The Diva Weekender #005

Bit frazzled this week, so I'm leaving it your capable hands to link me up to your news and features over the last seven days. For those of you who've visited, I'll be blog hopping over the weekend to catch up on all your comments and reviews. If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen that after I thought my hard drive issues were sorted, it happened again and needed to buy a new hard drive this time, rather than just format the old one.

Still updating and downloading drivers, but will be back next week with a double edition of 'Round The Blogs.

The Summer of Kicks by Dave Hackett

The Summer of Kicks
Written by Dave Hackett
Contemporary, Comedy
Published August 27th 2014
264 Pages
Add to Goodreads
Starrphyre is your average sensitive meets dorky 16 year old, with a tragic hippy name thanks to his parents, a live to air radio sex therapist mum and a bass player dad from a one hit wonder 80s metal band.

All Starrphyre wants is one date with his dream girl, Candace McAllister. Or at least a meaningful conversation. But how can he get her to notice him when she’s the leading lady of every other high school guys’ fantasies?

For Starrphyre, starting a band seems like the natural solution, but when your bandmates have the combined musical ability of a gang of armless monkeys, you really need a backup plan.
Life has dealt sixteen year old Starrphyre his fair share of knocks. His parents naming him Starrphyre for one. He isn't popular, and most of his peers would consider him the token nerd, that's if they'd even notice him that is. It still doesn't stop Starrphyre from dreaming about making popular girl Candace his girlfriend, but apart from a brief and awkward conversation when Starrphyre was only eight years old, she doesn't know he exists. He needs a plan to make her notice him, so when your dad is a former eighties one hit wonder and your mother is a radio sexual therapist, it's only natural that starting a band is surely the answer. if only he could play an instrument.

With friends as equally as uncool and unpopular, not to mention the lack of musical talent, Starrphyre had no option but to enlist the help of the very cool Scene, who runs the local record store. But rather than gaining just a guitarist, Starrphyre finds himself now with a part time job thanks to his vast, obscure musical knowledge and a pair of well worn Converse kicks.

But as a new plan takes shape to win over Candace, Starrphyre finds himself torn between the girl he's always wanted and the girl he actually needs, as he gets to know coworker Ellie. Suddenly being named Starrphyre is the least of his problems.

Kelly's Thoughts

The Summer of Kicks is hilarious, beautifully written and incredible Australian that awkward teens world wide can relate to. It follows the woes of Starrphyre, upbeat dork, musical genius and faithful friend. He's in love with a girl who doesn't know he exists, and now is forced to share his bedroom with his sisters thug boyfriend, simply known as The Tool. Including friends with affectionate nicknames such as Reece Polar Fleece, he decides that with his vast musical knowledge, his only option at being noticed is to start a band. What ensues is a brilliant roller coaster ride of hilarity, viral videos, a musical he'll never forget and an awkward first kiss that was more teeth than tongue. It was phenomenal and by far the most entertaining and comical young adult book I've read. Ever.
I'm now lying on the stage. On top of my mother. And we're face to face. The entire auditorium is staring... 'And this', Mum says, attempting to make light of the situation, 'is the missionary position'. Instantly the whole place is in hysterics. Sheila Sweet, celebrity sex therapist, is in session...
And although The Summer of Kicks is a humorous take on teen life, there are moments of seriousness that are emotional, touching and incredibly heartwarming as well. This isn't just another teen romance, this is comedy at it's brilliance. From selecting band names from a bingo barrel, the Grease musical that never should have been and grabbing a Led Zepplin shirt, only to realise you're actually proudly wearing Bert and Ernie. I laughed from cover to cover. This isn't just a book, it's a feel good experience and I absolutely adored it.

Defector by Susanne Winnacker

Contains spoilers for Impostor
Defector (Variants: Book Two)
Written by Susanne Winnacker
Paranormal, Science Fiction, Romance
Published August 26th 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia 
Tessa has made peace with her life as a Variant. She and longtime love Alec are officially a couple, and for the first time, she has everything she wants. But the air is tense at FEA headquarters. An agent has disappeared and rogue Variant organization Abel's Army is likely the culprit.

When Tessa is summoned for her second mission, she is unexpectedly launched into a massive conspiracy. Her best friend Holly is kidnapped, and Tessa knows it was meant to be her. But who is after her? And more importantly, why? When the FEA's efforts to rescue Holly don't yield results, Tessa takes matters into her own hands. Desperate to save her friend and uncover the mystery behind Abel's Army, Tessa launches her own investigation, but nothing could prepare her for what she finds.

Finding the truth will take her out on the road and out of her comfort zone, with danger lurking at every turn. Summoning all of her courage and strength, Tessa must decide who can be trusted and what is worth fighting for. Her final decision will leave readers breathless.

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Messenger Of Fear Messenger of Fear Book One
Written by Michael Grant
Paranormal, Science Fiction
Expected publication September 1st 2014
320 Pages
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont
Add to Goodreads
I remembered my name, Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself. And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out...
Mara has just awoken in the middle of a field, caressed by a mysterious fog and all she can remember is her name. Stumbling into the lone and desolate church, she sees the figure of a boy, a coffin and with no other explanation of who she is and why she's there, other than to learn. He's known as The Messenger of Fear and this is Mara's fate.

The Messenger of Fear judges moral crimes, those not punishable by law and now Mara seemingly shares this curse, gaining insight to what drove a young teen to suicide, the couple who cared more for themselves than an injured animal and the boy who taunting another into killing. The game is simple, Mara is assaulted with images and their deepest fears, and then the fear is used against them and judgement is passed.

But when Mara begins to invest in a case of teen suicide and bullying, she begins to see how balance in the world needs to be restored. But how has she come to be his apprentice? What had he done to deserve such a punishment and why now is it her turn to carry on his legacy?

Kelly's Thoughts

Messenger of Fear is fantastic. It walks the fine line between the criminal and moral dilemmas that humans face, and puts the reader in the seat as victim, accused and juror. Apart from her name, Mara is a complete unknown with no memory of not only how she come to be laying in the desolate field, but who she is. She's a clean slate, making it much easier for her to accept her role beside the Messenger of Fear without little question. It follows the misdeeds of three different situations, a bully related suicide, an injured animal and a man that taunted barely legal young man to kill. Messenger works for a high power, in which he calls upon when seeing inside the minds of each accused and using their greatest fears to test whether or not they should be persecuted.

The fears portrayed result in quite a few gruesome scenes, but the horror aspect was brilliant. But where the Messenger plays juror, a villain waits in the wings, Oriax. She has the ability to lure those to her dark side with a voice of silk. It's a battle of what seemingly seems evil and a lesser evil. Those who choose not to play the game for their freedom are plunged into her hands for a truly horrific fate. She's seductive and incredibly entertaining.

The Final Verdict

Being a series, I was left with more questions than answers and hope the next in the series delves more into the world in which Messenger and Oriax serve. Slow to start, but the pace picks up quickly and kept me enthralled as Mara's story unraveled. Looking forward to seeing what's in store for the rest of the series. Michael Grant is an incredible young adult author and this is a brilliant example as to why he's much loved.

The Diva Weekender #004

Been a bit under the weather, so attempting to post a wrap up of the past fortnight. As usual, I've probably missed significant posts, awesome reviews and most of my blog visits. But I'm catching up slowly, make sure you leave the cookies out. So here is this weeks Diva Weekender.


●  I'm giving away two copies of the awesome new book Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. Check me out on Twitter as well for my retweet to win a third copy.
●  Jeann snuck in again and reviewed Roomies while I wasn't looking.
●  If you're a member of our Aussie YA Bloggers group, you may have noticed we've had a name change. Now if you're an Aussie and love young adult novels, we welcome all readers. Check it out and sign up. 
●  Remember to sign up for the Aussie Bloggers YA newsletter. 
●  There's an awesome new apocalyptic paranormal series being released soon, and a HUGE cover reveal to celebrate. Check out what I'm talking about here, and sign up to get involved here.

Giveaway: Win one of two copies of Belzhar

Belzhar is available in Australia, October 2014
With thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks. 

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.
Look out for my retweet to win giveaway for a bonus copy on Twitter.

With thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia, win one of two copies of Belzhar, the breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance by New York Times best selling author Meg Wolitzer.

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel (Book One)
Written by Neil Gaiman
Adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell
Graphic Novel, Paranormal
Published in Australia August 2014
188 Pages
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
Add to Goodreads
An irresistibly brilliant graphic novel adaptation of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, adapted by award winning illustrator P. Craig Russell. This is the first of two volumes.

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it's in the land of the living that the real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives, and he has already killed Bod's family.

Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist, with contributions from P. Craig Russell, Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris and Scott Hamptom, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson and Stephen B. Scott.

Jeann's Guest Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr

Written by Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando
Contemporary, New Adult
Published December 24th 2014
279 Pages
Add to Goodreads
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman year roommate assignment, she shoots off an email to coordinate the basics: Television, microwave, mini fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of emails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer, and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives... And each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful email that assigns your college roommate.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Written by Scott Westerfeld
Contemporary, Paranormal
Expected publication September 23rd 2014
608 Pages
Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse
Add to Goodreads
Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finishes her book, faces critique, and falls in love.

Woven into Darcy's personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved, and terrifying, stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love… Until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about most.

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Impostor (Variants: Book One)
Written by Susanne Winnacker
Science Fiction, Thriller
Published January 2014
320 Pages
Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she's spent the last two years with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. There she trains with other Variants, such as long term crush Alec, who each have their own extraordinary ability. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: She must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. 

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor, the stress, the danger, the deceit, but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she'd do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super human comes to a very human conclusion: Even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Ugly Love
Written by Colleen Hoover
New Adult, Romance
Published in Australia August 2014
336 Pages
Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her. They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated. Promises get broken. Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Written by Roald Dahl
Childrens, Classic
Originally published 1964
208 Pages
Add to Goodreads
When Charlie Bucket finds himself the proud winner of a Golden Ticket in a chocolate bar, he knows he has the greatest treat in the world in store for him. Join Charlie on his fantastic world famous adventures in Willy Wonka's miraculous chocolate factory, where he sees strawberry juice water pistols, luminous lollipops, a chocolate river, and rainbow drops... And has the time of his life.

The Young World by Chris Weitz

The Young World The Young World Trilogy Book One
Written by Chris Weitz
Survival, Post Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Published August 1st 2014
352 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
Add to Goodreads
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park... And discovers truths they could never have imagined.
It was reported that the first case of the Sickness was found in Europe two years prior, before rapidly spreading throughout the United States. The flu like symptoms seemingly developing in children and adults, leaving teens the only age group that have escaped the deadly illness. They believe the virus is based on hormones, and the hundred on teens that now inhabit Washington Square in New York are surviving until they reach physical maturity at eighteen. The tribe is now looking towards Jefferson, brother of the former leader who had succumbed to the Sickness, a responsibility Jeff reluctantly accepts. It's been two long years, and the teens around New York have now segregated and who the Sickness doesn't take... Ethnic cleansing surely will.

Within the partially self sufficient environment, an important member of the tribe discovers what may be the key to the Sickness and a small group including Jefferson and Donna, make the journey to find information that they hope may lead to a cure. But navigating the mean streets of New York, is only the first step in making the treacherous distance in one piece. Rival communities are planning a violent takeover, and will stop at nothing until they monopolise what remains of society, while others seemingly thrive with off shore produce.

But one thing remains constant throughout New York, it's kill or be killed... If the Sickness doesn't strike you down first.

Kelly's Thoughts

The Young World was brilliant, a post apocalyptic fight for survival in which teens now rule New York. There are no adults or children, the teens believing that the Sickness lay dormant within their age group, then ensuring a quick death once a teen reaches physical maturity. None more so than Brainbox, the resident teen scientist who has his own theories about the deadly virus, but needs help to obtain proof. Their journey is incredibly dangerous, especially with the large community of Uptowners calling for blood after a failed trade attempt. During the journey, the group also come into contact with the Moles, kids who live underground, the racial divide between the African American teens and Hispanic, who are either vying for control or to simply survive.

Told in dual points of view, Jefferson is quiet, stoic and believes that those who remain can build a new society. He hopes for a future where the Sickness can be cured, and will either find a cure or die trying. Donna on the other hand is feisty, realistic and won't allow herself for anything more than seeing out each day. Friends since both were young, Jefferson secretly pines for Donna but can't bring himself to tell her. Their points of view are both incredibly diverse, and I loved seeing the same situation portrayed though both characters.

By far my favourite character was Peter, Donna's best friend and confidant. He's the token gay character, Christian, African American and incredibly snarky. His mild sexual innuendos and throw away one liners add a lightness to the storyline in an otherwise grim world.

The final Verdict

Overall, it's an awesome read, incredibly entertaining and had trouble putting this one down. Already I'm eagerly awaiting book two in the series. A brilliant debut author, Chris Weitz is definitely one to watch out for.

Buddy Read Along with Gina: Hunger by Michael Grant

Check out part one on Behind The Pages
Contains spoilers for Gone.
Hunger (Gone: Book Two)
Written by Michael Grant
Supernatural, Dystopian
Edition Published in Australia April 1st 2014
586 Pages
Add to Goodreads 
An uneasy calm has settled over Perdido Beach. But soon fear explodes into desperation as starvation sets in and the mob look to place blame. For the ‘normals' the buck must stop somewhere, with the 'freaks'. More and more kids are developing strange powers and, just as frighteningly, so are the animals in the FAYZ. Talking coyotes, swimming bats and deadly worms with razor sharp teeth are just the beginning. 

For Sam Temple the strain of leadership is beginning to show and he's got more that just dwindling rations and in fighting to worry about. Caine is back with the psychotic whip hand, Drake,by his side. And in the background lies the greatest danger of all, and he needs to be fed.

Jeann's Guest Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Guest review by Jeann at Happy Indulgence Books
The Falconer (The Falconer: Book One)
Written by Elizabeth May
Steampunk, Paranormal, Fae
Published May 16th 2014
378 Pages
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events,  right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose, and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

The Diva Weekender #003

After first dealing with a Windows crash where I've lost everything on my computer, my service provider then decided that I didn't need an internet connection or home phone, and my service was cut off for a few days. So now it's a game of catching up on my reviews for the books I read while I was offline.

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Contains spoilers for the original Trilogy.
Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls: Book 3.5) 
Written by Maggie Stiefvater
Paranormal, Romance
Published in Australia August 2014
369 Pages
Thank you to Scholastic Australia 
Add to Goodreads 
A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the number one New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret, his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?
© Diva Booknerd. Design by Fearne.