Monday, 25 February 2013

The Indigo Spell - Richelle Mead

This year, we decided it was time to embrace our Two Girls and a Novel name and host a monthly joint review. As best friends, we tend to read the same books anyway. We usually avoid double reviewing, but now we have a way to both discuss out reviews and what better way to start than with the author and world that brought us together 3 years ago  (is it only 3 years? - feels longer) That author was Richelle Mead and her fabulous Vampire Academy world – only this time we're coming together to discuss Bloodlines and The Indigo Spell!

So, without further ado: the first Two Girls and a Novel review :)
(to make it easier to follow, Kerrie's thoughts are in 
RED, and Kim's are in BLUE)

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) - Richelle Mead
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

I don’t know about Kerrie, but I was nervous, but excited, about going into The Indigo Spell. I love Richelle Mead, but the previous book (The Golden Lily) didn’t quite live up to expectations for me. I was worried about what to expect. I’m so happy to say TIS was more than I was hoping for. 
Overall I loved this instalment. I adored all the romance, and the plot was always interesting- never a dull moment in Sydney's world.
The magic – we all knew it was coming, and this book was definitely all about the magic. I loved that Sydney isn’t avoiding it this time around. I was done with watching her freak out after every little spell and claiming everything was evil. I loved that there was a specific magic plot to the story. It made it more real, not just something Sydney might have a hand in exploring. The “vampire” side of things was of downplayed though. There was only one mention of blood potentially being consumed in the novel, and it wasn’t from anyone in the main Bloodlines group, it was sort of strange – it’s like the vampires were forgotten. 
Yes, I was thinking the same thing! It feels like this novel has moved on from the Vampires and now focuses on the 'human' side of things. I must say I miss the Strigoi. I loved how they made the novels darker. You can be afraid of the Strigoi-they kill with no hesitation (poor Mason). When they're around you worry because things become life or death. I'm not afraid of the humans. The witches could technically kill you but they look unthreatening so your not afraid, and the Alchemist just send people to rehabilitation. After Rose and Victor proved that you can escape maximum security prison, being locked away by the alchemist doesn't worry me at all.
Got to say the romance was one of the highlights for the book, wouldn’t you agree? I think we were all holding out for Sydney and Adrian to finally get together. Adrian said some of the sweetest (and craziest) things when it came to wooing Sydney. I love that guy. 
Yes, I agree. I felt like this was more a romance novel compared to VA (and I know I really shouldn't compare the two- but its hard to do since its the same world). I loved that Sydney and Adrian spend practically all their time together, and when Adrian's not around, Sydney's still thinking about him. It was extremely cute. And I can't believe I'm saying this but.... Adrian made me swoon.
I was surprised at how little Alchemist involvement there was. I know they’re still a big part of the story, but after the Warriors of the Light encounter in the last book, and what with Sydney being on an Alchemist assignment; but they weren’t in it as much as I thought they were going to be. 
I agree. They were still there but not as much as what I was expecting. Perhaps we'll see more of them in the next book.
Can’t go past mentioning Rose and Dimitri – on the same page, at the same time! *insert happy screaming* 
I had the BIGGEST GOOFYEST smile on my face reading about them. We need another short story. Can't get enough of seeing Rose and Dimitri finally together out in public!
Disappointments? A little concerned a few things were forgotten in this one – like Strigoi/Spirit exploration. There was no mention of it this time around and I was hoping we might see a bit more about the potential cure. And the backlash from Jill getting her face in the modelling book – I know there was mention of how she’s still in danger, but not nearly as much focus as in the first two books. 
I do have one little complaint. I was slightly disappointed with the ending. I mean, its the 3rd book in a Richelle Mead series. That usually automatically means one of two things- either my jaw is going to hit the floor or I'm going to need tissues.
Eg: Succubus = cried and wanted to commit murder
Dark Swan = mouth dropped open. Hatred for Kiyo, heart broken for Dorian
VA = cried like a freaking baby!
But in The Indigo Spell neither happened. Yes I was slightly peed off but that was it. Of course after I finished this I got told that its actually the next book that has the dramatic ending, so now I need to prepare myself for that one.

Now onto the favourites!

Favourite Line? 

“I’ve said over and over, I’d do anything for you. I just keep hoping it’ll be something like, ‘Adrian, let’s go hot tubbing’ or ‘Adrian, take me out for fondue.’”“Well, sometimes we have to – did you say fondue,” Sometimes it was impossible to follow Adrian’s train of thought. “Why in the world would I ever say that?”
He shrugged. “I like fondue.”

Do I go for most swoon-worthy:
"I'm going to just go on loving you, even if its hopeless."

"I'm not a warrior or a goddess."
"As far as I'm concerned, you're both".

Or ones that made me smile and laugh:
"Abe used colour to offend the sensibilities."

"You're not as much of a lost cause as she was. I mean, with her, I had to overcome a deep, epic love with a Russian warlord."

"Isn't that what pirates say?"

Favourite Character with most growth?

Ok. Everyone who knows me knows I was never an Adrian fan. From the moment he stepped into the scene in Frostbite I took an immediate dislike to him. It wasn't until recently that I took a step back and asked myself why that was. (And no it wasn't because he was hitting on Rose all the time, when she clearly belonged with Dimitri.) I realised that when I was reading Frostbite, it was the time in my life where I was surrounded by "Adrian" types. The ones who would go out all the time, drinking, smoking, picking up girls, and have no real direction in their lives other than to "have fun". I had enough of those types of guys in real life, I was ready for the strong, dependable man. So I took offense to Adrian. He followed me into my escapism. But here's the thing. These boys eventually change. They grow up, and just like in real life, Adrian grew up too. I noticed it in Bloodlines but it wasn't until now, in The Indigo Spell, where he became this amazing, strong, dependable, romantic man "whatever you need to do, I'll support you." I can officially say after reading The Indigo Spell that I love Adrian! (*whispers* Dimitri's still my main man though).

Sydney...totally Sydney. It’s sad to admit, but I wasn’t a Sydney fan in The Golden Lily. I thought she was way too against everything. I was so happy to see her embrace the magic side of things, to distance herself from Alchemist thoughts, and to finally start acting for herself. She was so fierce in this book. I loved her!

Favourite New Character?

I don’t really know who was my favourite new character. There weren't that many new characters introduced in The Indigo Spell. The obvious one would be the mysterious Marcus Finch, but he didn’t really do it for me. I’m too caught up in all the old characters.

Hopper. I want a Hopper. He was so freaking CUTE!

Favourite existing Character?

I can't decide who my favourite existing character was. I honestly loved them all in this novel, but for the sake of answering this question, I'm going to say Eddie. He's always so strong and dependable. He's just the sweetest guy - the type you only want happiness for.

Without a doubt Adrian stole the show. His crazy lines, dedication to Sydney – his ability to make you swoon like mad – even for non-Adrian Fans from the VA side of things (I’m looking at you Kerrie). He’s got crazy awesome skills. I’ll admit I was a little sad he was on the pages so much – and I know that sounds crazy, but I wanted the chance to miss him so much that when he popped back into the action we’d scream from excitement. But at the same time, I’m so glad he was caught up in all the aspects of the plot; joining Sydney on her dangerous magic tasks, and supporting her through all her decision and making much needed hilarious comments. (I do have to give an honourable mention here to Wolfe for his role in the end of the novel – excellent words of wisdom.)

Favourite Romantic Moment?

For me it has to be the Dream Walking. It’s not always about the kisses, but about what the guy will do to keep the girl safe. And boy did Adrian do a lot to help Sydney in these dreams.

When we first thought up these questions I had no idea just how much romance would be in this novel. I liked it all. Sydney and Adrian spend a lot of time ALONE together and majority of the time it was pretty smoking hot- and that is all I will say on this matter.

Favourite Action Scene?

A certain dream sequence... oh wait- That was meant to be a question about a different kind of "action". My mistake.

Seriously though, The Indigo Spell did have a different style of action. It focussed largely on Sydney's magic abilities and so there were plenty of scenes where she practised defensive and offensive spells. I quite enjoyed reading those scenes, especially the one that produced a little friend. But, I also liked the more dangerous breaking and entering scenes. It was good to see Sydney taking risks. 

Like Kerrie, my favourite action moments were the magic lessons. It’s more of a pre-action scene but I loved them! Sydney throwing around fireballs made me think of Christian and his magic lessons, but Ms Terwilliger does do a really good job of pushing Sydney into Action-Mode.

Most Frustrating Character?

I want to say Ian, because they way he spent most of his scenes falling over himself to please Sydney was just pathetic, but the character that annoyed me the most was Marcus. I really didn’t like him. He bursts onto the scene and instantly signs Sydney up for dangerous tasks and a drastic life change. And then he seems upset when she doesn’t melt at his smile and charm. It just put me off that he was so sure that she’d follow him and his cause without question.

Sydney's youngest sister. She frustrates me. And you just know she's going to be trouble.

Overall rating:
I’d definitely give this one a 5/5 – fantastic book. 
5/5 for me too- loved it!

Kim and Kerrie

Friday, 22 February 2013

Unravel Me - Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me (The Juliette Chronicles, #2)Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) - Tahereh Mafi
Grade: YA

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Our lips touch and I know I'm going to split at the seams. He kisses me softly then strongly like he's lost me and he's found me and I'm slipping away and he's never going to let me go.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. A place for people like her - people with gifts - and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from the Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch. Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

Haunted by her past, terrified of her future, Juliette knows that in her present, she will have to make some life-changing choices.
Choices that may include choosing between her heart - and Adam's life. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

After the incredible success of Shatter Me, the amazing emotions of Destroy Me and the endless talk from my closest book friends, it's not hard to believe that I was desperate to get my hands on Unravel Me. Aussie cover disappointment aside - I really enjoyed this book, even with a few hiccups, it was a good sequel; which was great considering the YA world has had a few sequels that miss the mark a bit.

We start the book two weeks after Juliette, Adam, Kenji and James are accepted into the life of Omega Point. The high of finding other talented people is starting to wear off and Juliette is left wandering how she can begin to control her power - or if she even wants to. I found these moments to be very slow. Not a lot of information was given to Juliette about the Omega Point lifestyle and she spent way too much time hiding and trying to escape the idea of using her gift to help - and hurt - people. I did feel sorry for her. She's been thrown into many different situations and just expected to go along with the bigger plan: Used by the Reestablishment as a weapon or used by Omega Point at the big power that's going to stop the Reestablishment - but either way she's being used. I felt like she hasn't been given the chance to make up her own mind and I kept hoping she'd stand up for herself more.

I was sad at the pace for the first half of the novel. I just kept wanting more. We do get a few twists and turns, but not enough to make the wait for the next step more bearable. I kept wishing for something major to pop up to turn the book around. The biggest save for the novel came in the form of Warner, but he doesn't feature much in the first half. Fortunately, I got my wish through someone else. The person that saved the beginning of the novel was Kenji. He was loud and enjoyable in the first book and even more so in Unravel Me, even if there were a few moments when I wanted to shake him for things he said.

I really enjoyed the potential for destruction in this book, with Omega Point and the Reestablishment preparing to wipe each other out. It was so uncertain, there was no way of knowing which side was going to come out on top. Juliette doesn't really get caught up in the thick of the fighting, but we do get to see the danger through her eyes. I'm looking forward to seeing how it's all resolved in the final book.

Unravel Me is very much a book of weaknesses. Unfortunately that was true of both discovering many characters' vulnerabilities, as well as people just being weak - the main three being Adam, Castle (the leader of Omega Point) and sadly Juliette. I hate when I don't love a main character as much as I want to, but it's hard to enjoy the story when Juliette won't stop feeling sorry for herself. All the crying and st-stuttering was drying me mental. Add to that Adam, who was pretty useless all book and Castle, whose dedication to making Omega Point a refuge sometimes clouded his judgement - I just couldn't stop shaking my head. The exception to this was Warner.

Warner. Warner. Warner. I did go into this book with massive expectations for Warner's role, so my opinions might be swayed, but he brought out so much emotion and so many reactions for me. Oh, I just adore him! He's one of those characters you can't help being intrigued by, and while not everyone might love him, we all want to know more about him. I was crushed, broken and beaten emotionally by Warner's openness and actions. I wanted to hold him and never let him go. We did discover a few of his weaknesses in this book, but that just make me love him more. He's no longer this twisted ruler - he's so much more than that. With a few interesting twists and a mass of secrets being revealed around him, Warner helped raise my opinions of Unravel Me!

Like Shatter Me, the ending leaves you wanting more. Not so much a cliffhanger, but a game changing moment. I have absolutely not idea how this series is going to end, but I'm excited.

4.5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Perfect Scoundrels - Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society, #3)Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society#3)- Ally Carter
Grade: YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it's that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting--or stealing--whatever they want. No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale's family, all bets are off when money is on the line.

When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother's billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there's no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won't let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother's will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company's fortune. So instead of being the heir--this time, Hale might be the mark. Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt.

To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she's willing to save her boyfriend's company if it means losing the boy. (Description from Goodreads)

~ * ~ * ~

Since the moment I was first introduced to Ally Carter, I’ve been in love. Spies, thieves, mysteries, adventures – she has a way of creating something amazing from a band of teenagers who you normally wouldn’t expect to be so incredible. But never underestimate a crafty teen! ‘Perfect Scoundrels’ sees us heading back into the dangers of planning – and pulling off – the perfect heist. But this time there’s more at stake than just a stranger’s most valuable possessions. This time family, love and loss might just make the perfect impossible.

We all know there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding W.W. Hale the Fifth - a wealthy young teenage boy, who lucked onto a good thing the night Katarina Bishop introduced him to her life of crime; but luck’s not always on his side when an unfortunate occurrence happens to shake up his past life. And we finally get to see more of the Hale side of things. It was strange seeing this different Hale. And yes, we get a chance to hear more of his super secret name. We’ve experienced Hale only from Kat’s side, without the family pressures - without a family, except for the one he made for himself within Kat’s own crazy family. And then to discover his other world may be about to crumble if Kat can’t stop his fortune from being conned away from him - it's all very tense. We see a mix of a tough and broken Hale throughout this book, and it’s both emotional and crushing.

What I love most about the Heist Society series is how inclusive it is. This is not a series about one character fighting for themselves with a random best friend on the side. No, this series is a collective, a story that wouldn’t be what it is without an incredible bunch of friends and family, working together as a whole. (You might think you know another series like that and you’d be right, but it is Gallagher Girls, so we can all agree Ally Carter is awesome in the way she writes) ‘Perfect Scoundrels’ is no exception to this. Kat draws on her family and closest friends to help keep Hale sane. I love seeing the interaction between Kat and her friends, the experiences they draw on and the way they never feel like that have to do something alone; there’s always someone to lend a helping hand. Or in this case, a lot of someones. Family is definitely a big part of the book, from both Kat and Hale’s side of society. But if there was any doubt before, by the end of the book you know you want to be in Kat’s family. Hale’s filthy rich and selfish relations don’t get any of my sympathy for being thrown into a con - although Hale’s friends do. But sometimes it’s not about blood; it’s about making your own family.

For people who haven’t been too focused on relationships in the past, there are a lot of mentions about Kat and Hale being boyfriend and girlfriend in ‘Perfect Scoundrels’ – A thought that makes me incredibly happy. But it’s not all smooth sailing for the happy couple. I usually love a bit of romance in my stories, just a little something to get the heart pumping. But if you’re a long time Ally Carter fan, you’ll know her stories are more action-adventure-mystery based. And I don’t mind that one bit. Ally doesn’t need a heap of steamy scenes to make you swoon. A brief kiss in a closet sends shivers down my spine and leaves me smiling for days after. Just knowing a couple are together and want each other is enough for me.

I noticed there was a bit of a pattern change when it came to how the story was told. Still in third person and still with an amazing flow, but we don’t see as much of other people as we have in the past. The focus is nearly entirely on Kat. In the past, when the con is being performed, we would have been in the mind of so many characters – the managers and assistants and staff that are being fooled, or even just seeing the scene from Gabrielle, Hamish or Angus’s POVs. Maybe it’s because the con was so close to home, being Hale’s, but I missed seeing the action fall into place with all the other views. But at the same time, a few twists towards the end of the book wouldn’t have had the same effect from another person’s eyes. Kat has a view like no-one else.

Another amazing Heist book that had me grinning, crying and wrapped up on an epic journey. Well done Ally Carter!

5/5 stars

(Originally posted on Goodreads)

Monday, 11 February 2013

GIVEAWAY: Ripples on a Pond


We've been a little quite on the blog lately, a little less active than we'd like to be. But that's all about the change. We're kicking off our return to serious blogging with a fantastic giveaway thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia!

Looking for a fantastic Australian historical novel to get you in a good mood? Well look no further! We're giving away TWO copies of the newest edition in Joy Dettman's Woody Creek series. Ripples on a Pond  is a novel you don't want to miss.

Woody Creek is preparing for its centenary celebrations – but for many of its townspeople it’s just another reminder of the old days, when life was more simple.

Not for Georgie though. As the clock ticks over to 1970, she’s determined that the new decade will be the one that sees her finally break free.

For Cara, Woody Creek will forever be tied to a devastating mistake that cannot be undone. She’s vowed never to set foot in the place again.

But the old timber town has a way of getting under people’s skin. And as Woody Creek draws Joy Dettman’s much-loved cast of characters back into its grip, confessions, discoveries and truths seem set to explode in the most dramatic of showdowns…

‘The texture of the writing as well as the mind-boggling plots give [Dettman’s] books a fatally addictive attraction …’ 
- The Saturday Age

About the Author:
Joy Dettman was born in country Victoria and spent her early years in towns on either side of the Murray River. She is an award-winning writer of short stories, the complete collection of which, Diamonds in the Mud, was published in 2007, as well as the highly acclaimed novels Mallawindy, Jacaranda Blue, Goose Girl, Yesterday’s Dust, The Seventh Day, Henry’s Daughter and One Sunday. Ripples on a Pond is the fifth novel in Joy’s best-selling Woody Creek series, preceded by Pearl in a Cage, Thorn on the Rose, Moth to the Flame and Wind in the Wires.

Intrigued? Dying to get your hands on a copy? Well look no further. Enter the form below and you just may be one of the lucky two to walk away with Ripples on a Pond!

Giveaway closed!
Thanks for entering. Good luck.

* One entry per person.
* You must be at least 16 years old or have permission from your parents before entering.
* Must be an Australian resident (sorry international followers)
* The giveaway is open now and will run until 11:59pm (AEST) 24th February 2013
* Winners will be picked by and announced on the blog.
* Winners will also be emailed and have 1 week to reply before a new winner is picked.
* Prizes will be sent from the publisher. We are not responsible for lost or damaged property

Good Luck!


Thank you Pan Macmillan for the copies of Ripples on a Pond.