Saturday, April 28, 2012

Me on Some End of the Week Book-Related Stuff

I'm not one for controversy. If you want to know what happened this week, it's called Google. Still, I'm not sure where to go from here, if I'll go back to IMM or not, if you guys still want to see me ramble on about my week and say what books I got. Hopefully, I can come up with a title that doesn't suck. Like, 'This Week in Review Babble,' or something. 'Rambling About a Bunch of Stuff.' I suck at titles.

After last week's mail freak-out, I got 4 books on Monday (1 was an e-galley). Way to redeem the week before, Monday. ;)

My Canadian YA lit blog event starts on Tuesday. Are you excited?? :) There should still be IMM/book mail stuff and Waiting on Wednesday posts, if that's the only reason you wander past the blog. But there will also be guest posts and Q&A's and reviews. And giveaways. More than one. :)

Why, yes, I'll be in NYC for the first week of September. ;) My mom asked if I wanted to go to the US Open (tennis) and I said yes, so we're going for the second week. I've never been to NYC but I've been in the state, went to Corning (the glass museum) and Cooperstown (baseball hall of fame). So, if there's anything book-related happening around then that you guys know about, that'd be awesome. Or book-related places to go. The Strand is on my list. :)

Revived by Cat Patrick (to review from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath by Hélène Boudreau (to review from Raincoast Books) (rather temped to read this now and include it in the blog event)
Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan (to review from Raincoast Books) (the thing is, I haven't read Glow yet, but it is at the library so I've got a bit of time to read it)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (to review from Penguin Canada)
Soulbound by Heather Brewer (to review from Penguin Canada)
The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac (won from Razorbill/Penguin Canada)
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu (to review from St. Martin's through NetGalley)
Timepiece by Myra McEntire (to review from Egmont through NetGalley)

To read & review: Fated, Shadow and Bone, The Golden Lily, Soulbound, Never Enough, Spark, Innocent Darkness, Glitch, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Yesterday, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Me on The Last Princess

Title: The Last Princess
Author: Galaxy Craze
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group imprint)

In 2090, England is a barren land where food is rationed and oil has ruined the oceans. A ruthless revolutionary has chosen to enact a plan to destroy the royal family. The King is now dead, and his oldest daughter and only son have been abducted. His second daughter, Princess Eliza, barely escapes with her life, and soon finds herself navigating London's dangerous streets. With a mind focused on revenge, she joins the enemy in disguise, and finds she must summon the strength to fight back if she wants to survive.

The Last Princess is a very interesting story, rather intriguing and entertaining. The author has done something unique with this book, at times it felt historical but also futuristic. Along with a strong heroine in Eliza, I'm sure there will be some readers who will greatly enjoy this.

As I read this book, so much felt familiar, but I think that comes from the source material like England, the royal family, and certain landmarks that Eliza encountered. It also felt like there were some similarities to the English Civil War of the 1600's where the government rallied against the Royalist supporters of the Crown. Of course, the familiarity I felt might come from the fact that I've studied English literature and history. Others, not so much. Still, I believe most will recognize some of the places Eliza goes to.

Eliza wasn't a meek princess, which is good. It's refreshing to not have a princess wait around to be saved. Faced with possible death, possible revolution, she is able to gather up some courage and fight back against the rebellious leader who ruined her family.

I enjoyed the world-building in that the author, while drawing on actual locations and buildings, still had to do some world-building of her own. It's the same England most people know, but it's a slightly futuristic and ruined one. Again, it's the familiarity of the setting, but everything is worn down, decaying and crumbling, hoping to stay together.

This is a quick read but an exciting read. And, while it had a proper ending, it also leaves you wondering what will happen next, leaves you waiting for the next book.

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Me on Struck

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Mia is a lightning addict. She's survived being struck countless times, but the craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and everyone around her. L.A. is one of the few places she feels safe from her addiction, but when an earthquake rips it apart it's transformed into a mass of chaos. Two warring groups rise to power, two cults, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing prophecies. Mia wants to trust someone else, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. When the final disaster strikes, she must risk unleashing everything to save the people she cares about, or lose everything.

Immediate and powerful, Struck is a fast-paced and moving story of a girl finding her place and making her own choices in a world that craves her power for different purposes. What's most intriguing about this book is the mash-up of different elements, the post-apocalyptic/post-disaster events mixed with a little urban fantasy, a lot of religious fanaticism, and a lot of possible prophecies. So much happens to Mia over the span of a few days, and it all shapes her, breaks her apart and puts her back together, lightning scars and all, leaving her to make the ultimate decision.

Mia seems to follow the trend of female narrators with massive chips in the shoulders. She was rather headstrong and rough, defiant and stubborn, but I thought it worked. There were some times when she made some rather suspicious decisions and made me hate her, but to get that kind of reaction for only part of the story is big. It was only those couple of instances where she bothered me, I actually liked her for most of the book. There was just that time or two where she did something that I knew was obvious and would lead to bowing open a massive can of worms.

There was a weird start to Mia and Jeremy's relationship. It felt a little suspicious, but it was different. I rather enjoyed her nickname for him in the first part of the book.

Still, there was a more important relationship in this book than the one between Mia and Jeremy, and that's the one between Mia and her lightning addiction. She felt like an addict, like a junkie searching for her next fix, but the fact that she knew she was an addict was interesting. I wonder if it wouldn't been different if she hadn't been aware, if she was even more desperate for her next fix. It would've made her more flawed as a character, would've led to a massive realization that she was an addict.

This was an intriguing look at religion, cults, and followers. What it boils down to are people looking for explanations, people trying to find reasons why the world does what it does. The thing with cults that makes them look frightening is the blind loyalty and fanaticism, but what it really boils down to is the one in charge who can sell his position to anyone with doubts, to anyone looking for that reason why. If he sells it well enough, if he can persuade and cajole and influence, then those looking for an explanation to fill the gap will buy into it.

To me, this book seems to be about realizing your own abilities, about having connections to others while having different beliefs or interpretations of the same situation. In this book, Mia had to decide which side to follow, who to trust, who to have faith in. There might be such a thing as fate, that we're following the path already set out before us, but there will always be choice and free will.

(I received an e-galley of the book from Macmillan through NetGalley.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (75)

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

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

From Goodreads:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have been cursed with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby has spent nearly half her life desperately trying to hide the fact that she’s outwitted the camp’s sorting system—that she isn’t powerless, or safe. She’s one of the dangerous ones… and everyone knows what happens to them.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of teens who escaped their own camp, pursued along the way by terrifying bounty hunters. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close to him. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Before the end, Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

*sigh* Yet another book I'm waiting until December for. The nice thing about December is releases is they make good Christmas and birthday presents. Well, for me, at least. ;)

I read Alexandra's debut Brightly Woven, even though I don't read a lot of fantasy (like straight fantasy instead of urban fantasy), and I liked it. This second book of hers sounds more like my kind of book, so I'm really looking forward to it. And the cover is so awesome. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Me on The Vicious Deep

Title: The Vicious Deep
Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

When an unnatural riptide pulls Tristan out to sea for three days then dumps him back on Coney Island, it's the start of something big. The Sea Court is claiming one of their own. Suddenly, his girlfriend drama and swimming championship seem like distant memories compare to the new fact that he's a Merman. Now he's in for a fight for his life, and those of his friends, as he competes for a throne as ancient as the gods.

The Vicious Deep does what most books attempt and few accomplish, which is starting straight away with action. Readers are thrown blind straight into the mystery, straight into the waves with Tristan, and are left spluttering to try and keep up. It's rather enjoyable, going into a book when you're just as clueless as the narrator and have to piece everything together along with them.

This book is mermaid YA for guys like Tera Lynn Childs' Forgive My Fins is mermaid YA geared more towards girls. Tristan has the perfect teenage male attitude. The teen guy snark is perfect, right down to the jokes and the hostility. He's tossed into a weird situation, gets a late explanation to the reason behind it, and then even more weirdness pops up. More of a dark mermaid story but not in the gothic horror sense. Instead, darker in terms of the story, it's more about life or death if you win or fail.

There was so much crammed into this book, high school problems, mermaid problems, normal teen guy problems, plus the action and danger. It felt like a lot but at the same time it didn't. Maybe it dragged a little in the middle, in one or two spots, but the rest of the book had great pacing. When I was halfway through, I already felt wiped, but at the end I wanted so much more. It didn't feel like the end, and it isn't, not of the whole story. This was just the end of one part.

There's always action, always danger, always confusion. The tension never let up as everything kept coming at Tristan, but he never seemed to buckle under the pressure. He took help when he needed it, maybe shouldered the weight of it more than he should've, but he never seemed to give up. I'm wholeheartedly excited for the next book in this series.

(I received an e-galley of this book from Sourcebooks through Raincoast Books and NetGalley.)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Me on In My Mailbox (69)

In My Mailbox is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. :)

I was at a book signing this week. :) For some reason (my own brain being weird), I haven't yet written up an event review post. *sigh* Ummmmm... yeah, I don't know what to tell you. It probably stems from the fact that I didn't take pictures. I did record some of the Q&A (just audio). It's possible that, since 2 of the 3 authors are from Vancouver, I'll do some kind of write up for the blog event. Which starts soon. *nervous face*

I went absolutely insane waiting for the mail this week, both the normal Canada Post and any extra UPS/Purolator delivery-type mail. Every time the doorbell went off I flipped. The one time there was a parcel and I was the only one home, it was for my sister. *head-desk* Blogging and reviewing and requesting has turned me into a basket-case. Before Friday afternoon, I had a bunch of books listed here because I thought they'd come, and they didn't. Why does the mail take so freaking long to get out to BC? Stupid big country. But I'm not about to move out to Toronto.

Even more rumours of me taking a trip this fall. ;) Did you know flights are about half as much if we fly out of Seattle instead of Vancouver?? Holy freaking crap.
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond (to review from Strange Chemistry through NetGalley)
Shift by Kim Curran (to review from Strange Chemistry through NetGalley)
The Gryphon Project by Carrie Mac (Bought at the signing on Tuesday. I got this one because it's a stand-alone and I'm feeling rather swamped by series right now. I really wish that the copy of her new book, The Opposite of Tidy, that I won had arrived before the signing, but it wasn't meant to be. Besides, Carrie's a local author, I'm sure I'll get it signed at some point.)

Borrowed from the library:
Ouran High School Host Club Volumes 12 to 17 (Last year, I read a lot of library e-books and Harlequin novels. This year seems to be the manga year. Interesting. I wonder what next year will be.)

To read & review: Dark Kiss, The Hunt, Fated, Shadow and Bone, Never Enough, Innocent Darkness, Scarlett Dedd, Blackwood, Shift, Yesterday, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Me on The Immortal Rules

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

Allison survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city, by scrounging for food during the day. Some days, it's her hatred of them, the vampires, that keeps her going, but then one night she's attacked and she has to make the ultimate choice. Die, or become a vampire. Faced with her own looming mortality, Allie becomes what she hates, and to survive she has to learn the rules of being immortal. But then she's forced to flee into the unknown, into the wilds of the world outside the city she's always known, and falls in with a group of humans seeking a legend, a cure for the rabid creatures that threaten both the vampires and the humans. But it isn't always easy to pass as human, especially around a certain boy, and Allie has to decide what, or who, is worth dying for.

The Immortal Rules is a refreshing vampire YA novel in a saturated market. Fast-paced and exciting, readers are always on a journey with Allison, the human turned semi-reluctant vampire. The concept is nothing new, a human turned and hiding her vampirism from other humans, but the author has tweaked it enough that, mixed with the dystopic/post-apocalyptic disease setting, the book isn't left feeling old and stale. This book has a uniqueness that will help it stand out and grab hold of readers.

The most surprising and enjoyable element of this book was the pacing. It was almost always fast and moving. When it wasn't, it wasn't moments of stalling but instead times of contemplation for Allie. Who wouldn't need time to think and learn about being a vampire?

Allie has loads of guts and strength. Some reluctant vampires are bothersome, no one really wants to spend their time reading a book about someone filled to the brim with complaints and self-pity, but Allison was different. It wasn't that she was necessarily thrilled to be a vampire, but she didn't spend most of the book harping on it. It was like she had a kind of tenuous understanding, that all the wishing in the world wasn't going to turn back time, that she couldn't snap her fingers and be human again, scrounging for food and struggling to survive and stay Unregistered.

There's an old world feel to the book, most likely brought on by the ruins of the cities, the starvation, the desperation, but it didn't feel ancient or medieval. It's very much a ruined future for the human race in a familiar setting. I'm noticing this more and more, dystopian novels taking place within 100 years of the current date. In that time, there will be differences, but hopefully not enough to completely alienate readers, make them feel like they're reading something that takes place thousands of years in the future.

I don't always want to talk about book length, but I'm curious if books are getting longer. I don't think with this book it's an issue. Yes, it's fairly big, and yes, there's a lot of action and confusion and Allie's philosophical musings on being human and being a vampire, but with this story I feel it worked. There were points where I thought the story could've ended, but not enough had happened. So much does happen to Allie in this book, but everything moved along at a quick pace. There was rarely enough time for Allie to catch her breath, if she felt like breathing at all.

This book was something new and fresh, standing out amongst all the other YA novels with vampire characters. Hopefully, readers will give it a try. I imagine fans of the authors previous work, The Iron Fae series, will also enjoy this.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Trailer Reveal - The Right & the Real

As a bit of early extra fun for the Canadian YA Lit event starting on the 1st, I've got something cool to show you from author Joëlle Anthony.

Joëlle's the author of two YA books. Last year, I read her debut Restoring Harmony and found it very intriguing. If you haven't read it, it's about sixteen-year-old Molly who lives on a small farming island on the BC coast in the year 2041 after massive oil shortages and a global economic collapse. She heads down to Portland to bring her grandparents back to Canada, but what should've been a short trip turns into a massive rescue mission and an encounter with more than a few shady characters.

Her new book, The Right & the Real, sounds rather compelling. Here's the description from Goodreads, and Joëlle's brand new book trailer in honour of her birthday. :) Happy birthday, Joëlle.

The Right & the Real: Kicked out for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own. Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata. Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (74)

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

Title: Dangerous Boy
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Release Date: August 30, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Harper’s new boyfriend Logan Townsend is everything she never knew she always wanted—tall, muscular, with tousled brown hair that falls effortlessly around his face. But what’s most exciting about Logan is that he’s exhilaratingly dangerous, and dating him allows Harper to say, “buh bye” to her good-girl past and “hello” to newfound adventure.

There’s only one problem with Harper’s otherwise heart-stopping romance: Logan’s twin brother Daemon. Harper knows he’s a bad seed, but she tries to look past his dark, icy stare and his chilling demeanor. After all, he and Logan are a package deal.

Then cow bones start appearing in people’s mailboxes, a flock of birds show up dead, and all of the cars in the senior parking lot are given flat tires—and covered with blood-red handprints. Logan insists that Daemon isn’t involved—sure, he’s had some trouble in the past, but they moved to Harper’s quiet northwest Washington town so that they could both start over.

Harper desperately wants to believe Logan, but the more he tries to protect his brother, the more she wonders what she isn’t being told. Now, Harper must unearth the hidden secrets of the mysterious Townsend brothers’ history if she and Logan are to have any hope of a future. But learning what brought Logan and Daemon to town won’t put just her heart in jeopardy... She’s playing with her life.

Be warned, I'm not totally sure if this is the final cover. I like the cover, the dark clouds with the red words, then the light right above the grass. Mandy's last two Penguin covers have been rather pretty. :)

The book sounds so weird, and I really like weird, so I really really want to read this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest Review - This Dark Endeavour

Today's regular Tuesday review was not written by me. Instead, I've got something special. I have a guest review. :) I asked on Twitter if anyone was willing to review a book by a Canadian author as an early tie-in to the blog event starting on the 1st, and after a couple of retweets I found a volunteer in writer and author Gabrielle Prendergast. Her middle grade novel Wicket Season just came out in March, and Audacious comes out in the fall of 2013. You can find her on Twitter or at her website.

Now, Gabrielle picked the book, the only requirement I gave her was it had to be written by a Canadian author. I find it a bit funny that she's reviewed a book that I planned to review for the blog event. I'm wondering if I should pick a different book, or if I should write up my own review and hope that compared to hers it isn't lacking. Whatever happens, I hope you all enjoy this guest review, and thanks so much to Gabrielle for taking the time to write it. :)


Let me start by saying that Kenneth Oppel has some pretty big shoes to fill in taking on Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN as inspiration for this prequel about the teenage years of Victor Frankenstein. The main challenge here, from a character point of view at least is that many readers will be well aware of the horrific things that this teenage Frankenstein does as an older adult. So Oppel needed to show us the beginnings of the passion that would drive the mad scientist to his unholy experiments and the monstrous creature they spawned.

A lesser writer might have told a simple tale that took a bad turn towards the end, turning a likeable hero’s heart to stone as an explanation for the dark places we know the hero to be headed. Oppel is not a lesser writer. He has created a protagonist both irresistible and hard to love, and entirely believable as someone who would later become the famous Dr. Frankenstein.  He is a character who struggles with ego and devotion, love and jealously, ambition and fear. He feels authentically teenaged too, perhaps a little too teenaged, but this is one of the challenges of writing about young people in historical times. Oppel has wisely chosen to make his teenage-hood feel contemporary. This brings the tale out of the stuffy historical realm and makes it feel fresh for a 21st century audience.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads: Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula. Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

If I had a criticism of this fine book I would say that it feels a bit episodic. There are several tasks Victor must complete and each one feels a bit tidy and self-contained, as though it is not part of a larger whole. Part of the problem might be that very few chapters end on a cliffhanger. Reading almost nothing but YA I’m used to cliffhanger chapter endings now, so these tidy chapter endings felt jarring to me, a took me out of the story.

Apart from this, I really enjoyed this book, and breezed through over three leisurely days. The writing in this is very faithful and appropriate for the source material, without ever feeling stuffy or pretentious. It managed to give a strong flavor of the gothic period without being so heavy that young readers will struggle.

I’ve long been a fan of Kenneth Oppel, and had this book on my TBR for ages. I wasn’t at all disappointed. Like most YA books this one ends in a way that would suggest a sequel and I for one, am looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Me on In My Mailbox (68)

In My Mailbox is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. :)

EDIT: Hello to new followers. :) Just so you know, I tend to ramble on in my IMM posts. You're always free to scroll down and just see what books I got, but if you're a fan of rambling, you've come to the right place. ;)

This was a weird week that started with a massive 2 day headache that sort of flared up this morning. I haven't had one that bad in years. Boooo.

I DNF'd a book this week. It sounded interesting, but I wasn't feeling it. My main issue was when I started it, I was a few pages in before I remember that the narrator was supposed to be a girl and not a guy. From the reviews on Goodreads, it's possible it was just me. Still, maybe I'll read it after it comes out, see how it goes.

Went to Chapters on Friday and tweeted some random pictures of books. :) They were either books I like or books by people I know through Twitter. The best reaction to a picture was Stephanie Burgis on my pic of her historical magical MG books Kat, Incorrigible and Renegade Magic. I really enjoyed the first one last year (click on the Reviews tab up top to find my review). :)

Passport office visited. *sigh* Farewell, money. Still, it's useful to have one. There are rumours circling of me taking a trip with my mom. She asked if I wanted to go somewhere. *shhhhhh*

We re-became a 2 car family this week and sold the car that I drove. It was getting on in years, gas is expensive, it's the Lower Mainland and I live in an area where it's fairly easy to catch a bus to the SkyTrain. Now, I'll sort of share my dad's car with him, not going anywhere near my mom's because it's weird (read: it's a Prius). The plan was always to sell the one I drove after I got my class 5 (for those outside of BC, it's the full driver's license with no restrictions) and I passed the test in January.

It wasn't until I added the covers of the books below that I realized there's a 'girl looking like she can kick your ass' theme going on. ;)
Received to review:
Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear (from Flux Books through NetGalley) (My first book from Flux, and this one looks really good. I've heard it's a bit more 'faerie' than 'steampunk,' but we'll see.)
Tune by Derek Kirk Kim (from First Second/Macmillan through NetGalley) (Now, supposedly, it's a graphic novel geared more towards adults, but I think when you see 'coming-of-age' used to describe a story, it might be okay for teens.)

Croak by Gina Damico (Like last week with Wings of the Wicked, comment on if you'd like to see a review of this book)
Dawn of the Arcana Volume 3 by Rei Toma (A little sad, the next volume isn't out until June, but at least this volume didn't end on a cliffhanger.)

To read & review: Dark Kiss, The Hunt, Fated, Shadow and Bone, Never Enough, Innocent Darkness, Scarlett Dedd, Yesterday, Romeo Redeemed and Tune. :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Me on Glimmer

Title: Glimmer
Author: Phoebe Kitanidis
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other's arms with no memory of how they got there or who they are, it's the start of a long journey through their past and their future. Terrified by the amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find answers. As they piece together clues, they discover they're in idyllic Summer Falls where everyone is mysteriously happy, but the two soon learn there's something dark lurking beneath the town's facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but no one ever retains their bad memories. Not the death of Marshall's mom, nor the hidden shame in Elyse's own family. Lonely in a world of happy zombies, Marshall and Elyse fall into an intense relationship, but the secrets they uncover could be the death of it, and of everyone in Summer Falls.

Glimmer was mysterious, an intriguing journey of weird piled upon weird. It was, in my opinion, and interesting mix of amnesia, an idyllic town of happy zombie (in a metaphorical sense) people who don't remember bad memories, and ghosts. Weird can mean good or bad, but here I just mean weird. Such a unique mix of different ideas, mystery and horror and paranormal and romance, but also a bit quirky.

Both Elyse and Marshall were perfect flawed and broken characters. The book starts and we're as clueless as they are, but they have so many scars hidden deep behind memories they wanted desperately to forget. While the book is a journey to re-discover what they both forgot, it's also them pushing past those memories, learning from them, learning that forgetting doesn't remove the pain.

The tag line on the cover says so much about this book, that perfection that a price in Summer Falls, but you don't necessarily have to limit it to the town or even the book. There's a candy-coated happiness over Summer Falls, smothering the dark and creepy danger beneath it, the imperfection and the flaws. It's up to Elyse and Marshall to decide to leave it as it is, or ruin the perfect town that comes with a hefty price.

Also, the cover itself fits with the book. It's rather striking, the bright colours in the girl's face, the water turning dark and murky. It's like Summer Falls, the sickly sweet coating over the truth, and Elyse with the darkness around her eyes. There's something hidden there, locked away, waiting for her to decide if she wants to realize the truth.

I didn't expect what I found in this book, such raw pain and such a strong desire to hide it, such mystery and struggle to discover the truth. This book will be strange, it will be weird, it will be creepy and bizarre, but the story it tells is rather moving.

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (73)

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

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

From Goodreads:

Be your own hero . . .

Set in London at the turn of the last century, the novel follows the stories of three intelligent and very talented young women, all of whom are assistants to very powerful men: Cora, lab assistant to a member of parliament; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant to a martial arts guru; and Nellie, a magician's assistant. The three young women’s 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 may be connected to it‐‐without calling too much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress's sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike--well, relatively ladylike--heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

*sobbing* Why?? Why must we be forced to wait for December for this book to come out?? Why, with all its steampunky goodness and written by an author from Toronto and a mystery along with the steampunky goodness and girl who look like they know how to fight? *sigh* I wants it so bad.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Me on Gone, Gone, Gone

Title: Gone, Gone, Gone
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse (S&S imprint)

It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random attacks. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are trying to make sense of their lives. Craig's got a crush on Lio and is preoccupied with what their brief kiss meant, if Lio will kiss him again, if it'll help Craig get over his ex-boyfriend. Lio feel alive when he's with Craig, forgets about his broken family and his dead brother. But being with him means being vulnerable, and Lio has to decide if love is worth the risk.

Gone, Gone, Gone was at times sweet, romantic, and intense. This is a story of two different boys, both more than a little messed up and complicated, coming together in a dangerous point in time. Both main characters have such interesting voices. The beginning was a bit rough, a bit jagged, but then it flowed and I fell in love with Craig and Lio (especially Lio, which is upsetting because he's gay, and fictional).

A quick note. When 9/11 and the Beltway shootings occurred, I was in high school, but it didn't affect me as much as most, possibly because I live on the west coast in Canada. That being said, me not having experienced those events didn't take anything away from the story for me. If anything, I enjoyed the book more. Weaving those real life events into this book gave it a sense of immediacy for me, like it was all happening right then.

Craig and Lio had wonderful voices, honest and so much like teenagers and complicated and messed up. With Craig, he just couldn't shut up. He babbles on and on, but it's like if he stops talking, stops worrying about his animals and his ex, stops e-mailing his ex, stops obsessing over Lio, he'll explode. He'll just stop and everything will fall apart around him. On the other hand, Lio was perfect, battered and broken, so rough around the edges after him family issues and his brother's death. He's closed off, keeps everything tight to him, then Craig walks in talking about anything and everything and Lio gets the urge to open up. But opening yourself up to someone, especially someone you might love, makes you so vulnerable it scares you.

This book felt so personal, like being given a glimpse into Craig and Lio's lives at a specific moment but it had to be kept secret. The shootings impact them both directly and indirectly, and it exposes their weaknesses to the reader's eyes, showing the reader the deepest and most fragile part of themselves, showing what they want but how much it's going to hurt to get it.

There's so much in this book about love and connections, about hope at a time where the world is dangerous and exploding around you, about being needed by someone who's just as messed up as you are. Being needed by someone can be empowering. Being loved can change how you see the world, how you treat it, how you interact with it. This moment in two teenage boys lives was harsh, difficult, but also poignant. Even in the dark times, in the shadows of pain and loss and sleeplessness, can there be hope and love.

(I received an e-galley of this book from Simon & Schuster.)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Me on In My Mailbox (67)

In My Mailbox is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. :)

My copy of Above came back this week after spending time in Toronto to get signed. Thanks again to Michele for being my Toronto mailing person. :)

Got pictures taken for my passport renewal. Fun. Why does it cost so much for the renewal? I don't remember the actual passport costing this much 5 years ago. Instead of me spending a few days in Seattle with some friends, I'm spending $100 renewing my passport.

I was talking to some bloggers the other night on Twitter and I said that when I e-mail publicists about review copies, most of the apprehension comes from the fact that I have no idea what they have available and am totally guessing at what ARCs they were sent. I get the feeling it's a bit trickier in Canada, I've asked about some titles and was told they weren't sent any by the US office. Which is interesting, you'd think the US would be all over a huge mostly English-speaking market that has a lot of similarities to themselves (I'm totally being cheeky here ;)).

In other news, it's early but I'm looking for someone willing to grab me an ARC or two at BEA this summer. Ways I can pay you back include sending money for postage or sending you a book or two in return (like from Book Depository).

Also, I have a link for a guest pass thing for Crunchyroll if anyone's interested. It's pretty much free access to the site for 48 hours, so if you like anime (or any of the dramas they also have, I don't watch those), then let me know. :)

In the mail:
Above by Leah Bobet (totally cheating but look it's signed and pretty)
Borrowed from the library:
Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton (Say in comments whether or not you'd like to see a review. :))
Ouran High School Host Club Volumes 6 to 11 by Bisco Hatori (*sigh* More manga. I liked the anime (well, I avoided most of the last 2 episodes because it looked like SUCH a cheesy ending) and I'm doing what I did with Fruits Basket, reading the manga. I like how the manga of Fruits Basket had an actual ending. Might do the same next with Blue Exorcist. There are some I'd watch and then read, but the lack of English translations of the manga kind of suck.)

To read & review: Struck, Dark Kiss, The Hunt, Fated, Shadow and Bone, Never Enough, Scarlett Dedd, Yesterday, and Romeo Redeemed. :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Me on Kill Me Softly

Title: Kill Me Softly
Author: Sarah Cross
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Egmont

Mira's past is shrouded in secrecy, but that doesn't stop her from running off to the town she was born in a week before her sixteenth birthday. But in Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems, from the pale girl and her morbid interest in apples, to the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, to the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. In Beau Rivage, fairy tales come to life and curses are awakened. But tales don't always have happy endings. Mira has a role to play, and as she struggles to take control, she's drawn to two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own. And she'll find that love, like fairy tales, have hidden thorns.

Kill Me Softly was slightly darker than your average fairy tale and so much more mysterious. This book attempts to break the mold of fairy tale princes and princesses, showing the complicated side, the dark and dangerous side, the deadly side, the side that doesn't end "happily ever after."

As far as retold fairy tale princesses go, Mira actually had some guts. She made the difficult decisions, got wrapped up in some weird stuff, but she's got the guts to try and work her way out of it. The other fairy tale retelling characters had their own quirks to stand out from the original, but the awkwardness stood out the most for me. It wasn't that it was bad awkwardness on the part of the author, but more of an awkwardness stemming from them knowing which fairy tale character they were and which part they were fated to play. Like, awkward in the sense that they knew that at some point they'd turn into a beast or be forced to cut out a girl's heart.

This book was written in third person but focuses mainly on Mira and her experiences. The only times we don't see Mira was to see the other side of the plot, moments when Mira wasn't around but the reader needed to know what was happening. It seemed a little convenient to me, and I would've liked more glimpses of other characters like Viv, Blue, and Freddie.

What felt different about this book as opposed to other fairy tale retellings is the life and death aspect. There seemed to be more focus on how the fairy tale roles were more like curses, and that the consequences were far more deadly than expected. It wasn't just that Mira might end up cursed if everything doesn't pan out, she might end up dead. The actual dead, not the fairy tale dead that you're brought back to life from. It made for a more immediate story, one with actual and painful consequences.

While Kill Me Softly read as a stand-alone, I hope that there will be more, possibly a companion book or two. There are other fairy tales besides Mira's to be explored, other characters you only get glimpses of. I'm curious as to how they will play out.

(I borrowed an advance copy from another book review blogger.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (72)

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

Title: The Blood Keeper
Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books

From Goodreads:

Paranormal romance fans who are looking to up the ante will be drawn to this tale of horror, fantasy, and romance. For Mab Prowd, the practice of blood magic is as natural as breathing. It's all she's ever known. Growing up on an isolated farm in Kansas with other practitioners may have kept her from making friends her own age, but it has also given her a sense of purpose—she's connected to the land and protective of the magic. And she is able to practice it proudly and happily out in the open with only the crows as her companions. Mab will do anything to keep the ancient practice alive and guard its secrets. But one morning while she is working out a particularly tricky spell she encounters Will, a local boy who is trying to exorcise some mundane personal demons. He experiences Mab's magic in a way his mind cannot comprehend and is all too happy to end their chance meeting. But secrets that were kept from Mab by the earlier generations of blood magicians have come home to roost. And she and Will are drawn back together, time again by this dangerous force looking to break free from the earth and reclaim its own dark power.

I read Tessa Gratton's first book Blood Magic last year and really enjoyed it, so I've been looking forward to this sort of companion book. Tessa writes good creepy, and so this book is high on my want to read list. More creepy, people. I demand it. ;) The cover's a big 180 from the cover for Blood Magic, but I like it. Feels a bit historical with the pale wood and the rune symbols.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Me on Grave Mercy

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ismae has escaped from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, the god of Death. Here, she learns that he has blessed her with both dangerous gifts and a violent destiny. If she stays, she'll be trained as an assassin, one of Death's handmaidens. To claim this new live, she has to destroy others. Her most important mission takes her to the high court of Brittany where she finds herself under-prepared, not only for the deadly game of intrigue and treason, but the choice she must make. How can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target that has stolen her heart?

Grave Mercy was dark and mysterious in a number of ways. The convent and St. Mortain, the old buildings and keeps, Ismae and Duval. This is a book that sucked me into the historical setting and the dangerous battle of life and death, who lives and who dies.

The best compliment I can give is that this book felt historical, that the author nailed Ismae's voice and the Brittany setting. It felt dark and dreary, like a castle of old with gaps between the stones in the walls letting cold air in, candles giving off light after the sun went down, dirt roads becoming mud in the rain underneath the horses' hooves. Everything felt dark and dismal and hopeless, a perfect backdrop for the book. And Ismae was wary and cautious, but still willing to carry out her duties, blending into the background as women often did, listening for secrets that might reveal her mission. She was still battered and bruised from her life before the convent, and so she had to move carefully to get past it.

There was a lot of intrigue, of suspicion and finger-pointing. I was never sure who was on which side or who to trust until the very end.

The romance was woven into the intrigue nicely, where the result of the former largely relied on the result of the latter. It never felt forced, Ismae was often conflicted around him, but I imagine that's more to do with the horrible relationship with her father and her almost marriage. She is a handmainden of Death, she she fear no one, but in her heart, she does fear this one man.

The one slight drawback that I've noticed in historical novels is how often the characters plan out events and how often they are kept waiting. Some spots dragged as Ismae waited for news from the convent, as she waited to discover which character would turn to the other side. Of course, that is all do with the time period itself, it did take longer to send information from one person to another. And some of that time was filled with Ismae spending her days and nights at lavish parties with odious people she was forced to associate with.

This book is definitely a must-read for historical fans who don't mind a bit of otherworldly mystery and romance thrown in. Also for people drawn in by this simple description of the book: assassin nuns in 15th century Brittany.

(I received an e-galley of this book to read through NetGalley.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giveaway - Melissa Jensen

Hello, people who like giveaways. ;)

I adore the authors who don't mind when I fangirl, even more so when they offer to send books for me to give away to you guys. I've got two books for one person (because they sort of go together in the way companion books/books written in the same world but not in a series do), and they're both signed. :)

Thanks so much to Melissa for sending me these to give away to you guys. I'm rather jealous, there's a doodle in Truth or Dare that I'd love to keep but I've got a signed ARC so it all balances out. :)

EDIT: Now open to international entries. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Me on In My Mailbox (66)

In My Mailbox is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. :)

It's April Fool's Day, which means this whole post is a joke. ;) No, not really.

For the blog event in May I'm going to post a list of all the Canadian YA authors I can think of, but that's only so many, so I want you guys to e-mail me or comment with as many as you can think of. Just authors, I can look up book titles. And it doesn't matter if they used to live in Canada or they moved to Canada or what, it all counts. :)

I'm rather anti-crowds, so I didn't go see The Hunger Games movie until Monday. I saw it at noon on a Monday with my sister, figured it would be a good non-crowd time. ;) It was when we got to the theatre, but then more and more people (teens still on Spring Break possibly?) showed up. Still, they only half-filled the theatre. I liked it, my sister was more it was ok. Don't think she'll read the book, though. Sad book-panda. ;)

I've still been watching a lot of anime on Crunchyroll, I've pretty much replaced TV-watching with it (apart from some sports-watching). A good deal of Wednesday morning was spend flipping out over one series in particular that came to an end, Ano Natsu de Matteru. So much flipping out. And crying. If you like contemporary teenagers making a low-budget student-type film over summer vacation with a splash or two of science fiction, I'd recommend it. :)

And someone explain the thing in my brain that, after watching anime, has me needing to read manga. I can't read newspaper comics anymore, my eyes go straight to the right instead of the left.

Now... I bought books this week, but they're not review books so I'm torn on whether or not to add them. *sigh* ... I will, only because I included all that Fruits Basket when I borrowed it from the library and because it's geared towards a teen audience. Yes, I totally bought manga this week. Good thing, too. There have been some I've found online and wanted to read/buy but aren't published in English. Or the ones that used to be published in English but then stopped because the company stopped/went under/whatever (I'm looking at you, Tokyopop).
To review:
Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen (from Harlequin through NetGalley) (You never let me down, Harlequin, not like Random House and their surprising pause in approving me. I want to read Velveteen and Touched and Flirting in Italian and Unspoken too, you know.) (You know, I hope Random House knows how much I appreciate them saying yes to all the books before. :)) (Also, I'm rather regretting not contacting Michelle Rowen about the blog event next month. *sigh* Oh, well. One more author to add to the list for next year.)
Dawn of the Arcana Volumes 1 & 2 by Rei Toma (Kingdoms, countries at odds, arranged marriages, semi-human creatures, love, hate, danger, evil kings and queens, and magic. Think Game of Thrones-lite in a teen manga form. And an adorable little boy with ram horns where his ears should be. I might wait to read them since Volume 3 comes out on Tuesday (honestly, Tuesday) and I pre-ordered it. And the covers are gorgeous, so colourful.)
The Earl and the Fairy Volume 1 by Ayuko and Mizue Tani (Historical England, fairies, a young woman, and a scoundrel earl who semi-kidnaps her. ;) Now waiting for June for Volume 2.)
(There won't be reviews of these, but there were never reviews of Fruits Basket, even though I would recommend it. Very funny and sweet. :))

To read & review: Zero, The Immortal Rules, Struck, Dark Kiss, The Hunt, Fated, Shadow and Bone, Never Enough, Scarlett Dedd, Yesterday, and Romeo Redeemed. :)