Saturday, March 29, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (97)

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. ;)

And even more rain!

No babbling this week because my review buffer is down to only next week's reviews and I should really build it back up, plus the reviews for the Canadian YA Lit event in May. It's only a month away and I'm slightly starting to panic.

Reviews going up this week will feature Foretold by Rinda Elliott (Tuesday) and Far From You by Tess Sharpe (Friday). :)

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (bought)
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (from Random House Canada through a Goodreads giveaway)
Bang by Lisa McMann (borrowed from the library)
The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton (from Random House through NetGalley)
Fragile Destiny by Suzanne Lazear (from Flux through NetGalley)
Foretold by Rinda Elliott (from Harlequin through NetGalley)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Me on Wayfarer

Title: Wayfarer
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: March 6, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Newly orphaned, increasingly isolated from her friends, and terrified of her violent stepmother, Ellen Sinder still believes she'll be okay. She has a plan for surviving and getting through high school, which includes keeping her head down and saving any credits she can earn or steal. But when a train arrives from over the Waste beyond New Haven, carrying a golden boy and a new stepsister, all of Ellie's plans begin to unravel, one by one. Just when all hope is lost, Ellie meets an odd old woman with a warm hearth and a heavenly garden. Auntie's kindness is intoxicating, and Ellie finally has a home again. Yet when the clock strikes twelve on the night of the annual Charmer's Ball, Ellie realizes that no charm is strong enough to make her past disappear.

Wayfarer is a return to a world filled with magic and secrets, where danger is always present, where an orphaned girl is blind to her own worth, and where home is no longer a safe place.

Ellie is frightened, beaten down. There's some strength still left in her, though. She's determined to make it to the end of high school when she'll be able to leave a house that once contained happy memories but only holds fear, pain, and tears. Everything will be better then. She'll be able to make it on her own. She doesn't need charity, and Cami and Ruby don't need to know what's really going on with her stepmother. She doesn't need help from anyone, no matter how painful it gets.

But she's in denial. She believes she's no longer worth it. Worth helping, worth being friends with, worth saving. Her sense of self-worth and confidence disappear in such a short amount of time, but sometimes that's all it takes. Near constant abuse, pain, fear. Being told you're stupid, useless, a waste of time. Anyone would crumble. What will it take for her to put herself back together?

There's more romance here than in Nameless, more of an obvious romance. I won't deny that the guy in question pushes Ellie, that certain things he says or does gets her moving, pushes her further and further along the path she's wandering along, but she still has to make the decision to fight back. It won't work if he does the fighting for her.

A new book means a return to the enchanting world that is New Haven, a world with Family and their shadowed secrets, with charmers and their Sigils, with minotaurs Twisted with Potential gone wrong and jacks on the lookout for easy prey. The world building is extensive and creative. Not everything is explained fully and I don't seem to mind. This is how this world works. Family is Family, charmers are charmers. And jacks are jacks, feathers or fur or scales and all. Not everything can, or will, be explained.

Fairy tale retellings seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and while it's rather clear which tale Ellie comes from, it's the journey from start to finish that I enjoy. I'm often curious as to how the author will get from beginning to end, mixing bits and pieces of source material with their own ideas, plot twists, characters, and style of writing.

I've never hidden the fact that I'm a fan of Lili St. Crow's books so perhaps I'm biased, but this book didn't disappoint me. There's something about how she writes, what she writes, the worlds she creates, the characters that appear on each page, that makes me fall heart-first and head-second into the book.

(I purchased a copy of this book)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (171)

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

Title: Starbird Murphy and the World Outside
Author: Karen Finneyfrock
Release Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

In her sixteen years of life, Starbird has never touched a dollar bill. She’s never been in a car. She’s never used a cell phone.   That’s because Starbird has always lived on the Free Family Farm, a commune in the woods of Washington State.   But all that is about to change. When Starbird gets her "Calling" to be a waitress at the Free Family’s restaurant in Seattle, she decides to leave behind the only home she’s ever known.    

Nothing could have prepared Starbird for the World Outside, or for what it would teach her about the Family—and herself.   

From the author of The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door comes this hilarious and poignant story about finding your true calling in life.

I liked the author's last YA book, I thought Celia was an interesting character. It takes a lot for contemporary to interest me, but once I find an author I like I'll usually read what they write next. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Me on Stolen Songbird

Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry

For five centuries, a witch's curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she's waiting. She begins to make friends. She begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods, part troll part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And the prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer's daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Stolen Songbird is magical, a unique fantasy where a promised miracle fails to happen and the girl who was the promised savior must learn to survive inside a mountain.

Cécile is willful, at times afraid and clueless, but nothing special. She acknowledges that there's nothing that important about her, even though the trolls initially believe otherwise. Afterwards, they're stuck with her, and she is stuck with them. She wants to leave desperately, but any attempt to escape could mean death. But, as she learns, so could staying. But so could asking questions, getting involved, trying to make things right. But so could doing anything.

Tristan is extremely complicated. And extremely secretive, but he has to be. If he wasn't then too much attention would be on him, and enough attention is already paid to him, but that's what happens when you're the heir to the troll kingdom. In Tristan there's a middle ground between attractive prince and hideous monster troll. Cécile acknowledges that he has an appealing face but knows without question that it's not a human one. I do wish there were more chapters from his point of view, though. Compared to hers, his were few and far between.

I like that their relationship began with hatred and distrust. There was nothing magical about it, their "marriage" didn't make them suddenly attracted to one another. They have an odd forced together relationship that slowly builds up to tolerance of the other because they discover they can use each other, and friendship when they realize there are similarities between them.

The underground/under a mountain world of the trolls is creative and different in terms of the description and the social hierarchy. Trolls living in a mountain or underground is nothing new, but this world is. The varying appearances and heights of trolls, the differences in their magic, the many personalities and quirks and leanings. The supposed architecture of the inside of the mountain sounds complex and rather detailed.

I don't read a lot of epic fantasy, mainly due to the length and how often it feels like little happens in those 500+ pages, but I'm glad I read this. I enjoyed this. Cécile comes off as something special, but when things stay the same, prophecy or not, both she and the trolls have to cope with the fact that she's there. She can't leave. They can't just kill her. So, what's next? As much as I'm not a fan of endings like the one in this book, it makes complete sense, and so I'm really looking forward to what will happen next to both Cécile and Tristan.

(I received an e-galley of this book to review from Strange Chemistry through NetGalley.)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (96)

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. ;)

Well, it might as well be spring here. It's been sunny and rainy, sometimes all at once. ;)

I was thinking about comics this week, mostly because I finally read Noelle Stevenson's Nimona. It's so cool. It's medieval with futuristic technology and good vs evil with the lines super blurred and Nimona is so weird and abstract and fascinating as a character. Start here at page 1 if you're interested. Or, if you want to wait until the story is finished, check bookstores next year for the print version. :)

I was also reading The Fox Sister by Christina Strain and Jayd Aït-Kaci this week. It's really interesting, it takes place in Korea in the 60's and it's about a girl and the kumiho, a nine-tailed fox demon, who killed her family years earlier. The first page is here, but I saw that they're about 30 pages from the end so you could always wait (if you remember).

What do you guys think about comics, webcomics, and graphic novels? Do you read any? Are you looking forward to any new releases in the next few months?

Reviews for this coming week will feature Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen (Tuesday) and Wayfarer by Lili St. Crow (Friday). :)
Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat (from Penguin Canada)
Dreamwood by Heather Mackey (from Penguin Canada)
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood (from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (from Disney-Hyperion through NetGalley)
Capricious by Gabrielle Prendergast (from Orca Books)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Me on Ignite Me

Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins

Everyone Juliette has ever cared about could be dead. Juliette may be the only one standing in The Reestablishment's way. But to take them down, she will need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together to defeat their mutual enemy, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew, about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam, was wrong.

Ignite Me is an end to a series about a girl both feared and desired, a girl who must come to terms with the dangerous power inside her. That is the only way she will survive to fight alongside her friends against an oppressive society that locked her away from the world.

The previous books in this trilogy have crushed, pushed, and molded Juliette into who she is in this book. She finally accepts her ability, and she accepts that she must take action against The Reestablishment. She's willing to stand in the face of danger and fight back with every ounce of power in her bones. Finally, she has spine and daring.

The relationships she had, or has, with Adam and Warner finally come to a conclusion. I don't doubt that each of them helped her in vastly different ways: Adam in treating her like a human being, in showing her compassion, in not being afraid of her, and Warner in pushing her towards the person she could one day become, in forcing her to face her fears, to face the hard truths. All three have change significantly from the first book. Secrets are revealed, truths are spoken out loud. But I'm on the fence over whether or not I'm happy with how things end. (I'll be putting a spoiler on Goodreads here and linking to it, for those curious.)

As much as I've found this series compelling, as much as I've found Juliette's journey from a monster to a human being the harshest and most soul-destroying, I have a hard time seeing Warner as what he becomes in this book. What he becomes feels just a bit, dare I say, convenient.

I feel that, over the course of this book, Juliette finds the agency she lacks in the first two. There she is frightened, beaten down, and only just realizing she could one day claw her way out of that dark pit she was shoved into. I think she's still afraid here, afraid of what could happen, but she doesn't back down from speaking her mind and making those tough decisions. The ending is left open to possibilities, but I think this is enough. The story is over. Now, for Juliette and the others, anything is possible.

(I purchased a copy of this title.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (170)

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

Title: Rain
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

From Goodreads:

American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series. Dark magic, Japanese culture and mythology and food. Stranger in a strange land, sometimes screwing up royally. Katie's not perfect, she's far from perfect, and she has to figure out how to navigate this new culture or else she's going to stick out like a sore thumb even more. Plus there's that whole 'ink is drawn to her' stuff she has to look out for. And I love the cover. While it is more cluttered than the first, I like that they kept with the watercolour-style of art. And Tomohiro is on the cover. How often are Asian guys on book covers?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Me on The Haven

Title: The Haven
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

For the teens at The Haven, the outside world, just beyond the towering stone wall that surrounds the premises, is a dangerous unknown. It has always been this way, ever since the hospital was established in the year 2020. But The Haven is more than just a hospital; it is their home. It is all they know. Everything is strictly monitored: education, exercise, food, and rest. The rules must be followed to keep the children healthy, to help control the Disease that has cast them as Terminals, the Disease that claims limbs and lungs. And memories. But Shiloh is different; she remembers everything. Gideon is different, too. He dreams of a cure, of rebellion against the status quo. What if everything they've been told is a lie? What if The Haven is not the safe place it claims to be? And what will happen if Shiloh starts asking dangerous questions?

The Haven is mysterious and secretive, but unfortunately predictable and anchored by a narrator that doesn't act on her own until forced.

The secret Shiloh keeps aren't nearly as damning as the ones the staff at The Haven keep. She remembers something she shouldn't, something that sort of makes her question things. But only sort of. She doesn't actively search through the shadows of the hospital. She's pushed to join the rebellion over and over, pushed and pushed until the decision is made for her and she follows out of fear. At times I wished Abigail had been the narrator because she had agency, she wanted to leave. If left alone, I don't think Shiloh would've wanted to go.

The reader is kept in the dark in regards to the truth about The Haven, like Shiloh, for about half the book, and then the secrets are revealed. But there are allusions to the truth over time, to The Haven serving as more than a safe place for the Terminals to keep them from the Disease.

Before I started this, I found the premise familiar, and wasn't surprised to find it rather similar to a well-known adult science fiction novel. I found it very similar, and that, combined with my lack of sympathy towards Shiloh, left me not liking this book. I did find the end, the very end, rather dark and surprising, but it wasn't enough.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (95)

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. ;)

It's getting closer to spring. Which is good news for those people who had an actual winter this winter but is more same old same old out my way. Well, same old but with more sun. It might not have snowed much, but it was still dreary.

I fully believe in the reward system, which is why I read 3 books (Elusion, The Haven, and Stolen Songbird) and wrote 4 reviews this week so I could read Corinne Duyvis' Otherbound this weekend. :) This book sounds awesome.

I've been watching the Paralympics. The coverage has been pretty goo, but I've been doing all my watching online. The TV recaps are either not on at a good time for me or I forget all about them. If they showed some of the races or games live I would've watched it, but since they're not I'm sticking with the Paralympics YouTube channel. Also, I've been seeing some teenagers compete and win medals, so there are some YA book ideas if anyone's been looking for one. ;)

Reviews for this week will feature The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams (Tuesday) and Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (Friday). :)
Wayfarer by Lili St. Crow (bought)
The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (bought)
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci (from Raincoast Books)
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang (from FirstSecond through NetGalley)
The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (from FirstSecond through NetGalley)
The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop (from Capstone Books through NetGalley)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Me on Elusion

Title: Elusion
Author: Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications or consequences of real life. Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father's unexpected death, Regan can't bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality. Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion, accusations that it's addictive and dangerous, Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty, a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Elusion is a look at one girl's world of illusions and secrets as she struggles to find bother her father and the truth in a world dark and decaying. A peaceful and magical world instead of a reality with acid rain and constant dust in the air? Who would say no? But nothing is perfect.

I went into this book under the impression that Regan started off angry about her father's death and hating Elusion, but she's not and she doesn't. She is sad, but it's an unfortunate mix of sad and bland. She's upset over his death and life seems bleak, but she won't escape into Elusion because the end result would always be her returning to reality. And so she exists, giving her barely any personality. I wanted some emotion out of her in those first few pages. The only thing that gets her going is her father, is talk of her father, is any negative talk concerning him and his work.

The love triangle aspect, which I'm rarely a fan of, felt problematic. Patrick's been a friend of Regan for years, and making him a possible love interest seems too convenient. Couldn't he have just stayed a friend that over the book turned secretive and potentially evil (potentially because this is only the first book in the trilogy)? There's some chemistry between Regan and Josh, but I question her interest in him because he's new and different. Of course, Regan has a hard time being interested in anything beyond her father and going after anyone who attempts to sully his name, so I'm putting it mostly on her.

Thoreau's Walden is rather important to the story, to Regan's search for her father. It's the result of Thoreau's time in the wilderness, getting back to nature and leaving the buzz of the city. He preaches living deliberately and mourns what our souls have lost because of modernity. What a curious book for Regan's father, a man of technology who creates a completely false world, to hold dear.

The world of Elusion is intriguing, a take on virtual reality with actual limitations. It's beyond 'enter this magical world where everything can be perfect.' There are time limits, there are aftereffects on both the min and body. There are consequences, which is good.

I'll admit that how Elusion comes across in the book isn't what I expected. I thought it would be more that Regan was never sure if she was in or out, if it was more about differentiating between reality and illusion. The mystery behind Elusion was interesting, and I'm curious as to how the trilogy will progress given the ending, but it fell short of what I expected because of Regan's lackluster personality.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from HarperCollins Canada.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (169)

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

Title: The Strange Maid
Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls. 

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

I love Tessa's books and the way they tell me stories. I love how her writing always makes me sit up and listen. I'm really looking forward to this book, this series that mixes modern day with Norse mythology. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Me on Strange Sweet Song

Title: Strange Sweet Song
Author: Adi Rule
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth, not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians, but as an artist and leading lady in her own right. Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Sing must work with a mysterious Apprentice as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But he has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

Strange Sweet Song is ethereal and mystical, a slow magical tale of magic, wishes, and one girl's desire to sing. But something lurks in the forests and the shadows around her, something that could change everything.

Sing isn't a normal girl, daughter to world-famous musicians. What I noticed most about her was her insecurities. She has some confidence in her ability, yes, but she's trapped in her mother's shadow. She's in a precarious situation in which she wants to sing in the role of Angelique, she desires it above all else, she craves to prove her worth to the world, but it's those inadequacies she feels that weigh her down. It's only until she's pushed by her father and to the side by those around her does her ego appear and she becomes ruthless in her quest. But that part of her is still missing, the honest part of her that will shine when she sings. Without it, she's nothing.

The rotating points of view tell different sides that come together to form the story as a whole. One is the Felix, one is a tale of magic and curiosity in Dunhammond's past, and the last is Sing in the present day. All three worked with each other, revealed secrets and suggested possibilities as the book went on.

Sing heads to the conservatory to spread her wings, metaphorically, in a new place. To sing as she wants, to find a place of her own, to grow. Of course, what she gets beyond that is the competitive setting of a musical academy for gifted people. What she gets is high-stakes, high pressure, divas looking down their noses, and more than a little backstabbing and cattiness.

The book moves at a gentle pace, never rushed, never missing a beat. I was surprised at the slow build in tension considering the mystery and the intrigue. A slow book, yes, but also an enjoyable one. I imagine this will intrigue those with a love of music and a slight gothic quality to their mysteries.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (94)

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. ;)

It's still March! Looking outside, you'd never know that about 2 weeks ago we were buried under a foot or so of snow. And the Paralympics have started. Who else is excited? I know they're not as publicized as the Olympics, but they're still exciting. If you're interested in watching, I'd suggest checking out the IPC website or their YouTube channel.

I did a guest post this week. Yay for branching out! The wonderful Crystal at Raincoast Books asked if I'd be interested in interviewing Cecil Castellucci, author of the recent outer space coming of age adventure Tin Star. And so I said yes while quietly freaking out. Here is the Q&A. Cecil's answers sure make it look like I asked some intelligent questions. ;)

Speaking of Q&A's... when thinking up questions for Cecil, and when thinking up a blog topic for Robert Paul Weston for Blues for Zoey, it was more that I had an observation or a feeling about something and wanted to know why. Why write this kind of book, why write this character, why make them question their humanity? How curious is it that books make me ask why. Well, the news also makes me ask why, but the answer is quite often fear or ignorance.

Reviews for this week will feature Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule and another but I'm not sure which one yet. Surprise!
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (from Raincoast Books)
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (from Canadian Manda Group (the distributor for Abrams in Canada, for those curious))
Mara by Veronica Bane (e-galley from the author)
Miyuki by Veronica Bane (e-galley from the author)
The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke (from Strange Chemistry through NetGalley)
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (borrowed from the library)
How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller (borrowed from the library)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (borrowed from the library)
Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn (borrowed from the library)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Me on Don't Even Think About It

Title: Don't Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Random House Children's Books

We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

Don't Even Think About It is a quirky, funny, interesting look at possible downside to flu shots. What if after the shot you could read minds? Cool, right? But what if the other twenty people in your homeroom could also read minds? What if it then became impossible to keep secrets from them? What would you do?

The story is told by "we," by all of them, an ensemble cast from Homeroom 10B with a few stand out voices. Olivia. Mackenzie. Cooper. Tess. Pi. Because of the multiple characters, the book becomes multiple glimpses into their lives as their new-found ESP ruins their lives. They get caught up in secrets and truths, hearing what they don't want to hear from friends and family members. It was an interesting way to tell the story. Complicated and busy, but interesting. Everyone's voice was heard. Everyone has moments, quips, quirks, snide comments, and harsh realizations.

Secrets are a curious thing, and often painful when revealed. To the person who isn't supposed to find out. To the people around you who aren't part of the situation. When you're the one keeping it. When you discover those close to you are keeping it from you. Secrets can suck, they can stab deep into the heart of us, and they will always be revealed.

The idea of this book is what initially drew me in: flu shots giving a class of teens psychic abilities. Why not? I thought it was a great idea, very inventive. I was a little surprised at the collective narrator but not put off. I found this book to be very funny, very entertaining, and rather believable in terms of everyone's reaction and subsequent actions. This was my first time reading a book by Sarah Mlynowski, and if they're going to be this fresh and amusing, it won't be my last.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Random House through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (168)

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

Title: Relax, I'm a Ninja
Author: Natalie Whipple
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: (self-published)

From Goodreads:

A Clan of ninjas in San Francisco may sound improbable—but as the son of a ninja master, Tosh Ito knows what lurks in the shadows of his city. Or at least he thought he did.

When a killer with a poisoned blade starts cutting down teens, Tosh enlists Amy Sato—newest ninja recruit and his best friend’s crush—and sets out to uncover the killer’s identity. What they find is ninjutsu more evil than they could have ever imagined.

As Amy and Tosh grow closer, they discover their connection unleashes a legendary power that could stop the murders. Problem is, that power may be exactly what the killer is looking for, and wielding it could cost them both their souls.

I don't read a lot of self-published books, or any for that matter, but I want to read this so bad. It sounds different, it sounds interesting, and considering it's by Natalie, it sounds both exciting and lots of fun. :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Me on The Nightmare Dilemma

Title: The Nightmare Dilemma
Author: Mindee Arnett
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school's jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty's as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that's easier asked than done. Eli's dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies. To make matters worse, Dusty's ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty's heart. As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they're connected to something bigger. And there's something very wrong with Eli's dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

The Nightmare Dilemma is dark and dangerous. Here we have the return of an unlikely detective and her friends investigating the curious and the deadly at their magical boarding school. Unfortunately for me, I felt something was missing from the first book.

This time around, after revealing some secrets and getting tossed around in more ways than one, Dusty is torn between a lot of things. Between getting on with her life post-Marrow, getting back to school, and doing what's asked of her. Between Eli, the other half of her Dream Team, and Paul, her ex-boyfriend who was part of the plot that changed everyone and their magic. Between worrying and not worrying over her mother, whose morals are questionable.

There were times where it felt like the love triangle/romance situation was taking over the mystery. Dusty and Eli are teens with normal teen angst and hormones and emotions, yes, but it just seemed like the romance was taking over, that Dusty was worrying more about how she felt for both Eli and Paul instead of worrying about her classmate's assault, what might happen next, and her nightmares. If she didn't want to deal with Paul, as she sort of doesn't, she could've said no when asked to spy on him.

I sort of miss Dusty from the first book. This Dusty has a huge weight on her shoulders. She's tired, stretched thin, she can't move beyond the image in her nightmares or her feelings for Eli (who avoids her) and Paul (who doesn't want her to avoid him). There's still some spunk, some snark, but not as much, and I'm wondering if that's because things have changed. I didn't necessarily like this one as much as the first, but I'm still curious as to what the next book will bring.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (93)

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. ;)

It's March. Weird. Time is a curious creature. And it was snowing earlier in the week. So weird.

So, I was going to review Half Bad by Sally Green, the current next big thing out of the UK (because everyone's forgotten Samantha Shannon and The Bone Season in the last 6 months), but my ARC rather clearly says "Not for Review." Hmmmmmmm. I've also heard it's changed a bit between this ARC and ones printed more recently so I don't think I'll be reviewing it. Maybe in the future after it comes out and I read a finished copy. It sounds interesting so I'll still be reading it.

I don't really feel like reading anything right now, to be honest. Perhaps it's because I've had an unfortunate string of books I thought were just ok/didn't necessarily enjoy/not that interested in to be honest. I think I need to read something new that I know I'm going to enjoy. Or something that I want to read. Hmmmmm.

Reviews for next week will feature The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett and possibly Dangerous by Shannon Hale (because one is for a blog tour and I don't have the date for my review yet, I can't give dates). :)
Fragile Spirits by Mary Lindsey (borrowed from library)
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (borrowed from library)