Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (139)

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

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

I'm so intrigued by this. As impossible as it sounds, it also sounds rather interesting. I can see it potentially being very psychological. And I like the new cover, it's more mysterious. What's in the box?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Me on The Weight of Souls

Title: The Weight of Souls
Author: Bryony Pearce
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot imprint)

Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them, letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. If she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her. She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that she’s not going crazy. But then Justin is murdered and everything gets worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave, and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death. Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him? And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

The Weight of Souls starts off as an intriguing paranormal mystery about a prickly Asian-British heroine with a curse rooted in Egyptian mythology, her 'mission' to track down murderers and deliver revenge and redemption on behalf of their victims, but the book falls flat, weighed down by repetition, a backstory with complicated flashbacks, and an overall depressing tone.

The book starts quickly, the first chapter is rather fast-paced and is filled with conflict. Then the second chapter comes in and mixes Taylor's curse and the need to keep it secret with the fellow classmates that bully and verbally abuse her. But then the story slows, held back by Taylor's father voicing the same concerns over and over. The scenes between the two are often the same, often contain the same arguments, and it was hard for me to see either of them moving forward during those chapters.

Taylor doesn't have a lot to be happy about. She's hated at school, feared by her father, used by ghosts, and frightened of the Darkness coming after her and swallowing her whole. She hates the ghosts that come at her, touching her without a thought or care. She's trapped by the curse passed down to her through her mother. There's potential solace in her friend Hannah, but Taylor's curse constantly drives a wedge between them. And so Taylor's often left to struggle and search on her own.

I found the romance to be very problematic. As Taylor spends time with Justin's ghost, as they work at uncovering the truth behind his death, she starts to like him more and more. It's more than the fact that he used to bully her, that he used to put her down. He's also dead, as in not coming back to life dead. He's trapped by unfortunate circumstance, as is she because of the nature of her curse, and I don't see their relationship progressing.

The curse that afflicts Taylor (and her mother before she died) is confusing. It's Egyptian in origin but it passed down through one of Taylor's mother's Chinese ancestors. The old family story about the first family member to be cursed is told to readers as flashbacks, perhaps relied on too heavily at times. I wanted more Taylor, more of her searching and hunting around, more of her figuring out what to do, more of her growth as a character.

Taylor challenges bullies, challenges a secret group, and challenges a curse, but she's overshadowed by a rather somber mood and an overwhelming darkness. Those, plus the repetition, the somewhat confusing backstory, and the unfortunate romance kept me from enjoying the book.

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (62)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

July's almost over???? Weird. It feels like it's gone by rather quickly, but then it doesn't because it's been the same all summer so far, sunny and clear and warm with no rain. Things are getting a bit crispy out here with the lack of rain. I really hope it's not hot and gross during my volunteer week at the library.

My review schedule is all kinds of packed up and busy until about mid-October. Why are so many awesome books coming out in September? Why?????? And why must I go through another e-galley spurt?? My eyes are going to burn out from too much screen-reading. Here's hoping I can work out a balance between screen-reading and paper-reading and not reading so I don't murder my eyes.

I want to give all the hugs to the Canadian YA authors who are now asking if they can take part in the Canadian YA Lit Event next May. May! 9 months from now! It makes me warm and fuzzy inside.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce (Tuesday) and The Uprising by Lisa M. Stasse (Friday). :)
Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (from Simon & Schuster Canada)
Inheritance by Malinda Lo (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia (e-galley from Hachette Book Group Canada)
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (from HarperCollins Canada)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Me on Earthbound

Title: Earthbound
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told. Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she barely knows. But when she discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in may have been responsible for the plane crash, that may have been their intended victim, she run to where the boy she sees instructs her to go. Now Tavia is on the run with no one to trust, except for her best friend and crush, Benson. Tavia feels torn between the two, between the boy who comes to talk to her at night and the boy who's been by her side for so long.

Earthbound is a book heavy on the mystery, heavy on the intrigue, and heavy on the consequences should everything go a certain way. A dangerous way. It starts as a curious sort of mystery, starts with a curious sort of girl, and turns into a darker and more complicated book than I expected. The events that take place, the people she sees, everything is coming after Tavia, and she'll have to discover what it all is while choosing which side to trust.

After the plane crash, Tavia sees herself as broken, damaged. She's healing, slowly, but she barely has the urge to draw or paint anymore. She's searching for pieces that remind her how her life used to be before the crash, but little is familiar. When she starts seeing things she shouldn't, people she doesn't know but feel familiar, she becomes confused. When she hears some things that make her think she was the target of the plane crash, that someone is trying to kill her, she feels betrayed and hurt. Then more confusion comes when no answers are given and she's sent on some kind of hunt to uncover the truth, the truth behind who she is, what she is. Her voice is frantic at times, struggling to understand, struggling to decide who to trust. Trust becomes elusive in this book, it forced Tavia to rely on what she's seen with her own eyes, heard with her own ears, and felt with her instincts.

Who are the Earthbound? What are they? Who is searching for Tavia, why is she so important? It's these questions Tavia must answer if she's to stay alive. As the answers are revealed, as she learns what is happening around her, what she discovers isn't what she expected. Her whole life twists and turns throughout the book, resulting in a climax I never saw coming.

I suppose there is a triangle of sorts between Tavia, Benson, and the mysterious boy Tavia sees, but I don't see it as a love triangle. More of an importance triangle. Tavia has feelings for Benson, she feels close to him, so close she tells him everything about what's going on, everything she discovers about the Earthbound. But it feels different with the mystery boy. I won't deny that there's a connection between them, but the emotional one between Tavia and Benson is far stronger.

Compared to the author's previous series, the voice and tone are rather different. There's more suspense this time around, more seriousness, more danger, more tough choices and even tougher consequences. More of the author torturing the characters, pushing them to the edge. The stakes are higher in this new series, and I imagine the number of twists and turns will only multiply.

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (138)

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

Title: Curtsies & Conspiracies
Author: Gail Carriger
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to bestselling author Gail Carriger's YA debut Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

I like the author's voice in this series, so proper and so upper-crust British, but also very amusing and intelligent. I hope it's not wrong to wish for a bit of romance to happen for Sophronia.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Me on Indelible

Title: Indelible
Author: Dawn Metcalf
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Some things are permanent. Indelible. And they cannot be changed back. Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room, right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world, a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same. Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one, his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future. Failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Indelible is a mysterious and mystical tale into a world hidden from our own, one that's extremely complicated and dangerous. Joy enters the world of the Twixt by mistake, is marked by mistake, and becomes wrapped up in terms and tasks and near creatures she never knew existed. But is she capable of hiding the fact that she's now part of this world by accident, and will she survive the dangers thrown at her?

My initial impressions of Joy weren't necessarily positive. She seems sad, possibly depressed, and leaning closer and closer towards apathy. Her father struggles, her mother is gone, her brother is off at school. If it wasn't for her best friend, Joy would never have a genuine smile on her face. But then a strange boy she barely meets tries to cut out her eye and strange things start happening to her.

The dark paranormal world that exists alongside Joy's normal human life is called the Twixt, and from the Twixt comes Joy's assailant Indelible Ink and his sister. The other-worldliness that surrounds Ink and his sibling is obvious, him more so than her (which is curious in itself), the ways in which they show they aren't human multiply. But what are they? What can they do? How much danger is Joy in now that she's linked to Ink?

I found it both amusing and annoying when, near the beginning, Joy can't get past the fact that Ink went after her for the sole purpose of cutting out her eye. It's amusing because she keeps going on about it like she wants him to apologize, but it's also annoying. She can't get past it, she wants him to fix it, she wants him to understand how much he hurt her and frightened her, but he doesn't necessarily understand that. He's not human. And he can't take it back.

Over time, his attempted removal of her eye becomes less of a problem for her, and their relationship changes. Their 'relationship' is once built on artifice and lies, built on pretending to be close, but the more time Joy spends with Ink, the less she cares. She seems more fascinated by him, by the ways in which he isn't human. Even though she isn't as wary of him as she should be, as I feel she should be (because I think there's a bigger reason why he needed to remove her sight), she is wary of everything else the Twixt introduces her to, the strange monsters and the near constant messages. Of those she is frightened, of the traps and the dangers she is frightened, but over the course of the book she isn't as frightened of Ink. It makes me think he's the one she should protect her heart against the most.

The more I read YA the more I realize how self-centered people can be, especially teenagers. A lot of their time their focus is on them, on how they feel, on what's happened to them, on how they've been wronged by others and it's up to them to fix it. Not all teenagers are like this, there are those who put others before themselves. But as it sometimes happens in YA, when the main character only focuses on what is happening to them and around them, the bigger picture goes unseen until time has almost run out.

I found this book to be rather fast-paced with an almost frantic tone at times with Joy struggling to understand and brace for what's coming next. If this is the start of a trilogy or series, I'm curious as to where the next book will go. It felt like a tale to be contained in one book but I do have an unanswered question or two. And I still think there's something more behind the reason Ink had for trying to cut out Joy's eyes.

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

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (61)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

I should put up some kind of disclaimer that I'll be complaining about the sun and the heat and the no rain as long as it's sunny and hot and not rainy. Here's week whatever (maybe 3 or 4) of my complaint. It's nice, sure, but things are starting to dry out.

Also. Anyone else experiencing Comic Con envy right now? ;)

I'm slowly getting back into reading after that weird span of me not really wanting to read anything. Of course, reading a book I've read about 3 times already this year instead of reading a review book isn't helping. Ooooops. ;)

On Wednesday I headed out to Richmond to meet Amanda Sun and Elsie Chapman and to see Jeyn Roberts again (I first met her about a year ago). *hugs for Canadian YA authors* It was so nice to finally meet Elsie and Amanda, they're both so much fun and so sweet. They didn't mention anything spoilery for their next books, Elsie's Divided out next February and Amanda's currently untitled book 2 out sometime next spring/early summer, but there was a lot of visiting Japan talk. It sounds nice there. And look! An actual picture. :) Elsie is on the left, Amanda is on the right (holding the special-made contest prize Tomo-pony).
No write-up for the event, it was rather informal, just the authors standing at tables with their books to be walked up to by customers walking into the store (right behind me taking the picture is the entrance). I sort of thought there'd be a talking or reading, but no. But this kind of set-up made it easy for me to talk with Amanda and Elsie for almost 90 minutes. :)

Back to two reviews this week! :) This week will feature reviews of Indelible by Dawn Metcalf (Tuesday) and Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (Friday). :)
Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (from Random House Canada through NetGalley)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Me on The Evolution of Mara Dyer

Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past. She can’t. She used to think her problems were all in her head. They aren’t. She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. She’s wrong.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is captivating and compelling, a thrilling but frightening exploration of the past, the present, memory, and truth. The world Mara knows has changed, it's not what she thought it was, and so it's left to her to figure it out, to expose the truth and unravel the secrets kept buried. To discover it's not all in her head.

Mara returns with passion, with courage, with strength, but also with fear, with uncertainty, with confusion. She wants to reveal the truth to everyone, but she's frightened by it if it turns out to be real because then she and everyone she cares about is in danger. Things are happening but she still has no idea why. Noah understands, Noah wants to help her, but what if he's keeping his own secrets from her?

For Mara Dyer, the world is not what it appears anymore. The title suggests she's about to change, to evolve into something new. And in a way she does, but it's all about what she becomes and what's waiting for her on the other side.

What does truth mean when almost everyone around you can't see what you see? Are you the problem, are you ill, or are you the only one who sees what's really happening? Mara is on a mission to prove that she's not crazy, that someone is after her, that something is wrong. She needs evidence, even if searching for it is dangerous.

This is a rather intense psychological thriller. As with the first book, I could read it multiple times and still not find every clue Michelle Hodkin has secreted away, not unless I wrote down every single thing I thought was a clue and cross-referenced with each book. It would most likely involve pages of charts and notes and wouldn't be complete until the third book's release. And even then I think I'd miss some things.

It's a journey into a complicated world with complicated characters. What is truth? What is the truth? Will Mara ever discover what really happened when the asylum collapsed, or what she's really seeing, or what's really happening to her? More questions arise and I hope that at least some of them will be answered in the last book.

(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (137)

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

Title: Bang
Author: Lisa McMann
Release date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Jules should be happy. She saved a lot of people’s lives and she’s finally with Sawyer, pretty much the guy of her dreams. But the nightmare’s not over, because she somehow managed to pass the psycho vision stuff to Sawyer. Excellent.

Feeling responsible for what he’s going through and knowing that people’s lives are at stake, Jules is determined to help him figure it all out. But Sawyer’s vision is so awful he can barely describe it, much less make sense of it. All he can tell her is there’s a gun, and eleven ear-splitting shots. Bang.

Jules and Sawyer have to work out the details fast, because the visions are getting worse and that means only one thing: time is running out. But every clue they see takes them down the wrong path. If they can’t prevent the vision from happening, lives will be lost. And they may be among the casualties…

I rather enjoyed the first book in the series, the author has this sparse sort of way of writing. Only gives the reader what's absolutely necessary, no extra fluff. And the covers are simple and striking. :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (60)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

More summer. This lack of rain has me feeling all weird. And I think something's wrong with my ear. If it's not one part of me breaking down this year, it's another.

I think the summer blahs hit me because it's taking me forever to get back into reading. I blame The Dream Thieves, that book is just all kinds of things. If I ever meet Maggie I'm liable to wave both The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves in her face and demand that I be allowed to live in that world. It's rough and dangerous and complicated and magical and my heart wrenches every single time I turn a page.

There's finally a book signing in my future! Well, it's been there for a couple of weeks, but still. I'll be in Richmond early Wednesday evening for a book event/signing featuring Amanda Sun (Ink), Elsie Chapman (Dualed), and Jeyn Roberts (Dark Inside and Rage Within). I'm rather excited, I've been looking forward to meeting Amanda and Elsie for months now. :)

Only one review will be posted this week, The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Friday). :)
3:59 by Gretchen McNeil (from HarperCollins Canada)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Me on Sweet Shadows

Title: Sweet Shadows
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Three teenage descendants of Medusa must figure out where their fate will take them. Warring factions among the gods of Olympus are coming for them, creatures of the abyss are pushing into San Francisco, and odd figures in their lives are hiding dangerous secrets. Gretchen has fought the monsters for years, but teaching the others is hard. Can she rely on Grace and Greer? Greer has pressing social commitments and little time to train her new-found powers, but the mythical second sight won't leave her alone. Grace is worried about her brother, Thane, who has disappeared. She's worried his secrets might have to do with the heritage the triplets share. How can the girls embrace the shadows of their legacy?

Sweet Shadows is a return to a series filled with Greek mythology, ancient monsters, and long-lost sisters. Three young women who barely know each other must come together in order to keep the human world safe from what lurks in a dark abyss, but there are other groups at work. Some who want to help, some who don't care one way or another, and some who will stop at nothing to stop them.

Starting immediately after the first book ends, the action and the overarching plot pick up and are more prevalent here. There's more on why they were kept apart, more on what they can do, and more on what's after them. Besides the near-constant monsters coming after them. There's more danger and more suspense, plus some boy trouble, but the romance takes a back seat to the more important storyline of the sisters training and trying to stay alive.

Being triplets doesn't mean they have the same personality, which is good. Gretchen has a rather military-style way of looking at situations, acting on instinct. Grace is the sweet little den mother wanting everyone to get along who wants to include everyone in a well-thought plan. Greer has social engagements to worry about, but it's hard to focus on the normal human part of her life when the monsters are everywhere and she's having near-constant visions. Grace serves as a sort of buffer with Gretchen and Greer, the former smoothing the abrasive edges of the other two.

It's refreshing to read a YA novel featuring Greek mythology and find it not to be another Persephone retelling. There's so much more than Persephone and Hades, and props to the author for the modern twist on the gorgon/Medusa myth.

Like the first, this book is about the power and connection that siblings have when they're together, the closeness and the support. Grace, Greer, and Gretchen all need to lean on each other, rely on each other, in order to keep surviving while battling monsters and discovering their destiny. They are stronger together, but they still need to learn on their own, learn how to use their unique abilities in order to keep the rest of San Francisco safe.

(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (136)

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

Title: These Broken Stars
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

From Goodreads:

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

As pretty as the cover is, I'm left wondering if it needs to be a girl in a flowing dress cover. It takes up a good third of the cover space, without counting her upper body and outstretched arm. It makes the guy look almost like an afterthought. Still, the story itself sounds interesting. :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Me on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship, the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a sweet, complex, poignant story of two fifteen-year-old boys and their connection to each other. This is a coming of age that highlights the questions we all had when we were growing up, questions about people and our parents, about words and actions, about family and love.

Ari and Dante work so well in this book, as characters and as friends, as searchers for answers. They both have their quirks and their questions, their way of seeing the world and wondering why it works like that. It's more that Ari is more street smart while Dante is more book smart. It's not that they have close to nothing in common. It's that they both have questions, questions about the world, why parents don't talk about certain things and why people act the way they do, and it's the way they search the world they know for answers that defines who they will become.

The summer in which they meet becomes a summer of discovery, of growth, but what about when the summer ends? What about the rest of the year? How much more will they both discover about the world and how complicated it is?

What are the secrets of the universe? I imagine you could study for decades upon decades and barely scratch the surface of what makes us tick. What makes us human, what makes our parents our parents, what makes sparrows and dogs, what makes dreams and stars. What makes everything.

The prose is so simple but so powerful and completely without artifice. This is the guileless voice of a boy and his unusual friend hoping to understand the world and where they fit into it, and the journey they go on is one not to be missed.

(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (59)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Summer!........ yeah, I guess. Just like when people can't handle snow here, people can't handle heat. I'm always astounded when hardware stores have "We're all sold out of portable air conditioners" signs in their front windows. Where was the one you bought last year? It looks like it's going to be warm here this summer with brief periods of cooling off.

Impromptu BC book blogger meet-up! :) All our schedules seem to be a bit strange, but Thursday evening we were all free so we met up at the usual place: a Starbucks in a bookstore. :)

I think this weekly post needs more book-related news. ... But I don't think I heard any book-related news this week. The schedule for SDCC came out, I saw that. I'd like to go one year, to Comic Con and to BEA (maybe not in the same year). :)

Reviews this coming week will feature Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Tuesday) and Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs (Friday). :)
Control by Lydia Kang (from Nafiza)

Borrowed from the library:
Fables Volumes 1-4 by Bill Willingham and lots of different artists (I realized that, with Saga, I'm at the beginning of the series, and it could be years until it ends. Then Christa at More Than Just Magic suggested I try Fables. And I was happy because there are 18 volumes out, plus a bunch of extra sort of related books, so I imagine this will keep me entertained for a while.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Me on Half Lives

Title: Half Lives
Author: Sara Grant
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all? Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager, and they have surprising ties to Icie.

Half Lives is a fast-paced and high-stakes glimpse into what the future could hold, into the strength of humanity. Two rather compelling stories unfold along each other, revealing both the end of the world as we know it as well as what it could become hundreds of years from now.

I found this to be a rather original idea. It wasn't just one girl's mission to stay safe, to stay alive, or one boy's task to keep his people safe, to continue their way of life. It was more of a reveal over time, a reveal of both their characters and their worlds. Both timelines are about survival and what it is to be human, what it is to live in a time and place uncertain and potentially dangerous.

Icie is on a journey to survive, to follow the path her parents set before her in order for her to survive what they know is coming. She has a purpose forced upon her, and it is to keep on living. Along the way she meets three other teens and her tale then includes discovery and the new 'world' they create. But how long is long enough? How long can you go on knowing the world around you is dangerous, is crumbling, and everything you once knew is gone? And how safe is the bunker Icie's parents sent her to?

Beckett doesn't necessarily start on a journey, but it turns into one. A journey to keep his people and their home safe from what lies out away from the mountain in the ruins of a civilization broken and filled with danger. A journey to keep the mountain safe, to follow the teachings of the one they worship and to keep on living. But not everything is as it seems. The mountain holds secrets. And there are lights in the distance. What is out there? What is coming? What is the truth hidden in the mountain?

Both timelines intertwine, alternating between Icie's trek into the desert and Beckett's mission to keep everyone safe. Questions are raised an answered over time, in both Icie's and Beckett's time. Words and phrases of Icie's live on in the future, clearly passed down through generations of survivors and human beings born after the event, but how were they influenced by her? And why? Where did she stop and they begin? The future is a curious place.

The human spirit is strong, it fights to survive, to adapt, to continue living when things are at their bleakest. Instead of giving up and wasting away we still go on, we still help others, still teach others how to live, how to read, how to survive. Names may be forgotten, worlds may take on different meanings, priorities may change, but the drive to live on will always be there.

I was tempted to first read Icie's chapters, to learn her story before going back to read about both her and Beckett at the same time, but I didn't. I think the reasoning behind books like this, books where chapters alternate between points of view and points in time, is that as different as the characters are they have their similarities, that they're tied together in ways they don't realize. They they will face obstacles, face danger, face death, and they must draw from inside themselves to keep on living not just for them but for those that depend on them. For the future.

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

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (135)

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

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I only sort of remember the short story (good thing I've got the anthology), but it's Holly Black so how can I not want to read this? Not totally sold on the cover, though. I think a real hand instead of an illustrated hand would've been cool.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Me on Way to Go

Title: Way to Go
Author: Tom Ryan
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Orca Books

Danny thinks he must be the only seventeen-year-old guy in Cape Breton--in Nova Scotia, maybe--who doesn't have his life figured out. His buddy Kierce has a rule for every occasion, and his best friend Jay has bad grades, no plans and no worries. Danny's dad nags him about his post-high-school plans, his friends bug him about girls and a run-in with the cops means he has to get a summer job. Worst of all, he's keeping a secret that could ruin everything.

Way to Go is a book filled with a mixture of emotions and realizations. It's smart, fun, happy, sad, easy, tough, and all kinds of complicated. Perhaps it's a coming out, but perhaps it's also a realization that it's okay to not have your entire life planned out when you're seventeen, that it's okay to still think about what you'd like to do in the future, that it's okay to explore. That it's okay to be you and not who people around you expect you to be.

Danny's is a kind and thoughtful voice, the voice of a teenage guy struggling to keep some things secret but to still sound normal around his friends and family. He thinks this secret will destroy everything around him, thinks it will ruin his life. Over the course of the book he's discovering who he is, what he wants to do. But will he keep hiding that part of himself?

It's not Deep Cove telling Danny he can't be gay, it's Danny himself who's suppressing this part of himself. It's sad that he feels he has to hide being gay from everyone. It's also sad that this has happened, does happen, and will happen in the future in real life. It's sad for everyone who feels that being gay is wrong, that it needs to be hidden, that being gay equates to not being normal. No one is normal anymore, everyone is different.

It's okay if you don't have everything figured out when you're a teenager, that's what those years are for. But during that time it's important to be the person you want to be. You're the one living your life, not your friends or your parents, so be who you want, like what you want, love whomever you want, life without fear, because there will be those who love you no matter what.

(I own a copy of this book.)