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 :)

Blog Tour: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf - Interview + Giveaway!

28 Aug 2012

Hey guys! As part of the virtual blog tour for Aussie author Ambelin Kwaymullina's YA debut, Ashala Wolf, I have an awesome interview and a giveaway for readers living in AUS/NZ. 

For those who haven't yet read The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, can you please
tell us what it's about?

Ashala Wolf is a work of dystopian fiction set hundreds of years into the future
where the world as we know has been destroyed in an environmental cataclysm called
the Reckoning. When the story begins Ashala has been captured by the government,
and is facing interrogation. She is an Illegal – a person born with a special ability –
and Illegals are locked up under a set of laws called the Citizenship Accords. Ashala
has defied those laws, and has been hiding in a vast forest with a group of other
runaways (her Tribe). The story of the book is the story of her interrogation – how
she resists the government, and how she ultimately escapes. It is also a larger story of
Ashala and her Tribe, and their place in a changing society.

What I hope I did a good job of putting into the book is drama and mystery, a bit of
romance, and some bigger issues about injustice and how to fight it. But one the great
things about being an author is that once a book is published, readers discover things
in it themselves. I always love going back to my favorite books and reading them
again, and no matter how often I read those stories, I find something new each time.
So I’m always really interested to hear what people discovered in my book, and how
they interpret the story.

How did you come up with the names of your characters? Is there perhaps a
story behind their names?

My whole family writes books, and there’s one person we always go to for names and
titles – my brother Blaze. He’s the one who came up with the title of the book, and
with Ashala’s name.

I feel that all the other characters, though, named themselves. And I could never really
understand a character until I had their name. Before that they were a bit of mystery
to me, and I had to wait for the name to come into my head before I could write about
them in the way they deserved to be written about.

What was your favourite scene in the book and why?

The truth is, I have a lot of favourite scenes and it’s really hard to pick just one. I’ve
talked about some of them already on this blog tour, and I don’t want to repeat the
same stuff…because that would be boring. So here’s another favourite scene for the
list – the one where Ashala meets the Firstwood. She puts her hand on the trunk of the
towering tuart tree, and the forest shows her how life began there, after the world was
destroyed in the Reckoning.

I love this paragraph because it shows life triumphing against all odds. The world has
ended, but life survives. And Ashala needs to understand this, because at this point
of the story, her world has ended too. She’s lost Cassie, and run away from Gull City
and everything she knows. She’s not sure, right at this moment, if she’s going to be
okay. But the forest tells her, in essence, it’s alright. We were okay, even though
everything ended around us. And you’ll be okay too.

What was the most difficult part of writing The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

Ashala’s worst moments. Those times when she was despairing, and alone, and
believes all is lost. Each of these moments was very hard for me to put together,
and one in particular was the worst of all (I won’t say which one but if you’ve read
the book you can probably guess). Because I didn’t want Ashala to be unhappy! In
those bad moments, I kept wanting to rescue her, and of course I couldn’t, because
that wasn’t where I was in the story. I couldn’t skim over what was happening either
– it was important to show what Ashala was thinking and feeling. But it was really
upsetting to have to live through that with her.

And the most rewarding?

When I stopped being stuck! Every now and then I’d get stuck on a particular
paragraph. It wasn’t a matter of not knowing what should be happening in that bit of
text – I could usually work that out – it was about not being able to express it as well
as I wanted to do. Sometimes I’d be trapped for days, going over and over the same
part of the book. I’d make a change, decide it was wonderful and go to bed. Then I’d
get up the next day, read the paragraph again, and decide it was absolutely terrible and
had to be redone. When I finally, FINALLY got one of those paragraphs right, it was
such a relief.

Or at least, it was a relief right up until when it dawned on me that I’d spent a week
working on a single paragraph when I was supposed to have had three chapters

Quick Questions:
- Favourite book?
Just one? Only one, out of all my books? But I love them all for different reasons
– Pride and Prejudice is for when I’m feeling glum, Jane Eyre for when I want to
be scared (but not too scared) by the mysteries of Thornfield Hall, Lois Bujold’s
Miles Vorkogisan series for when I want to laugh and cry, Michelle West’s Sun
Sword series for when I want to be swept away to another world, and Jasper Fforde’s
Thursday Next series for when I want to read a book about a world of books.

- Favourite movie?

I have two – Casablanca, and Bladerunner. They sound worlds apart, I know, but to
me, they’re both about what it is to be human.

- Guilty Pleasure?

Sponge cake. Delicious sponge cake, with strawberries and cream in the middle,
lavished with creamy icing, and more strawberries on the top. Preferably with three
layers or more.

*Awwwww...I LOVED Ambelin's answers :) Wow...I really must check out those books mentioned up there! And funnily enough, I'm doing Bladerunner at school - except it's a pity I'm watching it for analysis rather than for pure entertainment.*

Did you like the interview? Are you looking forward to reading The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf? :)

by Ambelin Kwaymullina
                                                      Published by Walker Books Australia
on July 5th 2012
The Reckoning destroyed civilisation. Rising from the ashes, some people have developed unique abilities, and society is scared of them. Guided by the ancient spirits of the land, Ashala Wolf will do anything to keep them safe. When Ashala is captured, she realises she has been betrayed by someone she trusted. When her interrogator starts digging in her memories for information, she doubts she can protect her people forever. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

Anddddd... here's the giveaway, courtesy of Walker Books Australia! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The next tour stop is with Mandee from Vegan YA Nerds

Showcase Sunday 26-08-12

26 Aug 2012

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Bites. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and The Story Siren, the aim of this meme is to showcase our newest books!

Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi
I won this off Hot Key Books' twitter comp - I've been incredibly lucky with winning books off twitter comps's a little creepy :S hahaaa
Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame 
Gossip Girl? Downtown Abby? Now that's an exciting combination! This will hopefully be a quick read so I'll be able to finish it really soon :)

Anna Dress in Blood by Kendare Blake
YAYY! I CAN FINALLY READ THIS! I've after this since LAST YEAR...I'm really glad I finally have a copy :) It's (according to reviews) suppose to be really scary but at the moment, it's well...not that scary. But it's amazing so far :)
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
This has got to be one of the most addictive and unexpectedly good books of 2012. I never expected to like it - hell, I was planning to hate it after reading certain reviews. BUT I ended up loving it so much :) Review will be up soon!

andddddd....the most exciting from the last two weeks...

THIS IS ONE OF MY MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2012 GUYS!!! I was lucky to win this off Hachette's twitter comp - I swear my luck's going to run out very soon. I'm reading this at the moment, and WOW. IT'S AMAZING. 
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Another anticipated 2012 book! Mixed reviews are starting to pour in...and I'm glad - it's a little scary when ALL the reviews of GR were 5 star. The first chapter was (to be honest) painful to get through...but I think I'll be able to get used to the writing and maybe end up LOVING it :)

A massive thank you to Hot Key Books, Simon and Schuster, Hachette and Pan Macmillan for the above awesomeness<3 

What did you receive in your mailbox? Leave links!

Book Review: No Such Thing As Forever by Ali Cronin

24 Aug 2012

Publisher: Penguin Australia
Release Date: July 5th 2012
Format: Paperback

Cass is Ms Monogamy. Ashley is a player. Donna is a party girl. But what about Sarah?

Her friends tease her for being uptight, but she's waiting for the one. Now she's found him, but is he forever - or is Sarah just his summer fling?

To be honest, it’s books like No Such Thing As Forever that put me off reading contemporary YA. I can only say I’m so glad the majority of contemporary books I’ve read this year have been so much better. No such thing as Forever was, most unfortunately, a major disappointment. The characters were dull and irritating; and nothing about the plot intrigued me. I was just glad that this was a quick read, so I didn’t have to spend so much time reading it.

I was so frustrated with Sarah's behaviour throughout the book that I literally wanted to jump inside the book and throttle her. After she met a guy on holiday in Spain, her world quite literally revolved around him. She had an unhealthy and obsessive infatuation with him; something that annoyed the hell out of me. Calling her “na├»ve” is probably an understatement; “stupidity”, though harsh, is probably a more fitting word. I hated how she deluded herself into thinking she could have a future with a guy who publicly humiliated her, ignored her phone calls, visited her only when it was convenient for him, and…who only wanted “uber hot” sex with her whenever they saw each other. Joe may be a jerk-no doubt about it-, but I found it was Sarah’s own actions that resulted in all the drama that unfolded.  I mean, did it not mean anything when Joe told her point blank that their relationship wasn’t serious? Was that not the time to walk away? While Sarah may be seen as a realistic character- portraying a teenager experiencing love for the first time, I found it incredibly difficult to relate to her. I mean…not ALL girls who experience first love are like her.

So Sarah’s obsessed, and Joe's a (for a lack of better word) douchebag, unfortunately the other characters weren't much better. The only characters I liked were the guys- Ollie(who's so sweet by the way!), Jack and Rich; who, in my opinion  were the only sensible characters in the book. I felt Sarah's three 'best friends' Donna, Cass and Ash were either selfish or just..incredibly dislikable characters. Ash was ungrateful (Is it too much to say “Thank You” after your best friend after she (literally) saved you from death? ) ; and Cass and Donna just….didn’t strike me as great friends. Let’s just say I’m glad these three aren’t my best friends.

No such thing as Forever, most unfortunately wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ve been more tolerant of contemporary books lately, but this just didn’t make the cut. I know many found this realistic, and many of the characters relatable, but, I couldn’t, for the life of me, relate to the characters. However, I’m sure many contemporary fans will find this enjoyable – so, if you love contemporary, then you may want to consider picking this up if you’re in for a speedy Summer read :)

Book Review: Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson

15 Aug 2012

Everything Left Unsaid 
by Jessica Davidson
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release Date: August 2012
Format: ARC 
Purchase: Book Depository Dymocks

"I wait for him, the cold seeping through my clothes, until it finally dawns on me that he's not coming back. And I wonder why he chose her instead of me? Why he went looking for her when I was right there."

Tai and Juliet have been best friends forever – since they met at kindy and decided to get married in first grade.

They understand each other in the way that only best friends can.

They love music, beach walks, energy drinks and, they are slowly discovering, each other.

As they dream of adventures beyond the HSC – a future free of homework, curfews and parents, a life together – their plans are suddenly and dramatically derailed.

For Tai is sick.

And not everything you wish for can come true.

A poignant story of first love, hope, grief, family, and the twistedness of life.

Everything Left Unsaid is a beautifully crafted story of young love, choices and what it means to lose someone you love. I’ve had my fair share of books with characters dying of diseases, and I’m happy to say Everything Left Unsaid did not disappoint! It’s sweet, it’s sad, and it will certainly leave you with an ache in your heart, but Everything Left Unsaid is definitely worth your time! 

I absolutely loved Tai and Juliet’s relationship! You could tell they really loved each other, and it was impossible not to feel their pain; having to battle through the last year of high school, (ONE year before freedom), only to be confronted with the one unthinkable obstacle – Tai being diagnosed with a brain tumour. *sobs* Their relationship felt realistic to me, and while both sides made some mistakes that irked me a little now and then, I was able to easily forgive them. (Given their situation, those feelings and actions were well…unavoidable). Tai and Juliet’s perseverance throughout this difficult time was certainly admirable- *sigh* Why does fate have to be so cruel? Tai and Juliet totally deserved a happily ever after!!

I’m still debating whether I made the right decision in reading this before my HSC …or perhaps I should’ve waited until after my HSC? On one hand, I certainly found it easy to relate to the characters and what they’re experiencing- the stress of being in Year 12, cramming for exams (Gosh, that’s a NIGHTMARE), the fear of not doing well enough to be accepted into Uni and of course, in between studying and attending school, the partying and girls night out! I honestly cannot imagine how Juliet managed to survive her final year- studying for finals AND on top of that, having to deal with the heartbreak of losing her best friend/boyfriend. However, I must admit, after reading this book, I’m left in fear of what’s to become of my future. I’m reading about everyone being accepted into their first/second preferences, and feeling extremely happy for them but part of me is thinking “What is I don’t get accepted”? (Okay, I’m trying REALLY hard not to think about that!)

Overall, Everything Left Unsaid is definitely a book you should look out for! While I wasn’t too pleased with the beginning (everything happened too fast) but it’s impossible not to be consumed by the power of the story as I read on! By the end, I was completely in love with everything about the book<3 Oh, and be sure to have a box of tissues next to you when you start reading! I guarantee you’ll be bawling your eyes out by the end!

Author Interview: Katie McGarry

11 Aug 2012

Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with my one of my favourite authors - Katie McGarrg! I’m sure you’ve all heard of Katie’s debut, Pushing The Limits – one of the hottest and most talked about YA debuts this year! I read Pushing the Limits a while ago, and absolutely LOVED it; You can read my review here.  I may not be the biggest fan of contemporary books, but Pushing the Limits has managed to become my favourite book of this year (so far, anyway.) Without further ado, here’s the interview:
Q. I’m sure most of us, who’ve read Pushing the Limits would agree that the book is far from your average girl-falls-for-bad-boy book. But for those who haven’t read it, can you tell us why everyone should read Pushing the Limits   this year?

Mostly I think someone should read Pushing the Limits because it is a story about attraction, love, friendships, family, death, grief, and most of all, it is a story of hope. 

Q. What was the most difficult part about writing Pushing the Limits? What was the easiest?

There’s a scene towards the end of the book where Echo and Noah are confronting each other after a whirlwind of awful events. There are so many emotions happening simultaneously between these two characters and it was difficult to wrap fear and frustration and love and hope all into one little scene.

I enjoyed writing the chemistry between Echo and Noah. Their attraction sparked off the page and I loved writing their witty banter. 

Q. Many confronting issues are dealt with in the book; how did you go about writing it? Did you have to do a lot of research? 
Yes, I did have to research issues within the book and I researched by reading articles and by talking to people who have had involvement with the subject matter whether professionally or personally.

Q. All the characters, Noah and Echo especially, are such complex and in-depth characters. Was it difficult writing about them? Are they based on anyone you know?

It could be difficult when writing them. When I write, I “become” my characters. Their highs are my highs. Their hurts become my hurts. I cried several times while writing Pushing the Limits, but I also laughed quite a bit too. 

No, my characters are not based on anyone I know. If anything, I gave each character a piece of myself. For instance, I gave Echo a memory loss (I repressed the memory of being bitten by a dog in second grade).

Q.  How does it feel to have your first book published (and receiving such fabulous reviews I might add!:D) 

Amazing! I recently celebrated my US release by signing at a local bookstore. It was truly a fantastic moment to stand up in front of my friends and family to talk about my book and to thank them for their support. 

Q. Beth was definitely one of my favourite characters and I can’t wait to read her story. Can you tell us anything about your upcoming book, Dare You To?

In DARE YOU TO you can expect romance, old wounds resurfacing, humor, action, and a lot of kissing. DARE YOU TO is scheduled to be released sometime in 2013. 

Quick Questions:

Good Boy or Bad Boy? A combination of both
Favourite movie? Casablanca
Favourite book? The Outsiders
Favourite YA couple? Bella and Edward
Ultimate YA crush? Isaiah from PTL (sorry, can’t help it)
Guilty Pleasure? Reality television

Katie McGarry
August 2012
Harlequin Teen

Find Katie on: 

A massive thank you to Katie for her time! And also to Morey Media for the chance to interview Katie!
So, what did you think of the interview? :) I, and I'm sure many others cried several times throughout the book. Seriously, I cannot recommend this enough - you must read this if you haven't already!

Showcase Sunday 05-08-12

5 Aug 2012

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky @ Books, Biscuits and Bites. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and The Story Siren, the aim of this meme is to showcase our newest books!

Hey guys! I haven't done a 'Showcase Sunday' in...more than a month! I did receive a lot of books during that time (some awesome ones like Rift, Insignia, Throne of Glass, Losing Lila, The Gathering Dark/Shadow and Bone to name a few ) but I rearranged my bookshelf earlier this week, and gathering them, then putting all of them back in their positions would take forever, so I'm not going to post pictures of them. However, I'll showcase the books I received this week (which was also a lot...but at least they're all sitting together on my shelf :D)
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter 
Speechless by Hannah Harrington 

Twisted Heart by Eden Maguire
A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

I don't think I've ever received/bought so many books in one week! The above are just the books I received this week; my friend Lana and I went book shopping on Monday (I had a 12-day break from school and I literally spent all of those days reading and sleeping :D) and I bought...5 books (not pictured). They were all really cheap, but in the end, I still spent ALL my money :(  I bought The Scorpio Races (It was only $10 for a hardcover- most are usually $30) , The Book Thief, Supernaturally, Divergent and Crescendo. It may not seem like a lot, but that's the most I've ever bought in one go! Anyway, I hope you guys all received so fabulous books this week. Leave links!!

A massive thank you to Harlequin Teen (seriously, I LOVE YOU GUYS!), Jeyn Roberts & Brodie + Jess + Rachel!, Bloomsbury, and Hachette for the above awesomeness<3 (And also a huge thanks to the publishers/authors/blogger friends who sent me books in the last month or so!) 

Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

3 Aug 2012

by Susan Ee
Publisher: Feral Dream
Release Date: May 21st 2011
Format: Ebook
Purchase/Pre-order: Book Depository

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Wow. Just…WOW. This book was so amazing! While I have nothing personal against self-published authors, I have to admit, I’m usually a little wary when I begin reading a self-published book. I’m always expecting misspellings, or grammar/punctuation errors or…you get the idea. But Angelfall had nothing of the sort. In fact, I don’t remember picking up a single mistake- and I always find mistakes even in traditionally published books. So, basically, Angelfall gave me an overall excellent impression.

As for the actual story; it was phenomenal. I’ve always been fascinated by angel lore; I think I’ve read around 80% of the angel-related YA books in the market, but I must admit, out of the 80%, less than a handful have been purely extraordinary. Angelfalldefinitely falls under the “extraordinary” category- it was a truly remarkable book! It was a plot-driven story, featuring believable main characters, and the pacing was perfect – seriously, everything was just astounding! I loved how there were also no info-dumping and overly detailed descriptions, (both of which I REALLY dislike :/)

I can proudly announce Penryn and Raffe are one of my all-time favourite YA couples! Their relationship was so wonderfully and beautifully crafted- I really couldn’t have asked for anything more. I loved the way they always argued back-and-forth, throwing insults at each other, each having a snarky comeback at the ready. It always lightened the otherwise dark and somber atmosphere. Oh, and I should mention that Raffe is incredibly good-looking; as in good-looking in an otherworldly beautiful way; as in he’s a freaking God. Yet, despite his immensely attractive and irresistible looks, not once did Penryn fawn over him. Not once did she get sidetracked from her familial responsibilities – saving her sister from the angels, and finding her mentally challenged mother. It was obvious what her priorities were- and falling victim to the charms of an angel, who’s her enemy? Not a chance. It was exactly the slow-burning romance between the two that made me love them even more; they both felt this inevitable pull toward one another, but as expected of an admirable heroine who had her priorities in check, she didn’t let her feelings spiral out of control.

I actually thought I had a substantial angel-related knowledge after reading so many angel books, but WOW, I never thought there was so much more to it. Ee introduced us to a completely different world of angels; they’re vicious, they’re cunning and there’s so much more to the life of angels and archangels than I’ve ever believed. That epic climax towards the end, was so incredibly thrilling – Ee sure knows how to write heart-racing action scenes, without overdoing it, and toying with our emotions at the same time! And I also loved how Ee didn’t hold back- some scenes were gruesome and quite disturbing but nothing was overdone. (Or at least I didn’t think it was!) Anyway,Angelfall is certainly one of the best angel books I’ve read (on par with Daughter of Smoke and Bone.) 

Anyway, to conclude, I definitely deserve to be slapped, strangled, gagged and flung into the deepest part of the freaking Atlantic Ocean and left to drown, for puttingAngelfall on hold for the past 6 months or so. I cannot believe I didn't devour it when I started it all those months ago- I mean WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME?!! If you’re reading this review, and have yet read the book, then you’re really looking for trouble. You do NOT want to suffer my wrath, so hurry up and BUY A COPY!! With a fantastic cast of believable characters, including such a courageous, loyal and absolutely delightful heroine, and a plotline so utterly captivating,Angelfall is seriously a book you cannot miss. It’s only $5.71 on Book Depository for a paperback, so GO AND BUY IT!! I guarantee you won’t regret it!!