Saturday 31 August 2013

Meme: Stuck In My Head #5 - Clementine

Stuck In My Head is a new weekly meme that spotlights the songs you just can't seem to get out of your head. 

Hey friends! So today, here's an awesome tune that I have relentlessly played over and over again for the last couple of days. It is the amazing sound that is Clementine by Sarah Jaffe. 

Once again I was listening to my Youtube playlists I happen across once in a while and this came on and I suddenly felt the urge to stop everything I was doing (ie. scrolling through tumblr and eating..) to give this song my whole attention. There's something about this song and Sarah Jaffe's voice that is simply mesmerising. 

Admittedly I hadn't heard of Sarah Jaffe until I stumbled across Clementine but Sarah is a singer-songwriter from Denton, Texas and has been in the business since 2007. I can't wait to listen to more of her music and I look forward to stalking her on every social networking site I find her on. ;) 

How about you guys? What song has been rattling around in your head for a while? Feel free to tell me what you're listening to at the moment in the comments and also, if it reminds you of anything, perhaps a book you've read or a memory you have. :) 

Monday 19 August 2013

Review: Foretold by Jana Oliver

Summary (from Goodreads):
In the fourth Demon Trappers novel, Riley faces the final battle for humanity and Beck's heart—and Hell is the least of her problems
Now that Riley’s managed to (just barely) fend off Armageddon, everything’s changed. Well . . . most things. After their passionate kiss before the big battle in the cemetery, Beck is back to treating her like a little girl, as if nothing ever happened. While she’d love to just tell him off and move on, Riley vowed to take care of Beck the way he’s taken care of her since her father’s death—but she’s about to get a whole lot more than she bargained for. When she’s commissioned to go with Beck to his hometown and help him care for his dying mother, they stumble too close to a dark and murderous secret, one that Beck fears will drive Riley away from him forever. As chaos breaks loose, Riley may be Beck's only hope for redemption . . . and survival.

Meanwhile, up in Atlanta, it’s quickly becoming clear that Heaven may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. Riley and Beck face a stormy future, as Lucifer's ex-right-hand-man, Sartael, proves himself to be more resilient than anyone thought. He has Atlanta in his grip and is about to begin a brutal war with the prince of Hell. As the seconds tick down toward a final confrontation, it's up to Riley and the man she loves to finally defeat their old enemy, or lose everything they've fought for.

As I haven't reviewed the previous books in this series, I've decided that instead of simply reviewing Foretold alone, this will be an overall - and a little vague - review of the Demon Trappers series. Yaay!

From Forsaken to Foretold, the plot is consistently entertaining and the writing engaging. These books are fast paced and action filled, perfect for those who love paranormal fiction but want less predictable guy in the paranormal world falling for the human girl (and all the drama and pain their all consuming love brings the world) and more deathly battles, manipulative fallen angels and demons ranging from pesky little thieves to soul stealing seducers. Oliver creates an imaginative, unique and layered world that is easy and enjoyable for readers to get lost in.

The characters are all not obviously good or inherently evil. Riley and all the other characters introduced are perfectly flawed making for not only an entertaining read but one where you can also relate with the characters. While the characters' traits are realistic, some of their dialogue and gestures are quite ridiculous. I found myself raising my eyebrows at multiple thumbs up and when Riley was feeling super generous, both thumbs up. Wow. To me, it felt a little over the top and a bit like Oliver was trying really hard to get the essence of being a young and "hip" person and it just didn't pay off all the time.

Just like the characters, the romance throughout The Demon Trappers series has its positives and negatives. What I loved so very much about the romance in The Demon Trappers is that all Riley's relationships lead up to and build up to the eventual pairing in Foretold. The tiny hints starting in Forsaken suddenly make sense in Foretold and that is just so adorable. The only slight problem I had with the romance in Foretold is that because the relationship isn't explored in this way until this book, the relationship seemed to develop and get incredibly serious very quickly. Other than that, it is all very sweet and cute and awwhr-inducing. :)

Overall, The Demon Trappers has everything that a Young Adult Paranormal should have (ie. witches with ever changing chest tattoos and the Vatican making an appearance every now and then ;)) and I would definitely, definitely recommend it. Due to the intricate world of The Demon Trappers I truly believe that if Oliver wanted she could add more books to this series or even create a spin off series. All I can say is that if that ever happens, I'll be the first one to grab them off the shelves.

Music choice:  This is for Beck who loves country music and because the title 'If You're Going Through Hell' really does sound like a good fit for a demon trapper book about Heaven/Hell feud, doesn't it? :) This is If You're Going Through Hell by Rodney Atkins...

itunes link:

Saturday 17 August 2013

Meme: Stuck In My Head #4 - No Angels

Stuck In My Head is a new weekly meme that spotlights the songs you just can't seem to get out of your head. 

Howdy! This week the song that I have replayed way too many times to still be considered sane is... dun dun dun (I don't know why I'm doing a drum roll, the song title is in the post title)... No Angels by Bastille feat. Ella. IT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING. I just love the sound and the rhythm and.. and.. this is probably one of my favourite things at the moment. 

What's different about this pick from my previous Stuck In My Head choices is that this tune is a mash-up combining the music of The XX's Angels and the lyrics of TLC's No Scrubs. That's a fact there that you might just need to know in general knowledge quiz ( won't). :) 

I had heard of The XX before and I am a fan but I hadn't heard of TLC so I looked up the song No Scubs and to be completely honest, I wasn't too keen on it. Nonetheless, for some reason while I didn't enjoy the lyrics much when listening to the original, I love them when listening to No Angels. Perhaps it's because I adore Bastille's music and I liked their twist on it, somehow making it a song with more emotion and depth. 

Bastille is a British band formed in 2010 you should definitely check out because they have created some crazy awesome stuff. This tune appears on their second mixtape, Other People's Heartache Pt. 2. :) 

What about you? What song can you just not get out of your head this week? Does your pick remind you of a book you've read? Please feel free to comment with your picks and do tell me if you like No Angels. :) 

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Meme: "Waiting On" Wednesday #9 - Isla and the Happily Ever After

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming novels that we're all eagerly anticipating.

Gimme gimme gimme noooow. I actually forgot about this for a while but while I was browsing through my to be read lists on Goodreads I re discovered this utter gem. 

Series: Second companion to Anna and the French Kiss 
Expected Publication: May 13th 2014 by Dutton

Summary (from Goodreads): 
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and √Čtienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.


^what he said

This group of companion novels is just too awesome for words. It's a mix of cute writing, sweet romance, eccentric characters and amazing backdrops...WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT FROM A CONTEMPORARY YA BOOK? EH? MY EXCITEMENT CAN ONLY BE EXPRESSED THROUGH CAPS LOCKS AND RIDICULOUS GIFS. 

Anywhoo.. what book are you eagerly waiting for? What book are you just itching read right now? Feel free to leave your answers or if you have a blog, a link to your own "Waiting on" Wednesdays, in the comments. I love finding out about awesome books that I can't read yet (..). ;) 

Bye for now! :)

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Tuesday 13 August 2013

Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Summary (from Goodreads):

Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

Unravelling is enthralling, sweet and exciting.. in short, I would recommend it.

Having not read much sci fi novels before, the premise of multiple universes existing and the idea that if two of these many universes meet, mutual destruction is inevitable is just fascinating to read. Not only is the premise of Unravelling captivating, so is the execution of it. The story line of Janelle and her death life with her family and friends entwined with this premise is done incredibly well. I enjoyed reading this story through Janelle's eyes equally as much as I enjoyed reading a book about thousands upon thousands of universes.

Janelle is wonderful. It's been a while since I've read a book where I adored the protagonist. If she magically came out of the book, she's the sort of person I would love to friends with. Janelle does all she can to help her family and she works hard in everything she does. Normally it would irritate me to no end if a main character judges and labels people constantly but Janelle realises she is wrong about her presumptions and admits she is wrong and I respect that in a character. She is also bad ass and while I know not all women need to be written as bad ass to be great characters, there's something about a strong female who continually sticks up for herself and points guns at people to demand answers that is just awesome.

Unfortunately, while the Janelle is great, the secondary characters didn't quite hit the mark for me and a lot of them blended together. I couldn't actually distinguish between Ben's friends, Elijah and Reid, until I neared the end of the book which isn't that great considering they play a pretty significant part to the story line. Nick is just Janelle's ex boyfriend and Kevin, Nick's best friend, who really interested me with his surprising layers wasn't really mentioned again after Janelle and Nick split. Hopefully in the next book the secondary characters will be developed more wholly, including Katie (Janelle's ex best friend) and perhaps Kevin will make more appearances.

The romance in Unravelling was a little strange to be honest. It was weird how Janelle could go from never talking to Ben in so many years to being so in love with him, all within a couple of weeks. The connection is understandable, what with Ben bringing her back from the dead, but it was a little hard to accept that Janelle would so wholly fall for a guy who she knows has been watching and pining for her from afar for such a long time. Nonetheless, the two do have a lot of chemistry, they have very cute moments throughout Unravelling and the ending is heartbreaking.

Overall, I very much enjoyed Unravelling. I look forward to seeing where Norris takes the characters, the story line and the romance however... as much as I enjoyed this, I sort of wish there isn't a next book. The ending to Unravelling may leave a couple of questions unanswered but it's sad and bittersweet and pretty complete to me.

Music choice: The lyrics of Wherever You Will Go really sums up the loss and loyalty you see in Unravelling. I thought about using the original The Calling version but I think Charlene Soraia's softer version fits this book a little better so here you go... Wherever You Will Go by Charlene Soraia

Saturday 10 August 2013

Meme: Stuck In My Head #3 - Pieces

Stuck In My Head is a new weekly meme that spotlights the songs you just can't seem to get out of your head. 

Hello lovelies. :) My pick this week is most definitely the beautiful and soft sound that is Pieces by Cider Sky. I haven't been able to play this song without smiling. I discovered Cider Sky a while back when I heard the song We Are In Love (which is also awesome) but I never branched out and listened to any of their other songs then. Recently I was listening to a hipster playlist (ahahhah ;) ) on Youtube and Pieces came on and I just adored it. 

Anywhoo, here it is, have a listen, it really is beautiful. :) 

What about you? Any song that has been in your head for a while? Feel free to share your song(s) and share if your song(s) remind you of a book. I would love to discover new music and books to get obsessed with. :D

Friday 9 August 2013

Review: The Hit by Melvin Burgess

Summary (from Goodreads):
Take it. Live it. F*** it.
A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It's the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.
Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend's over him, his brother's gone. So what's he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It's up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him...

What surprised me to no end is just how British this book is. I have gotten so use to reading books set in America, I open up a teen book and expect to read about what to wear to high school, studying for SATs and going to college and malls... despite living in England. It was a shock for me to open up The Hit and recognise the dialect as what I tend to hear on the streets and that really made the characters feel that much more real.

Both Adam and Lizzie, and the secondary characters also, are extremely realistic and I applaud Burgess for being able to create characters that are not only interesting to read about, but also believable. Adam isn't exactly the most likeable of characters, what with his inability to really think about anybody but himself and Lizzie also, grated me due to her constant naivety but flawed, slightly irritating but realistic characters are better than perfect and unrealistic ones any day.

Similar to the characters, the romance isn't fiction perfect. Adam and Lizzie don't get together and unconditionally love each other after overcoming the problem of their social class difference. They fight, they both do things wrong, they don't communicate well so they often keep things bottled up inside and Adam, like most teenage boys, really wants sex to the point where he repeatedly nearly drives Lizzie away. What I liked about this romance is that even by the end of The Hit, all their problems aren't resolved and it isn't written as if the two are destined to live their whole lives together; it is a teen romance through and through.

The plot is probably the best thing about The Hit. The Hit is about Britain on the very cusp of a revolution.. it is truly thrilling to read. Emotions run high and loyalty runs deeper than blood. It is a world where the rich are simply getting richer and the poor seem to getting more poor by the day so people group together to really do something about it. This isn't a dystopian book where a group of rebels and outcasts are fighting a tyrannous government hundreds of years in the future... it is hundreds and hundreds teenagers who would rather live a week of bliss than their whole lives and it is every day people wanting more for themselves.. and it's something that could happen. I would have actually preferred more attention to the actual revolution to the romancing of Lizzie and Adam.

Nonetheless I enjoyed reading this book and the premise is both plausible and terrifying making for a fascinating read, especially for a teenager living in England. One thing is for sure, I will definitely be delving into the world of British YA literature much more after reading this.

Music choice: I thought at first what could be more British than Power To The People by The Beatles' John Lennon but I didn't really think that the song epitomised the anger and desperation of the Zealots in The Hit so... I've picked TWO QUEEN SONGS. One of which is We Are The Champions for the revolution side of things...

..and the other being Don't Stop Me Now for the insane high of Death. 

Monday 5 August 2013

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Summary (from Goodreads):

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

One thing I couldn't stop thinking about while reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was why on earth Mara and her friends went to this old and abandoned asylum in the first place. I'm all for some thrills and living living life on the edge (sometimes I go for it and pick a book at random from my bookshelf without even looking at the title.. I am thrill seeker, my friends) but there is no reason for going to a scary building in the dead of night. I don't care how bored you are, walking into an abandoned asylum is like that girl in the horror movies who hears the noise in the basement and decides to open the door anyway. No, don't do that. Just run. Run.

Now that I've got that off my chest.. This beautiful looking (yes, I judge books by their covers, sue me) book is basically about a girl, Mara, who wakes up in a hospital to discover that her best friend, her best friend's friend and her boyfriend have died in a collapsing asylum that she survived virtually unscathed. Her whole family then relocate to Florida and she starts at a new school where she catches the eye of known womaniser Noah Shaw. There's also a string of sudden deaths, a couple of dead insects, some alligators, a handful of hallucinations and flashbacks on Mara's part and a kidnapping for good measure and it's all a bit random and mysterious.

If nothing else, this book is definitely different. The new mysterious girl falling for the bad boy has been done before but the plot is a fresh one that I enjoyed reading. The random occurrences and deaths were a little hard to follow at first but having never read a book where the main character is responsible for the mysterious deaths without really understanding how, I wanted to read on and find out how and why. Also, the unraveling of the mystery of the original deaths of her friends and her miraculous escape is really interesting to read because the reader finds out new aspects of that night at the same time as Mara gradually remembers them.

As much as I liked the overall idea behind this book and I enjoyed the flashbacks, the romance and the main characters really dragged this read down for me. At first Mara was a really cool protagonist who always had a witty response on the tip of her tongue but when I hoped Mara would investigate the murders, she was spending all of her time wondering if she should give Noah the time of day. It was disappointing that her whole world was about this guy now and she doesn't make any friends other than Jamie who appears a couple of times to help her with her homework and tell her not to date Noah and she doesn't do anything apart from draw Noah.

Overall, although I really liked the premise of this novel and a lot of the story line really appealed to me, I think the premise could have been executed better if there was less attention given to the romance and more to Mara really discovering herself and uncovering the truth. I wanted less romance and more Mara worrying and finding out why people are randomly dropping dead around her. If you enjoy angsty should-I-should-I-not teen romance with a little creepy thrown in, you will probably enjoy The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer but if you want more story line and characters actively trying to get shit done rather than romance... this probably isn't for you.

(P.S. The ending is surprising. Very.)

Music choice: I guess this is for Mara losing her best friend, Rachel. That moment when Mara asks about Rachel in her hospital bed is awwhr... 

Losing Hope by Jack Johnson

Saturday 3 August 2013

Meme: Stuck In My Head #2 - If I'm Gonna Fall In Love

Stuck In My Head is a new weekly meme, hosted here, that spotlights the songs you just can't seem to get out of your head. 

Earlier this week I was scrolling through my recommendations on Youtube, as you do, and I came across a cover of a song I hadn't heard of before and I clicked on it, as you do, and I really loved it so I looked up the original version and.. it's just adorable. 

I have been playing this over and over again this week and I know I'm probably going to get sick of it soon but at the moment If I'm Gonna Fall In Love by A Rocket To The Moon is what is stuck in my head this week, my friends. A Rocket To The Moon have been a band since 2006 and they recently announced that they would be breaking up but as I haven't heard a single song by them other than If I'm Gonna Fall In Love I guess I have 7 years of music to last me. :) 

Have a listen... 

Oh and also, here's the cover I heard first.. 

What about you? What has been stuck in your head? I'd love to know so please do comment with you favourite tunes or create your own Stuck In My Head post. Oh, and if you're a fellow avid reader, does If I'm Gonna Fall In Love or a pick of your own remind you of a book you're reading or have read?

Thursday 1 August 2013

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

I'm pretty sure Harrington wants me track her down and give her a massive hug or like, homemade cookies or something. Do you think it would freak her out if I told her I loved her?

To put it very simply if awesome was a thing, it would be Speechless.

Despite the blurb the UK bright blue colourful cover fooled me into thinking that this novel would be a light hearted read but boy, was I wrong. The novel deals with a lot of real current issues in school including the brutalities of popularity hierarchies, bullying, prejudice and discrimination. It's scary how easily someone who was once feared can be outcasted and bullied so much by the people she used to call her friends and even scarier still, how some people can judge, verbally hurt and physically hurt others for something so small like race or sexuality.

"It seems so impossible that someone could look at them, see how plainly they care for each other, and find anything ugly or shameful or worthy of hatred in it, when all I see is something beautiful."
pg 256

Harrington clearly tells the reader through Speechless that words are powerful and that if you don't think or if you use your voice to cause pain then there will be consequences for you and for the people around you. There are a lot of lessons that can be learnt from Speechless which makes it so worthwhile to read.

The characters really make the book.. Harrington creates realistic characters that aren't all bad or all good. Even Kristen who is the epitome of evil at the beginning is shown to have a vulnerable, softer side by the end. I adored Chelsea who does sacrifice everything that is important to her in order to do the right thing and she gradually develops as a character growing more compassionate and empathetic as she adapts to being outcasted and as she gets closer to her new friends.

God, the love I have for Chelsea's new friends. Asha who is honest and kind and just everything I really want to be. Andy also, who may have understandably been a bit of a douche but Andy does forgive Chelsea and their friendship does become pretty adorable.

Speaking of new friends, there is one character I have deliberately not talked about until now and that is because he is on a whole new level for me. The amount of fangirling I did when Sam appeared and was said to be a skateboarder (I am honestly squealing right now) and right off the bat, Sam is just the nicest guy.

The way the relationship between Sam and Chelsea develops, even though she can't actually talk, is one of the cutest things I have ever read. Sam is forgiving and caring and gaaah, if fiction guys were real. 

This book is everything you would want from a contemporary Young Adult book; realistic characters free from stereotypes, gradual character growth, a sweet romance, an interesting premise and lessons that you can actually apply to your own life. Although the cosy work place in a cafe is a little cliche (The Truth About Forever is the only one I can think of right now where the protagonist suddenly gets a job with an eccentric catering crew/diner/cafe and feels at home with this array of awesome workers but there have been more, I promise!) Harrington is officially one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to read more of her works. I recommend that you read both this gem and Saving June and I really hope that you enjoy them as much as I have. :) 

Music choice: I guess this is a pretty obvious choice but when I was reading Speechless this was the first song that came to find. It summarises the messages in Speechless and the catchy but serious tune is what I think this book is; enjoyable but also deep and meaningful. 

Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis ft. Mary Lambert.. 

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