Monday 31 December 2012

Best of the Bunch December 2012

Best of the Bunch is a monthly wrap-up and award ceremony hosted here on the last day of each month, where we can look back over the books we have read and give a Best of the Bunch award to our favourite book of that month.

It is also a blog hop for bloggers to showcase their pick of "Best of the Bunch". I always put up my post on the last day of the month, but remember, you can add your link anytime in the following month- please join in, I love hearing about which books you thought were the most amazing!

For more info and to grab the button and stickers visit the BOTB page here, then all you need to do is write up your post showing us your Best of the Bunch and add your linky to the list below. Don't forget to check out the other blogs to find out which books other bloggers have awarded the best.

December 2012
This month I have reviewed on the blog:

  • Timeless by Alexandra Monir My review- 4 of 5 stars
  • Seraphina by Rachel Harman My review- 4 of 5 stars
  • Entangled by Nikki Jefford My review- 3.5 of 5 stars
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray My review- 5 of 5 stars
  • Crewel by Gennifer Albin My review- 4 of 5 stars
  • Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder My review- 4 of 5 stars

And the winner of Best of the Bunch for December 2012 is...


...  The Diviners by Libba Bray!

This is easily one of the best reads of this year. It's beautifully written, with an intricate plot. It's also magical, creepy, fun and romantic. I thought it was fantastic!

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

What was the best book you read this December? I'd love to know- who gets your bananas? Link up below!

Sunday 30 December 2012

Sunday Post 30th December 2012

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~ It's a chance to share news~ to recap the past week on the blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 

Woohooo! I love Christmas because people give me BOOKS! These are the amazing Christmas pressies I excitedly opened on Christmas day.

  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • The Torn Wing (Faerie Ring, book 2) by Kiki Hamilton
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  • Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
  • Renegade by J. A Souders
  • Siege (As The World Dies, book 3) by Rhiannon Frater

I also downloaded a couple of new audiobooks (I love to listen to these while I do the washing up)

  • Rage Within (Dark Inside, book 2) by Jeyn Roberts
  • The Rise of the Nine (Lorien Legacies, book 3) by Pittacus Lore
  • Rebel Heart (Dustlands, book 2) by Moira Young

This week on Always Lost in Stories-
I wished for The Fault in Our Stars on Wishlist Wednesday
And I posted two book reviews-
I am also running a Best of 2012 Giveaway which ends tomorrow, so make sure you get your entry in!

Next week...
Tomorrow is the last day of the month which means it's time for Best of the Bunch again! This is a monthly blog hop which looks back over our reviews for the month and awards the best book the title of "Best of the Bunch". Go here to find out what it's all about, grab the stickers, and see previous posts. Then come back on the 31st to see which book won my award, and to leave the link to your own post. Please join in, as it's good fun and I love looking at which books everyone picked as their favourite. 

On Tuesday I have a new feature showcasing the new book releases for January, and which one especially I'm most excited to read. 

On Friday it is my 2 Year Blogoversary!! Yep- 2 years!! I'm having a big celebration including a new giveaway. 

Thanks for stopping by! What bookish goodies did you get for Christmas? Link me up!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Hunted, Killed—Survived?

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again

Book 2 in the Avry of Kazan series

This is such a great fantasy series, from such a talented writer. Maria Snyder is (in my opinion) the queen of fantasy fiction. Her writing transports me into other worlds that I can feel and believe in, and just makes me fall in love with her characters. All her characters have a spunky quality about them, and a lot of warmth and humour.

This book picks up where Touch of Power left off, with Avry and Kerrick heading off in different directions with their plans to defeat King Tohon's powerful army. Packed with non-stop action, thrills and magic, this series is completely engrossing.

Each chapter is told from alternating points of view split between Kerrick and Avry, and always leaves the action hanging at a good bit at the end of the chapters! I think that Avry and Kerrick together are such a great couple, and it was so sweet how even though they spent most of the book apart from each other, they were constantly thinking about the other.

The friendships and camaraderie between all the characters is just fantastic, and through their hardships they grow so much closer in this book. I love gentle giant Belen, and the banter between Quain and Loren (affectionately called "the monkeys"), and just how protective they all are of each other.

Again there are betrayals, and unexpected plot twists and turns, and evil king Tohon is still trying to claim Avry and her power for himself. Along with the mystery of the power of the Death Lilys, and the battle against an army of Tohon's risen dead.

Okay, I feel bad confessing this because I absolutely LOVE Maria Snyder and all her books- and I did love this one too- but it just felt a little laboured in places, and didn't flow as smoothly as usual.

That is my only minor niggle though, I will still say that this series is fantastic, and I can't wait to see what book 3 is going to bring. Not as awesome as book 1, but still awesome.

Alternate cover:

This is the UK edition, published by Mira.

Friday 28 December 2012

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Review copy from Publisher via Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

There has been a deluge of dystopian YA fiction lately, and although I still LOVE it and want to read more- sometimes these worlds and stories all start to blend together in my head. However, Crewel is a completely unique take on a fantasy futuristic world, and so different from anything else, that it really stands out.

It is based on the idea that the world around the characters is woven and created by a group of women called Spinsters, who have developed the unique power of "weaving" the world around them. Everything can be controlled on the looms from the amount of rainfall, to the growth of trees and plants, and if an area shows signs of rebellion- it can be destroyed with one rip.

For the first quarter of the book or so I was a bit confused and baffled as I struggled to get my head around the concepts in the book. The world building was sometimes a little bit complex and you need to be paying attention to understand it, but that complexity and depth of description also meant that it felt very impressive and very convincing. The whole atmosphere of the book begins to feel more dangerous and menacing as we begin to discover more about the Spinsters and their power along with main character Adelice.

Adelice has been raised in a quiet and inconspicuous sector of Arras, living a poor but happy life with her parents and her sister. Her mother had been aware of Adelice's power from an early age, and had been trying to teach Adelice to conceal it, so that when it came time to be tested- she wouldn't have to join the Spinsters. But Adelice's power is exceptionally strong, and she finds that she can weave time and matter easily- even without the loom.

I really enjoyed discovering this exceptional world along with Adelice, as she gets deeper and deeper into the heart of the power of this corrupt and dangerous world, and learns more about the truth of the Spinsters. She is a very determined and head-strong girl, and not afraid to stand up to her superior Maela when she sees something she thinks is wrong, although she is sometimes a little naive because of her sheltered upbringing.

Some of the characters seem pretty evil- the kind of bad guys who believe that they are doing what is right and good, but there is a brilliant cast of a range of different characters.  One of my favourite characters is gruff servant Jost and his story, and the friendship and attraction that gradually develops between him and Adelice.

This story is imaginative and thrilling. There are subplots of love and betrayal, and I liked that you could never guess which direction the story was going to take next. Beautifully written, multi-layered and completely surprising- a must read for fans of sci-fi or dystopia.


Alternate cover:
I way prefer this cover- it's so pretty and eye-catching, and I think it better matches the story and the ideas behind weaving and the threads of the world.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Best of 2012 Giveaway

It's almost the end of the year *throws confetti* and to celebrate I am giving away one of my favourite reads of this year to one lucky winner. 

If you don't already know- every month on the last day of the month I host a monthly blog hop called Best of the Bunch. It's essentially a monthly wrap-up post where I showcase all the book reviews I posted that month, and then decide which one was the best for that month. I also invite you to share which book was your "Best of the Bunch" for that month, by adding your post to the linky (always feel free to join in- I love getting new book recs!)

Anyway- in my Best of 2012 Giveaway, I am giving you the chance to win any of the featured books from my Best of the Bunch posts throughout the year. They were...

Joint July
Joint July



The Rules

  • Open internationally (provided the Book Depository ships to your country)
  • Must be over 16 years old to enter
  • There is a free entry just for stopping by- but you can also get optional extra entries for supporting the blog
  • The winner will be contacted by email on the 1st January

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and thank you for stopping by today. I hope you'll come back on the 31st to see which book has won the award for December.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Wishlist Wednesday #11

Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly book blog hop hosted by Dani at Pen to Paper where we will post about a book that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added, that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our bookshelves.

Okay-  So many people have told me that I have to read this book now, and I have to say- it sounds AMAZING. Most of the reviews I've seen so far have been 5 stars, and so many people say the book made them cry. I love a book that can really stir up my emotions, so I have to nab a copy of this one, (and then find the time to read it) fairly soon.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

This is another sign of a good book!

Some reviews of this book:
Lisa at Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me- 5 stars
Candace at Candace's Book Blog- 5 stars
Kirsty at The Overflowing Library- 5 stars
Ula at Blog of Erised- 4 stars
Julianna at The Reviews News- 5 stars
Ellie at Curiosity Killed the Bookworm- 4 stars

So you see- I need to read this! Have you read it yet? What did you think?

Sunday 23 December 2012

Showcase Sunday 23rd December 2012

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted every Sunday by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea, and inspired by The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. This is a chance for all us book bloggers to showcase our newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Nearly Christmas!! Eeep!

This week, I didn't get any new physical books but I did download a couple of kindle freebies from Amazon...

Kindle freebies:

What books did you get this week?

Friday 21 December 2012

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Audiobook

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

I have loved Libba Bray's other books, so I had high expectations when I started this one. And in all honesty... I think this is the best one yet!

The Diviners is set in glitzy New York in the 1920s, and I loved how "big picture" the story is- it really gives a slice of New York life from characters from all parts of the city, and from all walks of life. There are so many great characters I can't mention them all, but the author brilliantly gives life to a rebellious 17 year-old girl, a cocky thief, a hardworking African-American teenager, a shy museum assistant, and a sinister serial killer determined to fulfill a religious prophecy.

The fantastic snapshots of the pasts of various characters gave them such a depth, and made the book even more emotional. (Flapper dancer Theta's back story especially made me tear up). And it was interesting how all the characters began with their own stories and then seemed to move together as the plotlines converged.

The portrayal of vibrant 1920s New York is also fabulous- the fashion, the changing attitudes, and the glitz and glamour of it all. I really enjoyed Evie's passion for life, the flappers and the speakeasies, and of course her 1920s lingo. It always made me smile every time she exclaimed that something was "the cat's pajamas", or something similar (I think my favourite one was "the elephant's eyebrows"!)

But it also shows us the darker side of New York, the poverty and the characters who are scraping together a living on the fringes of society. This book has so many layers to it, it has so much depth, and unexpected plot twists and turns, with Libba Bray's trademark ability to weave together a wonderful and complex story that keeps it's witty side element of humour to it as well, with some excellent banter between Evie and Sam, that shows off their larger than life personalities.

Featuring a seance, a serial killer, ghosts, and people with special powers, this book is spine-chillingly creepy in places (terrifying actually!) but it also manages to be heartbreaking, fun, kooky, magical, and a little bit romantic as well.

I don't think a review can do this story justice, because there are so many wonderful things about it- from the fantastic mix of vibrant characters, the depth of the narrative, the beautiful writing that really transports you into the world of the book, and the atmospheric historical New York backdrop. I was mesmerised and enchanted- and despite this being quite a long book at around 600 pages it never dragged or felt dull.

This book makes it into the ranks of my favourite books of all time. I cannot recommend it enough- a dazzling masterpiece of a book.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


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