Saturday, December 29, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (32)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews only not as cleverly named. ;)

Happy post-holiday fun times! :) And birthday fun times, if you're like me and have an end of the year holiday birthday.

Christmas was fun like always. My birthday was fun like always. Presents ranged from books (yay) and clothes (yay for a new sweater) to a calendar (paintings of women reading) and Starbucks mugs and a gorgeous emerald green leather purse from my mom. My other purse had an accident a couple weeks ago, while I was Christmas shopping, so it was a last minute addition to my list.

The Underrated YA Books of 2012 post went up on Thursday. Here's the link for you to check out. Maybe you'll add a few new books to your to read list for the new year. :)

I was looking up some books with late winter and spring release dates for ALA midwinter and I got all nervous in anticipation. Not long now, it's about 4 weeks away.

I saw Cassandra Clare's coming back to BC in March for the tour for Clockwork Princess. Hopefully I won't be broken this time around. ;) It's a wristband event and I saw what the process to get one is on the Chapters site: on the 19th (the book release date) you go to the store where the signing will be, buy a copy of the book, get one of the 400 wristbands, and then you get to come back on the 26th and get your book signed. Apparently, people can come and watch the event, but you need a wristband to get books signed. Well, I know where I'll be in the morning of the 19th and for a good chunk of the 26th.

Happy (early) new year. :)
Legend by Marie Lu
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Crossed by Ally Condie
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
(Oh, finished hardcover copies, how I love you. I should mention that I've read and reviewed all these already, but I reread Incarnate and plan to reread Legend and Under the Never Sky before reading the sequels that come out in January.)

And a signed bookplate for The Raven Boys from Maggie Stiefvater and Scholastic Canada. This showed up in the mail on the 24th. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Me on Underrated YA Books of 2012

It's that time of year again, time for my list of underrated YA books of the past 12 months. Last year's got such a positive response, I just had to do another. And there will be one next year. And for as long as there are books that we find to be underrated and under-recognized. :)

So, like last year, first is my list, then below is suggestions from other bloggers and authors. Enjoy. :)

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Adaptation by Malinda Lo
Above by Leah Bobet
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
Never Enough by Denise Jaden
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Shadows Cast By Stars by Catherine Knutsson
Live Through This by Mindi Scott
Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (Lish's first book, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA debut award.)
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
Crewel by Gennifer Albin (I'm a little on the fence about this one, I feel like the publisher did a good job publicizing it but that not a lot of people have read it.)
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (Another on the fence choice. I think it's a little hard for books published in late November and all of December to get recognized (unless the publicity campaign is massive).)

Some awesome debut authors chimed in with their picks for underrated debuts of the past year.

Kathleen Peacock (author of Hemlock (the next book in the series comes out summer 2013)) recommends a book close to heart (and one I rather enjoyed as well): Incarnate by Jodi Meadows.

Marissa Meyer (author of Cinder and the upcoming Scarlet (Feb 2013)) says Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff and Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen.

Ashley at Book Labyrinth suggests Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, Soulbound by Heather Brewer and Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker.

Kathy at A Glass of Wine (with some reasons, which is always helpful):
  • Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin: A lushly decadent novel filled with flawed and complex characters. It's world that entices as much as it repels and where every breathe you take could literally kill you. A flawed but engaging heroine, two deliciously swoon worthy guys, and a tightly woven plot all make this one that deserves to be read.
  • Gilt by Katherine Longshore: Filled with Tudor court drama and intrigue, Gilt shows that friendships and mean girls haven't changed much over the years. The dysfunctional friendship between Catherine Howard and her best friend Katherine Tylney rivals that of any 'mean girl' story today. An honest look at a young girl who made mistakes and paid the ultimate price for her youthful transgressions.
Nafiza at Bibliophilic Monologues suggests Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson.

Kari at A Good Addiction recommends Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole, What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen, When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, Butter by Erin Jade Lange and Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie.

Megan at Book Brats suggests Devine Intervension by Martha Brockenbrough.

Lori at Writing My Own Fairy Tale picks Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.

Lisa Voisin (2013 debut YA author) names Want by Stephanie Lawton and Struck by Jennifer Bosworth.

Monica Ropel suggests Fracture by Megan Miranda.

Book Tasty adds the only middle grade novel to the list, The Whole Story of half a Girl by Veera Hiradaani.

Colleen Albert suggests The Scourge by A.G. Henley.

38 titles are on this year's list, 17 from me and 21 from other contributors. Scarlet was even suggested by 3 different people! Thanks to everyone who suggested titles and I hope you've added some books to your reading list to check out in the new year. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (31)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves over at Tynga's Reviews only I'm bad at naming things and the name stuck. ;)

I'm surprised there's a post this week, too. I kind of expected the next TWBW to be next week after all of the festivities. Oh, well. I know how much you guys like my babble. ;)

It snowed this week. It was all cold and not fun, but then it warmed up and dripped away. Then it snowed again Wednesday and was crap until noon when it warmed up and everything went slushy. I tried to clear the driveway off after lunch but it was like shoveling water. Everything was two or three times as heavy as it would've been if it was straight snow.

I've been playing a game called Happy Street (this is a link to a trailer) that my sister turned me onto on my phone. It's lots of fun, it's like building a little city on a street with different animals and the colours are bright and sharp. :)

I'll see you all again on Thursday when the Underrated YA of 2012 post goes up. Send in your recs for the list now, plus your name and blog so I can link back to you. :)

See you guys after Christmas and my birthday. :) Have a great week where a good chunk of the world stops to play with brightly coloured paper and ribbon and large birds with stuffing and gravy.
The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe (from Hachette Book Group Canada to review) (the ARC has the old cover)
Asunder by Jodi Meadows (from the awesome Kathleen Peacock to share with Caitlin that I'm sharing with her this afternoon. Kathleen, you realize this makes me want to send you a present of some kind)
Every Never After by Lesley Livingston (from Penguin Canada through NetGalley)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Me on Reached

Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin imprint)

After leaving the Society and desperately searching for the Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they've been looking for. But it comes at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia is assigned to work for the Rising inside the Society while Ky is stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil is lifted and things start to shift around them again. Now Cassia is forced to reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honouring a love she cannot live without.

Reached is a conclusion, a realization, a resting point. Everything that Cassia, Ky, and Xander experienced, everything they went through and suffered through, does end, and this is how they reach that point. A satisfying conclusion to an awe-inspiring series.

The Rising is coming, the Society will fall. That much is certain. This is what happens when the Rising occurs, when the people stand up and break free of a controlling society they no longer trust, a society that destroyed what was once valued above all other things. But no uprising is without pain and suffering. No uprising is perfect, and while it is the end, it will take all three narrators to the brink in their quest to reach the place they've been searching for.

The inclusion of the poems and songs, of writing by hand, of creating, was a wonderful choice by the author. In the darkest corners and in the bleakest times, there is still hope. There are still dreams for the future. There are still words and ideas that show us the resilience of those who came before and know that it can be done. Sometimes they are messages passed around, sometimes their meanings are meant to be taken literally, but sometimes they are proof that we are not alone, that someone else is out there.

Cassia, Ky, Xander. They all have their jobs to do, and as big or as small as they are, they are all connected. Everything is connected, and all of the ways in which they're connected are realized here.

The tone of the book, of the series as a whole, is rather serious, somber, and poignant. The journey has not been easy for Cassia or Ky, or even Xander, but they are so close to reaching their end. With any luck, they will keep fighting and search out for what they believe is right.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Me on Destroy Me

Title: Destroy Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of rebellion in Sector 45. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to bring her back to him and eliminate those who helped her escape, Adam and Kenji, traitors to the Reestablishment. But when Warner's father arrives, the Supreme Commander, it's clear he has different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner won't allow.

Destroy Me is an intriguing insight into a character overwhelmed by power, by pressure, and by obsession. The reader is jerked away from Juliette and pushed straight into the complicated mind of Warner, pushed into attempting to understand his twisted and utterly selfish motives when it comes to a girl that can't touch anyone or they'll die. Or so she thought. Or so he thought.

This is the other side of his obsession, this is the side where we see the thought process behind his decisions and not just how Juliette sees him. Where Juliette sees a monster, the reader is presented with a human being with very real flaws and very important goals. It's not every day that, with only a few pages, an author can make a reader sympathize with the villain. And that's what this is, this is Warner at his most vulnerable, just as Juliette was in Shatter Me, and it's an odd pill to swallow. Villains are not meant to garner sympathy, and that's exactly what Tahereh Mafi does here with Warner.

The novella also shows Juliette through a different pair of eyes. Not her own which saw her as a monster, but through a pair that found her amazing and powerful, a pair that gazed at her with reverence and longing.

Unfortunately, this novella only serves to further whet the appetite of those waiting for Unravel Me. Fortunately, it adds another layer to the series as a whole, and I foolishly hope that there will be more.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (108)

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

Title: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette imprint)

From Goodreads:

A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

What interests me the most about Cat Patrick's books is the setting. It's a normal present day world with normal characters, but one thing has been tweaked to make it slightly paranormal or futuristic. Like here. A totally normal world, only the girls are clones and are being forced to hide and live as one girl. I really enjoy stories that seem to be like real life with one twist that makes it interesting. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Adrienne Kress

Being part of the blog tour for The Friday Society (you can find my review here) means I get the chance to host a guest post written by Adrienne Kress. I love guest author posts. Many thanks to Adrienne for the post, and now here's her post on why she loves comedy so much. :)
Why do I like comedy so much, and why do I make it an important element of my writing? For these five reasons:

1. I love to laugh.

2. I love to make other people laugh.

3. The fact that something is funny doesn’t mean it can’t also speak to human truths and have serious moments. In fact, I tend to find comedies can pack even more of an emotional wallop than pure drama. Life, in general, is absurd. And to deny that absurdity is to take something honest and real away from the moment. Yes, there are purely serious moments, and, in fact, I have such moments in all my books. But those are rare. Usually we feel a mix of feelings, life isn’t all black and white. I remember when I was delivering the eulogy at my grandmother’s funeral. I’m an actor as well as an author and I tend to work best when I get audience feedback, be it laughter, applause, etc. Of course at a funeral people aren’t really doing any of those things. They are sitting listening to you. Not really responding that much. So as I was reading my eulogy, and was getting all teary and missing my grandmother so much, I also couldn’t help thinking, “Wow, tough crowd.”

See? Absurd, right?

4. Speaking of absurdity. Douglas Adams has got to be one of my greatest literary influences. It was his absurd humour that taught me I was allowed to play in the telling of a story. My father read to me before bed every night, and we worked our way through the classics (Dickens, Tolkien, etc). But then one day he picked up THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, and my perspective on books and on writing changed in that moment. I don’t think my mind would have been nearly as blown had I not been introduced to the classics first. And I think it is very important to have a solid grounding before you start to hop around like a crazy person. But Adams definitely inspired my love of absurdity, and that tends to be at the core of most of my humour. I think, going back to point 3, what I like best about it is that life is kind of absurd. And building up on that idea to an extreme is still a very honest reflection of how humans live. It is also hilarious.

5. A shared joke that everyone loves brings people together in a wonderful way. It’s an instant moment of connection. Of “Even if we are quite different, we have this in common.” The best evenings out with friends are the ones where everyone is laughing, where everyone is having fun. I really love bonding over comedy. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Thanks so much for the guest post, Adrienne. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Me on Live Through This

Title: Live Through This
Author: Mindi Scott
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From the outside, Coley's life seems pretty normal. It's not perfect, her best friend is mad at her, but her adorable crush Reese is a welcome distraction. Plus, she's got a great family to fall back on with a mom and step-dad who would stop at nothing to keep her and her siblings happy. But Coley has some secrets, some she won't dare admit even to herself, like how her near-perfect life is a façade. Like how she's been hiding the shame and guilt of a relationship that crossed the line. Now that she's got her first real chance to have a boyfriend, a decade's worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

Live Through This is an unexpected eye-opener, a look into a carefully crafted world hiding some dark and painful secrets. Coley is hiding something and she's trying to continue with her life, trying to live through it, but masks never last for long and all too soon for Coley, afraid of facing the truth, it crumbles at her feet. This book is honest and emotional, highlighting some serious trauma rarely discussed but very important.

I'm often torn when it comes to issue books, especially those that discuss sexual abuse. Books like that tend to hit hard with me because no one should ever have to feel the shame and pain of being sexually assaulted. It's possibly why I don't personally read a lot of issue books. Books that make me feel emotional, that make my heart hurt, are amazing, but it's different when I feel helpless to stop the suffering of the character.

That being said, this was a wonderful eye-opener of a book. It starts like a shot, like a punch to the chest, and it kept me on edge even when Coley put on her mask and tried to live her normal life. The sexual abuse that Coley experiences come from a place she wouldn't expect it to come from, a place of love and trust. But then it evolves, changing to something closer to confusion, and it leaves her in a dark place she can't escape but wants desperately to run from. She doesn't know what to do, and so she hides, hides behind a bright smile and genuine affection for her friends and family.

Books like this, while sensitive in nature, are powerful because of the message they carry. Profound, emotional, and so realistic, Coley's story needs to be passed on to others.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (30)

This Week's Book Week is pretty much like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only without the smart and catchy name. :)

It's been a hard week for a lot of people. *hugs for everyone*

I'm seeing a bunch of RL friends tomorrow for our annual Christmas meet-up and Secret Santa present exchange. We're heading down to Stanley Park to wander around and see the Christmas lights. :) I might spam-tweet a bunch of pictures Sunday evening, so be warned.

I read 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson this week (I had an e-book copy from that time last year when the e-book was free for a little while and just now got around to reading it because I was bored and The Darkest Minds isn't something I wanted to start right before I went to bed because it's pretty big). I think I enjoyed it so much because I've been reading Maureen's tweets for the past year and a bit and the book constantly reminded me of Maureen. Of course, it also made me want to re-read The Name of the Star. I think next week and Christmas week will have a bunch of re-reading. :)

It's about 6 weeks until ALA Midwinter. It's not necessarily panic I'm feeling but more that I wish I knew some things, like about the hostel where Caitlin and her friends and her co-bloggers are planning to stay that I'm butting into (now, Caitlin did offer a spot in the room, but I still think I'm butting into their plans). Once I know what days out of the four they're going to be there, I can book a spot on a train or bus (no way I'm driving down into downtown Seattle again). Still, it's 6 weeks away.

Borrowed from the library:
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Received to review:
The Culling by Steven dos Santos (from Flux through NetGalley) (I realize the title of this book borders on inappropriate, considering what happened yesterday in the US, but I requested this book earlier in the week and I saw the approval e-mail Friday morning before I saw the news. It seems to be a rather dark dystopian with an LGBT romance.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Me on Origin

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. She was raised by a group of scientists who created her, selectively bred her, to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence surrounding the complex and sneaks out of her sterile home for the first time in her life. Free in the jungle, she meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth behind Pia's origin, a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is unique and rather complicated, raising some tough scientific and moral questions. What if man could become immortal? What if man could live forever? If it's possible, then what is life? What is death? What is it to live forever? What do you do if you were created to live forever and you don't want to?

Pia is a unique girl. Very unique. She's strong, she's immortal, she's rather unconventional, but even with all her advanced genetics she's weak and isolated. The scientists build her up as the new age of man but they fail to see the frightened teenage girl in front of them, a girl struggling to live up to the harsh and impossible expectations they set before her. Physically, she's everything they hopes to create, but she's still a human being, and human beings are unpredictable. The only life she's ever known is at odds with a life she accidentally falls into and is extremely intrigued by. What the scientists couldn't do is eliminate her curiosity.

The book raises some heavy scientific and moral questions. How far can science go? Extending a person's life span is possible to a certain extent, but to extend it indefinitely? Is immortality possible? How far is society willing to go to explore this question? Not to mention the moral (is it right to work on discovering the secret to immortality?) implications, there could be some issues from religious groups. Is man meant to live forever? Or it is playing God, becoming God?

In this book, there are those who are immortal, like Pia, and those who wish to live forever. There is a harsh truth hidden in Pia's jungle. Is she brave enough to wander deep into the trees and vines and rivers in order to discover it? Will she be the creation her uncle always hoped she would become? Or will she become something unexpected?

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (107)

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

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades— the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

I really enjoyed Maureen's last book, The Name of the Star, and from what I've heard from people who've read ARCs and e-galleys, this one's going to be just as good. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Me on Rage Within

Title: Rage Within
Author: Jeyn Roberts
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Aries, Clementine, Mason, and Michael have survived the first wave of the apocalypse that wiped out most of the world's population and turned a fair amount of the rest into murderous Baggers. Now, they're hiding out in an abandoned house in Vancouver with a rag-tag group of teenage survivors, trying to figure out their next move. Aries is trying to lead but it's difficult when there are no easy answers and everything feels wrong. Clementine is still on a desperate search to find her brother. Michael is haunted by the memories of what happened to him on the road out to the west coast. But Mason is struggling with the worst problem: that he's a danger to his friends. As the Baggers begin to create a new world order, the four teens will have to rely and trust each other if they want to keep surviving.

Rage Within is just as powerful as its predecessor, dark, dangerous, and very deceptive. When the apocalypse hits and ruins the world, what happens next? This is the immediate after that will determine who will continue to survive, who will take charge, and who will have all the control. What also arises is the question of change. Is it possible to be the same person you were before the apocalypse hit? Can you change, can you do what you need to in order to survive, and still be the same person? This book highlights mankind's quest for survival, to live on through horror and despair, and to find a new way of life.

Now that all of the four main narrators are in Vancouver, now that they've all met, nothing is any easier. There is a common goal, but they all have their own missions, their own problems, and they need to come together so they can keep surviving. Or else the Baggers will win.

The Baggers are an interesting enemy/non-enemy. People but not people, people where the darkness has taken over, people without morals but with rules and actions and procedures. The idea that they're planning something is frightening, because it could spell the end for those normal people still struggling to survive.

Nothing. The ever-elusive, cryptic, frightening and all-knowing Nothing. Nothing is everywhere and nowhere. Nothing lives. But where? The reveal, while unsurprising, was perfect.

The group has to deal with a lot, the aftermath of the earthquake and the Baggers, but what if the people close to you are the ones you have to be wary of? As Nothing claims on page 202, "we all have a dark side." But we also have an innate desire to live, to survive. In the end, it all depends on which side is stronger.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (29)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves over at Tynga's Reviews only I named it. ;)

If you happen to see me buying books this month that are for me, slap me across the face. With Christmas and my birthday at the end of the month, December has become a no book-buying month for me. Which is good, I need the limitation. It's a start if you find you need to cut back on book-buying: don't buy any for yourself in the month your birthday is in or in December. Presents could include books or bookstore gift cards. :)

Yeah, not much to babble about for this week. It was an odd week, both me and my sister kept thinking it was different days a bunch of the time. Then there was getting up really early and Christmas shopping (on different days). Today will have more Christmas shopping. :)

Received to review:
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (finished ccopy from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks (e-galley from First Second/Macmillan through NetGalley) (Another graphic novel, but I'm excited because I rather enjoy Faith Erin Hicks' artwork. Go check out Friends with Boys.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Me on Black City

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin imprint)

In Black City, humans and Darklings are separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races are still running high after a terrible war. Then Ash, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie, the human daughter of an important figure, meet and do the unthinkable: they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection, both first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings towards each other, knowing that if they're caught they'd be executed, but the connection is too strong. When they find themselves at the centre of a deadly conspiracy that threatened to throw the city back into a war, they must make some hard choices that could result in their deaths.

Black City is a mix of genres that started off promising but then turned rather predictable. A dystopian setting with ash constantly flying through the sky, creatures that are essentially vampires but they're not called vampires, and a tragic love story fill this book. It's not necessarily a new and fresh idea, but the author deserves some credit for taking what's close to overdone and tired and re-worked it enough. The tension was constantly turned up after each page, keeping me interested, but then a twist blew everything right up into the air and the book took a tumble into predictability.

I've become wary of books that mix genres like this, books that combine the dystopian and the paranormal. It can work but it can also fail. Here, it sort of worked, but that's because the vampires aren't called vampires. Instead, they're Darklings. Instead, there are different kinds with different physical characteristics. Instead, it's sort of treated more like a disease, even more so in terms of the Wrath. It's reminiscent of Partials in that sense.

The two characters are recognizable stock characters. Natalie is privileged and frightened, she needs some spine, she needs to take control of her life. What makes her stand out are the secrets in her past and that what she discovers, combined with some bold choices, changes her future. Ash is shunned and abused, a foot in both worlds, but if he fights back he could be executed. Like Natalie, Ash has some secrets and will have to make some big decisions. The two of them make up a classic, and by classic I mean familiar and often-used, star-crossed lovers couple that suffer from a little instant love. Instant attraction and instant lust are okay, but not instant love.

What continues to surprise me is that school settings in dystopian or science fiction or even fantasy novels still feel like present day high school. There's a certain social order, there are cliques and groups and popular people. It makes me think that the pain of high school will never go away because high school will never die.

As the story progressed, I found it interesting, but then a massive twist appeared. Lots of things changed and, honestly, it became rather predictable. It surely put a damper on my enjoyment of the book as a whole. That being said, I'll continue the series but it's because I'm curious as to how it will all end.

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (106)

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

Title: Antigoddess
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Tor

From Goodreads:

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

Honestly. Honestly honestly. Who do I have to punch to read this book earlier than September? It sounds all kinds of awesome and I hope Kendare Blake has really tweaked the Greek myths because there are so many retellings out there.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Me on Starling

Title: Starling
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins

Mason is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she's never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious storm rips through Manhattan, trapping her and her teammated inside the school. She soon finds herself beseiged by more than thunder and lightning, because the storm also brings a dangerous stranger into her life, a young man who remembers nothing but his name: the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears her world apart, even as she feels a strong connection to him. Together they seek to unravel the mystery surrounding his identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover that Mason's family, with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse Gods, is at the heart of everything, Mason and Fenn are faced with a terrifying future.

Starling is an eerily dark and very dangerous beginning to a new series, filled with intense action and mystical secrets. Something is happening in New York City, something under everyone's noses, and only a select few know what's to come. That something coming is huge, is deadly, and a fair number want to make sure it never comes to pass. But how is anyone supposed to stop a prophecy that heralds the end of the world?

After the storm, Mason gets wrapped up in something complicated, something involving a sinfully handsome and deadly amnesiac, and she thinks everything is different now. If only she knew that everything is still the same, that they're all continuing down the fated path towards... who knows what.

While Mason has a sword and knows how to use it (in non-violent fencing purposes), she still has baggage and teenage insecurities. The sword makes her look dangerous when it's in her hand, but when it isn't she's a normal girl with spatial boundary issues who might have a crush on a couple of guys and has to deal with weird brothers and a distant but over-bearing father. And Fennrys is loads of broken warrior. He's forgotten everything in his past but his name and his awesome fight skills. It's clear he needs fixing, that getting his memories back will help the cause, but it all depends on when that will happen. Luckily enough, he's still got the same attitude from the previous series.

There are times when a book written in third person works, and those times are books like this and Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. Main characters like Mason and Fenn are focused on regularly, but there are times when the reader needs to know something that Mason or Fenn don't know or can't know, and that's when the small glimpses into other characters' actions are needed. The readers need those few moments with Mason's brother Rory and what he's planning as well as her other brother Roth and their father, the moments with Cal and his mother. These are hints at what coming, and what's coming will shake the world to its core.

The inclusion of Norse mythology is so refreshing. Different names of gods and goddesses, a different afterlife, and a different prophecy of the future. It's almost gotten to the point where Greek mythology is tired and boring, and so many types of faerie lore have been explored. That being said, I imagine there will be some cross-over with the faerie world since Starling is connected to the author's previous Wondrous Strange series, but I'll enjoy the fact that the Norse Gods will be at the forefront.

There are connections everywhere, but not all of them are known. Something is coming, quite possibly the end of the world, and this is just the start of a dangerous journey for both Mason and Fennrys. What comes next in the series will only serve to intrigue and excite.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (28)

This Week's Book Week is just like Stacking the Shelves featured by Tynga's Reviews only with a different name that I came up with. I'm terrible at names.

I registered for ALA Midwinter this week. *panic* Wow. Well, it's in Seattle, and who knows when I'll ever be near something like this again. I honestly see this as being the only one big conference/convention that I go to in the next few years. I know where I'm staying (thanks to Caitlin for letting me piggy-back on her hotel plans with her co-bloggers and friends) but I'm not yet sure how I'm getting there. I'll probably end up taking the train or a bus. (If you know my train story from my trip to Portland, you know how exciting it could get. If you don't, basically on the way back our train broke for an hour then just outside of Seattle a drunk teenager got hit by our train and died and we had to take a bus back home.)

I completed NaNoWriMo on Monday. *dead* I'm not done the draft as a whole, but the same thing happened last year when I hit 50k words and then stopped. Oops. Hopefully I'll finish the first draft and then let it sit. There's also a story idea from a couple of years ago that I want to pick up again sitting around in my files, that might be what I work on next.

Somehow, during NaNo, I read 3 books in a week and wrote up 5 reviews over 2 nights. Weird. It was nice to be on a roll after not being on a roll for a long time. It was also nice because it means all my reviews are written for December. There won't be any reviews or posts during the week of the 23rd because of Christmas and my birthday. It's looking like there'll be a post on the 19th, perhaps the 21st, then another TWBW (because the horrible temp name has stuck) on the 30th that will cover Christmas and my birthday.

This also means I'm now reading a bunch of 2013 releases. It's like looking into the future. ;)

Holy freaking crap, it's December. Where did the year go??

Received to review:
Wicked Kiss by Michelle Rowen (from Harlequin through NetGalley)

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (from Caitlin but I picked it up from Miriam)

Borrowed from the library:
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Friday, November 30, 2012

Me on The Friday Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (105)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Me on Darkwater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (27)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (104)

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

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

From Goodreads:

Your heart beats only with their permission.

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

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

She's different. She survived. Why?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Me on Strange Angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I own a copy of this book.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (26)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (103)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Me on Second Chance

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (25)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (102)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Me on The Night Has Teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (24)

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Me on Burn for Burn

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I own a copy of this book)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (101)

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

Title: Transparent
Author: Natalie Whipple
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

X-Men meets The Godfather; in which an invisible girl has to stop her dad—an infamous crime lord—from ruining her life.

On the run from her mind-controlling father, the infamously invisible Fiona McClean hides in a small town, hoping to finally rid herself of the crime world she has always known. But playing at “normal life” with a mother she hates, a brother she can’t trust, and a boy she can’t stand proves more difficult than she ever imagined. Soon her father is hot on her heels, and it’s up to Fiona to protect not only her family, but the friends who’ve taught her that life doesn’t have to be as lonely and cruel as she thought.

Darn books that make me want them so much just from the summary. After Holly Black's White Cat series, I've been wanting another mobster-related story. This sounds pretty interesting, I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it next year. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Me on Days of Blood & Starlight

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to dream of a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world. Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she's sought. She knows who she is... and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: she loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. Now she has to decide how fall she will go to avenge her people, but while she and her allies build an army out of dust and starlight, an angel wages a different sort of battle. A battle for redemption, for hope, if hope can be salvaged from the ashes of a broken dream.

Like its predecessor, Days of Blood & Starlight is darkly magical, eerie, and dangerous. Pages filled with lyrical, descriptive prose show readers the after. After the handprints on the doors. After the explosions. After a tear ripped through the sky. So many questions race through the minds of readers. Where's Karou? Where's Akiva? Where's Brimstone? What will happen now, now that Karou knows who she is, where she came from? Will the world still be the world she knows when everything ends?

For Karou, she must determine her next course of action after traveling through the rift in the sky, but that all depends on what she finds there, if it be friend or foe, if she's capable of completing the task at hand. Everything is in the balance: her love of Brimstone and the chimaera, her love of her human friends, and her love for a certain angel.

For Akiva, his search for Karou, to discover whether she's alive or dead, is hampered by a larger task at hand. War is looming, and he will be forced to rejoin his angel brother and sister and the ranks of solders, forced to march on in an age-old battle, and forced to make a choice between his people and his love.

This book is dark, mysterious, and earthy, born from complicated dreams and sweet nightmares. A fantasy where monsters are human, where angels are monsters, where humans are magic, and deep down, everyone is the same, hoping for the same thing. A world to live in free from pain and terror where one can live peacefully with the ones they love most. If such a world exists for Karou and Akiva, their battle for that world will be long and hard, and my heart weeps at the journey they must take.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada through NetGalley.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (23)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only named by me when I was at a loss for a title. It seems to have stuck. It's the same sort of meme, but with more rambling about how my week was.

No books this week. Well, no books that you'll care about. I doubt you're interested when I feed my newfound manga habit. For me, 2011 was the year of e-books, and it looks like 2012 is the year of anime and manga. What will 2013 be the year of, I wonder. ;)

Me on Books is 2 years old. I hope it won't suffer from the terrible twos or anything. There's a giveaway going on right now for another couple of weeks, so make sure to enter to win a 2012 YA debut of your choice. There's a free entry option, because why not, so if that's how you want to enter, you can. :) If it hits 150 entries, I'll add another winner.

So, my brain's been rejecting reading e-galleys. It's not their fault, it's my brain and how it won't connect to it like a paper book. I've got a few to read, but after that I might have to hold off requesting any e-galleys until next year. Unless it's a book I really want to read. I feel bad, more publishers are moving towards e-galleys, but if I end up not liking a book because of the font size on the screen and I can't make it bigger or smaller because it's a PDF and not an ePDF, it's not fair to the author or the book.

There's an event next Saturday in North Van that I'm going to with a bunch of local authors (and one we're borrowing from the Seattle area). There might be a write-up the week after, so keep a look out. ;) I'm rather excited, there'll be some BC authors I haven't met yet but know through their books and Twitter.

Hope you guys got some great books this week. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Me on Stealing Parker

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

After her family's scandal rocks their conservative small town, Parker goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian who runs off with her girlfriend. The all-star third baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds, and starts making out with guys. A lot of guys. But hitting on the new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far, especially when he starts flirting back.

Stealing Parker is a refreshingly realistic contemporary novel, a well-written glimpse into the many complications and struggles a teenage girl faces. Parker faces a number of struggles, but the most important one from what I could see is her struggle with God, her complaints and her anger over how her life changed when her mother came out.

To be honest, to me, Parker sounds like a liar, or at least someone who deflects blame so none of it sticks to them. All the blame is on her mother for leaving and revealing that she's a lesbian, and on God for taking her mother away and changing her whole world. She reminds me of Sam from Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed, another girl who couldn't move on from the troubles in her life. Of course, their situations are different, Sam takes on all the blame while Parker pushes it onto others, but they couldn't see two feet in front of their faces, they couldn't move past that fact that, while one thing was different, everything else was the same. They still had family, still had friends, but it was that one event that stopped their lives and became an insurmountable mountain.

Parker decides to change her life, but is it for the best? She puts the blame squarely on God for taking away what he's given her, but placing blame is never a good idea, whether it's on God or another person. She can blame God all she wants, but Parker has to live with the changes she's made and accept that things are different or she won't move forward.

By quitting the softball team, Parker hopes to not be branded a lesbian. This kind of stereotyping bothers me, but that fact that it bothers me shows how close contemporary novels are to real life. There are stereotypes of lesbians liking sports, or drums or shop class like in Karen Bass' Drummer Girl, and it's upsetting that there are teenage girls out there who cave and give up the things they love. No one deserves to be labelled something they aren't just because they like a certain thing. It's sad that Parker caves to the rumours, that she wasn't strong enough to push past them and keep on playing, but if she had this book wouldn't exist. This book is all about her regaining that strength she lost.

Going around kissing almost every guy in school might stop the lesbian rumours, but it makes Parker seem flighty and vapid, an immature girl who'd hiding from the truth. It's clear she's smart, given her grades and early admission, but being a quitter and a kisser makes her an unreliable and unfavourable narrator when the book begins.

At the heart of the book is Parker's struggle through high school, her trying to figure out the world when her brother has issues, her dad has given up, her mom isn't there, the church preaches at her, her former friends continue to spew forth slander and lies, her current friends and possible crushes. Always at the heat of contemporary YA is teenagers working to figure out how the world works, how to carve out their spot and move forward on that path. Here, it's very obvious that Parker is trying whatever she can to figure things out, and could possibly try anything.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (100)

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

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

From Goodreads:

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

After the massive anime and manga kick I've been on this year, I can't want this book more than I do right now. And the magic part sounds so interesting, it's always nice when the magic comes from something artistic or fancy like ink drawings. :) And the author's Canadian, which is always nice. More Canadian content to promote on the blog. ;)