Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review: Empower (The Violet Eden Chapters #5) by Jessica Shirvington

Firstly, thanks to Hachette Children's Books Australia for this review copy <3

This is my last review of the year and I purposefully left this one to last because it’s the epic conclusion to one of my favourite series of all time – I think a very fitting closing out post for 2013.

My Background and History with the Series:

I first picked up Embrace in 2008. I was casually strolling through the book section of Target looking for books to read when I stumbled across this book with a gorgoeus lilac cover and a girl on it. Very intriguing and not like other book covers of the time. I immediately called my friends to ask them if they’d read it and one told me she liked it and for me to try it out. I finished Embrace that very night and when I found out it’s a series and Enticed wouldn’t be out for another year I nearly cried. It was one of the most refreshing angel books I’d ever read – actually, at the time it was THE best angel book I’d read. Let’s be honest, it still is.

Anyway, every year since then I bug my local bookstore looking for the next book as it comes out on release day. Luckily for me I bought Enticed, Emblaze and Endless all on their release days and finished them that night. I’ve given the whole series 5/5 and when I got to meet Jess this year I was just gushing and hugging her. Even luckier I managed to get Empower 11 days before its release! And yes I did finish it on the day I got it because it’s THAT good.

If you haven’t read the series, there are some spoilers. But there are no Empower spoilers so don’t worry (:

Date Read: November 1 2013
Release Date: November 12th 2013
Publisher: Hachette Children's Books Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Paranormal
My rating:  (Not enough stars)

"It has been two years since Violet Eden walked away from the city, her friends, her future and - most importantly - her soulmate, Lincoln. Part angel, part human, Violet is determined to stand by the promises she made to save the one she loves.

Living in the perpetual coldness of a broken soul she survives day to day as a Rogue Grigori in London.

But when an unexpected visitor shows up at her door, the news he bears about someone she swore to protect leaves Violet with no choice.

Even worse, she fears that this might all lead back to the night she tries hardest to forget. And what was taken without her permission.

Violet is going back to New York ... and she knows exactly who is going to be there.

With Phoenix in her dreams and Lincoln in her heart she knows it is only a matter of time before the final choice must be made."


“I need you to live for me.”

Fast track two years from the ending of Endless and Violet Eden’s living the Rogue life in the UK, travelling around like a nomad and killing off Exiles for a form of income. She works alone. Vi’s strength is something I have always admired. She has grown into such an indepenent woman over the course of the books. What I love about her is that she has never complained about the large weight on her shoulders; she has taken everything in her stride – the sacrifice, the pain, the heart break. Her resilience and willingness to fight for her loved ones AND the greater good result in her decisions being occassionally conflicted as she tries to decide what’s best. But in the end she always manages to pull-through. She’s definitely a lot more distant and colder compared to the previous books. Shirvington did a great job with her character – the change over the years as a result of everything really reflected through Vi’s thoughts and actions. Once upon a time I may have been slightly annoyed with her, but not anymore. I love this girl so much.

“We do not run. We do not quit.”

Then, by a thrilling turn of events, someone goes missing and Vi is the one commissioned to find them. A knock at her door one night makes her go back to the Academy and face-to-face with Lincoln Wood again. ERMAGHERD *SWOON* Linc Linc Linc <3 Love this boy… wait man? Yes man omg I keep forgetting he’s 9 years older than Vi and OMG IS HE REALLY ALREADY 29 HERE? Woah yes he’s definitely a man. A very yummy one at that. He’s matured so much in Violet’s absence, filling out his suit ;) and becoming a real leader. I think my heart just automatically stutters of its own free will whenever he’s mentioned. And when we/Vi meets him head on? That tension was palpable and I’m just sitting here like “SODJFSDLHFSLDFKJSDJFD;LSAJDKASD GET TOGETHER ALREADY”. But the great thing is they didn’t. Ha. Hahaha. I’m such a masochist. The pain of reading Linc as he struggled with Vi’s reappearance was heart-wrenching. I loved that Shirvington didn’t just throw them together again. Linc had issues he had to work through – trust issues and the need to constantly protect Vi that he needed to let go of so that they could be real partners again. The great thing was him slowly learning to treat Vi as an equal in every respect. His trust, ability to love unconditionally, sweetness, kind heart and honesty make him of the best book boyfriends ever. Also, just… The sexy. Lots of it.

“It was painful. Incredibly so. It surpasses anything imaginable.”

Phoenix also makes an appearance in this book. How can he not? From the beginning he was integral to the story and I’ve always had a soft spot for him. As the series progressed he became more important and then Endless happened and I was like “BBY I’M HERE FOR YOU” *cries*. Phoenix has changed so much throughout the series… Or rather, is he finally showing his true self? Either way, Shirvington has created a complex character with so many edifices – one that looks different if you look on at different angles… Just like his hair really. The things he does, the acceptance and belonging he strives for, the love he yearns to have… This beautiful and broken person made me bawl my eyes out.

“Say the words I came to hear.”

What makes a series great and the main characters stand out are the supporting/secondary characters. The stronger they are, the more personality they give to the story and protagonists. The Violet Eden Chapters has some of the most memorable people I’ve ever met. Each one leaves a lasting imprint. Onyx and Dapper, Spence, Vi’s parents, Griffin all have their stories. But who I adored the most was Steph. Steph has been a constant to the series and her friendship with Vi since Embrace has been one of the most endearing things I have ever read. Their friendship is basically indestructible. Steph herself is another strong, young woman. Being pulled into the Grigori world, staying by Vi’s side, supporting her, being surrounded by people who will outlive her – that takes a strength and willpower of one’s own. Then there’s Gray, whose presence in Empower just took my breath away. I immediately fell in love with him at the beginning of Empower and his character is just brilliant. Funny, charming, witty and just so full of life he really had a huge impact on the story.

“Steph… well, Steph is one of the good ones. She doesn’t hold a grudge. She isn’t cold.”

So that romance aye? What we’ve all been waiting for. *Flails around wildly* My heart. My poor heart. That is all.

“This was real. Understood. Fought for. Against. Lost.”

Shirvington has managed to tie up every loose end in Empower. Seriously it’s an achievement. I’ll be honest, I was quite confused when I read the blurb of Empower. What did Shirvington have in store? What else could she put them through? Really hadn’t she done enough damage. Well thankfully she picks up the pieces and puts everything together. Everything from book one to what’s introduced in book five all fall into place as the story progresses. The complex plot explains many things that were left unanswered, the story never faltering in its purpose. Her writing is as addictive as ever, her words pulling you in to the Grigori world and anchoring you there until the story’s over. There is no shortage of emotions in Empower. With the squealing of happiness and swooning comes heart ache and heart break; with the healing comes new wounds and with the love comes bittersweet hope. As Shirvington has taught us, there must be a balance and she has done just that with Empower – balanced every emotion, every person and death and love. With it all, comes an amazing sense of completeness and peace once the last page is turned. In your heart, you just know this was the way things were supposed to end.

“May your dreams be many.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 End of Year Book Survey

2013 is approaching its end (woah how time flies) which means I'm once again doing Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner's End of Year Book Survey. Whilst I did it at the end of last year too, I wasn't officially blogging back then and was a total noob (I still am but yeah :D)

Twenty-thirteen has been an amazing year of books and blogging for me. For one it's my first year of blogging and my first whole year of getting back into reading (I'd started getting back into YA in August 2012).

The year has introduced many great debut authors, continued many series favourites, and concluded some of my most adored series.

It was so hard picking my favourites but it had to be done!

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

I am going to cheat and break it down by genre, but I DO have a favourite book of 2013! Which I will reveal at the very end.

ContemporaryCrash into You by Katie McGarry - The third Pushing the Limits book. Isaiah <3

Dystopian/Post-ApocalypticThrough the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi - book 2 in the Under the Never Sky trilogy; the FEELS in this though woah.

ParanormalEmpower by Jessica Shirvington - EPIC conclusion to the amazing Violet Eden Chapters.

Science FictionThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner.
Honorary mention to Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington (since Jess takes one category, I thought it was fair to give sci-fi to another book)

FantasyApollyon and Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout (I consider these one as they're the same series :P). These last 2 books in the Covenant series just left me reeling. Gorgeous, gorgeous series.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Oh god The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead. I was all kinds of disappointed with this. I STILL haven't finished this - I've got 90 pages to go but I'm just like blaaaaaaaaah.

Also, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, this one has also taken me forever to read... It's not living up to it hype :(

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill. I had never heard of this when Bloomsbury sent it to me but I was blown away. ALSO, WHAT IS THIS ABOUT FINN AND EM BEING WRONG? I CANNOT DEAL.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Standalone: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Series: Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

HOLY SHIT. I've had Legend and Prodigy sitting on my shelf since February but never read them. In my sort of reading slump I picked up Legend and zomgggggggggggggg COULD NOT put in down. I finished Legend in 1 day, Prodigy in about 2-3 and Champion in 3 days when I had the money to go out and buy it. I finished the trilogy (Champion) yesterday night and was just SOBBING at the story and it's ending/epilogue. Woah just WOAH guys I am recommending this series to you if you haven't read it. I swear you will NOT regret it. Marie's writing is awesome, the characters so strong and the story never slows - so action-packed. There is also so much heart-ache, unforgivable acts and tonnes of teary moments. The power of her secondary characters is amazing - despite Metias' death in book 1 being the driver for the story and the reader only getting about a chapter or 2 with him, his memory lives on throughout the trilogy. He provides June with support, guidance and love even though he's not there. He's one of the reasons I cried so much. His memory was so powerful, Lu created him so the reader felt like they really knew him and had spent time with him rather than seeing the glimpses of him through June's memory. 
I legit just had tears pouring down my face after closing Champion. It's a beautiful trilogy about a girl born into wealth, a boy born into poverty and how the different circumstances have made these two extremely strong characters who they are. It's about power, a totalitarian government versus extreme capitalism, vengeance, retribution, and forgiveness. 

Honorary mention to:
The Summer series by CJ Duggan – contemporary Aussie YA at it's finest. Beaches and sun; laid back, HOT Aussie guys who are sweet and funny; and a 90s vibe makes it the perfect summer read.

The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning - it's adult paranormal romance at it's best. The protagonist/heroine is the most amazing female I've ever read. She doesn't take shit, listens to instructions when she knows what's good for her and has this fire about her that never goes out.

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?

Kasie West.

I’ve read all 3 of her books this year and love them all! (Pivot Point, Split Second and The Distance Between Us). Her paranormal duology Pivot Point/Split Second was one of the most unique I've ever read and her contemporary TDBU is so sweet and lovely. Her writing is stunning!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry (Historical Fiction)

The writing style was very different and the subject matter wasn’t light. Definitely would recommend.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Empower by Jessica Shrivinton

The conclusion to The Violet Eden Chapters! Mein Gott. Let me put this in perspective. I got this book on November 1. On November 8 I had a 50% weighted assessment due, a research proposal with a 5000 word count and I hadn't started. I needed to do extensive research and propose a conceptual framework, provide theoretical grounding etc. for this paper. I was MEANT to start on the 1st. I read a chapter of Empower on the train home. I told myself I'd stop when I got off the train. I finished it at 3am when I finished the whole book, not having put it down at all. Jess' books always do this to me.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Apollyon and Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout or Marie Lu's Legend trilogy.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

From a book released in 2013:
Evan Walker from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. The premise of his character was amazing.

From a book I read in 2013:
Day from the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu - especially in Champion.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Honorary mentions to These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe, both of which were very eloquent and lyrical in nature.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Allegiant by Veronica Roth


Honorary mention to Champion by Marie Lu with that ending/epilogue.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Definitely Angelfall by Susan Ee hands down WOW!

15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning (671 pages)

Shortest (not including novellas): Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (224 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Chapter 62. Seriously. Chapter FREAKING 62. I will take UM out JUST to read this chapter sweet baby Jesus this chapter ;jsdf;lsdkfljsfsdfasdkfdfa.

18. Favourite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Romantic: Alexandria Andros and Aiden St. Delphi in Apollyon/Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Friendship: Addie and Laila in Split Second by Kasie West

Familial: June and Metias; Day and Eden from Champion by Marie Lu

19. Favourite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The Boys of Summer by CJ Duggan recommended to me by Shirley and Hannah

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

It's a tie between paranormal and contemporary!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Garrick Taylor from Losing It by Cora Carmack. *Grabby hands* can haz hot English boy plez?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. The Aether never ceases to amaze me.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Losing It by Cora Carmack

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

AHAHAHA here’s ALL the books that made me cry this year:

  1. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
  2. Boundless by Cynthia Hand
  3. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
  4. Apollyon by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  5. The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe
  6. Flawed by Kate Avelynn
  7. Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
  8. This Girl by Colleen Hoover
  9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  10. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
  11. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  12. Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
  13. Crash into You by Katie McGarry
  14. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (I cried a bit at the end, nothing compared to the rest though)
  15. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  16. Empower by Jessica Shirvington
  17. Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  18. Prodigy by Marie Lu
  19. Champion by Marie Lu

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Angelfall by Susan Ee


So there we have it. My books of 2013. Now let's pick the Best of the Best. Regardless of how many categories an author will take.

The Best:

Crown of Midnight just topped everything - it was EVERYTHING I wanted in a YA book and sequel - amazing romance, the most swoon-worthy male love interest, an intense and thrilling plot, elegant writing, and an independent, strong and killer heroine.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blog Tour: That One Summer (Summer #3) by CJ Duggan Review

I feature very few indie/self-published authors on my blog. But CJ Duggan is one of the few self-published authors whose works I adore and can definitely say, has the calibre of a published author. So I am very happy to be part of the That One Summer blog tour and my review stop is here today :D

Firstly thank you to CJ Duggan and the Three Bookateers for organising this blog tour <3

Date Read: November 24 - 26 2013
Release Date: December 17th 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Review copy via author
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"Loving Chris Henderson would be wrong. Diabolically disastrous. I mean, what is there about him to love? He’s moody, bossy, brooding, a control freak, and that’s on a good day … but there was one achingly obvious fact that haunted my every thought, every minute of every day …
He sure could kiss.

As the countdown to the new millennium begins, there is one thing everyone agrees on: no one wants to be in Onslow for New Year’s Eve.

So that can only mean one thing: road trip!

No longer the mousey, invisible, shy girl from years ago, Tammy Maskala is finally making up for all those lost summers. A new year with new friends, which astoundingly includes the bossy boy behind the bar, Chris Henderson.

She likes her new friends (at least most of them), so why does she secretly feel so out of place?

After chickening out on the trip, a last-minute change of heart sees Tammy racing to the Onslow Hotel, fearing she’s missed her chance for a ride. The last thing she expected to meet was a less-than-happy Onslow Boy leaning against his black panel van.

Now the countdown begins to reach the others at Point Shank before the party is over and the new year has begun. Alone in a car with only the infuriating Chris Henderson, Tammy can’t help but feel this is a disastrous start to what could have been a great adventure. But when the awkward road trip takes an unexpected turn, Tammy soon discovers that the way her traitorous heart feels about Chris is the biggest disaster of all.

Fogged up windows, moonlight swimming, bad karaoke and unearthed secrets; after this one summer nothing will ever be the same again"


“And there was nothing more frustrating than a smug Onslow boy”

CJ Duggan’s 2012 Aussie YA contemporary debut, The Boys of Summer, completely blew me away with its ‘90s Aussie setting. A year later and she’s onto her third book in the Summer series – she set the bar high with The Boys of Summer, but That One Summer does not disappoint at all.

I’ll be honest, I was scared to read the sequels in the Summer series because I’m such a Tess/Toby fan and I didn’t think any other Onslow couple would beat the one from The Boys of Summer. But reading TOS I found I absolutely adored Tammy and Chris. They’re very different to Tess and Toby and that’s what made their story so enjoyable.

Set approximately 4 years after we’re first introduced to the Onslow Boys and directly after the events of An Endless Summer, the new millennium is approaching and nobody wants to spend New Year’s Eve in Onslow. The result is a camping road trip organised by the boys. Stuck with the brooding Chris Henderson for the road trip, Tammy Maskala as the newest addition to the gang has insecurities about fitting in with the rest. Her sarcastic voice had me in stitches countless times and her wit made her a very likeable protagonist. Being inside Tammy’s head, I could really relate to her. She over analysed a lot of things which might be annoying in some characters, but when one is stuck in a very long car ride with Chris Henderson, who wouldn’t over analyse every word the man manages to speak? I guess the only thing that annoyed me about Tammy was how easily she cried. I’m a pretty emotional person but even I thought Tammy was a tad too sensitive… Almost on the cry-baby side. Nearly everything set her off; don’t get me wrong, she’s a strong person but I think she may have needed a bit more mettle where the crying was concerned.

“In other words, I had gone from the usual third wheel to spare tyre.”

Chris Henderson. Or as I sometimes to referred as, “50 Shades of Frowns”. This guy had a different unpleasant expression for absolutely everything. Constantly brooding, he barely strung together complete sentences but what he did have to say was either extremely hilarious or very meaningful. Chris Henderson is my kind of guy. At first it seems the only trait that makes Chris an “Onslow boy” are his good looks. On the surface, it seems the defining characteristic of the Onslow boys is aesthetics, charm and their outgoing, confident nature. But look beyond that and what the Onslow boys really do have in common is the way they treat girls fairly, never looking down on them; they don’t say demeaning things; they’re good natured, sweet and the type of guy every girl should be looking for. What I love about the Onslow boys is their ability to love, and to love unconditionally no questions asked. They give their whole heart, they’re faithful and Chris Henderson is no different. Deep down, there’s a funny side to him, and more importantly, a truly caring guy that looks after those around him. Just like I fell in love with Toby in The Boys of Summer, I fell in love with Chris in That One Summer.

“Do you ever feel like you have so much to say, but you just don’t know how to say it?”

The romance was sexy as! I loved the build-up that Duggan created with the glances, flirting and light touches. She also writes steamy scenes like no other, filled with longing, desire and passion. Duggan teases, taunts and hints at what could be, all the while leaving the reader reeling from the possibilities.

“I desperately wanted to reach out to him, to bring my shaking hands up and slide them over his shoulders, to press skin to skin, drawing him near and crushing against him, like the stirrings of wave slamming into rocks.”

Duggan knows just what everybody wants: to see all our favourite characters from previous books again! The whole ensemble from the previous books make their way to 2000 and seeing everyone again just made me really happy. Each of the characters/couples had their own subplot; whether it was the addition of new characters, couples continuing in their bliss, or the trials they had to overcome, That One Summer had it all. The subplots made it a great way to see more into the lives of the crew, and of course, made headway for future books!

“You know more than anyone that I am never one to love for the sake of being in love, but I love because of you.”

There’s nothing overly complicated or angsty about the plot, but it’s a road trip of self-discovery, love and friendship. Duggan intertwines the various subplots with Chris and Tammy’s story, set against the gorgeous back drop of Australian scenery – from highway, through the bush, to beaches and resorts. And as the clock strikes ever closer to January 1, 2000, will everybody get their happily-ever-after? And will Chris and Tammy find it in each other to see their feelings? This is that one summer you won’t want to miss – sweet, sexy and topped off with that serene laidback vibe that only comes with an Aussie YA.

“… We hoped for our lives to change in some way from this night on.”


THAT ONE SUMMER will be released December 17

The Summer Series:

About CJ Duggan

C.J Duggan is the number one bestselling Australian author of the Summer Series! C.J lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia. When she isn’t writing books about swoony boys and 90’s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year-old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.

Novels in the Summer Series includes: The Boys of Summer (2012), An Endless Summer (2013) and the highly anticipated, soon to be released That One Summer (2013).

Find her at the following places


As part of the tour, there will be an international tour wide giveaway.


2. THREE WINNERS will receive EBOOK copies of the ENTIRE SUMMER SERIES


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Blitz: Savor (Vicious Feast #1) by Kate Evangelista

As an ardent fan of Kate Evangelista's Taste, I was so happy to hear that there'd more to the Gothic world she'd created with Barinkoff Academy. I was even happier to hear that Luka would be getting his own story, and it'll be told in Savor! I'll also be posting my review as part of the blog tour next year.

"Mature and explicit content. Not recommended for readers below 18-years-old. 

Yup, you’ve got to be that old to read my story. Consider yourself warned.

I’m Dakota Collins, a tough talking, eye patch wearing, workaholic photography student. Why am I important? Well, maybe because I get to spend an entire month with Vicious, only the sickest indie rock band out there.

You see, I needed a subject for my Spring Showcase introspective in order to graduate. During a chance encounter at a club I’d been sent to cover for the Daily Gossip, our ironically named college paper, the features writer I usually teamed up with introduced me to the band—by accident, I might add. It involved a run in with a scary, bald bodyguard. Anyway, long story short, I signed a contract to take pictures of Vicious.

I should have known their handsome yet way too serious for his own good bassist, Luka Visraya, wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself. He’s gorgeous and all, but the way he smiles spelled trouble with a capital L. I’m in for a long month with him around.

Crazy shit happens and then some. So, if you want the skinny on Vicious and the events revolving around my stay at Lunar Manor, read my story.

Again, refer to the warning above."


Exclusive Excerpt

“Dakota Collins!”
I lowered my camera. The use of my full name never came with good consequences. I blinked my vision back at her even if I wanted to spend the rest of the night taking his picture. Sweat rose over my upper lip. I may just have found my subject for the Spring Showcase.
The only problem?
I had to find a way to convince him to be in my project. Something told me this wouldn’t be easy. By the way my heart beat in my ears, drowning out the music and Silvia having a fit in front of me, I wanted it too much. I wanted him too much.
“This the guy you were saying?” I showed Silvia the picture I’d taken. This seemed to pacify her because she sidled closer, mesmerized like a moth to a flame.
“Luka Visraya,” she said with a moan like she’d just tasted the most luscious chocolate before taking a long gulp of her cocktail. The name didn’t register. Silvia must have noticed my blank expression because she continued. “He’s the bassist for Vicious.”
Still no pings of recognition in my head.
She slapped her thigh. “Where have you been? It’s weird that you haven’t heard of them. Their songs are on the radio like every second.”
Of course I hadn’t heard of them. I liked listening to country and I hardly kept up with current events.
“Name one?” Okay, I had a name. Luka. Exotic. A bassist. Part of a band I should know about. So he’s famous. I slowly felt my chances of asking him to be my subject slip from my grasp. If he was someone famous, fat chance he’d say yes to a graduating photography student like me. I just about deflated when Silvia mentioned one of their songs. “Oh, I know that one!” By accident. It played in the radio of the cab I rode in to Sacrifice. I stared at the picture of him then lifted my gaze to where he sat. “He’s gone.”
“What?” Silvia whipped around in time to come face to face with a wall of man. “Whoa!” She pushed at him. “Watch it, buddy!”
“Give me the camera,” he said in a threatening tone.
Big. Beefy. Bald. The three Bs that made up the quintessential bodyguard.
I clutched my DSLR closer to my chest and looked up at him with my good eye. “And why would I do that?” The patch didn’t seem to intimidate him because he just reached out. So much for my Bond villain aspirations. I moved away from his grubby hand. No one touched my camera but me.
Despite her size, Silvia came between me and the mountain. “We’re here to cover Sacrifice for our college paper. You don’t have the right to take away my colleague’s camera.”
Yeah! You give it to him, Silvy.
Not that I couldn’t take care of myself. But if Silvia wanted to play hero, I wouldn’t stand in her way.
“What seems to be the problem here?” a soft, authoritative voice chimed in.
The bodyguard moved aside to reveal the Gothic Lolita. She stood at just about the same height as Silvia, but she possessed an older aura even if she seemed to be our age.
“She’s been taking pictures,” Baldy said.
Lolita’s kohl eyes landed on me then shifted to my camera.
“As I was saying to the big guy,” Silvia explained. “My colleague and I are covering the opening of Sacrifice.”
“For what paper?” Lolita asked without taking her eyes off me. I clutched my camera like an extra appendage. In some ways it was. After losing half my sight, I relied on my camera like an extra eye, seeing the world through its lens. I would rather die than lose it.
“The Daily Gossip,” I said before Silvia could answer just to relieve some of the awkward tension building in me under her gaze. “We study at Wexler U.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms.
“Okay,” I quickly stammered out. “I get that the name of our paper sounds like a tabloid, but the Daily Gossip is a cool campus paper.” The last part maybe only I believed since Silvia raised her eyebrow at me, but Lolita and the mountain didn’t have to know that.
No one spoke after that. Even in a noisy club, the silence in our group rang in my ears. Not waiting for the situation to get any more awkward, I plowed forward with my own selfish intentions.
“You know Luka.” I said it more as a statement, but it came out like a question.
Lolita nodded.
“I’m Dakota Collins and I’m graduating this spring. I was wondering if Luka would be interested in—”
“What would I be interested in?” a smooth voice joined our group.
The walls of my throat closed, chocking the rest of what I had to say. All eyes turned to Luka. Silvia dropped her empty glass. It bounced off the bodyguard’s shoe and landed in a clatter but didn’t break. Even with my height, I still had to look up at him.
“What are you doing here?” Lolita admonished. “You should be backstage.”
One side of his lips came up. God. Without the scowl, his face lit up. I had to stop the urge to lift my camera and start snapping away. And his eyes were piercing blue. The kind that stretched over my mother’s farm in the summer. Damn.
Seeing him up close, I knew I’d give any one of my kidneys for a chance to take his picture in a formal shoot.
“We have five minutes. Chill, Yana.” He tugged at one of her pigtails.
“Luka,” Silvia managed. “I’m a big fan. Will you sign my chest?”
Bypassing my petite colleague, Luka’s intensely blue gaze studied me. He reached out and I flinched back. His fingers almost grazed my patch. What the hell was the matter with him? Trying to touch my eye patch was tantamount to poking a bandage over a wound and asking the person if it hurts.
Gothic Lolita—Yana—yanked Luka’s arm down. “I’m so sorry!” Her whole aura changed. She went from all business to panicky. “My brother sometimes forgets his manners. He didn’t mean anything about touching your…” She bit her lower lip, maybe trying to keep herself from saying the wrong thing.
That little faux pas cleared my head of the Luka haze and spurred me into action. “Luka, will you let me take your picture for my final project?” I didn’t know where my courage came from, but I knew if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it. I had to have him as my subject.
Still not removing his gaze from my face, like my patch transfixed him, he tilted his head to one side very much like his sister did earlier.
“Luka, don’t!” Yana said, but from the consideration on Luka’s face, she was too late.
“You’re a photographer?”
“Yes.” I nodded, in case the word wasn’t enough.
“And you’d like me to be the subject of your project?”
God yes! This time, I could only nod. I didn’t want him to see how eager I was. And I couldn’t live with myself if I embarrassed myself further.
I waited with baited breath.
It seemed everyone in our group waited with baited breath for what the golden god had to say about my brazen request. I soon realized when Luka spoke, everyone listened. The way he pronounced every word precisely yet still spoke so smoothly, like butter on warm toast, captured everyone’s attention. To say he captivated us was an understatement. Something in me certainly wanted to hear him keep speaking. He could read from an accounting textbook in that voice and no one would get bored.
“I need to know that you’re good,” he finally said.
Something about his words seemed to hold a different meaning. I must have missed the alcohol in the soda Silvia had given me. Maybe I was drunk and this was all a blackout dream.
“What are you saying?” Yana faced Luka all the way now, her petite form all rigid.
He unleashed a full on megawatt smile my way. I almost had to cover my eye from it. At my side, Silvia gasped. Her long nails dug into my arm. Like staring at the sun, I couldn’t take my gaze away from him no matter how bad it was for me.
“We’re about to perform. I want you to take several pictures then send them to Yana. If she approves, we’ll see about your request.”
Then, like smoke, he disappeared into the crowd.

SAVOR was published on December 2 2013 by Crescent Moon Press


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About Kate Evangelista

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she lives in the Philippines and writes full-time.

Find her at the following places

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2) by Abbi Glines

Firstly, thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for this review copy <3

Date Read: June 2 - 4 2013
Release Date: April 25th 2013 (first published February 7th 2012)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"Set in the steamy coastal Alabama town of Sea Breeze, an interconnected group of older teens hook up, break up ...and much, much more. Marcus Hardy had hoped to enjoy a year away at college while he put the summer he'd rather forget behind him. But instead, he's jerked right back his home town of Sea Breeze due to a family crisis. The only bright spot to returning is the hot redhead who sleeps over at his place several times a week. There's just one thing though - she's sleeping in bed with his new roommate, Cage York. Willow "Low" Foster needs a place to live. Running to her best friend Cage's apartment every time her sister kicks her out isn't exactly a long term solution. But Cage has a new roommate and suddenly sleeping over at his apartment isn't such a bad thing. Not when she gets to see those sexy green eyes of Marcus's twinkle when he smiles at her like he wants her there. There's one problem though, Cage is under the disillusion that when he's through sowing his wild oats, he's going to marry Low - an assumption Marcus intends to change. But when his carefully laid plans come crashing down with a revelation he never expected, Marcus will have to choose between Low or his family. Because once the truth comes out ...there's no other choice."


“As long as I have you to lean on, I can do this Marcus”

As Abbi Glines’ books go, Because of Low is probably one of her better ones and worth a read if you want to dabble in the “new adult” genre. I’ve read the Sea Breeze series all out of order so the plot twist in Because of Low came as no surprise to me, but I still enjoyed this overall. I'm not sure how I feel about these redesigned covers too... Seems too 50 Shades for me :/

Low (Willow) Foster is a nineteen year old who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. When we first meet her, she’s run to Cage York because her useless sister has pretty much kicked her out of the house. I’m not quite sure about how I feel about Low as a female protagonist. There’s something about Glines’ females that read so much better from another perspective – I was first introduced to Low in the first Abbi Glines book I read, which was Just For Now, and in that she possessed this fiery elegance and seductiveness that was sophisticated yet endearing. However, reading from her first person POV in BoL I was a bit sceptical of her character. While she does have some sass, I thought Low was extremely naïve, especially for a 19-year-old. Her thought processes were really quite simple, but at the odd moment she’d display some very interesting smarts. I found these polar opposite aspects of her characterisation to be really unsettling.

I came to the conclusion that Glines writes males much better. Marcus Hardy’s character was much more believable and relatable. I adored Marcus in Breathe and thought he deserved a HEA. I liked seeing his attraction to Low and how he slowly got over Sadie. But the best thing about Marcus? He’s a perfectly sweet guy with no violent tendencies or an angsty/damaged past that is customary of this genre. He’s a Southern gentleman through and through. Well brought up, polite, chivalrous but not overly possessive he’s probably my favourite male out of all of Glines’ books.

I do enjoy the cameos as I can see how the characters from previous books are progressing and also be introduced to future ones. I don’t see the need to write another book and put characters through more obstacles for the sake of showing a future. For the most part, Glines’ characters do read better shown from another’s perspective but they seem really… Glossy. All the girls become exceedingly gorgeous with stunning personalities and all the males are handsome and great catches. It was so shiny and bright I was like “where are my sunglasses?” People aren’t that perfect where I’m from. On the other hand, Cage York’s possessiveness really creeped me out. The way he clung to Low like she was his… Like she was the rebound for every one-night stand he had, it was absolutely disgusting the way he treated her (I’m glad Low didn’t put up with it). I understood his attachment to her, but still his reactions were bloody unnatural and warning bells were going off in my head that he was slightly unstable.

As I said before, I’d read the whole series out of order so I knew the twist in Because of Low. Still, reading it in detail from Low and Marcus’ POV did have a different feel and shed a new light to the situation. It is quite a shocking revelation and I think if I hadn’t known what went down I would have been surprised. I do think Glines writes awesome twists that I don’t usually see coming and it adds this awesome thrill to the story.

"But life sucks, and you get over it and move on."

One thing I’m uncertain of is the writing style. Sentences are way too short and don’t hold the more complex and elegant syntax of other books for the age group. They read way too simply and thus sentences lacked the lustre that could have really made them shine and enhanced feelings and situations. I overlooked this in Breathe as it was self-published and Glines’ first book, but in the published and edited/refined version of Because of Low I found slightly disappointing.

Because of Low is a decent read if you want to try Glines’ books. It’s sweet, reasonably paced and has some moments that will make your heart pound.

“He’s not like us Low, you know that right?”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Crash into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry

Firstly, thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for this NetGalley <3

Date Read: September 26 - 28 2013
Release Date: November 26th 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary
My rating:  (Not enough stars)

"The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. 

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other."


“Speed. It’s what I crave. I can race the emotions away.”

And McGarry has exceeded all my expectations once again! I’ve been looking forward to Crash into You since it was announced – like REALLY looking forward to it. I went into it thinking it’d be my favourite Pushing the Limits book and guess what? Crash into You is officially my favourite Pushing the Limits book by far. I fell in love with Isaiah in book one and I just had to know his story, then in Dare You To his heart got broken and I just really wanted to see him happy.

While Dare You To delved into a much darker world with its themes, I thought that Crash into You wasn’t as dark as it was depressing. I actually haven’t cried that much throughout a book since The Fault in Our Stars. There were so many moments where Crash into You had me in tears and I was just crying for the characters and their bleak situations. This book touched me in ways PTL and DYT didn’t – for me it was almost personal – and that could be a reason why I liked it more than the previous two. I really liked how CIY dealt with issues like illness, loss, expectations and judging people. They’re general and quite broad issues but so relevant in everyday life I could really relate.

Rachel Young was born to replace her sister. To ease her brothers’ and parents’ grief. To make her mother happy. What I loved about Rachel’s character was how real she felt. The way McGarry wrote her anxiety and panic was amazing. The way she gets short of breath, the nervousness, fear, helplessness, I felt it all. Her character was absolutely innocent and so naïve – I usually hate characters like that and find them unbelievable but with the way Rachel was brought up, the over-protectiveness of her family and illness I could understand her perfectly. It doesn’t mean I always liked her (there were times when she did annoy me) but I liked her growth and how she came out of her shell by the end of the book.

“My mind clears when I’m behind the wheel and there’s something about the sound of an engine dropping into gear as I press on the gas that makes me feel… powerful.”

*Clutches heart* Isaiah Walker. He’s the boy your mother warned you about, the type I would typically run away from because seeing him on the street with his tatts and demeanour would scare the crap out of me. But he’s the type of guy who, when he loves, he loves with his whole heart and the girl who manages to get through to him will have all of him. The poor guy got the short end of the stick growing up and it’s really not his fault – I loved his guarded nature and seeing the world through his eyes. His perception of those around him and society in general was even harsher than Noah’s and it was a chilling contrast to Rachel’s world. Isaiah is by far my favourite of McGarry’s characters. It was like he was a little child in this dark and lonely world, crying out to be loved and I just wanted to reach in and hold him. Isaiah has this amazing sense of loyalty that was so admirable and possessed a depth to him that really touched me.

“For Rachel, life is still sunshine, rainbows and pink fucking fuzzy rainbows. I’m nothing but darkness, clouds and rats.”

How does McGarry write insta-love without it being insta-love? I don’t know even know but it worked. Rachel and Isaiah’s meeting was practically insta-love and yet when the damaged boy first set eyes on the angel I believed every moment of it. I think it’s to do with the situations and difference of lifestyle that McGarry brought these characters from – Isaiah’s never seen a girl like Rachel in the neighbourhood he grew up in; Rachel would never encounter a boy like Isaiah in her sheltered private school life. Thus when these two lay eyes on each other it was like fire and ice. They crashed into each other and my heart felt every point of impact of their collision. They are different and yet they are the same in so many ways. Theirs is a beautiful romance filled with uncertainty, heartache, longing, stolen moments and the innocence of first love. I felt all their happiness and pain and cried so many times because McGarry’s writing just elicits all the emotions from within me.

“His hand caresses the sensitive spot right below my chin, and with a gentle pressure, Isaiah raises my head until I look into those warm silver eyes.”

“She’s mine. This is mine. I don’t have much that’s mine. So you can’t destroy her, okay?”

Cars. I fell in love with cars because of Crash into You. How does that happen? But then again how does McGarry do what she does so exceptionally? I don’t know and all I care about is how amazingly McGarry incorporated cars and racing into this story. The dangers of illegal street racing, the thrill of the gears shifting and the speed. It might be the adrenaline junkie in me (I love extreme rides and rollercoasters) but I LOVED those moments when they were behind the wheel and there was nothing but speed and the finish line. It was both soothing and exciting at the same time (what the heck I know). I wanted to be able to drive a clutch just reading this! McGarry pulled everything together so well with the various stories of each character, the main plot and the romance – it was suspenseful, scary and insanely sweet I was pulled into the drag racing world immediately.

“Little did I know, at the time, I had no idea what I was asking or how awful saying goodbye would really feel.”

McGarry doesn’t disappoint with her third book in the Pushing the Limits series. In fact, I’d say this is her best work yet. I adored all the cameos and the new additions which I hope are here to stay! It’s undeniable her writing has improved, her characters well thought out and brilliantly intertwined plots that come together so well. Sorry Dare You To, Crash into You has taken your place as my favourite McGarry book and is now one of my favourite contemporaries of 2013.

“Fuck me. God does exist and he sent an angel in a white Mustang to prove it.”

Stacking the Shelves #22: Blogger Meet Up Edition

I've been a very bad girl. I was meant to post a review this week but I never got around to finishing it (I'll DEFINITELY have it out for the week beginning December 1) so I'm posting a STS instead *guilty look* in my defence I did say I was going to do these weekly so that I didn't get massive hauls that take ages to write a post for. I don't even know why I didn't finish the review (and many more for that matter) but everyday when I got home from work I either slept or lazed around doing who knows what LOL. Anyway, HAPPY DECEMBER! Christmas is 24 days away omg. While most in the northern hemisphere are going to have a white Christmas, over here in Australia it's shorts and tanks out, sunscreen and sunnies on, and we hit the beaches!

Yesterday, thanks to Mandee at Vegan YA Nerds, we had a book blogger meetup in Sydney! Attendees included Manda from HarperCollins Australia, Sonia from Bloomsbury Sydney, Kristy and Zoe from Random House Australia, Shaheen at Speculating on SpecFic, Kim at Two Girls and a Novel, Sunny at A Sunny Spot, Jenna at Belle's Bookshelf, and some other lovely book club and bookish peoples who were awesome to talk to (I hope I didn't forget anybody I already know). It was great to catch up and talk about books and also meet some new people. I had a great time and I reckon we should definitely do it again sometime.

This week's haul:

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for these review copies <3

  • Shadowfell (Shadowfell #1) by Juliet Marillier (Fantasy)
  • Raven Flight (Shadowfell #2) by Juliet Marillier (Fantasy)
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for these review copies <3

Thanks to Sonia at Bloomsbury Australia for this ARC

The lovely ladies at Random House Australia also gave us a goody bag with an adorable book journal, chapter sampler of Chasing the Valley by Skye Melki-Wegner, beautifully designed blank greeting cards, and signed Passion bookmark by Lauren Kate!

Lovely end to the week, thanks everyone!