Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review + Intl. Giveaway : Bruised by Sarah Skilton

BruisedBruised by Sarah Skilton

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publication date:  March 5th 2013 by Amulet/Abrams
Blurb:  When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.

My Review:

**I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book from Abrams And Chronicle Books U.K in exchange for an honest review.**

Amulet has really got a good handful of YA debuts this year.Their first 2013 debut,Splintered, won my heart at first read (because first sight wouldn't really count :P) and Bruised was no less fascinating.Yes,I've already fallen head over heels love with Amulet at their second debut read.

Bruised is one of the most unique YA contemporaries that I've read so far.It's not everyday you see Tae Kwon Do being a major focus in a YA contemporary.I bet that took a lot of guts,considering the risks of whether it would go along with the usual cup of tea for most YA readers.

But Sarah Skilton had no problem at all in adapting the story for the YA crowd.Not only that,she was able to portray the concept of one's passion for a sport through her story and has gone through lengths that no other YA contemporary author had dared to reach before.

With an admirable and strong female protagonist with a vibrant voice,a daring sport,and an unforgettable story,what more could you ask for?Bruised is one YA novel that will not fail to move people,even someone who is not much of a contemporary fan.


Abrams U.K has generously offered a copy of Bruised for me to give away to one INTERNATIONAL winner.Enter via the form below [I lost against Rafflecopter in my fight yesterday... :s] and see the rules on the form.
Good Luck!!! :)

Link to form:

Friday, February 22, 2013

An Insight Of The Characters' World: Guest Post + Giveaway by Liesel Schwarz

This is a feature where I ask authors to do a guest post discussing about the background of their books and share their experiences in creating the world in which the characters are portrayed.For more info on this feature,click HERE.

I would like to thank Liesel Schwarz for doing this feature with me.Her debut,A Conspiracy Of Alchemists,was published by DelRey on the 7th of January in the U.K and will be published in the U.S on the 5th of March.

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh, whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible.


Liesel Schwarz Liesel Schwarz has an MA in creative writing and is currently completing her doctorate in English and creative writing at Brunel University.

A life-long fan of 19th Century Gothic literature, she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the Fin de si├Ęcle, and the correct way to drink absinthe. She also likes Medieval stuff, pirates, zombies, space operas and all subjects in between.

Her debut – the first in a series of Edwardian Steampunk Novels published by Random House/Del Rey is out now.

She is also currently busy with her doctorate in English and Creative Writing at Brunel University. She chooses to live in London because she loves weather there. 


Here is Liesel's guest post where she not only gives a wonderful insight of her debut but also provides some helpful advice for anyone who is thinking of writing a steampunk novel.

 My favourite definition of Steampunk is “…the science of what could have been.” But it’s not just about airships and brass goggles. Steampunk is a philosophy. It’s a hankering for an era gone by. And most of all it is an aesthetic movement which comprises fashion, art and design in many forms.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists came to me one afternoon as I was travelling home on the London Underground through Baker Street. Eleanor and Marsh started having an almighty row in my head and I knew I had to write it down. The series just grew and grew from there. I decided to set the story in the Belle Epoch, because I think the Art Nouveau of the time is absolutely beautiful. The beginning of the 20th Century was also a time for phenomenal growth and invention. In fact, most of the things we consider to be indispensible in our lives today were invented around that time, which I find very exciting.

Steampunk is tremendous fun to write. In fact, I loved writing A Conspiracy of Alchemists so much, that I had to write a sequel and I am currently busy with the third.

So here are a few tips for anyone who is thinking about writing steampunk:

  • Do your research. There is no substitute for historical accuracy and if you cut corners, your readers will catch you out for sure. Look into the time period you wish to use. You will be amazed at all of the interesting information you will find. 
  • World building. The trick to writing historical fantasy is blending fact and invention in such a way that the reader cannot tell what is real and what is made up.  It’s not just a case of slapping a few top hats and goggles onto characters. The technology and the world must be integral to your story.
  • Ensure that you have good, sympathetic characters. Make them come alive.
  • Plot. Just like a body cannot function properly without good strong bones, so no story will survive without a solid plot to hold it up. 
  • Remember to have fun. This, in my view, is the most important thing.

Thank you Bonita for inviting me to post here. 

As usual,this post also comes with a GIVEAWAY!!!DelRey U.K has generously donated a copy of Liesel's debut to one lucky INTERNATIONAL winner.This giveaway is NOT applicable for NORTH AMERICAN residents,since they already have a different edition of the book coming out in March.Good luck and please check the TERMS AND CONDITIONS on the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Showcase Sunday #16


Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Books,Biscuits and Tea and its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.
Sorry about not being frequent this last couple of weeks.I had TONS of tests know the rest.I spent those weeks studying like a mindless zombie.But I just HAD to share this haul with you! xD

Here goes!!Eep!!I don't even know where to start!!

I finally got a finished international edition copy of The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd,thanks to Christine at HarperCollins International.Pretty,isn't it?And it looks so good with my ARC too! :D -->>

  Then comes these cute gifts which I got from A.G Howard( author of SPLINTERED,Jan 1st from Amulet) for helping with the pre-release buzz(makes me feel like a grown-up,Lol~!) Here are the gifts---->>
(Includes a Cheshire Cat giftcard and a skateboard key ring inspired by one of the characters:Guess who?!)
Then comes the huge ARC haul which I got from Tina at Abrams And Chronicle Books U.K just today!I practically ripped the package out of the postman's hands! 
Bruised by Sarah Skilton
In The Shadow Of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Absent by Kate Williams
Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl

I also mentioned this mysteriously wrapped book on my Showcase Sunday #14 and I said that I'll reveal the book later on.So here it is!!! The book is Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. :)
 And last but not least,I also had my sixteenth birthday on the 11th so got tons of presents.While it's impossible to show all the presents,I still can show you a couple of my favourites. 

First one's a beats studio headphones and an Ipod Nano 7 (the last one ended up in the washing mashine :3) from my dad. Trust me,he's the coolest dad on earth! xD

 The second one is a handicraft notebook made out of recycled newspapers,from my friend Maliha.Cool right? xD

What's your haul this week?Let me know so that I can check it out.Happy Sunday! :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark (Skylark, #1) Skylark by Meagan Spooner

My Rating : 3.5 0f 5 stars

Publication date: February 7th 2013 by Corgi

Blurb: Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known . . . or face a fate more unimaginable than death.

My Review:   

**ARC received from Random House U.K in exchange for an honest review.**

Despite the fact that dystopias are really "in" right now and that I have read so many of them throughout the year,Skylark still managed to leave a lasting impression.Like lots of dystopias,the background of the story focuses on an oppressive dictator government ruling over a community formed after some great war.But while the building blocks of the story may be a lot like common dystopian novels,the way the author develops her story from those building blocks is what makes Skylark unique.

In Skylark,Meagan Spooner gives a perfect example of hope when all is lost and a protagonist with a strong will to protect what she loves.She also put a lot of emphasis on the story through a paper lark,which I found to be really beautiful.In fact,I bet that the paper lark was probably my most favourite thing throughout the story.I might have liked it even more than the characters!While Skylark may sound a lot like your typical dystopian novel, the author's way of putting the story down into words gives it a lot more radiance.

Skylark is an absolutely must-read for fans of Delirium and Mystic City and perfect for a quick read as well since it is really easy to get into.I think that the content of the book makes it suitable for middle-grade readers as well,giving it an opportunity for a larger audience.So if you're a lover of dystopias then Skylark is one book you do not want to miss out on!

Like what you read so far?Think Skylark may be exactly what you're looking for?Check out my guest post with author Meagan Spooner and enter to win a U.K edition copy of Skylark.Contest is open to everyone outside North America.HERE is the link.Good Luck!!!

An Insight Of The Characters' World: Guest Post + Giveaway by Meagan Spooner

This is a feature where I ask authors to do a guest post discussing about the background of their books and share their experiences in creating the world in which the characters are portrayed.For more info on this feature,click HERE.

So as you all might have noticed,I've been inactive the past two weeks.This was because our merciless subject teachers kept showering us with pop quizzes and tests.Not to mention that I joined coaching for my O'Levels,which just took up a lot more of my time.So to make up for my absence,today Meagan Spooner is here at my blog to talk about her debut,Skylark,which just got released in the U.K this month.Since I'm focusing on the U.K edition,the giveaway of the book for today's post too will be of the U.K edition.Which means that the giveaway is open to anyone in the world except North American residents.Sorry guys!!!But you can always check out the guest post. :)


Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City’s power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she’s ever known . . . or face a fate more unimaginable than death.


Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She's traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

She is the author of SKYLARK, available now from Corgi/Random House U.K. She is also the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, forthcoming from Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2013.

You can find her on the web at

Meagan's Insight into the world of Skylark.

 I think that after “where do your ideas come from” and “what’s your favorite author,” “how did you come up with the world of SKYLARK” is the most common question I get asked. In general world-building is a fascinating process, but with SKYLARK in particular, people are drawn by the mixing of fantasy and dystopian, steampunk and magic, survival and adventure. I often get asked how I manage to blend these genres in the world without everything seeming jumbled.

For me, the world in SKYLARK is its own unique thing. I don’t think of it as a fantasy world or a dystopian world. I didn’t set out to create a book within a particular genre—in fact, labeling it with a genre became problematic later when I was trying to figure out how to pitch it to agents, and later, to publishers.

I got the first glimmers of an idea for the world of SKYLARK while listening to the radio, a segment on global warming and the energy crisis. As they talked about alternative fuels my mind wandered, and I began to wonder what it would be like if you could run the world on magic—if magic existed, and could be harvested as a resource the way we harvest fossil fuels for energy.

From there everything else fell into place. The world of SKYLARK once had fantastical machines that ran on magical energy, gathered from the life force of every living thing. In their world this power was abused and depleted, and by the time the book starts, Lark and the others in her city are living inside a dome, a tiny enclosed island in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Maybe some day I’ll write about the world of SKYLARK before it fell apart, the golden age of mechanical walkers and copper animals—but for me, the aftermath was the more interesting place to start. What do you do once everything falls apart? How do you survive without even the simplest of the things you once took for granted?

During the story, Lark learns she must flee her home city into the magically-wasted landscape beyond. Not knowing what she’ll find there, she chooses the dangerous unknown over what she knows is waiting for her at home. Through her travels, in this book and over the next, she begins to put together an image of what this world used to be like—and might yet be again.

And finally, a giveaway of a U.K edition copy of Skylark,donated by Ruth at Random House Children's Publishing U.K.This giveaway is open to anyone living outside North America.
Enter via the rafflecopter widget.Be sure to check terms and conditions and lastly,cheating disqualifies ALL entries.I've seen quite a few of you entering your name into the GFC option in the widget but not exactly following the blog via GFC.And I've deleted all entries for such candidates on previous giveaways.But anyway,good luck!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 01, 2013

Book Review: The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

 The Fire Horse GirlThe Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

My Rating : 5 0f 5 stars

Publication date:  January 1st 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Blurb: A fiery and romantic adventure, perfect for fans of Grace Lin, Kristen Cashore, or Lisa See!

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse -- the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path . . . one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

My Review:   


** A huge thanks to Scholastic for sending a review copy of this book,and to my cousin in NY for forwarding it to me.This review would not have been in existence if it weren't for you guys!**

-Recommended for children above the age of 12.

The premise of The Fire Horse Girl might have been beyond my usual comfort zone,but I still decided to take my chances when asking for a review copy since I absolutely love discovering new titles.And being a book blogger/reviewer,I get to do that A LOT.

The story of The Fire Horse Girl is basically based on the immigration of the Chinese to America around the 1920s and about how one Chinese girl's fiery and temperamental personality helped her survive there.Most men in America,especially the Chinese ones,were not at all respectful towards their female counterparts during that time do being a Chinese female and surviving in America took a lot of guts.And it seemed that our protagonist had just that;tons of it.

The Fire Horse Girl is one of those books that you will keep wanting to hold on to,with an unforgettable premise,admirable characters,and a well-paced storyline.While it went perfectly as a stand-alone,if it ever had a sequel I would gladly welcome it with open arms.The thing which felt most surreal to me was the fact that this was the author's debut.I know a lot of well published authors who still have yet to write a book as good as this one.Kay Honeyman definitely has a bright future ahead of her.Can't wait to see what else she's got in store!