Shiirleyy's Bookshelf has migrated to Dear Shirley ! I will continue to post book reviews but there will also be a lot of personal and travel-related posts :)

Book Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

29 Mar 2012

Title: Slide
Author: Jill Hathaway 
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia/Balzar + Bray
Release Date: March 27th 2012 (US)/March 1st (AU)
Format: Paperback 
Source: Publisher for review (Thank you!)

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

An original debut with a fascinating premise. Hathaway's debut Slide will woo readers with its gripping murder mystery plot line. While truthfully, I didn't find it entirely mind-blowing, I'm sure fans of mystery books will love this.

Slide tells the story of Sylvia, 'Vee', who can literally 'slide' into people. She'll be able to see everything from the perspective of the person she slides into,and may, occasionally 'control' them. The whole 'sliding' into another person was executed extremely well, and it was definitely interesting reading about how she feels being 'inside' someone else's body.

Here's the part where I'm a little picky with; this was certainly a good mystery, but it's by no means a mind-bending and thrilling mystery. I'll admit that I didn't guess the ending, but you know the whole 'the most probable is the least probable' tactic you use to guess who the murderer is?( or maybe that's just me since I read & watch too much crime!) was pretty obvious who WASN'T the murderer, process of elimination, it was easy to guess who was involved. But I was really curious about the reason for the string of murders, so that certainly managed to maintain my interest.

The characters were....written well but not necessarily memorable. My feelings towards Vee was more like 'Yep, she's a fine character, I don't mind her.'But there was nothing about her character that distinguished her from all the other YA heroines. And truthfully, I found Zach a 2D character. His role seemed insignificant and his characterization was just...bland. Rollins, Vee's best friend, was probably the only character that interested me. I just wish his relationship with Vee was explored a little better (I mean, they're supposed to be BEST FRIENDS, except I couldn't feel that 'best friend vibe' from them.)

And lastly, I wish the ending had a little more OOMPH. It had the potential to have such a profound impact on me ( since I recently read a book that had a similar ending and that was the deciding factor between a good and AMAZING book), but everything happened a little too fast and it just wasn't effective enough.

The review might sound extremely critical, but i really did enjoy it. It just wasn't enough to fully WOW me. Give this a try though! I know some people who absolutely ADORED this, and you might too!

In My Mailbox #23

25 Mar 2012

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, which allows bloggers to share what books they've borrowed, received in the mail or bought in the past week.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Silhouette by Thalia Kalkipsakis
(Sooooo excited for these two<3 I mean, who isn't excited to read Of Poseidon? 
I currently have this obsession with ALL dance-related books- blame in on Dance Academy!- so I'm ready to devour any books on dancing thrown my way!)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
(Eeeeeee! PANDEMONIUM! It's about time I read this!<3 )

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer
Bunheads by Sophie Fick
Forgotten by Cat Patrick
(OHMYGOSH. STORMMMMM! A HUGEEEE thank you to BRODIE for sending this to me!Brodie and I are sorta having this 'war' over the Merrick brothers & you can see her desperate attempt at keeping them all to herself in the pic below...
I'm sooo excited to read Bunheads and Forgotten! Forgotten seems to be LOVED by everyone, so I really can't wait to start it!) 

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Fallen by Love by Lauren Kate
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
(AHSUDSAHDA *SPAZZZZ* I'm reading this RIGHT NOW , and seriously, IT.IS.INCREDIBLE.! As expected of the fabulous Julie Kagawa, of course! I'm actually not supposed to be reading at the moment since I'm in the middle of my exam period BUT anything by Julie Kagawa takes priority over exams <3)

Oh my freaking goodness! I certainly had a FANTASTIC week<3 I received more books this week than what I got in the last month, and it's all thanks to the absolutely wonderful Aussie bloggers, Lisa and Brodie! Lisa and Brodie recently hosted the brilliant February Valentine's Event ( I'm sure you've all heard of it, right? RIGHT?) and I was one of the very lucky people who won one of their massive prize pack!<3 And wow..I have to say, Aussie Publishers are so quick with sending out the goodies! ALL my prizes arrived this week <3 Eeeeee! I cannot wait to devour all those goodies <3

A MASSIVE thank you to Brodie @ Eleusinian Mysteries, Lisa @ Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me, Hardie Grant Egmont, Hachette, Hachette Children's, Harper Collins, Random House, Harlequin & Netgalley for the above awesomeness <3

What did you receive in your mailbox? :D

Book Review: Deception by Lee Nichols

24 Mar 2012

Title: Deception (Haunting Emma #1) 
Author: Lee Nichols 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia 
Release Date: September 5th, 2011
Format: Paperback 
Source: Publisher for review (Thank you!)

When Emma Vaile’s parents go missing while away on a mysterious business trip, she’s left all alone in her creepy old house. But her brother’s very cute best friend, Bennett Stern—Emma’s knight in J. Crew armor—arrives unexpectedly to whisk her away to New England. There, Emma settles into his family’s museum-like mansion and enrolls at an old-fashioned private school. She quickly finds friends in the popular legacy crowd at Thatcher and spends her free time crushing on Bennett.

But the eerie visions she’s been hiding from everyone have gotten worse. Emma has memories of Thatcher that she can’t explain—it’s as if she’s returning home to a place she’s never been. Finally, Emma confides in Bennett and learns she is a ghostkeeper, a person who can communicate with ghosts. Bennett brought Emma to Thatcher to protect her, but now he needs her help tracking an other-worldly murderer.

Upon finishing this, I literally sat on my bed and thought to myself "WHY ON EARTH DIDN'T I READ THIS SOONER? It was  FANTASTIC and unputdownable!" It had all the elements of my a book I love! I have a feeling my next obsession will be GHOSTS ( As creepy as that sounds, but after reading Deception, there's no way I'm going to ignore another ghost-related book, because chances are, I'm going to love them as well!)

While Deception is a ghost-related story, it's not a spine-chilling nor extremely frightening but more a mix of Casper and The Haunted Mansion. It has the occasional lightness and hilarity that makes any good ghost-book interesting! I loved the idea of ghost-keepers here ( I'd never even heard of ghostkeepers until I read this!); different ghost-keepers have different abilities- some are able to compel, some summon, while others are a master of dispelling. I found the whole concept  so fascinating I'm certainly keen on learning more about the history of ghost-keepers!

I love plot-driven stories, with a nicely interwoven romance,and that's exactly what i got.Although Emma is in love with her brother's best friend, while simultaneously trying to sort out her feelings for the nicest, most popular guy at school who's miraculously interested in her, it never felt like the romance and hint of love triangle took over the main plot line. (Thank goodness!)Emma was incredibly focused on what her newfound abilities meant, and as more mysteries are revealed, she becames increasingly intent on saving those around her.

I found Emma a great protagonist, and I was able to relate to her easily. I found she had the perfect amount of badass, butt-kicking skills inside her (when it came to battling ghosts, you do not want to mess with her!) but she also acted and thought in ways that was typical of her age.It was great to see her balance out her two lives!

The minor characters were also extremely amusing and totally likeable. Seriously, the three 'housekeeper' ghosts (I call them that because they've never set foot outside the mansion) are all so friendly and sweet! They cook, they wash, they do everything that's expected of a servant, but it's impossible not to treat them as equals. They're just such amazing ghosts<3

Overall, please give this a try!I know it may not be for everyone, but there's no harm in trying, right?  It's a wonderful tale of friendship, loss, forgiveness and heartbreak - Highly recommended!

Guest Post with Meredith Zeitlin!

19 Mar 2012

So, I recently read this absolutely AMAZING book called Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters written by the sweetest and funniest person ever - Meredith Zietlin! If you haven't heard of the book yet, GO AND SEARCH IT NOW! (Links will be provided below!) It's the cutest book ever <3 You can probably guess from the title that the book is about a certain freshman girl and the disasters she has to go through in high school.You can read my review of it HERE & check out the synopsis below!

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny.

Things start out great - her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because KELSEY has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it.

Kelsey’s hilarious commentary throughout her disastrous freshman year will have you laughing out loud—while being thankful that you’re not in her shoes, of course…

Meredith has kindly agreed to write a guest post on HER Freshman Year! To all the people who've read this book, I'm sure you've been wondering what inspired her to write such a hilariously entertaining book; perhaps her Freshman Year as disastrous as Kelsey's? Did the events that happened in the book actually happen to her as well?'re about to find out!


Oh, freshman year. It's such a singular experience, isn't it? It's not at all the same as freshman year of college, for instance, because that's got the anxiety of being at a new school coupled with the excitement of being on one's own as an adult for the first time. And no one knows anyone, for the most part – so there's this team spirit about the whole thing. And it's not like the first year of middle school, either, because then you're still just into the double digits, age-wise. There's pressure to be cool, of course, but it's not quite as intense as it will be in later years. You can slide into middle school pretty seamlessly, as things go.

But being a freshman in high school? The main thing about it is that no matter who you are – what clique you're part of, what clubs you're in, what team you're on, what guy you date – you're going from being a LORD OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOL to being a lame little baby hanging onto the lowest rung of the totem pole for dear life. And that is no fun. And it makes you feel like you have to scramble and prove to everyone around you how cool you are.

And that stinks.

I couldn't think of a better situation to throw poor, beleaguered Kelsey Finkelstein into. I mean, can you? After all, she's a girl with so many ideas, who so badly wants to be liked and to impress, to take part and really do things in a big way. Why not give her a situation where she's practically bound to fail?!

I'm a mean author, huh? But the thing is... Kelsey is me. Was me. (Is me.) So I knew she was going to be okay in the end, and that all those disasters would help her be a stronger person with an even better sense of humor about herself. (Which is something she's going to need to keep on hand for the rest of her life, lemme tell ya.) Does that make me any less horrible?
See, my freshman year was no exception to the rule of terrifying freshmanhood. I started at a new school that year – an all girls' school, mind you – and had to deal with all the usual stuff plus not knowing anyone. I was a mess, naturally, and had all my I HAVE A GREAT PERSONALITY, CAN'T YOU TELL?! defense shields up from the moment I walked through the door. Of course, I say that now, looking back from a distance of many years. At the time, I thought I was fooling everyone into seeing a totally confident and awesome gal who hardly minded her horrible bangs, braces, and the nose she hadn't grown into yet. Oh, the magic of hindsight.

And yes, I made friends and did interesting school things and had lots of fun. I also pissed off a scary junior who tortured me for the next two years (not to mention a REALLY mean teacher who held a grudge against me for four). I was in plays where insane things happened, and thought playing a sport I'd never heard of called lacrosse was a good idea, and went to a prom with a guy I barely knew who got kicked out for smoking pot and left me totally stranded. There were misunderstandings with friends and boys I agonized over and all the wrong ones who liked me and one mess after another. And that was just freshman year - the next three had plenty of their own disasters. So did the ones after that. In fact, just yesterday I realized I had invited over a hundred people to the party to celebrate the release of this book... and I gave them all the wrong address.

Is there a moral to the story? Yes. Freshman year is a good litmus test for the kind of person you can be, in a way. Pretty much everyone survives, but the strongest come out with a few battle scars and some great stories. And who doesn't like a good story, am I right? 

*giggles* I swear I'm laughing my head off right now! You gotta LOVE Freshman year, eh? Meredith's 9th year was certainly a million times more exciting than mine- but I guess going to an all-girl's school has contributed to my lack of high school drama? Soo...after reading this, are you all desperately excited to get your own copy of Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters? Because I guarantee that every page will have you literally rolling on the ground laughing!

Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.
In case you're wondering whether any of Kelsey's experiences are based on Meredith's own, the answer is NO WAY. When she was fourteen, Meredith looked and behaved perfectly at all times, was never in a single embarrassing situation, and always rode to school on her very own unicorn.

Find Meredith:

Find Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters:

hehee..check out Meredith's hilarious video! 

In My Mailbox #22

17 Mar 2012

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, which allows bloggers to share what books they've borrowed, received in the mail or bought in the past week.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Seriously, if you haven't heard of this book, you MUST be living under a rock! This is one of the books I'll be reading AFTER my exams, since I don't want to be seen in a sobbing mess & get all distracted! But I'm so excited to read this<3

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder
YAYYY <3 Soo happy I have this one now<3 90% of readers seem to LOVE this, and being a fan of Maria myself, I've no doubt this will blow me away!

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail
This one's set during the Holocaust, about a young Jewish pianist sent to live in Auschwitz; and she falls in love with the German son of a camp commander. OMG. I LOVE Forbidden love stories, but even more so a non-paranormal-inspired one! I'll definitely be reading this one soon - say...after my exams (which will be over soon!!!!) 

Losing It by Julia Lawrinson
AUSSIE YA <3 There's unfortunately no reviews for this on goodreads, so I have no idea what people think of it :S But it sure sounds like a light & fun read! Looking forward to reading this <3

Surrender by Lee Nichols
Eeeee! A nice little surprise from Bloomsbury <3 I'm so excited to start this since I loved the previous two books in this trilogy! Cannot wait to see how this ends!
Torn by Amanda Hocking
TROLLS?!?!?! Okay, so I WAS going to buy Dolly since each mag came with a FREE copy of Switched!BUT, unfortunately the day I actually brought money to buy it, I REALISED THE NEXT EDITION CAME OUT ALREADY! *Cries* Ahh well...I'll purchase a copy of Switched soon!  

Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Fellow Aussie bloggers have said this one's really good & apparently  CREEPY. AND I LOVE ANYTHING CREEPY! I now have high hopes for this one!

Slide by Jill Hathaway
I've read mixed reviews on this, but I'm incredibly excited to read it myself! Murder mysteries will never get old :D

Thank you Harper Collins, Walker Books, Pan Macmillan, Bloomsbury, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Kylie @The Talking Teacup & HarlequinTeen for the above awesomeness <33

What did you receive in your mailbox? :D Leave links!

Aussie Blog Tour: NIghtshade Trilogy by Andrea Cremer - 10 Quick Questions!

16 Mar 2012

We've ALL heard of the amazing Andrea Cremer, author of The NIGHTSHADE trilogy, right? (Seriously, if you haven't, you've obviously been living under a rock!) 
Today, I'll be sharing with you 10 short questions which Andrea has kindly answered, as part of this blog tour. Regardless of whether you've heard of/read this series yet, I hope you enjoy this post!

Andrea Cremer spent her childhood daydreaming while roaming the forests and lakeshores of Northern Wisconsin. She now lives in Minnesota, but she thinks of her homeland as the “Canadian Shield” rather than the Midwest.
Andrea has always loved writing and has never stopped writing, but she only recently plunged into the deep end of the pool that is professional writing. When she’s not writing, Andrea teaches history at a very nice liberal arts college in St. Paul.
In the little spare time she can find, Andrea stares up at trees, rescues infant rabbits from predatory cats, and invents names for pug puppies with her husband. She has an unfortunate tendency to spill things – white carpets beware!

~10 Quick Questions~

Describe Bloodrose in 5 words.
Hope, sorrow, fulfilment, and freedom.

Favourite place to write? 
On my couch, curled up with a good cup of coffee.

Who is your favourite literary couple? Why?
Anne of Green Gables and Gilbert Blythe. I adore Anne’s wilfulness and imagination. Gilbert is the ultimate boy to me – witty, romantic, and a little naughty.

Do you have an ideal cast for Nightshade?
For Ren I’d pick Taylor Kitsch or Ben Barnes. For Shay, Chace Crawford. I have yet to see an actress who I think would be an ideal Calla.

Who would you be more likely to call upon for help? Ren or Shay? Why?
It would depend on what I needed help with. If it were a battle, straight up fight, or defense against wild animals I’d pick Ren because he has more experience on those fronts. If it were a complex problem, mystery, or involved sneaking/breaking and entering/spy stuff I’d go for Shay without question.

Guilty pleasure?
Gossip Girl.

Favourite mythology?

Favourite books? 
Watership Down, Mists of Avalon, American Gods, Poisonwood Bible, Handmaid’s Tale, Good Omens, Harry Potter, The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, Dracula, Frankenstein, Mortal Instruments, LoTR, the Belgariad and Mallorean.

Favourite outfit?
Fitted, black menswear blazer over a silk dress and tall boots (tall calf, not heel. I don’t do tall heels. I like to walk.)

Most Embarassing moment?
Too embarrassing and R-rated to share. It involves getting caught in a very compromising situation – by a friend, thankfully, not parents or a boss, but still, very, very embarrassing.


Blog Tour: The Weeping by O'Dell Hutchison - Review + Top Ten Favourite Books

5 Mar 2012

Title: The Weeping 
Author:O'Dell Hutchison
Publisher: H, C& B Publishing
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher for review/Blog Tour

Twenty years ago, Catherine Whitley was the victim of a horrible crime. Betrayed by her friends, including the boy she loved, she was left to die when the Rock Harbor Opera House caught fire, taking a disturbing secret with her to her grave.

Seventeen-year-old Heath Ingram was driving the night his Jeep careened off the road, killing three of his closest friends. Once a popular, outgoing athlete, Heath now suffers from severe depression and crippling anxiety. His parents decide to send him to stay with his uncle in Rock Harbor, Oregon for the summer, praying that by getting away he will be able to put this awful tragedy behind him.

When Heath starts working at the newly renovated Rock Harbor Opera House, he meets Molly, a young dancer who awakens in him a desire to start over and move on. But, when he begins having visions of a half-burned girl in a white dress, he starts to think he may be slipping even further over the edge.

As the apparent hauntings become more intense, Heath begins to fear for his safety. With the help of his friend Josie, Heath discovers an unsettling secret that ties the mysterious girl to both their families. When two of their friends die unexpectedly, Josie and Heath realize that something, or someone, is after the children of those who wronged Catherine, and they are next.

HOLY CRAP. That was seriously intense! I never expected to like this book so much, but it kept me up till 3 am in the morning because I jut couldn't put it down!

The plot was fantastic and incredibly eerie. Heath moves to live with his uncle for the Summer, and begins helping him at the newly rebuilt Rock Harbour Opera House, which was destroyed by a fire twenty years ago, and claimed the life of a teenager. As soon as Heath begins working there, mysterious things begins happening to him; he starts hearing voices no one else can hear,seeing a certain girl that no one else can see and having strange and unexplainable nightmares. The only plausible explanation is that the ghost of the dead teenager is haunting the theatre. I was really interested in finding out why this particular ghost is haunting the theatre (most ghosts have a reason for not disappearing...right?)Thoughout the book, I started developing my own theories and became increasingly certain of this theory, until..WHAM. THAT TWIST. Basically, I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. I LOVE books with unpredictable twists that manage to surprise me!

Our main character, Heath is the sole survivor of the car crashed that killed his three best friends. We get a glimpse of his past life, and it's obvious the changes he has undergone since the car crash. Heath is so flawed and relatable; he's distraught and broken, and constantly agonises over the deaths of his friends. I can't even begin to imagine what it feels like to live the rest of his life, thinking perhaps, IF he had done something differently, the car crash never would've happened. It seems that it's almost impossible for him to move on and let go of the past;and it's something that will have readers aching for him even more. 

The ending was abrupt, and I guess I would've liked some sort of closure, but overall, The Weeping was a highly enjoyable book! It's frightening,it's exciting, and it's certainly a thriller you do not want to miss!

O'Dell's Top Ten Favourite Books!

This is a tough one! There are so many books that I love. Here are ten, in no particular order:
  1. Never Ket Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  4. James & the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  5. Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess
  6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  7. Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
  8. The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  9. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
And so many more...

OMG! THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE WAS AMAZING <3 Haha, I know this is a promotional tour for The Weeping, but IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE YET, GO DO SO NOW!!!
Looks like O'Dell has AWESOME taste in books!<3 

Cover Reveal: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Pretty Amy 
by Lisa Burstein
Released May 15th 2012, 
by Entangled Publishing 

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.
She was a lot like Amy when she was in high school.
She is still a lot like Amy.
Check out Lisa's junior prom photo! <3
Also, in addition to the PRETTY AMY cover reveal, there will be a Worst Prom Photo contest in the weeks leading up to AMY's release on May 15. So make sure to dust off your old prom photos—the more tulle, bows, and big hair the better!—and watch Lisa's site, for details on how to submit/enter to win a beauty package. it just me, or does the cover look a bit like Serena Van der Woodson (Blake Lively) from afar? :P

What do you think of the cover? :D

Book Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

3 Mar 2012

Title: Born Wicked
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: January 25th, 2012
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher for review (Thank you!)

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood -- not even from each other.

Doesn't it feel absolutely wonderful when you're finally able to read a particular book you've been lusting after for ages, and you end up loving it? Well, that's exactly what I felt after finishing Born Wicked. This 2012 debut is certainly one not to be missed!

Our main character Cate, is independent, selfless and extremely protective of her sisters. Her willingness to sacrifice her own happiness in order to care for them, and the fact that her thoughts always revolved around her sister’s well-being made her such an admirable character. Even when her upcoming engagement was approaching (and it was a huge deal since every girl had to be engaged before their 17th birthday) she never forgot her duty- to take care of her sisters.

While I loved the majority of the characters, there were several that really annoyed me. And I mean, annoyed as in I’d happily stick a knife through their heart and even then my anger probably wouldn't fade. And yes, to those who’ve read this book, I’m talking about infuriating selfish members of THE BROTHERHOOD and SISTERHOOD. I swear the society would benefit from their riddance!

Oh, FINN <3 Yes, here’s another character I absolutely ADORED! His relationship with Cate was so heart-warming and throughout the book, you’ll constantly go Awwwww <3 at the sweetness between the two! I loved how Finn accepted Cate for who she is, even after she revealed to him her deadly secret, and was willing to protect her with everything he had. These two have got to be the sweetest couple ever <3

I also loved how it was evident from the writing and the way the characters communicated that the story was set in the 19th/20th Century. The last two historical fiction books I read felt like modern day characters  living in the past, so I was so glad Ms Spotswood managed to capture the historical aspects perfectly in Born Wicked!

AND THAT ENDING was so cruel and heart-breaking! My poor, poor Finn and Cate both deserved their own happily  ever after, but NO! Some selfish, heartless and completely thick-headed morons just had to ruin everything! Now I'm seriously DESPERATE for the next book! Why, why WHY did it have to end like that? *cries heart out*

Born Wicked is magnificent start to a series that I'm sure will become one of my favourites <3 After reading this, I'm going to hunt down every single witch-related book out there and devour them! My advice: GO READ THIS BOOK NOW! 

Book Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

1 Mar 2012

Title: Illuminate (Gilded Wings #1)
Author: Aimee Agresti 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Format: eARC 
Source: Publisher for review (Thank you!)

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

*Phew*! Finally finished it! So, immediately after finishing it, I heaved a sigh of relief and gave myself a pat on the back for sticking with in until the end. Don't get me wrong, the book itself wasn't necessarily bad, but it WAS unnecessarily LONG. I started it last year, read until half-way, picked up another book, and didn't come back to it until early this year. I'll be honest, I did skim through quite a lot of pages, and due to the incredibly long time in which it took to build up the suspense and tension, the climax unfortunately felt very anti-climatic to me. I was reading for the sake of finishing, so the second- half of the book didn't appeal to me the way I would've liked it to.

The characters unfortunately felt bland to me; I never connected with Haven nor Lance, and they just seemed devoid of personality. While I didn't dislike Haven, she truly doesn't stand out amongst all the other YA heroines out there. The only characters that made an impression on me were Lucian, and Aurelia, but neither were exceptionally memorable either ( unfortunately ). I remember Aurelia as the cold, stony-faced boss who would order Haven around and demand everything be done on time, yet there was also a frightened and vulnerable side to her; one that she kept hidden behind her mask of beauty and confidence.  Other than her, ( and sometimes Lucian) the other character failed to leave a lasting impression on me.

Like I said above, the book's downfall is definitely its overly long length. It really killed all my initial excitement until I was soon begging for something, ANYTHING interesting to happen. I'm certain that had this been half as long, with all the parts that dragged cut out, I would be here, gushing and raving about how incredibly amazing it was!

What did leave an impression on me was the special friendship the main characters shared with one another. For a change, friendship takes priority over romance, and I'm sincerely glad for this change! While I wasn't overjoyed at what became of Haven's relationship with Lance (friendship definitely suits them more!), but I'll take comfort in the months they spent as trusted, loyal friends who worked together and helped each other out in times of crisis.

Overall, a highly recommended read for anyone who likes a change from the normal, romance-driven PNR, ( and of course who isn't affected by scary 500+ pages of words to read). There is definite potential in this series, so I'll be looking out for the second book!