Tag Archives: YA

Blog Tour: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

freeksFreeks by Amanda Hocking

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

My Blurb

I’ve probably said it enough times that thanks for Enid Blyton’s Mr. Galliano’s Circus series, I have this deep abiding love for circus in fiction. Needless to say, I was drawn to this novel by the fact that this is set within a circus sort of scene. The difference is that this is actually a travelling sideshow so you know… lots of those strange and wonderful and not-so-wonderful things! You go there to be entertained, to be horrified, and to have lots of stupid fun.

I didn’t realise that this book is a spin-off of some sort of the Trylle Trilogy and I’ve not actually read them yet so I can’t tell you (if you’re a fan) if this compares well to the original trilogy or if any of previous characters is in this book though from what I can see on Goodreads, they seem to have different sets of characters. After reading this book though, I am rather curious of this world as it’s paranormal with a gothic vibe (especially with all the ‘freeks’ or to be PC, specially talented people).

For some reason, it rather shocked me that the whole book is set in late ’80s. I mean why would you set a book in the ’80s? Especially a YA? However, there are a lot of historical/paranormal YA books set in 19th century & other periods so why not the ’80s?! It really is an historical period despite the fact that I was already alive then :p Of course, quite a few things resonate with me (ie. cassettes, music, etc) and that brings back other memories.

Freeks is a very easy read though rather long. The main characters were easily likeable. The mystery was acceptable. The ending was rather abrupt but totally as I expected. Overall, it was a rather average read; entertaining enough but missing that particular sparkle. I think there was too much in the middle and the build-up for the final confrontation didn’t quite deliver. It’s a cute read for the romance and of course, the ‘circus’ feel.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom – all three books in her bestselling trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.

Her latest book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow, and it is a available now. Her next books will be a duology about Valkyries – due out in 2018.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  tumblr  | facebook  | youtube  | instagram

Blog Tour: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

About the book

a-quiet-kind-of-thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

My Blurb

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a beautiful read. Mind you, there were stacks of romance in here though I think you can kind of tell by the number of hearts on the cover 😉 There were times that I found the romance crossed the corny cheesy line but I made the allowance for “First Love”. They really weren’t that bad; just a teeny weeny bit more than I liked so you may love it.

At the beginning, however, Steffi was facing first day back at school without her best friend. She’s 16 so she’s in sixth form; which term I actually had to look up as I’m not familiar with the British education system (thanks, Google!) and it’s like years 12 & 13. She may know all the students there but it’s a big day for her. She is determined that she will speak this year. She needs to prove to herself and her parents that she’s capable of ‘normality’ so they will let her go to university. Minutes later, she met a boy who cannot hear, Rhys, and he’s rather cute…

There is only one perspective, Steffi’s, and we get to hear everything she’s saying in her head. She’s getting help and she’s working very hard to overcome that which limit her. I love that we get to hear these things; she may not be able to speak but it doesn’t mean that her head is empty! I can’t tell how accurate the things she’s thought of in relation to other people who are in the same boat as Steffi but it felt just as how they could’ve thought (feel free to correct me) and in some ways were really enlightening. Meeting Rhys with a different type of limitation helps her in a way as they found support in each other; tackling the world which place those limitations on them and along the way, found her confidence and identity.

I have truly enjoyed this book. It was a fun, educational, heart-warming, and totally encouraging book to read. It really inspires you to reach for your dreams despite what the world tells you; only you can decide your limits.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

Quick Q&A

  1. What kind of research was involved in writing A Quiet Kind of Thunder?

A lot! I learned some (very basic) sign language and read as much as I could on deaf culture and community. I also watched videos on YouTube, including those from/about people in deaf/hearing relationships. For selective mutism, I did a lot of general research into things like diagnosis and treatment, and read the materials that were aimed at teachers and parents to get an idea of how they would deal with a child in that situation.

  1. Is there an interesting story/incident that you came across during your research that you could share with us?

Everything I learned about deaf culture and BSL was fascinating, and I really loved watching BSL music videos online – they absolutely blew my mind.

  1. What is it that drives you to write contemporary YA and of such confronting truths?

For me, those are the kinds of books I most love and that I take the most from. I love books that are honest about people, relationships and the world, and so I suppose it makes sense that I would also try to do this in my own writing. Writing is also a great cathartic way to explore issues and problems that goes beyond just talking or thinking about them, so there’s probably an element of that, too.

About the author

sara-barnardSara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach 13 with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Sara is inspired by what-ifs and people. She thinks sad books are good for the soul and happy books lift the heart. She hopes to write lots of books that do both. BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS is her first book and a dream come true.

Find Sara on: goodreads  |  tumblr  |  twitter  | instagram

 

Blog Tour: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartlessHeartless

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine has a talent for cooking magical confections that can alter a person’s emotions. All she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. As a favourite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts – such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

She will do anything to avoid this fate, particularly as she finds herself falling in love with Jest, the mysterious new court jester. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Blurb

It’s not a secret, everyone knows The Queen of Hearts (and if you don’t, where have you been!?). What we don’t know is where she came from and how she became who she is. And this is Marissa Meyer’s gift to us in Heartless. Since we know what The Queen of Hearts is like… we know this is NOT going to be a pretty tale.  But it’s oh so scrumptious! And it began with

“three luscious lemon tarts…”

I think I have to warn you that you’re going to need some delish sweets to help you through this book because all the description of Cath’s marvellous baking made me run to the first cake shop I can find. Cath is not a thin baker. She loves tasting the goods just as much as she loves to make them. As impossible as it seems, she will not give up on her dreams of opening a bakery with her best friend. As much as I love this trait of hers, I was also a little frustrated because it feels that she wasn’t being realistic. It also became even more impossible when the King shows his preference for her. And to make things even more interesting, she was being pulled towards the new handsome and mysterious court jester. Who is he, where did he come from, why is he here?

Heartless was an easy world to lose myself in. From the very first few letters (see above), I was already drowning in the sweetness of this fantasy kingdom where everything must be pleasant. It is a beautiful world but with enough quirkiness to reflect that of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland with a love story to touch the heart and some spins & twists to delight the readers.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Marissa Meyer in the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and three demanding cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, any occasion that requires a costume), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a child.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  twitter  | facebook  | youtube

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Review: Sea Hearts

sea heartsSea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy won from a giveaway

Tender Morsel absolutely crushed me! It was such a huge life lesson and it hurt… really bad! I approached Sea Hearts with extreme caution because I’m still feel the crushing pain from Tender Morsel. Thankfully, or is it rather, unfortunately, Sea Hearts was not as sharp as Tender Morsel… at least, not to me personally.

Whilst I knew this novel was an expanded work of the short story, Sea-Hearts (with the dash), I never actually read that story so this was all new to me. The story revolves around Rollrock Island and the selkies but really, whilst the selkies may be the main interest for most fantasy loves in reading this, they’re really not the main story. It is a tool employed ingeniously by the witch, and the author, in teaching Rollrock residents, and the reader, an important lesson: Don’t Mess with the Witch!! respect for all despite how different they are.

It wasn’t preachy in any way especially since there were multiple of perspectives from different times and sides. The main lesson was easily learnt but there were multiple layers of dimensions to it. I am torn between admirations for the witch’s resourcefulness and nauseated by her vengefulness. In any case, she’s taken it up on herself to teach the community a lesson which will be remembered for a long long time. This was a dark tale but well worth the read.

View all my reviews

Review: Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club

lady helenLady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of publisher

I very much adored The Eon Duology! I still remembered vividly staying up late whilst heavily pregnant with my first because I just could not put down The Two Pearls of Wisdom; absolutely captivating and one of my favourite books ever! Therefore, I’ve kept my eye on Alison Goodman and have heard about this Regency project some years ago… I’ve waited a lifetime for Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club!

This story is told from Lady Helen’s perspective and readers are privileged, as well, to know her private thoughts. The novel opens with Lady Helen’s preparation for her presentation to the Queen. Immediately, we are deliciously teased with a taint on Lady Helen’s reputation or rather her mother’s and therefore, hers. A few pages later, her aunt entered with a scandal involving one of her good friends and the second chapter brought a disappearance of one of the maid. The mysteries continued to be piled on top of one another until there is a knot that demands untangling.

Lady Helen herself turns out to be a very admirable character. Right from the beginning, she evinced her independence of thoughts and ingenuity in problem solving. Nevertheless, even as she finds herself becoming different, her upbringing constrained her and she struggled with this new knowledge of herself and the world. I found this struggle to be very realistic and actually made me like her a lot more than I thought I would. Honestly, I wasn’t sure which outcome I’d like for her though of course, the other one will mean that there will be no series ;p

I think I looked too hard for Eon in these pages… I loved Eon very easily but Helen took some time to understand. The world building was just as incredible and hence, probably the reason it felt quite slow… It’s a whole big old but new world! I expect the next instalment to be at a faster pace and even more amazing; I can’t wait!

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for copy of Uncorrected proof in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Blog Tour: Cloudwish ~a Review + Giveaway

cloudwishCloudwish by Fiona Wood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected Proof courtesy of publisher

For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.  And there was zero chance of a pay-off, because it was a truth universally acknowledged that he only ever went out with girls like Pippa or Tiff or Ava.

At sixteen, Vân Uoc Phan, a scholarship student, has always believed in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes.  But when she attracts the attention of popular Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight.  As she struggles to reconcile fantasy Billy with real Billy, she is also grappling with the growing suspicion that she may have accidentally wished his affection into existence.  But that can’t possibly happened, can it?

Vân Uoc has always tried to live according to the Jane Eyre standard: What would Jane do?

If only things were that simple!

Real life in no longer on hold, and Vân Uoc is quickly discovering who she really is.

Review (5 stars)

Cloudwish was, in the first instance, a cover crush for me. It was beautifully design and very catchy! The thousandth of second after I read the name of the main character (note: 2nd word in blurb), I MUST READ THIS Potentially Awesome Book. And let me just assure you now, it did NOT disappoint. The promises of ‘magic’, of ‘Jane Eyre’, and romance were met but in addition to all this an in-depth look of what it means to be an Asian teen in the Australian landscape.

Vân Uoc was first introduced as the typical ABC (or rather ABV, that’s Australian Born wpid-20150914_220331.jpgVietnamese): parents who barely speak English, parent who’s pushing her towards the high-prestige high-earning profession, very intelligent (on scholarship at a private school), plays musical instrument (though in this case, an atypical instrument: the oboe),… in summary, an overachiever. Just like any average teen though, she also has dreams… dreams that she can be just like the others, to blend in, rather than being invisible. So, when she was given the chance, she made a wish…

I felt an immediate connection to Vân Uoc, not only because of my background (as an immigrant), but because I love instant coffee with condensed milk! Forget GJ’s Caramel Lattes, this is da-bomb! As Vân Uoc puts it…

It made you fly on a little cloud of sugar and caffeine.

And then this… this is EXACTLY what happened to me when I was learning to read English books;

And something miraculous happened when they were about a quarter of the way through reading it. After weeks of ploughing and hesitating, something clicked; she stopped stumbling over the unknown words and long sentences. Words magically started to reveal meaning, most of the time anyway, through context. And the sentences themselves stopped being obstacles and started telling a story. Her eyes were racing ahead; she was comprehending the shape and rhythm of the language.

Do you know just how exciting it is when an author has put into words the same exact feelings / experiences you have had?! I love you, Fiona! Apple's Face Throwing a Kiss

Cloudwish may, on the outset, sound like a girly romance fluff but Don’t Be Fooled! Fiona Wood has outdone herself in creating this masterpiece! The authenticity of feel/thought of an Asian Australian teen girl (I can testify to this!) and the inclusion of a number of contemporary issues including but not limited to boat refugees, the ‘white-ness’ of beauty adverts, etc, made a very solid content of a YA fiction.

I have always wished to have the Asian equivalent of Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi and / or Saving Francesca (Italian) and in Cloudwish, my wish has come true! Thank you, Fiona, for writing such a beautiful, compelling, and relevant tale. It has spoken true to my heart and a definite top read of the year for me. I will never stop recommending this to everybody -along with Alibrandi 😉

Note to the parents: if you’re concerned about sexual content, I’d suggest that you read the book first so you are prepared or, feel free to PM me for better details.

Thanks Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review

About Author

fiona wood

Fiona Wood’s first young adult novel, Six Impossible Things, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year, Older Readers. Her second, Wildlife, won the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers and was shortlisted for a number of other awards. Her third book, Cloudwish, will be published in 2015. Her books are published internationally.  Before writing YA fiction, Fiona wrote television scripts. She lives in Melbourne with her family.

Find Fiona: website  |  twitter

Giveaway (AU only)

My very many thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for inviting me on this blog tour.  They are also giving away a copy of Cloudwish to one of you lucky blog reader!   To enter, leave me a meaningful comment (below) or… if you can’t think of anything meaningful, tell me a joke!  Something my soon-to-be-six year old can understand 😉

I will draw the winner on Monday morning (21st September 2015).

Tour Stops

Do visit some of these stops too… some will host a giveaway as well 😉

The Tales Compendium

Words Read and Written

YA Midnight Reads

Reading Lark

Confessions From Romaholics

Loony Literate

Review: Matched

matchedMatched by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: purchased own paperback copy

I added this to my TBR because the person who recommended it saw some similarities with another book I like though except for that one particular thing, there wasn’t really much else. However, it’s funny how I kept getting flashes of other dystopian…

The novel opens with Cassia on the train, on her way to her Matching ceremony. I had in my mind of Katniss on her way to the Capital. The way she’s surrounded with all the glamour that is a contract with the drabness of real life. That’s all the reference to THG I’m going to make though as the rest of the novel is so very reminiscent of The Giver by Lois Lowry. There were quite a number of similarities: the lack of colours, the tablets, old age/dying, vocations, etc. The difference here is the romance which was missing in The Giver.

Despite all my thoughts meandering over to other dystopian novels, Matched has been a fairly engaging read, mostly due to the romance. I also liked the number of ‘bombs’ dropped near the end and I’m wondering what other twists will be introduced in the rest of the trilogy. So, I’ll be looking those up though probably not in any hurry to do so.

View all my reviews