In My Mailbox (31/03/2012)



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, 
in which you post all of the books/e-books/audio books that you have recieved/bought/won this week and link 'em all up!



Swapped

Burn MarkFake Mustache  The Peculiars Insignia (Insignia, #1) Velveteen The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1) Flicker Entangled (Spellbound, #1)

Print:

eBook

Swapped

Wondrous Strange (Wondrous Strange, #1) Green Rider (Green Rider, #1)


Free Audiobooks

Okay, funny story. I apparently have been spending £7.99 a month on an Audible membership for 5 months without knowing it. Thankfully, I have decided that I like audiobooks and so spend my 5 free audiobook credits with glee on the following:

A Curse Dark As Gold Between the Sea and Sky Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal #1) Forgotten Sigrun's Secret. Marie-Louise Jensen


Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1) Sixteen year-old Anya becomes the head of a mafia family after her parents are both murdered by rival gangs. Although Anya is embrolied in the criminal world, she is determined to keep her brother and sister out of the mafia family, but her father's relatives aren't so keen to let them go. When Anya's violent ex-boyfriend is poisoned with contaminated chocolate – chocolate that is produced illegally by Anya's mafia family – she is arrested for attempted murder and sent to the notorious jail on Manhattan Island.

Eventually she is freed by the new D.A. in town, who believs she has been framed. But this D.A. is the father of Win, a boy at school to whom Anya feels irresistibly drawn, and her freedom comes with conditions. Win's father wants to be mayor, and he can't risk having his ambition jeopardised by rumours spreading that his son is seeing a member of a notorious crime family. Anya knows she risks the safety of her family by seeing Win again, but the feeling between them may be too strong to resist...




Let's face it. i loved Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac and Elsewhere, I was highly anticipating reading All These Things I've Done, I had high hopes for one of my favorite authors writing a dystopian (my favorite) author and I was highly dissapointed. The start was very slow, I seriously struggled to get into it. I was finally getting into it and then suddenly I lost interest again. I literally have been putting it down and picking it up for a month.


This is a dystopian book, from the synopsis and reviews we can establish this... so where is the world building, why is there little explanation as to why chocolate and coffee are banned? I need to know how the world has got into its current state when I read a dystopian book or I just can't believe the world and All These Things I've Done did not check that box.


Anya as a character was... okay to start with but I just disliked her more and more as it went on. She made silly mistakes and couldn't make up her mind about what she was doing and none of the other characters were much better... I only really liked Leo, Anya's brother and that's just because he is a unique character. Win, the love interest had me swooning to start and suddenly I just got over him, the whole book was about their romance and quite frankly I just didn't care.


I hate doing reviews like this, but I'm an honest reviewer and I did like some aspects of the book. Zevin's prose is sharp and unique and the mafia kind of storyline with criminals and the twisted life they lead was fantastically written... unfortunately this book as a whole was not enjoyable for me.


Will I read the sequel... maybe. I think I'll see how I feel when it comes out, but I really don't think i will.


Overall rating: D-



Released March 29th by PanMacmillan.
Book received as an uncorrected proof from the author.

Review: Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersKelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.




What a fantastic middle-grade/young adult title this was. I knew it was going to be good from the reviews that I have seen around but I really enjoyed this book!


I loved the character of Kelsey, she was funny and clever and ambitious but she was also different from a lot of the middle-grade/younger teen main characters we see because she is relatively popular, she has a close knit group of friends and never feels excluded. I mean, the pretty new girl latches onto Kelse because she's cool, which is a good contrast to the unpopular protagonists that we often meet in this genre.


The situations that Kelsey goes through are so realistic and relatable. She sees her best friend hooking up with the guy she likes, she has to deal with the pressure of not having sex whilst she thinks that everybody else is and she sees her friendship groups breaking apart. I actually loved reading about it because it's all things that people go through at that age and it was so well written and well dealt with!
And wow, the humour! The play scene with the beard had me absolutely cracking up and Kelsey as a narrator was hilarious! 


There was a little issue with the pacing at the start of the book and I wasn't completely into it until 50 pages or so in, but as soon as I got to know Kelsey a little more I was gripped!


Also, I think the age range for this book is probably the higher end of middle grade... 13/14 ish as Kelsey has situations in which sex and alcohol are involved, though these issues are dealt with well.


Overall, a funny and addictive story with an awesome narrator and main character and plenty of humorous hijinks! Recommended to fans of funny contemp books!


Overall Rating: A-



Book released March 1st by G. Putnam and Sons
Book received (eBook format) from the publisher.

Review: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Pretty Crooked Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?




Oh how I loved this book. 
It was one of those books that I could just escape into, laugh at, gasp at, but absolutely love.


Okay, my first thought when I saw the synopsis? Could be good, but wouldn't that be glamourising stealing? So I'm very glad that it got dealt with the way that it did - it was fun but it dealt with the problems of racism, theft and alienation due to social standing.


I loved Willa as a main character, she was witty and fun and such a pleasure to read about. I loved how she viewed the world, she was so realistic and she didn't follow the crowd. Despite being thrown in with the popular crowd, she used her position to try and change the lives of the less fortunate and despite the fact that it didn't go as well as she had hoped, she didn't give up. I also loved Mary and her friends, and Cherise, and even Kellie was realistic as a typical, popular bully.


So yeah, willa's stealing from her friends to give nice clothes to the scholarship kids, it's a little bit ridiculous, not that believable. That's not the point though, the concepts and the characters are real, they're just dealt with in a fun way so that it isn't a difficult contemporary, it's a colourful, fun read with amazing writing, well addressed ideas and a fantastic main caharcter.


Oh and did I mention Aidan? He was pretty awesome. I didn't like him to start with because he seemed like such a flirt and a player, but in the end I was just as in love with him as Willa was. He was so supportive and I liked that he wasn't always there!


Overall, I loved this book. It was fun and the concepts addressed were well dealt with!


Overall Rating: A-



Book released by HarperCollins on 13th March.
book received for review (via NetGalley)

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Starters (Starters, #1) Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined...




How do I feel about Starters? I finished it over a week ago and I have just not wanted to write this review, not because it was a bad book, but because I had seriously mixed thoughts about this one.


Okay, so I'll start with the good because I actually thought that were a lot of good points. I loved the idea of Prime Destinations and the idea of renters and donors and I think it's definitely an idea that will cause some controversy and discussions about ethics, which is good in a book. There was also some other concepts; the idea of the old getting everything and the young getting nothing and that massive gap in the middle caused by the death of every 20-60 year old, this was a concept that I found interesting, and the idea of biological warfare itself is something that i would have liked to read more about.


The problem was that this isn't the only book that deals with gritty and controversial issues and so it couldn't just rely on that and really there was just not that much more going for it. I found Callie was such an annoying main character, she was strong-minded but did some very stupid things and after living in such a gritty world she should have had a little more common sense. 


Starters was a dystopian that suffered from lack of world-building, how are we supposed to relate to her struggles if we don't know what type of place she is living in. Why were the Spore Wars started? Why couldn't the 20-60 year old people have been vaccinated? I didn't understand much so I really struggled. I also didn't understand much of the science, it either made no sense or just seemed too... convenient?


Overall, I struggled with this one. I finished it because I liked the concepts that had been tackled, but I can't say I really enjoyed it.


Overall rating: D



Book released by Delacorte books for Young Readers on March 13th 2012.
Book received for review (via NetGalley)

Review: Katana by Cole Gibsen

Katana


Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline had given her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of 15th-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings.
While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.


So maybe the idea of reincarnation is becoming more and more popular in YA fiction, but the idea of 15th century samurais being reincarnated in 21st century America is completely original and I absolutely loved the concept. Maybe the book didn't completely live up to the amazing concept but it was still very enjoyable.

The main issue I had with this book was that it was very stereotypical in some of it's characters. Kim was a character I couldn't get my head around. He's the only character reincarnated as an Asian, fair enough, but he's reincarnated as a Korean when samurais are Japanese, I don't really understand the logic there. Quentin was too much of a stereotype, as a gay best friend and I found that this made it difficult to like him because he wasn't believeable. The biker chicks were stereotypical as well, beating Rileigh up.


The other characters were pretty good though. Despite not being able to get my head around Kim's name and origin, I did love him as a character, though I was mildly annoyed because to start with he was like "We can just be friends, even though I've always loved you" and then he suddenly was all like "You have to be with me!", but as a character he was swoonworthy and brooding and I loved him! Rileigh was so kick ass that i struggled to find fault with her and even though the bad guy didn't have much development, where we did see him i loved him.


The writing in this book was very unique, despite a few immature, cliche sentences most of it was very enjoyable and relatable. The narration was believable and for once we have a heroine who doesn't just believe anything, Rileigh is confused and doesn't trust straight away and I absolutely loved her!


Overall, a pretty enjoyable read despite a few issues with characterisation. An original story with a great heroine. I'd read the sequel!


Overall Rating: B-

Released by Flux on 8th March 2012
Book received as an eGalley from the publisher. (NetGalley)

Other books from this author:
Senshi (Katana #2)

Review: The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The Other Countess (The Lacey Chronicles, #1)Ellie—Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime—possesses a worthless title, but her feisty spirit captivates the elite of the Queen's court—especially the dashing new Earl of Dorset.

William Lacey, Earl of Dorset, has inherited his father's title—and his financial ruin. Now Will must seek a wealthy bride and restore his family's fortune. If only he hadn't fallen for the beautiful but penniless Ellie . . .

Sparks fly whenever Ellie and Will are together, but circumstances—and the conniving interference of others—threaten to keep them apart.




I was so not shocked to find that Eve Edwards is a pen name for Julia Golding (as is Joss Stirling) because I loved Golding's Dragonfly - the writing was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed Finding Sky (Joss Stirling) because had a strong story and characters and all of these things were pulled together to write the amazing story that is The Other Countess.


I won this in a giveaway and have been putting it off since I haven't really been in a historical mood, but I got the second Lacey Chronicles book from NetGalley a few weeks ago and thought that I ought to read this one first. I absolutely loved it, it was a beautiful, tragic but romantic story with narration and description that took me straight to the 1500s.


The romance between Will and Ellie was so well written, with Will falling for her despite knowing that she is the daughter of the man that ruined her and when he does find out the result is not pretty. There are plenty of obstacles in the way of this couple but the strength of their love overcomes them and I was totally rooting for them all the way through. I think I supported them because Will was a stubborn but romantic (totally swoonworthy) lead and Ellie was so feisty and clever in contrast to the more simple female characters in the book. This one also set up the romance between James and Jane in the next book.


I was pleased to see a bit of talk about sex and the more intimate sides of a relationship in there. It separates this book from the historicals that see this time as one where everyone was pure and chaste but it was also in undertones so nothing was actually described really meaning that it won't offend the readers.


Overall, a well written and absolutely beautiful historical where love overcomes the odds. The narration and descriptions were so relevant to the time period and I loved it.


Overall Rating: A-



Released July 10th 2010 by Puffin.
Book received from a giveaway.

Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Shooting StarsMeet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.



Shooting Stars fits into that area of contemporary fiction that is total escapism, the happy, feel-good contemporary fiction that you can just totally get lost in. In other words, my absolute favorite type of contemporary fiction, I absolutely loved it.


At first, I thought Jo was going to be annoying, happy-go-lucky character but we start to see more layers to her throughout the story and I really thing that Rushby did an amazing job in writing her. I loved watching Jo begin to realise that what she's doing is completely wrong and I also loved watching her achieve her real dream. Her love interest was a well written character and totally swoon worthy, I loved watching them get to know each other and I loved how supportive they were of each other. There were some other great characters, the angsty Seth and the funny Katarina and they were all a pleasure to read.


The storyline and pacing was amazing, just when I thought we were settling into cliche romance territory a twist was thrown in that just totally made the story more fun and I loved it. I also adored Rushby's writing, it was so realistic and fun and humorous and a pleasure to read. The ending was also amazing, no plot-holes were left open and there was a great summary of how things turned out after the story.


Overall, an amazing story. So far, the best read of 2012 and it will probably stay that way for a while. A fun story, perfect for escapism. It took me two hours to read and I could not put it down.


Overall Rating: A+



Released February 28th by Walker Books.
This copy was sent to me by the author/publisher for review.

In My Mailbox (03/03/2012)


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, 
in which you post all of the books/e-books/audio books that you have recieved/bought/won this week and link 'em all up!




From Swaps:

Print books For Review:
Fever by Lauren DeStefano (Harpercollins) - Two copies received, so expect a giveaway soon!

Monument 14 Monstrous Beauty Of Poseidon Supergirl Mixtapes Struck Hanging by a Thread

eBooks for review (all NetGalley):

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Macmillan, June 5th)
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (Macmillan, September 4th)
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (Macmillan, May 22nd)
Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers (Macmillan, April 24th)
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (Macmillan, May 8th)
Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield (Random House, September 11th)

Review: Forgiven (The Demon Trappers #3) by Jana Oliver

Forgiven (The Demon Trappers, #3)Riley has made a bargain with Heaven, and now they've come to collect. 

Lucifer's finest are ruling the streets and it seems that Armageddon might be even closer than Riley imagined. But with her soul and her heart in play it's all she can do to keep herself alive, let alone save the world. Riley's not afraid of kicking some major demon butt, but when it comes to a battle between Heaven and Hell, she might need a little help...




Oh Jana Oliver, why did you do this to me? If I enjoyed book one, and I loved book two, this was a bit of a disappointment for me and it's been one of my most waited for books this year.


I think I really struggled with the pacing with this book. There were some parts where I was just skim reading to get to something interesting which is a big sign that I'm really struggling, there were parts where I was gripped and then it just got boring again and the pacing was just anything but consistent.


I also felt that Riley lost a lot of her sass, I loved her before because she was so tough but the only times that came out in this one was with Beck. I get that she's been hurt by Simon and Ori, but her character really changed for the worse and I was not a fan, it improved by the end so hopefully she'll be back to my Riley in Foretold. Beck was the shining light in this book, I just adored him and his Taylor Swift obsession and pet rabbit, he's a softy inside of his hardnut, rough exterior. I also love the romance that started between Beck and Riley, the tension finally gets resolved and WOW I loved reading about that!


Overall, this was a bit of a disappointment since I thought so highly of books one and two, but I still will read book four just because I'd like more Riley and Beck.


Overall Rating: C-



To be released by Macmillan Children's UK on 1st March.
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.