Monday, April 29, 2013

Me on Reboot

Title: Reboot
Author: Amy Tintera
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line, or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

Reboot is dark, dangerous, and deadly. It's an intriguing look at humanity, what sets apart those with emotion and those without, and how both sides react in life-threatening situations. It's also a look at how far some will go, how far they will follow orders before they decide that the better option, the right option, is to keep those they are connected to safe. To follow or to fight back, that is the choice Wren is forced to make.

Wren's humanity was sucked away during those 178 minutes when she was dead. What was left behind was a fighting machine with no emotions, no desire to laugh or cry. She's practical, straight-forward, stoic, and doesn't take crap from others. Callum is a weakness in her eyes, dead only for a measly 22 minutes. He's nowhere near as strong or as fast as her, he'll never heal as fast as her, and the odds of him surviving long are stacked against him. But she doesn't necessarily want to see him fail. She doesn't want to see anyone fail. Wren might not be as emotional, or as human, as Callum or as some of the other Reboots, but she doesn't want to see anyone die.

When all the emotion and humanity inside someone is gone, what's left? Are they still human? Is that what makes us human, emotion and affection and laughter? If that's true, then what is Wren? No tears fall from her eyes, laughter doesn't escape from her lips, but she's still a seventeen-year-old girl struggling to live, fighting every day to keep living, fighting to keep the world safe.

To become a Reboot, you need to die and come back to life. But what are they? Are they zombies, the dead risen again? Or are they the next stage in evolution?

Action-packed, fast-paced, heart-pounding, this book was oh so thrilling. Besides Wren's normal Reboot life, besides the odd connection with Callum, something is going on under Wren's nose. Something is happening to the other Reboots, and Wren won't dare stop until she stops it first.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (49)

This Week's Book(less) Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with more babble and less books. ;)

No new books this week. Well, it's been a while since there was a bookless week, I imagine I was due. :)

The Canadian YA Lit Event starts on Wednesday CUE THE FREAKING OUT. Well, I guess I could freak out because not all the posts are scheduled yet (meaning I'm waiting on a couple of authors and their parts), but I'm sure everything will work out. :)

I hope you'll all come by during the event, read about some Canadian authors and their books and discovering something new to read. :)

A quick update on my health situation. I'm about 2 and a half weeks into 6 weeks worth of antibiotics. Everything's still the same, same weird finger that's kind of getting better I guess (the nail is getting less gross) and same tube in my arm. I told a couple friends I've had since high school about it this week, they were surprised and a bit concerned but I told them I'd be fine. :) I'm going to have dinner with them soon. It'll be fun. :)

There's only one review going up this week, Reboot by Amy Tintera. Then comes the daily posts for the Can YA Lit Event, which will be a mix of Q&A's, guest posts, and reviews. :)
What I read this past week:
What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan (certainly a must-read for fans of Cassie's Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series)
The Originals by Cat Patrick (My review was posted yesterday. Cat's books are often this awesome blend of straight-up contemporary with a single sci-fi or fantasy twist that makes it interesting.)
Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels by Hélène Boudreau (I love this series. 14-year-old and plus-sized Jade is dealing with friendship, cute boys, and the fact that she's a mermaid. It's a fun and witty series with moments of action and suspense and teen girl body issues.)
Reboot by Amy Tintera (A re-read because my review goes up on Monday and when I read it back in January at ALA Midwinter I didn't take any notes. I also met Amy there and got her to sign it. :))

Friday, April 26, 2013

Me on The Originals

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

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey 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 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.

The Originals is a curious and secretive story of identity, a look at taking a chance and deciding to be your own person instead of the one someone wants you to be. A contemporary setting with the barest hint of science, this is reminiscent of the author's previous novels, stories about teens looking for a normal life, hoping for one, but something secretive and suspicious in their past is holding them captive.

Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey. Three girls. Three girls made to live one life, forced to live the same life outside the walls of their home. They look the same, they sound the same. They are clones. But they are not the same. They have different personalities. In the ways the girls feel it matters, they are different people, and that complicates the life their mother has planned for them.

It's not the science behind human cloning that is the focus here, it's more of a sociological and psychological experiment. How much of what we are is determined by our genetic code? Is every single piece of our personality, how we see ourselves, in our genes? That doesn't seem to be the case for the girls. Clones they may be, but not wholly. What forms personality and identity? Can it be copied?

What does identity mean when you're forced to be someone else? What does identity mean when you're restricted on how to act, what to look like? When are you free to be honest, to live and look the way you want to? What if you want to share that real you with someone so they see beyond the mask you're forced to wear? But what if the truth that will come out is too big to share?

Cat Patrick's books are unique in a way that I find compelling. She takes a realistic contemporary setting and with one tweak or twist, one point, sends it into the realm of the impossible. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey are clones, yes, but everything else could be pulled from real life. They have trouble with high school (especially Lizzie and triangles), they have crushes on boys and wish they could date, they butt heads with their mother on rules and curfews. They are very much like normal teenage girls, like normal triplets, only they could be considered by some to be far from normal.

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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Me on Kobo (1)

Me on Kobo is a new thing here at Me on Books. Every Thursday (or every other Thursday, I'm trying to work out a schedule) a new post will go up as I discuss the bits I've discovered about the new Kobo Aura HD, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The Kobo Aura HD releases on April 25th.

Week 1: The Basics

I'll be going through the setup and the general look of the Kobo Aura HD this first week. Later on, I imagine I'll be getting into the features, the readability of different kinds of e-books (PDF and ePDF, etc.), and all the extras.

(Disclaimer: I received a free sample of the Kobo Aura HD from Kobo in exchange for an honest opinion and evaluation of the product.)

First, the setup.
The setup was quick and easy. I've already been through a Kobo setup previously (I was given a Kobo Wi-Fi as a present a couple of years ago), but this was far simpler and ran much faster (same computer for both setups). The booklet (pictured above to the right of the device) is quick-forward and simple, but one recommendation for anyone going through the setup for the first time (with any type/version of Kobo): download and install Kobo Desktop and set up an account FIRST before plugging in the device. It's possible that, after the initial download and install of the desktop app, you'll need to reboot your computer. Of course, this is a personal choice thing. In the end, it's up to you. For this, I opened the desktop app first in case there was an update (and there was, but no reboot was needed) and then plugged the Kobo into my laptop.

It's all basic setup instructions. Pick a language, wait for it to sync with the desktop app. Then you're pretty much free to go nuts adding books (to a point, you will need to add a credit card to your Kobo account to be able to purchase books, but there are a number of free books available to download immediately.)

Second, the looks.
As you can see, this one is black. It looks rather sleek. It also comes in white and dark brown. For comparison purposes, I have set it next to the Kobo Wi-Fi version. (NOTE: the Kobo Aura HD also has Wi-Fi. The selling point of my previous Kobo was it was just like its predecessor, only it had Wi-Fi so you didn't need to plug it into your computer to add books to it.) There isn't much of a size difference between the two, slight variations in height and width, similar thickness. The Kobo Aura HD is a bit heavier and the screen is bigger (I've left the protective film on to protect the touch screen).
The back is rather interesting. The Kobo Aura HD claims to have an "iconic and ergonomic design" in order to fit in your hand "just like a physical book." As I use it, I'll have more to say on that feature.
At the top edge is the sliding power button (far right) and the ComfortLight button (right but closer to the middle). The bright red of the power button bothers me. On such a slim, sleek device, a red button just doesn't work for me. Perhaps small icons to show which button does which, or perhaps the light button could also light up when turned on. For a device that is all black with some dark grey text, the red just doesn't work.

So far, after the initial setup and first glance, it looks nice. It has the look of a regular tablet and not just an e-reader. It looks crisp and clean and, in black, very professional.

Next time, I'll go deeper into the device, perhaps look at the different features like the light, the altering of fonts, and how enhanced the readability really is. Of course, you are welcome to suggest topics. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Me on Invisibility

Title: Invisibility
Authors: Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin imprint)

Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed. Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you're invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It's easy to blend in there. Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen's amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth's amazement, she wants him to be able to see her. All of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way-a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they're thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they're going to go-because the answer could mean the difference between love and death.

Invisibility is a haunting, mysterious, and complex tale of two very different and very complicated young voices. One wants to be seen, one wants to hide, and when the two meet an invisible world is revealed and the truth threatens them both. Amid the curses, the spells, the danger, and the unflinching truth is the simple act of seeing, of being seen, and the heart-wrenching loneliness of invisibility.

Both narrators stood out in different ways, told different sides of the same story. Stephen's voice was elusive, hesitant, complex, all evident of a life of being invisible, of little to no contact with others. How are you supposed to communicate with the world when the world doesn't know you're there? His is the voice of someone who sees the world differently, who sees the world from a different angle, perhaps as something wondrous but also a kind of prison. As wide and wonderful as the world is, he inhabits it without ever being seen wandering along its paths.

Elizabeth's voice, by contrast, is slightly more open. She's caring, expressive, creative. The move to New York City means she can start over, start a happier life than the one she left. She wants to create a new version of herself for the world to see. She knows the world can see her, but it sure would be interesting to not be seen. Hers is a voice that's sweet and happy but has been through heartache. Above all else she's outrageously protective of those she cares about, about her brother Laurie, her mother, and, after she meets him, Stephen. As wide and wonderful as the world is, there must be a place for her, either to be seen or to be invisible.

At the start, the book is reminiscent of a daydream. Stephen's sudden encounter with someone who can see him, who can finally see him, and all the new sensations that stem from it. Elizabeth is thrilled to meet someone new, someone nice, someone she might really care about. The connection between the two of them is there, weaving them together until they share pieces of themselves. It's the pure enjoyment of finding someone who listens, who sees, who cares, but then reality takes hold. Then the truth comes out, and the search into the darkness begins.

What is it like to truly be invisible? What is it like to go through like with no one ever laying a single eye upon you? The loneliness would be staggering, a sorrowful and bitter taste. But what if one day, one day after a lifetime of never being seen, someone's eyes land on you? What if their voice reaches out to you? What would happen next?

I find this to be an exploration of what it is to see, of what it is to be seen and to be invisible, of what the world sees when they look at us and of what we want the world to see. It's an exploration of connections, of desires and wishes, of the dark truth that circles without anyone knowing, and of the hope that, one day, someone will see the real you that you've been waiting to show the world for the longest time.

(I acquired an advance copy of this title at ALA Midwinter.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (125)

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

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

This is one of the few contemporary YA series that's grabbed hold and entertained me so much over the past few years. The characters are flawed and funny and quirky and the stories have consequences and laughs and crying. I just want to read this book as soon as possible, and I hope it'll be as fun as the previous two. I don't think this is the full description, but it's all we have so far.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Me on Icons

Title: Icons
Author: Margaret Stohl
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered and the power stopped. The day Dol's family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn't know it was fighting. Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside, safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can't avoid. She's different, and she survived. Why? When Dol and best friend Ro are captured and taken to the Embassy, they only find more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador's privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn't a coincidence. It's a conspiracy. Within the Icon's reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions, which they've always thought to be their greatest weaknesses, may actually be their greatest strengths.

Icons is intriguing, dangerous, secretive, and important. Mixed with self-discovery and self-realization is a mission to take back what was stolen. The world is, essentially, held captive, but there are those willing to rebel against these alien leaders, and there are those who possess the skills needed to save the rest of the human population.

Dol is afraid. So afraid. Not just of the Icons, or the Lords, but of herself. Of why she survived the Day when her entire family died around her. She's afraid of the reason she survived. She's different and she knows it, she can feel it. But why is she different?

And it's not just her. It's also her life-long friend Ro, the ambassador's son Lucas, and the newly-met Tima. They're all different, they're all marked, but they don't know why. Why were they brought together? Who is really pulling the strings? They're wanted for a reason, that much is clear, but what for?

When world-building is done well and the world feels believable, it makes the book that much more realistic. There is an aging of the current world, advancements in technology and the like, but there's also a de-evolving of sorts. No electricity in outlying areas, simple encampments and hideouts, lack of schools, new customs and currency and food and stories and songs and groups. There seem to be two sides, the hidden staying out of trouble side and the privileged and technologically-advanced side that serve the Icons and the Lords.

If aliens do come to Earth, what's to say that their intentions will be peaceful? These aliens came, and they killed, and they took, and now humanity has crumbled. But what was their true agenda?

Love and loss, the two go hand in hand. Dol constantly mourns the loss of her family, but she still has Ro. She has Ro whom she's cared for for years, Ro and his fiery personality and power, but she can't help but be drawn to Lucas and his innate charisma. In the end, it might very well come down to who she trusts the most, her most trusted friend or the son of the woman who does what the Lords command her to do.

Dol is pushed to make some extremely difficult decisions. Who to trust, what to believe, where to go. The biggest will be whether or not she chooses to put aside her fear of herself, of the things that make her different from everyone else, and if she'll embrace it to save herself and those she cares about. If she doesn't, they could all end up dead. A very intriguing start to a series with many questions left unanswered and more than a few possibilities opened up for the next book.

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

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (48)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only there are no shelves or any mentions of stacking. ;)

So... this was an odd week.

The PICC line for my antibiotics went in on Monday. Then on Tuesday I woke up all dizzy and nauseous, but after some water I felt better, then after lunch I felt better, then I felt weird again and napped, and then I felt better for the rest of the week. Kind of goes so show that I'll need to take it easy for the next little while. My sister and I went through the home training for my antibiotics, so instead of going to the clinic every day it's only once a week for a check-up and some blood work. Yay. :)

During the week I got an e-mail from someone at Kobo in Toronto asking if I was interested in testing out the new Kobo Aura HD before it comes out on the 25th. And I said yes. And it arrived on Friday. Now, you guys know how I'm still not that interested in reading by e-book, that I resist often and cave as a last resort, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Compared to my plain Kobo with Wi-Fi, it's a nice upgrade. There's a lot I don't like about my old Kobo, so we'll see how this new one goes. I might do weekly updates on how I'm doing with it, maybe on Thursdays. Let me know what you guys think. (My sister asked if I'd have to give it back after a while but I said I wasn't sure, it's a valid question.) (My sister was also interested in playing the games it has.)

It's a three review week next week. Reviews will go up on Icons by Margaret Stohl (Monday), Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan (Wednesday), and The Originals by Cat Patrick (Friday). :)
The Uprising by Lisa M. Stasse (to review from Simon & Schuster Canada)
The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch (to review from Random House Canada through NetGalley) (Amy's a debut Canadian author, even though she lives in the UK. :) Her book comes out at the beginning of June.)
Kobo Aura HD (as discussed above)
What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan (e-book)
Real Mermaids Don't Need High Heels by Hélène Boudreau (e-book)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Me on Life After Theft

Title: Life After Theft
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a kleptomaniac. No one can hear or see Kimberlee except for Jeff, so, in the hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history, he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.

Life After Theft is a light, cute, and fun high school ghost story. There are touches of tragedy, but also of humour and of maturity. Sometimes, you have to help someone right the wrongs they caused, even if that person is dead and quite often doesn't share the whole truth.

Jeff is quite possibly the averagest of average guys. He's seemingly forgettable, not necessarily good at anything but interested in some things, and suddenly he gets wrapped up in this strange and slightly creepy situation. Since he is a nice guy, he's willing to help her out, but he never expected all the things Kimberlee's ghostly hands dump straight into his lap.

Kimberlee certainly has her issues, the least of which is that she's dead. She's also self-centered, a kleptomanic, a liar, and hugely unreliable. When she figures out that Jeff is all she has in terms of help, she complains like mad. But underneath all the polish and sparkle is a scared, sad little girl who died too young and with a lot of regrets. Yes, she's abrasive, controlling, and shrewish, but being dead still sucks.

There are times when you make choices and regret them, especially in high school. But what if you die in a freak accident and you're left haunting the halls of where you did most of your harm? Then you're trapped between life and the afterlife, seeing the faces of the people you hurt, the people you stole from, knowing the only way out is to make things right. But no one knows your there because they want to forget all the damage you did. Until someone who's never heard of you shows up.

As a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, I didn't notice it until I looked up the book itself. In the original, there is someone working in the shadows righting wrongs and saving innocents from harm. Here, I suppose that's true, but as I've not read The Scarlet Pimpernel I can't attest to anything more.

Death is a curious thing, and it sucks, dying when you have regrets and you've made mistakes. But knowing you have to make it all better in order to move on is the turning point, and then comes the most difficult decision of them all: whether or not you actually want to suck it up and fix those mistakes.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (124)

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

Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks

From Goodreads:

Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."

This sounds so weird. And I sort of want to read it really badly, which doesn't happen for me and a lot of contemporary YA.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Me on Arclight

Title: Arclight
Author: Josin L. McQuein
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can't get in. Outside the Arclight's border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man's-land. That's where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She's the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who's determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it. When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will being to unlock secrets she didn't even know she had.

Arclight is a thrilling exploration into light, into darkness, and into a fear of the unknown. Eerie, mysterious, and intense, this complicated and frightening future holds the story of a mysterious girl as she questions her origins. Not knowing who she is or where she came from, she searches for answers, and somehow becomes wrapped up in the truth behind the Arclight, the Fade, and the Dark.

Questions surround Marina as soon as the book starts. Who is she? Where did she come from? Why do most of the people around her hate her? She's literally wounded and battered, limping around in this strange complex. She's frightened, but more frightened of where she came from, more curious about her origins, more upset that her memories are missing.

The creations of the author, the Arclight, the Dark, and the Fade, are haunting, frightening, and intriguing. This is a dark future where danger hides in shadow and only the Arclight and its massive glow will keep the remaining human population safe. But what are the Fade? Are they merely sick humans exposed to a terrible disease?

In a number of ways, this is a book about loss. Marina has lost everything from before she was found by those under the Arclight. Others have lost countless family members and friends. Everyone has lost their way, blinded by too much light, unable to see what's truly happening, what's really out in the world.

Connection is also important, the bonds that keep people close. Marina, yes, is connected to those in the Arclight, but there is also a curious connection to the Fade that she doesn't understand. It's all about coming together, discovering your true self, and figuring out where you belong.

The Arclight is curious, it protects but also inhibits. The remaining humans are trapped, the light giving them only so much room for movement. It keeps them from what they fear, the Fade and the Dark, but it also holds them hostage. They are afraid of what lies beyond, of what else exists out in the world, and of what is yet to be discovered.

This book started like a shock, like a spark, and didn't let up. It's a book I was welcome to come across, a glimpse into a different sort of future where bright lights protect but also restrain and stunt growth, a future where darkness is dangerous while it hides so many important pieces of knowledge. Like the truth behind everything.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (47)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but with a different name and more rambling. ;)

It decided to be a cliché this week and rain. ;) But it was weird, we had a few days where the weather was nice and not cloudy. Usually, it's raining a fair amount between mid-February and mid/late April.

The plague finger. *sigh* The bone density scan results came in and my doctor said they think the infection is in the bone. This is pretty serious. I mean, it's in the end of my finger, it's not like it's in my back or a major joint or bone, but it's still serious. It means that I'm now on a 6 week course of IV antibiotics that need to be pumped into me every day. I so see it turning me into a hermit. Hopefully I'll be less of a hermit than when I broke my ankle. Driving could be hard. I'm also curious if I'm ever going to get billed for any of my treatment. I never was for my ankle (apart from physio), so we'll see. *hugs for Canada's heathcare*

At the moment, I'm not sure what this will do to Me on Books in terms of me taking some time off. It's a bit different than when I broke my ankle a couple years ago. Still complicated, but this seems to be a bit more serious. Reviews for next week are scheduled but not the week after, I'm currently reading those books. Everything will depend on how I react to the antibiotics (I'm feeling good so far, and that round in January didn't do me any harm) and how easy it'll be to type with the line in my arm. Hopefully, everything will proceed as normal with me not on Twitter as much. Also, right now, there's an IV needle in the back of my hand so it's a bit hard to type.

I've started a Tumblr about the treatment that I'll be posting at every day over the next 6 weeks. I always want to be honest with you guys, and that's why I've told you what I've been going through with my finger. The doctors still don't know how I got this infection, but I've got it, and they're going ahead with treating it. The new blog is so it's kept separate from book stuff.

This week's reviews will feature Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (Tuesday) and Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike. :)
Nameless by Lili St. Crow
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Friday, April 12, 2013

Me on Nobody's Secret

Title: Nobody's Secret
Author: Michaela MacColl
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Chronicle Books

It's 1845, and for fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson, every day follows the same patters: chores, chores, and more chores. So when she meets a mysterious, handsome young man, she's intrigued. Surprisingly, he doesn't seem to know who she or her family is. And even more surprisingly, he playfully refuses to divulge his name. Emily enjoys her secret flirtation with "Mr. Nobody" until he ends up dead in her family's pond. Stricken with guilt, Emily sets out to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he's condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, a possible blossoming romance, and deadly danger.

Nobody's Secret is a curious book about a curious mystery investigated by an even more curious girl. This book itself is intriguing, a fictional account of a young Emily Dickinson, a mysterious encounter with a stranger, and her investigation into the trouble that befalls him.

What highlights this book is Emily Dickinson herself, her intelligence, quick wit, and inquisitive character. Those who have studied her poetry know one side of her, but this introduces readers to a wholly different side, a side that was there during her formative teenage years in Amherst. The author's research and attention to detail is meticulous, her interest and passion towards Dickinson, her life, and her poetry is clear.

As a whole, the book is an intriguing undertaking. There's no proof that Emily Dickinson ever helped uncover a crime and solve a mystery when she was young, but what if she did? Where would her mind, filled with questions about the world, about people, about life and death, take her if someone truly did turn up dead in front of her home? Every character she comes across, outside of her family, has a secret connected to the man's death, and her investigation becomes an investigation of character as well.

Emily seems to find a kindred soul in Mr. Nobody. Someone who saw the world as something filled with possibilities. When he is found dead, she seems to be the only person who cares, and with her own unconventional passion and determination, she sets out to discover his secrets. I found this to be a clever imagining of a moment in time in a famous poet's life and would suggest it to readers of American history, mystery, and Emily Dickinson.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (123)

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

Title: Shutdown
Author: Heather Anastasiu
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

From Goodreads:

The battle is all but over, and hope seems to be lost. Zoe and her fellow Resistance fighters are on the run, having lost their home, their protection, and their leader. They are outnumbered and outmatched by the powerful corporation that controls the world, and the cruel Chancellor is inches away from completing a scheme that would kill most of humanity. Zoe's only remaining option is to chase the impossible dream of upending the Link system, freeing the world from the hardware that controls their thoughts and emotions, and hope it will trigger a revolution.

The plot requires a nearly impossible mission to infiltrate the dangerous Community, and it is a task that Zoe must unfortunately complete alone. With challenges and surprises at every turn, nothing goes according to plan. Adrien's visions of the future now show two possible outcomes: one in which they succeed, and one in which humanity falls. It all lies in Zoe's hands.

Full of romance, high-adrenaline action and shocking twists, Shutdown is a heart-pounding conclusion to an exciting sci-fi adventure trilogy for young adults.

This is a series I've really enjoyed over the past almost a year. It mixed a dystopian government and science fiction and paranormal/psychic abilities well, and nothing was ever easy for any of the characters. I'm looking forward to this last book to see how it all ends and who survives. :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Me on Breath

Title: Breath
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Release Date: April 16, 2013
Publisher: Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint)

Contrary to popular belief, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren't just harbingers of doom, they actually keep life in balance. But that happens when their leader and creator, Death, becomes suicidal? Before the first living thing drew breath, he was there. He has watched humanity for millennia. And he has finally decided that humanity is not worth the price he has paid time and time again. When Death himself gives up on life, a teenager named Xander is the world's only hope. But Xander bears a secret, one that may being about the end of everything.

Breath is an honest and intriguing look at life, death, love, and choices. When someone makes the decision to die, what happens? What if that person's death would being about the end of everything?

Throughout the series, Death has always been there, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, always with some kind of agenda or plan. But now he's smack in the middle of everything. He's the fearless leader that gets tired of life, tired of dealing with the living and the dead. Tired of everything. What will be the factor that keeps him going, if such a thing truly exists?

But there's also Xander, curious curious Xander, whose life flickers and beeps around him as he tries to talk Death off a balcony. What does Xander want out of life? And why is he so important? Why will he be the one who decides the fate of the world? There is a connection, certainly, between Xander and Death, and it left me still wondering about some things long after the book was over.

The exploration of the origin of the Four Horsemen was something I'd been looking forward to. They'd always been mysterious voices shrouded in pain and purpose, and this book served to answer some questions. The return to characters in previous books was also welcome.

What if the future you hope for isn't the one that ends up in front of you? Life is filled with possibilities, and hope exists in many forms. What we make of life, what we choose to do with the time we're given, is up to us, but sometimes we can't just stand around and wait. Sometimes we have to make the choice that will keep things moving forward.

As important as life and death are to this book, love is also important. Support, affection, care. Evidence that we are not alone, that someone is right there standing beside us, behind us, taking that next breath with us.

This book is the last in one of the most honest and heartfelt series about life, death, pain, and love that I've had the pleasure of reading. These books have had a way of making me remember all the pain and heartache of high school, but also the potential and the support. With this series, I realize that at no point during those dark teenage years was I ever alone.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (46)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with a different name and possibly more rambling about my week. ;)

So. It's April now. How strange. This week had issues. I kind of want to scrap it or replace with a different week or something. It wasn't that I got dumped on, there was just nothing spectacular. And I had some weird headaches this past week.

And I went to the bookstore this week. On new release Tuesday, no less. But there wasn't a lot there. I'm heading to the bookstore again next Tuesday (different one) so we'll see if I pick up any more books then. :)

I'm slowly starting to get author posts for the Canadian YA Lit Event. Is everyone else excited? :) It's going to be fun. I hope.

Obligatory plague finger update: no new news. I'm calling my doctor on Monday to see if I need to go in and talk about the scan from last week. Because currently, I'm waiting for a possible phone call about another test with a finger that's still infected and not getting better.

I've got a lot of books to give away. I'm a bit tempted to leave them in little piles all over the city. Anyone have any suggestions? It's a mix of ARCs of published books and finished copies.

Reviews this week will feature Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler (Tuesday) and Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl (Friday). :)
Every Never After by Lesley Livingston (I picked up a finished copy. You can read my review here.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Me on In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Title: In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Author: Cat Winters
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Amulet (Abrams imprint)

In 1918, the world seems to be on the verge of an apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men off to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she's forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death when her first love, a boy who died in battle, returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds is rich with history and mystery, a curious tale of am intelligent girl searching through clues and struggling to survive in a dangerous time. This book draws on fear, fear of disease, war, and foreign spies, and combines them with the morbid curiosity of contacting the spirit world that arose in the early 20th century. An intriguing mystery, taking place in a time where concerns are not unlike those currently faced.

One thing historical novels do is introduce readers to the idea that, while certain events took place in the past, they're not so dissimilar from those they've personally seen or read about. In Mary Shelley's 1918, America is struggling to fight an overseas war, neighbours are suspicious of neighbours who have foreign-sounding names, and a disease that no one is sure how to cure is running rampant. I'm curious as to how many other readers will think back to other events of the past 100 years, most recently, the illnesses and overseas battles that populated the news and covered the western world in fear in the early 21st century.

Mary Shelley is an interesting girl, intelligent and perhaps a little eccentric. She strikes me as a girl who grew up in the early 1900's with a liberal father who taught her what most girls weren't taught. She has a rather analytical mind, she's constantly questioning and searching. Then, her practicality mixes with the spirit world when she encounters a familiar ghostly face.

The increased interest in the spirit world and departed loves ones is a curious thing. During a time where the world was in chaos, when everyone feared the worst was coming, some looked to the other side, to passed away loved ones for comfort. I'm curious as to what some were looking for. Perhaps a sense that they weren't alone, that their family was always with them. Perhaps they were looking for evidence of a sort of existence after death. Then again, perhaps it was something else entirely.

Interspersed between the chapters of this book are photographs from the early 20th century. A previously published example would be Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Unfortunately, the photographs didn't work for me here as they did with Riggs' book. The pictures, yes, draw on Mary Shelley's experiences and encounters, but I felt no personal connection to them, no direct connection to the scene or chapter as with Jacob and his encounters on the island. There was a consistency to those photographs that isn't present here, it feel more like these images were slipped in. (Of course, I am curious as to how the photographs will look in the finished copy, perhaps that will make a difference.)

This is an intriguing historical mystery, based on real events and worries, anchored by a very intelligent girl searching for the truth in a very dangerous year, but the addition of time period-accurate photographs felt unnecessary.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (122)

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

Title: Tandem
Author: Anna Jarzab
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

From Goodreads:

Everything repeats.
You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives--infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems.

Perhaps this is the new trend, parallel dimensions and alternate realities. The cover confuses me, I imagine the bird will make sense at some point. I'm also curious as to how the multiple dimensions idea will stretch across three books (since it says 'trilogy' right there on the cover).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Me on Nameless

Title: Nameless
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: April 4, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

When she was six, she was found alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven, the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute and scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill along with his son, Nico. Now Camille is turning sixteen. No longer mute, she keeps her scars hidden under her school uniform and only opens up to her friends Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered heiress, she knows she's not really Family. Unlike them, she's a mortal with a past buried in trauma. It's not until she meets Tor, who has scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth, to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

Nameless is an enthralling and captivating tale, dark and dripping with magic and decadence. In an intricate world so powerful, so unique, so dangerous, a girl struggles to discover where she belongs, if she belongs, who she belongs to. What her name is.

Cami is a curious creature, caught between the family that took her in and the unknown mysteries of her past. Where did she come from before they found her, shaking and bleeding in the snow? What is creeping out from the darkness that causes her nightmares? It can be difficult, having the meek quiet girl as the heroine, but sometimes it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. It's the quiet ones who get inquisitive, who get tired of not knowing, who follow and grab hold when a hidden truth is revealed. It's the quiet ones who have to figure out their place in the world.

For those looking for a romance in this magical world, they'll find it muted, but I didn't seem to miss it. Cami's connections to each of the battered boys is different. Nico's anger and fury hide the pain and scars on the inside and Cami's hands flutter with the urge to soothe and comfort. Tor's scars on the outside that mark him reminds Cami of her own, of a past she can't remember, and she knows that somehow, in some way, they are similar. In different ways, she cares about them both.

The world the author has crafted here is wonderfully complex. New Haven is not part of the normal human world, it doesn't even have the same history as our own. Everything sounds and tastes familiar, but woven in are the magics and the creatures and a different history that crafted this place. Potential, Twists, jacks, fausts, charmers, the Families. Not everything is fully explained which adds a wariness to it all, a hidden danger lurking in the darkness, in the shadows. An exciting world crackling with power at the edges.

It doesn't take long to see who the fairy tale counterparts are in Cami, Ruby, Ellie, or other characters. What makes this retelling work is the unique world, the darker and dangerous magic, the secrets and nightmares. Everything the author brought and added to the story of Snow White, every twist and turn, makes this a refreshing and exciting retelling while still staying faithful to the original.

As with the author's previous series, I found myself devouring it, sinking down as deep as I could into the story, feeling the icy bite of the falling snow, hearing the mad thump of someone's heartbeat. And, as with the author's previous series, I found myself craving more the second it was over.

(I received an advance copy from Penguin Canada.)