Friday, August 31, 2012

Shatter Me 9/10

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
For some reason, this book has not touched South African bookstores yet. So I had to place a special order and now own a shiny US hardcover edition. Yay!

I absolutely adored Shatter Me! It is is written in a unique way that is both simple and captivating. Yes, it does fall into some of pitfalls that YA fiction seems to make a beeline for these days. Such as the romance aspect is a little 2 dimensional. I am getting a little tired of Instant Love. I miss books in which the tension between two characters is built up over a period of time.

The world in which Shatter Me takes place is interesting and blends your usual Dystopian aspects with elements from X-Men.

The characters are complex and I loved how Mafi explored how the world would be precieved by someome.

I recommend Shatter Me for fans of Dystopian fiction.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I Love YA (With Some Reccomendations Thrown In)

I am proud of my addiction to Young Adult novels. And I am not ashamed to be seen browsing the YA section in my local bookstores. This addiction has taken years to foster and evolve into what it is today and there is no chance I will be kicking the habit anytime soon.

I often feel that I have to justify why I love the genre so much. Especially to those who are not readers themselves. It can be rather frustrating. I feel that people should be allowed to read what they like. As long as it meets a need and makes someone happy, how can anyone judge it? I also love retaliating by suggesting well-known YA titles that, more often than not, gets the reaction of "Oh? That is a kids book? Really?"

So what is it exactly that has me hooked?

To put it simply, YA makes me feel good. There is usually some sweet romance element woven into the storyline. When characters have problems, they are usually treated as obstacles on the path to achievement (whether that achievement is personal or something larger). And, oh, the imagination and creativity involved!

A classic example is Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. A personal favorite of mine. Collins has created a whole world for her readers to live in. A world that is seemingly impossible when compared to our everyday realities. It is into this world countless readers have retreated and have gotten to know characters such as the brave Katniss.
The Mockingjay symbol featured in The Hunger Games.

Good YA doesn't talk down to the reader. Rather, it befriends them, welcomes them and invites them over for tea and scones (and how awfully British I feel saying that! Scones. Ha!)

All any skeptic has to do is look online at the multitude of blogs dedicated to YA. Not all of these are run by teens, either. There is a whole wave of adults joining me in discovering just how much fun YA can be.

If you are looking to pick up a YA novel but aren't to sure where to start, I am going to shortlist a few of my favorites here. The books on this list have really been the forerunners for me over the past few years in terms of good, quality writing and storytelling.

Starter YA for the Discerning Adult Reader (In No Particular Order)
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy  - Suzanne Collins
  • Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
I have tried to include examples from different genres and do bear in mind that these are books I have personally read. There are many other excellent books out there and it is well worth checking out other blogs as well as Goodreads, where one can find comprehensive, user-selected lists of titles.

There you have it. YA is my passion! I hope that, if you haven't discovered the magic yet, you will at least give it a try!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (4/10)

Title: The Maze Runner (Book One)
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Books

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Ever read one of those books that you feel you should like but really, really don't? Maze Runner was like this for me. This on the list of books recommended for fans of The Hunger Games and I was expecting something  equally epic.

Maybe it is just me, but Maze Runner is not worthy of the hype behind it. The writing just didn't work for me and I felt that the mystique and intrigue Dashner tried to create worked a little too well. I really do not enjoy being confused when reading a book. This could have a lot to do with the little time I have to read these days, that it takes me longer to get through a book, but still.

I found the Gladers' dialect highly annoying. This is a real pet peeve of mine, when authors try and create new slang for their worlds. It is simply distracting and usually adds no value to the story. (Such as Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series... OMW. Awful.)

Maze Runner is simply riding the wake of Hunger Games' success in my opinion.

Up next: Shatter Me! And, oh my word, this book is epiiiiiiiiic!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My TBR Pile Update

Due to work constraints, I have had very little time to dedicate to this blog and reading. I have, however, still been buying books!

I probably have well over 100 books I have yet to read and many I want to reread to review. But, I have pulled out a shortlist that is now sitting happily beside my bed.

In no particular order, you can expect reviews on the following:
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Bloodlines and The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
  • The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
  • Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  • Fury by Elizabeth Miles
  • A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodgkin
  • Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
  • Tempest by Julie Cross
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I apologise for neglecting this blog, but sadly life does have this habit of getting in the way!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (8/10)

Title: Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins (2012)

I have put both the US and the UK versions of the covers up as I was so bitterly disappointed that the UK publishers decided to change the design for whatever reason. I adored the original Divergent cover and think the US cover of Insurgent is simply stunning. Plus it has one of the faction logos and just seems fitting with the feel of the series as a whole.

The UK cover does suit the series, I suppose. I do like the wings behind the title and the symbolism of the burning leaves. I just don't like change and do not understand why they feel compelled to change covers midway through a series. I want my series to match, dammit!

But onto the review!

It feels like I have been waiting forever for Insurgent. Divergent was easily one of the best books I picked up last year. The big question is... did Insurgent live up to expectations?

I am not going to lie. Compared to the pace of the first book, it started off a little slow. But the action did pick up before midway through and the writing, if anything, was much improved! Veronica Roth really does have a way with words and getting her story across without wasting space on the page.

And the cliffhanger! Yes, there is a cliffhanger! Wow.

I did find Tris' self-depreciation a little annoying, though. I wish she, as a character, had more conviction in what she was doing and the decisions she makes throughout the novel.

Insurgent definitely is the middle book of the series. It feels like it and sets up for the final book well enough. fans of Divergent will not be disappointed, but don't go into this one expecting the rollercoaster ride that book one delivered.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Dreaded Hollywood Sequel Strikes Back

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse in terms on Hollywood and their ability to milk just about anything for a sequel... I bring you this list of movies that are scheduled for release in the next few years. *shudder*

Jurassic Park 4: Yes... as if the third movie in this franchise wasn't awful enough. It looks like they managed to secure most of the original cast, though. I wonder if Dr. Grant will be able to beat off those dinos with his Zimmer Frame.

Indiana Jones 5: I see this one will also star Harrison Ford. I have a title suggestion. Indiana Jones and the Aging Action Hero.

Austin Powers 4: Ok... what? I bet they are going to make Austin travel into the future this time around. Watch this space!

Cloverfield Sequel: This was easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen and they want to make a sequel??? Why would they do this? Who actually thinks this one is a good idea?

Get Smart 2: I didn't even finish watching the first film. Steve Carrell is a moron. Anne Hathaway could do so much better.

Enchanted 2: I can guess the plot of this one! Something evil will stand in the way of Amy Adams and McDreamy's perfect marriage! But, never fear, good will conquer over evil.

Zoolander 2: Head. Desk. Head. Desk. Head. Desk. The original movie is TOO OLD to have a sequel! Ben Stiller is TOO OLD to be a male model.

Top Gun 2: OH MY GAWD... I get to see Maverick again? Surely my eyes deceive me. Or not. I didn't think they would ever touch this one. I was wrong. What is next, Cocktail? I see America watching the fabulous sequels I make...

Bridget Jones' Baby: This one sounds fascinating. I can't wait to see Bridget moan about being fat and dumpy during her pregnancy.

And there you have it. Be afraid, be very, very afraid...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson (8/10)

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: RJ Anderson
Publisher: Orchard Books (A division of Hachette Publishers)

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?
This was a reread for me and from that perspective, it was interesting watching the plot unfold while knowing exactly what was going to happen.

I really loved this book. It was atmospheric and the descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I could understand Alison as a character and what a person with her unique condition must experience. She has synesthesia and this causes her senses to be mixed up. As an example, she experiences colours as taste.

There are so many interesting disturbed characters as the setting is a mental hospital and they each added to the scope of the novel. It really made me think about what one must experience having some sort of mental instability or condition. Kind of like that 90's movie Girl Interrupted with Winona Ryder.

The book would have been a perfect ten, had it not been for the rushed ending and odd twist.I will, however, be eager to see what develops in the sequel, due out this year.

Rating 8/10

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Future of Us - Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (5/10)

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

The writing is incredibly two-dimensional. A teenager writing Gossip Girl fan-fic could probably have produced something of a better quality.

Bearing in mind that I was slightly younger than the main characters in 1996, I also got very annoyed with the constant cultural references. It was painfully obvious. There are also other bands that were noteworthy then besides Dave Matthews.

I did like the alternating POV from chapter to chapter. I always enjoy it when authors use this. However, the characters were flat and there was far too little going on besides their petty thoughts. I mean, Emma bases a guy's dateworthyness on his hair. His HAIR, for godsake.

Basically, don't read this one unless you are sitting on a beach somewhere and your thought processes have already been dulled by sun exposure.

Rating: 5/10
I was really excited to read this one as I had heard good things about Jay Asher. However, I felt that this novel, while having an excellent plot idea, was poorly executed. I kind of felt like my brain had been microwaved after the first hundred or so pages.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Skinned by Robin Wasserman (7/10)

Title: Skinned (#1 in Skinned Trilogy)
Author: Robin Wasserman
Publisher: Simon Pulse (US), Simon and Schuster (UK) (2009)

Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular -- until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.
Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated...and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime -- for which they must pay the ultimate price.
At first I was seriously sceptical about this book. I was a few chapters in and seriously hating Lia with a passion. Then the plot kicked in and I battled to put the book down.

Skinned is simply written with complex characters who bring depth to a book that has a serious social message attached to it. It is a futuristic spin on conflict between two vastly different social groups and the struggle for acceptance through the eyes of a deeply flawed individual. It raises questions about what is really possible and if scenarios like the ones addressed in this book would really happen should we be able to download our minds into a mechanical body should our organic ones expire.

A similar idea was presented in The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson, however I enjoyed Skinned more. The story was far more captivating.

My only real issue was the abrupt ending of the book. Sure, I get that this is the first in a trilogy, but does it have to be so sudden and rushed?

I do have the next book in the series, Crashed, and hope that it continues directly where Skinned left off and deals with unanswered questions. Otherwise I will be a very upset reader. I actually hate trilogies and miss the days when a story was told in a single volume.

Otherwise, this is a good read!

The next two books in the series are linked below:

I also suggest picking up Daniel Waters' Generation Dead series for an undead approach to the theme of social acceptance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (9/10)

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US) PanMacmillian (UK) (2011)

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family. (taken from

 Firstly, the above blurb is far better than what was printed on the back of my UK copy of this novel. Wow. I am glad that I didn't base my entire opinion on that. It basically made out that the book revolved around Anya and the assistant DA clashing over her relationship with his son, Win (by the way, his full name is Goodwin. Everytime I read his name I would shout "Win!" in my head like some pom-pom waving cheerleader. I never said I was normal. If I was normal, I wouldn't be obsessed with YA paranormal/dystopian novels and like strawberry milkshakes simply because they are pink.). The book has so much more depth than that!

While Win (WIN!) does play a key role, Anya's relationships with her family and best friends are also dealt with. Anya's growth and development are unusual in YA novel and makes this, sadly, a unique read in that respect.

I adored the writing. It was concise and the world Zevin creates around her characters is unique and compelling. It is clever to set a novel of this nature in the future becuase then the rules become your own as an author. Anya is aware that she is the narrator and, sometimes, has little asides to the readers. It reminds me a little of Jane Eyre in that respect.

This is the first in the Birthright series and, obviously, ends with a cliffhanger. Be warned. You will want more. I was tempted to just start the whole thing from the beginning again. If my TBR pile wasn't so epic, I just might have.

All These Things I've Done is incomparable to anything else currently on the YA market. Read it and let me know what you think.

(Forthcoming reviews include Tiger's Curse (Book 1), Switched (Trylle Trilogy)
and Paranormalcy. )

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (10/10)

Title: Cinder (Book 1 in the Lunar Chronicles)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (US)/ Penguin (UK) (Jan 2012)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
 I had been waiting in anticipation for months ever since I spotted the cover of Cinder on a fellow blogger's site. The whole idea of a cyborg Cinderella really appealed to me. I was suprised to find it so soon after its release (we South Africans usually have to wait a bit before new books can be found in our stores, but this seems to be improving).

I devoured Cinder in four hours, most of which was on a flight between Johannesburg and George. I COULD not put it down.

Cinder herself is a spunky heroine, the romance is deliciously understated and the plot has ample twists to keep even the reluctant reader turning pages. I found no fault in Cinder's world and the technological and mechanical details were wonderfully executed. The dialogue is snappy, realistic and consistant for each character.

As a side note, the chapter headings and cover are stunning. I adore the presentation of the book. It is timeless. I really hope they keep the look of the covers for the next installements and not change the design, as many publishers are prone to doing.

Cinder is the first in a four book series which will go as follows:
2. Scarlet (2013)
3. Cress (2014)
4. Winter (2015)

I have read on several sites that Scarlet is going to focus on a new character and be based on Red Riding Hood, which means that the other two books would very probably be based on other fairy tales too. I am sad that the wait between each installement is so long! Why do publishers and authors torture us readers so? Why?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Chasing Brooklyn (10/10)

Title: Chasing Booklyn
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Publisher: Simon Pulse (2010)

Dear Lucca,
I’ve read six comics. I still can’t go back to sleep.
I had a horrible dream. I don’t even want to talk
about it.
Daddy told me after Mom moved out, I could
wake him up if I ever needed anything. But then
I’d have to tell him about the dream. He’d worry
about me. Probably think this thing with Gabe is
getting to me. And then who knows what he’d do.
Anyway, what could he do for me, besides give me
a hug and tell me to go back to sleep? He can’t do
anything for me. Not really.
So I guess I’ll read about Tom Strong some more.
 recently read a review online about him where
someone said, “Tom Strong stands for goodness,
purity of heart, tolerance, and family.” No wonder
I like him so much.
Love always,
Brooklyn (Extract from Chasing Brooklyn - Lisa Schroeder 2010)

Chasing Brooklyn is the companion novel to Lisa Schroeder's I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

Brooklyn, even a year after the death of her boyfriend, Lucca, is still mourning his loss. Not even days after the anniversary of his death, a mutual friend of theirs, Gabe, passes away, sending Brooklyn spiralling into depression and sadness. This is compounded by Gabe appearing in terrifying dreams.

Nico, Lucca's brother, starts recieving clear messages in various forms that he should help Brooklyn.

As their shaky friendship forms, both Nico and Brooklyn find themselves dealing with their grief and new feelings for each other.

I adored this book. I was a bit skeptical about it, as it is written in verse and I hadn't attempted a novel in this style before. It suited the raw emotions and story perfectly. In fact, I cannot fault this book at all.

I found Chasing Brooklyn to be a refreshing, quick read. While it has paranormal elements, the characters and their emotions are so real.

Basically, go and read it. Now. That is all.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

YA: An Evolution of Genres

When I was the appropriate age for Young Adult books, the shelves look nothing like what they resemble today. Bearing in mind that I am talking pre-2000 South Africa here, where (in my opinion anyway) YA was incredibly under-appreciated on the whole.

Big series for teens included Francine Pascal's Fearless. These books followed Gaia Moore, a 16 year-old girl who was born without the fear gene. For me, this series was pretty revolutionary. Using the same style introduced in Sweet Valley High: Senior Year (let us not dwell on how I know this, mkay?), Pascal staggers chapters with diary-like inserts that gave insight into the character's thoughts. I thought this little device was the best thing ever. Plus, Fearless dealt some serious issues, such as sex, anorexia and self-identity. The characters were unusually complex and the plot was so action-packed and gripping.

And... then the series degenerated after book twelve when, due to their success, the publisher pushed for an expansion beyond the anticipated number of books. This also meant that ghost-writers were introduced and the character's voices changed and I lost interest TOTALLY. You just don't do that to a series.

Vampires were around back then, too. Sorry, Twilight, you are not the trendsetter people make you out to be. Included in the fanged line-up were LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries (the books were better than the tv show. The original four books were waaaay better than the new ones that were clearly written to make loads of cash out of fangirls lusting for more Stefan) and Christopher Pike's Last Vampire series.

But seldom did YA books stray past the 250 page marker. They were short, sweet and easily read in a day.

Then along came Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. While the protagonist was a young girl, this series was dark and and highly controversial. It had much to do with Pullman's open views about religion and the church. These views clearly influenced his writing and, of course, this trilogy was shunned by many religious groups.

Speaking of upsetting the church, along came a young wizard with a scar on his forehead who changed the way the world saw reading and childrens' books in particular. The worldwide phenomenon of Harry Potter amazed me. Suddenly people were counting down the days until the release of the next installment. People could actually place a pre-order in their local bookstores as this was actually essential to ensure they got a copy on the day of release. We saw fans camping outside bookstores. People dressed up as their favourite characters. Suddenly, kids books were no longer just for kids anymore.

In between Harry Potter instalments, paranormal YA started growing while readers sought something to keep them occupied. I found Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. This phenomenal series was also refreshing as, unlike Harry, it acknowledged mature themes. Sabriel, the first in the series, remains one of my top books today.

And then, in 2006, Twilight was published and YA exploded with vampire romance novels all wanting to know Twilight from the top spot in bestseller lists. Love triangles seemed to be a la mode too. Sadly this is where quality fell to the wayside and people began to care more about pretty covers and publicity.

Angels, werewolves and other paranormal creatures also got shelf space. As long as there was romance, all was good.

2008 was the start of the dystopian era which still seems to be the genre of choice today. This is all thanks to Suzanne Collins and one Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire. The book I am talking about, of course, is The Hunger Games. A film adaption is due out a bit later this year.

Now, with thanks to the books mentioned above, YA is a cornucopia of choice. The bookshelves are packed and teens are actively reading. It is actually cool to read! Not just that, adults are finding joy in YA, where the books are rich with imaginative detail.

I am eagerly awaiting the next big thing to hit the YA market and see the ripple effect it has. Perhaps robot-dominated science fiction will be next, where a young android finds love with his creator's daughter. Or perhaps historical fiction will get some time in the limelight.

Who can say? I can promise one thing, though. I will be there for it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Anticipated Titles of 2012

2012 is going to be a big year!

The above is just a wee sample of the books I will be keeping an eye out for (click on the title for more information!). Anything you guys can add to this list?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (9/10)

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill (2007)
Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires--the ones who never die.
The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir.  Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.
After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene.  And both girls will resume breaking hearts.
Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's – inside the Academy’s iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger.  Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities.  Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...

I get plenty of flack from people when I inform them that is my ultimate all-time favourite series. Usually this is from those people who have not read it themselves and tend to lump in the same catagory as Twilight.

Unlike Bella, Rose has a personality and can take care of herself. Moreso, she is protective of her best friend and can be impulsive and reckless. She is not perfect and has issues, but at least she is more rounded than certain sparkly-vampire-loving heroines I know. I adore her sarcasm and wit. I love that she makes mistakes and at least takes the consequences of these mistakes in stride.

One of the outstanding features of this series as a whole is character development. While I am only supposed to be reviewing the first book in this post, I feel compelled to bring this up. Many characters are simply vessels for the plot to progress while Rose is reason enough to continue reading this series as she learns more about herself and the secrets in both her past and the lives of the Moroi she has been trained to protect.

And the romance... *insert girly sigh here*. I adore Dimitri. I really do. I love that he doesn't simply pander to Rose's whims.

The secondary characters are also remarkably developed and add depth to the story. I would love to see this made into a film and all the various personalities brought to life on screen.

Don't just let yourself be put off by the vampire hype and negative reviews about this series. I do unserstand why some people did not enjoy it. But, it does have a lot to offer the right audience and is far superior to House of Night, a series that also seems to assist in tainting the opinion of these types of books in general.

All six books are easily avaliable. The order they have to be read in is as follows:
  1. Vampire Academy
  2. Frostbite
  3. Shadow Kiss
  4. Blood Promise
  5. Spirit Bound
  6. Last Sacrifice
There is also a spin off series. The first book, Bloodlines, is avaliable and the second, The Golden Lily, will be out in the US on the 19th of June 2012.

Check out the Wikipedia entry on the series here.
Visit the official website here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth (10/10)

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins (2011)

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. (From
 I just had to reread this book to review it for the blog. Divergent was easily one of the top books I had read last year. It is terrible that it has taken me so long to compile a proper review for it!

Unlike some YA, Divergent does not make the adult reader feel put off by simplified language or descriptions. Some scenes are brutal and heartbreaking, while others utterly touching. It has been too long that a book has moved me and gripped me in so many different ways.

I am a big fan of dystopian fiction and films. While this seems to be the current trend in YA, unlike Eve, Divergent stands head and shoulders above most other books vying for attention. There is not a single apsect of this world that I questioned. Tris had to fight and be tough. Nothing was every simple for her.

And the romance... sigh. The romance! It wasn't WHAMBAMOMG! Tris actually shared some poignant moments with her love interest before anything developed. By the way, this is a far better message to be sending out to your teenaged readers, authors. If you are out there reading this, I hate YA romance that just happens and the characters seem more concerned about their beauty and perfection than any real attraction/kinship/common ground.

I mean, let's face it. Edward Cullen is an asshole. But he is just sooooo perfect that his assholish personality and somewhat obsessive and controlling nature falls to the wayside. And Daniel Grigori? You know, the pretty boy in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate? Total asshole too.

YA is teaching girls to be attracted to boys based primarily on their looks. In fact, that looks overshadow anything else, even abusive natures.

I apologise for my rant. This will h\appen often in my reviews. I could run a traditional blog here, but where is the fun in that?

Four is awesome. He is complicated but human. He has morals. He is everything I would want my own daughter to model her boyfriend choices on.

And the writing is fantastic. Roth does not waste her time with floral descriptions. She gets to the point and her style is sharp and precise, reminding me of my other favourite dystiopian series, The Hunger Games. The mere fact that I didnt skim over single paragraph during my reread speaks volumes.

The sequel, Insurgent, will be out later this year. I am so excited, I am bouncing around like a bunny with ADHD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Death Note vol. 1 (10/10)

Title: Death Note 1 (Black Edition)
Authors: Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

This is the first manga series I have gotten into and I am seriously loving it so far. If you haven't purchased them yet, I highly reccomend getting the Black Editions as they look awesome. The edges of the pages are black and the overall effect is damned sexy. Plus each Black volume, contains two of the original volumes. More Death Note, less money.

The premise behind this series starts off simply enough. Ryuk, a death god, is bored. He decides that dropping his Death Note in the human relm will provide just the entertainment he needs. The Death Note is a myserious book that, once touched by a human, becomes the property of that human, thus enabling him or her to kill people by simply writing their names in the notebook. Of course, there are many rules attached to the use of the Death Note.

Light Yagami is the perfect teenager. He achieves top marks and has never stepped out of line his enitre life. When he finds the Death Note, his whole world changes.

At the risk of giving anything away, I will say no more on the plot. However, the characters and their motives and development are astounding. This is an incredibly intricate series that has twists and turns in every chapter. I cannot reccomend it enough.

The standard format of manga comics takes some getting used to (right to left), but it didnt deter me at all. I was hooked from the start.

The black editions come with colour plates and bonus content that is not availible elsewhere.

For those of you too lazy to read, there is also an Anime series which, I believe, stays true to the series.

A suprising perfect ten!
 L and Light, two of the main characters in Death Note.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Eve by Anna Carey (4/10)

Title: Eve
Author: Anna Carey
Publisher: HarperCollins Teen (Oct 2011)
Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life. 

 Being brutally honest, this is easily one of the worst YA dystopians I have read. Anyone with a brain will find Eve's character strangely knowledgeable about the big, wide world she is suddenly thrown into after a life of protection and brainwashing. The romance is tacky at best and, while the book is fast-paced, I found myself muttering, "Oh, come on! Really?" during various scenes where things just seemed to be a little too convenient.

I suppose it might not be fair to judge Eve too harshly, as it will surely find an audience in the younger teenage bracket.

On a bit of a tangent though, this is not the first time I have read a really poorly constructed novel pumped out by HarperTeen. They have had some stellar reads too, but it makes me wonder if they know the changeability of the YA market and literally accept just about any manuscripts that fit the current flavour. It is very possible I will rant about the "trendiness" in YA these days in further posts, so please forgive me if that happens.

I give Eve four out of ten as the writing wasn't too horrible, in spite of weak characters and other flaws. I did actually finish it, which says something.

If you did enjoy Eve, or are looking for other YA dystopia to sink your teeth into, I can highly reccomend the novels listed below. Expect reviews of them to be up here soon!

The Hunger Games

Monday, January 16, 2012

Welcome to Paranormalsphere!

If you have stumbled upon this humble blog, welcome!

The story behind Paranormalsphere is a simple one. I have another (soon to be defunct) blog titled NovelYear. I grew tired of that and did not want to limit myself to only reviewing books.

Paranormalsphere will still feature book reviews, but I also plan on looking at films and tv shows too. Obviously, as the blog title suggests, these will mostly fall in the paranormal/supernatural genre, although I may be tempted to stray from this at some stage. This will not only make it easier to review at least one new item per day, it will also give me a chance to appeal to a wider audience.

Comments, suggestions and reccomendations are much appreciated.