Wednesday, 12 December 2012

YA Holiday Reading List

I've always loved reading but the last couple of months I've experienced a bit of a low point (in both life and blogging and reading). I'm in the midst of what I like to call The Great Reading Slump of 2012. However, I'm not gonna let this bring me down (much), and am looking forward to diving back into YA books.

I'll be heading over to the US for Christmas and plan to fill my Kindle and carry on with lots of the books I've missed over the past two months (14+ hour flight, yo). So without further ado, I present:



(I really tried, but I just couldn't resist the sparkles. Sorry, I'm not sorry.) 

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E Smith 
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

I feel like I've been wanting to read this book forever and it seems like the perfect in-transit book. 

Meant To Be - Lauren Morrill
Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Another cute travel type book, with a gorgeous cover. 

Time Between Us - Tamara Ireland Stone
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

San Francisco and Chicago are two of the stops on my US trip. So it's kinda educational right? In any case I like reading novels set in places I've been/am going to. 

A Midsummer's Nightmare - Kody Keplinger
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.

While there is nothing particularly holiday/christmas-y about this book, if there is one author who is sure to bring me out of a reading slump it's Kody Keplinger. Everything she writes is golden. 

The Secret of Ella & Micha -  Jessica Sorensen

Ella and Micha have been best friends since they were kids. But one tragic night shatters their friendship and their lives forever.

Ella used to be a rule-breaker with fiery attitude who wore her heart on her sleeve. But she left everything behind when she went to college and transformed into someone that follows the rules, keeps everything together, and hides all her problems. But now it's summer break and she has nowhere else to go but home. 

Ella fears everything she worked so hard to bury might resurface, especially with Micha living right next door. If Micha tries to tempt the old her back, she knows that it will be hard to resist.

Micha is sexy, smart, confident, and can get under Ella’s skin like no one else can. He knows everything about her, including her darkest secrets. And he’s determined to bring his best friend, and the girl he loves back, no matter what it takes. 

Again not a "holiday" read, but I'm excited to read some books in the new adult genre as these books are more in my age bracket. I would love to see more books in this genre being published in 2013, and I believe that it will really take off in the coming years. For me, Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo is a standout in the new adult genre. A definite must read. 

Happy Holidays! 
Got any good holiday/feel-good book recommendation? Let me know! 


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Snapshot: Spider

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home With Books. Post photos YOU (or a friend) have taken, old or new. Just keep it clean folks.

I participated in a photo a day challenge/contest last month (well it was more like a 5 photo a day challenge to be precise) which was loads of fun. I didn't win, but I had a blast participating and once it was over I felt a tiny bit forlorn that I was no longer having to snap pictures everyday. I thought this meme would be a good way to share some of the pictures I took over the course of the contest, and a way for me to keep up my new instagram addiction. 

Taking a spider in its web photo is actually harder than you might think. Well, at least it was hard for a photography novice like myself. 

Ever had a scary spider encounter? 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Book Review: Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday

Title: Social Suicide (Deadly Cool #2)
Author: Gemma Halliday
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: April 2012
Summary: Twittercide: the killing of one human being by another while the victim is in the act of tweeting. Call me crazy, but I figured writing for the "Herbert Hoover High Homepage" would be a pretty sweet gig. Pad the resume for college applications, get a first look at the gossip column, spend some time ogling the paper's brooding bad-boy editor, Chase Erikson. But on my first big story, things went . . . a little south. What should have been a normal interview with Sydney Sanders turned into me discovering the homecoming queen-hopeful dead in her pool. Electrocuted while Tweeting. Now, in addition to developing a reputation as HHH's resident body finder, I'm stuck trying to prove that Sydney's death wasn't suicide. I'm starting to long for the days when my biggest worry was whether the cafeteria was serving pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos. . . Goodreads | Amazon   

Social Suicide is the second installment in the Deadly Cool series, however it works perfectly well as a stand alone, so if you haven't read the first novel it won't really impact your reading of this one at all. In Social Suicide Hartley Featherstone inadvertenly finds herself in the middle of a Twittercide and once again is on the case to find a murderer and write a killer article for the Herbert Hoover High online newspaper.

While the believability factor in Social Suicide is zero, if you suspend your hold on reality and enjoy the antics and Hartley's fun narrative voice it's an fairly entertaining read. There's a tiny bit of romance amongst all the investigating, as Hartley and Chase flit around each other in an awkward mating dance. I have high hopes for those two in the future! The mystery/who-dunnit aspect was a bit predictable and I had the killer all worked out fairly early on in the piece (I was really proud of myself on that front because I'm usually the worst at guessing who the killer is!). 

One little niggle I had with the book was that it was too similar to the first novel for me. Once again Hartely just happens to stumble upon a dead body (I mean really, that's just terrible luck, right?). And once again she plans to meet a suspect late at night in deserted place (did you learn nothing from last time!), and yet again she ends up in life threatening danger at the end of the novel. I'm amazed how upbeat Hartley is depsite all this. I would think someone who had gone through all she has would need serious therapy. 

I will still give future books in this series a go in the hopes that Halliday will freshen up the mysteries, and because she has created a really awesome and lovable cast of characters. Hartley's tofu loving Mother who is venturing into the world of online dating for the first time, the potbellied Detective Raley, and Hartley's athletically challenged and love-struck BFF Sam, are all examples of characters that make this series so much fun to read.

Social Suicide is a light and entertaining mystery read that is the perfect escape from reality. While it may not leave you gripping the edge of your seat in anticipation, it is sure to leave a smile on your face and, I dare-say, even a chuckle or two at Hartley's spunky sense of humor. 

Recommended for people who like:contemporary fiction, mysteries, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, escaping reality. 

Have you read this book? 
If so, what are you thoughts on it? 
Are you good at guessing who the Killer is in mysteries? 


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bake That Book: The Jelly Bean Crisis Funfetti Cupcakes

Baking recipes inspired by YA novels and sharing the yumminess around.

The Jelly Bean Crisis by Jolene Stockman 
Goodreads | Amazon  
The Jelly Bean Crisis is a thoughtful contemporary read that as the title suggests, has a little bit to do about jelly beans. Poppy Johnson, a 'smart-nice' girl on a fast track to Columbia University, lives by her Jelly Bean theory to eat the yuck colours first so that you can have the yummy colours later. This extends to her beliefs that she should work hard now, so that she will be able to be happy and successful later on in life. I was inspired by Poppy's attitude and zest for life, and her totally awesome jelly bean theory.This story left me wanting to dig in to a big bowl of jelly beans, or something equally as sweet and delicious. 

* My review of the Jelly Bean Crisis *

Funfetti & Jelly Bean Cupcakes 
One of the jobs Poppy takes on during her gap month is working at a Bakery (aka my dream job). When she talked about the giant batches of cookie dough that she was able to eat straight out of the mixer I was salivating. But for this Bake That Book I wanted to embrace the colourful nature of the jelly bean theory, so I chose to whip up Funfetti Cupcakes because they're full of little bursts of colour and surprises just like Poppy. I amost thought about putting jelly beans into the cupcakes but I wasn't sure if it would work! (if anyone has tried this or does try it let know!). This is a light fluffy vanilla cake that is great for using up any sprinkles you have floating around your pantry. 

If you want to give these a go try this recipe for Super Duper Funfetti Cupcakes. Top with your favourite frosting and sprinkle with jelly beans and hey presto! you're done. 

What have you baked lately?
Do you have a favourite cupcake flavour/combination? 


Friday, 7 September 2012

Follow Friday #9

                      Feature and Follow Friday is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read

Q: What book(s) are you reading right now? What do you think of it?

I was reading Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson. I got about 1/4 of a way through it and I had to stop because I wasn't in the mood to be bawling my eyes out for the next week. Sometimes, (and for me it's most of the times) I need lighthearted, fluffy, sweet stuff. So I picked up Social Suicide, book #2 in the Deadly Cool series.  I'm only a chapter in but I can already tell this is gonna be filled with just as much hilarity, fun and shenanigans as the first novel. 

What are you reading?
 Have you read either of these? 
Do you enjoy a bit (or a lot) of heart ache in your books? 

Let me know if you're a new follower so I can follow back :) 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Series Review: The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa


Title: The Iron Fey Series (The Iron King #1, The Iron Daughter #2, The Iron Queen #3, The Iron Knight #4)
Author: Julie Kagawa 
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN 
Summary: The Faery realms have always weathered the clash of Summer and Winter fey, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Now a new breed of faery has emerged to challenge both... to their peril. Forged by Man's insatiable pursuit of technological superiority, the terrifying Iron fey are massing...and the fate of all faeries hangs in the balance. The greatest weapon in this epic magical war? A half-human teenage girl. 

I read and reviewed The Iron King a few months back and enjoyed it well enough, but for some reason never got around to picking up the next book in the series. Until recently that is. I think part of the reason why I didn't dive right into this series is that I knew once I picked up the second book I wouldn't be able to stop until I had read them all. And I was right. Over the course of a few days I finished The Iron Fey Series; reading the books voraciously and  getting completely lost in the amazing characters and world that Julie Kagawa penned.  

This series goes from strength to strength as the reader is taken on a multitude of journeys through the Nevernever. Throughout these four books we are introduced to many a suspicious and nefarious character, and inevitably fall more in like with half-faery Meghan Chase, her best friend and legendary literary character Puck, and the dark, troubled, and tortured Winter prince Ash. 

I grew very attached to Meghan throughout the series, which is a testament to Kagawa's ability to write a strong, realistic and relatable female character. Meghan developed so much from the first to the last book.  I was legitimately sad during the last book, as it wasn't in her POV and I had gotten so invested in her story by that point. Even though I missed hearing from Meghan in the final book, it was good to get Ash's perspective on things, and I really loved that we learnt more about his back story, and were given a sense of how cruel and dark the fae truly are. A major plus in my book for this series is that Kagawa hasn't tried to make these creatures too good, but has stayed true to their dark side and wicked predilections. 

The Iron Fey Series is the kind of fantasy that gets me excited to read books in this genre. Similar to the  Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, in that this is a book that has the perfect balance of adventure, romance, and coming-of-age, although it does lack some of the gritty realism and complex plotting that is ever present in Marchetta's writing. The Iron Fey Series is a brilliantly written, engrossing, and vivid read that sets the (high) standard for YA faery novels.

Recommended for: people who love world-building, fairies, conniving cats, perilous quests, lovable larrikins, dark princes and strong heroines. 

Have you read this series? 
What did you think about it? 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Book Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Title: When You Were Mine
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: May 2012
Summary: Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…. Goodreads | Amazon 

When You Were Mine was a delightfully surprising read.  I say this because I'm not normally fond of retellings and I wasn't really keen to read this book. But I'm glad I gave it a chance, because it completely won me over. While it is touted as a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet, it felt fresh and new, mainly because it is narrated by Rosaline, Romeo's first love, and  it tells her side of the story. 

By having the story centre on Rosaline, a character that we know little about from the Shakespeare play - except that Romeo was initially enamoured with her -  it allows Serle to really stretch and develop this character. Rose was someone I would want to be friends with. She's popular, but nice. Smart, but prone to being judgemental; and while completely in love with Rob (aka Romeo) at the beginning of the novel she isn't obsessed to the point of being delusional. Her friends Charlie and Olivia were just as well drawn out and characterised. I loved how strong, outgoing, and outspoken Charlie was, and even though she and Olivia are total Mean Girls they are good friends to Rose.

Serle put a lot of work in establishing the relationship between Rose and Rob at the beginning of the novel and it made the inevitable heartbreak even more painful to read about, knowing that Rose and Rob had been best friends since childhood. Serle's ability to make me love both the idea of Rose and Rob at the beginning of the novel, and then Rose and Len, an unpopular slacker, later is a testament to her writing skills. 

The connections and parallels with Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet are few and far between. Which, while nice for people who dislike retellings (like myself!), if you went into this hoping for a close retelling of the original Shakespeare play it won't live up to your expectations. Even though we all know how this story must end, When Your Were Mine felt so distant from the original that I wasn't even sure of what the outcome of this novel would be. 

All in all, When You Were Mine is one of the best retellings I have read and completely changed my mind about them in general. I would definitely recommend this bittersweet story of first love to all contemporary young adult lovers.  

Have you read this book? 
If so, what are you thoughts on it? 
Do you love or loathe retellings? 

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