Monday, 27 January 2014

Mini Review Monday #4 - The Tahereh Mafi and John Green edition


On this weeks edition of Mini Review Monday you'll find my brief thoughts on two very popular YA titles that I read recently - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I'm only doing mini reviews for these two as they are so popular with many, many reviews available on Goodreads and Amazon that I feel it's a little pointless to provide a full detailed review of my thoughts as I'm sure everyone else has already read them. ;) If there is something you really want to know from me about these titles, feel free to leave a comment and I'll let you know the answer. :)




Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2nd October 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Shatter Me, #1
Genre: Young Adult: Sci Fi, Dystopian

I heard nothing but amazing reviews for this book and series. It took me a while to get around to reading this, and I'm sorry to say, but for me, this didn't live up to the hype.


Juliette has a fatal touch which got her locked up for murder. The Reestablishment having originally locked her up, changes it mind. Now they think she may be useful. 

The storyline itself is interesting, however it only held my interest in waves. 
The writing was certainly different than anything I have read before, however after a while I found the crossed out sections annoying. I'd first read over them, then have to stop and go back to read them, turning the originally enjoyment of reading this book into a chore. I understand this was done for a purpose, but unfortunately it didn't really make me see Juliette sane or insane due to it. It just annoyed me. 
I didn't feel anything towards any of the characters. None, and that is really different for me. Normally I at least like someone. It didn't help that the romance felt forced and was a driving point for the plot.  

Due to the writing style, despite being unique, and the romance, there were multiple times where I was just bored. I even came to a point where I thought I might DNF it, but I preserved due to the reviews, however my opinion at the end of the book didn't change. 


Unfortunately with all the 5 star reviews I was expecting an amazing book, instead I'm left amazed that it received so many 5 star reviews.


I'm clearly in the minority, but for me, this wasn't as amazing as everyone hyped it up to be and I most likely won't continue with the rest of the series. 


★★
 It Was Ok









Title: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green
Published: 10th January 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books/ Penguin 
Series: Nil
Genre: Young Adult: Contemporary


This was my first John Green novel. I thought this would be a difficult read for me, which is why it took so long for me to read it but it wasn't too bad. 


I loved the characters. Hazel has terminal cancer and attends a support group because her mum wants her to make friends, while Augustus is a cancer survivor after surgery and attends to support his friend Isaac, which is where they meet. Hazel Grace and Augustus were delightful characters that drew me into the story and their journey. I adored Augustus, and the witty conversations between him and Hazel made for a funny, light read considering the seriousness of the subject. There were times that they were more mature then you would expected from teenagers their age, but it wasn't over the top and considering what they have been forced to go through it fitted the characters well. 

I really liked John Greene's writing style and I will definitely be reading more books of his. 

I understand why so many people loved this book as I totally fell in love with it too. 



★★★★★
 It Was Amazing








Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab


Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Published: 22nd January 2013
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult: Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: Purchased 

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.






 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg   photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg



Review

I absolutely loved the sneak peek (100 pages) I read late 2012. The book was unique, different and enjoyable. I couldn't wait to read the whole book. I pre-ordered this as I was so excited for it. 

This isn't a fast paced book. In fact I stalled a little in the middle and found myself not really in a hurry to pick it back up. Once I worked through it the second half was much better. 

This is a fascinating book. The world is intriguing, I mean - the dead are filed on shelves, like books! Come on! That's awesome!

I must say that the time of events moves around in this book a bit. You have frequent glimpses into the past with Da, Mac's Grandfather, and then back to the present time. It can throw you out of the story a little and may be off putting to some. The excerpt below is a "glimpse" of the past with Mac's Grandfather. 

My biggest problem was with Mac getting side tracked. At one point she had histories to return, but just didn't and in the beginning you learn you just can't do that. On top of that, there was no explanation of what happened to them. The longer they are out the harder they are to return. Histories are confused enough when they "wake" not knowing they are dead, and can then get violent when confronted to be returned. Why wait? There were even a few histories that were on her list and we never knew what happened to them because they weren't mentioned again, and Mac wasn't doing any returning. 

There are two romantic interests, but it's not a love triangle so don't let that put you off. It's not a driving force through the novel either. More subtle and a little cute. I liked Wes as a character and enjoyed their encounters.  

The twist was kind of predictable for me. I wasn't 100% sure, but I had enough distrust of the character to believe they were behind it. This made the last 25% a definite a page turner. 

While this held my attention in waves, it was still an enjoyable book. I think I would have preferred it to be a stand alone though so I'm not sure if I'm interested enough to pick up it's sequel, The Unbound, which is due for release on the 28th January. 



★★★★ 
Really Liked It



Excerpt



page 212






Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher




Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Published: 18 October 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased from Book Depository
Genre: Young Adult: Mental Health, Contemporary


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.




Review

Do you know what I have noticed lately? Bullying is slowly coming into the limelight. Just the other day a friend shared a video on Facebook concerning "The Bullying Experiment, by Fouseytube" (You can find it on Youtube if you are such inclined). That was interesting purely for the fact that despite someone being bullied directly in front of some people - they chose to ignore it. They walked away. One person, after being asked "Can I speak to you for a minute?" Answered "No". Were they ashamed they walked away? Or did they really care that little? 
I remember an incident (and I'm giving away my age here) of a comment concerning the RSVP's to my high school reunion. The organisers were getting comments that people didn't want to socialise with the people that bullied them at school. I know this because the organiser posted it on the reunions facebook wall. I remember some of the people - not the bullies, or the bullied - make the comment "oh but we were just teenagers, get over it". Interesting that the ones making that comment were also the ones that turned a blind eye.

Bare with me, I did bring that up for a reason......

Bullying comes in all forms. You don't need to be constantly hit to say you were bullied. 
Anyone can be bullied, and it can occur anywhere - school, work, sports activities, and online. 
Bullying can be verbal, physical, social, psychological, or cyberbullying.  

I mention this because some people might not think, like my high school classmates, that what happened to Hannah was that bad, or was justifiable due to age. 
Short answer - no, it's not acceptable. Just because you didn't experience it doesn't mean that the other person wasn't bullied. Just because it does not cause the same feelings in you, doesn't mean it shouldn't for someone else. 

This brings me to this book. Some reviews I read said that what happened to her weren't that bad; didn't justify why Hannah killed herself; could have been worse; or the clincher - she should have helped herself, she should have sort help from someone.
Bullying isn't about YOU (the reader, in this case). Bullying is about the person being bullied and how it makes THEM feel. In Hannah's case all the little things built up and ruined her.
You don't have to agree with her reasons. You don't have to feel like they were worthy reasons for her to commit suicide. What you DO have to understand is that SHE felt this way, and SHE felt like she didn't have anything worth living for. SHE felt that she had no one to talk to - in fact she did seek someone to talk too and quite frankly the way they handled the situation was pathetic. 

This is something that every person needs to understand. This is something that every parent should teach their child. This is something that teachers should understand. Bullying is about how you are made to feel and your actions can affect everyone. Like a ripple effect. Everyone in Hannah's community was and will be affected by what happened to her.  
Bullying is a real problem in schools, because children at schools are not treating others with any respect or empathy or understanding. Teachers should be able to say the right things and assist in finding help for someone that feels this lost. 
Not everyone is strong enough to fight through it. Some give in. Some don't. Adults need to be able to see the signs and need to be open enough that the victim sees them as an ally, a friend, and most importantly someone that can help. 
Now just to be clear, we are not talking about a single incident. We are talking about constantly being intimidated; harassed; rumours being spread about you; being hit; teased; etc and it happening over and over again. 

When I finished this book, I posted the photo below (that I took) everywhere. Facebook, instagram, twitter, anywhere where people, young and old, kids and parents, could see it. This is the type of book that should be read in school. Studied at school. Explained at school. To get young people to understand that bullying is NOT ok. It is not ok to make someone feel so low that they want out of life. You don't know what is going on in someone's life away from where you know them. You could be compounding a problem that is already there, and if you're not, you could be starting a problem that might not stop. 

I can't say I enjoyed this book as that isn't an appropriate statement. How can you enjoy reading about someone, who is dead, and how they came to that death. 
I did find this well written. Very well written. I liked the delivery of the story. I liked how someone, who she thought was good, was the story we got to follow. I don't believe hearing it from one of the bullies sides would be appropriate nor show the story from her side as well.

Now the book isn't just about bullying, well it is, but it is also about the fact that Hannah was suffering from depression. No one seemed to pick up on her depressive state. All these things added up for Hannah and would have been overwhelming. 

I can't say this enough, this is a book that everybody should read - if for no other reason but to understand how bullying and depression can affect someone (again - NOT YOU). 


On an ending note- 
Let me put it this way:
If physical illness was treated like mental illness

Source







★★★★★ 
It Was Amazing




Excerpt

"I guess that's the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same." 



~

"But does that diminish any of your stories? Are your stories any less meaningful because I'm not telling you everything?
No.
Actually, it magnifies them. 
You don't know what went on in the rest of my life. At home. Even at school. You don't know what goes on in anyone's life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person's life, you're not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can't be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life."







Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.



Today's topic is - Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For

In no particular order:


Tease by Amanda Maciel
Hungry by H.A. Swain
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Alienated by Melissa Landers
Half Bad by Sally Green
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Pointe by Brandy Colbert

They are my picks for the year. What debuts are you excited for?



Monday, 13 January 2014

Book Blitz: PODs by Michelle Pickett, with Excerpt & Giveaway


Title: PODs
Release Date: 4th June 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Paperback/ebook
312 pages

Summary from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.





Excerpt
The bus ride to the quarantine facility took more than ten hours. I was shoved against the window by my seatmate who slept almost the entire trip. He was a big guy, taking up most of the seat, and when he slept his body lolled to the side, wedging me against the metal side of the bus.
 As we traveled, the air turned hot and dry, different than the humid, sticky climate of my coastal Texas hometown. The old school bus didn’t have air conditioning and the small windows didn’t let much air in. My seatmate’s body heat didn’t help. I was hot, thirsty, and had to pee in the worst way.
Wondering how much longer I’d be drooled on by the guy next to me, I strained my face against the window, looking for anything on the flat landscape.
That’s when I saw them.
I don’t know why I was surprised. I should’ve expected it after what had happened at the high school, but I hadn’t. It was worse than at the school—rioters everywhere. They waved anti-raffle signs and signs cursing the “Chosen.”
The land around the quarantine area was flat, dry, and dusty. The people lining the road sat under makeshift tents to keep out of the sun. Some stood on top of their RVs waving their handmade signs; one burned an American flag.
I watched women holding their small children toward the bus, begging with tear-stained faces for us to take them. I wanted to reach out and snatch them out of their mothers’ hands as we drove past. Several of the other people on the bus reached up and pushed their windows shut.
The National Guard at the quarantine site didn’t allow people to get close enough to touch the bus. They were shot with rubber bullets or Tasered if they tried to cross the police line. Every time I heard the shot of the riot guns I jumped. My muscles ached from tensing them—waiting for the inevitable sound.
“Why are you crying?” A boy sitting in front of me looked at me like I’d grown another head. “They’d probably kill you and steal your place in the PODs if given the chance.”
I shook my head, remembering what my dad had told me. “They’re just scared,” I said. After all, they were, essentially, the walking dead.
The rioters screamed and cursed us. They threw rocks and eggs as we drove by. An egg hit the window next to me, the slimy insides plopping against my head, matting my hair.
“Gross,” the boy sitting next to me said.
I just looked at him and rolled my eyes.
Yeah, the egg is gross. And the drool coming out of your mouth and dripping on my leg while you slept, leaning on me, was glorious.
The bus stopped in a fenced area like the one at the high school. The crowd screamed and banged the fence posts with their crude, homemade picket signs. Some climbed on the fence, pulling at it like chimpanzees at the zoo.
“Stay seated until your name is called,” a soldier yelled. “When you are called, grab your belongings and wait to be escorted into the building.”
Oh please, call this guy’s name. He needs to move before I shove him off the seat. I’m tired of being pinned against the side of the bus. I need some room.
Thankfully, my name was called soon after we stopped. I stood, stretched the kinks out of my muscles, and plowed through the massive body blocking me. Clambering over the other luggage that filled the aisle, I grabbed my two suitcases and stood in front of the bus.
The one-story brick building was large but had no windows, only a single green door. I couldn’t see the other sides, but I had a feeling there’d be no windows there, either—no glass for rioters to break through.
The soldier walked up from behind me, tapping my suitcase with his clipboard. “Follow me.”
I shuffled into the brick building, guided by the same guardsman who’d ripped me away from my parents hours earlier…
“I love you,” my mom said through her tears, her voice thick and trembling.
“I want to stay with you,” I pleaded.
“Come here, kiddo.” My dad, his face distorted with grief, folded me in a tight hug. He kissed the top of my head and told me he loved me and how proud he was of me. “I know, when this is over, you are going to do great things, Eva. you’re a fighter. I love you so much.”
A rough hand grabbed my arm, pulling me away from my dad. “Get on the bus,” the male voice ordered, yelling to be heard over the crying of parents and children saying their final goodbyes.
“I’m not done saying goodbye…” He didn’t let go, pulling me with him. My heels digging into the dirt, I tried to pull away. I needed one more hug, to hear them tell me they loved me and to tell them I loved them, too.
“MOM!” I screamed. “DAD!” Tears stained my face. The man thrust me toward the steps of the old, yellow school bus. I screamed one more time for my parents, telling them I loved them, reaching my arms out to them.
I could see my mom’s body rock with the force of her cries. Tears ran down my father’s face. “We love you, Evangelina,” I heard them call just before the bus door closed.
It was the last thing I’d hear my parents say. It was the last image I’d have of them. I pressed my hand to the window of the bus, my head bowed as I sobbed. I didn’t try to hide my tears. Everyone on the bus was crying for their families. We knew what awaited them.
Death.
I shook my head, trying to erase the horrible memory. I wanted to remember the good things about them, not saying goodbye.
Goodbyes are hard, but this one had been different. This wasn’t a goodbye, I’ll see you in a month. It was a permanent goodbye. I’d never see my parents again. The overwhelming sadness took over, like a black hole sucking me in. Fat, salty tears ran down my face, and I could feel my nose running. I wiped my arm across it. My eyes were swollen, my throat sore, and my chest tight.

I was alone. My parents were gone. No brothers or sisters. Just me—an orphan of the virus.





Buy Links
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg

Also Available from:
Books-A-Million






Author Bio
I'm a wife, mother, author, reader, although not always in that order.  I write young adult urban fantasies, science/fiction and paranormal romances and have recently started dabbling in young adult contemporary romance. Reading was one of my earliest passions, writing soon followed. I began writing seriously during college where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Why I chose a career that frowns on creativity remains a mystery.
I’m addicted to Reese’s peanut butter cups and eat way too many while I write, have an abnormal obsession with hoodies and can’t write without one, and I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows on television. An unabashed romantic, I love a swoon-worthy ending that will give me butterflies for days.
I wrote my debut young adult novel, PODs, in 2011. PODs, a science/fiction, post-apocalyptic romance, will be released June 4, 2013 through the amazing Spencer Hill Press.  My second young adult title, Milayna, a paranormal romance, will release through Spencer Hill Press beginning in March 2014. Milayna is a standalone, with series potential. It’s meant to be a trilogy. The Infected, a PODs novel, will release November 2014. It is the second, and last, book in the PODs series.
I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan.  I now reside in a small community outside Houston, Texas with my incredibly supportive, not to mention gorgeous, husband, three amazing school-aged children, a 125-pound lap dog, and a snooty cat.
Keep up-to-date with my current, future projects, appearances, and fun giveaways at www.michelle-pickett.com.

I always love to hear from readers, bloggers and other authors!
Find me here:

Giveaway
First place: Signed copy of PODs, tote bag, and swag (US only see note for international)
Second place: Signed copy of PODs and swag (US only see note for international)
*International winners will receive a print copy of PODs only if www.Bookdepository.com delivers to their country. Otherwise they will receive an e-book. Swag will not be included.

Book Blitz Organized by:

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Giveaway! 2 YA paperback novels up for grabs.

I wanted to (and believe I even posted about my intent) offer these up for Giveaway late last year, but it never eventuated. Until now....

Along the way last year I ended up with double ups of these books. 
As I have my own copies these are brand new, never read copies that I am offering. Unfortunately due to the constant rise in postage costs I can only offer to post within Australia. I apologise to my international followers - I promise to hold a giveaway open internationally soon. 

Now one of these books is the first in the series, and the second books is the second in a series. What books are they? 


If you've been following me for a while you'd know I'm a huge fan of the Lunar Chronicles and absolutely loved Scarlet. I haven't read Slated yet, but have heard many great things about it. The titles above link to Goodreads so you can see what others say and read more about the books themselves. 




2 Winners
Australian postal addresses only.

The prize will be posted through Australia post. I will not be responsible for lost or damaged packages.
The winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.
All details will be checked and incorrect/invalid entries will be deleted.
The giveaway will start at midnight tonight Australian time which is roughly around 6am PST, and 1pm GMT. It will run until the 17 Jan 2014. 

That's all. Good luck!



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year Everyone! I hope the end of 2013 was good to you and you had a lovely Christmas too. Thank you all for supporting the blog. :) You are all awesome. 

I think the start of the New Year is a great time to update you all on what has been happening with this blog......


The end of 2013 didn't fair too well in the reading department for me. Some of you may remember back in October when I posted Reasons, Excuses, Changes, and Why. I thought that I was taking the pressure off my reading/reviewing schedule and uni commitments. I choose not to take on more review books (though I took on a couple of Harlequin Teen titles because they have been so good to me and I couldn't resist) and concentrate on reading what I had and posting those reviews. As I'm sure you can see, I was not very successful at that at all. 

I have something like 11 reviews that I need to type up, format and post. 
I read a total of 4 books since October. 
I have started 8 books. .... 8 books.... but I'm not motivated to keep reading them. I start them because I was looking forward to reading them, then get anywhere from 10% to 50% through the book, and I can't be bothered to pick them up and finish them. 
They start out ok. I guess I'm not hooked on them. The 4 books I did read I just couldn't put them down. I was interested. They grabbed my attention - and held it. 

The books I've started but am yet to finish are:



Captivate , by Vanessa Garden
Blackout , by Robison Wells
Never Fade , by Alexandra Bracken
My Life Next Door , by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Crown of Midnight , by Sarah J. Maas
Banish , by Nicola Marsh
Warm Bodies , by Isaac Marion
, by 




I think about DNF'ing some, if not all, of them but these are books I was excited for. Two are sequels of books that I adored. I guess I'm finding it hard to give up on them. I am in no way saying these books are bad, just that I'm not interested in reading them. It's me, not the books. ;)

Unfortunately having started 8 books makes me reluctant to start any more. So I have spent very little time reading at all lately. 

I use to force myself to finish a lot of books because they were review books and I think in some way it has put me off reading. 


I took the summer months off uni hoping a break would help me settle and start reading again. Unfortunately it has had a different effect - I'm finding other things that I enjoy doing and I'm spending my time now pursuing other interests. Which also meant I wasn't keen to sit in front of the computer typing up my reviews. 


I still stand by my post of October - I will still post reviews of books I read, and I wont be requesting review books nor accepting books for review. 

Next year I will be busier with uni as my son starts school, therefore giving me more time to do more uni work which in turn means I can complete my double degree quicker. 

I'll typing up reviews over the next week and will post 1 or 2 a week with the occasional promo post or meme thrown in. 
I attempted a few challenges in 2013 but I didn't complete them. I did manage to read some of the books I said I would, just not all of them. This is one reason I wont be buying or reviewing new books - I have way to many on my shelves and kindle how it is. Therefore in 2014 I have no intention of participating in any challenges. 


So there you have it. That's where I am and where the blog is at. Here's to a slightly more productive blog in 2014 ;) 



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