• The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

    What can I say? This couple had my heart on my sleeves.

  • Never Let Me Go

    A beautiful story of the fragility of life viewed through skewered lenses.

  • Night Circus

    The world that Morgenstern crafts is one that reeks of the cigar and smoke of the turn of the century England with its glamorous parties like The Great Gatsby, men with bowler hats in the Victorian Era, all with a splash of magic and romance.

  • Piratica I

    Piratica is a swashbuckling adventure, an over-the-top comedy, and of course, an unforgettable love story.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)




Grave Mercy

Author: Robin LaFevers

Summary:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? 

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?



Published 3 April 2012.

*


Grave Mercy. It’s no simple YA book.

Yes, it has that slight dose of magic.

Yes, it has the excitement and thrill of adventure beyond your wildest dreams.

And, yes, it has the romance that will make your heart sigh with dreamy contentment.

But, Grave Mercy is more than just that. Because, for once, not only did a YA historical fiction met my impossibly high standards and ever-growing expectations, it also earned itself a worthy place in my best reads of 2012. Without a single doubt.

Grave Mercy took my breath away.

Taking place in medieval Brittany, this novel follows the adventures of Ismae. Escaping from an abusive arranged marriage, Ismae ends up in the St. Mortain convent. She is a daughter of the God of Death and in an age when women are can be traded as sheep, she is to learn the thousands of ways to kill a man. 

I think that was when I first fell head over heels in love with this book. Perhaps it's just the case for me, but it was like seeing all of my dreams come true in that one single moment. In that precious times of our fast childhoods, we always have some tiny dreams tucked away under our pillows and in our hearts. Those dreams of being an undercover spy, of being identified as a lost princess, of getting on that train to Hogwarts... That is why books like Harry Potter and Princess Diaries are immortalised in our hearts. Simply because we can never outgrow our outlandish childhood daydreams. They stay with us. And when we see them take shape within the pages of a book, the dying embers of our dreams are revived. 

It's the same thing when we become teenagers. With angst, we say we don't dream any more. But, we do. We yearn for things more pragmatically, but still with pinch of fairy dust. To be a Broadway musical star, to be the rags-to-riches Cinderella extraordinaire, to be that girl who falls in love on that one fateful night in Paris... We turn to people like Stephanie Perkins (that's me), Sophie Kinsella (that's me again) and all those contemporary goddesses and the occasional god (like Jay Asher and John Green). 

That is precisely why I put my whole heart and soul into reading Grave Mercy from that moment onwards-- the moment when Ismae sets off to the high court of Brittany to aid the young duchess in securing the nation’s freedom and independence. I had always wanted to do that, to be an assassin in the royal courts. To dance amongst feathers, masks and glittering gowns, with a stiletto and dagger in my boot. 

So I readily lost myself within the pages, and got delighted again and again by an author who packed all the realities of my daydreams into one brilliant package set within the exotic cage of the palace walls. 

Manoeuvring in dangerous waters filled with the duchess’ treacherous enemies and hungry suitors, Ismae puts her assassin skills to full use by hiding behind doors and sneaking into dangerous rooms. But it is only when her convent sends her the final order to assassinate a noble whom she has fallen in love with does Ismae finally dare to open her eyes to start seeing the truth for herself. 

Does she follow the words of the abbess or her heart? Does she dare to go against the convent who had brought her here in the first place? How far can she stray from her duty to St. Mortain before it is too late to turn back? 

Grave Mercy sets forth some startlingly deep questions. What is Death in the first place? As Ismae witnesses the death of a close friend, we finally realize along with her dawning understanding. Death, is not vengeance, but mercy

Quoting Robin LaFevers herself,

You know that book you’re terrified to write? The one that is too hard, too scary, too weird, or too damn intimidating. Yeah, that one. That’s the one you need to write.

She wrote that book, the one that is the hardest and the most daunting. Because she dared, she dared to put her most bizarre and outrageous thoughts to words, she dared to play them out on the epic stage  of history, her book is one with a heart and with a soul.

It has the soul of a girl with an unwavering sense of truth and the heart of a girl who dares to take the leap for love.


Source: Gifted (from my best friend, ZJ)



xoxo,
Sel



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Showcase Sunday: 17 June 2012


Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight 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 each week. 

This is organized by Books, Biscuits & Tea.


Okay, this is going to be a cheat post because it's going to be really short. 

But, still, just because it's short doesn't mean you won't be able to see a Sel-trademarked post with amazing books galore!

So, stupid stupid me couldn't resist buying a book, and even with the mountainous pile of review copies in a corner, I went to the library. 

I know it's kind of dumb to visit the library in such a situation, but I did it anyway and came back with four books that I've been eyeing on Goodreads for quite some time :)


Snow White & the Huntsman (bought)
I watched the movie and was absolutely blown away by the stunning visuals. Unfortunately, there were some loose ends in the film which I hope the book will patch up. So, undeniably, I'm beyond excited at how the words will convey the adventure of Snow White and the very hot Huntsman *grins*

The Rest (from the library)
Well, hopefully I'll finish them before they're due. Expect some good reviews!

*

Just before I end, it's time for some last-minute advertising!

My Birthday giveaway is ending soon!

Drop by before it is too late and win some 16 amazing YA titles :D

Click here to go and I'll remember you forever. Really. 


Lots and lots of goofy smiles,
Sel

What's your swag this week? ;)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bewitching News, Strike Me Lightning. Pretty Please.



(The image is courtesy of Tara from Tater's Tall Tails)
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill from Breaking the Spine that showcases upcoming releases that we can't wait to claim as our own & aren't afraid to tell that to the world!



Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.

Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg's existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn-- despite their very different attitudes to her secret.

Thrilling and fast-paced, this is the first unputdownable story in a bewitching new series.




Coming Soon on 5 July 2012.


Me liketh Spaineth. Thanketh Victoria Lamb (author)!

*

I'm obsessed with the Tudor era and this is a great follow-up to the legacy of The Other Boleyn Girl. I haven't seen much YA novels that dare to deal with it, aye? 

This is said to be Twilight meets The Other Boleyn Girl. Not sure how it will turn out to be though. But, definitely sensational and magical. :)

*Rubs palms in glee*

Finally a YA historical fiction that gets me excited!


Share the excitement and *narrows eyes* don't you dare to leave without dropping by my giveaway! YAY!

What are you waiting for this ancient Wednesday? ;)

 

Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Totally Breathless

I cannot calm down now.

Oh my oh my oh my god. 

I just won a signed ARC. The first one in my entire life!! 

I was screeching and shrieking and everything when I saw that email in my inbox. AHHHH

It's a signed ARC of Black City by Elizabeth Richards and I got it by coming in 2nd in her writing contest. I did you guys proud, huh? ;)

Take a look at the contest here. And take a look at all the winning entries here

Just in case you are too lazy to click and take a look, let me post my entry here! >:)

We are supposed to write a short scene of no more than 250 words where your character is in danger. It can be of any genre (sci-fi, contemporary, fantasy etc, anything goes!)-- just make sure it leaves the judges breathless!

*

MY ENTRY

“How long more?” I yelled into the wind.

My brother looked at me with a hard-set jaw. “Turn around the bend and we’ll be safe from them.”

Them— those cruel assassins guided singularly by the hands of our cunning emperor himself. Their leader alone had killed thousands on behalf of our emperor, and not once had any been able to escape with their lives untouched. And now, all seven were after us. 

The seven black dots behind us grew larger, and my heart began to pound as the wind brought the sound of thunderous hooves to my ears. Beside me, my brother cursed as he spurred his stallion on.

No no no. We can’t come so near to freedom only to be captured again. 

Then, suddenly, my mare lurched violently forward and threw me into the air. Bam. My body slammed onto the rough ground. Yet, before I could even think about the pain, my eyes widened at the distinct shapes of the seven riders coming in my direction.

In a flash, I rolled into the bushes, desperately trying to collect back my wits. My horse had galloped around the bend without me. My brother had ridden on too.

I was alone.

Cold beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. There was no time for rational planning. I took one last look at the road that could have led me back home, and plunged into the dark forest.

I had taken no more than five steps when they paused by the bushes. I froze. They urged their horses on again, but just when I thought I was safe, one of them spoke.

“Kill her.” 

*

I'm really nervous now. I hoped you like my scene too :)

This is the one time when I'd really really appreciate your comments. Any comment will do, I'm scared but I want to know what you think. *determined*

It's time to leave a comment, people!


xoxo,
Sel

Guest Post by Brenda Stanley (The Colour of Snow)



---



The Color of Snow 


Summary 
Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?  

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.  

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.  


Brenda Stanley's Bio 
Brenda Stanley is the former news anchor at her NBC affiliate KPVI in Eastern Iadho. Her writing has been recognized by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, the Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. She is a graduate of Dixie College in St. George, Utah, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Brenda lived for two years in Ballard, Utah, within the Fort Duchesne reservation where the novel is set. She and her husband live on a small ranch near the Snake River with their horses and dogs.


*

Today, Bookcase to Heaven™ is glad to host the author of The Colour of Snow as part of the blog tour experience. She is going to share about her reasons for writing the novel and how her own life stories influence the central themes that run through the tale. 

I have not yet read The Colour of Snow like the rest of you, so this is a good chance to allow the author herself to introduce to us more of the elements running through this novel. 

Guest Post by Brenda Stanley


The Color of Snow has been described as dark or mysterious. I feel most of my writing fits this description because I enjoy looking at the strange and unusual things in life. My novel will definitely make some people uncomfortable. I like to look at situations and issues and try to figure out how people will react.  For years I was a crime reporter, so I enjoy investigating stories and learning about the parts of life most people try to hide. When I wrote The Color of Snow, I was working on a story about a young girl who went missing years ago and has never been found. I started thinking about what would happen if she were to suddenly show up now. I loved putting myself in Sophie’s shoes and seeing things for the first time.

Sophie’s relationship with Damien is both intense and tempered. Her father has raised her to believe that she will destroy anyone who truly loves her, so she is torn between her love for Damien and her fear of causing him harm.  

The story changes between what is going on with Sophie and what happened in her parent’s past that brought her to where she is. I wanted readers to experience the often isolated feeling of living in a vast rural area, but also the mental confinement of a small town.  

Mental illness, teen pregnancy, religious intolerance, and racism are all big parts of The Color of Snow.  I like my characters to face challenges and see them grow from them. It is not only the conflicts with the other characters that keeps the story going, but also those within the person’s own mind.  

I wanted Sophie to be unusually beautiful so that people treated her strangely and therefore made her feel even more alien when she is first discovered. She has transformed from a tragic kidnapping victim to a mythical ghost from the past and this makes her transition into her new life even more difficult.

My ties to the Mormon Church go back to my great-great grandparents. I was raised in the teachings of the Mormon religion and even though I am no longer a member, I have many friends and family who are still very active in the church. My descriptions of the Mormon culture are how I view it and how I feel someone who has never been exposed to it might see it. I think there are a lot of people who are curious about the Mormon religion and have misconceptions. I feel I've been both candid and fair in my portrayal.

*

Curious about the story? Wonder what it's all about? Well, I am.

So, thank god, there's an excerpt :)

Brenda has gladly decided to unveil an excerpt of this novel. Read on (it's kind of long though)!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Showcase Sunday: 10 June 2012

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight 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 each week. 

This is organized by Books, Biscuits & Tea.



Well, this week is relatively less swamped with three fabulous books. But they got me quite excited! 

My wallet is finally crying tears of joy. It had been exploited endlessly for the past few weeks. The result of exploitation? Revenue-- I have 15 new books sitting prettily on my shelf! :)

But, this week, I've decided to let my wallet get away. Plus, my exams are coming up and there's not much time for book-gazing in malls and book stores :/ 

And the fact three books still came in is something quite delightful!

All for review purposes:


Against All Odds by Aliaa (She's awesome!)


Florence by Ciye Cho (sadly, I don't know the author this time round)


Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard (as part of a blog tour ^^)

Clicking the covers will bring you to their respective Goodreads page, go take a look at the blurb!

Against All Odds
This one seems like the classic Cinderella story where rich handsome playboy meets the girl of his dreams. Let's see what new twists this one has to offer!

Florence
Like everyone else, I now have a strange obsession with mermaids. This one sounds good. I'm going to give the love triangle a go :)

Something Strange & Deadly
This is seriously pretty. I've got a feeling this one will change my perspective of zombies. Maybe they'll replace the vampires in my heart? *thinks of the Adrian that everyone has been talking about* Maybe not.

*

Though I couldn't go for BEA :( these books kind of make up for it. 

And guess what, guys? I'm holding an international giveaway to spread bookish love! There are 16 YA titles up for grabs. 

Let's see... 

Example. YA Contemporary-- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight/The Catastrophic History of You and Me. YA Fantasy-- Eon/Insurgent. YA Paranormal-- Daughter of Smoke & Bone/Everneath. YA Romance-- Stealing Phoenix (I LOVED THIS ONE, not that I didn't love the others, but this deserves more recognition)... and more and more and more... Okay, I will shut up. 

Well, go join now & I'll remember you forever :D Like really. 

Click here for this giveaway. 


What's your swag this week? ;)



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spectral Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway


---


Spectral

Author: Shannon Duffy

Summary:

Convinced she’s a part of the witness protection program, sixteen-year-old Jewel Rose is shuffled around the globe with her family like a pack of traveling gypsies. After arriving at lucky home twenty-seven, she stumbles upon a mysterious boy with magical powers claiming to be her guardian... and warning of imminent danger. Despite the obvious sparks between them, Jewel discovers a relationship is forbidden, and the more she learns about dark, brooding Roman, she begins to question who she can even believe—the family who raised her, or the supposed sworn protector who claims they’ve been lying to her all along.   

As she struggles to uncover who her family has really been running from, she is forced to hide her birthmark that reveals who she is. With new realities surfacing, unexplained powers appearing, and two tempting boys vying for her heart, Jewel battles to learn who she can trust in an ever growing sea of lies, hoping she’ll make it through her seventeenth birthday alive.




Published 10 April 2012

*

Spectral was a brilliant mash-up of everything I loved, and Shannon Duffy's skilful mastering of all the aspects of YA is, in one word, sensational.

Let me start off by explaining the various well-executed ingredients in this tale. From the daunting experience of being the new girl in school to crushing on the ridiculously beautiful new boy in town, from ancient family secrets to dangerous kidnapping across continents, and lastly, a cat-and-mouse chase from cold unforgiving Russia to carnival-dancing Italy... And then it all culminates in a mind-blowing final clash between two powerful witch covens. What more can you ask for?

So in short, the three hundred plus pages of Spectral was a feast for the eyes and the heart.

Jewel begins narrating the story in the back-seat of the car as her parents move yet again to another small town. She is fed up with the fact that her parents are part of the witness protection programme, and all her life, she has been escaping from some inescapable bad guys. Fast forward to her first day in school where she meets a dark mysterious boy, Roman, whom she discovers is her table partner.

But, the real plot only starts when Jewel discovers that she is a witch and a Spectral no less, much to her aghast. A Spectral is a once in a millennium gift to a single coven, and would in turn enhance the powers of the coven she is in to no bounds. With the rest of her family hiding this life-changing secret from her, Jewel begins doing some sleuthing and careful research on her own, determined to take her destiny into her own hands. What she discovers, however, both exults and frightens. She will come to her powers on her seventeenth birthday and if she does not complete her metamorphosis, she will die.

Yet, her confidence in her family, which Jewel believes will protect her, crumbles in a single night when she stumbles upon an old photograph telling her of her true origins. The family that she had known for years is not her true kin.

And henceforth, the real adventure finally begins with Jewel searching for the Spectral dagger and the boy who holds the key to her heart. Betrayed again and again by those she called her own, Jewel learns to discern between who to trust and who to trick. Amidst all these fresh betrayals, is Roman-- a boy on the mission to kill her, sent from the most powerful witch coven. Yet, he is the only one who never deserts her.

For those who have to know the ending before they read, let me just say it is all wrapped up brilliantly in a flourish in Italy, where everything begins and everything ends.

That is why I was so completely won over by this book. Because this book delivers, just like a full three-hour worth of movie watching experience. I'm thrown into a once in a lifetime adventure from a tiny town to Russia then Italy. It's so action-packed that I simply have nothing more to ask for.

Also, I will have to begrudgingly give some credit to the love triangle. It was pretty tolerable though it was one we could have done without. Thankfully, there were no wishy-washy decisions this time round. Instead, Jewel followed her heart and ended up with the one boy who could make her smile and hurt like no one else can. Just as a side note, no matter how much I loved Jewel and Roman together, they embraced just a little too much...

But, ultimately, a round of applause still, for Shannon Duffy. The author who surprised me, delighted me and impressed me with her remarkable debut of a girl fighting for her own destiny.


Source: From Tribute Books (publisher) for review purposes.




*

As part of the Spectral blog tour, I'm proud to give away one ebook copy of Spectral.

Here are some ground rules before you enter:

1. This giveaway is opened internationally to readers from all parts of the world as long as you have an email address. 


2. I will notify you if you win and pass your name and contact details on to the publisher. Please note that you will receive the ebook directly from the publisher, Tribute Books.


Do reply within 48 hours upon receiving my email. 


3. This giveaway begins 8 June 2012 and ends 14 June 2012.


That's it, aren't you excited? :)



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Can't Be at BEA, But It's Okay!


(The image is courtesy of Tara from Tater's Tall Tails)
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill from Breaking the Spine that showcases upcoming releases that we can't wait to claim as our own & aren't afraid to tell that to the world!




Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.  

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?  

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.


Coming Soon on 30 October 2012.


This book is a terrible must for me. I cannot resist historical fiction or a good love story. So Fiona Paul hands me the perfect combination of both! 

How can I not wait for this? 

Plus, this book is amongst the ones featured in BEA and I will have to make up for my absence at Armchair BEA by doing this book justice. I will promote it, right here, right now!

And since I already have an ongoing giveaway with 16 amazing YA titles, I won't host a new giveaway either. Hehe...

What are you waiting for? :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interview: Joss Stirling (author of the Benedict Series)



Julia Golding publishes under two pen names: Joss Stirling and Eve Edwards.  

My journey to becoming an author has been a roundabout one, taking in many other careers. I grew up on the edge of Epping Forest and was that dreamy kind of child who was always writing stories. After reading English at Cambridge, I decided to find out as much as I could about the wider world so joined the Foreign Office and served in Poland. My work as a diplomat took me from the high point of town twinning in the Tatra Mountains to the low of inspecting the bottom of a Silesian coal mine.

On leaving Poland, I exchanged diplomacy for academia and took a doctorate in the literature of the English Romantic Period at Oxford. I then joined Oxfam as a lobbyist on conflict issues, campaigning at the UN and with governments to lessen the impact of conflict on civilians living in war zones - a cause I still feel very passionate about and about which you can learn more if you follow the links on this page.
Married with three children, I now live in Oxford between two rivers, surrounded by gargoyles, beautiful sandstone buildings and ancient trees.


After reading Stealing Phoenix (Benedict #2), I just wanted to get to know the author of this amazing series. So I asked her a few simple questions and I'm posting them here in an interview format. So here goes:

Hello Joss, welcome to Bookcase to Heaven™ today! 

I think we all love having Savant powers. Imagine being able to move things with your mind :) So, if you were a character in Harry Potter, who would you be?

In Harry Potter I'd be the one with the happiest life-- possibly Hermione as she didn't lose a family member and gets Ron (ah sweet). She's also a strong magician so that's fun.

The love story between Yves and Phoenix was perfect! I just love it when the two of them are together, so this question is a must! Do you believe in true love, soul mates and happily-ever-afters?   

I've been happily married for a long time now so maybe I do believe in soulmates. Though I think there is a big factor in a successful soulmating of committing to a relationship and not being blown about by the winds of feeling-- those change over the years and you need to stick through thick and thin. Romance has to mature. It is fun to think about my characters doing so-- in twenty years time how will they be? Mr and Mrs Benedict give a kind of answer on that.

That's true, though I really can't imagine Yves as a middle-aged man. I love it that Yves and Phoenix are each other's one and only. Do you like books with love triangles?   

I find love triangles a bit tiresome but OK I suppose if earned by the plot. I wasn't keen on the way the Twilight one resolves (the Jacob to baby linkage was a bit creepy).

Oh well, I found it creepy too... Anyway, it's great that there was a happy ending for Stealing Phoenix. I was grinning like mad. So I'm really curious, do you prefer books that make you smile or books that make you cry?  

I like to cry and smile-- don't you? A very clever writer can manage both in the same book.

You managed to do that for me, I'll have to say. Yves and Phoenix's journey to be together always made me smile, yet there was a tinge of sadness to their happiness until the perfect ending. So, as a rather successful Young Adult author, what kind of books do you think will appeal to teenagers the most?
  

I think teen readers are like everyone else-- attracted by good plot and characters they care about. I think there is an added interest in growing up to adult stories as this is what is happening in their lives so it is good to look to other experiences and learn or laugh that way.

That's true. We all love a good book like any adult ;) 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Joss (or Julia)! I positively can't wait to read Seeking Crystal :)



To get to know more about Joss Stirling and her Benedict series, click here

To get to know more about her works as author Julia Golding, click here

To get to know more about Eve Edwards and The Lacey Chronicles, click here

To read my review on Stealing Phoenix, click here ;) 










xoxo,
Sel





Monday, June 4, 2012

Cover Couples: Love Triangles?

HAHAHAHA. You probably won't believe this! I didn't either when I saw this listopia on Goodreads.

Oh my good Lord, just wait until I tell you what my hysteria is about...

Quoting from Goodreads, "A lot of book covers look strangely familiar-- although they are brand new. That's because the photo used to design it already appeared on other covers, too. It has been bought from a stock agency. Some covers also use famous paintings."

Yeah, they do. Look familiar, I mean. Perhaps, a little too familiar.




Scott Westerfield's publishers were slightly more clever, I would say. They changed the colours of the this wonderfully famous eye. As for the other two, I guess they were too lazy to even changed that -,-

Next up...



This stuns me even more than the previous three because a) One of the covers has my name on it ._. and plus I saw it in the library more than once (something about mermaids?) b) I actually read one of the books, Evermore, and thought that the cover looked rather nice and pretty. c) I actually saw all three of these covers before and never thought about how freakishly similar they look. Identical triplets?!





You know what? I don't even want to say anything about this -,- They look precisely the same. I can't believe people do that and don't get sued. But, anyway, it's Stock Photos and they are royalty free (I did my research, people).

Oh my. *sigh*



Okay, these two are random. I never heard of them before, not even remotely. It's just another couple that caught my eye... But, honestly, I hope their respective authors never come across this. They might just swoon. Like literally.




These two really stood out from the list because of their bright colours. But one more reason to add on to my shock? I just received Intangible from J. Meyers, so I'm like "Oh" *swallows*. I guess that's that.

You can't say anything is wrong, but it just seems weird. Period. 

The final two *drum rolls*



They aren't exactly the same, kudos to one of the publishers for flipping it around. Ha. 

But, this one really hurt my feelings since The Treachery of Beautiful Things had my cover-love xoxo. I adored it and thought that it was beautiful! But the uniqueness and beauty just loses its shine after I saw its mirror image lookalike.

:( 

All in all, this is one random post. You might laugh at first when looking at the unknown covers in foreign language, but the feeling hits you with a bam when you see the covers that you hold so dearly to your heart right below a lookalike. 

Publishers who are willing to dedicate the time and effort to having a cover shoot and a one of a kind cover are the ones with full confidence in their books. 

And I just can't help but mention some of the most unique covers I've seen with live people ^^: 


Don't they just take your breath away? *dreamy sigh*


If you are in for more of the thrill of discovering new cover couples, check out the full list on Goodreads here



xoxo,
Sel (who always brings new surprises from around the corner) :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Did You Just See THAT!?


Months before, I was sitting in the strange new world of book blogging with this lost but determined expression on my face. 

Like: This is going to be hard, but I'm going to do it anyway T^T

And it was. Kinda hard. 

Like: 
"Hey Sel, you got that galley?" Galley who? O.o Is that a typo? You mean, gallery?

OR

"Come take a look at my IMM!" Oh, okay, sure! But, wait. What's an IMM?! >< I've got a shopping mall near my house called IMM... I don't think you meant that...

Basically, I was walking blindfolded in the dark. And it was pretty embarrassing. 


And then, I met some amazing blogger friends on the way, and I'm meeting new ones even now! 

Like:

Alicia from Book-a-World. You know who you are, sweetie. The WUYOU who squeals with me over guys that exist a thousand years back. *coughs-- old emperors...*

Kelley from Reading to Stay Alive, whose choice of books I love! Her reviews are always amazing, so I love reading them :)

Linny from Linny's Literature, who has really funny Sookie reviews and beautiful blog designs. Thanks for always dropping by and commenting! ;)

Sarabara081 from Forever 17 Books, who always appears when my comments are maddeningly low and gives her two cents worth! You are great, and I'm becoming a regular on your blog :D

Ellie from The Selkie Reads Stories (whom I just found is Asian like me!! *squeals*), so I guess we will be going CHING CHONG CHANG in the future... -,- But, I'm looking forward to it ^^

The great Egyptian author Aliaa ;) , who has just written her debut YA novel. Go check it out!

My new blogger friend Shahnila Shafiq from Bookish Times, who comments so often recently that she has me smiling whenever I see her name! 

And...

So many other people who just rock my book blogging virtual world! 

Okay, sorry for getting so sentimental up there *wipes eyes with hankie*

But, the main point of this post-- apart from mentioning on the wonderful bloggers up there-- is 

My blog just reached 200+2 followers!


I was sitting in front of the computer when 


I saw the follower numbers and fainted like the furball above. 

Okay, not that literally, but I was jumping in my seat!

Maybe for some of you every 100 milestone is not that great, but for me it's just plain awesome! So I was grinning again,

Like:


Yeah, you get what I'm saying. 

So, just a speedy announcement. 






YAY!

Showcase Sunday: 3 June 2012

Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight 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 each week. 


This is organized by Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Okay, this is going to be exciting! *rubs palms in glee*

Last Thursday, 31 May, was my birthday. And apart from organizing an amazing giveaway (which is still ongoing now), I received some really good books from my dearest friends and lovely parents!

So here's the haul: (isn't it wonderful?!)


The Body Finder (from Xin Min ^^) 
I've heard so much about this, and many reviews talked about the sweet romance between Jay and Violet *dreamy sigh* I'm going to love it! I know I will!

Perfect Chemistry (from my Mum ._.)
I was still reeling from the shock of getting such a book from my mum. Because, you know, the cover screams, "This is not a safe book!" Especially in the eyes of mothers like mine. 

But anyway, I'm definitely not complaining :D This series is bound to be a thrill! With sparks flying!

The Selection (from Yang)
The cover is beyond pretty, says me and millions of others in the book blogging community. Despite some not-that-great reviews on this book, I knew I had to get it. So a big "Thank you!" to Yang for giving it to me! Under my generous hinting, of course :) 

Unwind (from my dad, wonder if he is trying to hint at something o.o)

Blurb: The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Like I said, I hope this doesn't mean I'm getting a little too naughty at home...

Insurgent (from Shi Le <3) 
I'm really really really happy to get this! Like WOW YAY OMG <3 happy. I adored Divergent with a fierce passionate kind of love. So thank you, my dear friend, for giving me this! 

All my energy spent hinting was worth it ;)

The Sky Is Everywhere (from my mum again, something up with her and her selections?)
Okay, I chose it and told my mum, "I want this." She agreed without batting an eyelash. 

And you all know that there is something up with the batting of eyelashes in this book. Go check out the reviews on Goodreads if you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. >:)

Grave Mercy (from Zhao, who bought it under high pressure) *innocent*
YAY! This was on my Top Ten for 2012 list, so I had my fingers crossed that I will get it for my birthday this time round. 

And I have it sitting prettily on my bookshelf now :D Thanks, Zhao, you're the best!


For Review:



I didn't read the first book, 'Dearly, Departed'. Not sure if this is a book you can read without following the series... 

'Pushing the Limits' sounds like Perfect Chemistry, doesn't it? :O Simone Elkeles even has a quote on the cover! 

I've got a feeling that I will love Perfect Chemistry. So, I think I will love Pushing the Limits too!

*

That's all this week. It's a great bunch of books to go through. I was grinning from ear to ear by the end of typing this post!

And now, time for a little advertising:

Join in my birthday giveaway (INT) here. One book mentioned in this haul, Insurgent, is amongst the 16 YA titles up for grabs. Go check it out! :)


What's your swag this week? ;)


Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Stealing Phoenix (Benedict #2)



Stealing Phoenix (Benedict #2) 

Author: Joss Stirling

Summary:

Yves' story.

This is about getting you out...I'm stealing you.  

Phoenix belongs to the Community-- a gang of thieves with paranormal powers. Yves Benedict-- an American student visiting London-- is her mark. But Yves turns out to be more than just a target. He is her destiny. Her soulmate. But the Community owns Phoenix's past and it wants her future too. Can Phoenix save the boy she loves... and herself?



Published 18 August 2011

*

Sometimes you immerse yourself in a drama, so much that it's all you can think about when you eat and when you sleep. And all that time spent outside the tale has you aching to get back into the exhilarating experience of hanging onto every word from the endearing cast. Then, as you zoom through the episodes, eagerly waiting to see how it ends, you realize with a start that time flies and there's only one more episode left. 

If you're nodding so far, I can only say, "Hi friend, you have to know how I feel." Because that was precisely how I felt when I was reaching the last chapter of this book. Part of me couldn't stop, the other part of me hated that the story was going to end.  

Back to the drama allegory. Think back on the time when you finished chasing all forty episodes of that drama. You've smiled with the characters, cried when they cried and now you've finished watching the most memorable times of their lives. Aside from the fulfilling satisfaction at the perfect or not-so-perfect ending, there's an undeniable hollow in your heart. And all that fills your head is thoughts of "How can it end just like that?!" 

Yeah, that's me and my unforgettable experience with Stealing Phoenix-- a masterpiece of a novel, one which stole my heart. And if I could choose, I would let it steal my heart again, at any of time of the day. 

Because even though I've read a series of really good books lately, this was still the one I gripped onto with the whitest knuckles, brought along with me to the most places and finished reading with the goofiest smile on my face. Hands down, no competition. 

It's spectacular, stunning, emotional. 

When I halted that tiny second in front of the pile of messy books lying in the school canteen and picked it up, I had entertained many possibilities, that this was a mystery novel, an adventure story, or maybe even one with a tiny romance playing in the background. But never once in a million years would I have thought that this would be a great love story. Yet, it is.

Yves and Phoenix. So perfect for each other that it hurts. I loved the two of them-- how they met, how they hurt each other and most of all, how they loved each other.

Phoenix. The girl with so many secrets to hide and so many burdens on her shoulders. She's born in a pack of wolves-- cruel men who use fear to exploit and subdue. She is forced to use her savant (people with paranormal talents) powers to steal. A day without loot means a night of abuse and displeasure. To survive, clever Phoenix has never failed in a single mission... Until the day she meets Yves, the smart and handsome American boy who is her target, and she fails her most important mission by far. 

Lying to cover up, Phoenix placates her superior, The Seer (leader of the pack of "wolves"), and weaves an elaborate scam to get herself closer to Yves. But, outwitted again and again by him, Phoenix  is trapped in a fraud of her own making. But, here's when the charming American boy grins. With thudding hearts, we fall head over heels in love when he says what we've been anxiously waiting for all along,

I knew it, you're my soulfinder.

Yet, Phoenix who has lived in a lifetime of fear is cursed by the powers of the Seer. Set against the backdrop of the glamorous London, Yves and Phoenix race against time to be together, coming to terms with who they are and why do they belong together. At the heart of these startling revelations, cunning manipulations and feigned betrayals is a perfect love story of two teens falling in love against all odds. 

Quoting the lovely Sara Dessen, 

“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” 

Yves fell in love with Phoenix. Phoenix fell in love with Yves. And I fell in love with this book.


Source: The Good Old Library (with the awesome Shi Le's library card)




xoxo,
Sel
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