Tag Archives: Penguin Books

October 30, 2010 posted by Ivy

Pubsicle Giveaway #2

The always awesome Penguin Australia have given us again three prize packs to giveaway!

If you haven’t read last week’s Pubsicle, go here.

What’s in the prize pack:

Beautiful Darkness (Casters, Book 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

The Dead by Charlie Higson

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Simply fill out the form below with your name, email, and mailing address. We randomly draw the winners using random.org.
  • Two winners from Australia and One international winner
  • Ends on November 16, 2010.

Halfway to Good – Kristen Murphy
Book Reviews
September 14, 2009 posted by Nikki

Halfway to Good – Kristen Murphy

It’s the first day of Term One, and Luke and Anna are on opposite sides of the student-teacher divide. School is the last thing Luke feels like – how can he feel halfway to good when his father is sick, his mother is sad and his older brother is painfully present?

Anna’s life still revolves around love, friendship and homework, but she’s a graduate teacher now. Can she cope with a bullying co-worker, a persistent ex-boyfriend and a class of unforgiving Year Elevens, and still find time to help Luke?

Luke is one depressed teenager, but if you ask me, he’s got pretty good reasons to be so down. His dad is sick – really sick – and life at their place just isn’t as peachy as it used to be. But that’s not where it stops. Luke has other problems, too, he just can’t figure out what they are. He’s got this awesome girlfriend, but he doesn’t want to be with her anymore. Why? No one knows – not even Luke. He’s got these awesome friends, but he keeps shutting them out. Why? No one knows – not even Luke.

Anna is graduate teacher, fresh out of university. Of course she’s worried about her first full time teaching position, but she never anticipated as many stumbling blocks as she encounters. For absolutely no reason at all, one of Anna’s superiors takes an instant disliking to her and does everything she can to ensure Anna’s first year on the job is anything but easy. Luckily for Anna, she’s got a wicked mentor assigned to her, who becomes more like a best friend than a colleague.

Then there’s the whole thing with Anna’s ex-boyfriend. He left town – and her – a while ago, but now he’s back. He’s back, and he wants Anna back too. Anna’s head screams run but he heart… well her heart tells her to stay. What does one do, when presented with such a scenario, especially when he hurt her so badly before?

Luke and Anna’s worlds collide when Luke walks into English at the beginning of the year. She’s his teacher, but by the end of the novel, they’ll mean more to each other than simply student and teacher. In a bizarre twist of fate, Anna’s sister is marrying Luke’s brother. Being intimately linked like that is weird for them at first, especially Luke, but as he gets to know Anna more, he stops thinking of her as his teacher and starts thinking of her as someone he could grow to trust, someone he could grow to care about.

Halfway to Good is narrated through both character’s perspectives. The advantage that this novel has over singularly narrated novels is that the dual narration concept leaves nothing to the imagination. Readers don’t need to assume anything because both stories are sprawled on the pages for all to see. It’s fantastic to see how Luke and Anna impact on each other’s lives, and I loved not having to draw my own conclusions for once. Interestingly, because Anna is older than Luke, her perspective provides a different kind of slant to the story, adds a certain depth that is sometimes lacking in regular YA fiction. I still think that teenage readers will be able to relate to Anna, though. She’s only a first year teacher and her thinking patterns aren’t too ancient that the kids wont get where she’s coming from.

Halfway too Good is a solid read, and one that enthusiasts of general, contemporary young adult fiction will love. I fell in love with both Luke and Anna, and I wanted so badly to help heal their aching souls. Narrated through both a male and a female perspective, this is one of those universal novels that I reckon both boys and gals will get into. Can’t get much better than that.

Rating: : ★★★★☆

Vampire Academy Giveaway
February 18, 2009 posted by Nikki

Vampire Academy Giveaway

Courtesy of Penguin Books we’ve got one copy of Richelle Mead’s popular Vampire Academy to give away. All you need to do is email us your name at yareadscontest(at)gmail(dot)com with Vampire Academy as the subject heading and head over here and list your name in the forum thread. All entrants will be tossed in a hat and the winner chosen at random. Competition closes on Thursday, February 26, 2009.

Entrants might also be interested to know that we have some great VA discussion happening on the forum and an interview on the way with Richelle herself. So stay tuned for more exciting VA news.

The Devouring – Simon Holt
Book Reviews
January 21, 2009 posted by Nikki

The Devouring – Simon Holt

As far as covers go, The Devouring is pretty spectacular. In fact, it’s so good that I picked it up off the shelf in the store and decided I was going to buy it even before I looked at the blurb. Apart from being visually stimulating, it manages to capture the real essence of the story without giving too much away.

The blurb is pretty enticing as well. Check this out:

Evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the winter solstice.

This isn’t how the horror ended for us –
This is how it began.

When Reggie reads about the Vours in a mysterious old journal, she assumes they are just the musings of an anonymous lunatic. But when her little brother, Henry, begins to act strangely, it’s clear that these creatures exist beyond a madwoman’s imagination, and Reggie finds out what happens when fears come to life. To save the people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?

The Devouring is an engrossing tale of terror that will have you wondering: what if your worst fears became your living nightmare?

Sounds awesome, right? Well, I thought so anyway. Unfortunately, now that I’ve finished reading it, I’m not quite sure what to think. Firstly, let me just say that I didn’t think it was bad. Not at all. But there is just something about it that isn’t sitting right with me.

The characters are all likable enough, yet they don’t seem individual enough, there is not a whole lot that separate them from each other in my mind. For me to consider a book astonishing, the characters really need to jump off the page and present themselves as independent, unique individuals. That doesn’t really happen for me with The Devouring. However, I’m not prepared to say that I don’t like the characters, because I do. Or maybe it’s just that there isn’t anything exceptionally unlikable about them, I can’t quite tell. Either way, they didn’t leave a huge impression.

Everything happens pretty fast, too. There isn’t a whole lot of build up, which for some, might be a good thing. I, however, am a big fan of the build up. I love anticipation and surprise. Although it’s not predictable, per se, The Devouring didn’t have me sitting on the edge of my seat. Yet, at the same time, I didn’t want to put it down.

Can you see what I’m saying here? It wasn’t bad, not by a long shot, but it wasn’t outstanding either, you know? I do think that it would make a really awesome film, however. Visually, I think it would be a real creeper. But as words, well, it falls a little short of creepy.

Give it a go. I’m interested in your thoughts!

Rating: : ★★★☆☆