Banish Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway (AU/NZ + INTL)

25 Jul 2013

I'm incredibly excited to be participating in the Australian Blog Tour for Banish by Nicola Marsh, hosted by the fantastic people at Harlequin Teen Australia! Banish is Nicola Marsh's debut YA supernatural thriller and so far, I'm really enjoying it! My review will hopefully be up soon :) As for today, I have an awesome guest post "A Day in the Life of a Wiccan Teen" as well as a giveaway at the end of the post<3

Banish
by Nicola Marsh
Published by Harlequin Teen Australia
in August 2013

Alyssa has one week to destroy her enemy, save her spirit... and save her soul. 

After her ex-boyfriend commits suicide and her mum’s alcoholism sparks yet another psychotic episode, seventeen-year-old Alyssa Wood flees her small hometown of Broadwater and heads to New York City to stay with her bohemian aunt — a Wicca High Priestess.

Alyssa revels in the anonymity of a big city and her new life. Her grades climb, she has a new best friend, and a new guy: the sexy geek Ronan — a saxophone player who prefers jazz to pop.

But her newfound peace is soon shattered when she sees a dead body in one of Ronan’s music clips — and she’s the only one who can see it. Worse still, Alyssa recognises the body that has been murdered a week forward!

Alyssa doesn’t believe in the supernatural...despite her family’s Wicca background. So how will she overcome evil when it’s closer than she thinks?



A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WICCAN TEEN

Hey, I’m Alyssa, and while my mom is Wiccan, and Aunt Angie (who I’m staying with while I’m in NYC) is a Wiccan High Priestess, I don’t believe.

Here’s how my day goes:

7am-drag self out of bed, quick shower, grab strawberry milk on way out the door.
9am-school, with the usual crappy subjects. My faves are English and Chem.
4pm-home. Surf YouTube. Do homework. Read. Eat TV dinner.
9pm-chat with Aunt Angie when she gets home.
10pm-head out to a jazz club with Ronan, hottest boyfriend on the planet, to watch him play sax in his jazz band, The Dizzy’s.
12pm-curfew. Ronan is the coolest! And hottest…

But if I did believe, Aunt Angie said there’s this really cool witch school in NYC and these are the subjects I could do (along with the usual English, algebra, blah, blah, blah):

·         Divinatory Arts (including dreams, tarot and runes)
·         Wicca (book of shadows, holidays, tools)
·         Gods & Goddesses
·         Magick (crystals, grimoires, rituals)
·         Paganism (law, New Age)
·         Psychic Development (meditations)
·         Alternative Therapies (herbalism, aromatherapy)
·         Spell Casting (basics, specific spells for Ostara, Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, Beltane.)

I admit, I’m fascinated by the symbolism of Wicca and really like some beliefs:

·         Do no harm to others
·         That our thoughts and words and actions have the power to change stuff around us.
·         What you do to others can come back on you times three.
·         That everything moves in cycles, like the seasons.
·         Do your best to be a positive.

Pretty cool stuff.

Okayyy so liking English and Chem is a strange combination...I can understand if someone likes Eng and History or Chem and Maths, but ENGLISH AND CHEM? O____O 
OMGGGGG A boyfriend who's in a band? *faints* Where's my Ronan?!?
I think I'd like to attend this witch school in NYC! So much better than all this accounting crap I have to do in Uni! hahhahaha

Andddd it's GIVEAWAY time!<3

Harlequin Teen Australia has kindly offered ONE print copy of Banish for AUS/NZ residents only and ONE e-copy of Banish for my International readers!
  • Leave a comment with a way to contact you :)
  • Indicate whether you're AUS/NZ resident or INTL.
  • Ends August 2nd 2013
  • Tweet/FB/Share this for bonus entries. Leave links in the comments. (Make sure to include @shiirleyyyxxx)
  • Winners will have 48 hours to reply. 
You can view the Tour Schedule HERE

Now or Never Blog Tour: Spotlight & Giveaway

23 Jul 2013

Hey guys! I'm here today with a spotlight for Now or Never , a new adult debut by A.J Bennett. I was first drawn to this book because of the mention of "an abusive relationship". I'm becoming more interested in these topics that are usually out of my comfort zone, and I've *mostly* liked the New Adult books I've read lately so I knew I had to participate in this tour :) There's also a giveaway at the end of the post if you're interested in winning a copy!<3


by A.J Bennett
Self-published 
on June 19th 2013

Twenty-one year old Grayson Alexander finally breaks away from an abusive relationship and finds herself free for the first time in three years.

Determined to enjoy her new-found freedom, Grayson is intent on sticking with 'no strings attached' relationships—one-night stands, and steamy sex.

But she didn't plan on Derrick. 

Her attraction to the sexy man in uniform quickly turns into an unhealthy relationship. They both try to resist the pull, but neither can stay away. 

When tragedy strikes, Grayson realizes it's now or never—walk away or make it work.


Amazon | B&N | KOBO

*About the Author*
A.J. Bennett lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and bulldog. She's addicted to coffee, popcorn and books. Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream, and she's extremely excited about her debut novel Now or Never.

Mini Reviews: Breathless by Brigid Kemmerer & Tormenting Lila by Sarah Alderson

15 Jul 2013

by Brigid Kemmerer 
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Release Date: April 30th, 2013
Format: ebook


Too many secrets. Not enough time.

 Nick Merrick is supposed to be the level-headed one. The peacemaker. Since it’s just him and his three hotheaded brothers against the world, that’s a survival tactic.

 But now he’s got problems even his brothers can’t help him survive.

 His so-called girlfriend, Quinn, is going quick as mercury from daring to crazy. Meanwhile, Quinn’s dancer friend Adam is throwing Nick off balance, forcing him to recognize a truth he’d rather shove back into the dark.

 He can feel it—-the atmosphere is sizzling. Danger is on the way. But whatever happens next, Nick is starting to find out that sometimes nothing you do can keep the peace.

FANTABULOUS.
That sums up this novella perfectly. :)

Nick has always been my favourite Merrick brother; while the all the brothers had to deal with drama after drama occurring in their lives, Nick was always the calmest and most level-headed of them all so I guess he stood out. I never liked Nick and Quinn in Storm/Spark as Quinn always, without fail, annoyed the living hell out of me with her over dramatic reaction and completely unnecessarily rude attitude towards Gabriel. (Okay, so maybe Gabriel was being a douchebag but STILL. NO ONE MESSES WITH GABRIEL!!) However, I think my hatred for Quinn diminished a tiny bit after becoming acquainted with her home life and relationship with Nick. Now, instead of hating her, I pity her.

Adam is a character I found immensely intriguing :) I’m looking forward to learning his backstory and of course, I hope he’ll play a bigger role in the upcoming sequels! I also genuinely hope Nick will eventually be able to sort out his feelings and resolve all complications in his life at the present time. No matter what, I STILL LOVE YOU NICK<3
A massive thank you to Kensington Teen for providing a copy of Breathless for review!



Tormenting Lila
by Sarah Alderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: July 1st, 2013
Format: ebook

When Lila and Alex sneak off for a romantic weekend away, Lila’s hoping she’ll finally have a chance to work on Alex’s resolve. 

 But just as things start heating up news reaches them of a serial killer at loose on the island and it isn’t long before their intimate weekend away is interrupted. 

 A mind reader, a projector, a protective older brother and a serial killer. One of them is going to find Lila first. She's hoping it's the serial killer



Sarah Alderson’s back with another exciting story for us die-hard Alex fans! Reading Tormenting Lila made me realise how much I’ve missed Alex since Losing Lila last year….I’m so glad to be reacquainted with some of my favourite characters (though honestly, I was hoping for more Alex hotness!) 

 Just like with every other book by Sarah Alderson, I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. I loved the reappearance of every character, and it was hilarious to see Jack's reaction whenever Alex and Lila are together :) I’ll have to admit, there isn’t much of a plot in this (even for a novella), but it was an entertaining read nonetheless.

 I liked meeting Ren and Jesse, the main characters in The Sound & I absolutely cannot wait to read The Sound now! :)

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

9 Jul 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales 
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Format: ARC


Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing. 

 Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together



This song will save your life starts off with a melancholy tone. We’re introduced to the main character, Elise who is unpopular, friendless and would do anything to change that. She’s unpopular because she’s precocious. She’s different. She doesn’t conform to what society deems acceptable, whether it be fashion, music, looks, or intelligence; she has her own unique style. And that’s why she’s getting bullied. Elise has attempted to change her appearance to fit in, but like she said in the book, it just doesn’t work. And when all this hurt, anger and self-hatred builds up over the years, Elise considers one thing- suicide.

I think that for some people, in order to wholly understand or relate to Elise’s character and the situation she’s in, one has to have experienced bullying to some degree. I, unfortunately can’t 100% relate to her because honestly, I haven’t encountered bullying to her extent. I might’ve been bullied back in first or second grade when I couldn’t speak English, but that hasn’t had a profound impact on my life considering 1) I couldn’t understand what the bullies said to me and 2) I don’t remember all the details. As mean as it sounds, sometimes I felt she didn’t entirely try to fit in despite how much she wanted to. She says she wants friends but I think what she really means is, ‘I want popular friends’. I didn’t like how Elise treated Sally and Chava at the beginning of the book; they truly tried to be her friend, but she pretty much thought “I’d rather not have losers as friends”. However, I’m glad Elise matured and realised that sometimes, you have to make an effort to make friends.

I highly enjoyed getting to know Elise’s new bunch of friends from Start, the town’s best underground dance club. I loved how through a mutual passion for music, Elise is able to meet some of the best friends a person could ask for. Vicky is the sort of friend everyone needs in their life; she genuinely cares about Elise and doesn’t judge. She stands up for her friends, is supportive, encouraging and I love how she took Elise under her wing without a second thought. I loved Mel, Harry and Dave as well<3 As for Pippa and Char, while I didn’t like their actions, I felt they were realistic representations of people in our society today. My feelings towards Char are conflicted; on one hand he seemed like he genuinely wanted to help Elise learn to DJ, and even encouraged her to pursue her love for DJing, but on the other hand, he also showed a selfish and slightly manipulative side. He's the type who helps people only if he's certain their abilities are beneath his & will never surpass him. He helps those he doesn’t have faith in. I didn't like this side of him but his character did feel realistic. 

I personally believe this is one of the most powerful YA contemporary books that holds the ability to leave a profound impact on its readers. It is thought-provoking, beautiful and a realistic story of self-discovery, and I would strongly recommend it to everyone. I’ll admit that I couldn’t relate to Elise’s actions/thoughts at times but I can’t pretend to understand what a person who has been bullied her entire life would feel/do. Music plays an integral role in this book, and I should mention that Elise has convinced me to well…listen to songs that are out of my comfort zone. So guys, definitely read this when you have time! I’m eagerly anticipating Sales’ next project :)

*Guys, you MUST read Emily May’s review ofThis Song Will Save Your Life. I cried- no kidding- I  cried while reading it, and I  never cry when I read reviews!
**If any poor Year 12s from NSW who are conducting a frantic search for a Belonging related text just happens to stumble across this post, I would highly recommend considering reading/using this book!

 A massive thank you to Macmillan Children's Publishing for providing a copy of  This Song Will Save Your Life for review! 

Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

7 Jul 2013


The Collector (Dante Walker #1)
by Victoria Scott
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Format: Paperback, 352 pages

He makes good girls...bad.

 Dante Walker is flippin’ awesome, and he knows it. His good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of hell’s best—a soul collector. His job is simple: weed through humanity and label those round rears with a big red good or bad stamp. Old Saint Nick gets the good guys, and he gets the fun ones. Bag-and-tag. 

Sealing souls is nothing personal. Dante’s an equal-opportunity collector and doesn't want it any other way. But he’ll have to adjust, because Boss Man has given him a new assignment:

 Collect Charlie Cooper’s soul within ten days. 

 Dante doesn't know why Boss Man wants Charlie, nor does he care. This assignment means only one thing to him, and that’s a permanent ticket out of hell. But after Dante meets the quirky Nerd Alert chick he’s come to collect, he realizes this assignment will test his abilities as a collector…and uncover emotions deeply buried.


I think I should make a habit of reining in my excitement every time a new book that has been garnering exceptional reviews comes out, and perhaps try to not expect too much from those books. Why? Well,  it seems most of the books I’ve been incredibly excited for this year just happen to become the most disappointing ones. The Collector is one of them. My FB homepage and Twitter feed were spammed with how amazing Dante Walker is (and I developed a tiny crush on him before I even got my hands on a copy!) but the truth is, Dante Walker is a narcissist, and egotistical to the point I could not tolerate one more word out of his mouth.

The Collector is a story we’ve read many times; we have a bad boy, an innocent girl, a mission gone wrong and the two fall in love. But add in heaven, hell, soul-collecters, a male POV, and viola!The Collector is born. The first couple of chapters were pretty good; Dante had a strong voice, he was humorous (albeit up himself, but it was fine), the writing was decent and I was enjoying it. Then we met Charlie. And the story went downhill from there.

This is just me, but I’ve never been able to tolerate characters who are too “good”. They’re too fake, in my opinion. Too bland. Too one-dimensional. (In her defense, she did show a wild side once or twice, but I’d stopped caring by then). Dante made her seem fragile, angelic and from what I gathered, weak. The girl drove me nuts. So did Dante after 100+ pages of his arrogance and hearing him praise himself. I never cared for the other characters either. Charlie’s two best friends were sweet, loyal and protective but I just couldn’t develop a liking to them. They were just…there.

This would’ve been a DNF but since I had loads of free time everyday on the bus/train, I skimmed the last quarter or so. I won’t be coming back for the next book, but I sure hope Dante will fall for the ‘bad girl’. (Yes, I’m not being very nice but I bet the new girl will be much more interesting than Charlie. But of course, Dante will remain faithful to Charlie.) *sigh*

Cover Reveal: Origin (Lux #4) by Jennifer L Armentrout

1 Jul 2013

Sooo today, I have the honour of revealing the very SEXY cover for Jennifer L Armentrout's ORIGIN, the fourth Lux book, which will be released 27th August 2013 by Entangled Teen.

WARNING: The cover is panty-droppingly HOT so tread with caution. Make sure you're in a secluded room, away from everyone because you won't be able to contain your excitement and your squeals will probably deafen all those within a 50km radius. Also, please try not to hurt yourself or break anything when you're jumping up and down with your arms flailing in the air.


Now...behold, the sexiest YA book cover of the year...:




Daemon will do anything to get Katy back. 
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure. 

All Katy can do is survive.

 Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen? 

Together, they can face anything.

 But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?

ISN'T DAEMON JUST GORGEOUS?<33333  I hope all of you are safe and haven't melted into a puddle of goo!

I think the cover's really different from the previous three books. I was actually surprised when I saw it in my inbox this morning, but I definitely love it!<3

What do you think of the cover? :)