Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (54)

Idea taken from Breaking The Spine.

Wish by Joseph Monninger.

Bee’s brother, Tommy, knows everything there is to know about sharks. He also knows that his life will be cut short by cystic fibrosis. And so does Bee. That’s why she wants to make his wish-foundation-sponsored trip to swim with a great white shark an unforgettable memory. But wishes don’t always come true. At least, not as expected. Only when Bee takes Tommy to meet a famous shark attack survivor and hard-core surfer does Tommy have the chance to live one day to the fullest. And in the sun-kissed ocean off a California beach, Bee discovers that she has a few secret wishes of her own. . . .

The synopsis sounds very vague so I cannot tell how the story will progress. It makes me even more curious about the book. Also, it has a lot to do with swimming & water & the likes which I'm always interested in, thus, I cannot miss this book~~~

See if Bee's wish comes true on Nov 9th 2010~

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Princess For Hire by Lindsey Levitt

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pub.Date: March 16th 2010
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source Of Copy: from publisher - Disney Hyperion

When a well-dressed woman steps out of a bubble and wants to know if you'd like to become a substitute princess, do you

A) run
B) faint
C) say yes?

For Desi Bascomb, who's been longing for some glamour in her Idaho life, the choice is a definite C). Desi has a rare ability: with the help of "Royal Rouge," she can temporarily transform into the exact look-alike of any princess who needs her subbing services. Dream come true, right?
Well, Desi soon discovers that subbing involves a lot more than wearing a tiara and waving at cameras.... In this winning debut, one girl's dream of glamour transforms into the desire to make a positive impact. And an impact Desi makes, one royal fiasco at a time.

Need a light cute read to entertain yourself in a few hours? Want to read something with a different view on princesses? Then Princess For Hire is definitely your book.

To be frank I didn't like this book at first. It was pretty boring because the pattern about a shy imperfect girl struggling with her life is old to me. But as the story went on, it grabbed my undivided attention. The set up is new and fun, and the character development is simply adorable. For those of you who think stories about princesses are all typical and unexciting, this may change your mind a little bit.

Princess For Hires's plot is pretty fun, which you can imagine as a screen production easily. Lots of descriptions accompanied by lots of events keep you entertained most of the time. I really enjoy every time Desi subs for a princess. Each princess has a different location and background as well as a problem so the book never feels repeatedly at all.

Desi is a cute girl. Her character is not that impressive but she has something that makes you like immediately. I love the way she learns to be strong and confident through each case of princess subbing. She's very pessimistic and meek at first but turns out to be totally cool at the end. Also, she's very relatable which will make readers remember her even more. Another character I adore is Meredith. She may appear as someone un-special initially but her side story is worth reading.

Overall, this is very suitable for a quick but interesting read. You should pick it up.

Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (53)

Idea taken from Breaking The Spine

The Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone.

When poor Boston girl Stephanie is abandoned by her abusive mother and taken in by Annie’s Beverly Hills family, she feels anything but home. Her dark complexion and accent stick out like a sore thumb in the golden-hued world of blondes and extravagance. These are girls who seem to live life in fastforward, while Stephanie is stuck on pause. Yet when a new rival moves to town, threatening Annie’s queen-bee status, Stephanie finds herself taking sides in a battle she never even knew existed, and that feeling invisible is a wound that can only be healed by standing up for who she is.

Brilliant newcomer Mary Hanlon Stone delivers a compulsively readable insider’s view of growing up in a world where money and privilege don’t always glitter.

I've just found out about this book and I have to admit, I was initially first attracted by the lovely cover. Luckily the synopsis doesn't sound bad either. I hope this book turns out nice and untypical. I really want to know what the battle is about.

See if the invisible girl becomes visible on May 27th 2010

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pub.Date: October 6th 2008
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 249
Format: Hardcover
Source Of Copy: from the publisher - Houghton Mifflin

Nothing is beyond Kristi Carmichael's disdain—her hippie high school, her friend Jacob, her workaholic mom. Yet for all her attitude and her mind-reading abilities, Kristi has a vulnerable side. She can hear the thoughts of her fellow students, calling her fat and gross. She's hot for Gusty Peterson, one of the most popular guys in school, but of course, she's sure he thinks she is disgusting. And she's still mad at her father, who walked out on them two years ago. Soon, a school project brings her together with Gusty, her father comes home and drops a bombshell, and a friend comes out of the closet, and suddenly she is left doubting that she can read people at all. Bitingly funny but ultimately poignant and positive, this YA novel is completely on the mark.

Compelling in an unusual way, Vibes is a book that's more than just a story about a semi-psychic teenager who's trying to understand what's going on with her life. Written with such wit and creativeness, Vibes makes a nice read for fans of temporary fictions and paranormal together.

My first impression of this book is that the narrator's voice is very straightforward in fun. It lures me in just in a first few paragraphs. Even though everything revolves around a teen with a special ability, I feel like there's nothing different much between her and a normal one. The author has a nice way of introducing each and every character, making everything seem random you cannot tell who is going to distribute a major part to the story. That keeps me guessing and guessing, thus I'm even more excited to find out the rest.

It's an irony that though the whole story isn't composed of many happenings or has a real climax, I cannot take my eyes of Vibes. It's just natural nice to read. I also find it strange that sometimes it's as if the book just reports what Kristi does everyday (repeatedly she goes to school, talk to her friends/cause trouble, goes home), not once does it sound boring to me. Having said it all, there's still something that stands out: the school project Kristi and Gusty do together. Simple tasks help reveal a lot about both and the story of their past.

Most of the characters in the book aren't typical ones, they'll give you some refreshment. Because Kristi's mind-reading is frustrating somehow, the readers don't have many clues of how the other characters are. It surprises me as the end nears and things start to come into light. I love Kristi. She might not be contented with her look and her family but she's still very confident and unique in her own way. I also take a liking to a few characters, but I won't say it as it might spoil everything. Go read and find out yourself.

To sum up. Everyone should give Vibes a try. You'll like it more than you expect, I'm sure.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, 19 March 2010

Blog Tour: Angela Morrison (plus a contest)

Angela Morrison stops here at Serenehours for her blog tour today ^^ *greets and applauds*. As you know, her second book has just been released this March and if you've not read it yet, I suggest you snatch a copy somewhere soon. It's beautiful and heartbreaking just like the title indicates.

Anyway, I have a change to ask Angela some questions about the book as well as her upcoming project today. Check out the interview : )

1. Hi Angela. Welcome to Serenhours, again. Hope you have a nice chat with us. First of all, can you tell us about your inspiration to write Sing Me To Sleep?

My daughter sang with a competitive girls' choir when we lived in London, Ontario, Canada. When we traveled to international festivals, the choirs of older teen age girls would attack us as soon as they saw, "Amabile," on the back of our jackets.

"Are the guys here? Where are the guys? Can we meet the guys?"

The Amabile Young Men's Ensemble is one of the few all male youth choirs. The sound is to die for. Makes you totally weak in the knees. And all those thousands of choirs full of teen girls all over the world love them. Great concept for a novel. But I didn't have a story, so I put the idea on the back burner and worked on other things. But when I need a brand new concept for Razorbill, something had happened to one of my daughter's best friends in that choir that showed the love and grace and heart of the entire Amabile choir family. It gave me a story that took hold of me and wouldn't let go.

2. Uhm...interesing. So both of your books were based on real life experience. Is there any difference between Taken By Storm & Sing Me To Sleep?

Huge differences--especially in the writing process. I wrote TAKEN BY STORM as my creative thesis for my MFA at Vermont College (if you want to write for children or young adults, VC is the best program in the world). I revised and marketed, got rejected TONS, and revised and marketed and revised it until I came up with the collage format--Leesie's poems, Michael's dive logs, and their online chat logs. I met my editor, Lexa Hillyer, then at Razorbill, and she loved it, but I still had a lot of work to do to get the manuscript in shape for their target audience.

I wrote SING ME TO SLEEP under contract. Lexa and I batted a summary back and forth until we liked it, and then she got it approved. I wrote the first draft in a month. It is entirely in Beth's voice. She spilled out of my black gel pen, and I tried not to get in her way. After that marathon month, I researched, revised, got critiques, revised some more, and then sent it off to Lexa. She loved it. We made very few changes. I know SING ME TO SLEEP was a gift. I had a lot of help from unseen hands.

How are they alike? Both Michael and Derek are really good kissers. So be prepared for romantic kissing scenes. Both novels are about love and how it changes you. They are both about young people facing the ultimate in life's challenges.

3. I agree. Both Michael and Derek are real romantics. So what's your favorite character from the book?

I am closest to Beth. She pulled me through the story and didn't hold anything back. She is honest, up front, and so confused.

4. I'm curious. What's your most/least favorite part to write in the book?

The ending was the most emotionally difficult thing I've ever attempted. I was a total wreck while I worked on it. I kept having to stop and dry off my keyboard. But the process of writing those chapters was an amazing experience. I wasn't alone. You'll sense the same thing when you read them.

The toughest part for me was the lyrics. I had to teach myself how to do it. Some are better than others. "Beth's Song" is the best. I'm so excited that Amabile's recording of it will be available soon on iTunes. I'll let you know when it comes out!!

5. Woohoo~ I'll be sure to check it out. Anyway, anything you can let us know about your next book?

My poor next project. I'm kind of in shock over that these days, but it's going to work out. Last fall I wrote the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM. It's called UNBROKEN CONNECTION, and I love how it turned out. So does my agent. Unfortunately, my editor left Razorbill just recently, and they decided not to publish UNBROKEN CONNECTION, so I'm taking stock and conferencing with my agent, and we'll try to figure out a way to bring it to readers as soon as possible. I've got a lot of great support from bloggers--that helps believe me. There's a Facebook page up and another blogger is working on an "Don't break the CONNECTION" icon in support of Michael and Leesie. I'll send out an update as soon as I know anything definite. And then I'll get on with writing book three in their saga, CAYMAN SUMMER.

Aww what a pity. I hope the readers will show great support and somehow we'll get to miss Lessie and Michael again soon in the future. In the meantime, good luck with Sing Me To Sleep and Cayman Summer.

So guys, here's the most important part of today: GIVEAWAY~~~Angela has offered a copy of Sing Me To Sleep. If you want to be entered, just leave a comment telling us why you want to read this book.

Extra entries:

+5 for any type of spreading the word.

Contest open to everyone. Ends on March 31st.

Good luck~!!! And if you're a fan of Leesie and Michael, don't forget to show some love to Unbreakable Connection.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Pub. Date:
Age Range: Young Adult
Format: paperback
Source Of Copy: from the publisher - S&S UK

All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her. Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

A compelling book which is super well written. A novel that can be shared among generations. Realistic and breaking stories of love will surely satisfy those who are seeking ones of a different kind - calmer and more meaningful.

The first thing that strikes me as beautiful is Laura Wiess's writing. The whole book is told in a very laid back tone but it's still noticeable that there are distinguish voices for each of the two narrators. With Helen, there's something very classic about it, while Hanna's side is more impulsive and innocent. Also, the switches between the voices are really smooth so the reading won't be disturbed a bit.

There are, to me, 4 stories in this book. One about the special friendship of Helen and Hanna - the grandmother who finds happiness in the little girl and the kid who trust her older friend to keep her childhood safe and peaceful. One about Hanna pursuing her very first love interest, one of Helen and Lon's precious love and another of Peter and Louise in the audio book named How It Ends. All of them are heartfelt and easy to relate too. That's why, regardless of your age, you'll love the book.

The characters in this book and those in real life are alike so even if it's an annoying one like Seth, you can't help but like him. Personally, Ithink Hanna is very well portrayed. She's over all a good girl but there's still rebellion in her like every teenager. With Helen, she's a complete sweetheart but when it comes to her love life she's a little reckless. But that doesn't make her character confusing at all. Helen, Lon, Peter and Louise will also be those that capture your heart.

Both the ending of How It Ends the audio book and How It Ends the actual book is very impressive and thought-provoking, which I adore a lot.

Bottom line: Recommended to everyone.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Waiting On Wednesday (52)

Idea taken from Breaking The Spine

Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan.

There's no definite synopsis yet but I think lots of us are already looking forward to this book. I've actually never read anything from these writers but their books always sound so strikingly interesting I can't help being curious about it. If the cover portrays the story perfectly. I guess it's about friendship, love a lots of good memories to make. What do you think?

Want to read their book of dares? It comes out on Oct 12th 2010

Monday, 15 March 2010

In My Mailbox (52)

Idea taken from The Story Siren

New books, new yummy books : )

Swoon At Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter.

It’s the summer before senior year and Polly Martin has sworn off boys. Who needs the hurt and confusion? Five recent breakups have left her with an unnatural knowledge of NASCAR, the ultimate hiker’s outfit, a student council position, the sixth highest score on the Donkey Kong machine at the mall, and a summer job at Wild Waves with ex #2 Sawyer Holmes. Success seems a sure thing when Polly’s grandmother, the syndicated advice columnist, Miss Swoon, moves in for the summer. Polly almost doesn’t mind sharing a room with her little sister, Grace. Think of all the great advice she’ll get! Everything is going according to plan except... Miss Swoon turns out to be a man-crazy septuagenarian! And then there’s Xander Cooper. If only he wouldn’t keep showing up at Wild Waves with his adorable cousins every afternoon — and what is he writing in that little notebook? No advice column in the world can prepare Polly for the lessons she learns when she goes on a group camping trip (with three too many ex-boyfriends). Polly is forced to see people for who they are — a blend of good and bad qualities that can’t be reduced to a list or a snappy answer in a Miss Swoon column.

I love My Big Nose so I have high expectation for this book. The synopsis does sound very hilarious doesn't it?

Mr. Monster by Dan Wells.

From the author of I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER...John Wayne Cleaver has always known he has a dark side but he's fought hard to oppress it and live a normal life -- separating John from Mr Monster to survive. But after confronting and destroying the vicious killer that was terrorizing his town, his inner monster is getting stronger and harder to contain. And now more bodies are being discovered...With the police failing to catch Clayton County's second serial killer John is going to have to use his secret knowledge of the first demon-killer to trap the second...but will he be able to avoid suspicion falling on him, and, in the face of extreme horrors, will he be able to restrain Mr Monster?

Didn't expect this one but it sounds ok. I'll give it a try.

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce.

Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.

Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong . . . and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.

Have always hunted for a copy of this book and now I finally get it. It's a contest prize, in which we are free to choose what we want to win. Awesome hey?

Thanks Katrina, Jennifer from Houghton Mifflin and Maura from Headline UK for these books ^^

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Frostbite (VA Book 2) by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill, Penguin Aus
Pub. Date: April 10th 2008
Age Range: 12 and up
Pages: 327
Format: paperback
Source Of Copy: from the publisher - Penguin Aus

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

The second installment in the bestselling series, Frostbite surely comes up to the expectations of the readers. Read and love Vampire Academy book 1? I guarantee that you'll love this one as well.

The book works great as an individual as much as one in a series. Even if you don't read book 1, it doesn't prevent you from understanding the whole story. In Frostbite the author briefly introduced every character as well as the happenings in the previous part with a very flowing voice. On the other hand, Frostbite alone is still a very exciting read. The fight between the good and the bad vampires is getting more and more intimate now with the participation of human. More deaths, more conflicts, more mysteries to solve. And of course, more romance too.

I love the atmosphere of the book. Dark, cold but still has something very heartwarming about it. In the mist of the horrible fight there's still place for love - love between mother and daughter, love of the couples; and great friendship. The pace of the book is also very balanced. Sometimes it's breathless, sometimes it's slow but the author never fails to capture readers' attention.

Rose Rose Rose. She's one of my all time favorite character. Her strength, determination, her recklessness and childishness, everything combines to create such a great girl. The well planned situations that she is put in helps her personality to shine. Her interaction with her mother and Dimitri is the best part of the book in my opinion. Speaking of Dimitri, I grow to like this guy even more. He's very calm but also rebellious in some ways. The character I miss the most after reading this book is Mason. I really wish the author had a better ending for him.

Love the first book of VA? Get this one RIGHT NOW!

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison

Publisher: Razorbill
Pub.Date: March 4th 2010
Age Range: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source of copy: from the author - Angela Morrison


Beth has always been “The Beast”—that’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist, and receives the makeover that will change her life forever.


When Beth’s choir travels to Switzerland, she meets Derek: pale, brooding, totally dreamy. Derek’s untethered passion—for music, and for Beth—leaves her breathless. Because in Derek’s eyes? She’s not The Beast, she’s The Beauty.


When Beth comes home, Scott, her best friend in the world, makes a confession that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, intense new feelings she has for Derek?


The closer Beth gets to Derek, the further away he seems. Then Beth discovers that Derek’s been hiding a dark secret from her …one that could shatter everything.

Second book from Angela Morrison, another heartbreaking love story in companion with friendship and passion for music.

If you have read Angela's debut book Taken By Storm, it's certain that you'll find similar feelings reading Sing Me To Sleep. Even from the very start, it's unreasonably sad and you automatically expect nothing but a painful ending. However, I don't think it's much to the point of depression, so it's tolerable even to those who don't like emotional read that much.

The plot of the book is nice but the synopsis gave almost everything away. You could predict the whole thing just by reading the summary, thus it lessens your curiosity and excitement for the story. It'd be nicer if I had the chance myself to analyze the character and guess what would happen next.

I don't think I like Beth much. There's something so meek about her that puts me off. She's surely a nice girl with a good voice but I don't like her acting too dependent on her boyfriend like that. Her family background is so dark too. I like Derek because even though I can tell how things will end, he still sort of keeps to himself an air of mystery. And he's a great guy after all. Scott is...I'm not sure what to think of him.

The end is heartbreaking but also vague so well you can hope for a better future for all.

Conclusion: nice book. Suitable for those who love sad stories.

Rating: 3.5/5

Monday, 1 March 2010

In My Mailbox (51)

Idea taken from The Story Siren

Vampire Academy love~~~

Frostbite by Richelle Mead.

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if handto- hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks....This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Shadowkiss by Richelle Mead.

Is Rose's fate to kill the person she loves most? It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason's death, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can't concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret .... She's in love with Dimitri. And this time, it-s way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever...

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead.

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

One word: AWESOME.

Thanks Erin from Penguin USA for the three books.