Touching the Surface Win

The parcel I have been waiting for arrived yesterday. So exciting! Look what I got…

I won this awesome prize during the The YA Scavenger Hunt a few months ago where I had such fun hopping from blog to blog collecting clues and entering the participating author’s additional giveaways.

A huge thank you to author Kimberly Sabatini and her very generous prize of a signed book for myself as well as one (a hardcover!) for our school library…
And look at all the signed bookmarks and beautiful origami birds! The students are going to love these! I can’t wait to show them.

Program crop

Reminiscent of Slated by Teri Terry, Suzanne Young has created a disturbingly realistic dystopian world. The unique method used in the memory removal procedure was particularly alarming… all the more because it didn’t even seem far-fetched.

I became so absorbed in this story that when I finally had to face the real world I brought back a lingering trace of paranoia….

Although it did not distract from the story as a whole, I wish we had been told the underlying cause of the overwhelming depression and suicide rate that triggered the need for a new society – I don’t like unsolved mysteries!4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: The ProgramThe Program
Series: The Program – # 1
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication Date: 30 April 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon.com
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.        — Extract from Goodreads.com

Days of blood and starlight crop

At first I was disappointed, Days of Blood and Starlight started off as an echo of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, it felt empty, less – just faded, like a prop or a gap there just to link two great books.

But a few pages in I was delighted to be wrong, this was no gap…

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.”

Laini Taylor’s writing is heart stoppingly beautiful and Karou’s story is magical. Haunting. Vibrant. Sad. Shock, horror and unbearable twists combine with witty banter and raw emotion, with layers of depth and wonder that add more to the story than I can describe.

“These weren’t her folk but… they were, and maybe that meant that anyone could be anyone’s, which was a sort of nice thing to think, with the world falling apart.”

5 Star

Recommended age: 13

Title:  Days of Blood & Starlight
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 6 November 2012Days of blood and Starlight
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon.com
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. Forhope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?    — Extract from Goodreads.com

Prelude crop

Prelude is an original take on the fantasy realm and really stands out from the crowd. Although I like fantasy I have never really enjoyed the mermaid/siren theme, but this story has changed that for me and I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

Lots of action teamed with realistic emotion made it impossible to put the book down and  I loved the characters, which were particularly well-developed. Glen, the elf warrior guard who protects Sarah, stood out from the rest – Go Team Glen!4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title:  Prelude
Series: The Rhapsody Quartet #1Prelude
Author: A.M. Hodgson
Publication Date: 8 November 2013
Publisher: A.M. Hodgson
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
Purchase this book:
Amazon.com
Amazon UK
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Sarah Mills is an endangered species— she just doesn’t know it. 

Then she turns sixteen and ‘transitions.’ One magical hangover later, she’s awakened as a gorgeous adult siren— a species the other magical races thought went extinct thirteen years ago. Most girls might adore the attention Sarah’s suddenly getting, but all she wants to do is become invisible for the remainder of her high school career. 

Unfortunately, Sarah can’t seem to turn off her siren compulsion. People hang on her every word. They do whatever she asks them to. The best looking guy in school wants to date her. Sarah just wants to go unnoticed, but it seems all she can do is make mistakes. 

After she shatters the minds of her foster parents with her first siren song, Sarah has no choice but to move in with the class diva. It’s the foster system all over again, but this time her host is a mermaid princess, backed by a council of magical creatures. 

The council claims to have her best interests at heart. They even assigned her a stoic elf bodyguard just to keep her safe. Because unfortunately for Sarah, there’s a reason the sirens all died off over a decade ago. Someone isn’t happy that she survived. Someone wants her dead. 

The first attack was a wraith. The second attack played on Sarah’s greatest fears. The third attack might succeed.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

 The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Fangirl crop

The question is…. How to put into words your thoughts on a book that draws you in keeps you there, in its heart, which fast becomes a place you never want to leave?

Beautifully written, sensitive, funny with the best kind of weird, nerdy, messed-up characters with issues, who fall in love over the course of one year. I love that Levi, who is such a great, patient boyfriend also messes up and is not perfect which makes him all the more real.

I wonder how long it would have taken me to find the underworld of fan fiction writing if I hadn’t picked up this book…  5 Star

Recommended age: 14+

FangirlTitle:  Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: 10 September 2013
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon.com
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
— Extract from Goodreads.com

 

killables crop
An action filled dystopian story, that although pretty predictable, is very readable and will appeal to young teens.

The story contains has a strong message which made me think confirms that political propaganda, in general, is actually no better than brain washing.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

killablesTitle:  The Killables
Series: The Killables: Book 1
Author: Gemma Malley
Publication Date: 29 March 2012
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Everyone accepted that people were different physically. But inside? Inside, they were different too. You just had to know how to tell, what to look for. Evil has been eradicated. The City has been established. And citizens may only enter after having the ‘evil’ part of their brain removed. They are labelled on the System according to how ‘good’ they are. If they show signs of the evil emerging, they are labelled a K …But no one knows quite what that means. Only that they disappear, never to be seen again ..
 — Extract from Goodreads.com

Agora Files Crop
The Agora Files is a fast-paced, unpredictable and original dystopian story. Full of action, adrenaline, excitement and adventure but with a strong, appealing human element which comes through in family dynamics and unexpected relationships. This human element is what takes the book into the next level – don’t miss this story!

4 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title:  The Agora FilesAgora Files
Author: Adam Oster
Publication Date: 29 November 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
Purchase this book:
Amazon.com
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Cyrus must run for his life, but can he run from love?

When dying alone on the hot sands of the Mohave Desert, Cyrus has no regrets. He loves a challenge. Being tasked with running from San Francisco to Boston in fifteen days, while the United States government and a host of bounty hunters hunt for him, sounds like fun. Being at death’s door only a day into his trip doesn’t faze him either. It’s when he’s joined by fellow runner Eve, bringing new emotions to the surface, his confidence cracks.    — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

 

Daughter Smoke and Bone Crop
Once upon a time a little girl was raised by monsters. But angels burnt the doorways to their world and she was all alone…

This is an exceptional book, the best I have read so far this year, and words don’t really express what I want to share. Hours after finishing the book I was still mesmerised under its spell and for days I literally carried it with me, reluctant to admit I was finished.

I loved this story for several reasons; the gorgeous, rich, seductive writing, the original storyline, the characters so well portrayed that I feel as though I know them personally and the alluring descriptions of beautiful Prague… But the bar was raised with the unpredictable twists and the conclusion which left me desperate for the sequel, not because there’s a ‘cheap’ cliff-hanger (there isn’t), but because I want to be there for the next stage of the adventure and I miss my friends the characters.

Tears, hope and laughter followed me through the pages where I met characters so unique that I will never forget them, dived into enchanting magical worlds, and witnessed wicked hatred, powerful all-consuming love, betrayal and fierce loyalty, all while learning the magic of bone jewellery and at last the hidden truth that blew everything apart and changed the game – forever.

I leave you with this quote: Hope makes its own magic… and hope that you are inspired fall head-over-heels into this book.5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Title: Daughter of Smoke and BoneDaughter Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – # 1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 5 June 2012 (1st published 1 January 2011)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Kalahari
Loot.co.za
Add to your shelf:
Goodreads
Shelfari

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?     — Extract from Goodreads.com

During 2014 I was lucky enough to read just over 130 books!
These are my favourite reads of the year…
Favourites of 2014

 

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry
Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

I would love to know which books you loved this year, please leave a comment above…

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week we are sharing the top 10  books we read during 2104.