Saturday, December 29, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (32)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Me on Underrated YA Books of 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Megan at Book Brats suggests Devine Intervension by Martha Brockenbrough.

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

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

Monica Ropel suggests Fracture by Megan Miranda.

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

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

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (31)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Me on Reached

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Me on Destroy Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (108)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blog Tour: Guest Post from Adrienne Kress

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

1. I love to laugh.

2. I love to make other people laugh.

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

See? Absurd, right?

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

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Me on Live Through This

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Me on Origin

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (107)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Me on Rage Within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (29)

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

Me on Black City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I received a finished copy from Penguin Canada.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (106)

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

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

From Goodreads:

Old Gods never die…

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

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

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

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

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

The Goddess War is about to begin.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Me on Starling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (28)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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