Saturday, August 31, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (67)

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. ;)

Rain. Finally. ;) Also, a year ago today I was on my way to NYC for a week of wandering and US Open tennis and bookstores and gross humid rainy weather. I think my mom has it in her head that she'd like to go to all the slams, which means trips to Australia, England, and France. I'm all for England and France, I love the historical feel of the UK and Europe, but I don't know about Australia in January when it's disgustingly hot.
Look! I'm taking part in a blog tour soon! :) The things I do to support Canadian YA authors. ;) Many thanks to HarperCollins Canada for setting up the tour.

I did something I haven't done in the almost 3 years of Me on Books: scheduled a 'review' for a DNF. It's not really a review, just a brief thing on why I didn't enjoy it and didn't finish it. I scheduled it because I don't want to be one of those blogs that only posts mostly positive reviews. I mean, I read what I want to and quite often review it because I enjoyed it. Sometimes there are those reviews that aren't as glowing, those books just didn't grab me as I thought they would. I don't want to say that I hope to post more DNF 'reviews' in the future (that sounds terrible), but I want to be more honest with you readers when I request an ARC or e-galley and don't finish it.

I saw the City of Bones movie this week. As someone who's read the books (except for City of Lost Souls, still haven't gotten to it yet) for pure urban fantasy and romance and complicated teen angst excitement, I enjoyed the movie. There was the standard book-to-movie-glossing-over-and-removing-and-squishing-together of plot points, and some Hollywood movie cheese, but I enjoyed it. I'm not surprised a lot of critics don't like it, it's half demons and angels and action and half teen romance fluff. I'm hoping the next two movies get made. Book to movie adaptations don't always work out, as do book to TV shows. A format I'd like to see more studios do is book to miniseries. 4 or 6 or 8 hour long parts gives more time for character development and more time to add more scenes from the book. But the only miniseries I see being made now are mostly done by the BBC and sometimes by HBO. Hmmmmm. Also, I saw City of Bones is/was the #1 movie in Germany, so that's good.

Reviews going up this week will feature Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Tuesday) and Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (Friday). :)
Borrowed from the library:
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (e-book)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Me on The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

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 dark, dangerous and fast-paced, held together by flawed and deadly characters. Black brings new life to vampires in this incarnation of the creature. Along with the vampires, Black gives readers Tana, a reluctant heroine with secrets of her own and a way of making the wrong decision that only serves to get her deeper and deeper into the heart of Coldtown.

In the beginning, Tana is by no means the hero of the book. She just happens to be the only survivor of a vampire attack on a house party, she just happens into the room with her infected ex-boyfriend and a mysterious (and possibly insane) vampire. She just happens into everything that follows, going along with the flow, but she has her reasons. And she doesn't run from the situation, she feels the need to follow it, to keep going, and so she goes with them into Coldtown. The dark secret in her past complicates things, fill her with thoughts of not belonging, and this pushes her to continue the journey through the gates.

The reason Tana follows along and continues deeper and deeper into a complicated situation is because she makes mistakes. She doesn't always put her trust in the right person, she isn't always the smartest girl around, but she actively wants to fix those mistakes. No whining, no passing it off on someone else, someone stronger or deadlier. Tana has the ability to take charge, to make the hard choices, and she does it.

The vampires in this book are shown in a darker light, the way a creature known in horror and genre circles should be shown. Vampires are deadly, brutal, an infection, a menace to be locked away and kept from killing the human population. There are those characters who do glamourize them, who want to join them, who see beauty in life after death and living in a cold popular cage, but they are the minority. For most, they feel safe with the existence of the Coldtowns, knowing the vampires are locked away and can't escape. Unless someone lets them out, of course.

As exciting and blood-stained as this book is, there was something that bothered me. Nothing plot-wise or character-wise, but instead the timeline of the book. I felt the flashback chapters, those on Tana's past, on the vampire's past, interrupted the story that was currently taking place. While each chapter is related to how Tana ended up in Coldtown, it stopped the flow of the story for me.

Vampire characters in YA are overused, but what Black does, by including Tana, by tweaking the modern world with the addition of the Coldtowns, is give readers something new. This book has a way of being both familiar and original. Dangerous consequences arise after each and every decision made in Coldtown, and every attempt to help or fix a problem is painfully difficult, but that doesn't stop Tana from trying to save everyone she can.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (142)

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

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: February 4, 2013
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Rapunzel's tower is a satellite. She can't let down her hair - or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker – unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

I never thought myself the kind of reader who would like fairy tale retellings, but apparently I am. Especially when they take place in the future and are filled with robots, cyborgs, and creepy moon people. ;)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Me on All Our Yesterdays

Title: All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except Finn's voice coming from the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present, imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside. Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America's most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, his life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina's hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is thrilling, complex, and compelling, a story of making difficult choices in the name of exposing the truth and survival. Dual point of view introduce readers to to very different girls, two girls who are more connected than is expected. Their lives, their timelines, are about to intersect and reveal a surprising and agonizing truth.

Em is imprisoned, trapped. She needs to break free. Em seems to be fully realized as a character, she knows who she is, she knows what has to be done, and she knows it's going to be almost impossible and utterly painful. She has the feel of an end result as a character. Her world is dark, painful, and not what it should be. A number of things are unsaid at the beginning between her and Finn, but what's clear is that they both need to travel back in time to stop something from happening, to stop someone from becoming a monster. To return the world around them to what it once was.

By contrast, Marina hasn't become her own person yet, she isn't as solid. What she is is intelligent, caring, and harbouring a puppy-love crush over her neighbour James. When his life crumbles she jumps right in as someone for him to lean on, as someone to keep him safe. But there's a lot Marina doesn't know that could change her mind about recent events, there are people in her life she doesn't know the truth about. And she doesn't know Em is on her way.

The time travel aspect is treated well, it's roots are in science and deals with complicated equations regarding different dimensions, but it's not overused or abused in any way. Em and Finn travel back in time, into Marina's timeline, to make the one choice that will keep her world from becoming theirs. But can the past be changed?

For most if not all of the book, the focus is on trust and choice. How to we decide who to trust? Is it enough to trust their words, or must we see it for ourselves? What if we make the wrong choice? What if we could go back and not make that choice, knowing what it leads to? Yes, this has time travel, but it's less about the science of it and more about the choosing to go back, more about the moral implications and the repercussions, more about the human side of it. Every time Em went back she was hoping to make the right choice, hoping that everything would work out, hoping that Marina would get the chance to live.

I found this to be such an intriguing story. Given the chance, would we go back and right wrongs, keep the world from changing in certain ways, keep those we care about from leaving? Should we go back? What if those changes are dangerous? What if they require action to be taken on the biggest scale? What if they mean murder? What if realizing the most painful truth means making the most painful sacrifice? Just before I started this book, I discovered it's actually the first in a duology. Taking that into account, along with the abrupt but powerful ending, I'm a little confused but also curious about the next book.

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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (66)

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. ;)

No books this week. :( Oh, well. It's been a while since I've had a bookless week, I figure I'm due. ;)

Summer is still here. It sucks a bit, things are dry, lawns are brown and brittle, flowers are thirsty. Upside: the lawn doesn't need a lot of mowing. Downside: when it does, it's hot out.

Do you guys get anxious when you loan books to people? I kind of have that right now, but it's my own doing. Someone's borrowing my ARC of The Dream Thieves and I'm waiting for them to be done so I can pick it up. It's my own fault, I had it and said she could read it and then let me know when she was done so I could get it back from her. But that doesn't stop me from hoping it doesn't come back to me all battered.

Reviews for the upcoming week will feature All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Tuesday) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (Friday). :)

Since it's a bookless week, here's what I've been reading. :)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Again. ;)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Finally, something fresh and new and vampires. Well, not so new if you've read the short story in the The Eternal Kiss anthology. ;)
Thornhill by Kathleen Peacock. Back to Mac and Amy's ghost appearing in cryptic dreams.
Inheritance by Malinda Lo. I love this duology, it and last fall's Adaptation. It's an intriguing look at encounters, at adolescence, at sexuality, and the other. And it's a sci-fi thriller with aliens. Whoever said you couldn't have an LGBTQ sci-fi thriller should read these books. :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Me on The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B

Title: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Author: Teresa Toten
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Random House Canada imprint)

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He's determined to protect and defend her, to play Batman to her Robin, whatever the cost. But when you're fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it's hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a "normal" relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that's not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam's mother has started to receive.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is an honest and realistic look into a young teen's life as he struggles with everything. With being a teenage boy and falling in love with a teenage girl, with parents and divorce and a curious brother, and with every day facing the challenges his OCD provides. His complications and complex thoughts are the foreground to a background highlighting a curious mystery. Will Adam be able to overcome everything?

Adam is a very curious character. His thought are very candid, without artifice, but he keep those bottled up inside, feeding lies to anyone who will ask how he's doing or what his home life is like. He doesn't share his anxieties or worries, and because of that, he slowly ends up in a spiral, circling downward and downward.

His interactions with the other members of his group were interesting. Real names are rarely used, only code names taken from different superheroes. There are certain parts we share with people, certain things we expose to the world. These secret names form a barrier between them and the outside world, separating everything from what they're discussing during those meetings. Except for Robyn, her real name is always spoken, always thought about by Adam. Because he's in love with her and wants to be better for her.

Slightly in the background is an increasingly worrying situation with Adam's mother. Someone is sending her letters filled with horrible words. As her worry escalates, so does Adam's, and so everything escalates. Including their complicated home situation.

It's very clear that Toten by no means intends to ridicule or offend those who suffer from OCD, especially teens. Clearly, a lot of research has been done on her part in order to portray Adam as accurately as possible. It's interesting to read this book and to see how, in one circumstance, a person would think and rationalize certain mannerisms, rituals, and ways of thinking when they have OCD. To me, it seems to be about control, completing the rituals and counting and doing whatever it takes until the person feels that they have control of the situation, of the world around them. That they're no longer lost.

If there's one thing about this book that I didn't like, it would be the pacing. I felt so much was happening, but when I looked I was barely a third of the way in. Things keep happening to Adam, over and over and over, until it all comes together it one massive explosion. I just wish it could've happened faster.

I love how there's a part of Canadian-authored literature for children and teens that isn't afraid to tackle the big issues, the topical and important issues. Relationships, rape, violence, drugs, death of a family member or friend, and mental illness. Not talking about it, not reaching out and connecting with teens won't make it go away. I'm not sure how big it is in other countries, but I've found it to be a big part of Canadian literature. We seem to write to tell stories, to tell the story of someone who could be anyone, who could be any one of us. We write these stories to connect ourselves, to make sure no one is ever alone. Adam isn't alone. Another thing I've noticed is, with Canada being such a big country, our stories are often about one person's journey. This is Adam's journey.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (141)

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

Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads:

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, called "a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love"

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined the best of dystopian and paranormal and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.

I just had to feature this one after the cover was release a couple of weeks ago. It's all kinds of gorgeous. The eye is looking up, there are flowers. Tahereh's said there are no strikethroughs in this book, which is huge, it means that Juliette's found her voice, found her power, and hopefully this book will be utterly amazing.

Also, I find it a bit funny that the description has a quote from Ransom Riggs, considering that Tahereh and Ransom are engaged. They're now YA's most adorable author couple. :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Me on The Beginning of Everything

Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Ezra believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra's knee, his athletic career, and his social life. No longer a front-runner for homecoming, Ezra finds himself at the lunch table of misfits where he encounters new girl Cassidy. She's unlike anyone he's ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures. But as Ezra dives into new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one's singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

The Beginning of Everything is an intelligent, clever, and heartrending coming of age about teenage life and tragedy, about what's left behind after tragedy strikes and what we become, about sudden stops and fresh starts. Ezra is left broken, literally, left to piece together some kind of life after his accident, a life he never expected to live with people he never expected to meet. But sometimes those people can show you a different sort of life.

What resonates so much for me is Ezra's voice. It's very clear who he was before the accident: Eastwood's golden boy with pro tennis aspirations and a pretty girlfriend. He sounds popular, entitled, and stuck-up. The accident is like his fall from grace, and he's been left behind in the mortal world with all the other misfit children. At times he's witty, at times he's smart, at times he's stupid, but he's always honest. Honest in how he didn't want this new life, how he didn't want to be shunned by his 'former friends,' how now he has to figure out what to do after high school. At least he's got Cassidy, crazy, intelligent, wonderful Cassidy. Cassidy with her own tragedy.

This book is filled with teenagers, and what do teenagers do? They go to school, they mess up, they throw loud parties, they do weird stuff, they hang out, they watch movies, they eat burgers, they go out on dates, they play video games, they drink, and they have sex. Not all at the same time, but they do it. There's no sugarcoating of what teenagers can get up to in this book, which is refreshing. Some teens are proper and polite while others are crass, rude, and foolish.

Tragedy comes in many forms, be it an accident, a break-up, a screw-up. When tragedy strikes, what's left? What are we supposed to do with ourselves? After the accident, Ezra doesn't do much. He's drifting, trying to grab hold of something he recognizes, and ends up caught in this massive riptide created by Cassidy, Toby, and the debate team.

From somewhere around the midway point of this book right past the end, I reached some kind of indescribable epiphany. It grabbed hold of me so quickly and with so much force, but I didn't know why. Was it that this was how I remembered high school after I left it? Was it that it's the kind of book I wish I had during high school? Perhaps it's that this is how I see high school, how I still see it, how my perception of it has been warped from TV, film, book, and other pop culture representations of it. This is how I see high school to be like with its cliques and groups, with its jocks and cheerleaders and geeks and bullies, with its crashes and flickers and flames.

This book was completely unexpected and completely engrossing. I knew going in it would be a tragedy, that it's a book about tragedies, but I didn't expect to be hauled around on such a journey with Ezra, a journey with such awesome highs and such crushing lows. It's intriguing to see what's born from tragedy, what Ezra faces, and what he becomes on the other side.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book (when it was titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts) at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (65)

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 survived my week of volunteering at book camp. Yay. :) The group I was in charge of was so cool, I gave them a bunch of extra ARCs I had. They were all kinds of happy for new books to read. :) It was so much fun, I met Maggie Stiefvater fans and Lish McBride fans and Doctor Who fans.

But I'm all out of other news because I was kind of disconnected from the world for most of the past week.

Oh oh oh I saw that Maggie Stiefvater and Maureen Johnson will becoming to Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Writers Festival. I'm so going to one of their events in order to hopefully get my copies of The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves (once it's out), and The Madness Underneath signed. :)

Reviews posted this week will be on The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (Tuesday) and The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Friday). :)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (finished copy from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Inheritance by Malinda Lo (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (64)

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. ;)

So much for last week's rain. *sigh* I miss rain. I'm so sick of that stupid big yellow ball in the sky.

No reviews next week! I'll be at what seems to be my yearly volunteer bit at the main library in downtown Vancouver next week so I won't be around so much during the day. But I get to listen to authors talk about writing and to teens talk about what they want to write and what books they like and don't like, so it all balances out. :)

Hmmm, I seem to be lacking in news to share this week. Well, hopefully I'll have lots to share next week. :)
Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (from Simon & Schuster Canada)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Me on The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing. But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city, Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly as soldiers in their army. Paige is chosen by a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season is a dark and dangerous debut, a novel filled with intrigue, mystery, and paranormal curiosities. At times the danger is elusive, much like the aether itself, intangible but very present. It conceals secrets, that expose, could change a number of things in the world Paige inhabits. But at other times the danger is very clear, it pushes down on Paige like a weight, attempting to crush her, and she must find the will to push back and survive.

Paige is an unlikely heroine, not fearless but rather foolish, and more than a little stubborn. She is flawed, flawed in ways that shape her and make her stand out. Her ability to dreamwalk makes her a wild card, it intrigues those with hopes of power and control, but her fate will depend on how much she can control her ability. How far she can push her limits. She often dwells on the past, on what she learned about her ability, on those that protected her and taught her. And, in a sense, she fears the future. She's afraid of what she might be able to do. She's afraid of being a killer.

Paige has certain fingers in her life, in her past and the book's present, that have shaped her. Two are part of the crime group the Seven Seals. The third is Warden. All are men who have shaped her, taught her, cared for her in their own (depending on the character, sometimes genuine and sometimes twisted) ways. I found it curious that the three are all male characters. In a way they're like father figures to Paige, but in another way they aren't. There's no real strong female presence in Paige's life. There are those in the crime group, there is one in Oxford, but there is no female character that nurtures and instructs her. Perhaps there will be one in the next book.

The futuristic and fantastical world the author presents isn't necessarily richly described, it feels more and more like a dangerous and crumbling world than a thriving one, but it's rather present on each page. The re-working of historical events, the addition of the aether, the varying types of clairvoyants and their abilities. This is very much a world different from our own, one filled with spirit and shadow, with fear and rebellion.

Trust is important, it keeps Paige breathing. It keeps her alive. And she needs to stay alive if she's going to be of any use to anyone. But it's deciding who to trust that is the hardest for Paige. She knows what she knows, she sees what she sees, but the world she ends up in in Oxford has secrets, secrets that could change her mind about some of those in charge, and she will have to decide if she can put her trust in a few more people.

I feel bad for Samantha Shannon being called the next J.K. Rowling. It puts so much unneeded pressure on her to deliver a series as magical and powerful and emotional. Shannon is not the next Rowling, she's her own person, her own author. This is her story. Once something long-running ends, people are left adrift, searching for something as similar as possible to keep them going. Could this be what they're looking for? That's up to each individual reader to determine. Also, I certainly wouldn't recommend this series to children.

That being said, I found this to be thrilling, dangerous, and very intriguing. At times the story is rather dense, filled with backstory that exposes Paige's secrets and dreams, but my attention was always captured. I can see this interesting teenagers as well as adults, Paige's age of nineteen straddles the line. Her voice is young, untested, frightened, but she has spirit. Of course, considering what happens and what Paige uncovers, I am both curious and nervous as to where the author will take Paige over the course of seven books.

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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (140)

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

Title: Pawn
Author: Aimée Carter
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

From Goodreads:


For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. 

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter. 

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

I enjoyed Aimée Carter's previous series, so I'm intrigued by this new one. Rebellions and imposters and pawns and deciding whether or not to be a pawn.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Me on Charmed Vengeance

Title: Charmed Vengeance
Author: Suzanne Lazear
Release Date: August 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux

When V is forced to break their bond, Noli's only option is to join the crew of the air pirate ship piloted by her brother, Jeff. With its gleaming brass, dark wood, and spotless clockwork gears, the Vixen's Revenge is no orsinary air pirate ship. Beneath its polished exterior lies a dangerous secret. Off and away from the girl whose heart he was forced to break, V and his brother James are off on a quest demanded of them by their mother, Faerie Queen Tiana, wandering and searching the country for something she desires. And someone Noli never thought she'd see again, the scallywag faerie huntsman Kevighn, has appeared on the air pirate ship. While serving as shipmates, Kevighn and Noli learn that the Earth Court King plans to find a forbidden artifact, one that will bring destruction to everyone Noli loves.

Charmed Vengeance is a return to an alternate 1900's America filled with aether and airships, faeries and fighting, deception and danger. Noli must somehow cope with the sudden changes in her life, move on from the dangers of the faerie realm, and hopefully live a happy and normal life with V. But nothing is that simple.

This book is a return to a unique and refreshing setting, a curious and magic-filled alternate version of America where aether flows out into the world and gardens keep hidden doorways to the Faerie realm. What's next for Noli is nothing short of trying, of dangerous and frightening. Her relationship with V is shattered, the reprobate Kevighn is still wandering around looking for trouble, and the Faerie Queen has plots and plans of her own. But something else is happening right under their noses, something that could destroy everything.

Noli is changing, and not necessarily for the better. She's not human, not mortal, but neither is she faerie. It's unsure of what's worse for her, being separated from V or having to share her practical, intelligent, unconventional brain with a superficial and vapid sprite. Noli is trying to find a place for herself, trying to move on, trying to wait for V to return, but the sprite's focus on pretty things and fun is seen as useless.

Even though I see reasons for pulling Noli and V apart, it bothers me how often I come across this in second books in series. Having them grow while being apart, yes. Learning to stand in their own, yes. But why must they always be forced apart by another character or an external force? Why can't they decide on their own that they need to learn and grow? But in a book that needs drama and conflict, it happens this way.

There was less action than I expected, but there wasn't necessarily that much action in the first book. It's all journeys, Noli's journey on the air pirate ship, V's quest for his mother, even Kevighn's wandering about aimlessly. But over the course of the book people are mentioned, items appear, meetings take place, and everything comes together to reveal something dangerous.

More exploration than action, equal amounts of faerie magic and steampunk elements, this book still has one strong-willed girl, her Faerie prince, and a rakish huntsman. With what's revealed at the end, the next book is sure to be interesting.

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (63)

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. ;)

It rained. Finally. *flops over dead* I can't believe we set new records for sunniest and driest July (I think we set new records). Anyways, I wasn't a big fan of all the sun and the no rain. Lawns are yellow and dry, my hair is all weird from the lack of moisture in the air.

During the week I was reading Teresa Toten's The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B and I started thinking about Canadian literature, how it's often about one person's journey. What type of journey differs from book to book, usually it's about finding an identity or across a distance to find a certain place, or both. Then I started thinking about other themes, not just in Canadian lit but literature in general, how themes come in waves depending on what's happening in the world, and I wanted to talk about it with someone. And then I wondered if I should start some kind of podcast.

My sister and I have found something new to bond over: Minecraft. She played the demo on her computer, then asked is she could play it on mine. And so she plays it on my laptop some days, mining diamond and exploring up on the surface. I figure she's trying to get a lot of game-playing in now before she starts grad school in a month.

For the week of the 12th I won't really be around, I'll be at my yearly fun with kids and teens bit at the library in downtown Vancouver. There aren't as many volunteers as past years, so the groups with the older kids (14 to 16 years) only have 1 counsellor. And I'm in charge of one of those groups. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm sure it'll be ok. All the kids go because they're interested in writing their own stories. And it's my 4th year volunteering. It'll all be fun. :)

Reviews this coming week will feature Charmed Vengeance by Suzanne Lazear (Tuesday) and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Friday). :)
Thornhill by Kathleen Peacock
The Nautrals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (from Disney-Hyperion through NetGalley)

The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Friday, August 2, 2013

Me on The Uprising

Title: The Uprising
Author: Lisa M. Stasse
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Alenna escaped. It was expected that she would die on the wheel, the island where would-be criminals are sent as directed by the UNA, the totalitarian supercountry that was once the United States, Mexico, and Canada. But Alenna and her boyfriend, Liam, made it to safety. Except safety, they will soon learn, is relative. In order to bring down the UNA, they must first gain control of the wheel. If the mission succeeds, the wheel will become a base of revolution. But between betrayals, a new Monk leading a more organized army of Drones, and the discovery of a previously unknown contingent, Alenna, Liam, and their allies might be in over their heads. One thing Alenna knows for sure is that there will be a reckoning, and not everyone she loves will make it out alive.

The Uprising is filled with danger, with death, and with fear. After uncovering the truth behind the wheel, behind the reason she was sent there, Alenna now must head back in order to assist in a revolution against the UNA. But the island she and Liam return to isn't the one they left, and they're in even more danger this time around.

What is the next step in the plan to take down the UNA? What's next for Alenna and Liam? At the beginning they two of them were angry and confused, it seemed like some of the scientists at Destiny Station either didn't believe their story or didn't trust them with their plans, forcing them to answers the same questions over and over. It looked like they were about to carry out a plan that Alenna and Liam wouldn't agree to, but then they're attacked, then a lot of things changed, and everyone's on the run again. Then they end up back on the wheel, back where it started.

Alenna is slowly finding her place in the resistance, but what will she have to do in order to survive? Who will she have to trust in order to keep those she cares about safe? As smart as she is, as strong, as understanding, she really has to step up and take action. In the first book, there were times when I found her passive, where she would react, listen to what the plan to survive and escape would be, agree, and then follow. I want Alenna to take over, to lead an uprising, or at least to take control in order to protect Liam and those she trusts.

The title implies an uprising, a revolt, perhaps a revolution, but who will be doing the rising? The resistance, finally acting on years of data? The UNA, overtaking all pockets of rebels searching for a way to break free of their control? The cast-aside teenagers on the wheel, coming together and taking control? The drones, blindly following the orders of the Monk?

One thing that's often a key factor in dystopian novels, in YA, is trust. Who does the narrator, the hero, the heroine, trust? Who don't they trust? How much do they trust them? Trust is key in matters of survival, in life or death situations. Trust is all they have when they know they won't survive on their own, then they know a group will make them stronger. But trust only goes so far when motives and end goals are not the same. There are limits on trust, lines that are often blurred, erased, and re-drawn, and Alenna must decide who to trust  in order to survive.

When I started this book, something felt off, felt wrong. Alenna is annoyed, angry, frustrated. There was something about the first third of the book that reeked of a coming betrayal, of death if Alenna and Liam aren't quick enough to act or run of fight back. Even after the book ended it lingered, and so I'm curious as to what will be faced in the third book.

(I received an advance copy of this book to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)