Saturday 31 December 2011

Best of the Bunch- December 2011

Best Of The Bunch is a monthly award ceremony hosted at the end of the month by Lyrical over at Lyrical Reviews where we can look back over the books read the past month and award a Best Of The Bunch award to our favourite book of the month.

This month I have reviewed on the blog:
  • Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott (5 stars) My review
  • Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (4 stars) My review
  • Envy by Gregg Olsen (4 stars) My review
  • Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon (4 stars) My review
  • Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (3.5 stars) My review
  • Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck (5 stars) My review
  • Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder (5 stars) My review
  • Slide by Jill Hathaway (5 stars) My review
I read some absolutely fantastic books this month. I'm usually really mean with my stars and save the 5 star rating for books which are exceptional. This month most of the books I reviewed were either 4 or 5 stars, so it was difficult to pick a book as this month's Best of the Bunch.
However, I have made my choice, and am awarding my Best of the Bunch award for December to...


Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott!

This was my favourite book of the month for it's magic, it's mystical setting, and it's incredible characters. The heroine Suzume is a strong character full of determination and drive, but is also quirky, sweet and lovable. I also loved Otieno, and the bond between them. This was a wonderful story, which gripped me and drew me in. It is set in beautiful historical Asia and was so vivid to me that I could really picture it. I also loved the idea of shadow weavers- people who can alter their appearance at will, or even disappear completely- it is woven so well into a story about betrayal and revenge. A very beautiful and powerful book with real heart. Read my full review of it here.
Zoe Marriott is one of my favourite authors- I can also wholly recommend The Swan Kingdom and Daughter of the Flames. Amazing books!

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince - and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.

I also want to give an honourable mention to Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck (I love this series so much!), and another one of my favourite authors Maria V. Snyder for Touch of Power.

I would love to know which book gets your Best of the Bunch prize, so head on over to Lyrical Reviews and add your post to the linky.
Leave me a comment below and thanks for reading!

Friday 30 December 2011

Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

SlideSlide by Jill Hathaway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.
Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

This book is an emotional mystery story that is really cleverly done. Sylvia (Vee) has been diagnosed with narcolepsy because she falls asleep suddenly and without warning. However the truth is much more sinister than that. When Vee goes out, she "slides" into someone else- someone with a connection to something that she has recently touched, and is forced to watch as an observer through their eyes. She has seen a teacher's affair with a bus driver, another teacher sneak a drink from a hidden bottle, and heard conversations and secrets that she shouldn't have been privy to.

When she one day sees her sister's best friend being bullied and ignored, and then later sees her dead body through the eyes of the killer, only Vee knows that it wasn't a suicide as everyone suspects. However, she doesn't know who the killer was, and she can't reveal her secret, and therefore can't tell anybody what she knows. Vee has to try to work out who murdered Sophie by piecing together the clues and secrets that only she knows, and narrowing down the many possible suspects.

This was such a great book but darker and more sinister than I was initally expecting. I loved the complexity of the relationships between all the different characters, especially the high-schoolers. You really get a sense of the history between them all, and a whole past of friendships, crushes, and old resentments. But I also felt the awkward relationship that Vee has with her father, and her resentment of how much he leans on her since her mother's death. The characters and the psychological aspect as a whole are really well done in this book.

The other great thing is the mystery that is set up. It kept me guessing and making false assumptions throughout all the different twists and new revelations, and was very clever. New tidbits of information gradually come out and your perceptions of a character can suddenly change and your suspicions shift with each new revelation. For a fairly short book (250 pages) a lot is put into it, and I was left with a real understanding of these people and their town. I loved this book- I was gripped and intrigued, and saddened and moved, and elated all at different points. Highly recommended.

This is due to be published March 2012
Thanks to Harper Collins publishers and UK Book Tours for providing an advance copy for review.

Alternative Cover:

US Hardcover

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Wrap-up of reading challenges 2011

At the start of 2011 I entered 5 reading challenges hosted by bloggers. How did I do completing them?

Challenge 1
The Vampire Challenge hosted by Parajunkee

To read 20 books with a vampire as the main character.

At the start of the year I thought I'd have no problem at all completing this challenge. I really wanted to read the Morganville Vampires series and the Blue Bloods series. I have to confess that I STILL really want to read these series and I STILL haven't read them! Maybe 2012 will be the year!

Final total:
7/20     FAIL!

I read several books which had a vampire character in- but only books where a vampire was a main character could count toward this challenge. Whoops!
Okay- so I failed that one big time.

List of books read for the challenge

Challenge 2
The Shifter Challenge hosted by Parajunkee

To read 20 books with a werewolf or shifter as the main character.

Again- I thought that this challenge would be no problem at all. I really wanted to read the Shifter series by Rachel Vincent and the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Plus various others.

Final total:
8/20  FAIL!

Uh oh- I'm sensing a theme here. Complete failure all round. Unfortunately, I'm a mood reader and I still don't let the fact that I've entered a reading challenge deter me from reading whatever I fancy reading that day. So, yeah, only 8 books read this year with a shifter as a main character (unless my counting is wrong- because it feels like I've done a lot more than that!)
List of books read for the challenge

Challenge 3
The Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren

To read 12 YA books by a debut author.

It's hard to judge at the start of the year what books will leap out at you, but luckily, there have been some fantastic books out this year by new authors, and thanks to reviews by bloggers, have thrust these books onto my radar.

Final total:
17 Completed!

Oh yeah! Smashed it! The goal was 12 and I read 17 books by a debut author. Some really amazing books in there as well, I'll definitely be looking out for more reads by some of these new authors in the new year.
List of books read for the challenge

Challenge 4
The Dystopian Challenge hosted by BA Reading Challenges

To read 15 books set in a dystopic or post-apocalyptic world

There have been many dystopian books out this year- at one time it seemed to be the new favourite theme, and I love this genre when it is well done.

Final total:

I read some really amazing dystopian novels this year, and completed the challenge- go me!

List of books read for this challenge

Challenge 5
The 2011 E-book Challenge hosted by The Ladybug Reads

To read 12 books or more on the kindle.

When I entered this challenge I hadn't had my kindle for very long, and I was still reading mainly library books. However, I figured I'd get round to reading at least one book a month on the kindle.

Final total:
(lost count, but easily)   COMPLETED!

I loved my kindle this year, and read so many books on it that I've lost count. So this challenge- not really so challenging in the end.

Right- so to sum up, I completed 3 reading challenges and miserably failed 2. Not too bad I suppose!

I also set a Goodreads reading challenge to read 120 books in 2011. This is a much higher total than in previous years.

I set my own personal challenge to read 120 books over 2011.

Final total:
136 books! (So far- there are still a few more days of 2011 to go!)

Wow- I can't believe I read so many! I think being a book blogger over this past year has given me an even greater passion for reading- and with my TBR list expanding every day because of reading so many more reviews, I think it has driven me on to get to the next book. This is a much higher total for me than ever before, and I've always thought I read a lot of books.
Books read in 2011

I'm going to be entering some challenges for 2012 as well. Even though I basically ignore them in the end and read whatever I like anyway! I like having a goal and feeling smug if I complete it.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of PowerTouch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Book 1 in the Healer series

I absolutely love all of Maria Snyder's books and the way she writes her characters, but I thought that this one was one of the better ones- back up to the standard of the fantastic Poison Study. I love the fantasy and the beautiful world building, but also the fantastic characters, and the camerarderie and companionship between them.

In this new series, magical healer Avry has been on the run and alone for three years. In the past, people with magic were respected, but now they are met with fear and suspicion- healers most especially. When she is kidnapped/ rescued from execution by a group of travellers determined to make her heal their friend, (a prince who Avry hates) she initially fights back. But as their travels drag on she gets used to them, and grows to think of them as a family, and I loved the bonds between them. She jokes around with Vinn and Quain, learns to fight from Belen and teaches little Flea how to juggle, as well as improving the standard of cooking on their travels. After a time she cannot imagine being without her new little family, and can't bear the thought of being on her own again. In turn, her determination, stubbornness and self-sacrificing nature earns her the respect of the group, and makes a strong impression on the group's leader Kerrick. And when Avry is taken by the nasty Tohon, the group fight tooth and nail to get her back again.

As well as the great cast of characters adding fun and heart to the story, there is the seriousness of the politics of the fifteen kingdoms, and the scheming and treachery involved in the fight for power. There are also the magical new creatures and plants of the world, the most intriguing of which are the Peace and Death Lilies, which I'm guessing the mystery of will be further explained in later books, and the different powers of the people as well. Some of the characters have more power than others, and there are also some new powers developing- keeping everything very interesting.

Despite the fact that there was a lot of travelling and camping the story never seemed to drag at all- it always felt like there was something going on, even if it was just a shift in the dynamics of the group. There is plenty of action in the form of attacks on the group, and Avry is still trying to discover more about what happened to her family and also trying to uncover the secret of the mysterious plague that has swept the land, and why the healers were blamed for it. Avry makes a great heroine because she is good and self-sacrificing, but also smart, feisty and courageous. She is very witty and speaks her mind no matter what. This frustrates Kerrick no end, and makes their banter so much more interesting to read about.

Maria Snyder has done it again- she has created a world where I get so completely sucked in and absorbed in that I don't even notice the pages turning. This is a completely compelling book mostly because of the relatable and lovable characters. Even those not fans of fantasy books can't help but be warmed by their friendship, amused by their quirkiness, and saddened by their losses. This is a story full of companionship, history, magic, danger, betrayals, and a sweet love story aspect that kind of sneaks up on you. Beautiful- I loved it.

Thanks to Harlequin publishers and Netgalley for the advance e-copy of this book for review.

Alternative covers:

UK Paperback cover
Australian Paperback cover

Monday 26 December 2011

Review: Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Voyage (The Tiger Saga, #3)Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.

Fraught with danger, filled with magic, and packed with romance, TIger's Voyage brings Kelsey and her two tiger princes one step closer to breaking the curse.

Book 3 in the Tiger series

Aaah! Ms Houck, what are you doing to me??!! In Tiger's Quest you broke my heart, and in Tiger's Voyage you've squeezed it, stomped on it, and put it through a meat grinder!!

To say that this book is emotional is a gross understatement. It is really REALLY emotional. And moving, heart-warming, heart-breaking, action-packed... and wonderful. I just love this series, these characters and their adventures together. The bonds between them all are complex and powerful, and I want to live in this story all the time.

In book 1 Kelsey and cursed Indian prince Ren, set off on a quest to try to break the curse and let Ren be mortal and a man. In book 2, Kelsey and Kishan have to complete a quest together, and each time they have returned, the curse is lifted a little more, giving Ren and Kishan more hours of the day free of their tiger forms. Tiger's Voyage- book 3 in the series, continues on this same vein of adventure, and mystical places and creatures, while keeping up the same standard of beautiful writing, attention to detail, and vivid descriptions of setting and place.

This time, their quest is on and under the ocean, where they must meet and outsmart five dragons, and the challenges they face are more dangerous and difficult than ever. This is definitely a beautifully complex quest story- the way all fantasy books should be- with added magic and mythical creatures, but in such a way that it feels real. Just the beauty of the places that they travel to and the stories and legends behind them, makes it feel like what they see could really happen. To start with, Kelsey is just an ordinary young woman from Oregon, but transplanted into this new mystical place amongst centuries old cursed tiger/princes, she grows into this courageous and powerful person.

On top of everything that they have to accomplish to complete their newest quest is the turmoil of the mixed feelings that Kelsey has for the two brothers, her tigers. She loves them both, and can't imagine her life without either of them, but with Ren's memory of Kelsey gone because of Lokesh's torture, it is Kishan that Kelsey starts to grow closer to. Added to this drama of the confusion of her love life, is the threat of seriously evil bad-guy Lokesh hunting them. He wants the power of their amulets, but also sees potential in Kelsey, firstly as a way to hurt Ren, and secondly as a powerful mother to his future heir.

The story goes through so many changes, and you can never be sure of a smooth outcome for them. These books make me laugh and cry, with a heart pounding adventure, and real character driven plotlines. And heartbreak (did I mention the heartbreak already?). I love the way that these books really stir up all my emotions and make me feel so strongly for these characters. I just love these books, these people and these beautiful stories so much. Seriously, if you haven't already- go and read this series!

Rest of the series:


  • Book 1- Tigers Curse. Read my review of it here.
  • Book 2- Tiger's Quest. Read my review of it here.
  • Book 4- Tiger's Destiny is due out late 2012 (not soon enough!)

Also, according to Colleen's blog, Paramount have just optioned the film rights to the book, so hopefully I will be able to swoon at the movie very soon!

Saturday 24 December 2011

Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Every Other DayEvery Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.
Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.

Every Other Day plunges us straight into the drama that is Kali's life and takes us on action packed thrill-ride of a story that doesn't pause for breath! In every 2 day cycle Kali is completely human for 24 hours, and a faster, stronger, blood-thirsty demon hunter for the next 24 hours. There is a constant countdown as Kali is continually aware of her impending next change, and this repeated counting down makes the book feel more pacey, and gives a permanent sense of urgency. Kali is a tough character- a demon hunter who works alone, and pushes everyone away.

The story is set in a reality where everybody knows about vampires and zombies, hellhounds and demons, because Darwin discovered them and revealed their existence to the world 200 years ago. Kali has always kept her ability a secret, and distanced herself from family and friends. This changes when she starts at a new school and meets lovable quirky Skylar, and bitchy cheerleader Bethany, and inadvertantly entangles them in her lastest demon slaying mission. I liked this cobbled-together team of misfits though, and the interactions between them were sometimes strained, sometimes funny, and sometimes sweet, but always enjoyable to read.

When Kali spots that Bethany has been infected by a demon who will shortly kill her, she decides to take the demon into herself instead, knowing that she will only have to make it through one day as a human and the next time she changes her toxic blood will destroy the demon. Nothing runs smoothly though, and Kali and crew must survive unknown attacking demons, shady dealings at her father's laboratory, and, disturbingly, a voice in her head brought in by the demon infection.

Having read and liked Jennifer Lynn Barnes' other series Raised by Wolves I can say that the two main characters Bryn and Kali are very similar- both tomboyish, tough, and self-sacrificing. Actually, in terms of the romance plot as well, reading about Kali and Zev was exactly like reading about Bryn and Chase again. Their love is of the "we are destined to be together" kind of love- but with everything else going on, there isn't really any time for a traditional date, or even a normal conversation. The whole story races by in a rush.

I liked Every Other Day for the action, the feisty likable characters, and the twists in the story that kept me guessing.

Thanks to Egmont publishers and Netgalley for the advance e-copy of the book.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Technical difficulties!


I have no laptop at the moment, so I'm finding it very frustrating, not being able to get online or access any of my saved stuff. I hope to be back very soon though, posting lots more reviews, and visiting and commenting on everybody's blogs again!
I miss it- I'm having withdrawal symptoms!
In the meantime, sorry for not replying to anyone, I'll be back as soon as I can, and please don't leave me!


Sunday 18 December 2011

In My Mailbox 18th December 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where book bloggers can talk about the books they've gotten the past week- whether bought, borrowed, swapped or given for review. This feature was started to increase interaction between bloggers and to increase our awareness of all the new books coming out.

I got some more great books this week! I got


  • Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Book 2 in the Infernal Devices series). Finally! I hate the post where I live, I'm sure I'm the last person to receive this book. So excited- I'm reading this one next!

Kindle Freebies:

  • Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams.
  • Hush Money by Susan Bishoff. (Not quite free but close enough!)


  • A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young. This is in the sale at Audible. This is about a girl who is part angel (called a Forgotten) who has an uncontrollable draw to help people in trouble. I've read some good reviews on this one, and look forward to listening to the book.

So those were the books I got this week. Christmas next week- I'm hoping for some... BOOKS!
What books did you get this week?
Happy reading!

Saturday 17 December 2011

Review: Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon

Life Eternal (Dead Beautiful, #2)Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Renée Winters has changed. When she looks in the mirror, a beautiful girl with an older, sadder face stares back. Her condition has doctors mystified, but Renée can never reveal the truth: she died last May, and was brought back to life by the kiss of her Undead soul mate, Dante Berlin.

Now, her separation from Dante becomes almost unbearable. His second life is close to an end, and each passing day means one less that she will spend with the boy who shares her soul.

Just when Renée has almost given up hope, she learns of the Nine Sisters—brilliant scholars who, according to legend, found a way to cheat death. She can’t shake the feeling that they are somehow connected to her dreams, strange visions that hint at a discovery so powerful, and so dangerous, that some will stop at nothing to protect it.

Renée thought she knew the truth about life and death. But there is a secret woven through history that holds the only hope for Dante and Renée. Unless they find answers soon, their time together is doomed to be cut short.

Book 2 in the Dead Beautiful series
I really liked this book- it was gripping, mysterious and heartfelt, however, this definitely felt like a middle book, in that the story didn't move much further along and nothing was resolved by the end. But I did feel like this book was a lot clearer than the first one. This is because in Dead Beautiful the explanation about the Undead was so long in coming there were times during book 1 where I wasn't sure what was going on and it took me a long time for the rules of the legends and mythology to sink in. I understood this book a lot better, because the foundations were already there.

In Dead Beautiful Renee and Dante found each other and fell in love, but they struggle to be together in this book. Renee's grandfather has threatened to kill Dante if he ever sees him again, and makes plans to send Renee to an alternative school. The two of them do manage to communicate a little through Renee's former roommate, and even sneak a meeting once or twice, but it is increasingly dangerous for them to be near each other.

There is also a love triangle thrown into the story. At her new school normal, dependable Noah is very interested in Renee, and eager to spend time with her. And even though Renee tells him she has a boyfriend, as Dante's mysterious whereabouts, secrets and lies throw everything she thinks she knows into question, it is Noah that Renee turns to to help her solve the mystery of the Nine Sisters. So this book becomes a mystery as Renee and Noah set out to solve a puzzle based on Renee's visions of the past and present, and an exciting adventure across Canada with battles against the Undead, and plenty of mysterious clues and riddles.

This is a strong series with a creepy, eerie undertone to it that makes it very cool. I'm liking the story so far for the love story, the characters and it's unique take on the well-used genre of teen paranormal romance. I will be reading the next in the series when it is published.

Life Eternal is due to be published in February 2012
Thanks to Disney Hyperion publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy of the book.

Rest of the series:

(US Cover)

Book 1 is Dead Beautiful. Read my review of it here.

Thursday 15 December 2011

The Time Will Come #43

The Time Will Come is a weekly meme hosted by Jodie at Books For Company, where we can spotlight those books that we've had sitting on our shelves for too long. Books that we really want to read but never seem to get around to.

The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld is a series that I've wanted to read since I first heard about it. It sounds fresh and original with spunky demon hunting characters. I actually bought all of them earlier in the year from Amazon marketplace really cheaply, so I have no excuse not to read them, exept no time! I love these covers too- the best part is that together on the shelf the spines form a clock face picture.
I have heard so many good things about this series, and I really liked the first couple of books of the Uglies series by this author. I am determined that I will read these books... one day!


Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Midnighters of Bixby, Oklahoma, know that their town is full of secrets - especially since they keep the biggest secret of all: knowledge of the secret hour, the mysterious time at midnight when the world freezes, except for them and the creatures that inhabit the darkness. What they don't know is why earlier generations of Midnighters all disappeared, or why they are now the only Midnighters in town. As they learn more about the secret hour's twists and turns, they uncover terrifying mysteries woven into the very fabric of Bixby's history, and a conspiracy that touches both the midnight hour and the world of daylight. At the same time, the Midnighters' own secrets start to emerge, including some that were never meant to come to light, changing the fragile dynamics among the five.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Review: Envy by Gregg Olsen

Envy (Empty Coffin, #1)Envy by Gregg Olsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with EMPTY COFFIN, a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.

Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.
Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.
Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.

Book 1 in the Empty Coffin Series

Envy plunges straight into the drama without pausing for introduction. Within a few pages a girl has died and the small close-knit town of Port Gamble is thrown into speculation and suspicion. Was it a suicide, an accident or murder? Added to this is the mystery surrounding the characters who are main focus of the story- twins Hayley and Taylor, who were friends with the dead girl and are determined to find out what really happened to her, and whose eerie psychic powers are only gradually revealed. The twins use their "special gifts" to try to find answers.

The story becomes a mystery story as the twins work at finding the evidence that the police missed, and piecing together the clues. Intertwined with this who-dunnit plotline is the connection to the memory of a school bus accident years ago, and hints to a secret about the twin's powers which has been long buried. Tying all of these threads together is a nosy reporter investigating all three stories and working out the connection between them.

I liked the mix of characters in this, and the sense of real teens, but also the fact that we see things from the parent's perspective as well. We see some of their history and memories, and the teens are involved in the family as a whole (something that seems to be lacking in YA fiction a lot lately).

Envy is definitely one of those books that doesn't hide the fact that bad things happen. There is tragedy, and heartache and evil and none of it is sugarcoated. This is a grim and gritty, emotional, dark read, encapsulating the pain of loss and the guilt of those left behind. The middle section of the book felt like not a lot was happening, however the ending definitely made up for it- with shock revelations, new surprises, and twists and turns that kept me guessing right until the very end. Hayley and Taylor race to uncover the truth about about their friend, and to keep certain secrets about their past from being exposed to the world. The paranormal aspect of the story was intriguing and I definitely feel that there is more to tell and more to come from Hayley and Taylor.

Olsen has skillfully woven a suspense/ true crime novel into a dark and twisty YA paranormal story. This is definitely original!

Thanks to UK Book Tours for passing me this book to read and review.

Monday 12 December 2011

Interview with author Chrys Phillips

Today on the blog I'm interviewing Chrys Phillips, author of the Magic Wars series of books.

Book 1 in the series is Revengeful Heart (Goodreads).

Hello Chrys and welcome to Always Lost in Stories.

1. Tell us a bit about your first book in the Magic Wars series, Revengeful Heart.

It's set in a humble place called Lakeview and on the third moons eclipse the rebirth of a beautiful woman immortal, Mortyla arrives to revenge her broken soul! While she evilly destructs, three teens are bestowed powers to assist in saving Lakeview and Earth. Their teen love lives, school days are tangled in with these immortals and the wars that begin! Two bad boy immortal hotties, Zavier and Zac are also at Lakeview High and are very powerful. Zavier is the eldest and is a gladiator of war to defend Zac but, they are both searching for love and a kiss to soothe their dark brooding cores. There are epic wars, enchantments, powers, secrets, lust, love, betrayal and lies. Who wins and what dangerous choices they need to make is a Wicked run! To kiss or not to kiss? WICKED LOVE…

2. What inspired you to write the Magic Wars series?

Well I've been writing for many years for theatre and novels however, I wanted to write something that I would want to go to the bookstore and get addicted to! I love the idea of immortality, forbidden love, romance and action..thats what was on my mind when I began writing the Magic Wars Book Series.

3. Magic Wars is set to be a 5 book series- have you planned out all the books in the series already?

Yes it is set to be a five book series and yes I do!

4. Which of your characters is your favourite and why? Who is the most fun to write?

Each book varies which are my favorite characters as there are interchanging immortals that arrive and mortals. I really love writing immortal bad boy hottie Zavier and one of the female immortals Mortyla.

(taken from author's site)

5. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Do you have any special places or routines to write or can you write anywhere?

I've always loved writing and I write all the time thinking of new ideas even when I'm not on my laptop. If I find myself with an idea when I'm out at the beach, shopping and away from my laptop, I'll type it in my smartphone and write about it later haha!

6. What genres do you normally read? What have you read and enjoyed recently?

I read urban fantasy, non fiction and the classics! I am now reading again Pride and Prejudice.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

Buy the book:

Amazon UK                                     |         Amazon US
Paperback and kindle                      |          Paperback and kindle

Also check out the book's website for further author information, more about the rest of the books in the series and to read an extract of Revengeful Heart-

Sunday 11 December 2011

In My Mailbox 11th December 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where book bloggers can talk about the books they've gotten the past week- whether bought, borrowed, swapped or given for review. This feature was started to increase interaction between bloggers and to increase our awareness of all the new books coming out.

I was very lucky and got some fantastic books this week-


  • True Blood Omnibus by Charlaine Harris. This contains the first 3 books in the series. I got this as my secret santa present from work, on our meal out this week. I have a suspicion who santa was, because I regularly gush over vampire books with a certain colleague, and she has been nagging me to read this series forever! I really want to read this series, but I think it's one of those that will sit on my shelf for a while until I finally find time to read it! It's sucha long series as well, that it's a bit daunting to start on.

For review:

  • Slide by Jill Hathaway. This book sounds like a fantastic read about a girl who, when she falls asleep sees the world through another person's eyes, and one time, witnesses a murder. This becomes a paranormal mystery story, as she has to work out who committed the murder.
This book is published in March 2012.
Thanks to Harper Collins publishers and UK Book Tours for sending me this book.

Those were the books I got this week, can't wait to read them. What did you get in your mailbox?
Happy reading!

Thursday 8 December 2011

The Time Will Come #42

The Time Will Come is a weekly meme hosted by Jodie at Books For Company, where we can spotlight those books that we've had sitting on our shelves for too long. Books that we really want to read but never seem to get around to.

Book Two block strikes again! I always start reading a new series, love it, but then start another new series and never get around to finishing a series. I really liked Numbers by Rachel Ward (read my review of it here) when I read it back in August, about a girl who can predict the date people will die by looking them in the eye, and meant to read the sequel as soon as possible... but of course never got around to it. I do still really want to read the next book, which is set years after the events of book 1, to see how the story develops and grows, and hopefully I will... one day! I have too many books!

Numbers 2: The Chaos by Rachel Ward.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Adam sees 'numbers' - when he looks in peoples' eyes he can see their death-dates, just like his mum Jem used to. Adam has trouble dealing with his awful gift, and when he realises that everyone around him has the same series of numbers, he becomes deeply afraid of what might happen in 2025.

Desperate to find out what could be about to go wrong, Adam spends hours researching possibilities - war, nuclear accidents, killer viruses. He knows something big is coming, but what? And is there anything he can possibly do about it?

Monday 5 December 2011

Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

GlowGlow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis from the back of the book:
Teenagers Waverly and Kieran believe their future is written in the stars. They are part of the first generation born in space.
They are in love.
They have never seen a stranger before... until the day they are wrenched apart and suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives.

Book 1 in the Sky Chasers series
I struggle to even imagine how claustrophobic to have been born on board a spaceship travelling toward a distant planet- never feeling the wind, seeing the ocean, or feeling the seasons change around you- but that is the situation for teenagers Waverly and Kieran. They are among the first generation born on board the Empyrean and have grown up having never left the confines of the spaceship and knowing everybody on board. When another ship meant to be years ahead of them pulls up alongside them with no explanation, and then attacks, taking hostage most of the girls and seriously damaging the Empyrean, their calm orderly existence suddenly changes. There are a heavy number of casualties, and those that are left separate to either chase the New Horizon in a shuttle in a rescue attempt, or stay behind to try to repair the Empyrean. Kieran can do nothing as Waverly is taken aboard the other ship and sped away from him.

I loved the way that this book kept changing my outlook on who exactly the bad guys were. I genuinely couldn't decide who were the good guys and who were the aggressors- my opinion kept switching between the two ships, as different stories were told and different revelations exposed. It is difficult for Waverly to extract the bits of truth from all the lies that she is told from the people on the New Horizon, but a new picture of her old life gradually forms in her mind, leaving her completely confused. She has to make the decision whether she is better off with her new family on the New Horizon, or if she should fight to get back to Kieran on the Empyrean.

Meanwhile back on the Empyrean, with just the boys left to run things, the situation becomes a little bit Lord of the Flies in space for a while. Keiran finds that he has no idea how to lead, and this leads to a serious conflict between him and Seth, who has always resented Keiran. The story is told in alternating chapters from both Kieran and Waverly, so we can see what is happening on both ships but they have no way to communicate with each other, or even to know whether the other is still alive. Waverly and the other girls are watched constantly and find clever ways to secretly communicate their plans to each other. Waverly is definitely a smart and headstrong girl, and will never let herself be bullied into anything- whether it was the pressure to marry Kieran on the Empyrean, or pressure to co-operate with her kidnappers on the New Horizon. She has very set opinions and will stick to her guns.

Glow was a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller, showing what it takes to be a leader and portraying the good and bad sides of humanity- an exciting emotional thrill-ride of a read, definitely quite traumatic in parts but also terrifyingly believable. This book would work fine as a stand-alone book on it's own. It is very well-written and there is plenty of action, drama and emotional turmoil in this book, as well as a brilliantly clever plot line. However, I really want to see more of this adventure, and these characters again, and I feel that there is still much more story to tell. Bring on book 2!

Book two in the Sky Chasers series is titled Spark and is due to be published July 2012.

Sunday 4 December 2011

In My Mailbox 4th December 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where book bloggers can talk about the books they've gotten the past week- whether bought, borrowed, swapped or given for review. This feature was started to increase interaction between bloggers and to increase our awareness of all the new books coming out.

I got a much smaller haul of books this week (thank goodness- It gives me a chance to try and catch up!)
In this case though, it's definitely quality over quantity! I got:

From the library:

  • It finally came in! Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey is book 4 in the fantastic Drake Chronicles about a family of vampires, their battles, and the people falling in love with them. These books so far have all been romantic, funny, and clever.

For review:

  • New Girl by Paige Harbison. This is about a girl who moves to a new school- a prestigious academy- where a place had only opened up for her after the sudden death of another girl. The main character finds herself struggling to fill the shoes of the dead girl. This is described as a modern day high school re-telling of Daphne DuMaurier's fantastic Rebecca. I HAD to read this!
Thanks to Harlequin publishers and Netgalley for the review copy.
This is due to be published in Janaury 2012

That was all I got this week but both are books that I'm dying to read soon.
What did you get in your mailbox? Happy reading!

Saturday 3 December 2011

On My (Christmas) Wishlist

  • Witchlanders by Lena Coakley. This sounds so good, a fantasy story with witches, magic and prophecies.

  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting. A new dystopian novel by the author of the fantastic Body Finder series.

  • Inheritance by Christopher Paolini. The fourth and final book in the Inheritance series- a high fantasy series, sort of Lord of the Rings but with dragons. This last book has been a long time coming. I really want Eragon and Arya to get together, and to defeat the evil dragon rider Galbatorix!

  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Another dystopian society about a girl with a fatal touch. Will the society be able to manipulate her? I love the sound of this one.

  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I have read so many five star reviews of this book but I'm still not completely sure what it is about. I know that everybody is raving about the romance aspect of it though, so I'm already sold!

On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City, where we can show which books we are desperately pining after!

What's on your wishlist? Thanks for reading, leave me a comment at the bottom of the post! X

Friday 2 December 2011

Review: Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Shadows on the MoonShadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince - and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love.

Shadows on the Moon is so beautiful- just mystical, magical and emotional. It is original and fun and I absolutely loved the story, the characters and the romance...

When I was reading this novel I was so completely immersed in this world- and I want to live there! The book is very loosely based in feudal Japan, and it works so well- making the world feel exotic and mystical. I loved the oriental setting and the different customs, and despite it's historical setting and the feeling of other-worldliness I still completely connected with the characters and their lives. I really enjoyed reading about the carriages, the kimonos, tea, and dancing, and it made a really nice change. It is beautifully written and so vivid- this is a compelling adventure that really focuses on the rollercoaster of emotional turmoil of the characters- Suzume's feelings of grief and betrayal, and her burgeoning attraction to a foreign explorer.

Suzume is a shadow weaver, which means that she can manipulate the space around her to alter her appearance at will. It is what allows her to escape when the soldiers come to her house and kill her father and her cousin. Initially her powers are useful to her to hide her scars, or to plaster a false congenial smile on her face, when really she is seething with anger. Ultimately, she decides to use her ability to hide from her father's murderer whilst spying on him, and to plot to exact revenge on the people who murdered her family and destroyed her life. Two great characters in this novel are Suzume's teachers Youta and Akiva, people who believe in her, befriend her, and encourage her at different points in her life. Both of these characters, despite being so different from each other, are needed to support and drive Suzume, encouraging her in her powers, and making her feel less alone.

Suzume's journey is fraught and tragic, but as she not only develops her powers over time, she also transforms from a naive and helpless girl into a self-determined and independent young woman. Although sometimes I wanted to shake her for her bad choices, Suzume is a great strong-willed character, but she becomes obsessed with one sole idea, and refuses to let go of the past and see the potential future right in front of her. In her struggle to work toward her revenge (and at times just to survive) Suzume changes her identity and alternately spends time as a lady, disguised as a kitchen drudge, and finally as a courtesan.

As a shadow weaver himself, Otieno can see through Suzume's illusions and recognise her anywhere. I loved to see the relationship develop between these two over time, and see how a friendship built on trust gradually developed into something more. He is the only person who really gets her. Otieno is such a great character because in contrast to the way Suzume has been brought up where everyone is formal and stiff, he shows all his emotions in his expression, and freely laughs and jokes about, and accepts everyone at face value- regardless of their social standing. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and is just the perfect blend of loyal, good and dangerous. I found myself rooting for this couple through all their struggles and separations, and just hoping that they got a happy ending.

I'm not sure how many times now I've said this story is beautiful, but I'm going to say it again- this story really is beautiful, and manages to feel sweet and moving, despite dealing with themes of death and vengeance. It is a book that I could happily read again and again for the setting, the magic, the endearing characters, and the lyrical writing style.

Shadows on the Moon was published in the UK by Walker books in July 2011, and is due to be published in the US by Candlewick Press in April 2012.


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