Saturday, January 31, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (140)

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. ;)

Weather update! ;) Some sun, some rain, some late night fog. Yet another vaguely spring-like week.

What do you guys think about reviews of comics? I like comics, I'm reading more comics these days, and I'd like to talk about comics. So... what do you think? They'd probably be reviews of ones I've read or want to read, like Gotham Academy or Lumberjanes or Ms. Marvel (these last two I have issue #1 of and really liked, but I've fallen behind in and my only options are reading the volumes or buying the single issues online and I don't really like that, reading comics on a screen is hard for me). I could also take comics suggestions, stuff you've read that you like and think I should check out.

Hope everyone who's at ALA Midwinter this weekend has lots of fun. :) *secretly coveting Illuminae* *punches book jealousies right in the face because they suck and don't help*

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Tuesday) and Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly (Friday). :)
Fairest by Marissa Meyer (finished copy from Raincoast Books)
All Fall Down by Ally Carter (ARC from Scholastic Canada)
Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra (ARC from Penguin Canada)
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (ARC from Penguin Canada)
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan (ARC from Penguin Canada)
A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes (ARC from Penguin Canada)
Gotham Academy #4 (Bought)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Me on Beastkeeper

Title: Beastkeeper
Author: Cat Hellisen
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers (Macmillan imprint)

Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She's grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn't know that it's magic her parents are running from. When Sarah's mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn't even know were still alive. Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast... unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.

Beastkeeper is sweet, magical, and mysterious. Secrets and curses abound, their power continuous and their reach overwhelming. This is the story of one young girl discovering the shadows in her family's past and working fast before they envelop her as they did her parents and grandparents so many years ago.

Sarah's voice is a charming one. She's a clever and lonely girl, observant and on her own after years of never staying in one place long enough to make any lasting friends. But she's happy with her parents, until her mother leaves in the middle of the night. Until her father begins to change. Until she's taken to her grandparents. Then she's lost, scrambling to understand what's happened and what went wrong. There's a hidden strength in Sarah. There's a time or two when she gives up, but there's also a time or two when she doesn't, when it hurts so much to carry on but she refuses to quit.

The secrets parents keep from their children. The shadows they run from with their children. The harm they do to their children. Sarah doesn't understand why her mother left, why her father left her with, essentially, strangers. She doesn't understand because they never told her the truth, thinking instead they could run from it, that she would be safe from it. Parents can care for and protect their children, yes, please do this, but keeping those very important things from them is never good. Children know when something is wrong and they will call adults out on it. They will see through it, see through you, and start to wonder if they're no longer safe with you.

Curses and choices and consequences, they're such inescapable things. We run from them, hide from them, try and trick them and sneak around them. But they're always there, waiting to continue the circle that never ends. Until someone comes along and makes the most difficult decision to end it all.

I can see where the retelling is, where the bits and pieces of the story of Beauty and the Beast are, but the author twists it and makes it something new. Almost like a retelling and a brand new fairy tale at the same time. This book is sweet and fun but also serious and dangerous, and filled with magic.

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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Me on Fairest

Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

Fairest is a look into the past of a cruel and controlling tyrant, the beginning of her and her rule. The beginning of everything.

It's hard to feel any small amount of compassion towards Levana, knowing what she becomes, knowing the crimes she is guilty of, knowing how much blood is on her hands, but those short moments of sympathy do exist. It's because her true self is found here, in the pages of this book. A sad, scarred, lonely girl, unloved by those she wants to love her and bullied by a crass and uncaring sister. If it wasn't for her glamour, if she couldn't hide her scars, then I imagine she would be nothing. Nothing but a shell of a person, hiding from the world. Of course, it's just as likely that she wouldn't blind everyone so they would never see what she truly looks like.

Obsession fills her. The desire to be seen as beautiful, perfect. The desire to be loved, by everyone and by one person in particular. Nothing else matters, no obstacle will keep her from making him hers. However, the most frightening thing about Levana isn't the depths of her obsession, the lengths she'll go to get what she wants, but her intelligence. Her sister's flippant attitude towards anything serious gives Levana the chance to show she can make the tough decisions needed to rule over the Moon. That, combined with her obsession, make her an unstoppable force.

The series is here in its entirety, the bits and pieces that make up the beginning are present in the background of Levana's tragic tale. The disease and its cure, the plans for an army with animal instinct, the doctors and scientists before they disappear, the plots and plans to gain control over Earth. I do wonder what it would be like to read this without reading the previous three books, how the story would unfold that way.

This is definitely a must-read for fans of the series, for those desperate over waiting for Winter. As sad as this story is, it was still interesting to see how it all started, where it all started. Why Levana is the way she is. This is an intriguing character study.

(I received a finished copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (211)

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

Title: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

This seems like a mix of Leah Bobet's Above and Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone and I want to read it so much.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Me on Please Remain Calm

Title: Please Remain Calm
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough. Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find Sloane, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways.

Please Remain Calm is a number of things. It's bleak and tense, harsh and brutal. It's an attempt at survival, a constant race against time and zombies. It's an exploration of how far we go and how ruined we become when we're pushed to the brink. It's primal and emotional and frightening.

Rhys wants to survive, it pushes him, it drives him. He has to get away. He doesn't want to die. And he wants Sloane to want to stay alive. But she's already part of the way there, ruined and depressed. Can he keep her alive? Can he make her want to stay alive, stay with him? But the running, the death and destruction, the zombies. It never ends. And in the end, will Rhys still have the strength to continue?

Death follows them, nipping at their heels, breathing down their necks. It is the new constant in their lives, no longer is it clean drinking water or a soft, warm bed to sleep on at night.

I'm okay with how This is Not a Test ended, even though I wasn't at the time. I can see now that it was up to Sloane to make the decision, live or die. Here, it's all up to Rhys.

(I purchased a copy of this e-book.)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (139)

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. ;)

Another of those weeks when it looks more like mid-fall out there than mid-winter. The difference is our outdoor Christmas lights are still up. Oops.

Chapters did one of their 'free shipping no minimum' things this week so I went and pre-ordered some books using the gift card from the birthday. Then I spent a day stressing over picking the final book because I was all 'do I really want this' and 'I've got an e-galley but what if I don't love it' and 'do I want it because it's a pretty cover.' So yeah. Book nerd angst.

I was sad to hear about the Egmont USA closing down news this week. They've published some books I've really enjoyed, like The Butterfly Clues, The Dark Divine, and Hourglass. And I was just approved for an e-galley of Bleeding Earth, a dark and disturbing dystopian YA about a girl and her girlfriend. Finally, some lesbian dystopian YA. I demand more LGBTQIA sci-fi and paranormal YA. The articles I've seen say that they're going to publish their spring titles, which is good for those authors, but I do wonder about this one. Fingers crossed. (Since I have the e-galley, I'll be reading it sooner rather than later. Reviewing it, however, will depend on if it does get published through Egmont or another publisher or self-pubbed by the author.)

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers (Tuesday) and Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen (Friday). :)
Please Remain Calm (e-novella) by Courtney Summers (bought)
Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward (e-galley from Egmont through NetGalley)
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (borrowed from library)
Champion by Marie Lu (borrowed from library)
Unraveled by Gennifer Albin (borrowed from library)
Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger (borrowed from library)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Me on A Cold Legacy

Title: A Cold Legacy
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

After killing the men who tried to steal her father's research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet's secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor's own walls. Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor's long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she'll follow her father's dark footsteps or her mother's tragic ones, or whether she'll make her own.

A Cold Legacy is the conclusion to a story dark and dangerous, mysterious and frightening. It explores the impossible and the macabre, what lurks in the shadows and what lurks inside ourselves. With enough knowledge, enough skill, enough determination, does that make mankind the most dangerous monster of all?

Juliet is still running from her past, a past filled with unspeakable horrors and death, but is escape even possible when she's pulled in every direction? Towards Montgomery and the idea of a normal life. Towards Elizabeth and the secrets of the mansion. Towards Lucy and an extremely dangerous idea. Towards her father, his actions and experiments that continue to haunt her. She still has her curiosity, her unflinching and unwavering desire to know why. And even thought it might not be the best thing, or the smartest thing, she'll uncover as many truths as she has to in order to know the reason behind everything. But it's not fair when she does something incredibly foolish and keeps a secret of her own, one that could destroy them all.

The role of women in this book is intriguing. Elizabeth desires to teach Juliet what she knows, to one day see her as the new mistress of the mansion. Here, women are in charge. they are the holders of secrets, the gatekeepers of knowledge. They keep it locked away from those who would use such power for their own gains, for their own desires instead of for the greater good. They keep it locked away from men, preventing monsters like Juliet's father from experimenting with life and death and playing God.

But who is to say that such knowledge would benefit the greater good? Who is to say that what Elizabeth knows should be shared at all? It is the most dangerous and impossible science, bringing the dead back to life. How can such a thing ever be used for good? Where does morality belong in such a world? Where do we draw the line between monster and genius? If we are meant to live forever, to be brought back to life, why are we so fragile?

With the addition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as inspiration, the exploration into how far science could go at the turn of the 19th century continues. Altering animals into people, dual personalities, and now reanimating the dead. This trilogy digs down into the deepest and darkest of places, where all rules are broken and logic and reason are cast aside. This is science fiction as it once was, not looking out at the stars but at ourselves. At the secret parts that we keep hidden, the parts that question how far we can take medical science. The parts that dream of immortality.

This series is dark and mysterious, it explores human nature and curiosity, but there were times when Juliet made what I thought was the wrong decision. She can be indecisive, afraid of all possible outcomes, fearing that she will turn into her father the most. There is a moment in this book when I thought she made the worst decision possible, one that would destroy them all. Whether or not it happened how I thought it would, I'm not going to say. Recommended to fans of the previous two books and fans of gothic horror and late Victorian era science fiction.

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (210)

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

Title: Kin
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: March 7, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Dreamily dark and spellbinding with a hint of horror, New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow stuns with this toothsome retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

Full moon. Glowing eyes. Red lips. And such sharp, sharp teeth… 

In the kin world, girls Ruby de Varre’s age are expected to play nice, get betrothed, and start a family—especially if they’re rootkin, and the fate of the clan is riding on them. But after a childhood of running wild in the woods, it’s hard to turn completely around and be demure. Even if your Gran is expecting it.

Then Conrad, handsome and charming, from a clan across the Waste, comes to New Haven to seal alliance between their two families. The sparks fly immediately. Conrad is smart, dominant, and downright gorgeous. Yet as Ruby gets to know him more, she starts to realize something' 

Then, the murders start. A killer stalks the city streets, and just when Ruby starts to suspect the unimaginable, she becomes the next target. Now Ruby’s about to find out that Conrad’s secrets go deeper than she ever could have guessed—and it’s up to Ruby to save her Gran, her clan, and maybe even herself....

Prepare to become thrillingly lost in the third, final, and simply mesmerizing installment of Lili St. Crow’s Tales of Beauty and Madness series.

I love Lili's YA books, her Strange Angels series is one you should really look at if you want a female main character that doesn't take any crap from the guys in her life (or from the guys trying to kill her). This one is different, there's more romance, there's different magic and bits and pieces of fairy tales, but it's still really good. So go check out Nameless and Wayfarer before this comes out in March. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Me on Love, Lucy

Title: Love, Lucy
Author: April Lindner
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group imprint)

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

Love, Lucy is the story of a young woman discovering what she wants out of life, if she's willing to take risks and follow her dreams or stay grounded.

Lucy is a young woman not sure of what or where she wants to be, shaped by a priviledged background and a controlling father. Europe is a break from the pressures of home, an escape to be who she wants to before returning to become someone else. She's caught between living her own life and fulfilling her side of a promise made. It's a sticky situation. Then she meets Jesse, a young man who's living as he wants to without a lot tying him down. He makes her feel happy, he reminds her what it's like to be on stage. But summers never last.

Lucy's relationship with father isn't the worst, he's not overbearing and abusive, but it's not the best. He's essentially buying her off with the trip to Europe in exchange for her studying what he wants her to. He doesn't care about her own passions, her dreams of being a singer and an actress. Because of his callous attitude, his tossed-aside comments of how the odds are good that she'll fail miserably, Lucy becomes a shell of herself. Instead of battling him, she runs, hides, and capitulates. None of this is healthy. Yes, not everyone who wants to be an actress makes it, but part of being a parent is supporting your children emotionally and not just financially. And Lucy also shoulders some of the blame by agreeing, but not arguing her case stronger. Of course, if she had refused outright, he wouldn't have paid for the trip or her college tuition and this would've been a different book altogether.

This is a coming of age story, and it's a rather common one. Lucy suffers from the same problem a lot of young people have, that no everyone goes off to college right after high school knowing what they want to do in the future. Those eight to ten years are when you really figure yourself out. What kind of person you are, what kind of person you want to be in a relationship with, what you're passionate about and whether you want to make a career out of it. I'm not sure that this is Lucy's full coming of age, the book only covers a few months. She's still young, but this seems to be the most significant part in her life. This will shape her. It's up to her to decide if she'll be broken or whole.

I do wonder if I should've read Forster's A Room with a View before reading this. From what I've seen, Forster's Lucy is trying to find her place in the world, caught between polite society's conventions and true love. But that's what this Lucy is trying to do as well. The time period and circumstances are different but their struggles are the same. Should they follow the path laid out before them, the path they've been made to walk all their lives, or do their follow their hearts and race off in a different direction? I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Gayle Forman's Just One Day and Just One Year.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (138)

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. ;)

Winter... yeah. What is winter? It was foggy this week, but anything that remotely looked like winter? Nope. I remember one day last month when I went out without a coat.

Any new or re-done covers catch your eye this past week? I saw Macmillan's changed the cover for Kerstin Gier's Dream a Little Dream. The dark stone certainly makes it look more serious than the first one, the one with the girl and the bright purple door. But I read that it's more of a fun fantasy book than a serious fantasy book. Hmmm.

I hope you all like the new layout. It's not totally different, but I thought that, after 4 years of it looking pretty much the same, it was time for a change. Maybe one day I'll actually look into self-hosting and a really nice design. ;)

I think I'm going to start posting an essay/discussion post every month, just to get me thinking and everyone talking about something. Just to add something new.

Reviews for the coming week will feature Love, Lucy by April Lindner (Tuesday) and A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (Friday). :)
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (bought)
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (bought)
Avalon by Mindee Arnett (e-book borrowed from library)
Polaris by Mindee Arnett (won in a giveaway hosted by HCC Frenzy on Twitter)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Me on Jewel of the Thames

Title: Jewel of the Thames
Author: Angela Misri
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press

Nineteen-year-old Portia Adams has always been inquisitive. There's nothing she likes better than working her way through a mystery. When her mother dies, Portia puzzles over why she was left in the care of the extravagant Mrs. Jones but doesn't have long to dwell on it before she is promptly whisked from Toronto to London by her new guardian. Once there Portia discovers that she has inherited 221B Baker Street, the former offices of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. As she settles into her new home and gets to know her downstairs tenants, she finds herself entangled in three cases: the first involving stolen jewelry, the second a sick judge, and the final revolving around a kidnapped child. But the greatest mystery of all is her own. How did she come to inherit this townhouse? And why did her mother keep her heritage from her? Portia has a feeling Mrs. Jones knows more than she is letting on. In fact, she thinks her new guardian may be the biggest clue of all.

Jewel of the Thames is a story filled with mystery and intrigue. For our intrepid heroine, the unfortunate loss of her mother means sadness, but it also means a new life, a new city to call her own, a new adventure. But does she really want to take up the reins left by the former residents of her new home?

Portia is very introspective and extremely observant. She's isolated, little to no friends. She's very mature for her age, after caring for her mother during her illness. While she understands that the world is not always kind, she's still naive about some things. It's that battle between common sense and emotion, doing what our brain says to do over what our heart and our gut instincts say. What stands out is that she acknowledges her flaws. She knows that she can be impatient, that she has no time for time-wasters. But who would voice their flaws so matter-of-factly? She's a clever and independent young woman with a clear voice and clear opinions. Perhaps there are times when she's too analytical, but perhaps it's more that she needs to know the truth. It's her strong sense of right and wrong that pushes her deeper into the mysteries. She's a rather complex character.

The setting comes across as accurate, as does the tone and the atmosphere. This is a London that's left the Victorian and Edwardian eras behind, World War I is a decade in the past. The economy isn't doing so well. The creation and use of machines is still going strong. Everything feels rather accurate to the time period: the characters and their positions, the city and its people, and the level of technology and transportation,.

I must admit that I was wary of the addition of Holmes and Watson to Portia's story, as I was with the slightly similar Stoker & Holmes series by Colleen Gleason. But Portia has a way of standing out, setting herself apart from the two rather famous men whose casebooks she studies. There are similarities made between her intelligence and observational skills to those of Holmes and Watson, of course. How could there not be? But something still sets her apart. Is it her gender? Her self-awareness of her flaws? Her honest curiosity? Her upbringing? Her strong desire to help people?

It took a little time to get into the story. There's more narration at the beginning than I was expecting as Portia recounts the tale of her life following her mother's death. I feel that stems from having no one close to her, apart from her mother, no real friends or family still living. When she arrived in London, when the mysteries started, it took nothing to fall right into them with Portia, trying to piece them together before she could. Mystery fans should definitely give this book a try.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (209)

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

Title: Charmed
Author: Michelle Krys
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Indie has spent the last few weeks frantically searching for Paige. She's tried every spell imaginable, but witchcraft has gotten her nowhere, and she's going crazy with guilt. Despite what her warlock boyfriend, Bishop, tells her, Indie knows it's her fault her best friend was kidnapped by the Priory. And with the Priory destroyed, finding Paige feels more hopeless than ever-especially when Indie discovers that Paige isn't even on Earth. She's trapped in Los Demonios, an alternate dimension of Los Angeles filled with evil paranormals. No one who has gone there has ever come out.

Fueled by terror and loyalty, Indie is desperate to find a way into the underworld prison. She'll worry about getting out later. But facing the dark world's most dangerous witches and warlocks on her own means keeping her plan hush-hush-and forging alliances with some sketchy people, including a seriously sexy sorcerer.

Sometimes a witch must keep secrets from the people she cares about most. And sometimes she isn't the only one with secrets…

I really enjoyed the first book, it was a while since a YA about witches, any kind of witches, interested me, so I'm really looking forward to this one. I'm curious on how it's all going to end, considering it's a duology.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Me on The Conspiracy of Us

Title: The Conspiracy of Us
Author: Maggie Hall
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (Penguin imprint)

Avery West's only ever had her mother, they've moved around so much. But this surprise newfound family of hers can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead. To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

The Conspiracy of Us is mysterious and dangerous. It's a race through foreign lands, it's a list of clues to decode, it's a treasure to discover before time runs out.

Avery is a nice girl, a lonely girl, having moved around so much because of her mother. She's isolated, not like other girls in some ways, but it's partially her own doing. She doesn't get involved because she doesn't want to set herself up for disappointment the next time they move. But there are ghosts in her past, ones she doesn't even know about, and when they finally reveal themselves her life changes. There's a sudden shift from her partially normal life to an infinitely more dangerous one as she's whisked off to Europe for reasons no one bothers to explain to her. As she should be, she's suspicious of everyone, but not always.

There are some moments where it's like she forgets she's in danger, like when she asks about sightseeing after being flown to Paris on a private jet without needing a passport. Like when she goes off clubbing with people she barely knows instead of staying with someone who cares about her safety. Those moments make her seem flighty, flaky, a bit shallow. I can only put some of the reason behind those actions as there's no one around her with any new information as to the truth of the matter and so she goes if only to stay alive.

The mystery is what drew me to this book, the secret societies and the conspiracies, the warring families and the resulting high-speed chases. These things demand that the tension be high and that everyone but Avery be suspicious, and they are. The tension is high, never knowing who could be listening around a corner, planning or plotting, and everyone is suspicious. Especially Stellan. Especially Jack. Because they never tell her the entire truth until it's almost too late.

To be honest, the mystery is more interesting, the Circle and the ancient prophecy, than the romance. I don't quite understand the appeal of one of the two guys. The one, yes, it's obvious and I'm fine with it, but I'm not sure about the other. And I think I can see where the next book is going to go in terms of the romance. Still, I am interested in reading what comes next in this series. The ways in which the author has included history into the secret society are creative and intriguing. This book will appeal to those looking for high-stakes tension, some romance, a secret society hell-bent on continuing their control over the world, and hidden mysteries set to ruin those plans.

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (137)

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. ;)

Another week goes past where it feels like the world has cracked once more under all the pressure we put  upon it. *hugs for everyone*

And another week goes past where I only read the books that have reviews scheduled and I don't get ahead and build up a buffer so I don't have to panic-read over the weekend. *face-palm* Curse you, reading slumps.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (Tuesday) and Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri (Friday). :)
Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone (from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Me on The Darkest Part of the Forest

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does… As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

The Darkest Part of the Forest is eerie and enchanting, magical and deceptive. This is a mix of the curious innocence of adventurous children and the angst and struggle of teens trying to figure out what their place in the world will be, what they'll have to battle against in order to keep it.

Hazel feels lost, aimless, undecided and afraid. She's trying to find out who she is, what her purpose is. What the thing is that will make her whole. What she does know is that it won't be being a knight, roaming the woods with a sword in her hand and a mission in her heart, with her bard brother Ben at her side, because that's childish. But still she searches. Ben is just as lost, both blessed and cursed. He's trying to live under the weight of it, under the weight of a gift he can't escape. The mystery of the horned boy in the glass coffin interests them both, more so when they were younger, and even more when he awakes. Who is he? What will he be to them, after all of their childhood fantasies?

Curses and consequences. Secrets and promises. Dreams and reality. It's interesting, where our imagination takes us when we're children. The far off places we travel to, the monsters we fight, the princes and princesses we save from fire-breathing dragons. Where does that wonder and magic go? It ends up buried underneath reality, responsibility, and duty. There's no time for dreams when the real world awaits, dripping with expectations for the future. But what we promise in the past somehow has a way of returning to haunt us in the present. What are we to do when we need to remember those promises?

This is a bewitching story of a young girl who dreamed of being a knight with her bard brother at her side. Nothing is easy for Hazel or Ben, or Jack. Nothing could ever be easy, not when it comes to being a teenager. Not when it comes to twisted faerie logic. This is almost like a brand new fairy tale: the brave knight racing through the trees, battling monsters and tricksters, with her brother right behind her, a flute in his hand as he pines for a faerie asleep in a glass coffin. A must-read for Holly Black fans.

(I received an ARC of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (208)

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

Title: The Revelation of Louisa May
Author: Michaela MacColl
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

Louisa May Alcott can't believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad, and blossoming love. Intertwining fact, fiction, and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another spunky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

These books have grown on me, first with Nobody's Secret and then Always Emily. It's still a bit strange, reading stories about real people, based off of their real lives, but featuring fictional events and mysteries and murders that need solving. I can't completely suspend my disbelief, but I'm close. I do get sad when I read these books, though, and it's because of the romance aspect. The first two books introduced potential romances for the young writers, but they would never come to pass because they were fictional.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Me on How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel

Title: How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel
Author: Jess Keating
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Ana Wright's summer just got terrifying. She's finally getting used to living in a zoo (no, seriously—she lives with her family in an actual zoo), when she's assigned to work in the new shark tank. With her worst enemy. Forget about sharks! Ashley is the ultimate predator. And after Ana's favorite croc peed on Ashley's shoes, she's probably out for revenge. This can't be good.

How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel is entertaining and exciting, another adventure into the life of a girl living in a zoo. And it's not just a zoo full of animals she has to deal with. There's also the zoo of navigating middle school and potentially sneaky girls with pink-painted toenails.

Ana is intelligent, passionate about animals. She's quiet, anxious when it comes to big presentations and crowds. Things have finally calmed down after the whole crocodile fiasco and now she has the summer to look forward to. Except when her plans take a bit of a detour and she's suddenly weighed down by pressure and anxiety. Slow, measured changes are fine with Ana, not sudden ones where almost everything is involved.

Through Ana's eyes, the reader sees glimpses of the people around her. Her impossible to explain (because how can you explain boys) twin brother, her scientist parents, and her maybe a little crazy famous adventurer grandfather. The stuck-up Ashley. Ana is more low-key. She sees them as dramatic, but she's the same way. Perhaps even more so when it comes to certain people.

What was interesting was that as Ana sees the people around her, I saw Ana, and it wasn't in a favourable light. At times she sounded stuck-up, accusing. Mean. I was torn between understanding her difficulties with all the change happening around her and shaking my head at her for acting so childish. She is learning, she's still trying to figure out the world and why it's so impossible to understand. But not everything is as black and white as she thought.

Ana is growing up and her world is changing. It's part of life, even though she doesn't want anything to change. But it has to. Things change. Friends move. People change. She has to understand that or else she'll get left behind. In the first book, she leans that she can adapt just fine when she puts her mind to it. Here it's all about everyone around her changing and if she'll be able to go at her own pace or be forced to catch up. Fans of the first book will definitely enjoy this new installment.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Sourcebooks through NetGalley.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (136)

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. ;)

Oh gosh, it's 2015. I feel like when someone pulls away the blankets to get you up but instead I just want to shove my head back under the pillow.

With January starting, that means the Canadian YA Book Club has officially started! :) Go here to check out what we're reading for January/February. And you don't have to be in Canada to join in, so no worries there for readers from any country that isn't Canada. ;)

My review buffer isn't what it used to be, but I did take a break to read other books so it's my own fault. ;) But I'm slowly getting back into the groove and reading the review books I have waiting, as well as filling the gaps in my review schedule. So many gaps. O_O Any book suggestions?

Reviews going up next week will feature How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating (Tuesday) and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Friday). :)
Push by Eve Silver (e-book borrowed from the library) (will probably review this)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Me on Willowgrove

Title: Willowgrove
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf. What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.

Willowgrove is the final piece of a trilogy filled with secrets and lies, danger and deception, Mac barely gets any time to rest before she heads back into the fire, back into the mystery surrounding the camps, the experiments, and possibly still, her best friend's murder.

Mac can't stop searching. She uncovers more and more truths in this third book. Truths about Amy, even when she's still dead and still haunting her. Truths about the infection that led to people becoming werewolves, truths about the "rehab" camps and "treatment" centres that were code for inhumane torture. But when everything is discovered, is it the kind of truth you want getting out? What would happen if the world really knew how it all started? Mac's still trying to save everyone, as she always does. And she still keeps a few too many things close when she should be sharing the load. It's a bit of tunnel vision, her need to keep everyone else safe when, physically, she's the weakest. But those flaws make her human.

The fear of the other and the hatred that follows, the disgust. It's so prevalent in this book. Take away the werewolves and you have people afraid of other people, people hating other people because of something they can't control. Assumptions and groundless accusations run rampant. At this current point in time, I imagine this hits society close, right where it matters. Fear and suspicion of a subset of society. Increased control. Gun violence. But it is important to remember that with all moments of hate, fear, and oppression, things do get better. They will get better.

This is the end what what I've found to be an interesting and thrilling trilogy filled with danger, suspicion, and more than a little romance. After everything Mac's been through, this is the final push to show the world the truth of what happened in the previous book and what led to the events of the first book. This was the best ending the series could've had. Nothing else needs to be said.

(I received an advance copy of this title from the author.)