Exciting Blog News...New for 2011!

It's almost the end of 2010 and it's been such a busy year for me! My blog has gone from strength to strength and nearly a year on I'm proud of what I achieved here. I also started a new job, which has been bitter sweet and meant that recently I haven't been able to commit as much time to blogging as I would have liked to. 

So with that in mind, following our fantastic trip to Leeds together, Lyndsey of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory blog (who had found herself in a similar position) decided to merge blogs and become partners! So I'd like to welcome Lyndsey who I'm very much looking forward to working with. 

You've possibly noticed some strange goings on here over the last few days. Not only have we given the blog a fresh new look, but we've gone Dot Com and have a brand new name! Rhiana Reads... is no more, instead we decided to incorporate Lyndsey's far more creative name and become Heaven, Hell and Purgatory - Book Reviews as well as her ingenious rating system (take a look at the ratings explained page for more info).

I'm really excited about teaming up with Lyndsey and all the plans we have for the New Year. Thanks for following me over the last eleven months- I hope you continue to enjoy the new and improved site here! 

Now over to Lyndsey to introduce herself: 

I know that quite a few of Vicki's followers would already have seen me over at Heaven, Hell and Purgatory but for those of you who dont know me already, I'm Lyndsey. Im 24 and an English/ Linguistics student at Nottingham Trent so as you would have guessed, it takes up a lot of my time. As much as I loved my blog, I just couldn't keep up with at least 3 reviews a week and it was starting to affect my uni work.

I was so pleased when we decided to join our blogs together to have the best of both worlds as it will take some of the pressure away but also I get the chance to have work with my best blogger friend. None of my friends read, apart from university books, so I was thrilled to be able to do something with Vicki, who loves YA and reading as much as I do. 2011 will be my first full year blogging and I can't wait to see what is in store for us both.

In My Mail Box + L A Weatherly Signing Report

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

I can't believe I'm posting this already...yes the final IMM of 2010. Ok so I know there's another Sunday left but it's Boxing day and hopefully you'll all busy enjoying Christmas with your families! 2010 has been a fantastic year for me and my blog and I'm a little scared that in just over a month I'll be celebrating my first blogiversary...how did that happen! Having time to blog recently has been very hit and miss recently but I have some exciting things planned for 2011. 

I've had some amazing books come this last couple of weeks and also I met up with the wonderful Lyndsey from Heaven, Hell and Purgatory Reviews for my first ever signing which was amazing, more on that below!

So... The Books!

For Review:

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney (which I borrowed from Lyns and LOVED! Review soon!)

Here in the Uk we've had exceptionally early and bad snow which has completely disrupted the postal service  (great timing huh?) so today I had everything crossed for my Amazon order containing 2 very important Christmas presents for my kids, which is already late.  Sadly it didn't arrive (please get here by the 24th...she says panicking slightly) but I did get this huge surprise bag of books from Simon and Schuster Uk containing:

And now.. the Leeds Shopping Trip!

This was not only my first ever signing, but my first ever trip to a bookstore with someone who loves books as much as myself and it was just amazing. Seriously I think we spent 2 hours in there the first time, then went back for L A Weatherley's signing of her awesome book, Angel. I had a few copies to get signed and think maybe the people behind were a little annoyed (sorry!) but meeting Lee was lovely, even though I got a little shy.

(Lyndsey getting her book signed by L A Weatherly)

I have never enjoyed a shopping trip so much! Lyndsey and I stayed over in Leeds together and talked barely anything but books which was just fantastic. I love that even though we'd never met before, we just had so much to say. 

(Me in Leeds Waterstones YA section)

We had a brilliant time and here's what I bought!

Angel by L A Weatherly (of course! I bought 2, one for another blogger who couldn't make it. Review Here)
Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman (Signed! I loved this book..Review Here)
I also picked up a bit of swag- some Crescendo Cards and an Angel sampler

So thats it for me this year! I am really excited about all the amazing books to be read next year. I'll be taking a break now from now until the New Year when I'll finally be back to normal service here...although with some very exciting changes!

Hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!

NightShade Blog Tour!

2011 is shaping up to be a FANTASTIC year and I'm really excited about being on the Nightshade tour! You can find my stop here on the 8th January and I'll be reviewing the book that week too!

Book Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke

The same questions whirl round and round in my head:

What does he want from me? 

How could I have let this happen? 


17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction (from Goodreads.com)

I went into Entangled not really knowing all that much about it. I wasn’t even sure what genre it was…contemporary or paranormal? I’d read a vague and intriguing synopsis and knew I really wanted to read it. This was completely the best way to go into this book as reading it was every bit a journey as its troubled protagonist’s, 17 year old Grace.

The book starts with Grace as she plans to end her life, but at the last minute a mysterious boy, Ethan shows up. Then she wakes up a prisoner in a white room with nothing but a bed, table and paper and pens. Ethan comes and goes but remains every bit as mysterious and it’s up to Grace to work out through writing down the tangled mess of her life who he is, why she is here and discover the truth she has been hiding from herself.

And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you, because to say anymore would spoil the book and everyone should have this on his or her wish list for 2011. What I will say is that Cat Clarke’s Entangled is one of the most haunting and stunning books I have read, provoking every possible emotion in me.

Told from a first person point of view from Grace, the author takes the brave step of making her unlikeable. Her behaviour as she tells us about the past which lead her to this point is the type that evokes disgust in many. She’s self destructive in the extreme and at first some may find it difficult to feel much sympathy for her, but as we delve deeper into her broken life and we see how vulnerable she really is, she emerges as a victim of her circumstances. Everyone knows a Grace, has probably sneered and never considered why they behave the way they do, how much they may be hurting. For me it was a little closer to home, and I saw a tiny bit of myself as a teenager. In some ways reading from Grace was like going back in time, and Cat Clarke completely gets the neediness, paranoia, feelings of self-loathing and self-harm I remember experiencing. It sounds a cliché to say she was believable and real, but it’s scarily true. Even those who can’t directly relate to Grace will recognise some of her feelings or be able to experience them through Clarke’s fantastic ability to convey them onto the page, and will certainly take away a greater understanding of people from this book.

The mystery of Ethan and the white room remain as such throughout the book. I came up with many different theories while reading, none of which ended up correct but along with Grace’s voice kept me turning pages and unable to leave until I’d finished. The ending is somewhat ambiguous and definitely open to interpretation. I know what I think and I’m sure others have different ideas. I loved this, it wasn't annoyingly open and unresolved, and it allows you to really think. I went to bed last night thinking about it and woke up again this morning thinking about it. Whatever your interpretation though, one thing I can guarantee is that it will leave you with tears. It’s tragic, but beautifully hopeful for the future.

I've read some amazing books this year, and Entangled is up there with the best of them. I couldn’t put it down and read all 370 pages in one sitting, something I haven’t done for a while. I won’t forget this book and can’t wait to see what Cat Clarke writes next. The only word of caution I have is that with some explicit and graphic scenes it probably isn't suited to a younger audience and I would hesitate to give it to under thirteen’s. Apart from that I can’t recommend this book enough.

Published January 2011 by Quercus

Thanks to the publishers for sending me an ARC of this book for review.

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. (From Goodreads.com)

I'd heard lots about Vampire Academy, lots of good stuff that had me marking it as a series to get round to soon. With the release of the 6th and final book in the series (Last Sacrifice) this week I was offered the chance to review the whole series and agreed eagerly.

Vampire Academy is very different to any of the YA Vampire books I've read, that's for sure. The first instalment took me by surprise I must admit- it's fast paced, sexy and feisty right from the start... and I loved it! As soon as I started reading this book I felt 'wow'.

Then sadly it kind of went downhill a little for a while after the first 20-30 pages. I was just so confused and had to check I hadn't started book two by mistake. As the girls are returned to the academy we are introduced to so many different characters, of differing breeds it feels a lot to take in. Back-story is slowly revealed through flashbacks to the past and while I usually love this style of story telling, I didn't enjoy it so much here and found it a little jumpy. If it wasn't for Rose, whose point of view we read from and is definitely up there with my favourite girl characters ever, I may have been tempted to quit. Thankfully I didn't and the final 100 pages are fantastic!

What I did like about this book was that I didn't really know where it was going. While the middle was slow going, the final third of this book really does grip you. With plenty of unique and fascinating takes on Vampire lore it certainly stands out. But my favourite part of this book was the relationships between Rose and Vampire Princess Lissa and Rose and her mentor Dimitri. Both are intense and very interesting, and while Lissa herself left me feeling a little ‘meh’, Rose's fierce loyalty towards her really intrigued me. All I can say about the relationship with Dimitri is...wow-Hot! There's a seriously sexy scene or two in this book and the tension between the pair is electric. This is no simpering romance though...its on fire!

Conclusion: After a fast and feisty start Vampire Academy was a little shaky at times for me. There's a lot of series setting which does get a little tiring at times but is worth persevering with for the fantastic climax and promises a breath taking series to follow.

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