Friday, November 30, 2012

Me on The Friday Society

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adrienne Kress
Release Date: December 6, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

At the turn of the century in London, there are three rather intelligent and talented young women who are assistants to rather powerful men: Cora, a lord's lab assistant, Nellie, a magician's assistant, and Michiko, a Japanese fighting assistant. The girls' lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man. It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder, and the crimes they believe are connected to it, without drawing any unwanted attention to themselves. Or they could very well be the next victims.

The Friday Society is adventurous and mysterious, a story of three very unconventional girls who get mixed up in a few spots of danger and decide, being unconventional and all, to solve the mystery all on their own. It's a rather entertaining and exciting historical girls power book, light and humourous but with some very serious consequences if they happen to fail.

All three girls are relatively similar, young female assistants to men with some amount of power or notoriety or authority, but they do have their differences. Cora is rather pragmatic, rather serious, rather head-strong and inventive, an orphan-turned-lord's lab assistant. Nellie is buckets of fun and laughs with hints of intrigue and surprise, an assistant to a rather famous magician. Michiko is possibly the most unconventional of the three, a Japanese girl who dared to defy convention to become a female samurai, but she's trapped as an assistant to a fight master she has no respect for. All three girls had their moments of danger and fun, all three knew the risks and were willing to take them as they dug deeper into the mystery plaguing London. I did wish for some more Japanese terms and phrases from Michiko in addition to her broken English, though. What characters from foreign settings add is a hint of the other world, and words from that world can make it seem magical.

When 'steampunk' is added to the list of genres and sub-genres a book is called, I can be slightly wary. I think it's because my internal view of steampunk is 'hard' steampunk: lots of gears and cogs and clockwork, lots of machines run by steam, lots of goggles made of copper or brass with a wide leather strap, and just a hit of coal dust in the air. This book certainly has the flair of a steampunk book, the wildly creative inventions, the mechanical and the mystery, the classic late 1800's/early 1900's London setting, and the sudden explosion bound to occur in a secret home laboratory.

Being that the girls are rather unconventional, they speak in a rather unconventional way. In a modern way, to be honest. I imagine that there will be some who will take issue with the historical accuracy of the voices, who don't like the modern voice, who feel that anachronisms can impact enjoyment and fictional realism. But there is another side to this coin, and that is the aforementioned unconventionality. Cora is hugely intelligent, Nellie is loud and boisterous, and Michiko is a girl who dared to break into the male world of being a samurai in Japan. Such unconventional heroines would have such unconventional voices. Also, modern voices in a historical setting could make the book sound more approachable to readers, add a dash of familiarity. I'll admit that I found it rather cheeky of the author to write the book that way, it does have a hint here and there of a modern flare that might scare away readers looking for historical accuracy, but it's fiction, and it's steampunk, and the whole book is and adventure into the mysterious.

Fun, exciting, complicated, and rather adventurous. Those looking for an intelligent and gutsy girls adventure book set in turn of the century London would certainly enjoy this. I'm curious if there will be more to come for the girls. Anything could happen, who knows what's lurking in London, hiding in the shadows and the alleyways, waiting for them to discover it. Or to trip over it.

(I received an advance copy to review from Penguin Canada.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (105)

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

Title: MILA 2.0
Author: Debra Driza
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

I want this. That is all. ;) It sort of reminds me a little of Glitch, but I hope it won't be slightly paranormal-ish. All I want is straight sci-fi thriller. No fuss, no muss, lots of advanced tech and maybe some artificial intelligence and creepy futuristic machine goodness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Me on Darkwater

Title: Darkwater
Author: Catherine Fisher
Release Date: September 27, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

Sarah would give anything to regain the power and wealth her family lost, so she makes a deal with Azrael, Lord of Darkwater Hall. He gives her a chance to accomplish her objective, providing the time and the means, all in exchange for her soul. Fast-forward one hundred years to Tom, a young boy who dreams of going to Darkwater Hall School but doesn't believe he has the talent. Until he meets the new professor, Azrael, who offers him a bargain. Will Sarah somehow be able to stop Tom from making the same mistakes she did?

Darkwater is rather dark and mysterious, an exploration into the price of knowledge and the value of the soul. The book is two stories about two characters, two lessons that could lead to the same horrible outcome.

Both Sarah and Tom have their similarities, but they're not the same character. Sarah's on a mission to restore her family's former glory and Tom wants to find a place of his own in his small town and move on from the bullies while figuring out the odd situation his brother is in. Unfortunately for the book, I was far more interested in Sarah's story than Tom's.

Perhaps the biggest question in the book is who is Azrael. No one really knows what he's after. He's looking for someone to help him find something. That something is possibly scientific and almost definitely impossible, but that doesn't stop him. Anything can be discovered, given enough time.

The book takes place in two time periods giving it both a historical feel and a present day feel. Again, since I preferred Sarah over Tom, I preferred the historical setting more, but the present day setting felt more complicated. This is possibly due to every important character being there: Sarah, Tom, Tom's brother, and Azrael.

What is the price of knowledge and power? What must be sacrificed to have one of the other, or both? Would you sacrifice your own soul?

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (27)

This Week's Book Week is just like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only I'm terrible at naming things. ;)

Hooray for recent giveaway winners Kathy and Melissa! :) Aren't giveaways fun? And they're Canadian, which is awesome. They've also gotten back to me, so there won't be any new winner pickings.

I read 3 books this week. I know, I'm surprised, too. Starling, Rage Within, and Live Through This. Urban fantasy with Norse mythology and a prophecy that'll bring about the Ragnarok, the end of the world. Somewhat post-apocalyptic second book in a series taking place in Vancouver after it was ripped apart by an earthquake and overrun by creepy and violent former people. Contemporary sexual abuse issues book. I'm all over the place this week.

There are still some books I have to read before I can start the January releases I have, but there's a war in my head over reading the books that I've had for a while and reading the books I want to read. Cause there's one I really want to read, but it's a 2013 debut and I want to put it towards the Debut Author Challenge. I think I'll be spending today (Saturday) making up my list for the DAC. :) Oh, debut authors, you've got that wonderful new car smell that just won't go away.

And I was able to keep up with NaNo. Still taking Saturdays off, though. I need time to decompress.
Received to review:
Ink by Amanda Sun (from Harlequin) (I flipped out so much when this showed up on Monday. It was like Monday was trying to prove it's not always a jerk. Many hugs to Amanda for asking Harlequin to send me an ARC. I really want to read this. 2013 YA debut, Canadian author, set in Japan, it's got ink drawings and dark magical bits. The second it's January, though, I'm pulling it out of its hiding place.)
Crash by Lisa McMann (from Simon & Schuster Canada) (Yay for more 2013 releases.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (104)

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

Title: Icons
Author: Margaret Stohl
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Your heart beats only with their permission.

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting.

Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside -- safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid.

She's different. She survived. Why?

When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy.

Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions -- which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses -- may actually be their greatest strengths.

Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts -- in order to save the future.

It'll be interesting to see how this goes with Margie writing solo, but it sounds pretty good. :) what do you guys think?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Me on Strange Angels

Title: Strange Angels
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: May 14, 2009
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Dru Anderson has been "strange" for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father who hunts the things that go bump in the night. It's a weird life, but a good one... until it all explodes, in an icy, broken-down Dakota town when her dad disappears and a zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, and more than a little terrified, Dru's going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hunt back, and this time, it's Dru who's on the menu

Strange Angels is packed with tension, action, and more than one smart mouth who won't stop. What hold the book together is a strong, rather dangerous, and impossibly stubborn heroine without a hint of teenage girl sugar-coating over top. Dru's a badass, and she makes no attempt to hide that fact that she's rough and ragged at the edges. This is certainly not a typical YA paranormal novel.

Dru leads a very odd life, constantly on the road with her dad hunting the supernatural monsters that terrorize other people. It's clear that Dru's going to be a little more bizarre than most teenage girls, because what normal well-adjusted girl becomes her father's helper when he goes off killing monsters?

When the zombie shows up, everything goes downhill. Dru's on her own now, she's got to remember what her dad taught her before she forgets it all in a massive panicked rush, and she's got to remember how to survive. Because she knows what's out there in the cracks and crevices, what thrives in the shadows. Of course, what she doesn't expect comes in the form of two stubborn boys who are willing to keep her safe.

Books where the setting and the season leaks out from the page and into my hands are rare, and this one does it. Dru's surrounded by snow, winter coming down on the Dakotas, and as I read this a chill crept out and into my hands. So visual and so realistic.

As a book that features one of the more gritty, harsh, stubborn, and complicated heroines I've come across, I would certainly recommend this book to fans of Vampire Academy and the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sometimes, you need a heroine who drives a truck with an AK-47 in the back, and Dru's that kind of girl.

(I own a copy of this book.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (26)

This Week's Book Week is very much like Tynga's Reviews' Stacking the Shelves only not as clever. ;)

Another week in NaNoWriMo is over. I kinda wish I knew how my story is going to end. It makes writing the other stuff a bit harder when I don't know where it's going to end up. Hmmmm. Well, what's also hard is hitting the middle and realizing that the weird stuff you just introduced would work better as the weird stuff to be introduced a third of the way in. Then it's a third of the book, weird stuff, another third of the book, more weird stiff, another third of the book, ending.

There's only a couple more days left in the Two Years of Me on Books giveaway so go hurry and enter now. Now. I mean it. Go enter. :)

And now for the books, since I'm low on things to babble on about. ;)
Black City by Elizabeth Richards (from Penguin Canada)

Reached by Ally Condie
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (103)

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

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

I don't know what to say, only that I want it and I want it now. And that I hope it doesn't disappoint. I want awesome gothic horror like it's the 1800's and Mary Shelley just wrote Frankenstein. And that waiting will suck. August?? Really?? Ouch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Me on Second Chance

Title: Second Chance
Author: Heather Brewer
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

The summer after Joss failed to kill the vampire Vladimir Tod, he gets a second chance to prove himself as a slayer. He's sent to New York City to hunt down a serial killer that the Slayer Society believes to be a vampire. It's up to Joss to lead his Slayer team, and through their detective work, they discover who the real culprit is, that there's more than one killer. He'll have to use all of his skill to save the innocent people of NYC. His status as a Slayer depends on it.

Second Chance is a deeper look into the mind of a very complicated and conflicted character. The whole series looks to be a more in-depth look at Joss's character, at his mind and his motives for doing what he does, and what the reader will find is that his mind is dark, troubled, and filled with so much angst over what to do next.

The book returns to Joss' side and his job as a Slayer after the sudden revelation that the friend he just made (before this book starts) is the vampire Vladimir Tod. This makes for a very confused Joss, because his job is to kill vampires to keep the human population safe, but he knows Vlad, he knows he's not evil. It makes for some massive internal and external conflict. In New York, he's forced to keep many secrets from his uncle and the rest of the Slayers around him, but they're also keeping some secrets from him. And it's up to Joss to figure out who this serial killer is, whether it's a vampire or not, and if there's only one killer to hunt down.

It should be surprising to open this book to discover that his sister Cecile is still constantly on his mind. Never mind the new revelations with Vlad, Joss is still unsuccessfully coping with his sister's murder. This is his ongoing struggle, to discover who murdered her, to find the vampire that did it, and to drive his stake into its heart. But his dreams of Cecile are haunting, almost brutal, and it could make the reader question Joss' sanity at times.

A definite recommendation for those who've read and enjoyed The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, but for those who are new, make sure to at least read First Kill before reading Second Chance.

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (25)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only less-than-cleverly titled. ;)

Sleep face. Sorry that you guys are getting a lackluster post this week, but my day was odd. I'm surprised it took most of the day to do a virus scan and a defrag on my laptop, but it did, and when it was all finished and everything was fine, I wasn't in the mood to write for NaNoWriMo. I'm a couple of days ahead in the word count, so that's good. I think I also needed a day off to read. I'll get back on it tomorrow. :)

The author event I went to last week was fun, it was nice to see authors I've only met through Twitter. After they talked and answered some questions and signed some books, it turned into a writing workshop sort of deal. I wasn't necessarily expecting a workshop, but I stuck around for the character building one run by Eileen Cook and Joëlle Anthony. It was nice to get out and meet fun book people, even if it was raining that weekend.

The two year anniversary of Me on Books giveaway is still going on for another week, so go up to the top of the column on the left-hand side (over that way <----- and up a bit) and click the link. Remember, there'll be two winners now. :)
Won (at last weekend's YA author fun event):
After edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (ARC)
Welcome to Borderland edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner (ARC)

Received to review:
The Goddess Inheritance by Aimée Carter (from Harlequin though NetGalley)

The Goddess Hunt by Aimée Carter (e-book)
All Wounds by Dina James (e-book)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (102)

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

Title: Breaking Point
Author: Kristen Simmons
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: TorTeen

From Goodreads:

The second installment in Kristen Simmons's fast-paced, gripping YA dystopian series.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

I rather enjoyed the first book in the series, Article 5, and I'm interested in finding out what happens next. I hope the dark grittiness and the danger sticks around. One thing that stood out from the first book what how brutal the author portrayed the future.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Me on The Night Has Teeth

Title: The Night Has Teeth
Author: Kat Kruger
Release Date: September 23, 2012
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press

Connor is chased by a memory. On his first day of kindergarten, he bit a boy hard enough to scar him for life. Since then, he's been a social outcast. Through an unexpected turn of events, he receives a scholarship to study in Paris, and on the first day he befriends two military brats, finally getting a glimpse of what it's like to be a normal teenager. But it doesn't last. His host family, an alluring tattoo artist and her moody boyfriend, introduce Connor to a dark, underground world filled with werewolves, those born and those bitten, and unfortunately for him, he's on the wanted list of a human bitten over 400 years ago who's desperately searching for a cure. As well as a way to wipe out werewolves for good. Connor's loyalties will be tested as werewolves, mad science, and teen angst collide.

The Night Has Teeth is dark and dangerous, what you'd expect from a book set in Paris, exploring the mysterious underground population of werewolves. Connor has nowhere to go but wrapped up in a centuries old battle between the born and the bitten, and what he'll discover will certainly change how he sees the world.

I liked Connor in the beginning because he was such a geek. He didn't have friends, he played video games and read manga. It's refreshing to come across teen guys that are outcasts but also outcasts who fit into a specific niche that isn't just above-average intelligence. After he learns the secrets, he's desperate and floundering, and it's interesting to see how he tries to climb his way back to a semblance of normalcy.

When using already established paranormal mythology and creatures like werewolves, it has to be tweaked and twisted enough to make it stand out and not be boring and overused. Also, it can't be altered too much or else it'll feel gimmicky and implausible. Here, there are enough tweaks to the original story of the werewolf to keep it interesting, stretching back into old world Europe before coming back to the 21st century.

From the first chapter, not knowing what was to come, the book felt tense. Something was always happening out of the range of Connor's comprehension, and the reader can only wait until he figures it all out, until the bomb drops and blows the world he thought he knew to pieces.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Fierce Ink Press.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (24)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but I haven't changed the name because it stuck. Oh, well. ;)

So, it's time for NaNoWriMo. If my reviewing becomes erratic, it's because I was too focused on writing to read and write up reviews. Hugs to everyone who actually stops by this month. Hopefully, I can overwrite on a bunch of days to compensate and set a side a day or two to read something. And hopefully I don't get really bad writer burnout like last year. The burnout was brutal. 32k words in 10 days, then nothing for the next 10. So far, I'm doing pretty good. It's like a low pressure NaNoWriMo, only I'm behind on reading and I don't have a review buffer. Would you guys mind if I only post 1 review a week for a good chunk of November?

There's an event today with 5 (fairly) local YA authors, and since it's billed as a 3 hour event for them to talk about how they got published, there might be an event write-up soon. :)

Oh, and all the Ontario bloggers at the Ontario Blogger Meet-up this weekend, you guys have fun. :) We need to start something like that out here.
Pivot Point by Kasie West (from HarperCollins Canada, getting 2013 ARCs is like looking into the future)
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (in a trade with Zahida from A Canadian Girl)

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (I saw the new cover at the bookstore and had to buy it.)
Live Through This by Mindi Scott
The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony

Friday, November 2, 2012

Me on Burn for Burn

Title: Burn for Burn
Authors: Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Lilia's never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until the summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her younger sister. Kat is tired of all the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person, her ex-best friend, and she wants to make her pay. Mary left Jar Island four years ago because of a boy, because he made fun of her. Now she's back, but she's not the same girl anymore, and she's ready to prove it. They're three very different girls, but they all want the same thing: revenge. And they won't stop until they've each had a taste.

Burn for Burn is an intriguing, and at some times brutal, look at the concept of revenge in a high school setting. Everyone will have a wrong committed against them at some point in their lifetime, and for these girls, they're not necessarily all right with putting it behind them and moving on. Something was done to them, something terrible and humiliating, and they want their revenge. But will it work? And, the more important question, when they get it, will it solve their problems?

The portrayal of high school in this book reminds me of the portrayal of high school in television and movies from the late 1990's and early 2000's. Popular girls would reign with an iron pompom over the younger cheerleading minions, the jocks would be given centre stage because nothing mattered except for winning that county/state/national championship, and there would be a very clear divide between those with affluent parents and those without. When this occurs in YA novels, it bothers me, but it bothers me because that, in a high school setting, there is little to no mention of the characters attending their classes or studying. It's implied that they go, but when nearly every high school scene takes place before school starts, during the lunch break, or once school ends, it's annoying.

From each of the intro chapters for the girls, it was clear that they all had their problems and their enemies. Lillia is scarred emotionally, Kat is bitter and angry, and Mary is filled with secrets. When Mary's chapters came around, hints of the story was revealed. With Lillia and Kat, everything was obvious and well-known because they've lived on Jar Island for years. They know almost everything. Mary is the wild card, the unknown, flying under the radar until her moment comes. Mary is like the reader, coming in blind, but she's got some secrets she's not willing to give up so easily.

I wasn't surprised by the ending, but the tension that had built up over the course of the book exploded at the right time. Everything was left in pieces, and characters were left scrambling on what to do next. In terms of the next book, I have my suspicions on what will happen next, but I am curious as to what will actually happen. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy the current high school thriller mysteries, like Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game.

(I own a copy of this book)