Tag Archives: young adult

Review: Drowned

drownedDrowned by Nichola Reilly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

A curious cover and an even more curious title; Drowned is a mysterious read from the very beginning. Even at the finish of the read, I felt like I have ten thousand more questions than at the start. I only just found out, after the read, that this is the first book of a series so I have definitely been enticed enough to look this up next year.

Despite all the mystery, this was a very slow read. Understandably, there was a lot of setting up to be done; the world, the characters, the social structure, etc. The information was doled out at a measured pace as the plot develops. It wasn’t boring as it was strange enough that kept me reading though at a similarly slow pace… definitely not a book that kept me awake at night.

The point which most fascinated me was Coe as the female protagonist. Described as ‘deformed and weak’, she’s an outcast of this doomed society. She’s not one of those capable kick-ass characters that you’d cheer along for but rather one who is aware of her shortcomings and seek only to stay alive even if that means submitting to some questionable circumstances. On the opposite spectrum, was Star, ‘the princess’, whom I found absolutely frustratingly shallow though this impression feels somewhat false… I don’t have an answer for this yet; hopefully book 2 will provide some answers

This is not a book I’d rave about even noting certain points of interests. If you’d like to read something somewhat different then I’d recommend picking this up. You will, however, require some patience. It’s a fairly quiet book dotted with some tense & some sweet moments.

Thank you, Harlequin Teen Australia for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Teaser Tuesdays: Steadfast



“Holy Christmas, what was that?”  Verlaine came up, already looking at the playback of the video on her phone.  “This town is getting even weirder.  Now we have possessed PTA mom wielding axes.”

~page 61

steadfastSteadfast (Spellcaster #2) by Claudia Gray


Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine have saved Captive’s Sound from the dark Sorceress Elizabeth…or so they thought. Despite their best efforts, a crack opened and a new, greater evil seeped through. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia’s magic is magnified and she is more powerful than ever. But there is still so much she doesn’t know about the craft, leaving her open and vulnerable to a darker magic…which has begun to call Nadia’s name.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read • Open to a random page • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Review: Captivate

captivateCaptivate by Vanessa Garden

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Source: ARC courtesy of Harlequin TEEN

It seems that I’ve been drawn to underwater worlds lately and with such a gorgeous cover, a promising premise, plus being written by an Aussie author, Captivate was a definite pick for me. I also participated in the blog tour recently (see: blog tour post) so I really had to read this for myself.

The mysterious beginning of being kidnapped into another world was really intriguing. Miranda, to me, was quite average. I like her but I don’t love her. There were admiring traits and some really frustrating traits. Robbie, however, I loved! He was (aside from being the said kidnapper) really a considerate, kind, and loyal kind of boy whilst Marko –well, who doesn’t just fall for the broody passionate guy? This book was all about the boys for me.

The underwater kingdom was quite unbelievable. There was enough glitter to appeal but unfortunately, not quite well developed. There were parts that really stumped me and parts that I just didn’t like. An example is a particular thing Miranda had to do which I kind of relate to animal or cavemen (maybe) behaviour but really not one a modern society would adopt. The kingdom may not be as modern as our world but it’s not primitive. There appears to be a somewhat gothic feel as well which was barely touched though I have a feeling this might be something for the next instalment. If it is, I really would love to see this explored.

Miranda is, I found, a tad confusing, especially when it comes to her feelings. I thought there might be something with Robbie, then maybe a love triangle, then maybe not, then… *gah*, you know what I mean. It was just completely bewildering. With Marko, on the other hand, it was pretty obvious that she felt something for him though he was in and out too many times with ‘out’ being predominant that I feel his character wasn’t quite built up and therefore, the potential relationship was a little flat.

I’d like to see where Vanessa Garden will take the next book to. I am keeping my fingers crossed for all my wishlist (I know I most probably won’t get them all) but I think I may just read the next instalment before I shelf this series away. Totes read this book for the boys, peeps!

Thank you, Harlequin TEEN, for ARC in exchange for my honest review

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Blog Tour: Captivate – Q & A with Vanessa Garden


An absolutely gorgeous cover to capture your eye

A glittering underwater world to intrigue your imagination

A beautiful love to romance your heart

I say, how can you say ‘no’ to this book?!  Not a chance!  I’m so very privileged to have received a review copy and be part of the blog tour.  My thanks to Harlequin Books Australia and Vanessa Garden for having me on board.

The Book

captivateCaptivate (Submerged Sun #1) by Vanessa Garden

In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

Booktopia  |  Amazon  |  iBooks

The Author

vanessaVanessa Garden lives on the coast of Western Australia with her husband, their three chatty children, and three calming goldfish. When she is not  writing, Vanessa can be found at the local bookstore where she works part-time. Being a bookseller as well as an author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not gushing about her favourite reads to customers, or dreaming up  her next novel, she enjoys spending time with the people she loves most.

Blog  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Q & A with Vanessa

G’day, Vanessa, it’s lovely to have you as guest on my blog today.

I have to Googling your name but all I found is that your Western Australian & the author of ‘Captivate’ – would you mind sharing a little bit about your self?

Thanks so much for having me!

I have been writing seriously for nearly twelve years. I started writing after my first child was born and I was home looking after her. An idea for a novel came to me and I’ve never looked back. That novel will never see the light of day but it was a great practice book and so were the next two that followed. Funnily enough, when I started writing Captivate, I had a feeling it was the one that had a good chance at getting published because I simply could not stop writing it. It was an exciting time and, because I’m a pantster, I could hardly wait to find out what my characters would do next.

A few quick fun questions:

Vegemite or Nutella? Vegemite

Cats or Dogs? Can I say both?

Bushwalk or Beach? Beach

Favourite read of 2013? Bridged Kemmerer’s ‘Spark’ – I love her Elemental series.

Favourite reading spot? Outside on the outdoor couch near the garden or in the school car-park while I’m waiting for my kids to finish for the day

Favourite accompaniment to reading (eg. Chocolate, coffee, etc)?

I have a little three course ‘snack’ menu. First I’ll have something savoury like a small handful of potato chips or cheese and crackers, then chocolate, then maybe a piece of cake or a biscuit. A coffee is also a must!

What would be a “perfect novel” for you (ie. what do you think makes a perfect novel)?

A nice balance of love and danger – in a setting I’m unfamiliar with.

How do you think ‘Captivate’ rates against your standard of a ‘perfect novel’ [above]?

Actually, it ticks all the boxes. I guess I wrote the book I wanted to read 😉

What was your inspiration to write ‘Captivate’?  Was there a particular incident which first gave birth to this idea of ‘Captivate’?

Yes. A gorgeously romantic song gave me a scene inside my head (of Miranda and Marko standing in a beautiful garden) and the story quickly developed from there.

Was there a scene in the book that is based on something that’s happened to you in life?  Which part is it (please let me know if it’s a spoiler and I’ll make sure warnings are included)?

Well, Bob’s Bay is actually based on a real place called Bob’s Hollow – a place on the South-West Australian coast.  Also, I love to play the card game, War. My cousins in Slovenia taught me to play when I was a kid.

As part of your writing mode, do you doodle or draw particular scenery / characters / scenes or listen to particular music?  Could you share with us a snippet of your drawing or your playlist?  If you do neither, please share anything that helps your creative juices going

I love to make a cup of coffee and play particular music suited to the story I’m writing at the time. I also have a really daggy cardigan that I love to wear when I write during the colder months. It really makes me feel like a writer when I wear it.

Do you have a favourite writing spot?  Would share the view with us, please?

I move all over the house and write in different chairs and rooms (my writing desk is too messy to work from!) If I get stuck, then a quick trip to the local café with my laptop usually does the trick and the words start flowing again.

Lastly, would you share a couple of your favourite quotes…

From the book:

‘In all my visits to the mainland, to your world, I’ve only seen the rain once,’ he said. ‘When I stood beneath it and looked up at the sky, it was as though all the stars were falling.’

– Marko Tollin, Captivate

Of life / writing

‘Who loves, raves’

– Lord Byron

Thank you, Vanessa, for sharing some of your time with me today.  Best of luck for your future writing projects and I look forward to where you’ll be taking us to next!

Review: Waterfell

waterfellWaterfell by Amalie Howard
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Harlequin Teen via NetGalley

They live underwater, in the deepest part of the sea that is closest to the centre of the earth. They are referred to as ‘monsters’. Beautiful monsters but monsters nonetheless. They are Aquarathi. They have a very old history and have a deep interest in the wellbeing of earth and especially that of the sea. That is the reason why they will interfere in human business to ensure the survival of their race. There are differing thoughts on how much they should participate in the human world, however, and this led to turmoil within the kingdom.

What interest me most is the story behind the existence of the Aquarathi followed by their culture. Whilst the story itself was pretty basic, it provided enough background for this book. There wasn’t too much of the culture though I’m hoping there will be a lot more in the next instalment. Without spoiling it too much, I just think it was quite different from what’s out there and I wish that side of things were developed a little more.

A little unfortunate that I found Nerissa to be really annoying. Although she has pretty good reasons to be how she is, it doesn’t make it easy for me to swallow. She seems to be utterly self-centred but really, it was to hide a painful past which she refuses to face. Thankfully, she grew to be tolerable until right at the very end when again she became rather annoying but again with a somewhat acceptable reason… I just didn’t want to accept it.

It was the romance and the humour which drew me through the story. Interactions between Nerissa and Lo was just adorably cute!

“What are you doing here?”
“You’re here. So I’m here, too.” His words could incinerate ice, far less a girl with a definite non-icy heart. I’m hanging on by a thread not to be a puddle on the floor.
“Oh.” It’s the only word I can translate from my brain to my mouth. Everything else is gibberish. “But you don’t work today.”
“No, but you do.” And… puddle.

Thank you, Harlequin Teen for eARC via NetGalley

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Book Blitz: Promises by Amber Garr (plus links for free ebook)


Life as a mermaid can be suffocating.

Free on Amazon Free on B&N Free on Smashwords

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.

About Amber Garr


Amber Garr spends her days as a scientist and nights writing about other worlds. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. Amber is a multiple Royal Palm Literary Award winner, author of Waterproof, The Syrenka Series, The Leila Marx Novels, and the upcoming Death Warden Series. When not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie.





Review: Banish

banishBanish by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Source: Book courtesy of Harlequin Teen Australia

Just look at that cover – extremely eye-catching pink (have you seen my nails today?) with close-up of a gorgeous blond-blue-eyed chick. Yea, I am totally a sucker for pretty covers. I’ve not nailread any other of Nicola Marsh’s works though she seemed to be a prolific author; mostly adult romance novels which I rarely touch. This particular work in the YA / thriller / paranormal fits right within my comfort zone though so it was a snap decision to pick this up.

Alyssa came to New York to live with her aunt in order to escape from a painful past. However, just as she thinks that things are settling down, she’s moving on and is starting to dare to grasp happiness once again, the past came back to haunt her. It’s driving her crazy because she refused to believe in the supernatural… She believes someone’s got it bad for her and her logical head is pushing for a realistic answer. Is she going to get the result she wanted and will it be free of the supernatural?

[Alyssa describing herself] …beanpole strawberry blonde with blah-blue eyes, no curves and a nasty habit of picking at her cuticles

Alyssa was an easily likeable character though I really get the feeling that all her refusal to believe in the supernatural was a little too forced. The lady doth protest too much, methinks. However, she really is a mature character as is evident by her dating older guys. And Ronan! Well, I’ve to say that not only is he HOT, he sounds to be really mature for a 21 year old musician! It was lovely to read a relationship where both sides knew the need to communicate and tried hard at it – a refreshing change in a romance! And let’s not forget the sizzles!

His knuckles grazed my cheek in a strangely intimate gesture that had me wanting to leap into his arms and wrap my legs around him, like some corny scene out of a romantic movie…. He stared at my mouth for another few seconds before he shook his head slightly, as if trying to clear the fog. I know the feeling. Confused, befuddled and totally in lust.

The book opens with a Prologue that was quite thrilling then the book started the week previous to explore events leading up to the prologue. I don’t usually find this type of start annoying but this particular one, I actually did. The start was pretty explosive that I found it hard to settle to read the book. I kept getting distracted and was really impatient to get to that part so I can move onto the next exciting bit but it turns out to be the ending of the book and it was repeated word for word which was somewhat disappointing. I skimmed that couple of pages to read the closing of the book.

Despite the above slight disappointment and the predictability of the mystery (I figured it out midway), I still quite enjoyed the book. Primarily due to the turn of language and the suspense was still there though hubz dared to show up (to pick me up from the station) when I was 5 pages from the end! Arrgh! Banish is a good-easy-read with enough sweetness and suspense to spice it up. I’d recommend it if you’re after some sweet brain-fluff to while away a summer’s day. This is the perfect book to read out in the sunshine.

Thank you, HarlequinTeen Australia, for providing copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Legacy

legacyThe Legacy by Patricia Kiyono

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: courtesy of Astraea Press via their Facebook Book Club group.

This is a case of over expectation letting you down. I expected full novel length story with a paranormal twist but instead it is a contemporary short story. I fully confessed that this is one of those times that I didn’t research the book and had let my imagination fill in the blanks based on cover, title, and vague recollection of blurb.

I am not a fan of short stories to begin with as I just find that they usually do not satisfy me. I think short story is a hard medium as with word limitation, you’d need to be able to tell the story succinctly but with enough zest to entertain. I found that there was too many things being fit into
The Legacy so the story really barely scratch the surface. Too many things were happening that I didn’t have time to relate or get attached to any characters. I found Andy to be a little confusing as he does weights and Leigh walked into ‘a wall of muscle’ [Andy] but yet, he couldn’t get a punch in? The story around the actual ‘Legacy’ has promise and is probably a good premise for a full length novel but I was a bit short and the ending was also a bit simplistic.

This is a simple story which you may like to read during a boring lunch time as it will help you while a way the time. For me, the disappointment mostly stemmed from incorrect expectation but as long as you know what you’re getting into, you may find the story to be tolerable and somewhat sweet.

Thank you, Astraea Press, for providing copy of story in exchange of honest review.

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Review: The Golden Lily

The Golden Lily
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Read the blurb from the back of the book here.

Is it heresy to say that I’m liking Bloodlines much better than Vampire Academy? That I’m liking Sydney a whole heap more than I ever did Rose?

I just found Rose to be a ‘try hard’. I didn’t like Rose’s rebellious, angry, & wary attitude. Not that it’s without cause but I just found it to be really annoying. On the other hand, Sydney seems to be the opposite. She’s trying to obey all the rules, to follow the principles grounded in her since childhood, to please one’s parent, and more than a little bit OCD (organising sweet packets by color & size? C’mon!). These were the main things that I can relate to. Yep, I’m a little bit OCD (just a teeny weeny bit) and the Asian in me is big about being obedient & pleasing one’s parent etc. Being able to identify with the main character is the key factor to enjoying a book I’m reading.

With The Golden Lily, I’m loving Sydney more and more. She’s just absolutely lovely. She’s loving, considerate, warm, and all round goodness. Her character is developed a lot more especially as we see her interact socially a lot more and opening herself up to her friends. She’s strong and brave, willing to face up to challenges set in front of her. She finds it utterly terrifying to face any challenges against the deep-seated beliefs ingrained in her innermost self and yet when the situation calls, she knows where her priorities lie.

I’m happy with the character development of Jill and Adrian too. They matured a lot more in this book and I supposed since they are linked, it’s not surprising that they kind of ‘grew up’ together. We are also introduced to Angeline, she is just… so… precious(!), and Brayden (Sydney’s love interest), well, I think I love one of the things Sydney liked about him: he smells like… COFFEE!! *hhhmmm, I could do with one right now*

Even then, things seem a bit slow in the romance department. Although, seeing that Sydney is blind as a bat when it comes to this part of life, it’s not surprising. She is learning though, at a snail’s pace. (I’m not complaining, I love the suspense & as it is, can’t wait for the next instalment. I am a little sad that I’ve finished reading it so quickly!)

It was definitely a quick read for me, it was just that absorbing and I got carried away with the story. There were so many hints/clues peppered through the book that when the ‘truth’ comes to light, you are just like ‘umph, predictable’ and yet, the big mysteries are still pending. We found out a lot more about Trey and a very little more on Ms Terwilliger but they are, by no means, concluded. I think we are in for a lot more surprises there.

“Yes, I decided. Yes, it was worth it.”

(Yeah, okay, I know, I’m such a tease.)

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Review: Everything Beautiful

Everything Beautiful
Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, really, I don’t know what I expected but this book just shows me what gems are out there when you’re not expecting it.

Let me state as a sort of disclaimer that I usually avoid contemporary fiction (YA or adult) like the plague. Uh huh, you heard me. So for me to completely be immersed in a novel like this one was a Big surprise.

Secondly, I’m also a Christian Youth Leader. Don’t worry, I can poke fun at myself too, just like am laughing at the YL in this novel. For all I know, I’m probably a ‘Roslyn’ minus the **eeek** jumpsuites!

The wittiness caught me by surprise;

“I crossed my legs and felt my head to see if little red horns had grown.”

“I opened my mouth to tell her what I thought of Craig, how fell into the HBNQR category (hot-but-not-quite-right) but the demented glint in her eye made save it. Sarita was a believer. She had the woolly balaclava of bullshit stretched over her eyes…”

but which I thoroughly enjoyed!

And how could you not like Riley Rose? An overweight teen with a brassy personality on the outside but is completely messed up inside. This is a coming-of-age story where Riley Rose learnt to deal with the pain of losing her mom and having to live again.

Warning: Lots of language and sexual references.
I would not myself recommend this book for under 15s (but then again I may be a conservative).

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