Saturday, September 29, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (20)

This Week's Book Week is my uncleverly-titled thing that's pretty much the same as Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews. :)

Hello. I miss talking to you people. But not when you say "I hope you really enjoy that book" when it's a finished copy I bought of an advance copy I've already reviewed. Hmmmmm. Maybe I should start linking to reviews if I get a finished copy.

I'm headed out to Word on the Street tomorrow, because that's when it is in Vancouver. This weekend (as opposed to last weekend in Toronto). I think I'm going to wander around tomorrow for as long as I can before I get bored or lonely or buy too many books. ;) Now sure what I'll get, since there's going to be a bunch of different authors there, some YA, but we'll see. Whatever I get will probably go up in next week's post. :)

My sister's been knitting a bunch of stuff, like hats and now a sweater. It kinda makes me wish I knew how to crochet more than scarves and blankets. ;) Those are easy. Knitting in a circle to make a sweater that includes cap sleeves and a button hole? It looks so complicated, but she knows how to make it work. *sigh*

It's a three review week this week with posts on Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Velveteen by Daniel Marks, and Mystic City by Theo Lawrence going up. :) Now, I'm off to read.
Starling by Lesley Livingston
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
Received to review:
Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (from Raincoast Books)
Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride (from Raincoast Books)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (from Raincoast Books) (It's going to be hard to keep from reading this one.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Me on Through to You

Title: Through to You
Author: Emily Hainsworth
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Cam has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend Viv died. She was the last good thing in his life, helping him after an injury, after his family broke apart, after the pain meds wore off. Now, he'd give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when he makes a visit to the site of her accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn't Viv. Her name is Nina, and she's not a ghost. She's from a parallel world, one where Viv is still alive. All of Cam's focus is now on getting his girlfriend back, but things are different in this other world. Viv and Cam both made some different decisions, things between them have changed in different ways, and this Viv isn't like the one he lost. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is getting smaller. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played, he'll have to make a choice, stay with Viv or let her go, before the window closes once and for all.

Through to You is mysterious, a darker sort of fantasy, a fantastical sort of science fiction, and a powerful book about grief and emotions. Cam is drowning in grief, so close to sinking away from everyone else in his life until there's a glimpse of hope in the distance, and the overwhelming desire to see Viv alive and breathing again takes control. But nothing is perfect, nothing is simple, and sometimes the grass isn't greener on the other side. We've all had moments where we did one thing, wished we did the other and regretted it, but if you were given the chance to live in a world where the other choice had been made, would you take it, knowing that other things would be different, too?

The lack of connection with the world, the desire to go back to how things were, the loss of control. Cam is depressed, so much so, after his girlfriend died in a car accident. It's so interesting, not to mention refreshing, to see grief from a male character's point of view. It's not just girls that break down, that want nothing more than to curl up into a ball and give up when someone close to them dies. Everyone experiences loss at some point in their lifetime, and it's both boys and girls that can be overwhelmed by that loss.

There's been a recent surge of science fiction elements in YA novels, not hard science fiction like space travel or extremely advanced technology, but more of the quantum physics side of science fiction like time travel and alternate realities. And it works with the book's dark and moody teenager mood. Cam's skirting the edge of giving up, then Nina appears from her reality and everything changes.

There are so many possibilities when writing about alternate dimensions where once choice changes everything. One world where Cam is alive. One world where Viv is alive. But it's the other differences that matter. One divergence in the past will change the future, and what Cam thinks is one difference in the other reality is really a lot of differences, ones that will force him to make a tough decision, to follow his broken and grieving heart or to let the past be the past and move on.

I figured that, going into the book, there would be one secret that, once revealed, would bring everything crashing down on Cam, and the author did a good job of building up the tension until that moments. It's a very visual book, and a very edge-of-your-seat kind of book, not in terms of action but tension and emotional strain. I kept guessing at what secrets Viv and Nina were hiding, what Cam would discover every time he explored the other world, and what he would decide to do every time he was forced to make a choice.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (96)

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

Title: 17 & Gone
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And . . . is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

I rather enjoyed Nova Ren Suma's last book Imaginary Girls, it was nice and creepy, and I've been waiting patiently for her next book. This sounds all mysterious like Rosebush or Ghost Flower or The Butterfly Clues. I also adore Nova Ren on Twitter, she's all kinds of adorable. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Me on Who I Kissed

Title: Who I Kissed
Author: Janet Gurtler
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Samantha didn't mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in... and maybe make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died. Was she really the only person in the entire school that didn't know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight, Sam turns into a pariah and a media sensation. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing a swimming scholarship, she'll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

Who I Kissed is an intriguing look at grief, at mistakes we wish we could take back, at giving up and moving on. At the heart of the book is Sam, her emotional issues, her struggle to move on. The only way she can go is forward, but something has been switched on inside of her that makes her stop in her tracks, stopping while the rest of the world moves on around her.

Sam is filled with regret, with guilt, and she can't move on. There were times when I wanted to reach into the book and shake her, push her, scream at her to move on, but she can't. That's what this book is about, it's about how she can't move on, how she's too focused on Alex and his death that she believes she caused, even if it was accidental. In her mind, it's enough, and she doesn't feel that she deserves to continue on with her life, with her new friends, her new high school, and with swimming.

Most of the supporting characters in the book are grieving, just as Sam is, but they all have their ways and methods. It's an interesting look at the ways people cope with loss. Sam needs to grief, needs to talk and express all of her emotions, but in a way she needs space, space to accept. She also needs the unwritten and completely fictional guide book on how to cope with loss. I got the sense that, right after the accident, Sam wanted to be told what to do in terms of coping and grieving. She wanted to know what to do next, how to get over the guilt of causing Alex's death, even though there was no way she could've known about his allergy. No one told her what she was supposed to do, but that's because there's nothing specific that anyone could've told her. Everyone grieves in their own way, and it was up to Sam to figure out how to move on.

A heartfelt and honest look at grief, at how hard it can be to move on, to take that step forward after stopping because of something so tragic and unexpected.

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

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (19)

This Week's Book Week is a less wittily-titled version of Stacking the Shelves brought to us by Tynga's Reviews.

There wasn't a post last week because I didn't get any books, and this one's a small one since I only got two books. And they're ones I bought on super mega book release day on the 18th. Maybe I'll get some book mail next week.

So many books came out on the 18th. The Raven Boys. Adaptation. The Diviners. What's Left of Me. Burn for Burn. Ten. Necromancing the Stone. And I only bought two books. I would've bought What's Left of Me and Adaptation, but they didn't have any copies. Because Canada is weird like that. I'll be keeping an eye out, though.

You know what I realized this week? Both the books I bought are by authors who are stopping in Toronto for signings in the next couple of weeks. *head-desk* If I know you, and you're going to a signing or event or book launch this fall, do you mind sending me any extra swag you happen to pick up if you get the chance to grab extra swag? There are no events near me on this side of the border in the next few weeks. The last time I was at a signing? July, when I drove out to see Denise Jaden at her launch for Never Enough about two and a half months ago. And I thought we were getting more YA authors to come up to Vancouver for signings. Hmmm.

I have a bunch of books that I've bought and read or borrowed and read or bought and haven't read and I was wondering if you want to see any reviews of those books. Some titles include Burn for Burn, Origin, A Want So Wicked, and Dangerous Boy. I ask because I've got some gaps in my review schedule and these books need reading. It's also because I don't want my eyes to go weird from screen vision from e-galley reading. :)

Reviews to be posted this week will feature Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler and Through to You by Emily Hainsworth, so if you're interested in either of those books, drop by again on Tuesday and Friday. :)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Friday, September 21, 2012

Me on The Mephisto Kiss

Title: The Mephisto Kiss
Author: Trinity Faegen
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA

When Sasha and Jax first meet Jordan Ellis, they know she's no ordinary teenager. Sure, she's the daughter of the President of the United States, but she's also Anabo like Sasha, a descendant of Eve. What they don't know is how Eryx wants to kidnap her so her father will pledge his soul. If the plot succeeds, the consequences could be catastrophic. But the Mephisto brothers do know about Jordan's secret identity, and for one of them in particular, she could be the match that leads to their soul's salvation. Now comes the desperate race to keep Eryx from finding out the truth, to keep Jordan safe.

The Mephisto Kiss is reminiscent of the first in the series, the drama and angst of a young adult novel combined with a paranormal romance novel. There's still a battle between good and evil, but the stakes have risen, and the victims of evil could include the entire administration of the American President if the Mephisto don't step in and help everyone.

Like the first, it reads like a romance novel, moving along towards the climax with twists and surprises and mini climaxes popping up. A difference for me from the first book is that there's no instant attraction between the main couple, that there's loads of teenage romance drama instead. There's more focus on the development of the relationship, of the pair struggling to accept one another before Eryx shows up to ruin everything.

This felt longer than the first book, even though the page length of both is almost the same. Perhaps it's because so much happened. There were lots of twists, lots of changes, lots of good and bad surprises, I never really knew what was going to happen. Even at the end when the number of pages left kept decreasing, I was still wondering how it was going to end, how the Mephisto were going to beat Eryx in this battle.

There is so much tension between Jordan and Key. For every Mephisto, an Anabo will lead to his redemption, but what about free will? What about Jordan's boyfriend and the life she thought she was going to lead? She struggles to cope with this new life of hers, this new path that deviates in every way possible from the one she thought she was following. Then there's Key. Why couldn't she have been the Anabo for one of his brothers? Why does it have to be him? Everything is for them, to keep them in line and to keep them safe. He's the one in charge, their silent leader, so why is it his turn now? The tension constantly builds throughout the book, through their bickering and their fights, through complicated kisses and encounters.

Even with all the tension and angst, the tone felt a little muted. Perhaps it's because there wasn't a lot of action, more plotting and discussion. Perhaps it's because there was less overt or obvious sexuality than in the first book. It was more of a complicated battle between Jordan and Key, her being practical and him more stoic and less likely to act on raw emotion.

I can tell that each book in the series will have its complications, its stubborn but kind-hearted heroines, its sinfully attractive and impossibly hard-headed heroes. The mythology is still interesting to read about, the characters are all different and entertaining in their own way, so I will certainly keep an eye out as the series continues.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Me on The Infects

Title: The Infects
Author: Sean Beaudoin
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press

After an odd accident at his workplace, Nick is sent off to the wilderness with a handful of other teenage delinquents on an "Inward Trek." As if that wasn't bad enough, his counselors are now flesh-eating maniacs and have picked his fellow miscreants as their next meal. Like any classic horror movie, the survivors head off into the woods while the mindless horde of "infects" slowly follows, moaning as they go. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They know what to do. They start to generate "Zombie Rules" of their own, but attitude alone won't keep the biters back for long.

The Infects is a dark, edgy, and really gruesome quest into the larger metaphor of humanity and what lurks inside of us while characters are literally on the run from former humans who want to eat their flesh. It's a mature teenage kind of gross, graphic enough to satisfy horror fans, with a cast of quirky misfits who all have their own issues along with their own teenage hormones. Sometimes, guys can only think about the girl they like, even when a possible zombie apocalypse is staring them in the face.

Nick certainly is an odd narrator, but as a teenage guy in his situation, his voice works. He's serious and sarcastic, he's rarely happy, he rolls his eyes at his unemployed father and only cares about his younger sister who only speaks in questions. Amanda is the only one he cares about, as opposed to his teenage male hormones that care about pretty girls like Petal. He's very much an unassuming hero, pushed into the role because he has more sense and more intelligence than his fellow Inward Trek-ers. They have no goal beyond surviving, while Nick has surviving to save Petal and to make it back to Amanda.

Going in, I thought this book would be a dark comedy, a poking fun at the horror genre, but what I got instead was a horror novel dark and gross with its zombie roots in the semi-absurd/semi-it could happen one day area. There was some humour, mostly from Nick as he talked to the voice in his head, partially from his band of delinquent followers, but not as much as I expected.

The ending was very surprising, that has to be said. And I have to give props to the author because of the plot twists, I never expected some of those twists, never, and it kept me on my toes as I kept reading. While it wasn't my kind of book, I would definitely recommend it to horror movie fans and zombie fans, readers looking for smark-aleck teens who won't stop talking while a gruesome pack of zombies is chasing them down.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (95)

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

Title: Linked
Author: Imogen Howson
Release Date: March 28, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.

Yes, it does sound rather interesting, doesn't it? It seems to be a new trend popping up, two people in one body or two people sharing one body or two people with a connection but only one can survive and they're supposed to make the reader question humanity or what it means to be human or to be alive. And the cover is rather pretty, all brown and beige and a bit like it's suffering from a stutter. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Me on The Diviners

Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring hometown and shipped off to the busy streets of New York, and she couldn't be more thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces. Soon enough, she's rubbing elbows with Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her uncle, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, otherwise known as the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. When a rash of occult-based murders starts up, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of things, and through it all, Evie displays a mysterious ability, one that could help catch the killer... if he doesn't catch her first.

The Diviners is like an epic mystery highlighting an important and wondrous period in New York's rich history. Copious amounts of glitter, glamour, and 1920's female sass fill the pages and mix together with a supernatural murder mystery that spans decades to create something huge. And it is huge, judging by its page length. The length provides extensive detail, backstory, and mystery for the reader, but the reader will have to stick with it, stick with the snippits of secrets and the shifts between different main and supporting characters to reach the end.

A compliment I can give to Libba Bray is that the entire book, not just certain characters or locations or events, read like it came out of New York in the 1920's. The voices of the characters and the tone of the book both sound so authentic, down to the little mannerisms and the slang words. And there are lots of characters with their own little authentic mannerisms. The summary is a little misleading, the book isn't all about Evie and her experience with the mysterious killings, but it possible that it comes with the third person point of view and the length of the book, objectively being shown multiple sides of the story but not revealing everything. It moves moment by moment, only showing the readers as much as they need until the end.

I was surprised at how dark and dangerous the paranormal side turned out to be, how evil the shadows could be. Taking Evie and her happy-go-lucky life's a party attitude into account, the book was far darker than I expected. It was an exciting surprise for me, but I'm not sure how other readers will feel.

Evie and her adventures do take up a fair amount of the book, but there's also Memphis and his less than legal dealings and his less than happy home life. Then there's the greater side characters, Evie's friends and her uncle. Then there's the dark shadowed side committing gruesome murders. Then there's the lesser side characters, the few who appear only half a dozen times who have their moments which either continue the story, filling a small gap, or set up a slew of questions that might be answered in a future book.

The length of the book and the weaving in of the paranormal and the intrigue make me curious about the author's outlining process. It's such a complicated and heavily-plotted out book, I can only imagine the amount of outlining and world-building, the background research that had to be looked up. There are hints of connections with everything and everyone. Evie, Sam, Theta, Memphis, Jericho. Almost everyone that's mentioned has a connection to someone else, to the murders, to what's happened and what's to come.

Enough was given and and enough was held back to set up what's to come in the series, but there's a lot to remember. So many characters are important, main and side characters, and they all have secrets of their own so there's no way of knowing which will shape the rest of the series and which won't. Before the next book comes out, a re-read of this first book might be in order.

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

Me on The Raven Boys

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. She never sees them herself, not until this year when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue discovers he's one of the rich students at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from the Raven Boys, she knows that coming across them can only mean trouble, but she's drawn to Gansey in a way she can't entirely explain. He's on a quest that includes three other Raven Boys, intelligent Adam, fierce Ronan, and watchful Noah. Now, for as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought it would be a problem. But now, as she gets caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys and the dangerous journey Gansey pulled them into, she's not so sure anymore.

The Raven Boys is ghostly and eerie, steeped in psychics and ley lines, filled with whispers of a time past and forgotten and visions of a time still to come. It was what I've come to expect from a novel written by Maggie Stiefvater, a novel with a wary and mysterious girl at odds with a compelling, eye-catching, and equally mysterious boy, but I was unprepared for the journey and could only follow the path set out before me on the page.

The inevitability of death and the nature of love. We are all meant to die, that much is clear, but are we meant to love, meant to have it in our lives? Where does love come from? Why is it there? What happens when we don't want it, when we know the consequences it will bring? Do we stand strong, let it pass, or are we brave enough to give in knowing it's not meant to last? I imagine these will be questions I'll be asking throughout the series.

Stiefvater never makes it easy for her characters, and Blue certainly has it rough, being told constantly as she grew up that if she ever kissed her true love he would die. Then she sees a non-spirit on St. Mark's Eve, which means he's her true love or she killed him. She's already spent her life, her precious teenage years that should be full of crushes and boys and kisses, avoiding boys as much as possible. And she knows to steer clear of the rich and privileged students of Aglionby, the Raven Boys of Henrietta, Virginia. But she can't help getting caught up in them and part of their world when she meets Gansey. Her non-spirit from the church on St. Mark's eve.

Gansey is all about the things all over the world that can't be seen, and how those things that do exists that aren't seen by all are meant to be found. So he searches for the ley lines in hopes of discovering their secrets, researches ancient kings and long forgotten stories and legends and promises. He's working to prove himself worthy to the secrets and the mysteries to learn what's kept hidden.

At first, with what the reader knows of Blue's fate regarding romantic entanglements, more romance is expected between her and Gansey, and while sparks do fly between them, the story shifts towards its core, a darkly dangerous and mysterious tale of ley lines, ancient kings, and the quest to find what he's been looking for.

The other three Raven Boys have their own challenges and issues, it's not just Gansey that Blue has to deal with. There's Adam with his sadness and almost frailty, his intelligence and not wanting things to change if they're going to hurt, his desire to find his own place in the world that won't be tucked back into Gansey's shadow. There's Ronan with his wild eyes, his wild fists, his own secrets about his father's death and himself and a particular raven, his strength and his scaldingly hot temper. There's Noah with a smaller role but no less important than the others, his quiet ways and quiet steps, his icy cold hands, his eyes always watching what's happening.

On the other side of the book, away from the characters and their complications and motives, is the dark mystery at the heart of the story, the one that's born from ley lines and spirits and psychics, the world we can't see, the world of energy where ancient kings live on, the world that contains things that are beyond the comprehension of most. It's elusive like mist, like a memory just out of reach, this spirit world lost in history that Blue and her Raven Boys, because no matter how much she knows to avoid them they are her boys, are trying to discover.

The story turns Stiefvater's prose lyrical, makes the novel as a whole even more magical and so visual. There's so much packed in, but it all just makes the novel a story rich in details that, odds are, will be important in the future, certain character habits and items and places that will come into play in the rest of the series.

Written in third person, the book moves around, circling the characters on their journeys, from Blue to Gansey to Adam to others. It's all pieces of a story, the pieces we're meant to read not, the moments we're meant to see, Blue and her aunt in the churchyard in the middle of the night, Gansey on the side of the road next to his car as Ronan and Adam drive up. In the future, in the books to come, there will be different moments and different secrets, and the readers will get to see more of what happens along the ley lines. But will everything, and I mean everything, be revealed and solved and discovered at the end of the series? That's up to the author.

A book has power over a reader, even more so when the reader, after turning the last page and reaching the end, wants to dive right back into the world they just left, and that's what happened to me and The Raven Boys. I felt bereft once I turned the final page, felt lost and hollow, and it took nothing for me to turn back to the first page and start over again. I adore this world, this darkly magical world, this world along an unseen path where seasons change in an instant, where the trees talk to you, where the raven cries out, where a dead king waits far from the place of his birth. It's unfortunate that I can't live in this world, but I will relish every moment I can spent between the pages with Blue and her Raven Boys as my guides.

(I borrowed an advance copy of this book from a friend.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Me on Adaptation

Title: Adaptation
Author: Malinda Lo
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Across North America, birds are hurling themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands die, and fearing terrorism, the United States grounds all flights. Reese is in Arizona with her debate partner, and longtime crush, David when the flights are stopped, trying to get home to San Francisco. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On the drive home, on an empty stretch of highway in the middle of the night in Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights and the car flips over. When Reese and David wake up, they're in a military hospital, but the doctor won't tell them what happened, where they are, or how their injuries were miraculously healed. Things are even stranger when the pair return home. San Francisco is under a curfew, hazmat teams are collecting dead birds, and Reese thinks something's following her. When she unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in a new direction, and threatens to expose a decades-old secret.

Adaptation is unique, an engrossing tale of a girl lost after a near fatal accident and her life afterwards, a life that seems to involve government secrets and being watched constantly. The story draws in readers at the first page, and the tension slowly increases until an explosive and unimaginable climax. Reese's story is very much an exploration of multiple things, the secrets behind her time in the hospital, the cause of the changes in the world around her, and her complicated connections with both David and Amber.

The book is referred to as science fiction, and looking at the summary, readers are left to speculate as to what the science fiction element is. It's not epic science fiction but more of a contemporary and science fiction mix in the vein of Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, a setting that asks us if there's something more out there right now instead of in the distant future. A combining of the current and the now with the impossible and the unknown.

It's almost common now, a young adult novel where the government is keeping secrets from its citizens. Governments always keep secrets, they believe it's better to keep the people calm and collected, to not rile them or raise their suspicions, but keeping secrets does exactly that. Especially when the world is changing in front of their very eyes and the government provides a weak excuse. Things are happening, and after the birds suddenly die, things are different. Not obviously different, but just a little, just enough for a few eyebrows to lift in curiosity.

Reese is an interesting character, rather capable, and her voice was revealed so wonderfully in the third person limited point of view. The reader still gets the chance to witness all of Reese's troubles, all of her experiences, still gets to feel all of her teenage awkwardness in terms of her relationship with David and her connection with Amber, the change in her environment and how odd she feels, but the third person, the lack of I, allows the reader to follow her, to walk beside her, while still knowing what she is thinking. Everything feels and sounds so immediate, and so the reader is left to travel through the story along with Reese, totally blind and taking everything as it comes.

What initially drew me to this book, beside the science fiction element, is the odd and possibly not exactly triangular love triangle between Reese, David, and Amber. A love triangle where a girl is attracted to and drawn to a guy and a girl. While the world is changing around Reese, while she feels that something might be different with her own body, she's also exploring her own sexuality, at odds with the crush she's had on David and the new and compelling Amber Gray. I want to see more of this in YA in the future, teens in relationships where gender isn't the main factor, where girls can fall in love with girls and boys can fall in love with boys. This is what happens when you're a teenager, you're not just forced to construct a personality and plan out your future but also to determine your sexuality. Teenagers have so much shoved onto their plates during their high school years. Sometimes, it bleeds out into college and even after graduation, but it's all expected to be determined while in high school.

What I got from Reese's relationships and attraction is that gender does not have to be a factor in determining who you're attracted to, not a main factor. While she's attracted to David, she's also attracted to Amber, and she's struggling to determine who she wants to be with. But this is not the main story, this is not an LGTBQ book that happens to have science fiction elements. To me, Adaptation is a sci-fi thriller where a girl is caught up between two different people she might be in love with, and those two just happen to be a guy and a girl.

There's something about books that take place in the present day where something impossible happens and everything changes that draws me in, that makes me think there's something else out there waiting to be discovered. Or revealed. There were questions upon revelations upon questions throughout the book, and the tension continually rose until the ending where everything changed for Reese and David, for everyone. I couldn't stop reading this book, and when it ended, I was frantic for the sequel.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (94)

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

Title: Unravel Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads:

tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

The day I get to read this, I'll totally freak out. That's pretty much all I can say. Of course, once I do read it, I'll freak out over how long the wait for the third book will be. ;)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Me on Stormdancer

Title: Stormdancer
Author: Jay Kristoff
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan imprint)

The Shima Imperium is on the verge of an environmental collapse: the skies are red with blood, the land is choked with with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed have departed forever. The hunters of the imperial court have been charged to find a thunder tiger, a half-eagle half-tiger creature. Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessor of a talent that would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the hunt, she soon finds herself stranded in Shima's lost wildnerness, with only a furious and crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, she's sure he'd rather see her dead than help him. Working together, though, they could have the power to challenge an empire.

Stormdancer is lush with inspiration from Japan, its culture, language, and mythology, coming together with a strong heroine to become a compelling new fantasy with steampunk and Asian elements. Even with all the Japanese words, customs, and mythology, it still felt like it was taking place in a different country, on a different world.

Now, fantasy novels often have a tendency to be ripe with backstory and information, which is understandable. World-building, especially for epic fantasy, can be extensive. Unfortunately for this book, I did find the beginning rather slow to start. It stemmed from the combination of elaborate description and establishing the setting and its residents, customs, and culture. Once the book got into the main story, the main plot, it moved along at a much faster pace. There are also a fair amount of Japanese terms, and the alternating back and forth between the Japanese and the English, like Kitsune/Fox, can be complicated if you don't know what the term means. In that way, I wish the author had stayed consistent.

Yukiko is very much a tomboy, a rough around the edges kind of girl, a taking care of her father when he's drunk and high on lotus kind of girl. Odds are she will be a fighter, looking at the cover that features a wicked tattoo going down her right arm and that tattooed arm drawing a sword. Of course, it all depends on whether or not she knows how to use it.

The thunder tiger is a very interesting creature pulled from myth and legend and made flesh and blood by the author. There are a fair number of Japanese myths involving animals, dragons and foxes and cats and the like, but this was a first for me, seeing the half-eagle half-tiger (also known as a griffin) as the main mythological creature. It was refreshing to discover that the thunder tiger had his own personality, as linear as it was. The relationship between him and Yukiko was one of the highlights of the book for me.

The world in this book is rather interesting, and one thing constantly bothered me. The lotus. I wanted to know what it was, where it came from, all I got was that it's taken over a lot of the landscape and it's smoked as a drug like opium. It also doesn't sound like a good thing, even though the Lotus Guild is in favour of it blooming.

The book is marketed as a Japanese-style steampunk fantasy, and it might only be my fault as a reader not connecting things at the beginning, but I didn't realize what the steampunk aspect was until close to the end. It wasn't that it was hidden, I just didn't connect the metal suits of the Guildsmen with steampunk. Perhaps it was Yukiko and the thunder tiger that eclipsed the steampunk parts of the book, making it feel more like an epic fantasy with some random mechanical flair.

Even though the book was slow to start and rather heavy with world-building backstory, I believe that fans of epic fantasy will enjoy it, especially those looking for an Asian twist on the standard epic fantasy that often has British roots. Also, those who enjoy books about teenage heroines who fight with a sword and have a large magical animal companion might want to give it a read.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from St. Martin's Press/Macmillan through NetGalley.)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (18)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but not as cleverly named. And I know I said I'd change the name but I just got back today and I'm all sleepy.

Home. *flops over* So happy to be home. There were some fun parts, but there were some crap parts. Like the humidity (the air was so heavy and gross for the whole week), and the rain on Tuesday when we headed out to the US Open to see some tennis (2 rain delays, then later that night they cancelled the evening session), and the sunburn I somehow got on Tuesday when it was a bit sunny but mostly cloudy and rainy, and the getting up at 3am New York time for the flight home.

I know you guys might want a recap of my week away, but I'm a bit droopy-eyed right now. There was arrival day (evening), first day, history and culture day, rainy tennis day, rainy rest day, statue day, catch-up day, and fly home day (morning). I hit the big bookstores, the Strand and Books of Wonder. I kind of wish I could've spent more time at both, but maybe I'll get to go back one day. My mom and I both agreed that if we went back to the US Open, we'd go during the first week.

I only read two books over the week, so much for taking three and my Kobo. I really need to read The Diviners tomorrow and re-read Crewel soon and write my review for Adaptation.

And I totally forgot to get the New York Starbucks mug. Crud. And it's green, too. I really like green.
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (bought at the Strand)
Dangerous Boy by Mandy Hubbard (bought at the Strand)
The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton (bought at the Strand)
Origin by Jessica Khoury (bought while in NYC, I took the ARC I borrowed from Caitlin and read it and rather enjoyed it, so I bought a copy)
The Calder Game by Blue Balliett and (signed by) Brett Helquist (bought at Books of Wonder, I adore this middle-grade series, the illustrations have puzzles related to the story drawn into them by the illustrator)
Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz (bought at Books of Wonder, signed)
Rift by Andrea Cremer (bought at Books of Wonder, signed)

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (borrowed from Nafiza)
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes/Michelle Rowen (borrowed from Caitlin)

Received to review:
The Night Has Teeth by Kat Kruger (e-galley from Fierce Ink Press)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Me on Unspoken

Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Kami loves someone she's never met... a boy she talks to in her head. Since she was never quiet about this imaginary friend, she's a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, she hasn't suffered too much, she has a best friend and she runs the school newspaper while only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, despite the voice in her head. But then the Lynburns return, twin sisters belonging to a family that's lived in Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries and their teenage sons, Ash and Jared, one of whom seems strangely familiar to Kami. Kami's not one to shy away from the unknown, she's very determined to discover the answers to the question Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the forest? What is her own mother hiding? Would she still love her imaginary friend if he suddenly became a real boy? Could she trust him?

Unspoken is both humourous and darkly mysterious, a well-thought out and a well-told story with a stellar cast of outrageously complicated characters. What the story is at its core works, a girl determined to discover anything and everything about her quiet English town because she knows there must be a secret or two hidden away beyond her own relationship with a possibly imaginary friend. All the plot twists and the history between the characters joined together to become a book I couldn't stop reading, a book I relished reading right to the end.

Quite often, teenage girl protagonists are self-absorbed, paying attention to the world around them when it impacts their lives. As normal as this is for real-life teenage girls, it's refreshing to come across a character like Kami. She's quirky and odd and is completely focused on discovering all she can about Sorry-in-the-Vale, discovering everything about the Lynburns, why they left and why they came back. She's not as angsty or self-centered as other girls. It's like coming across Nancy Drew, only more of a reporter-type Nancy Drew, less crime-solving and more secret-unearthing.

The return of the Lynburn family is the author's opportunity to show the reader some very interesting family dynamics. Secrets and mysteries abound in the family, even between those members still living, and suspicions about motives and character never run dry. It must be emotionally draining to be part of a family like that, needing to keep your guard up at all times, constantly watching to see who else might be around.

While the summary claims that Kami is in love with the boy she talks to in her head, that's not necessarily how it felt to me at the beginning. It felt more like they were close friends, with him perhaps a bit closer than her, and it wasn't until later, after the possibility of him being real arose, that I felt she had some actual romantic feelings for him. It's not until the situation becomes complicated, that this pseudo-secret best friend in her head becomes a flesh and blood best friend, that I got more out of their relationship. She has no idea what to do if he's suddenly beside her, when she can actually hear his voice and have other people hear it as well.

The book poses a number of questions about small towns, about what secrets they hold. What is truthfully at the heart of Kami's small village? How long do you have to live in a small town before you're no longer considered an outsider? How long does your family have to live there?

It was the wonderful combination of humourous and complicated characters and the dangerous and mysterious secrets of a small village that made this book so entertaining. The ending was rather surprising, and because I was surprised, I'm very much looking forward to the next book. So many questions were left unanswered, questions about Sorry-in-the-Vale and the Lynburns and Kami's own family, and Kami and Jared and Ash, and I can only hope that a fraction of them will be answered.

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