Thursday, April 26, 2012


NetGalley logo request, read and comment on upcoming titles

I joined a website called NetGalley last week.  Its where publishers list books that they have where they want people to review them. You can request a copy of the book from the publisher and if that request is approved you can download the book for free.  You then have to review it and let them know where your reviews are posted.

It sounds like a good way to get copies of some books that I might not have considered otherwise.  There are a lot of different publishers listed, some of them really big names and other smaller ones as well.  Some of them have conditions to release the books such if you are a blogger then you have to have a certain amount of traffic.  That ruled out a lot for me as my blog is still pretty small, I just don't have the time to read and review as much as I would like to.  I still found a couple of books that looked interesting and did not have as stringent reviewer guidelines so I think it will be worth it.

I will let you know in the review if it is a book that I got from NetGalley (or from any other free source) but please be assured that this will not influence my reviews.  Regardless of where the book comes from I will always give you my honest opinion about what I thought of the book.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coexist by Julia Crane (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Keegan is a sixteen-year old girl who lives a fairly typical life of friends, shopping and parties. However Keegan, despite all outward appearances, is definitely not your typical teenager. Keegan is an elf, a race of beings that live among humans and as beings of the light help where they can.

In elfin society mates are chosen at birth but the identity of said chosen is not revealed until both parties reach the age of 18. Keegan’s brother Thaddeus is a ‘seer’ and his visions have warned him of impending disaster, in an attempt to ward this off Thaddeus has told Keegan the name of her intended – Rourk.

Now every time Keegan thinks his name Rourk feels pulled towards her. He watches her from the shadows, silently protecting her and waiting until she turns 18 so that they can finally meet and be together. Fate intervenes before this can happen when Keegan’s life is in danger and Rourk is forced to revel himself to her before their time.

As Thaddeus’s visions continue to come to pass he sees that the war that has been brewing for centuries between the light and the dark has become imminent. Keegan’s family is bound by tradition and prophecy to be at the very centre of the war -her father is the chosen one that will lead them all into battle.
As the battle between light and dark rages on – will Keegan and Rourk be able to have the life they both yearn for - together?

What I thought:
I downloaded this book free from Amazon; I thought the cover looked really nice so I would give it a try. I have not read many self-published novels but I decided give it a chance and I am glad that I did. It was a really promising story but I do think that it could have been a lot more.

I want to start by saying that even though I have rated this a bit lower than other books I don’t think that it’s a bad book. I’m pretty harsh in my ratings so I will explain what my issues were and you can judge for yourself if it sounds like something that you might like to read. I don’t’ want to put anyone off it as I do think that it has a nice story and as it is the debut for the author I think that experience may improve the things that I did not like about the book.

I will start off with the story as I think it was really good, it gets points for originality and for keeping me interested even though there were a few things I did not like. It was a quick, light and easy young adult read. I think that it is very much aimed at the teenage girl market and is quite heavy handed with the product name dropping.

Next the characters, they all could have done with a bit more fleshing out. The main character is of course Keegan; she is likeable but spoiled and comes across as a bit shallow at times, she also thinks way too much about her intended, Rourk. I would have liked Keegan to be a bit more self-sufficient. The whole family is very wealthy and wants for nothing which seems a bit easy at times, for most people this is not something that you can relate to. I would have liked it if Keegan had grown a bit more during the story.

I also thought that Rourk was lacking in personality, he seemed to be distant and cold. If he did not have this pre-determined love for Keegan he would probably be classed a sociopath. At one point he wildly overreacts to Keegan being in a bit of danger – the repercussions of this are not even hinted at (I don’t want to put in too much and spoil it but the event could have shown a lot more depth to the character instead it just reinforced how cold he is).
There are a host of other characters many of which are other supernatural beings; it seems a bit weird because Keegan is oblivious to this fact. She knows there are other things out there in the world and she is supposed to be ‘gifted’ but on her own she only ever identifies one other being – a dark elf. This reinforces that she is somewhat self-absorbed; you think that someone hiding her own secret would be aware that the people around her might be doing the same.

And lastly the pacing of the book could have used some work, there was a lot of build up at the start (lots of teenage scenes that may not have all been necessary) and the action did not happen until the end of the book. The main conflict between the two types of elves seemed to be solved way too easy and fast. I think there should have been more persuasion and reflection, perhaps even a glimpse into the dark side camp first so we knew what was going on there.
I am usually the first to praise a fast paced book but for the first time I think I have to say that this one went a little too fast. There could have been a lot more detail to the big battle. It was very much a broad strokes kind of approach; we went, we fought, many died and then it was over. I think that it could have really benefited from more depth, I found myself not really feeling like it was such a big deal as it was not written like one.

I think that I was expecting some editing flaws in a self-published novel but to be honest I did not really notice that much. It was well put together and looked very professional. The major weakness was the pacing of the story it seems like in its haste to resolve the conflict many details, descriptions and really just the meat and bones of the story got left by the wayside. The book was pretty short so it could have easily supported more which would have made it a much more satisfying read. As I said before this does not make it a bad book I just think that it had the potential to be better.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

Although it might seem like I picked this apart a bit, I would like to finish by reiterating that I did like it. It has some flaws but the story kept my interest and I think that I will probably check out the next one in the series to see what happens.

Although many young adult stories are ones that can cross the generational gap seamlessly, Coexist is probably not one of them, it’s more your light and fluffy type read and as such is really is one for the teenage girls. As that’s probably what it was aimed at there is no problem, just make sure its what you were looking for.

You can find out more information and purchase the books in Keegan's Chronicles at Julia Crane's website (also on Amazon, link at the top of the review). Links below to Julia Crane's website for all three books in the series.

Keegan’s Chronicles: Coexist, Conflicted, Consumed
Rating: ☆☆

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Excerpt and Trailer Reveal
Taste by Kate Evangelista

At Barinkoff Academy,there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud

The Author:

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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Twitter (kiwigirl is now one of the lemmings)

Well I finally succumbed and joined the realm of twitter.  You can follow me if you like - there is an option on the side bar under followers. 

Not sure if I am exactly excited about the fact, but it seemed like the way to go to try and get my blog out there a bit more.

Still learning how to use it, I've never even looked at the site before so its all pretty new.  Will see how it goes. . . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Technical Problems Update

Well my computer seems to be running better now.  I have a new power adapter and so it is actually charging which is a good thing. 

I've been super busy with work the last month, heaps of new classes which of course means more preparation as well as actual teaching time, so have not had much time for reading or blogging.  I am going to try to make sure I have a few hours to devote to this over the next month. 

I also finally have my new e-reader, I bought it from New Zealand and had my Mum send it over to me so I am very excited.  I'm going to do a small review on it when I have used it a bit more so will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hexbound by Chloe Neill (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Plot Overview:

Hexbound picks up soon after the events of the previous book Firespell end.

Lily Parker has been sent to boarding school, St. Sophia's, while her parents are out of the country working.

At St. Sophia's things are not always what they seem and Lily soon stumbles onto a hidden world of magic - where teen 'adepts' try to keep their counterparts the 'Dark Elite' from preying on the innocent . Lily also finds herself wielding a new and powerful magic called 'firespell' that she must learn to control.

Hexbound sees Lily learning more about her magic and looking into the secrets that surround her parents, their job and why they sent her to St. Sophias.

At the same time Lily, her best friend Scout and the rest of the 'adepts' encounter some strange, slimy and fanged monsters roaming the tunnels that they patrol. The adepts will need to find out what they are and where this new threat came from if they are to stop them.

As if Lily did not have enough to deal with, ‘Dark Elite’, Sebastian Born is also following her – he wants to talk about the magic, ‘firespell’, that they both wield but Lily is not sure that she can trust someone from the other side.

What I thought:
Hexbound is another good installment in the Dark Elite series. It is the second in the series and is a nice addition to the plethora of Young Adult Paranormal books out there.

Hexbound is a fun, fast paced and entertaining story. This book is well written and compelling, it’s a story that has been done before (boarding school, teens with magic) but I think it has its own spin on things and stands out amongst the crowd.  The story expands nicely on what happened in 'Firespell' and continues with a new and exciting adventure. There are still a lot of mysteries but the progression is there and I am sure the next book will continue to unravel them.

The magic system has not been fully explained but what we have so far is nicely done and pretty varied, the characters each have their own powers and as new characters are introduced we learn about new abilities. There are also some supernatural beings like werewolves and vampires that inhabit the world alongside the 'adepts' and the 'Dark Elite'. In Hexbound we meet the vampires when the 'adepts' stumble into a territorial war between two clans.

The characters in the book are smart and witty and the girls are always right there in the thick of the action. The friendship between Lily and Scout is a draw card for the story, the lighthearted banter between the two really makes it an amusing read. I liked the character of Scout; she is fun, smart and has her own style which is really refreshing. There are of course the requisite cute boys and mean girls to round out the cast of your typical school set story.
The books are PG so far, some young adult stuff, a bit of making out and hand holding. There is some violence but to be honest you would see worse in a video game. 

The romance in the books is an addition to the story; it does not drive the action.

Final Comments and Overall Rating
All in all this is a nice, quick and lighthearted read. It's not rocket science but it’s compelling and well done.

If you like Young Adult Paranormal books like 'Morganville Vampires' series by Rachael Cain then this is for you.

Hexbound is book two of the Dark Elite Series, the first one being Firespell.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆