Saturday, February 25, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (247)

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

Hello again. Another week gone. The weather's been nice, I've been joining my sister and her dog on their walks, if only to also play Pokemon Go. ;)

I've been catching up on some D&D streams and videos that I let pile up over the last year. You know me, you know I like interesting storytelling. And D&D streams are full of interesting storytelling, because it's part-known and established (often fantasy) world and part-improv. And it's always interesting seeing what people come up with in terms of in-character talk on the fly.

Reviews going up this week will feature A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Tuesday) and Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (bought/pre-ordered)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Me on The Beast Is an Animal

Title: The Beast Is an Animal
Author: Peternelle vanArsdale
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Margaret K. MacElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village. These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys. Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

The Beast Is an Animal is deep, dark, and dangerous. Full of mystery and sorrow, of something that wears at the soul.

Alys is a girl of secrets. Secrets that would do her no good if they were spoken aloud. Secrets about the soul eaters and how she saw them as a child. Secrets about the Beast and how she's seen It, how It asked for her help. After the death of her parents, of the village, she becomes watchful in a town of fundamentalists, of those who fear what they cannot see or feel. Those who fear the Beast because It is unnatural, because It is like nothing their holy books say should be revered. Alys knows that walls, preaching, and fingerpointing won't keep them safe from the soul eaters. But what about what lurks inside Alys, hungry, waiting. She knows she's not like the other children, knows what's inside her. Knows it is the most dangerous of secrets.

Throughout the entire book a question raced through my mind. If the Beast is an animal, then what are the soul eaters? What is Alys? What are the townsfolk of Defaid? If the Beast is an animal, are we the monsters? Are we the ones that should be feared, the ones that go bump in the night? So many monstrous things are done by humans in the name of faith and good intentions and self-preservation.

This story is atmospheric and chilling, so unlike most books I've come across. It's deep and draining, mysterious and eerie. It's a slow burn, this story, but it takes time for anger to grow, for fear to develop. For death to come. This is a book about fear and judgement, about life and death, about what makes a home a home instead of just a place. I would definitely recommend this to those looking for something very different in terms of YA, like The Walls Around Us and The Darkest Part of the Forest.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (319)

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

Title: Want
Author: Cindy Pon
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

The title very much sums up my thoughts on this book. ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Me on The Ship Beyond Time

Title: The Ship Beyond Time
Author: Heidi Heilig
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father's ship. And now it's finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix's existence—and Nix's future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father? Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices.

The Ship Beyond Time is mysterious and alluring, dark and deceptive. A journey through time, towards fate and towards fear. Can history be changed? What of the consequences? Is there any hope to finding what was once lost?

Nyx is full of worry and fear. Even though they are now safe, now free to travel the seas once more, she can't help but worry. Worry that she will turn into her father, a broken shell of a man now off drugs but still desperate to make it back to the woman he once loved and lost. After leaving Hawaii, after realizing how she feels about Kashmir, she's not about to lose him.

What is time when you can travel across it? The idea of travelling anywhere at any point in time, as long as you have a map of it, is intriguing. Compelling. But then what is the future? Are you racing towards it or running from it? And what if time could be altered? What if the past could be changed?

A sense of something bittersweet and melancholy runs through this book, like mist swirling about the ankles. What is home? What is time? What is knowledge? What is fate? These are the questions asked by Nix, feared by Nix. An enchanting story of history and myth, of place and belonging, of love and loss. Of the lengths some will go to in order to save those they care about.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (246)

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

Hello! The weather's been nicer here, meaning no snow, but it's still around! Big piles in parking lots, icy patches on park paths.

No books this week! I couldn't get around to the library to wander and browse.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (Tuesday) and The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle vanArsdale (Friday). :)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Me on The Valiant

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle. On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival. Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

The Valiant is dangerous, brutal and complicated. It's about the price of freedom and the holders of power, about survival and kinship. About rivalries and revenge.

Fallon is skilled, determined, furious. Furious at her father for his actions. Furious at the ones who kidnapped her, forced her into slavery. Furious at the Romans she must now serve and entertain as a gladiatrix in a fighting ring. What follows for Fallon is a hard journey, repeated fights and battles for survival and pride. For honour. Because what is honour in this place? In the country of her enemy, in the service of her greatest enemy. If she wants to survive, potentially escape she'll have to watch, learn, train. Bide her time. Wait for the right moment to strike. Even when her nature would make her refuse to bow her head.

There are two things I know I will get from a book by Lesley Livingston: detailed world-building, be they historical or fantastical, and strong female characters. The smell of the dust in the air, the drip of sweat down the back of a neck, the roar of the crowd as they cheer in the area. And the young girls and women, the ways they come together and the ways they fight. In the open with sword and spear, in the shadows with coin and persuasion. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Lesley's previous books and to those looking for more books about young women fighting for what they believe in and refusing to give up.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (318)

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

Title: Blood Rose Rebellion
Author: Rosalyn Eves
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

It does sort of sound like Red Queen, but I like the sound of the differences. How it looks like Anna's ability is more breaking than creating magic or spells.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Me on The Wish Granter

Title: The Wish Granter
Author: C.J. Redwine
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille's king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence that he can't stop. Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother's ascension to the throne wasn't fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague, who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown. So Ari recruits the help of Thad's enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague's criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair's weaknesses, saving Ari's brother—and herself. But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can't outwit him, she'll lose Sebastian, her brother...and her soul.

The Wish Granter is dark and devious, filled with plots, secrets, and a search for power.

Ari is stubborn and unexpected. Raised in the palace but not with a sense of honour or importance, her sudden rise to princessdom and her brother's equally sudden crowning have left her slightly lost. Especially when she discovers a rather sinister character is behind their sudden rise in power. But once she knows who Teague is, what her brother signed away in order to keep them safe, she falls headfirst into planning and plotting. The problem is that only so much is known, only so much is willing to be talked about, and Teague is more ruthless than she could imagine.

Sebastian can't wait to be on his own. Away from his abusive father, his drug addict mother. He wants out, needs to get out, and this chance to work at the palace could be the start of something. Of saving up enough coin in order to leave, to find a safe place of his own. Until the new princess walks in wanting iron weapons and knowledge of Teague, a man Sebastian knows too well for his liking. He's a broken, battered young man, bruised and scarred. He swore he never become his father, never hurt people for money or power, but who knows how far he'll be pushed in order to save Ari.

There are moments of lightness, of Ari struggling to be a proper princess, but many more serious moments. Assaults and kidnappings. Organized crime, smuggling and drug addiction. Parental abuse. The serious tone carries through the book, weighing it down. This is a rather sinister retelling, the heroine and hero are up against a far more ruthless and dangerous Rumpelstiltskin than I'd expected. The stakes are high and the consequences are brutal. It felt like the serious tone dragged the story along near the middle and towards the ending. This is only loosely connected to the previous book, the previous kingdom mentioned a couple of times, but I imagine that if you enjoyed The Shadow Queen you'll also enjoy this.

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (245)

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. ;)

This week felt promising, even with more snow coming down, but then a migraine wiped me out and I couldn't really focus on anything. I'm hoping to get a bunch of reading done this weekend. *fingers crossed*

Reviews going up this week will feature The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine (Tuesday) and The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (e-book borrowed from the library)
Avenged by Amy Tintera (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
Blight by Alexandra Duncan (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
Dreamfall by Amy Plum (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (317)

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

Title: Hearts & Other Body Parts
Author: Ira Bloom
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

A novel of love and monsters. 

Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely -- almost romantically -- drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart.

The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely.

Hearts & Other Body Parts is a wickedly addictive novel about love, monsters, and loyalty. And oh yeah, a Japanese corpse-eating demon cat.

How interesting does this sound?! Like a witchy version of Frankenstein.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Me on The Last of August

Title: The Last of August
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson's growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte's beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

The Last of August is a mystery wrapped in complication, a race across Europe and a search for answers. A coming together of old friends and old foes, a maze of motives and reasons.

Jamie is still struggling to understand Charlotte Holmes. Sometimes he thinks he has her figured out, but then she does something, says something, and he's left confused. He wants things to go back the way they were. He wants to know how to fix things, how to fix Holmes, but it's not going to happen. She needs to be who she is. Not everything can be fixed. But can he leave? He's in pretty deep now. And after all he's seen, does he want to leave?

Under the genius of Charlotte Holmes is a complicated, bruised young woman. Trying to navigate her life around someone who wants her dead, around her distant parents and her controlling brother. Around her own demons that appeared after she was raped. She wants Watson close, she knows she needs him around, but she worries if she can give him what he wants. The brief chapters told her point of view are a gold mine for this train of thought.

I was so curious as to where this book was going to go, what trouble Holmes and Watson would get themselves into. But because so much is layered in doublespeak and mystery, I do wonder how much I missed while reading. How much I missed of the mystery, of the moments when Holmes would piece it together. After that ending, after everything that was said and revealed in this book, I'm certainly looking forward to the third one.

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Me on This Week's Book Week (244)

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. ;)

Nooooo. The snow came back. And of course it was so much more than the forecast had predicted. *hides under blankets and heating pads, has all the naps*

Reviews going up this week will feature The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro (Tuesday) and The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (Friday). :)
Bought/borrowed/received:
Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (borrowed from library)
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (e-galley from Sourcebooks through NetGalley)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Me on The Mesmerist

Title: The Mesmerist
Author: Ronald L. Smith
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books (HMH imprint)

Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London's supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.

The Mesmerist is haunting, the story of a young girl's journey into the darkness of London and the monsters that hide there.

Jess has an important mission given to her almost immediately. Taken to London by her mother, she's told that she's a mesmerist, someone who can read thoughts and dream of the future. With this revelation, she's introduced to the group her mother once associated with, a group of those with mysterious abilities who fought against ghouls and necromancers. She's confused, worried to be sure, but there's a part of her that always wanted to have an adventure. To save those she cares about from evil-doers and monsters. But this kind of evil was unexpected. And it isn't long until her new guardian, a mysterious man with a curious nature, reveals to her the work that is to be done.

I found this to be a rather quick read, time seems to pass almost too quickly, but the moments are there for Jess to learn and investigate, for her to wonder and explore. For her to hear the truth about her deceased father. And it's nice that she's not alone, that there are others like her in Emily and Gabriel to stand alongside her. I would definitely recommend this to fans of spooky and mysterious middle grade books.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (316)

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

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

This definitely sounds Japanese-inspired, which is awesome (the names sound like Japanese names!), and it sounds dangerously political and mysterious, so I'm basically sold on this book. I'm torn on the cover, what the golden peacock/possible phoenix(?) means in terms of Mariko hiding and infiltrating, but the plot sound like something I'd devour.