Saturday, February 28, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (144)

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 bizarre week of no winter and llamas and dresses.

Thanks to those who came to the chat for the Canadian YA Book Club. At the end of April we'll be meeting up again to talk about The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe. :)

I posed this question on Twitter but I'll ask it again here. What do you think about me posting reviews of books or anthologies I've backed on Kickstarter? I've been reading Valor, a comic and short story anthology all about girls in fairy tales new and retold kicking butt and saving themselves and their families or boyfriends or girlfriends.

Reviews going up this week will feature Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (Tuesday) and The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (Friday). :)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)
Kin by Lili St. Crow (Pre-ordered using birthday gift card)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Bought after rushing to the bookstore when I saw that had 1 copy in stock)
Valor anthology edited by Megan Lavey-Heaton & Isabella Melançon (E-book reward for backing the project on Kickstarter)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Me on The Winner's Crime

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria's crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country's freedom, he can't fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

The Winner's Crime is enthralling, captivating, and brutal. Now comes the dark politics, the plots and plans that come out of and lead into war. The inescapable stranglehold of a cruel ruler who will not let anyone stand in his way.

Again, Kestrel and Arin are trapped. Even more so by their own doing. She was the one who went to the emperor, saving lives but condemning herself to becoming his puppet. He was the one who wouldn't read between the lines, who took her at face value, who believed she used her intelligence and cunning against him. They need each other but they cannot trust each other. They refuse to. All they remember is the hurt and suffering the other caused. But trust is what will save them.

Deception and deceit, spies and secrets, they all drip from each page, leaving the truth to be a subtle thing, tucked into each word. Waiting to be uncovered.

What is the cost of winning? Should everyone whose lives will change pay the price, or just the person who started it?

The war between the Valorian and the Herrani has ended, but it is not over. The emperor will not stop until everyone is under his thumb, paying tribute and obeying his orders. His is an experienced and highly intelligent kind of cruelty, one carefully crafted. It will not be easy for Kestrel and Arin to battle against him.

How strange it is to read a tragic love story when each of them find that their falling in love is the worst thing that could have happened. And how intriguing it is to see both of them battle between emotion and duty with duty winning. It's clear that they love each other, that they both want nothing more but to escape to where no one knows their names, but they cannot. The entire world is working against them. This second book is even more perilous and dangerous than the first. The conclusion is sure to have the biggest, most painful surprise of them all.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (215)

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

Title: Ink and Ashes
Author: Valynne E. Maetani
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Publisher: Tu Books

From Goodreads:

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

I like the sound of this. It doesn't sound like anything I've read before in terms of the story/plot. Yes, it's a mystery, but it's different because it involves the yakuza. I want to know more, I want to know how deep into Japanese culture, whether in North America or in Japan, this book goes. I want more diverse stories, more books that take place in different cultures then mine, different countries than where I live. I know enough about characters with the same general suburban background as mine. What I don't know about growing up a different skin colour or in a different area of town or with a different faith/belief system or with a different family structure could fill an encyclopedia. Hopefully I'm not the only person who thinks this way.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Me on Prairie Fire

Title: Prairie Fire
Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Every dragon slayer owes the Oil Watch a period of service, and young Owen was no exception. What made him different was that he did not enlist alone. His two closest friends stood with him shoulder to shoulder. Steeled by success and hope, the three were confident in their plan. But the arc of history is long and hardened by dragon fire. Try as they might, Owen and his friends could not twist it to their will. Not all the way. Not all together.

Prairie Fire is poetic and honest. It's a hard book, a wonderful book, a book I will never be able to adequately describe.

After the slaying of the dragon, after she grabbed hold of that sword with her bare hands, Siobhan knew things would be hard for her. Her hands, her disability, it's all taken seriously and realistically. The physical therapy needed to do to regain some motor control in her fingers, the stiffness and the scar tissue. The struggle to make music, to tie ties and slip buttons into holes. To continue on as Owen's bard. She's not a dragon slayer. She knows that. Everyone knows that. But she's still important, she's still working hard, doing what she does best. She's willing to pay the price.

Now out of high school, Owen and Siobhan enter the Oil Watch. It's intriguing, seeing young people in the military like this. As opposed to dystopians with their rebellions and rough and ragged groups, here it's all ordered. Regimented. It's the part you don't see on the news or read in the paper. It's the before, the training. The part that isn't all glamour and slaying dragons. This is what makes them dragon slayers, what teaches them. But there's also a bit of ugly politics.

The story moves both east and west from their beginnings, and so comes even more world-building. You can see the twists and alterations in Canada's history made by the author (if you know the truth behind those parts of Canada's history). This world is more elaborate now, with new characters complete with their own world-building, their own stories and dragon slaying experience. Not just in Canada, but also other countries. It makes me wonder how far-reaching the research went, how deep into not only Canada but so man other countries' pasts the author had to look up.

It's books like this that make me glad I make notes while I read them. If not, I'm not sure what I'd have left to say. I finished this at two in the morning on a Friday. It left me speechless and sobbing. I'm not sure what this book is in a broad sense, but I know what it is to me. It's a book about duty, about purpose, about doing what's right. It's a book about friendship. It's a book about not only heroes but those who stand beside them, behind them, supporting them and telling their stories. Because there is always a story to tell.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Carolrhoda lab through NetGalley.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (143)

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. ;)

More spring-like weather. Plus some rain. It sure was nice of the rest of North America to take the snow so we didn't get any this winter. ;)

The first book chat for the Canadian YA Book Club is on Sunday at 1pm PST/4pm EST. We'll be talking about Leah Bobet's Above. Hopefully a bunch of people show up and we all have a good talk about the book and what it discusses, things like mental illness, homelessness, and fear/rejection/hatred of the other. I'll be posting the link to the chat on Twitter on Saturday and Sunday but you can find it here. :)

Someone get me off of NetGalley. *collapses under the weight of my review schedule*

Reviews going up this week will feature Prairie Fire by E.K. Johnston (Tuesday) and The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (Friday). :)
The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl (ARC from Raincoast Books)
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin (e-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (e-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (e-galley from Macmillan through NetGalley)
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (e-galley from Random House Canada through NetGalley)
Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs & Tracey Deebs (e-galley from Sourcebooks though NetGalley)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Me on A Darker Shade of Magic

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Tor (Macmillan imprint)

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London... but no one speaks of that now. Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a deadly book dripping with magic and blood, mystery and fear. It is a journey through worlds, a journey of one person filled to the brim with magic and another looking to escape. Their journey towards survival, everyone's survival, as death nips at their heels.

Kell is a rather rare creature indeed. The magic in his blood gives him the ability to travel between different worlds, but all this freedom and power gets him is the job of messenger between his adopted family and the other royals. He both is and isn't held captive, the chains that bind him are invisible and extremely loose. They need him. What Kell needs, wants, is to do as little as possible with the evil king and queen of White London, to work as an occasional smuggler. To discover the secrets in his past, his years before he was taken in by the royal family of Red London. To continue to live.

In Grey London, there's the stubborn and clever Delilah Bard. Lila is a thief, a young woman trying to find her own place, trying to climb up out of dark alleyways and shady taverns. A young woman whose heart yearns for freedom on the open seas. A woman with plans. I wonder if others will find her annoying, obstinate. I certainly did. There was a moment for me when it hit hard, when she just wouldn't listen to Kell, or to reason, and I wanted to scream with frustration. But that's the sign of an excellently crafted character, yes? It's not supposed to be easy with Lila, she's not supposed to give in to Kell. This is who she is.

As Kell runs, as he hides, as he searches and prepares, it's because of consequences. Consequences of his own actions and mistakes. Consequences of events from a distant past. Everything is connected, through magic or fate or simple coincidence. Or through Kell. This is all about choices and decisions, which is right and which is wrong, and the ripple effect they have through the worlds. And Kell has to find a way to stop it before everything is ripped apart.

The world-building in this book is so well done. The different Londons, the different worlds, the different levels of magic. All have their similarities but each are described in ways that set them apart, be it a look or a scent or a breeze in the air. The same goes for the characters. Kell's magic, Lila's disguise, the prince of Red London Rhy and his rather charming personality. The king and queen of White London and the stench of magic and death that circle them.

This is all magic mixed with blood, mysterious and complex and complicated characters, and sadistic villains who sit on thrones and play at being royalty. It's a whirlwind of a tale, accidents and fights and dark, dangerous magic that won't stop. Knowing there will be more excites me and I can't help but wonder what will happen next. It could be anything and I have my guesses.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (214)

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

Title: SuperMutant Magic Academy
Author: Jillian Tamaki
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

From Goodreads:

The New York Times and New Yorker illustrator Jillian Tamaki is best known for co-creating the award-winning young adult graphic novels Skim and This One Summer—moody and atmospheric bestsellers. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

SuperMutant Magic Academy has won two Ignatz Awards. This volume combines the most popular content from the webcomic with a selection of all-new, never-before-seen strips that conclude Tamaki’s account of life at the academy.

I've read some of this as it's been posted online but I'm really looking forward to the hard copy (as with Noelle Stevenson's Nimona). I really like Jillian's art, it's expressive and sometimes adorable (like Marsha there on the cover) and always awesome. Also Jillian's characters, they're dry and sharp and witty and existential like only teenagers can be. And with new strips at the end? I can't wait to read this. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Me on Stone in the Sky

Title: Stone in the Sky
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Abandoned and left for dead on a remote space station, no one expected Tula Bane to survive. Yet over time, she sound friends, family, and even love. When it's discovered that the desolate planet beneath the station is verdant with a rare, invaluable resource, aliens from across the galaxy rave over, including Brother Blue, the man who nearly killed Tula years ago. The man she has dreamed of destroying ever since. But Tula needs him alive to ensure the protection of the Human Wanderers who hitch from spaceship to spaceship. Without her leadership, they are as sure as dead. Mired in an intergalactic power struggle and town between two loves, Tula must tread carefully to save those in her care, and the lives of Humans throughout the galaxies.

Stone in the Sky, like its predecessor, explores what it is to be Human, what it is to struggle to find your place in the world and among the stars. It explores what home is, whether it be a person or a place, and how much Humans crave having a place to call their own.

It's been more than a year since Tula became the only Human on Yertina Feray again. More than a year since Brother Blue tried to kill her, again, when she threatened to expose his con. More than a year since she finally found her place on the station. But Brother Blue would always be a threat as long as he was alive, and now that he's returned, Tula's forced to fight back again. It's not as easy this time. She struggles even more than before, searching, waiting. She's still resourceful, still smart, still Tula. But this journey seems so much harder on her.

What was refreshing about the first book was the lack of romance. Years apart from Humans, Tula had no idea how to react around them, but they made her feel again. Made her feel Human again. She didn't want it, didn't want to be vulnerable again, but she still craved being around them. She wasn't as alone with them around. There's just as much romance here, but this time around I longed for it. Because the story continues, I wanted more of it. After the first book I wanted her to be happy, and she was, but that would never last. After Tin Star, only part of Tula's story had been told. The romance here makes me happy. Tula is torn because both give her something she's needed after years of being alone. Both make her feel. Because of the story, because of Tula, it works.

There's a lot to be said about the resiliency of Humans, about our ways of continuing on and coming together in times of great hardship. About how manipulative and sneaky we can be. Our greatest traits and worst flaws come together to show what imperfect creatures we are. This duology has been such a journey, it couldn't have ended better.

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (142)

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. ;)

Even more rain! It's so warm that the bulbs in the garden are starting to sprout.

Out of all the cover reveals yesterday, I think the Slasher Girls and Monster Boys anthology is the one I'm looking forward to most. I suppose I'm interested in Six of Crows (I still haven't read Ruin & Rising yet), and Dreamland sounds interesting, but I'm most excited for the anthology. For the slasher girls and the monster boys. ;)

I saw people were freaking out over what might happen in The Raven King yesterday. We've known from the beginning that Gansey was going to die. Maggie has said repeatedly that she'll be killing him. But, before you freak out, what happens after that? That's the important part. I don't think Gansey would be so important that Maggie would just kill him off willy-nilly like that. Something else is going to happen, and that's what worries me about this book. The after, the countless possibilities of what might happen. Including him dying and coming back. Or dying and not coming back. Or dying and sort of coming back.

Reviews for the coming week will feature Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci (Tuesday) and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Friday). :)
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (e-galley from Random House through NetGalley)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Me on All Fall Down

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things: 1. She is not crazy. 2. Her mother was murdered. 3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay. As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her, and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

All Fall Down is filled with mystery and international intrigue. Grace is on a mission. She knows someone killed her mother and no one will stop her from from finding the person responsible.

Grace is... interesting. Unhinged? Reckless but afraid. Snide and snarky but apologetic. It's like we see bits of the person she was mixed with bits of the person she is now. She's unable to move on after seeing her mother murdered, which is both good and bad. It's good that she isn't willing to give up, that she's determined, but it's not good because of how obsessed she is with finding the killer. But who else will? No one is really supporting her, not really, not in the way she needs. In the beginning she doesn't have anyone to lean on. They're all there to keep her safe, keep her out of trouble, but that doesn't quite translate into them helping her.

There's something that bothers me about some of the people in Grace's life. I didn't get the feeling that they wanted to help her. Some do, during the course of the book, but some don't. Those people think she'll get over it, that she's just acting out, that she's paranoid or lying. They can't see that she's suffering, that she needs help. It's a mix of her psychological problems, her stress disorder and anxiety attacks, and some people don't see that. Part of it is on Grace for thinking she can handle everything on her own, but part of it is on the people who say they care about her. She doesn't need fancy parties with important diplomats. She needs someone who trusts that what she says is true. And probably a therapist.

The setting is interesting. It's a different country with a dark past and secrets under its streets, but it's also American in the embassy, in Grace and the others who live and work there. Taking place on a street of different embassies in a foreign country, there's certainly a hint of tension in the air. It's certainly a strange feeling, being in such a strained environment, where any misstep could mean distrust or even war between countries.

This is a book with a lot of intrigue and tension. The stakes are so high here. One wrong move and a war could start. But while that is serious, it also, partially, sounds impossible. What would have to happen for a war to start? Of course, this might just be my inability to suspend my disbelief in this one instance, but I am curious as to what it would take in this series. I would recommend this to readers looking for some international intrigue in their contemporary YA, to readers looking for a broken but still hopeful heroine, and to fans of Ally Carter's previous books.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Scholastic Canada.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (213)

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

Title: I Am Princess X
Author: Cherie Priest
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic imprint)

From Goodreads:

Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.

Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.

Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.

Princess X?

When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There's an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon - her best friend, Libby, who lives.

I'm really intrigued by this. It's appealing to the parts of me that like YA and comics and battling gender stereotypes in fantasy settings. And it sounds like it'll have artwork in it, not just prose, which is awesome. (It also sounds like the art in the ARCs isn't totally finished which sucks a bit. Hopefully, for those reading the ARCs, it's not taking away from/leaving something important out of the story.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Me on The Unbound

Title: The Unbound
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe. Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?

The Unbound is dark and dangerous, even more so than its predecessor. All the consequences and changes that came out of the first book are here, inescapable and unavoidable. Mac has so much more to deal with, and if she's not careful, it'll overwhelm her.

This time around, everything about and around Mac is amplified. The fears, the post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from her previous encounter with Owen, the nightmares she tries to hide. The lies she tries to tell. The monsters that come after her. They're harder to keep control of now, harder to hide, and it isn't long until they're slipping through her fingers, creeping out into the world for everyone to see. Like her parents. But she still deflects, pushing everything off the table, out of sight, so she can deal with it on her own later. Because she doesn't need help. Because she can do it on her own. Because it's, in her eyes, her fault, and only she can fix it. If she doesn't crumble under the weight of the world first.

Death, after death, life after death. What happens to us after we die? Where do we go? Are we still there, hovering, watching? Do we start our lives over because of the mistakes we made? Are we reborn? Or is it nothing at all? Are we just filed away in a box, in memories, until we're forgotten? Is this why we fear death? In life, we can guess at what will happen next, be right a good amount of the time. But in death, no one knows what happens next. And not knowing what might happen next? Terrifying.

The Archive isn't what Mac thought it was anymore. Not after Owen. Not after Agatha. Her world has flipped on itself, but then what comes next? Rebellion or rolling with the punches? Mac has a very strong sense of right and wrong, the strongest I've come across. She won't back down from doing what she thinks is right, from searching for the answers she's looking for. It does make her a little reckless, though.

This book is a rollercoaster of mystery and pain, of survival and fear and nightmares. Of tension and trust and truths. I'm satisfied with the ending, but if there ever is a third book I'll be sure to read it.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (141)

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. ;)

So rainy. *floats away in tiny rowboat* We are proof that winter in Canada doesn't always mean pounded with snow. It barely snowed this winter. There was one day in December when I went out without a coat, it was that warm.

I see that Marvel's coming out with a new comic series featuring an all-female Avengers team called the A-Force. With a number of people in my Twitter feed rather excited about this (comic fans and book fans), I checked it out. It sounds interesting, so I'm thinking I'll give the first few issues a read when it starts up.

Reviews going up next week will feature The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (Tuesday) and All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Friday). :)
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury (ARC from Nafiza at The Book Wars)
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (ARC from HarperCollins Canada)
Fragile Bones: Harrison & Anna by Lorna Schultz Nicholson (e-galley from Clockwise Press through NetGalley) (I rather like the sound of this book.)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Me on Monstrous

Title: Monstrous
Author: MarcyKate Connolly
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre's inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark. Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre. Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre. And what he knows will change Kym's life.

Monstrous is a sweet and fun, and as time goes on, rather sinister, story of magic and science. A tale of monsters and young girls, of good and evil and how they are told apart. A tale about finding our place in the world, whether we exist with a purpose in mind or we discover it along the way.

Kymera is unique. Clever and strong, inquisitive about the world around her because she only knows, only remembers, so much beyond what her father has told her. Because of that, she's filled with a sweet child-like innocence. What reason would she have to question her father? He's been nothing but kind, love. He brought her back to life so the two of them could save the young girls of Bryre. They just want to help. As the book goes on, her honest curiosity battles against her father's control over her. He tells her that no one would understand her, that people would be afraid of her. But she's not sure if that's true, so she's caught between the worlds that push her down and her thoughts of meeting new people. Perhaps making a friend.

But what is Kym, with her human brain and cat eyes and wings and a barbed tail? Is she still human or is she a monster? Can monsters with claws and wings be heroes, saving young girls from certain death? Can monsters grow roses? Is it what's on the inside or only what's on the outside? Kym looks dangerous, she looks like a terrible monster, so she must be dangerous, yes? What this book touches on is how we define who/what is a monster and who/what isn't and how problematic it is to judge people based on their appearances. What will help us determine the truth is knowledge, time, and our own instincts.

The world-building here is so much fun. It's a mixture of fairy tales, fables, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Magic and monsters and a girl brought back to life made up of parts that aren't originally hers. Kym navigates the world as the reader does, learning more and more about what evil plagues Bryre and what must be done in order to save it.

I found this to be a magical story, a sweet tale about a girl who isn't like other girls, one made up of good intentions and a strong need to help and protect others. We can't always be afraid of those who look like monsters, with scaly wings and sharp fangs and long tails, because they could be the bravest and most caring of all.

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (212)

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

Title: Seriously Wicked
Author: Tina Connolly
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen

From Goodreads:

The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.

Camellia's adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom's a seriously wicked witch.

Cam's used to stopping the witch's crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.

Now Cam's suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.

To stop the demon before he destroys Devon's soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she's willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she's wicked too?

This sounds good. The dynamic between Camellia and her mother is going to be interesting, what with her mother being kind of evil and all. I hope this'll be fun to read. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Me on Red Queen

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Red Queen is dark, deadly, and extremely deceptive. A world of terror controlled by the powerful elite and the common folk who suffer for their opulence. They are tired of suffering. This is the start of a new trilogy with some rather familiar elements.

Mare is quick and smart, she steals what she can in order for her and her family to survive. Her attitude is a bitter and spiteful one at the beginning. She hates the Silvers, the luxuries they have because of their blood and their abilities. The divide between them and the Reds. She holds no illusions about society. It's a horrible place, dark and crumbling. She's likely to die young, off on a battlefield somewhere. Unless she listens. Unless she capitulates to what the Silvers want from her once they discover something rather surprising about her. But only for as long as they need her.

I like her attitude, she's bitter and hard, there isn't just one chip off her shoulder but hundreds, but I wonder if she also needed to be snide and sarcastic. It's almost common now for a heroine in a dystopian YA series to wield sarcasm like a sword, slashing her enemies with quick one-liners. Perhaps it's because it brings levity to a dark situation, being able to laugh when all you want to do is cry. It shows she's not an unemotional shell of a person. That she's still defiant. But defiant doesn't always equal sarcastic.

The class structure thrives in this world. The elite versus the common man, those with inhuman powers exerting their will over those without. The lower classes are kept complacent with blood sport tournaments, treated like simpletons, while their children are sent off to fight a war that should've ended decades ago. The pale when they blush Silver against the Reds and the flush of blood in their cheeks. It makes me think of the Europeans, when they came to the New World and took over the Native Americans and their land. How such horrible things happened then, happen now, and may very well continue to happen.

This book feels like a cross between The Selection and Shatter Me. Royal pageantry and decadence for some and horrible poverty for others, a horrible ruler, and inhuman abilities. Mare is interesting, different, but everything else felt so familiar. A girl plucked from the slums, a prince with honour who doesn't want to be a pawn, a rising rebellion born from those in the lower classes who will not be slaves any longer. At the beginning I was torn between liking it for its darkness and thrills and not liking it because it was similar to books I've read previously. When I hit the halfway point I started to like it more, it twisted away from where I thought it was going to go, and then the ending rather surprised me. I'll probably read the next two books as I'm curious about what will happen next, but I don't think I'm as eager or impatient as others are.

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