is such a fighter and she rarely lets anything get to her. Her strength is unbelievable and I can see why both Dimitri and Adrian love her. Speaking of Dimitri, I love him too so I was very pleased to see him back on godly form after Spirit Bound. They are so perfect together!

As well as the usual action and drama that comes with a Vampire Academy novel, there was also lots of complex world development to do with the laws and politics of the Moroi world. Rose’s world is definitely one of the reasons why i love this series so much. There were so many little side stories and facets to the mythology that just kept adding more and more depth to the novel. Although my focus was definitely on Rose and Dimitri’s relationship.

And boy did their relationship develop! There were some moments of serious sexual tension between them that literally set the pages alight. I have championed their relationship from the beginning but Last Sacrifice provided the added complication of Adrian being Rose’s boyfriend. There’s also Sydney’s continued presence, which I didn’t expect, that kept interrupting them at crucial moments. So frustrating! The only other thing that I found frustrating was the repeated scenes at Court through Lissa and Rose’s bond. Although i know they were crucial to the plot, i just wanted to know what Rose and Dimitri were up to.

Last Sacrifice is a beautiful, fitting and very surprising ending to an amazing series. I loved every page.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge