Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Apollyon (Covenant, #4)

Date Read: March 14 - 17 2013
Release Date: April 9th 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Source: Paperback
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy
My rating:  (Not enough stars)

This review contains no Apollyon spoilers, but does contain spoilers for the PREVIOUS books

Synopsis:
"Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.
Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself."

---

“I was the Apollyon. I wielded control over the four elements and the fifth and the most powerful – akasha.”

There’s no other way to start this review than with… HOLY DAIMON BABIES! Jennifer L. Armentrout has gone above and beyond everything I could have ever expected for a book four...  or any book really. I thought Deity was amazing, it was one of my favourite books of 2012 – but Apollyon? Hands down one of my favourite books EVER! I loved this so much that, despite my huge TBR list, I managed to read Apollyon twice :P

I have never read a series where the books just keep getting better and better. Usually the first book draws me in, the second is further plot and character development, everything happens in the third and the rest are fillers. But Covenant has gotten better and better, the characters are maturing and developing constantly, the plot thickens and yet it doesn’t make things any more complicated or introduce anything drastically new.

Picking up straight where Elixir left off, we see Alex connected to the First and Aiden’s unwavering belief that his and Alex’s love can make it through anything. The first few chapters were especially painful as I read through Alex’s struggle with what Seth was telling her, what Aiden was telling her, and what her locked away feelings were trying to make her feel again. Armentrout writes this in the most convincing manner! I could really feel Alex’s devotion to Seth and her hatred for all those around her. As disgusted as I was by the exchanges between the two Apollyons, I could really see Alex believing everything Seth said. Oh and as much as I tried to like Seth before, I really hate him now.

“Seth’s approval washed over me like I’d just stepped out into the summer sun. I basked in it, like a good little puppy with a full tummy.”

Alexandra Andros. What a character this girl is. Such a strong and resilient heroine. Watching Alex grow over the course of the series has been an amazing and bittersweet journey – she’s endured the death of her best friend, being tortured, killing her own mum, and finding out she possesses the power to kill gods/fuel the God Killer. But still she persevered! Alex has however, always had an impulsive streak and constantly dived into situations without thinking of her actions and their consequences; she would act immaturely and more often than not, her stubbornness would never allow her to admit she was wrong. That all changed in Apollyon. Throughout the book I could see her take a step back each time she wanted to jump into things; she’d hold her tongue when she wanted to rebut – there were moments where I would have snapped a retort back, but despite the cringe worthy embarrassment of being told she was wrong, she accepted it and moved on. Her consideration for others improved drastically and I was just in awe of her emotional, mental and physical strength. To say she kicks daimon butt is an understatement!

“I’ve been riding the Alex-Is-Important train for quite some time… I’ve been a handful. I know that.”

I loved the continuous appearance of the gods throughout Apollyon. I really love reading about Greek mythology so seeing the slight humorous takes on them was extremely enjoyable. Apollo I found to be hilarious with his popping in and out and, playing Wii with Persephone? Count me in! Thanatos is also a new favourite of mine. The development of Alex’s relationship with characters like Marcus, Laadan and Lea were really refreshing. I think they really helped her see another side of herself. Also, I’m extremely curious about Alex’s father now! The appearances of some characters brought on nostalgia and some tears for me. I think I just loved all the secondary characters in general!

“Tall and broad and a head full of honey-coloured hair, the man had the face of an angel.
Oh for the love of gods, I couldn’t catch a freaking break.
Thanatos.”

So… Aiden St. Delphi *swoons*. Where do I even start with this man? This man filled with so much internal turmoil, who’s seen too much for someone his age and yet still has the capacity to love so unconditionally. Reading from his POV in Elixir killed me but seeing the way he is with Alex in Apollyon just had my heart in a whole new frenzy. His absolute faith in her and belief in their love, his willingness to die for her – it never ceased to amaze me. Nobody is perfect, but Aiden? Well he comes close to it. Seeing the sensual side to Aiden was also really amazing. He’s so sweet and tender my heart just clenched at his very touch. Aiden is definitely my number 1 book boyfriend!

“I would never give up on you, Alex. Never.”

“You are my everything.”

Alex and Aiden’s romance *heart stutters*… well let’s just say that, together, the heat they create should have made them spontaneously combust!  I loved reading about their stolen moments together – it made them all the more special and precious. And all the more meaningful with the demise of the world looming above them.

“The kiss deepened, flipping and twisting my insides into a pleasant mess, and it was like the very first time we kissed… He kissed me like he’d never expected to do so again…”

Now the plot. Dayum I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Alex’s journey in Apollyon was not an easy feat and what she is faced with is more than any 18-year-old should ever face. And woah the build-up to that ending? Spectacular! I totally did not see that coming, I was holding my breath until the very end.

“Part of me died right then, maybe not a physical death, but on some mental, some emotional level I was good as dead.”

Perfectly paced, great character development, amazing heroine supported by the most loving guy and a thrilling plot that could mean the end of the world. I think the only book that can possibly be better than this is Sentinel. Can someone please hand me a time machine so I can fast forward to November 12 and get my hands on the final book?!

 “Paradise is waiting for you in the end.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #11




Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and every week bloggers post about books they’ve added to their bookshelves! This includes books bought through a physical store, online store, eBooks, books borrowed from the library/a friend and gifts.

I had a 4 day weekend this week so I got lots of reading done :D

For the week ending 28th April I got:

Physical copies -


E-books:
One Week Girlfriend (Drew + Fable, #1) That Boy (That Boy, #1)


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Between the Lives

Date Read: April 25 – 26 2013
Release Date: May 1st 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Bought
Genre: Sci-Fi
My rating: 

Synopsis:
Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole.
Until now, that is...

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?”

---

"Because some things are so real you can feel them to your core. It doesn't matter where you go, they go with you. Anywhere."

From nearly the beginning I had my suspicions and from the middle I had a feeling about how things were going to end. But the way everything played out. WOAH. Absolutely amazing!

I loved all the characters, Sabine was smart, practical and I loved her voice. She was so believable and relatable - and that's something really hard to achieve in a story like this. I followed her through each of her lives perfectly; I felt her qualms about each life, what she liked about them and the love she had for each of the people in them.

“I want to live each day once, to the best that I can live it.”

Secondary characters like Sabine’s little sister Maddie (my absolute favourite) really enhanced the story and added to the difficulty of Sabine's conflicting emotions for each of her lives. I think it's rare to see such a loving sister bond between siblings with a 12 year age gap. Despite her rich friends in her Welleseley life having a materialistic exterior, I saw that underneath they really did care for each other. I really liked Sabine's family in her Welleseley life, hiding behind the money and clothes, her mother really cares for her and her brothers would come to her aid at any time. I loved that about them.

“If things feel right for you, then they probably are. But if they don’t, I know you’ll listen to that too.”

I can't come up with a fitting word to describe Ethan. Wise? Caring? Sweet? Selfless? Amazing? Loving? Yes all of them and many more! His role in the book was perfect - forget the fact that he's the love interest - he taught Sabine the beauty of living, showed her that what she has isn't a curse, but a gift. The power of living. Gah everything he said was so quotable!

“We only exist because others see us.”

What I really loved was the juxtaposition Between the Lives provided. On one hand, Sabine is living two lives, having lived twice as much as everybody else but she's sick of the living. On the other hand we see how ephemeral life is - how easy death can come about. We want to live, but is it worth living every day twice like Sabine? If death is the answer, is it the RIGHT answer? This book portrayed all these things perfectly, especially in regards to choices and existentialism – how would Sabine’s choices in her lonely world affect her future?

“What if you’re giving up something you don’t even have yet, a future in this world that would give you more happiness than you could have ever imagined?”

The perfect love. Ethan. Again Shirvington shows how fleeting everything in life is. But what wonderful things can bloom in such fleeting moments. Ethan and Sabine’s romance is one of these. The course of the book doesn’t play over very long but during that time, the bond that develops between Ethan and Sabine is amazing. They’re so very different yet so perfect for each other. There was no insta-love, but there was definitely attraction and slight hostility during the beginning. In a way, the two of them needed each other – to show one another what they’re missing in life – but there was never any co-dependence. The encouragement to live because of yourself was always there. Their romance was sweet and Ethan was always there supporting Sabine even when she didn’t know it.

I can’t find a single thing wrong with this book. The pace was perfect, the characters all amazing and the plot was so original I loved it! I also love books that have a cyclic nature so that by the end, it becomes full circle and I have this completed feeling in me – that all the questions and things that got mentioned in the beginning get answered create a perfect ending. And this book did exactly that.

Between the Lives made me think, it made me really appreciate life, it made me cry (A LOT, for like 30 pages straight) for what could have been but also gave me hope for the future. Jessica Shirvington never disappoints.

“I was lost. But you found me, between the lives.”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #10




Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and every week bloggers post about books they’ve added to their bookshelves! This includes books bought through a physical store, online store, eBooks, books borrowed from the library/a friend and gifts.

Woah so I haven't done a StS in over a MONTH! And I've gotten SO MANY BOOKS in that time lol. There's been a serious lack of posting on my part the last few weeks and for that I apologize. Work was busy, uni was insanely hectic - I had 2 papers due, a midsem exam and heaps of hw :( I also had a lot of stuff to organize for this society I'm in at uni, but the bulk of that is done now YAY!

Random fact: I dyed my hair blue.

Anyway... these are the books I've gotten in the past month:


New additions to my adult books:


E-books:
Exiled (The Protector, #1)Astarte's WrathCrossing the Line (Pushing the Limits, #1.5)
Rule (Marked Men, #1)If You Stay (Beautifully Broken, #1)Every Last Kiss (The Bloodstone Saga, #1)
From NetGalley:

Spirit (Elemental, #3)Ink (Paper Gods, #1)After Eden (After Eden, #1)Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (Confessions, #2)


Thanks to Kensington Books, Harlequin UK Limited, Bloomsbury Publishing UK & ANZ and Harlequin Enterprises Australia for these egalleys <3

Gifted/won:

The Forgotten OnesOf Silver and Beasts

Thanks to Laura Howard and Trisha Wolfe for these eARCs <3

Signed books + swag:

Team Misfits -


ReVamped (Angel Creek #1) by Ada Adams (Paranormal) - this was an awesome debut by Ada!

I bought the books right off Ada and she signed them for me + sent me all this extra swag too (signed bookmarks, keychain and stickers!) Thank you so much Ada <3 #TeamMisfits ftw <3

Flirt Squad -


I was also pleasantly surprised to receive this swag in the mail from Rachel Harris! #FlirtSquad love <3 I got a signed MSSSC bookmark, Cat's pear tattoo, Super Sweet wristband, MSSSC Cat and Lorenzo characters cards and a signed sticker. Thank you so much Rachel <3

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) by Shana Abe

Firstly, thanks to Random House for this NetGalley <3

The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1)

Date Read: March 11 – April 8 2013
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Random House
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fantasy
My rating: 

Synopsis:
’With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.’

Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.
Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.”

---

“Those nights, in the sweetest dark, we shared our dreams.”

Almost like an epic poem, this was one of the most eloquently written books I’ve ever read in my life. Abe weaves words together creating a blanket as gorgeous as the night sky. Her poetic prose had me hooked from the very first page, filling me with intrigue, hope, heartbreak and making me weep.

“I’m of comet and clay and the sparks of sun across the ocean waves.”

Eleanore Jones has been hearing songs from objects her entire life, but as an orphan in 1920s wartime England, she was forced to repress these voices. And for a while that worked – until she begins board at Iverson and meets two boys that change her life. I was immediately drawn into Lora’s story by her practical voice. Growing up in an orphanage, Lora doesn’t dilly-dally with irrelevant details, she tells it like it is – a starving child, tortured for hearing things people didn’t hear. I loved the way she perceived things, how she appreciated what the rich around her took for granted. I also love a protagonist with a sense of humour.

“I was trapped and friendless, and if I’d had the slightest notion of how to smite anything, I bloody well might have.”

Cue the two life changing boys. Jesse Holms and Lord Armand Louis, or Mandy as he liked to be called, were really as different as night and day. Jesse, the sweet, green-eyed, gorgeous summery boy who did odd jobs around the school and whom everybody deemed a mute and simpleton; Mandy, the handsome hazel-eyed boy, damaged on the inside who hid behind his riches and wintry fa├žade. Both are drawn to Lora and while she tried avoiding Armand’s advances, there’s something about him that can’t make her stay away. As for Jesse, his song calls to her like no other and I’m going to say right here, I love this selfless boy so much! He had me at “I’m Jesse.”

“… Jesse and Armand, those two savagely different and yet dangerously similar creatures who were destined to dig their talons into me and change my life forever.”

The story was actually written in a combination of both first and third person. Most of The Sweetest Dark is told from Lora’s point of view, but at times it switched to third person Jesse or Armand. I’m still undecided on how I feel about this. Switching between first and third made it almost seem like Abe couldn’t write from a male perspective, and I’d feel slightly off-balance when the perspectives changed. She could have easily written the person’s name at the top when the person changed right? On the other hand, I understand the distance she put between Jesse, Armand and the reader. This was essentially Lora’s story and those third person male views gave us a wider perspective of Lora – not only how each boy saw her through his eyes, but in relation to the world around them as well.

“The man in him wanted. Purely wanted. Burned with want, exactly as he had from the moment he’d watched her walking towards him that night across the station lot…”

Amidst Lora’s own story though, is the war looming across the bridge and the impact this has on the characters is huge. The main plot itself I found a bit weird. Not unbelievable, are-you-on-crack weird, but rather something I didn’t see coming and when it did come I was like “EH?! Of all the things?” It was certainly interesting and there were clues placed throughout that indicated at something other but nothing I expected. I guess that’s a good thing but I can’t really say I was extremely WOW’d either. Definitely a different and very unique take on stories of the type though.

“An ancient magic created you, a powerful magic. It twines through you, growing stronger with every full moon.”

As Lora discovers more about herself, both boys are there every step of the way. Hence, what’s a YA without romance? I absolutely adored the way the romance was written in TSD. It was so sweet it created this ache within me. Intimate and passionate without ever going into graphic detail, romance is rarely written like this nowadays! Every glance, every thought and slight touch created the most tender and precious moments.

“His fingers began a glide up my arm, across my shoulder. Down my back. He drew figures eights upon me, five-pointed stars, our initials intertwined.”

Now I’m going to gush about the AMAZING writing. I briefly mentioned Abe’s writing style in the beginning but that is seriously not enough. I want to put so many beautiful quotes in this review but that’d mean I’d be writing out the whole book. The phrases were so meaningful they not only applied to the story, but to life itself. This was the most elegant poetry. This was a song that demanded to be sung, its lyrics resonating through me and settling in my heart, in my core, making me feel the power of Abe’s words. Her descriptions are something out of the Romantic Movement, the feelings she invoked in me squeezed my heart a million times over.

“There are certain moments in life when hard, hot truth shines at you like a spotlight from heaven, like the focused beam from a lighthouse on the shore of yourself, and you find yourself stripped naked in its light.”

Beautifully written, a story filled with magic, love and an ending that ruined me (I was crying as I re-read bits looking for quotes), this bittersweet tale is one I’ll never forget.

“Remember this. Remember them, this moment, this heartbreak, these two boys. Remember that they loved you.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry

Firstly, thank you to Harlequin UK for this NetGalley <3 

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)

Date Read: January 15 – 20 2013
Release Date: May 28th 2013 in US/June 7th 2013 in UK
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

Synopsis:
" 'I dare you...'

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…"

---

"You and me. We're a mistake. You're a leaver…" 

This isn't a story for the faint hearted. Dare You To deals with gruelling issues such as homosexuality, bullying, substance abuse and physical abuse but ultimately, it's about facing our inner demons, embracing change, being accepted and learning how to love and trust… And McGarry has done this in the most perfect way.

I don't think Dare You To was better or worse than Pushing the Limits; it was just different. And I'm saying this now because although not a direct sequel it's a companion and there is still a comparison to be drawn.

I will however, say that McGarry's writing has really improved since Pushing the Limits; maybe it was the more serious themes that triggered more intense emotions but I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride. I felt the giddiness and laughter of when the ride first starts; the building nervousness and anticipation as it ascends the climb; the high and weightlessness as it approaches the peak; the nausea, fear, dread and plummeting stomach as the cart takes the plunge… and the breathlessness and rush at the end. A roller coaster ride takes probably 5 minutes tops, multiply that feeling by however long it takes someone to read a book and that's Dare You To (note that I LOVE roller coasters though, so if you don't, don't let this analogy deter you!!!)

The protagonists were all perfect and I fell in love with them instantly. We first meet Ryan, the seemingly perfect and insanely hot/sexy jock who accepts the dare to ask out bad girl, Beth. From the first words of the book "I'm not interested in second place", I was immediately sucked in to Ryan's way of thinking. At first I thought he just liked to play girls as part of the challenges his friend's love and everything was a game to him. But I soon realised that he does care about the people he loves and that love was unconditional. I absolutely loved his loyalty to his friends and there was also this innocence about him. Underneath all the fun and dares though, Ryan has his own secrets that eat away at him. To those on the outside, Beth seems to have the track record of a juvenile delinquent with an "I-don't-give-a-fk" attitude. On the inside, she grew up too young and just doesn't have time for the petty gossip and games of teenagers to get to her. She's already been hurt too much. Her problems are immense and the responsibility she placed on herself is more than even an adult should carry. She's built this wall around herself, and refuses to let anybody in. Reading about all the things she had to face made me feel so raw. How does one love when they've never known love?

"There are things in my life that were set in motion before I took my first breath. I don't have a choice." 

I loved all the supporting characters (both good and bad). Each played their own role in the story unfurling and the choices Ryan and Beth had to make. The cameos were my favourite and yes, Isaiah is in this and what a whirlwind he creates!

What I really hate about a book is insta-love. It is my biggest no-no as I've mentioned in previous reviews. What I really love about Katie McGarry is she didn't do it in PTL and she doesn't do it in Dare You To. There is always the initial attraction that is unavoidable. You can't help being attracted to somebody and it's undeniable that Ryan and Beth were attracted to each other. But the animosity, hesitant truce and chase that followed was the most heart-wrenching thing ever. The most important thing in a relationship is trust (and love), so how can a relationship develop if one party doesn't trust the other? Both are quick to bury their secrets, show their distrust and hide from their problems. And it was so understandable for them to do that when everybody judged each other and assumed so easily.

"Nausea spins in my stomach. He's judging me. I know it… Sweat breaks out on my skin. I can imagine the thoughts in his head and his impending judgment." 

Writing in two first person POVs was an excellent choice by McGarry. I could clearly see how each character perceived the other through each other's eyes. But also how they saw the same world differently. Not to mention how much steamier it made the story! Can I just say WOAH at how wonderfully Katie can write a steamy scene?

"Her fingernails whisper against the muscles of my abs and clear thought no longer exists…"

"My heart stutters. I lost my control. I lost my confidence. My hand shakes as I touch his bare chest." 


I just felt so much pure emotion reading that. Their desire, the passion and oh god the burning need. Ahem…

The pace was perfect, every turn of the page a revelation and filled with suspense - sometimes good and sometimes bad. And just when I thought things couldn't get any worse… it was like someone took a blunt knife to my heart.

Bittersweet, heartbreaking, sexy and ridden with secrets, Dare You To was the best roller coaster I've ever been on.

"A warmth unfurls within me, starting in my heart and flowing through my bloodstream. It creates a weird sensation of chains unlocking and breaking free. It's almost as if I'm floating."