Archive for February, 2014

Finish It February: Week Four and Challenge Roundup

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Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: Three (but only one for the #FinishItFeb challenge)

Total challenge books read: Four challenge books

Series completed for challenge:Three

Overall feedback: Although I didn’t manage to fulfil my personal target for this challenge, I am really happy that I did managed to read four books, finishing three series and making a small dent in my personal TBR pile.

I feel really positive that I took the month of February to prioritise those books I have been desperate to read, which have unfortunately sat languishing on my shelves and gathering dust.

I have been really please with my book choices, falling very quickly back in to their distinctive worlds, and remembering what it was that I loved about the series’ in the first place.

I am hoping to continue to finish/get up to date with my in progress series over the next few months and I would definitely consider abandoning the review TBR again to prioritise my “own books”. But, for now I am determined to make more time for my own TBR alongside my review commitments. So, although the challenge is over and I have returned to scheduled programming 😉 my current audiobook choice is Sarah J Maas’ Crown Of Midnight, one of my #FinishItFeb picks.

The Fall (The Glimpse #3) by Claire Merle

the fallLondon, in the not-so-distant future. Society has been divided into Pures and Crazies according to the results of a DNA test.
But seventeen-year-old Ana, whose father invented the Pure test, has uncovered a recording with dangerous evidence that the tests are fake. Ana has escaped her father and made it to the Enlightenment Project – a secluded protest group living on the outskirts of the City.
Back in the arms of Cole nothing is simple. Some in the Project believe her presence jeopardises their safety, others interpret her coming as part of their prophetic Writings. When the recording Ana stole goes viral, the Project comes under attack. Now Ana’s father isn’t the only one looking for her. She’s come to the attention of Evelyn Knight, the Chairman of the Board – a powerful woman with a sinister plan. Ana must take greater risks than ever to unravel the truth and discover the secrets that lie beneath the Pure test. But unlike her father, the Chairman doesn’t want her safely home. She wants Ana’s spirit crushed, permanently. And she will destroy everyone Ana cares about to do it.

I love duologues and I really need to read more of them. They are the perfect solution for readers like myself who want more, more, more from their favourite characters, who wish to be re submerged in familiar worlds, who enjoy the anticipation of waiting for the next instalment. BUT without the agony of years of commitment to reach a conclusion, of series fatigue, of memory loss, filler, and the predictable formula of trilogies. I’m happy to have some questions left unanswered, to imagine my own epilogues, to be left wanting more without the expectation that I will receive it.

The Fall delivered just that. It was a great second instalment to a book I really enjoyed. A second, essential, economical part which moved the characters and story ARC forward, which answered the essential questions from the original and allowed me, the reader, to imaging my own endings. It made me want to go back to the first book and rediscover the story, and as a two book series, it is something that feels achievable despite my busy blogging schedule.

Verdict: I throughly enjoyed my time back in segregated London and I will be looking out for more from Claire Merle and investigating more duologues.

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: June2013
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Genre: Dystopian
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book

Posted by Caroline

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

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Bookish Brits: #FinishItFeb Video Diary

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Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Total books read: 3

Series completed for challenge: 2

Currently reading: The Fall by Claire Merle (The Glimpse #2)

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

Posted by Caroline

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Bookish Brits: The Great British Weather Book Tag

The Great British Weather Book Tag is an original book Tag created by the Bookish Brits team. It is inspired by the British obsession with the weather and our own obsession with books.

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Cover Reveal: The Illusionists

We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this fabulous cover reveal for The Illusionists, by UKYA author Laure Eve.

ILLUSIONISTS_PBA shocking new world. A dangerous choice. Two futures preparing to collide…
Having left White behind her in Angle Tar, Rue is trying to make sense of her new and unfamiliar life in World. Its culture is as baffling as is it thrilling to her, and Rue quickly realises World’s fascination with technology can have intoxicating and deadly consequences.
She is also desperately lonely. And so is White. Somehow, their longing for each other is crossing into their dreams, dreams that begin to take increasingly strange turns as they appear to give Rue echoes of the future. Then the dreams reveal the advent of something truly monstrous, and with it the realisation that Rue and White will be instrumental in bringing about the most incredible and devastating change in both World and Angle Tar.
But in a world where Life is a virtual reality, where friends can become enemies overnight and where dreams, the future, and the past are somehow merging together, their greatest challenge of all may be to survive.

The Illusionist is the sequel to Laure’s Debut novel, Fearsome Dreamer and it is to be published by Hot Key Books in July. To learn more about Laure and her work, visit her Goodreads author page (here).

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Finish It February: Week Three Roundup

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Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: One

Total books read: Three

Series completed for challenge: Two

General feedback: So, yet another busy week in my household. I don’t know why I thought that I would get more reading done this week, considering that it is half term and I have two busy small people to entertain!

I am really not sure how successful next week will be as I have two books I need to read for Bookish Brits videos before I can return to the challenge. On the positive side, I have a week of annual leave (no night shifts, yey!), which means that I can afford a late night or two to squeeze in some more of my neglected novels.

Regardless of how successful next week is for my #FinishItFeb targets, I am really happy that I have managed to complete two fabulous series and I am really glad that I have taken the time to make (however small) a dent in my TBR pile.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

bitten kingdomIn the final volume of Carson’s trilogy, the 17-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion – a champion to those who have hated her most.

Compared to some of the books on my shelf, five months isn’t such a long time for one of my preorders to languish on my shelf. Never the less, I am so MAD at myself for not reading this book sooner. I love this series and I have no excuses, NONE.

At over 400 pages, The Bitter Kingdom was a substantial final instalment to a wonderful fantasy series. I loved how the story was allowed to play out at a natural pace, no corners were cut, no plot line was rushed or unexplored, the world building just as detailed and sumptuous, and the relationships as messy and realistic as the previous two instalments, And yet, despite it’s size the pages just flew by and it was over far to soon.

I simply didn’t want the series to end and I finished The Bitter Kingdom with the desire to grab The Girl Of Fire And Thorns off of my shelf and read the trilogy back to back.

As with the previous two instalments, I was most impressed with the character development, particularly Elisa who continued her journey a from self conscious girl, to blossoming young woman to become a confident woman, a powerful sorceress and a commanding monarch.

The romance *sighs* the romance was everything I had hoped for since book one. I am a very happy bookworm.

Verdict: A Fitting end to a fabulous fantasy series

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Finish It February

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

Posted by Caroline

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Elephant

Petr Horacek

elephantA young boy spends his day playing games with his imaginary friend, Elephant. Real or not, when Grandma and Grandpa are busy, Elephant proves to be the perfect playmate! Illustrated with Petr Horacek’s distinctive and beautiful collage style.

We enjoyed this book, in particular trying to guess whether or not the elephant was real or imagined, the children vacillated back and forth over this for a while!

The story is about a boy who has no one to play with so he plays with his elephant. Unfortunately they get into a few scrapes, and the boy always tells everyone it wasn’t his fault, it was his elephant that did it. The adult involved never seems to believe the boy that it was the elephant’s fault. The boy is sad and spends some time alone, but when his elephant comes to see him there is an unexpected and lovely moment when the boy says sorry to the elephant for telling tales about him. The boy and the elephant go into the boy’s bedroom and have wonderful adventures until the boy wakes up the next morning and wonders how he got to bed. His Grandpa comes in and tells him, his elephant put him there.

It’s so clever and so simple. The imaginary and the real are often blurred for children and they related to this really well. The whole concept is carried off with finesse by Petr. The pictures of the elephant accidently making a mess compliment it all beautifully.

A stunning book for children.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: February 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book
Age: Picture book
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own copy (Booktrust)
Challenge: None
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Finish It February: Week Two Roundup

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Personal Target: Finish/get up to date with four series

Books read this week: One

Total books read: Two

Series completed for challenge: One

Currently reading: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (The Girl Of Fire and Thorns #3)

General feedback:
I have had a really busy week, a combination of house improvements and an assessment at work to study for, so I have not managed to read as much as I had hoped.

I am keeping my fingers crosses for a quieter and more productive (reading) week.

In her sign up post Julianna shares the reasons why she has so many unfinished series.

Into The Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

In to the still blueTheir love and their leadership have been tested. Now it’s time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.
The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.
Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won’t even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.
Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.
In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

One of the best things about reading a series late is that you get to avoid all of the angst associated with waiting for the next instalment. The very next day after finishing Through the Ever Night, I dove straight back in to Aria and Perry’s world.

The Third and final instalment of the Under The Never Sky Trilogy was everything that I had hoped it would be. It managed to maintain the energy and pace of the earlier books and develop the story further, while still remaining true to the characters we have grown to love.

I particularly enjoyed the interactions between the “Savages” and “Dwellers” which not only highlighted how far our our protagonists had been changed by their experiences since Under The Never Sky, but also showed them utilising their experiences (particularly those from Through The Ever Night), to aid the unity of their group.

Verdict: An excellent end to a fantastic series!

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 400
Genre: Dystopian, romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Finish It Feb

To learn more about Finish It Friday and to join in visit our link up post here. To follow the challenge on Twitter search for #Finishitfeb

Posted by Caroline

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Cover Reveal: Face Time

Today is the cover reveal for Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) by SJ Pajonas. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Forward Authority.

Face TimeAfter the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee’s sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.
Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can’t stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can’t live without. But Laura’s got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee’s stressful traveling schedule means they’ll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they’re both going to need actual face time to figure it out.
Told from both Lee and Laura’s point of view, FACE TIME is a funny, romantic, modern-day story about two people who connect across the world.

Excerpt

Lee’s eyes are bloodshot and tired, his rounded cheeks sunken in with fatigue, but it looks like he won’t leave unless someone comes along and peels him off the couch.
I hate to do it, but I lean forward and squeeze his knee. “Lee, you look so tired, and I know you have to be up early. We should call it a night.”

Disappointment falls over his face and he sighs, putting his hands on his knees and forcing himself to stand up. Once my coat is buttoned-up, he reaches out his hand and helps me up with a smile.

Outside, I direct him north on Broadway to Third Street where I can get a cab going west towards Chelsea and be home in ten minutes. I used to walk this area all the time when I went to NYU, and the corner of Third is as good a place as any to say goodbye. An NYU building towers over this corner, fenced in by greenery and a large tree arcs out overhead. In a few weeks, the branches will be filled with buds and trees will explode with leaves all over the city. I can’t wait for spring.

“You live on Fifteenth Street, right? I saw the address you sent me,” Lee says, his hand clutching mine. “Over by Chelsea Market?”

“Yeah. I go there all the time. The neighborhood has grown in the last few years especially. It doesn’t look anything like it did when I moved in.”

“Seoul is always changing. After the war, it just grew and grew and now there are new buildings up every year there.”
Our conversation dies as we near the corner, and I slow down to a stop. I… I really don’t know what to do. I know this can’t go anywhere.

“I can get a cab going crosstown from here,” I say, looking down at my shoes. “If you walk back over to Lafayette, you can get a cab going uptown.”

“Okay. Laura…” He turns to face me, so very close. He withdraws his warm hand from his pocket and softly strokes the length of my chin, pushing my eyes up to his. I guess I’m not the impulsive one tonight. “I’d like to see you again. Somehow. I don’t know when I’ll be back in New York, though.”

“I understand.” I clench my legs together because a fire is burning right in the middle of them, and I haven’t had sex in so long I don’t know what to do with the feeling. My vibrator doesn’t count. “Maybe we can keep in touch, if you’re up for it.” I smile at his eager face, only three inches from mine.

“I think I’m up for almost anything when it comes to you. In fact…” He steps in even closer, letting go of my hand and pulling me in by the small of my back. “I’m going to kiss you, and I’m not going to regret it for a second.”
Pulling my face to his, our lips meet hesitantly at first, warmth growing between us as a breeze curls around my legs and up my jacket. His lips brush against mine, feathery light and playful, soft and sweet, the test kiss when you put your toes in the water and see if the bath is hot enough. Then I lean in and bind my lips to his. This kiss goes all in, a deep inhale followed by the kind of release that makes my eyes roll back in my head. If I were paying closer attention, I’d notice the curry, the beer, and the coffee, but instead all I sense is the seed he’s planting in my soul, the one that takes root and convinces me I’m a worthy person again, worthy of love and affection, worthy of attention.

I set my hands free from their safe haven between us and wrap them around his waist, sighing and enjoying this regret-free kiss. It just pushes Lee even closer, both of his hands on my cheeks, guiding my mouth into his, and his relief is evident in the release of his muscles along his waist and back.

Earlier, I wanted to pause time in several instances — when he took my photo, when he held my hand, when he smiled at me over the top of the coffee bar — but, now, this is what I want to remember. This is the moment when he likes me for all the right reasons, and I want to capture that blissful ignorance and never live without it.

The moment unsticks, our lips pulling away at the same time, and he kisses me along my left cheek to my ear. I hug him close and rest my forehead on his shoulder.

“Thank you for tonight, Laura,” he whispers in my ear, and I nod into his sweater, letting myself feel happy for this instead of sad he won’t be here tomorrow. We dislodge our arms from each other and do our best to smile at one another before he takes my hand, leads me to the curb, hails a cab, and puts me in it.

“Don’t be a stranger, Lee,” I say, before raising my eyebrows at him and closing the door.
My last glimpse is the smile on his face, his hand raised in goodbye, as my cab speeds away down Third Street.

sj pajonasS. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
You can find and contact her at her her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pintrest, Filicker, Instagram and on Tumblr.

You can find Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) on Goodreads (here).

Are you a Wattpad user? S. J. Pajonas will be posting the first chapters of FACE TIME to Wattpad (here) starting March 9, 2014. Follow her to get a new chapter each week, six in total, leading up to the publication of FACE TIME.

International Giveaway
Fill in the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win:
– 10$ amazon gift card
– e-copies of both Removed (Nogiku #1) and Released (Nogiku #2) –mobi or epub file
– e-ARC of Face Time (available March 2014) – mobi or epub file

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Bookish Brits: Why I Love Audiobooks

Posted by Caroline

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Wonder

R.J. Palacio

wonder“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”
Wonder is probably the most thought-provoking book I’ve read in a long while. It makes you feel angry about the injustice of the world. August feels ordinary, He does ordinary things, he has an Xbox and a dog and he eats ice-cream and rides his bike like an ordinary boy. The problem is he doesn’t look ordinary. How can you blend in when kids run away screaming from you in the playground? How can life be easy when you were born to stand out? August’s parents both had the same gene; he had a 1 in 50,000 chance but I guess he was unlucky, because he has treacher Collins Syndrome.

Definition-. “Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS), also known as Treacher Collins–Franceschetti syndrome, or mandibulofacial dysostosis is a rare autosomal dominant congenital disorder characterized by craniofacial deformities, such as absent cheekbones. Treacher Collins syndrome is found in about 1 in 50,000 births. The typical physical features include downward slanting eyes, micrognathia (a small lower jaw), conductive hearing loss, underdeveloped zygoma, drooping part of the lateral lower eyelids and malformed or absent ears” (Wikipedia, 2014)

These are the normal symptoms and there is nothing else apart from your facial features that are affected by the syndrome. So you feel completely normal but look far from it. You want to know the worst part? There isn’t anything he can do about it.

He’s never been to school and his parents want him to go, although they’re really not sure themselves. How will everyone react? It’s hard starting a new school but how hard would it be with a face that gives people nightmares? When he starts, it turns out OK, he knows people stare and point at him when he walks past and whisper about him behind his back. He does, however, quickly make friends with a girl called Summer and a boy called Jack Will. There is still one person who can’t get over it and he is really horrible to August. This book tells of all the hardships of life when people only look on the outside…

I really liked the book. But it was really sad. I like the fact that it was written bylots of different people’s point of view. I think it is not suitable for younger readers because it’s a very difficult topic and very hard to get your head around. And also, I suggest you read it with a box of tissues nearby as it is quite hard to read for the emotional reader (AKA me, I found myself with tears in my eyes in more than 1 point…)

Verdict: Overall I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a good read and to have their thinking challenged about how we judge people.

Reviewed by Daisy (12)

Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 215
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Daisy (12)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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