Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we'll make a list of our top ten something, and this week, it's the Top Ten Books I Read in 2013. 

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I'm so glad I read this book, it was really enjoyable and I was surprised at how much I liked it. I really recommend it if you haven't read it yet! A perfect holiday read! 

2. Speechless by Hanna Harrington
This is such an inspiring read, very light, witty and enjoyable! 

3. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
I'm a big fan of this series, though I had some issues with some of the books, it's an awesome series overall and such an experience to read for the first time! I'm so excited for City of Heavenly Fire, the last book in the series, to be released May 2014! 

4. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Such a good paranormal-romance read! Get on it!

5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The first in the amazing prequel spin-off trilogy to The Mortal Instruments, it's a great read, set in the same world, but with new (and hot) characters, along with a suspenseful plot that keeps the pages turning! 

6. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
Third in the spin-off series to the epic Vampire Academy series, this was an amazing read and I hope the series continues as this one did. I'm looking forward to reading The Fiery Heart soon! 

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
If you enjoyed the film, you'll love the book! A great read.

8. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
This is a great eye-opening and inspiring read that will be sure to melt even the coldest of hearts! 
(includes movie review)

9. The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick
This is a short read, more of a poetry based book, about a boy who runs away from home to escape the abuse of his alcoholic father and befriends an old homeless man and falls in love with a rich, beautiful girl in the process. Surprisingly sweet and lovely, a book to read from cover to cover on a Friday night in! 

10. Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
The conclusion to the fantastic Hush, Hush saga. One of my favourite series and definitely the best of the fallen angel-themed books out there in YA Fiction! 

That's all for this week, I hope you've enjoyed my list! Let me know in the comments which of the books listed here you enjoyed or didn't enjoy and if I left any good ones out, I'm sure there's heaps! Remember to leave me links to all your TTT lists so I can check them out! Also, don't forget to +1 this post if you thought it was worthy and subscribe to me to read more of my TTTs and reviews in the future! Thank you!! 

I would like to wish all my followers and readers a very Happy New Years, may 2014 be a safe and happy year for you! I look forward to meeting lots of new books next year that I can share with all of you and vice versa. 
Lots of love,
Book Nerd & Critic.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review: The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Title: The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Year of Release: 2010
ISBN: 9781406330342
Source: Purchased (The Book Depository, $13.16)
Number of Pages: 482

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by - and torn between - two best friends and quickly realises that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. 

I loved this! I was so impressed after the fail that was City of Lost Souls. The characters were excellently portrayed, the settings wonderfully described and the events and plot sequences expertly placed. Witty, funny, entertaining, descriptive, suspenseful, plus lots of action, Clockwork Angel was an infinitely superb book! 

The characters were so wonderful to read about, their differing personalities made the book all the more entertaining and interesting. I was so pleased that Magnus Bane made a few appearances, he's awesome and I am in love with his character. We also saw a little bit of Camille Belcourt, and though she's not a particular favourite of mine, I still enjoyed the surprises of old characters appearing in this book.

While we're on the topic of characters, let's talk about Will, shall we? Will Herondale is a Shadowhunter residing in the London Institute. He has got his fair share of demons, and carries a superior air, never letting his walls down for anybody. When he meets Tessa, he is surprised by her ability to make him laugh and appears to fall for her, yet he continuously pushes her away. 

Then there's James Carstairs, or rather, Jem, who is the complete opposite of his best friend, hottie Will Herondale. He's kind, conscientious, always thinking about others and tries to help in any way he can in every situation. I fell for his character immediately. He's always cleaning up after Will, and Will is very protective of him, as Jem is hiding a dark secret that Tessa yearns to learn. 

As Tessa gets to know both boys, she finds herself growing inexplicably more and more towards Will, who tries to keep his distance from her, without realising Jem's feelings for her becoming increasingly obvious. I think it's clear at this point that the formation of a love triangle is in effect. Sucks for them, great for me! I adore love triangles and I haven't read about a good one since Twilight, so I'm really looking forward to this series. There was also a second love triangle in this book, though not much emphasis was placed upon it, it was there (Sophie - Thomas - Jem). 

Ah, so much unrequited love. 

I really enjoyed this book, possibly more than I enjoyed The Mortal Instruments, which is definitely saying something. The Infernal Devices series is sure to be an excellent trilogy if it continues as Clockwork Prince did. 

If I may propose an idea to Cassandra Clare book virgins. If you're yet to read The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, you might want to read the first three TMI books (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass), take a break and read TID trilogy, then read the last books of TMI. Just a suggestion, if I had've read the series' this way, I would have understood much more of the references and terms used in the last two TMI books. 

Let me know your thoughts on these series in the comments! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we'll make a list of our top ten something, and this week, it's the Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me! Love this one, I actually made a list and gave it to my sister a few weeks ago. I said, "Buy me any books on this list and I'll love you forever." Of the ten on that list, she got me seven. Love her! Here's the ten books on that list:

1. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

4. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
5. Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
6. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey 
7. Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire 
(I'm allowed to have 2 in 1 ok)
8. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

That's all for this week guys, I hope you've enjoyed my list! Please comment which of the books listed here you like/don't like and link me to your TTT lists so I can check them out! Before I go, I would like to wish all my followers and readers a very Merry Christmas, may your day be filled with love, laughter, family, friends, presents, and food! I love you all! Looking forward to another year with you all! 
Kisses and hugs,
Book Nerd & Critic. 

The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Guest Post: Kindle Fire HD Raffle for Charity!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Year of Release: 2012
ISBN: 9781406339147
Source: Purchased (Myer, $14.95*)

Number of Pages: 539

Jace is now a servant of evil, bound for all eternity to Sebastian. Only a small band of Shadowhunters believe he can be saved. To do this they must defy the Clave. And they must act without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace's soul. Clary is willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

I wasn't too impressed with this book to be completely honest. It still had a great storyline and I did enjoy it overall, but honestly, this series has really started to bore me. It might just be that I need to read something different, something refreshing, but I can still tell the difference between a good book and a bad book, and while City of Lost Souls is definitely NOT a bad book, it's certainly not a good one either. If it were up to me, I would have ended the series after City of Glass. That book was excellent and the ending to it felt like the perfect ending for the series. While the book that followed, City of Fallen Angels wasn't terrible, it still didn't measure up. Neither did this book. 

(Spoilers ahead)

This instalment to me, drained on and on and on and on while it was constantly flicking back and forth between Team Magnus, Alec, Isabelle and Simon as they tried desperately to get their hands on a weapon that would sever the bond between Jace and Sebastian, and Team Sebastian, Jace and Clary as they traveled from city to city working on some evil, diabolical plan, that we don't even find out the content of which until the end of the book. I did enjoy some of the new characters that were introduced though, like the Iron Sisters and Azazel (HELLO WEREWOLF), and the Raziel-summoning was also really enjoyable! The book also still managed to make me laugh outright more than once, usually the result of the wit of Magnus and/or Simon, which I was glad for. 

It was thoroughly predictable though. I mean, who didn't see the whole Clary-save-Jace thing coming? And while I'm a big supporter of Magnus's and Alec's relationship, in this book, it was just the same old problems from the last couple of books and then by the end of it, they break up. Well, it's not like we didn't see that coming either. 

For the most part, City of Lost Souls was slow. For the majority of the book, nothing of interest seemed to be happening and it severely lacked the two main things I look for in a novel of this kind: suspense and action. There was hardly none of it. The end battle scene wasn't nearly as good as I'd hoped it would be. It was disappointing. 

It's made me less excited for the final book in this series, City of Heavenly Fire, which is to be released in May 2014. If there's one thing I can give this book credit for, it's the end cliffhanger. Sebastian leaves a note of sorts at the Institute, informing them that he is coming. Great. So there's a war coming. Well, luckily we were informed of this about 3985873 times throughout the course of this book, otherwise I never would have guessed. 

Drop me some comments on your thoughts on this series! Did you like City of Lost Souls? Are you excited for the next book? Let me know! 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Guest Post: Kindle Fire HD Raffle for Charity!

I'm very polite by nature, even the voices in my head let each other finish their sentences. From Completely Flappable

Don't you just hate it when you have a thousand little thoughts rattling around your brain, good for nothing but keeping you up at night? Ideas, worries, mental reminders for the next day? My voices can get pretty insistent, and mostly this is a nuisance, but sometimes it's okay, when there's a story idea or two among the ramblings. And rarely, very rarely, I get what I think is a really good idea, but one that I don't know what to do with.

For instance, a while ago it occurred to me that it's probably not governments or big corporations that wield the world's greatest financial power. I think it's us. All the little people together. Then I started wondering what could happen if we all decided to set 1 month of our incomes aside towards fixing this place up a bit. How many of the world's problems could we actually solve permanently? Half of them, maybe? All of them? That's a pretty cool picture.

But I'm a pretty dim light when it comes to implementing even small ideas, never mind the big ones. So I'm not sure how to get that ball rolling (heck, I'm not even sure where we keep the balls). But I can certainly start with myself. That's easy enough (I've been in close contact with myself for years; I didn't have much trouble convincing myself.)

So, this December, all proceeds of all my novels will go to Child Helpline International. The CHI is pretty cool because they support toll-free child helplines worldwide and they help highlight gaps in child protection systems. They do all this on donations (click the image below for more information.)

But what does all this have to do with you? Well, I'm raffling off some prizes and giving out some freebees to boost the donation (expenses out of my own pocket, not the donation :P )

So what's in it for you, besides that warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get knowing the Xmas presents you're buying include an automatic donation? Well, how about I give you the new edition to the award winning No Hope for Gomez saga completely free?
And how about a Kindle Fire HD raffle ticket with every purchase while we're at it?
Simply forward your receipt emails to nohopeforgomez@gmail.com to participate.

And now, on to the pitch. This is the bit where I try to convince you, using only my words, that my novels don't suck (or at least, not too much.) That they won't only tickle your brain, but they'll actually make your life better, if only marginally. That they are, in fact, worthy donation material. Here goes (fingers crossed)...

Paper: $6.08
(uk paper, kindle)

No Hope for Gomez!

Winner of the Forewords Book of the Year Awards, featured on Kirkus Best Indie List 2011, IBA and USA Book News Award nominee.

It's the age-old tale:

  Boy meets girl.
  Boy stalks girl.
  Girl already has a stalker.
  Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly.

"Extremely witty writing containing keen insights into human nature." --California Chronicle
"Challenges the way we think about, and interact with, the world around us." --Kirkus Discoveries
"The antics in this book will leave the reader laughing. Graham Parke is a genius."--Reader's Favorite

Unspent Time

Warning: reading this novel may make you more attractive and elevate your random luck by about 9.332%*

(*These statements have not been evaluated by anyone of consequence)

Permeating the cracks between the past and the present is the realm of Unspent Time. Time that was allotted but never spent. In this realm we find the stories that could have been true. Such as the story of the designer of the color scheme used inside your shoe, or the story of Goki Feng Ho: the Chinese art of decoding the secret meaning of car license plates.

Paper: $6.08
ePub : $2.99
(uk paper, kindle)

Captivating. Each story fired up my imagination. --Alan H. Jordan, author.
"Delightfully mad. Graham's vibrant characters shine from the first page." --Tahlia Newland, author.

Free with this event

Completely Flappable

He's completely flappable!
Don't you mean he's unflappable?
Not really. He can very easily be flapped.

Gomez has never been on a date. In his 27 years on the planet he's never been able to quite close the deal. For some reason, circumstances always conspire to make his meet-ups with women less than official dates. But now a blond German girl with freckles has moved into his building and he decides it's time to get his act together.

If you've read this far, you're already my hero ;)
I hope you like my idea enough to join me in this fun adventure. Let's see how much we can raise this Xmas ;)

Kind regards,

Graham Parke

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we'll make a list of our top ten something, and this week, it's the Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying To Read. 

1. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
If you've been following my reviews recently, you'll understand why I'm so excited for this one! The conclusion to the amazing Mortal Instruments series! And as if these books weren't already doing enough damage to my sanity, the poster for this book states 'WHO WILL SURVIVE?' How about no.
2. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Bloodlines #5. While I'm yet to read The Fiery Heart, I am so into this series! It's amazing!
3. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
This is not the next book in the series, as The Wolves of Mercy Falls was a trilogy that ended, it is a standalone companion book that follows Cole St. Clair, my absolute favourite character from this series! He kind of reminds me of Adrian Ivashkov, in a way, so I think you can understand my excitement for this book!
4. Half Bad by Sally Green
It's about witches and stuff. Enough said. 
5. A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
Her book Haunting Violet was amazing, I love her writing, and this series sounds awesome!
6. Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
This mystery sound so good! I suggest you look this one up on Goodreads and read the description because it sounds incredible!
7. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
This psychological thriller/mystery is bound to get hearts racing! The cover art is gorgeous and it sounds like a fantastic read! 
8. Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah J. Pepper
Another book with amazing cover art! This is a retelling of the classic Alice in Wonderland, one of my absolute favourite childhood stories! I can't wait to read this!
9. Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn
A YA Contemporary about moving on from the past and accepting your future. I'm craving some good YA Contemporary. 
10. Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
This one sounds so interesting! Tella Holloway has the opportunity to participate in an epic race to win the Cure for her brother's illness. However there's no guarantee that she'll survive the race, especially when all the other contenders are after the same Cure for their loved ones. 

The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker Books
Year of Release: 2011
ISBN: 9781406328660
Source: Purchased (Myer, $14.95*)
Number of Pages: 424

Summary:Clary is back in New York and life is good: she's training to be a Shadowhunter and is finally able to call Jace her boyfriend. But nothing comes without a price. When Jace inexplicably begins to pull away from her, Clary is forced to acknowledge that she has set herself in a motion of chain events that could lead to the loss of everything she loves. Even Jace. 
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever...

The fourth instalment in the New York Times Bestselling Series The Mortal Instruments, City of Fallen Angels had a lot to deliver on after the amazingness that was City of Glass and I was definitely not disappointed. Once again, Clare has written another brilliant novel with just as much action, adventure and suspense as the last few books, if not more. 
(SPOILERS) City of Fallen Angels takes place just several weeks after the last book concluded and our characters are back in New York, trying to resemble some kind of normalcy to their otherwise unstable lives. Alec and Magnus have taken a holiday to various places around the world together, leaving still-adjusting-vampire Simon, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Jocelyn and Luke to get back to their old lives. Luke and Jocelyn have finally accepted their love for each other and are busy with their wedding preparations. Simon, while still adjusting to his vampire status, is now having trouble sorting out his relationships with both Isabelle and Maia. Meanwhile, Jace is being plagued by horrible nightmares that threaten to ruin his relationship with Clary. 
This book introduces us to a few new characters, as well as resurfacing some old ones (wink face). The consequences of Simon bearing the Mark of Cain are revealed in greater detail, which therefore leads to the discovery of someone that holds the potential to put everyone Clary cares about in jeopardy. 
But I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about how hot and steamy Jace and Clary got a few times! My goodness did they get down (in excruciating detail). Scenes such as the one where (SPOILER) the two kiss in the alley and it's raining and they're both so desperate for each other was very much anticipated by the fandom, I can tell you that. 
Against the backdrop of their romance however, evil dark creatures are rising up and threatening to destroy everything they have worked so hard for. The ending of the book was the biggest cliffhanger in the entire series so far in my opinion, and I just want to wrap up this review as quickly as I can and start the next book! This might be a good time to mention, in case you haven't already noticed, that it's difficult to jump into this series without starting from the beginning. So if you're going to read this series, start from the very start or you'll find yourself more confused than... (fails to find suitable comparison). 
Despite all of the amazing things that can be said about this book and the series it belongs to, I dare say I found the book to be kind of lagging behind in story-line and plot as the previous books. While the action and suspense was certainly there, I felt like Clare was dragging on the series with this book. Old problems that we were made to think had been resolved in City of Glass were brought up again but this time they lacked any real substance. However, I think the ending definitely managed to redeem this book, so kudos.

*Prices relevant to Australian stores.