Saturday, September 20, 2014

Discussion Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

I'm doing something a little different today! If you've ever been on YA Midnight Reads (and obviously you have duh) you'll know Melanie, Celine and Larissa often do discussion reviews. Well today I've got Melanie over here co-reviewing RITES OF PASSAGE with me. I'm so excited because this is the first time I've done one of these and it was so fun! Mel is one my best blogging friends and I was thrilled to do this with her <3

Firstly, thanks to HarperCollins Australia for this ARC <3


Release Date: September 9 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
Mel's rating: 
My rating: 

"Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences."


"I'm physically incapable of saying no to a dare"

Jaz: I absolutely loved Rites, from the beginning it was so intense and felt so genuine!

Melanie: Right? I felt like I was at Military school myself, I was definitely not surprised to find out that the author actually went there when she was younger.

Jaz: That made it all the more real. I really felt like I was Sam going through the brutal treatment of being a 'Worm' at the DMA. I had no idea it would be like that. The culture, the way they treated Sam and the other new female recruits though - brutal!

Melanie: Yeah, I felt myself getting pretty angry for Sam because of the way she was treated. I loved her perseverance and bravery to stand up for herself. I clicked with her pretty quickly.

Jaz: Me too! I thought she was a fantastic protagonist. Henley did this amazing job of making her relatable in a situation that would be very hard to picture. I mean, I would not survive one day in that Academy. The way Sam never backed down was spectacular. I really admired her strength; she was always so selfless too - some of her fellow recruits dragged her down but she would always wait for them and encourage them.

“I won’t turn on her. We’ve just got to work harder to make her understand what she’s got to do.”

Melanie: A totally admirable character. I definitely would not have survived either, and with all that crap her peers and family gave her? I cannot imagine how physically and emotionally terrifying that would be--the misogyny was just horrid.

“I look forward to many more talks like this before you quit the Corps and go running back home to Daddy… Why don’t you give up, McKenna?”

Jaz: Right? Everybody was so sexist. I didn't know that way of thinking still existed in such an advanced place. It was disheartening to see. I mean I thought the DMA and Sam's family would be proud that a female was willing to give up so much to serve her country? I guess it's a different mindset for them... I'm glad she managed to find friends in unsuspecting places though!

Melanie: Exactly, and instead, they think that having a girl is a burden because they think that girls will only bring them down and that they aren't as good as boys. Ugh.

“No one expects you to make it. No one wants you to make it. You don’t belong here, McKenna. Females don’t belong here”

Jaz: I think that Sam proved she was as good as, if not better than, many of the male recruits!

Melanie: She totally kicked all their asses. What are your thoughts on the romance?

Jaz: OHMYGOD. That romance. Ughhhh *bites lips* Mel, 3 words: Drill Sergeant Stamm

That is all.


“He leans in, his face a breath away from mine.”

Melanie: Haha! Yes he is pretty swoony. But I was so confused at first because she had a 'sort of' romance in the first half with a totally different guy when in the synopsis it said that Sam falls for her drill sergeant.

Jaz: Oh yeah.... I know what you mean. But I was rooting for her and Drill from the beginning. Although the other guy was very sweet and supportive.

To an extent anyway…

Melanie: Oh yes to an extent. The part where Drill brings the pie to her room was so adorable!

Jaz: Yeh during Thanksgving. It was so sweet. And all the little things he did for her too. The way Drill treated everybody fairly, how he saw her potential and wasn't there to see her fail, like so many others. I absolutely loved his belief in her. I think he actually risked a lot for her?

Melanie: Yes he did. He was so supportive of her and he treated her with respect. I also loved how it didn't overtake the plot.

Jaz: Agreed! The best part was that the romance was always in the background and never overtook the story. And that made the romance so much more... Worth it? The tiny snippets and moments we managed to glean were made the more precious and heart achingly sweet. That plot though... I didn't know things could get so serious.

Melanie: It was a pretty intense plot line and kept me engaged the entire time. I've never read anything to do with military school before and now I'm really interested in reading more books centered around it.

Jaz: Same! Assuming they're all written this well. I loved the way this was intense from the very beginning. Henley just got right into it and kept building up. There was a skill in having the story never falter. From the Smoke Shows and the challenges, and how the plot darkened as it went along…

“I nearly killed her the other night. Shit, I’ve seen guys crumble with smoke shows half as bad.”

Melanie: I don't think there was a moment in this book where I was bored. There were so many things happening and I loved how every little detail was included and written with such detail.

Jaz: And how we got everything the blurb said and more! I mean it mentioned a decades-old society intent on getting Sam out but I had no idea just how full-blown things could get. Serious business there Mel.

Melanie: For once the synopsis doesn't lie! I absolutely hate it when it does, just disappoints me so much.

Jaz: I was actually quite scared as I was reading. So mysterious and enthralling. There was so much suspense!

Melanie: Yeah, I felt every emotion in this book.

Jaz: And there were so many of them. Fear for Sam, intrigue at what the hell was going on, worry at what the heck Sam's friends were doing.... And a lot of swoon for Drill.

Melanie: And sadness when you realise that there's no more pages left in the book.

Jaz: But there has to be a sequel. There HAS to be. Especially the way it ended.

Melanie: Oh yes absolutely. Pretty much everyone who has read it has mentioned that they want a sequel. So it simply just has to happen. It needs to happen.

Jaz: It totally does. Were you also surprised at how well Rites was written? I couldn't tell this was a debut novel! I mean, Henley's writing was so sophisticated and she had so much control of her characters, making them unique and able to develop the plot so well.

Melanie: The author has some serious talent. I will definitely try anything by her so she better keep on writing! Her characters were three-dimensional and everything felt so real. Was there anything in here that you disliked?

Jaz: I think the ending... It was just left hanging and I wanted a bit more I guess. You?

Melanie: Yeah, I definitely agree on that. I also felt the romance with the other dude at the start was a bit unnecessary.

Jaz: Oh yeah true. But it seemed he did genuinely like her... Just a bit random though.

Oh and I liked how it dealt with family issues and what it means to have your family in the military. I mean Sam entered the academy as a dare from her late brother. And in a way I think it's HER coping mechanism? It seems her family all dealt with Amos' death in different ways…

Melanie: The family aspect was really intriguing. Yes, in a way, it was her way of coping with her brother's death.

Yep. Overall, Rites was an outstanding read. I haven't ever read anything like this and the characters, romance, plot and originality were all close to perfection. Now if we got a sequel, I'd be VERY pleased.

Jaz: Completely agree. I NEED MORE STAMM!

“Let’s finish this.”


And because Joy sent me an extra set of signed postcards + bookmark I have 1 set to giveaway! This giveaway is AUSTRALIA only. Winner must reply within 48h or a new one will be picked

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thirteen Days of Ash & Fire: Wrap Up & Giveaway

What an amazing 13 days you guys! I hope you had as much fun reading our posts as we did making them (:

Special thanks to the other tour hosts who I worked with to bring this tour together: Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, Rachel from Hello Chelly, Judith from Paper Riot, Katie from The Polished Page-Turners.

Heir of Fire is officially out in the wild now, so if you haven't gotten your hands on it I think you need to re-assess your life choices.

The international giveaway is STILL going (3 days left!) and a lot of the tour stops are also giving away extra things so remember to check each post if you haven't (WHY HAVEN'T YOU?)

Here's a recap of the tour:

August 25 – Jaz @ Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
August 26 – Katie @ Polished Page-Turners
August 27 – Kelly @ Belle of the Literati
August 28 – Elena @ Novel Sounds
August 29 – Nicole @ The Quiet Concert
September 1 – Gillian @ Writer of Wrongs
September 2 – Judith @ Paperiot
September 3 – Melanie @ The Daily Prophecy
September 4 – Magan @ Rather Be Reading
September 5 – Andi @ Andi’s ABCs
September 8 – Gina @ Behind the Pages
September 9 – Rachel @ Hello Chelly
September 10 – Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books

Day 1: I kicked off the tour with a fancast
Day 2: Katie did some awesomely delicious Throne of Glass inspired recipes, with food from the actual series!
Day 3: Kelly shared her favourite quotes from the series and they set off all the feels for me!
Day 4: Elena made a wallpaper showcasing the different sides that Celaena internally battles with and it gives me the shivers
Day 5: Nicole told you guys why she loves the Throne of Glass series and her reasons are true and it does hurt and the endings do kill me and this is important
Day 6: Gillian made these cool collages of the characters from Pinterest images and they portray each character so well!
Day 7: Judith selected "12 sad and dark and melancholy songs" to create an Heir of Fire inspired playlist and when you listen to these you will CRY
Day 8: Mel made a cool infograph about whether you should start Throne of Glass
Day 9: Magan showed us some cool arrow designs and decor because well Heir of Cover fire <3
Day 10: Andi made some cool outfits for Celaena and they really show the different sides to our heroine!
Day 11: Gina made some gorgeous computer and phone wallpapers with quotes from ALL the books and they're so lovely - she even made Aus/UK AND US versions too
Day 12: Rachel created these freaking gorgeous mood boards for living spaces inspired by Throne of Glass and I just... *hugs computer screen*
Day 13: Alexa closes the tour with 10 reasons why you should be on Team Celaena and her reasons are kick-ass just like our heroine!

Sarah is currently on tour around the US atm and I'm insanely jealous of all you that get to meet this lovely lady. GIVE HER HUGS FOR ME.

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 2, 2014 (US); September 11, 2014 (Aus)
Genre: Fantasy


"Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?"

Buy Links:
About Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series: Throne of Glass,

Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire, and the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

Find her at the following places:



Check our Gina's spotlight of the series here HERE HERE... or here (they're all the same link)

This giveaway is AUSTRALIA only and omg it's exciting because you can win a US ARC of Heir of Fire (I believe no Aussie managed to get their hands on one unless they were sent it by a US friend or went to BEA) AND a signed Crown of Midnight print (like the one that graces my desk)

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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

Date Read: August 24 - 28 2014
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?


“In a well-ordered universe…”

As someone who read Since You’ve Been Gone after all the Americans, I was riding on extremely high hopes and expectations based on all the stellar reviews it got. I was not disappointed. You guys, Morgan Matson has done another wonderful, memorable contemporary. Also, that cover – love it so much! Very refreshing, summery and the colours just pop and make me feel happy. It also looks like Emily and Sloane!

First thing’s first… SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE, I CAN BREATHE FOR THE FIRST TIME. Sorry not sorry. Every time this book’s title pops in my mind, the Kelly Clarkson song lyrics accompany it.

Our girl Emily has been attached to the hip to her bestie Sloane since the latter moved to town 2 years ago. The best friends do everything together, and Sloane’s outgoing nature more than makes up for Emily’s shy one. However, this summer, Sloane has disappeared and Emily is left to spend three months alone. But! Sloane has left Emily a list of things to complete, and for the first time Emily will attempt to complete all 13 things in the hopes that they might lead her to Sloane.

“Go skinny-dipping”

I’ll admit Emily really annoyed me in the beginning. Her shy factor was so high I didn’t think it was possible for people to live like that! She froze up whenever someone tried to have a simple conversation with her – something as easy as a ‘hello’ couldn’t be returned. It was so frustrating how she couldn’t handle a conversation nor defend herself. Honestly she seemed like a bit of a doormat. But that spectacular character growth! Forced out of her comfort zone in her desperation to try find more information about Sloane’s whereabouts, she hesitantly leaves her shell and ventures into Sloane’s realm. Just goes to show what human beings are willing to do when forced to right? With the help of her new friends, Emily realises that she doesn’t need to hide anymore.

“Kiss a stranger”

One of my favourite aspects of this book was friendship. It’s what this book centres on. What was really profound was her friendship with Frank Porter, the smartest guy in school, an over-achiever but genuinely nice guy. One would think that being so proactive in all school activities, studying and campaigning all the time, Frank wouldn’t notice more than necessary. And yet he is SO perceptive. I think that’s what it takes to be a real class president – not just pretend to learn people’s names so you get their vote, but learn them because you want to get to know people. I think Frank was definitely the latter. The things he knew about Emily showed he’s observant and really cares about people. Emily on the other hand, being such a shy girl and by-stander, I would’ve expected her to notice things. And yet she knows nothing about Frank other than what everybody else thinks. She doesn’t think for one moment until it hits her in the face, that Frank has a life and isn’t all about studying. I absolutely loved this contrast and as the story progressed, they really started getting to know each other and Frank’s patience and support helped Emily find herself.

“Share some secrets in the dark”

For the majority of the book, I really disliked Sloane. We see her through flashbacks and initially, it actually seems like she takes Emily’s spotlight and doesn’t care about Emily being uncomfortable in a lot of the situations she puts her in. Slowly though, I could see she genuinely cares about Emily. And my favourite part was when she puts her complete trust in Emily in a common situation where others would discard their best friends.

“Call your best friend twice a week”

The best part of this book was the way the plot was structured. Each chapter is an item on the list that Emily attempts to tick off. Each subsequent chapter pushes her boundaries more and the gradual growth is lovely. Each activity has her evaluating her various relationships, situations and the flashbacks provide an awesome contrast to the Emily pre-Sloane disappearance. It just flowed so nicely and gave the book this really smooth and cohesive feel. The only part I wasn’t completely satisfied with was the ending as I thought some relationships could have been extended upon more.

“Date someone who’ll wait to make sure you get inside before driving away”

Matson’s writing is so easy to get into, and she paces the novel perfectly. Her style is casual yet sophisticated, humorous yet laced with deep and meaningful undertones. There’s something about Matson’s words that just suck you in – you will absolutely fly through this! And I just love the way she adds music in – the playlists are awesome and I’m convinced Morgan Matson has the broadest musical taste of anyone I know.

Since You’ve Been Gone has immediately become one of my all-time favourite contemporaries. Matson has taken the concept of identity and leaving one’s comfort zone and artfully articulated it in a fun summer to-do list that really allows growth and self-reflection. It gives me all the warm and happy fuzzies!

“I think it’s harder to be the one left behind.”

Monday, September 1, 2014

Recap: Hachette YA Blogger Night with guest Laini Taylor

Wow you guys. I just came home from one of the best blogging events ever! Hachette held their first ever YA blogger night and they did a phenomenal job. In Australia, we don't get massive events like BEA and YA is only really starting to take off - don't get me wrong, people read it, but the blogging has really picked up these past 2 years as people join the book blogging community here. Which means YA is spreading more yay! And it's only recently that children's/teen publicity divisions of publishers have started holding events like these to reach out to bloggers - and I really love nights like these because I get to finally put faces to names, especially the publicists who we work with and talk with so much via email but don't see. I also get to catch up (and meet) lots of amazing bloggers too!

Firstly, a massive thank you to Date a Book of Hachette Australia (the Children's division) for hosting the event and Ashleigh the publicist for inviting us! Thank you also to the Hachette Australia team who worked so hard to put this together, I met a lot of you tonight but I can't remember all your names I'm so sorry! But you're all lovely and I hope to see you all again in the future :D

I also saw so many bloggers tonight and met some whom I've talked to on Twitter for ages but never met! There are too many to mention but it was great seeing you all tonight <3 And a huge thanks to Gina for the lovely DoSab trilogy bookmarks she made!

One of the coolest things they had was a photobooth where we could dress up with props and take instant photos. There was also a lolly table with cute little boxes where we could fill up with different candies of our own choosing. They even provided us with finger food, pastries and beverages! They also had a treasure hunt, placing copies of Found by Harlan Coben around the room. (Yes I managed to snag a copy but haven't unwrapped it yet). For tweeting, I also won a goody bag with lots of awesome inside, including, yes, BOOKS~

Ashleigh and Kim talked about the upcoming YA/NA releases from Hachette and I am SO excited for a lot of these!

Already Released Highights:

Author Highlight:
Jessica Sorensen NA author

Upcoming Releases:

  • Upside Down by Lia Riley - about a girl who goes to Melbourne to study and escape her life, when she saves a guy in a koala suit from being attacked by a man in a business suit

  • A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond - a modern retelling or Orpheus. I'm so excited for this one because I love mythology and the writing style is apparently very unique. Released October 2 2014



By the godstars you guys! Laini is so AMAZING. The way she talks is so inspirational and her words are just lovely. If you're familiar with her eloquent writing style - and you should be, if not READ DAUGHTER OF  SMOKE AND BONE NOW - then you'll be amazed to know that it's reflected in her speech. The words she uses are so lovely, I don't know how to explain it. She talked about how Daughter of Smoke and Bone came about - that she was in a writing slump for a while but suddenly the idea of a blue-haired girl arguing with a father figure came into mind. She was always heckling him, he would never give in, but they genuinely cared about one other. Then the idea of using teeth for wishes came, then wishbones. But it all stemmed from the characters. In writing Dreams of Gods and Monsters, she spent 23 hours STRAIGHT writing the end. She is so cool I'm still fangirling inside.
I asked her two questions - 
1) The end of Dreams of Gods and Monsters ending the way it did and having an open ending and whether she could continue the series - for now, no. BUT she would like to continue it some day. I really hope she does because it's like a whole separate ARC and a new story that could come from it. 
2) The concept of her angels, which are very different from the Biblical ones - this stems from the idea that just because something is beautiful, doesn't mean it's good (as humans we think beautiful = good). Her mindset was that people immediately think angels are good and monsters are evil but how about the fact that they're all sentient beings living like humans, and whether they're good or evil is a personal thing? Just like humans. I thought this was so amazing! 
Sunny also asked her about advice for aspiring writers and Laini's tip was like nothing I've ever heard - if you want to be a writer, you need to be in it 100%. Don't have a 'back-up' plan like being a lawyer/doctor etc. because you'll end up living your back-up plan and even if you think you'll do writing on the side, it's not like that. Because writing takes at least 100% of yourself. That was so eye-opening for me.

I got all my books signed by her - 2 copies of DoSab, DoBaS, DoGaM and Lips Touch Three Times :D

As we were leaving, they gave us goody bags too... WITH HOLLY BLACK'S BOOK THAT ISN'T COMING OUT TIL NEXT YEAR HOW COOL IS THAT?

Thank you again for an amazing night Hachette!

Goody bags! With books are products from Natio, Lanolips and Spotted Cow

Follow Date a Book (the YA division of Hachette) at the following places: