Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday Post #1

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer!
~ Inspired by the meme In My Mailbox.~
It's a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week,
showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

 (Sounds fabulous ♥)

The Sunday Post is my alternative to IMM. I think we've all been given a recap as to what happened by now. Anyway, this sounds like a really fun meme where we get to share everything about our week in blogging! It was so great to get back to book blogging for real after half a month of exams. There is nothing awesomer than having a pile of books to choose from after weeks of being forced to put them aside to study instead!

My week in review

I am currently reading

As blinding as Chloe's enthusiasm is, I just want to give her a big hug! She is adorable!

This has been in my Kindle for pretty long. I finally decided to read it and I think I'm falling for Beau Vincent, the badass Vincent boy! And so is Ashton, bahaha!

Just got started on this one. I feel sorry for Luke! I've heard great things about this book, so expecting awesomeness!

And here's my book haul for the week

From NetGalley

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu * Timepiece (Hourglass, #2) by Mira McEntire * Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein* The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

A big thank you to St. Martin's Griffin, Egmont USA, Disney Hyperion and Penguin Publishing for these awesome books- especially since most of them didn't even have to be requested! I ♥ NetGalley!


Storm by Brigid Kemmerer * The Selection by Kiera Cass * Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris * Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I can't even pick which book I'm more excited about reading! They are all so fabulous, original and sound so unputdownable!

And don't forget to enter the giveaways going on in my blog (both end on the 30th of April)
That's all for this week! :o)

What are you currently reading? And what books did you get this week?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Blood of Eden, #1)

from goodreads
In a future world, Vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. 
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

The Immortal Rules isn't your average story with beautiful vampires and angst for the sake of angst. In fact, The Immortal Rules would probably laugh at the thought of vampires as sexy and alluring! In the world of The Immortal Rules, vampires are thought of as nothing more than bloodsuckers who now rule over most cities. Most humans are registered under them and as a result given meal tickets as long as they attend scheduled blood lettings. Humans who do not register themselves are not as lucky. They are called Unregistered and face prosecution if they are found stealing food and other resources controlled by vampire cities.

I loved how strong the world building was. This is the first book I've read by Julie Kagawa and I was so impressed with the world she created and how she built on it! Kagawa doesn't just give you a comprehensive picture of the world where vampires rule, a result of the Red Lung disease that was wiping out the humans and one idealistic vampire who we get to meet in person, but also leaves traces of life as it once was. Reading is forbidden to most humans and humans are reduced to beings desperate for survival, the most basic need and nothing else. But Allie, the protagonist, was taught by her mother to read and has a book about "four children who go through a wardrobe and into a strange new world."

Little details like this and ruins of hospitals and museums made me wistful and made the world Julie Kagawa created all the more realistic. And there were the vampires themselves who couldn't go out in daylight unless they wanted to waste away in the sun. They had to feed on human blood and in the words of Kanin, the Master vampire who Turned Allie, "Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being, accidentally, or as a conscious, deliberate act. It is unavoidable. The question is not if it will happen, but, when."

Kanin, Allie's creator turned out to be right about a lot of other things. He plays a pivotal role in this story and I wonder what's in store for him in the later parts of this series. He definitely piqued by interest. There are so many amazing characters in The Immortal Rules- it's not just the protagonist that is well developed! Though Allie is someone you'll grow extremely attached to. She's this kickass newly turned vampire (and she, previously an Unregistered, chose to be Turned due to unavoidable circumstances) who wields a katana! Can it get better than that?

Allie's journey is also not an easy one. It was wonderful to watch her grow beyond a fierce Unregistered fighting for survival to someone who had so much more to fight for and had to make some difficult decisions. Zeke, who Allie eventually falls for, also fascinated me! Ezekiel "Zeke" Crosse had such a complex past that I'm still trying to figure out and rather than ruining him, it made him into a caring, kind person who dares to hope and have faith. The story was filled with characters hardened by the world around them and Zeke was like a breath of fresh air. He is sure to make you weak in the knees!

Towards the end, there was one vampire cliche that had me rolling my eyes a bit and aside from that, I still can't fathom the concept of vampires crying blood tears, but The Immortal Rules mostly, definitely, truly blew me away! Mainly because of the complex and unimaginable world it was set in. Also because of the characters, each with back-stories that fully made them what they were. I couldn't stop reading this book until I reached the last page. Even then, I was left wondering about where Allie and Kanin and Zeke were headed. If you haven't picked up The Immortal Rules yet, I strongly urge you to give it a try! It's post-apocalyptic vampire YA fiction! How is that anything short of ingenious?

Publication date: 24th April, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: NetGalley (A big thank you to Harlequin! I never thought I'd get approved for this one. I last-minute requested it and was so happy when I got approved on the 17th!)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Review: Download Drama by Celeste O. Norfleet

from goodreads

Some people stand back when problems crop up. Kenisha Lewis steps up. And there's a lot that needs fixing, from her family's money worries to the run-down dance studio where she works part-time.When the promo she makes for a dance studio fundraiser goes viral, Kenisha can't believe the response. Who'd have guessed she'd become the latest YouTube sensation—or be asked to star in a video with rapper Taj? And now, Taj wants Kenisha to become her protégée, promising money and fame. Problems solved, right? Not quite. Her exciting new career is taking time away from school, family, friends and her boyfriend, Terrence.… Kenisha is sure she's this close to having what she's always wanted. But how much is she willing to give up to get it?


I really enjoyed reading Download Drama because it was just the kind of book I needed to read after an extremely hectic week and reading options that had kind of become the norm as of late. While nothing spells exciting more than a unique and literally out-of-this-world premise, sometimes you need something that keeps you grounded. It's impossible to say just how much I loved getting to know Kenisha Lewis!

In Download Drama, the protagonist, Kenisha, has a lot on her plate. Other than family issues that run deep and problems she has with people in school, there's the video of her practising in the dance studio which wasn't even supposed to have been taken in the first place that goes viral. Kenisha is now a YubeTube sensation and her fifteen minutes of fame also lands her an offer to dance in a music video with rapper Taj who given everything that's been said and heard about her, cannot possibly mean well. Throw in a pretty awesome boyfriend as well as attention from one of the most popular guys in school and you have way too much drama, or do we?

I was surprised at how well grounded Kenisha was. She definitely has her head on her shoulders! Sure, she isn't always that level headed. But for the most part, she tackles situations as they come and at times, shows maturity beyond her years. She is also extremely talented and of course she bursts with happiness when everyone else gets to see how good a dancer she is, though she is initially annoyed when the video of her at the dance studio is out and goes viral. Yet at times, there she is, like every other teenager, engaging in petty fights, angst and the usual high school drama! I love how she could be any other teenager! While I am nothing like her, I know people like her and they are people I'd gladly be friends with.

Download Drama also deals with moving on from grief, family conflict and explores the intricacies of fame. I loved its simple and fluid pace. It was easy to love this book as it was so high school; give or take a few relationships. This book is my normal. At the same time, it did remind me of how shallow and superficial we could sometimes be in high school. While the conclusion was more than satisfactory, there were a couple of loose ends that had me wondering if this book was a series. That was when I found out there were other Kenisha Lewis books that took place before this one, including Pushing Pause and Fast Forward. Oops?

I've never read books out of sequence but I didn't find it confusing or anything to jump right into Download Drama. I'm guessing reading the other books of the series first would've maybe given me more insights into these characters. I am planning to read the other books when I get the chance. It's the kind of series I wouldn't mind investing in! I'm also waiting for a possible next book about Kenisha Lewis because I must know what happened to these lovely characters!

If you're looking for something real, a little light yet with enough substance and personality, do not hesitate to pick up Download Drama. It has some great characters and story lines that are dealt with sensitively!

Publication date: 24th April, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

from goodreads
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home. 
Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

Okay, I must admit that the story is a bit of a blur to me now. I read Switched a few weeks back. But my feelings about this book haven't changed! It feels as awesome as ever and I'm still waiting to get my hands on Torn! Apart from the great reviews Switched received, it was the cover that really grabbed my attention! I loved the pretty orange butterflies against the black-and-white background! The US edition has a brilliant cover as well. Not the kind of cover that's easy to tear my eyes away from!

And it didn't take long for me to know I was going to enjoy reading Switched! Reading the prologue was enough to keep me hooked! It was so intense and in a way, so over-the-top in a good way! Let's just say it involved chocolate cake, a murderous mother and a bratty kid. Wendy (the protagonist and once-bratty kid) didn't make the best first impression- she seemed like trouble in a not-so-flattering way- but I got to like and respect her over the course of the book. I feel like I'm still getting acquainted with her and cannot wait to read more about her in Torn!

I'm new to the concept of changelings. I haven't read or watched as many books or movies on it and so it was great to finally read something on it! But instead of going in the faery path, Switched is all about the trolls! Yes, you heard me right! It's such a well-thought out and unique premise... especially since Switched doesn't have the trolls you usually read about. The trolls in Switched are called Trylle. They have hard-to-tame hair, are extremely intelligent and live in isolation from humans. This isn't another book where another mythical creature is simply prettified for YA. I loved the lore Hocking gave us about Trylle!

I also enjoyed getting to know Finn, who quickly assumes the role of Wendy's protector! He has some difficult decisions to make but there was no doubt about how serious Wendy is about him. I was  intrigued by Queen Ellora, Wendy's birth mother. She's so cold and I kept hoping there was more to her demeanour. Rhys was another character that really made an impact on me! His childhood was complicated by things out of his control and I can't help wondering what's in store for him after Switched! These characters were as compelling as the plot, which is so great because a good series needs that for me to keep reading!

I heard it gets even better in Torn, book two of this series! I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel; which I think says enough about how satisfying a read Switched was! You'll most probably finish reading it in one sitting like I did!

Publication date: 5th January, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In My Mailbox (IMM) #4

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where we showcase the books that have made their way into our lives/bookshelves that week.

I'm so glad my exams are over and I can post regularly again! I've been itching to pick up a book throughout the exam period! Especially with so many amazing books in my TBR pile!

From NetGalley

Thank you Random House Children's Books and Harlequin! I squealed when I got the NetGalley email saying my request to read The Immortal Rules had been approved! I've been wanting to read this book for the longest time. I can't wait- especially with all the amazing reviews this book has gotten!


I won an ecopy of Charming by Susie Kay Lopez in a giveaway hosted by Hilda @ Catch the Lune. Thanks so much, Susie and Hilda! Charming sounds like an amazing read!

For review

I got a copy of Charlinder's Walk for a blog tour organised by Novel Publicity. My stop is on the 29th of May. A BIG thankyou to the author for shipping this book all the way to India! I can't wait to read this book :)

That's all for this week! What's in your mailbox? :)

Don't forget to check out my 100 follower giveaway and the #TeamAbnegation $100 Amazon Gift Code giveaway to promote the release of Insurgent!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

$100 Amazon Gift Code giveaway #TeamAbnegation

I haven't been able to post as frequently thanks to The Exams. I have been sort-of lurking on several blogs but I really need to catch up on commenting and reviews! I will return to my usual posting schedule after the 21st, which is when I'm done with exams! Till then, here's an AWESOME Amazon Gift Code giveaway organised by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and hosted by a number of bloggers to promote the release of Insurgent and support Team Abnegation! x)

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

If you have never heard of the Divergent series... you are missing out!

Learn more about the series by going to the publisher's website.

This $100 Amazon Gift Code Giveaway is organised by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and is brought to you by a large group of bloggers who are showing their support for the Divergent Series.

This giveaway is open to anyone 18 or older who can legally receive and use an Amazon Gift Card Code. The Rafflecopter accepts entries from 12:01 AM on April 18th to 11:59 PM on April 30th.

Enter daily to better your chances of winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 12 April 2012

On J. K Rowling's latest!

Did you hear, did you hear?

J. K. Rowling's first novel for adults is going to be called The Casual Vacancy! And the wait is not that long at all! It's out on the 27th of Sepetember 2012. Sure, that's months away but sooner than I thought it would take to read a new book by Rowling! I thought it would be ten years or never.

Seeing the release date and blurb made my day! It sounds very intriguing and I'd read anything she writes anyway! Blurb of The Casual Vacancy:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Expected publication: September 27th 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

SQUEEAL. It's starting again! The anticipation and the feeling that oh my god, I can't wait! Sure, I expected a quirkier title but it still sounds fabulous! J. K. Rowling has the power to make everything else that's going on in your life seem so insignificant as it's so easy to get lost in the world she creates! Which is why I know that despite The Casual Vacancy being nothing like the Harry Potter series, it is going to be magical in its own way!

How psyched are you about The Casual Vacancy? 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

TMST#5: On book boyfriends!

Tell Me Something Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by Cambria Hebert!

This week's question:

Who are your book boyfriends? 

It all started with Ron Weasley from Harry Potter

Because Weasley is my king!

And then came Owen from Just Listen

Let's face it, all the Dessen boys are to die for! They are charming and make your heart race! I liked Owen from Just Listen the best, though. He was so patient and cute. I LOVED how ridiculously passionate he was about music and how his enthusiasm is infectious. And the way he tackled his anger issues! Definite book boyfriend material!

Marcus Flutie from Sloppy Firsts had me at "I won't narc on you, cuz"

I swooned when he said those words to Jessica! I love Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series and Marcus, who started out as someone with a total bad boy rep, was one of the reasons why! (It's been a while since I've made a fuss over Marcus Flutie!!!! I'm totally STFYGSUHSGSY-ing right now!)

Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games series slowly worked his way into my heart!

At first I was Team Gale. Then halfway through Mockingjay, something happened. I became enamoured with The Boy With The Bread and what became of him. Katniss is in good hands!

Cricket Bell, illustration
by Simini Blocker
And who can forget Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door?

Tall, geeky and perfectly sweet... Cricket Bell, you make my heart melt! 

“Lola?" Cricket is on his knees at the side of my bed. I feel it. "I'm here," he whispers. "You can talk to me or not talk to me, but I'm here.”

Enter Adrian Ivashkov from the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. I was instantly smitten!

“Takes a lot of tries before you hit perfection." he paused to reconsider that. "Well, except for my parents. They got it on the first try."

Aside from being EXTREMELY hot and loving his snark, I love how in the end, Adrian can be extremely caring and considerate! Adrian makes me swoon. I cannot wait for The Golden Lily!

Other swoon-worthy fictional characters

Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road
Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss
Thomas Mackee from The Piper's Son
Ed aka Shadow from Graffiti Moon
Four from Divergent
Gavriel Duval from Grave Mercy

Book boyfriends spoil you for life, don't they? ♥ Who are your favourite fictional hotties?

Friday, 6 April 2012

Review: Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year by Justin Ordonez (Novel Publicity Whirlwind Tour stop)

from goodreads

Sykosa (that's "sy"-as-in-"my" ko-sa) is a junior in high school. She belongs to an exclusive clique of girls called the "Queens." The leader is her best friend Niko. Their friendship has been strained lately because Tom—Sykosa's first boyfriend boyfriend—has gotten all serious about making her his pretty Prom princess. That is if he ever gets around to asking her. Before Prom, there's a party at Niko's cottage where parental supervision will be nil. He wants to have sex. She doesn't. He sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.

Sykosa has a secret she has never told anyone about. Although, some people—Tom included—know anyway. It happened last year and it was big and she'll cry if she talks about it so she's done talking about it, okay? Never mind, it's nobody's business. Except it keeps happening, and it never stops. She doesn't want to deal with it. He does. She sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.


An Open Letter to Sykosa
[the protagonist of Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year]

Dear Sykosa,

I finished reading your story less than 24 hours ago and I must say it took me a few hours to process it all. I was instantly sucked into your world, feeling the heightened intensity and hyper awareness; feeling like I hadn't felt since I'd put school behind me. Can I say that it was great to meet you? Not nice, but great. It was so great to meet someone as raw and real as you. It doesn't happen that often these days. I could relate to you but I couldn't, you know?

A lot of things you were caught up in weren't really because of your actions. But they happened because they had to happen. I still don't feel like I TOTALLY know you but throughout those situations, there were these flashes of your dreams and plans that you revealed that added to your depth.

Sometimes, I want to sit around and talk about nothing and laugh like there is no tomorrow like in Friends too. I get about wanting to sometimes be transparent and fake and two-dimensional. I feel the weight of pressure and expectations and sometimes, that makes me want to just quit while I'm ahead as well. 

Your relationship with your mother is so complex, it broke my heart. Yet, once again, so real and so realistic, given the circumstances. And what about Tom? In the beginning, I was very 'eh' about your relationship with him but the minute you took us back to sophomore year when you first met him, I understood. I'm intrigued by the scars in his hands and though you hate bringing up 'last year', the very crux of the plot, most of which is left for Sykosa, Part II, I need to know what happened the previous year!

Will it scar you for life? Why do you feel like you "owe" Tom? Do you love him in spite of it? What is that one incident that occurred in your sophomore year that brought forth the 'blackness'? That gut-wrenching despair that takes over even the cheer squad in your head and breaks the fakest smile is hard to process but I think I know that feeling. The fear and the despair that plagued you since The Incident Which We Still Know Nothing About shook me.

I usually don't read stories that are as gritty as yours. The intensity shocked me as did the lewd references and name-calling but it was very integral to the setting and plot. Much of what happened had me riveted and I was entranced by the web of school politics and relationships. Your best friend Niko stole the show most of the time (and I was very intrigued by her) but in the end, you were what was left. It was your story. It is your life. 

(And that's why I'm writing this letter to you)

I cannot wait for Sykosa, Part II to know more about the incident that changed everything and propelled all the angst. You are awesome, though. Relax and don't bury all those feelings! (Though I'm guessing things changed for you by the end of Part I). I would totally come and give you a hug right now if I could!


So that was Sykosa for me: gritty, intense and definitely not a book I'll forget anytime soon! It was so differently written. I wouldn't have expected to fall in love with the writing style but I did. It practically made me get under Sykosa's skin despite getting a dose of the perspectives of the other characters and there were parts that were so lyrical. One point that I wanted to highlight though, is that I feel Sykosa, Part I: Junior Year is strictly for mature readers. It is an 18+ only book and with its grit, the references made and themes it deals with, I really don't think it's for younger readers.

Publisher: TDS Publishing
Date of Publication: 20th March, 2012
Source: E-copy provided as a part of the blog tour

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

- - -

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Sykosa eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Sykosa for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
  4. BONUS: Leave a comment on this post*
Leave a comment, win $100:

One random tour commenter will win a $100 Amazon gift card. Just leave a comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the official tour page. You can enter on just my blog or on all of them. Get out there and network!

About the book: YA fiction for the 18+ crowd. Sykosa is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the lives of her friends. Set at her best friend’s cottage, for what will be a weekend of unsupervised badness, Sykosa will have to finally confront the major players and issues from this event, as well as decide if she wants to lose her virginity to Tom, her first boyfriend, and the boy who saved her from danger. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Sykosa is Justin Ordoñez's life's work. He hopes to one day settle down with a nerdy, somewhat introverted woman and own 1 to 4 dogs. Visit Justin on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Feature and Follow: Follow Friday #7

 Feature and Follow is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read!

Question of the week: Have you ever bought a book BECAUSE of a bad review?

Um, not really. I couldn't really say that. But I have bought a lot of books in spite of the bad reviews they have gotten. There might be a book with really bad reviews and just few good reviews and I might still buy it because the plot sounds amazing or I'd read anything that particular author writes! And you know what? There are some books with mostly-bad reviews that I have really liked, so it has paid off.

Generally though, even if a book has received rave reviews, I still like to check out the few 2 star reviews it has gotten because that gives me more realistic expectations and I'm more ready to read the book!

What about you?

Now that it's up, don't forget to check out my 100 followers giveaway for a chance to win a 10$ gift card from Amazon! :)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Whirlwind Tour stop: Interview with Justin Ordonez, author of Sykosa

As a part of the Sykosa Whirlwind Tour, I'm happy to post this pre-written interview (provided by Novel Publicity) with Justin Ordonez, author of Sykosa! I hope you enjoy reading it! Reading about what influenced Justin to write Sykosa certainly enriched my reading experience! I'll be posting my review of the book soon :)

Please enjoy this interview with Justin Ordoñez, author of the YA novel (for 18+ readers), Sykosa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

1. Who or What is a Sykosa?

Sykosa is a sixteen year old junior in high school. She’s the main character of a novel I’ve written by the same name. For a quick rundown, she attends a prestigious preparatory academy, is part of the school’s coolest clique, “the Queens,” and she has started dating the boy she’s secretly been crushing on for a year, Tom. It’s taken a year to start dating him because A) there was this SUPER HUGE thing that happened during her sophomore year, and it delayed things and made being intimate with Tom difficult, and B) she kinda starts seeing stars around him and loses the ability to behave in any type of serious manner.

2. Why is Sykosa different from other novels?

It’s different because youth driven literature has become full of metaphors for danger that seem to have split into either science fiction or fantasy. (Before I go any further, I like both genres, so I’m not being a snob!) Sometimes, it feels like instead of dealing with real problems, it’s easier to have kids use magic. And instead of facing real contemporary issues, kids should fight aliens or something. These metaphors are meant to represent real life, but I fear they’ve slightly crossed over into a bit of denial about contemporary Americanism, which is a hard topic to write about since our country is in an identity crisis, and has been for about 11 years. Sykosa is an attempt to counter-act this trend. When I was young, I read books about young people that blew me away like One Fat Summer and The Outsiders. These books felt real, and it felt like I could slip into them at any moment. The writing was gritty, it was unapologetic, it was brilliant. I just don’t see many of those around, and I wanted to write one, and I wanted to write one with a female protagonist.

3. Why did you choose cross-gender writing?

Toward the end of the my high school education, I was allowed to split my school day from my normal, traditional education and a newer style, self-directed educational program. I took an English class where my English teacher, someone who I’m still friends with to this day, gave me only one assignment for an entire semester, and it was, “Perform a deep self-evaluation of yourself and your writing and come up with one goal for what you’re going to improve on.” At the time, I was seriously into writing, and had taken to writing a few books per year, but most of them were in the first person, and they were just me talking about myself. The issue was that I had been in a serious car accident the year prior and I had injured a friend in it. (He fully recovered, but never forgave me). I had tried to write a first person story about myself many times since the accident, but I was constantly failing because I was dealing with some lingering self-loathing and guilt. As a way to get away from it, I decided I wanted to work on a story I had been thinking about for a while, but that I never started writing for one super scary reason.

The main character was a teenage girl.

Odd as it might sound, I was intimidated by the fact that the main character was a woman. So I faced my fear and said my goal would be to write women better, and I proceeded to work with several teachers and several female students to help me craft a female character that was realistic, yet met my vision of her as well. This challenge stuck with me into my adult life, and it eventually found its ultimate form in Sykosa.

4. How will I know I’m a fan of Sykosa?

I’m glad you asked! has tons of stuff to help you determine if this book is right for you. Below you’ll see some humorous diagrams I’ve made, but at the website you can read an excerpt of the book, watch the book trailer, read character profiles and really get a solid understanding of Sykosa’s world.
5. What kind of stuff influenced you to write Sykosa?

The primary motivators for Sykosa were Buffy The Vampire Slayer and It by Stephen King. It so happened, in 2001, I moved in with a woman I was dating. She was a fan of Buffy, so I had to watch it and became a fan myself. While most people were probably drawn to the vampire killing, it was the last thing I was interested in. I thought Whedon created an interesting cast of personalities and analyzing them was something I enjoyed. At the time, I was reading It. What I liked about It was the small town, insular feel to the novel, and how the inhabitants of this town were able to show a “front” of values, but were secretly hiding and allowing evil to proliferate all around them. From these two things came Sykosa, a girl who does not have any super powers, nor does she kill any vampires, but she did have a traumatic event happen in her life, and she’s struggling to deal with it, and its made no easier by the fact that her small, insular parochial school has decided to ignore the incident.

6. What is your most favorite and least favorite part of Sykosa?

The most favorite part is easy. It’s Sykosa’s best friend Niko, who just gets my blood pumping every time I have to write her. I love Sykosa, she’s definitely the main character and the story would never work without her, but I could sing Niko’s praises all day and all night. She’s such an interesting young woman and to see how she’s developed over the years as I’ve written the story has been a real treat. When someone first reads Sykosa and then decides to talk to me about it, I’m secretly waiting to hear them mention Niko. It’s never the first thing they say, it’s never the last, it’s always sandwiched somewhere in the middle, “By the way, this Niko—I love her!”

My least favorite part… Wow, that’s hard to answer, isn’t it? In the middle of the book, there’s a section called an Interlude, which is a story structure that Stephen King used in It, and that I borrowed as an homage to it. There’s a section where Sykosa, Niko and her mother are driving in a car together. I swear, I rewrote it fifty times—maybe more—and it’s never read right to me. It just never has.

7. What kind of writing schedule do you keep?

Let’s put it this way: I recently heard a story that there are “cat writers” and “ox writers.” I’m an ox writer. I put in the time, every day, whether I’m feeling it or not, whether its terrible or not, even if I know I’ll just end up deleting it, I push through it and I do it anyway, and somewhere along the way, it ends up coming together as a story.

8. What’s the coolest story you have from writing Sykosa?

Sykosa is interesting in the sense that it took me a long time to finish it. The first couple years I was writing it, I was really just writing stories about the characters, feeling everyone out, figuring out how they fit together, but there was no plot holding it together or pushing anything forward. In 2003, I seriously debated quitting, as it had been the hardest piece of writing I had ever taken on, and to be honest, I was somewhat used to overcoming challenges easily and without a lot of adversity. And while I usually worked on the book on my bus ride to and from work, this one beautiful, sunny day, I decided not to. I sat on the bus and kept the binder of writing closed on my lap. When the bus stopped at Pioneer Square, a homeless black woman sat next to me. She noticed the book, then said to me, “So you’re writing a novel?” I couldn’t tell how she knew that, but I said, “Yes, I am.” She asked me what it was about, but I’m terrible at talking about my work, so I gave her the gist, “teenage girl” “high school” “likes her boyfriend” etc, etc. The conversation lasted one stop, when the bus opened its doors, the woman reached out with her hand, put it on my own (which was clinging to the book like I was protecting it or something) and she said, “Justin, I want you to know, God blesses this book. He blesses it, and you can’t quit.”

I had never mentioned to her that I was quitting it.

I started working on it after she left the bus, and I never spoke or saw her again.

True story.

9. Do you have any tips for people who are struggling with writing or want to take it up?

I do. First off, keep struggling. It’s a worthwhile struggle. There’s a lot of be gained from writing. And for those who want to take it up and for those who are already writing, I can’t stress this enough: Draft. And by the I mean, write in drafts, don’t sit in a chair and challenge yourself to make it perfect now, write it perfect now, but instead write in drafts. If something only gets 5% better, that’s fine, cause it’s just one draft of what will be many, and eventually, that 5%, that 3%, that 7%—it adds up and you end up with a really good story. But, if you try to knock it out of the park every time you step up to the plate, you’ll swing the bat a whole lot, and you’ll be tired and exhausted when you’re done, but you won’t have a ton to show for it. That’s when most people quit. They think, “I can’t do this” or, “I don’t have the talent.” They don’t understand they’re doing it wrong, that’s all.

10. When you’re not writing, you’re…

Singing karaoke. I go once a week with some close friends of mine. It’s a fantastic release, also you get feedback from an audience, which you sometimes miss from writing, and you can forget how exciting it is to share your work with others. My favorite song to sing right now is Gaga’s “You and I.” Gaga has got a great voice that she can make raspy if she needs to, and I’ve got a voice that can match the raspier songs, so I think I do her proud. Otherwise I’m singing the Killers, Kings of Leon, Oasis or Lauryn Hill.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Sykosa eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $550 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:
  1. Purchase your copy of Sykosa for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event
  4. BONUS: Leave a comment on this post*
Leave a comment, win $100:

One random tour commenter will win a $100 Amazon gift card. Just leave a comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win. For a full list of participating blogs, check out the official tour page. You can enter on just my blog or on all of them. Get out there and network!

About the book: YA fiction for the 18+ crowd. Sykosa is a sixteen-year-old girl trying to reclaim her identity after an act of violence shatters her life and the lives of her friends. Set at her best friend’s cottage, for what will be a weekend of unsupervised badness, Sykosa will have to finally confront the major players and issues from this event, as well as decide if she wants to lose her virginity to Tom, her first boyfriend, and the boy who saved her from danger. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Sykosa is Justin Ordoñez's life's work. He hopes to one day settle down with a nerdy, somewhat introverted woman and own 1 to 4 dogs. Visit Justin on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Monday, 2 April 2012

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

from goodreads

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?


The cover of Grave Mercy blew me away before the plot could and that's saying something because the premise is extremely intriguing! I loved the red dress and the backdrop and the words Why be the sheep when you can be the wolf? Why, indeed! In Grave Mercy, Ismae Rienne, the protagonist, is immune to poison. She bares a scar from the poison her mother used to try to get rid of her in the womb. She is married off by her abusive father to a man who recognises her scar as a mark of being the daughter of St. Mortain, the patron saint of Death, and flies into an angry and abusive rage.

Ismae soon finds herself in the convent of St. Mortain, where nuns are trained as assassins to serve the patron saint of Death. Her assignment takes her to the court of Brittany where she must stick to Gavriel Duval to protect Anne of Brittany and see if anything is amiss while doing the bidding of St. Mortain.

I didn't bother reading the blurb at the back, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the story took place in the court of medieval Brittany! I love historical novels and I wasn't expecting this to be one! The court setting was great too. The way it was written made it easy to get sucked into that era. It was done with such ease that I could immediately focus on the other aspects of the book.

Also, Ismae was amazing. It was easy to root for her! She was someone who learned to mix poisons and fight like it was her second nature and yet was hopeless when it came to her feelings for Duval. She started off as so naive, I thought, Ohmygod! Why aren't you questioning anything? But she did when the time came. And I felt so proud of her when she had that moment of clarity when she saw things as they really were and knew what she wanted to do.

For while I am Death's daughter and walk in His dark shadow, surely the darkness can give way to light sometimes.

I could see how Duval could make anyone weak in their knees! He was so caring and considerate. His kindness felt so genuine. If I wasn't convinced that he was perfect for Ismae in the beginning, I definitely was when it became apparent that Duval had scars of his own.

As for the court drama and the suspense, I loved every second of the plotting and scheming! It was action-packed and there were a lot of surprises. After all, assassin nuns in medieval Brittany spells surprising! While I was a little muddled with the names in the beginning and wondered if there was an overdose of romance in the middle- by the time I reached the awesome climax, I was convinced that it was a balanced read! It had a bit of everything and I've never read anything like this before!

I love that the sequel His Fair Assassin, Dark Triumph is about Sybella, one of the characters who you will want to know more about after reading Grave Mercy! It's a book I'll definitely remember and the sequel to which I'll be waiting for!

Publication date: 3rd April, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NOTE: Now that it's up, don't forget to check out my 100 followers giveaway for a chance to win a 10$ gift card from Amazon! :)