Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Announcing Daph's Birthday Bash Extravaganza 2.0

I’m proudly presenting the second annual Birthday Bash Extravaganza! I had a blast last year and this year it’ll be even more awesome. There will be several lovely authors over on the blog, as well as one of my favourite publishing houses, and of course there will be lots of giveaways!

Not sure what
Daph's Birthday Bash Extravaganza is? Well, my birthday is August 17th and I've decided that I want to celebrate with you guys. So prepare for a week filled with awesome bookish stuff and plenty of prizes to be won. Still not sure what to expect? Check out last year's BBE posts out here.

Daph’s Birthday Bash Extravaganza 2.0 will take place from 12th August – 19th August with daily blog posts and awesomeness. It’s a party and you’re all invited!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Published: June 16th, 2009 (Viking Juvenile)
Pages: 383
Source: bought
Challenge: none
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

I had high expectations of this book. After reading (and loving!) This Lullaby and Lock and Key, and enjoying two more of her books, I was hoping this would be just as good. It wasn’t. For me personally, this is my least favourite Sarah Dessen book, even though it was still an entertaining read.

While it wasn’t a bad book by any means, I wasn’t able to fully live the book like I did with her other books. I felt distant, like I was watching it from afar. For me, Auden was a bland character, and while she showed some spark every now and then, I didn’t feel connected to her or her story. The whole thing with her step-mother’s baby and her father made me have an eye-rolling marathon and I just didn’t understand how the girls at the shop could go from hating Auden to being her best friends in a matter of only a couple of days. It wasn’t believable, and while I don’t mind that every now and then, added to the fact that I felt disconnected, that didn’t help.

Eli was a nice enough character, with his own background. I liked reading about him. He was intriguing, and for once it wasn’t because he was a bad boy. He really had a past, his own problems, his own stuff to overcome. The scenes with Auden were nice, and I felt like they had some sort of connection, even though that didn’t always come across.

The biggest let-down of this book was the ending. It was such an anti-climax, and I really dislike it. When I think of it now, several weeks later, I still feel like it should have had a different ending. Somewhere I understand why the ending was the way it was, but it just bothers me that it didn’t feel like a worthy ending, if you know what I mean.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, hence the three-star rating. After all the great books I’ve read by Sarah Dessen, this one was a bit less awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of your time. It’s a perfect book to read during the summer, so if you like contemporaries, I’d recommend checking this one out.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry 
Published: July 25th, 2012 (HarlequinTeen)
Pages: 384
Source: for review via NetGalley
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge 2012
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Short version of this review: Pushing the Limits is one of the best contemporary novels I have ever had the pleasure to read.

As for the long version, I stick with what I said before. Pushing the Limits has everything I could ever ask for in a contemporary; great characters who have amazing chemistry, an intense storyline and a lot of tension. I devoured it.

Echo is troubled, yet determined to find out what happened to her in the night she got the horrible scars on her arms. Her memory is foggy, and she’s set on finding out what caused the scars and the memory loss. While she wasn’t as feisty as some of the other female main characters I’ve read about, she felt real. I could feel with her pain, and I understood why she had difficulty with some things like intimacy, even though I’ve never been through such a thing. McGarry really accomplished something there; because of the way it was written, I could identify with Echo even though she’s miles away from who I am as a person.

Noah had his own problems, being thrown from one foster family to another, and he has a mission of his own; get insight in where his brothers are. He’s the typical bad boy – dark, handsome, mysterious -, but he still managed to come across as vulnerable at times. I loved that underneath the hard shell, there was just a guy with his own insecurities. I loved his wit, his humour, his way of handling situations. Like Echo, he felt like a real person, very distinct and he really came alive off the pages.

This is McGarry’s debut novel, and boy did she come to the scene with a bang. The chemistry between Echo and Noah was off the charts and McGarry’s intense way of writing really sucked me into the story, unable to stop reading. If this is what her debut looks like, I cannot wait to see what she will bring on next.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

On My Wishlist (43)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Expected publication date: October 2nd, 2012

In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophesy remains a mystery. . . . With old friends and new friends joining forces, a marvelous ship, fearsome foes, and an exotic setting, The Mark of Athena promises to be another unforgettable adventure by master storyteller Rick Riordan.

Goodreads page

Do I even need to explain why this is on my wishlist? We're talking about Rick Riordan's next book, the next book in the Heroes of Olympus series, a book about Greek and Roman gods, and you still don't know? I've been *dying* to get my hands on this book ever since I finished The Son of Neptune (which I of course read as quickly as I could, which means I've been waiting 9 months already and the wait isn't even over yet) and EGHRJEIHWIHREWRHHGFGDGFGG I need this book!

Also? That cover? John Rocco outdid himself. LOVE IT!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mini review: Tobias Tells the Story by Veronica Roth

Free Four - Tobias Tells the Story by Veronica Roth
Published: April 23rd, 2012 (Katherine Tegen)
Pages: 13
Source: free on Divergent Facebook page
Challenge: none
Series: Divergent, #1.1
Buy the book: -
Rating: ★★★★☆

A never-before-seen piece from #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth: a pivotal scene from DIVERGENT told from Four’s point of view.

"Short but sweet" definitely applies to this scene! It's one of the scenes I loved most from the book, but told from Four's POV. I think we all had an idea of what went on in his head when this happened.. And we got rewarded with this short story. It really makes me want to pick up Insurgent - which I still haven't read, even though I preordered it - and I shall do so soon!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Storm Born by Richelle Mead

Storm Born by Richelle Mead 
Published: August 1st, 2008
Pages: 361
Age group: Adult
Source: bought
Challenge: none
Series: Dark Swan, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Just typical. No love life to speak of for months, then all at once, every horny creature in the Otherworld wants to get in your pants...

Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl's got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy—one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie's first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it.

Now Eugenie is a hot target for every ambitious demon and Otherworldy ne'er-do-well, and the ones who don't want to knock her up want her dead. Eugenie handles a Glock as smoothly as she wields a wand, but she needs some formidable allies for a job like this. She finds them in Dorian, a seductive fairy king with a taste for bondage, and Kiyo, a gorgeous shape-shifter who redefines animal attraction. But with enemies growing bolder and time running out, Eugenie realizes that the greatest danger is yet to come, and it lies in the dark powers that are stirring to life within her...

I wasn't blown away by her Vampire Academy series (yet?) or Succubus Blues (review coming soon), but after hearing Amber raving about this series, I picked it up. And finished it a day later - it was just that good.

Eugenie is a kick-ass female character who has been raised to hate Otherworldly folk. When her real name is leaked, and every male Otherworldly creature wants to get in her pants, her life takes an unexpected twist. Thrown in the middle of a prophecy, she needs to figure out who she can trust, while trying to fend off advances from just about everyone.

There was something about this book that had me sucked in. The combination of a kick-ass heroine, amazing chemistry between the characters, a carefully constructed world and some sizzling scenes made it impossible for me to put the book down and I couldn't wait to devour the second book. I loved the interaction between the characters. They came alive, and I love it when that happens.

While the plot wasn't all that unpredictable, I found Storm Born to be a great read. It read easily and quickly, and most importantly, I really enjoyed myself while reading it. I found myself chuckling at some scenes and overall I just really liked this book. I'm glad to have picked it up.

It's an exciting start to a new series and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. Maybe I should also give her VA series another try..?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mini review: Because It Is Bitter by Cassandra Clare

Because It Is Bitter by Cassandra Clare 
Published: March 25th, 2011
Pages: 5
Source: free from Clare's website
Challenge: none
Series: The Mortal Instruments, #2.2
Buy the book: -
Rating: ★★★☆☆-

Note: this is not the first book in a series, and can therefore contain (minor) spoilers for the previous book(s) in the series. Reading of this review is at your own risk.

The scene that takes place during pages 170-174 of City of Ashes, in the chapter The Seelie Court, here from Jace’s point of view. I even gave it a name — “Because It Is Bitter.” Because boy, is Jace bitter here.

If you've read my review on City of Ashes, you already know that I didn't like it as much as the first book (even though the 'twist' is disgusting). I read this short story because I thought it would give me some more insight in the characters' feelings, but I didn't get that. This scene didn't offer anything extra from what I already knew, plus it was downright awkward - again. 

I still haven't read City of Glass, and I'm on the fence to pick it up. Since I own it, I'll probably get to it someday, but I'm not as excited to start it as I was to start the series a while back. Too bad.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On My Wishlist (42)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer.

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer 
Expected publication date: July 17th, 2012

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Goodreads page

First up: look at that cover. LOOK AT IT! It made me go all grabby hands when I first saw it and I can't wait to actually get my paws on this pretty. I've preordered my copy weeks ago and honestly, I'm getting a little impatient.. But it's almost the 17th! Yay! I've been really enjoying middlegrade stories, especially adventure tales, and this sounds right up my alley. Do want!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where I've Been

I was stuck in a meeting, which I couldn't get out of, and the electricity went out in the building, and we were trapped on the 38th floor. And the telephone system blew too. Amazingly enough.*

So you may have noticed that I've been around less, both on the blog and on Twitter. I just got a job which is taking a lot of my time, and with my parents on holiday, most of my free time went to cleaning and cooking and other household chores that I'm sure didn't start with C. Add Euro2012 to that and my reading and blogging time was close to zero, and I apologise for that.

Image from Hyperbole and a Half

So.. yeah. I'm still here, I still read, I still blog, and I've gotten way too far behind on my schedule. What I'm trying to say is, well, life got in the way of things and that stinks. I don't like it. I miss blogging and talking to all of my reading pals on Twitter and goodreads *offers you all a big fat squeezy hug* so what I want with this post is to tell you that I'm still here, and I won't stop blogging. Things have been a bit slow in the past month or so, but they will pick up! PROMISE!

Image from Hyperbole and a Half

Anyhoo, I miss talking to you guys. And I miss blogging and reading, so I'm making more time for it. Good thing my parents got back from their holiday yesterday, otherwise it would've been a big fat mess in the house.. #guiltfree

Anyhoo, what have you guys been up to in the last month or so? DO TELL! What books have you read?

* ten points if you get that reference.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid 
Published: July 10th, 2012 (Katherine Tegen)
Pages: 444
Source: for review via Edelweiss
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge 2012
Series: Insignia, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

As one of my most anticipated titles of 2012, Insignia had a lot of expectations to meet. But with a great male lead, a well developed world and an intriguing plot, it did just that, and I was unable to put it down.

Where do I even start? Let me just say that I *really* enjoyed reading this book. I liked the world building, the characters, the plot, the way everything developed.. At some moments it didn't draw me in as much as at other times, but that is really my only complaint. Tom is a character who is easy to relate to and I liked following him around.

What really made the story for me was the whole world and the setup of this book. We're at a military academy where the students are quite literally war machines and I *loved* how everything was worked out, with the initiation and then the classes after that. I'm really tempted to point out specific points that I loved and enjoyed, but since it would spoil part of the plot.. I'm not going to. I do want to say that I loved the 'climax' and I can't wait to read more!

It was nice to follow a male lead around instead of the typical female main character. Tom wasn't overly confident, though he did get a little cocky at times, but I really liked following his thoughts and found myself chuckling with a certain scene (you'll know it when you read it).

Anyhoo, I'll round this review up before I keep going on and on about the same couple of things. If you like sci-fi, male leads and/or fast paced stories, you'll want to put this one on your wishlist. I'd definitely recommend it!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Once by Anna Carey

Once by Anna Carey
Published: July 3rd, 2012 (HarperCollins)
Pages: 320
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Challenge: Sophomore Reading Challenge 2012
Series: Eve, #2
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

Note: this is not the first book in a series, and can therefore contain (minor) spoilers for the previous book(s) in the series. Reading of this review is at your own risk.

Sixteen years have passed since a deadly virus wiped out most of the Earth’s population. After learning of the terrifying part she and her classmates were fated to play in the rebuilding of New America, eighteen-year-old Eve fled to the wilds and Califia, a haven for women determined to live outside the oppressive rule of the king of New America. However, her freedom came at a price: she was forced to leave Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. Eve quickly learns that Califia may not be as safe as it seems and soon finds herself in the City of Sand and the palace of the king. There she uncovers the real reason he was so intent on her capture, and the unbelievable role he intends her to fill. When she is finally reunited with Caleb, they will enact a plan as daring as it is dangerous. But will Eve once again risk everything—her freedom, her life—for love?

I really enjoyed reading Eve last year, so when I saw this one up for review, I *had* to have it! I'm so excited that I got approved, because this book proves to be a worthy follow-up to Carey's debut.

Where we met Eve, Arden and Caleb in the first book, the sequel tells us about how Eve tries to survive in the City of Sand - the place she feared even more than the place they would send her after graduating. I really enjoyed seeing this from her point of view, the so-called Great City From Where Everything Will Be Re-Built. It's really hard for me not to spoil anything in this one, so I'm going to keep this review short and sweet by saying I really enjoyed reading about Eve's struggle and all the twists and turns along the way.

The world is just as fascinating as it was in the first book, maybe even more so now because we get our own glimpse of the City of Sand. The villain is human, both in person and in his behavior, even though he is a dictator who doesn't seem to be able to feel anything. Maybe it's his act, but I like that he's not someone who is evil for the sake of being evil.

I really liked this book and am already excited for book three. I can't wait to see where Carey takes us next,  especially not after that ending..

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