Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Me on Dreamfall

Title: Dreamfall
Author: Amy Plum
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn't get any worse... but she was terribly wrong. Soon after the experiment begins, there's a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they'd rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can't find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

Dreamfall is tense, dangerous, as chilling and atmospheric as a horror movie.

Cata is hopeful that this procedure will help with her insomnia and night terrors, that she'll be able to sleep without seeing the monsters that haunt her, the ones that come creeping in from her past. Fergus is hoping the treatment will help his narcolepsy, that he'll finally be able to live a life away from his parents, without the risk of falling asleep and hurting himself or others. After the malfunction in the lab, the patients are somehow thrown together, sharing the same dreamscape, and have to rely on each other as they're thrown from one nightmare to another. Fortunately for them, they have Jaime, a premed student observing the experiment, reviewing their files and making notes as the experiment goes awry. But with Cata, Fergus, and the other patients seemingly in comas, how is Jaime supposed to help them?

It's been a little while since I've read a book like this, dripping with horror, with fears and nightmares that could literally kill you. It's not that the overall idea is anything new, it's what the author has added that makes it different. The fact that all of them suffer from insomnia, that they cannot sleep and are suddenly trapped in a dreamlike state. For those who've been looking for YA horror in the vein of Simon Holt's The Devouring, eerie and overwhelming, you might want to give this a read.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (255)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Hello! We've reached the part of spring when it rains for most of the week and then it's sunny for a day or two so you have to cram all the lawn mowing and weeding into a day.

I think I need to make a list of all the comic series I've been meaning to read and head off to the library to see if they have any. I definitely notice that I read faster when I alternate between prose and comics.

Reviews going up this week will feature Dreamfall by Amy Plum (Tuesday) and Avenged by Amy Tintera (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (borrowed from the library)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Me on The Gauntlet

Title: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Riazi
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Salaam Reads (Simon & Schuster imprint)

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik's cube—they know it's up to them to defeat the game's diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how. Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game... or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

The Gauntlet is thrilling and adventurous, a tale of riddles, of tricks and trials. Of secrets and smarts and the strength to keep on going when everything's working against you.

Farah is smart and perceptive. Once inside The Gauntlet, once following the path set out before her, she understands the seriousness of the situation. That she and her friends must complete the puzzles if they want to make it out alive. But that doesn't mean she's not worried about Ahmed, her younger brother who raced off into the game ahead of her, wandering through a world they've never been to. Who knows who he might come across, what danger he might end up in? As Farah worries, she and her friends are racing against time, solving the puzzles of the Architect.

There are wonderful descriptions in this book. From the scenery, the buildings that make up the souk and the palaces, the invasiveness of the sand in everyone's shoes, the mad rush of the wind of a sandstorm, to the smells and the flavours that invade the senses. Ginger and mint, warm food like stewed vegetables and lamb, sweets coated in honey and nuts.

The tone of this book, the voice, has gorgeous charm. It's enchanting and bright in a world of impossibility and danger. There's Farah's initial worry over her new school, suddenly being the only girl who wears the hijab in her class, then her worry about Ahmed, that they can't solve puzzles and save him at the same time, but her determination doesn't waver. As worried as she is, she knows she has to do it. That she can do it. I would definitely recommend this to middle grade readers who love magic and games and the impossible.

(I received a finished copy of this title to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (327)

Waiting on Wednesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. :)

Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Publishing

From Goodreads:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

There are so many things I'm a big sucker for. Danger and harbingers and covers with gorgeous birds and the supernatural and good and evil. I hope this'll be good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Me on Devil and the Bluebird

Title: Devil and the Bluebird
Author: Jennifer Mason-Black
Release Date: May 1, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it's her runaway sister's soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue's voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother's guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.

Devil and the Bluebird is all about the journey, what we're looking for and where we end up. Who we meet along the way, the good and the bad, and the pieces of ourselves that we discover.

Blue is intelligent, compassionate, and lonely. Ever since her mother died, ever since her sister left. Something's been missing in her life, something that was there when they were together. And now, afraid something has happened to Cass, she heads off to the crossroads in order to make a deal with the devil, following the folktale her mother told her. And so her journey begins, heading west from her home in Maine in order to find her sister, her guitar on her back and her boots leading the way. But what Blue doesn't expect are the people she meets along the way, the hard lessons they teach her, and the ways the devil alters their deal.

I think this book says a lot about faith (both the religious and non-religious kind), about journeys and destiny. About the people you come across in life, the good and the bad, the kindness and the criminals, and that you should trust that nugget in your chest that represents your instincts. There's a curious sort of charm that runs through this book, brought on by Blue's introspection, her perceptions of the people she meets, and the music that goes along with it. I would recommend this to contemporary YA fans, to those looking for books all about the journey and how the destination you're looking for might not be the one you end up at.

(I borrowed an e-book copy of this title from the library.)