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Broken by A.E. Rought

Simply stunning cover, gorgeous!

What would one give to have the love of their life returned to them? In West Michigan Emma Gentry pines for her boyfriend Daniel who died over the summer from a tragic accident. Once inseparable there’s nothing that can fill Emma’s hollow heart. She hides in his sweatshirt wandering the cemetery after school, wishing for a place to mourn. With her best friend Bree standing by her side Emma tries to adjust. Then the mysterious Alex Franks appears and finally Emma sees through her heartbroken haze.

However, Alex’s dad isn’t favourable about the match and the harder he restricts him from seeing Emma, the more the two are drawn to each other. Guilty over cheating on Daniel’s memory, Emma can’t resist the power Alex has over her. He’s strong like Daniel, opens her locker just like Daniel, and he even winks just like Daniel. The similarities turn eerie as Alex’s father pulls him out of school-leaving Emma no choice but to visit his house, only to discover the truth of what really happened to Daniel…

I adored Broken by A.E. Rought. The language was beautifully spooky for it’s setting making it a perfect autumn read. Throw in a paranormal retelling of one of my favourite classics and it was difficult to put down, this is YA romance at it’s best. Life is hard in high school and it’s unthinkable how one could go on after the death of a boyfriend. Emma is easy to relate too even through her grief and she stands as a good example of trying to move on from tragedy.

The beginning moves smoothly to a fantastic and exciting finish. I’ve always loved Halloween and I wish the book was being released in October instead of January. I’d recommend this book for the real YA audience as well as for adults. It’s a YA crossover of 50 Shades of Grey level (for the heat only!), but cleverly written and wonderfully executed. Read for the romance, stay for the passion and enjoy the gothic language as it transports you to a time when all that mattered in life is love.

Broken will be released on January 8th, 2013. Pre-order your copy from Barnes & Noble in the US or directly from the publisher in the UK.

This book was provided as an ARC from Angry Robot from their imprint Strange Chemistry for an honest review. I’m thrilled to receive the galley because I thought Angry Robot is one of the coolest names for a publisher. Many thanks Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

So many covers! Top left – USA/UK/Sweden, Top right – Italy/Czech Republic, Bottom left – Spain, Bottom right – Spain (they’re in different languages)

Linh Cinder (surnames are said first) lives in New Beijing, is a sixteen-years-old mechanic and also happens to be a cyborg.  The ward of her stepmother that focuses only on her natural daughters Peony and Pearl, Cinder is forced to work to support the family. Her trade is so well known that even Prince Kai seeks her out for a royal android repair. The world is under attack by a mysterious plague that spreads in an unknown way and kills on a strict timeframe. There is no cure and cyborgs are used for test research.

Cinder’s stepmother Andri can’t resist sending her away to the royal palace as a test subject when her youngest stepsister falls ill with the plague. Devastated over losing and possibly infecting Peony, Cinder complies, desperate to do anything to save her life. Yet as the tests commence secrets and revelations come to light. Cinder’s crush on Kai seems light-years away as her past is uncovered and she fights for her right to exist in an anti-cyborg world.

I must give a shout out to Marissa Meyer who is from Tacoma, Washington State, my mom’s hometown. I was delighted after I finished the book to discover a Washington State writer wrote it. I think Meyer did a wonderful job at tackling the huge task of retelling the Cinderella fairytale. The basic story is still there which does make it a bit predictable but with a dystopian setting it’s a fun and refreshing read. As history repeats itself with this deathly plague, Meyer uses creative settings and impressive steam punk imagery to recast a modern Cinderella.

I loved the book; it had me on the edge of seat. Even when I knew a mile away certain things were going to happen, I think Meyer strategically worked the fairytale to her advantage. I’d be upset if she didn’t stick with the core story and she mixed other fairytale elements that succeed in a post apocalyptic world. I’d recommend Cinder in a heartbeat to anyone that wants a different, stronger Cinderella but isn’t ready to leave the dystopian genre.

There’s been a rumour going around that the second book, Scarlet isn’t going to be published. I’m happy to report that Amazon is already selling it in advance. Here’s the cover.

You can enter to win a signed advanced copy HERE: The contest ends September 30th.

Birthmarked

(Left – UK/Right – USA Book Cover)

Birthmarked

By Caragh M. O’Brien

384 pages

USA Publisher: Square Fish

UK Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone has followed all the rules set by the Enclave for her entire life. Set in a dystopian world where the upper class live separately behind the Wall in wealth, the rest of population struggle for survival in an environment wrecked by climate change. With a face that’s scarred, Gaia will never know the luxuries of the elite.

Regardless, Gaia and her mother faithfully ‘Advance’ the required quota of the first three babies born a month to the Enclave. It’s a privilege for the children, a chance to be brought up with opportunity. For the mothers it’s a painful honour although they are rewarded for their sacrifice. However, whispers begin to develop, the possibility of adding another child to the quota. When her parents are taken, Gaia struggles with her desire to find them, her duty of serving the Enclave and feelings of desire for the unattainable Enclave guard Leon.

Knowing that to go against the Enclave means death, Gaia ignores the danger and follows her heart to be reunited with her family. Discovered and put into jail, Gaia realises a deeper secret that the Enclave is hiding: sterility. Locked up with other doctors, Gaia learns she is too value and too dangerous to be executed, a piece of a puzzle she never knew had been created.

O’Brien’s debut novel is beautifully woven with secrets and the fight against morality. At times there can be ‘more telling than show’, but the environment O’Brien has created is riddled with possibilities and the fight for survival that is reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Gaia Stone is a unique heroine in being physically flawed but strong in spirit for the love of her family. It’s a quick read that will makes readers request only more, which O’Brien happily obliges with Prized. The trilogy is wrapped up with Promised, to be published in October 2012.

I found Birthmarked to be exciting with O’Brien’s words keeping me up into the early hours. I found her novel by accident at the library. I bumped into a shelf and the book hit the floor as if to say, ‘Read me now!’ Gaia is a strong female lead, and Birthmarked doesn’t seek to be another Twilight. Although there are elements of romance with the handsome Enclave solider Leon, Gaia has her eyes set on the right prize: her family. Her endless strength is inspiring and you can’t help but wonder what exactly the Enclave is up too. I was captured by her character, and praise O’Brien for creating a healthy example of a girl that stands up for herself and accepts her scar that has shaped her life.