Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (151)

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

Title: Hollow City
Author: Ransom Riggs
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Quirk Books

From Goodreads:

In 1940 after the first book ends, Jacob and his new Welsh island friends flee to London, the Peculiar capital of the world. Caul, a dangerous madman, is Miss Peregrine’s brother, and can steal Peculiar abilities for himself. The Peculiars must fight for survival, again.

Okay, the description leaves a lot to be desired, but it's okay. I know that this is going to be just as creepy and different and unique and enchanting as the first book. I hope there will be as many photographs in this as there were in the first. Half of the story is in the photographs, as odd and spooky as they are.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Me on Sorrow's Knot

Title: Sorrow's Knot
Author: Erin Bow
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic imprint)

At the very edge of the world live the Shadowed People. And with them live the dead. There, in the village of Westmost, Otter is born to power. She is the proud daughter of Willow, the greatest binder of the dead in generations. It will be Otter's job someday to tie the knots of the ward, the only thing that keeps the living safe. Kestrel is in training to be a ranger, one of the brave women who venture into the forest to gather whatever the Shadowed People can't live without and to fight off whatever dark threat might slip through their ward's defenses. And Cricket wants to be a storyteller. Already he shows the knack, the ear, and already he knows a few dangerous secrets. But something is very wrong at the edge of the world. Willow's power seems to be turning inside out. The ward is in danger of falling. And lurking in the shadows, hungry, is a White Hand, the most dangerous of the dead, whose very touch means madness, and worse.

Sorrow's Knot is a beautifully crafted tale, haunting and eerie, filled with suspense, curiosity, and old magic. It's the story of a small village and one girl's ability to bind those who have moved on. This is a tale of life and death, of the magic that keeps the living safe and the dead from causing harm. This is about the dead coming back in dangerous and unpredictable ways. Otter knows she has power in her blood, she always wanted to be a binder, but the events that follow happen in a way she did not expect, and so she must find a way to save everyone she cares about from the White Hand.

Otter isn't a take-charge sort of character; those kinds of actions are left to Kestrel. Otter has her strengths, she doesn't just sit there and react, but she's more of an observer. Otter watches and only takes action when she chooses, when she knows deep down in her soul that something must be done. The hidden gem of this book is the friendship she has with Kestrel. A friendship based on affection and companionship without malice or secrets. An honest friendship. My heart was happy every time Otter was with Kestrel and Cricket. The friendship between the three of them is one I wish appeared more often in YA.

I found the magic of the binding, the knots, the wards to keep the dead at bay, to be so imaginative. It sounds so simple, but when put into practice in the book it's so complicated, so intricate. And Otter's village, as well. This small town of mostly women is filled with strength, with purpose and power in the blood that flows through them. Each one of them has a purpose, to heal, to protect, to share, to bind.

As this story unfolds, secrets from the past are revealed. There was a mistake made in the past that still haunts the world. Sometimes we keep secrets from others to keep them safe, but nothing stays secret for long. Sometimes we refuse to make a difficult choice, but running won't stop it from coming after you. The times we don't want to let go because it's too painful? They will always return, and they will come back to hurt those who remain in the future. I found that a large part of this book is knowing that you have to make that choice, that you have to let go, no matter how painful or heart-breaking, and that the choices we make in order to set things right are the most painful of all.

This is such a Canadian story. The voice is so crisp and clear, and the world is so familiar yet unlike anything I know. The people who inhabit this world are a people who will push on and persevere through hardship and struggle, slowly carving out a place for themselves and their families so they can live in peace. It's rather reminiscent of the tales, myths, and customs of the First Nations people, perhaps before the Europeans came, or perhaps after, in a distant future. There is a closeness to nature here, a simplicity to their lives that would not otherwise be there if modern technology was present. It's a story of the land itself, of a community of tradition and ritual that values storytelling, and of a young girl trying to find her place, trying to understand the world, and trying to right a wrong that happened before the moons were named.

(I received a finished copy of this title to review from Scholastic Canada. For those in the US, the release date is October 29, 2013.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (75)

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. ;)

Short post this week because no books again. Sad face.

The 3 years of Me on Books giveaway is going on. Go here to enter! :)

I saw Maggie Stiefvater and Maureen Johnson during the week. Here is my recap of the event!

I saw there's only 1 YA book on the Canada Reads Top 40 list, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. While I'm happy there's a YA book on the list, I made a face at there being only 1 out of 40 books. So I got a bit rage-y on Twitter yesterday, and then spent the day suggesting Canadian-authored YA novels with the #CanadaReads2014 hashtag. And everyone is always welcome to suggest books at Canada Reads YA. :)

NaNoWriMo starts next week. I'll be doing it, but I'm sort of behind on reading and writing up reviews so the next week might be all full of reading and review-writing so I don't miss any dates or anything. :)

Reviews for the next week will feature Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow (Tuesday) and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Friday). :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Me on Altered

Title: Altered
Author: Gennifer Albin
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

After a daring escape to Earth from Arras, Adelice thought she would finally be in control of her own destiny. She would be free to be true to herself and to her heart, to love Jost, the boy the Guild said she could not have. But Earth is not abandoned, as she'd always been taught it was. It's inhabited with survivors waging a war against Arras. The world that was supposed to offer a new beginning is still tangled up in the past. Now Adelice is being called upon to harness her phenomenal power and break Earth from the grip of the Guild. But even as she uncovers the truth about her parents and her former life, she discovers that nothing on Earth is as it seems either. Everyone has secrets, especially those she loves most. What's more, those secrets are driving Adelice and Jost away from each other, and Adelice into his brother Erik's waiting arms. Now torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must decide what, and who, she's fighting for, before it's too late.

Altered is a return to an extremely unique world where different genres like fantasy, dystopia, and science fiction are woven together. It is in this world that a young girl finds herself after a thrilling escape, a girl who has a powerful gift that may make her the only one who can save Earth from Arras and the Guild. But secrets abound, both in Arras and on Earth, secrets that so many have worked so hard to keep hidden, and Adelice will have to make the most difficult decision of her young life. So far.

This is what's next for Adelice, but what will she do now in this world so unlike what she's been taught to expect? Who will she trust? What will she learn? So many questions to answer, so many secrets to uncover. But will she still take a stand against Arras once all has been revealed? All her life she was told to hide her talent, and now that she can reveal them, now that she can take down the Guild, will she?

Adelice is powerful in her own way, but Earth is different than Arras. Earth is really there, it's not the construct that Arras is. The threads are still there for her to see, to manipulate, to weave and re-work, but they feel different. Everything is different. There are more to her gifts than she knows. But not others, not those who hold the secret her parents never told her.

Perhaps I love the world-building so much because it is actual world-building. Arras is the crafted and spun world that hangs over the barren, desolate wasteland that Earth has become, but it's not just one world on top of another. It's one world taking from another, one world controlling another. I also enjoyed the contrasts between the two worlds, the advanced technology at odds with the subtle old world charm, style, fashion, and mannerisms, both in Crewel and in Altered. Everything has been so expertly crafted by the author.

When it comes to Adelice's personal life, her romantic life, she appears to be at a crossroads of sorts with Jost and with Erik. Each brother gives her different things, supports her in different ways, and each make her cautious. Cautious at what to do, what to say, how to act. She wants with Jost, but can he afford to give right now? Can she? As much as I was annoyed at the growing separation between them, and with the ways Erik grew closer to her, I had to remind myself that it had to happen. There is always a reason for separations, and in this situation, with time working against them in impossible ways, it's needed. Adelice needs to grow, needs to learn, needs to train to understand her abilities. Of course, being apart from Jost leaves her alone with Erik, who can rarely be trusted. As much as I don't like love triangles, as overused as they are, this is the best one I've come across. She needs both and she wants both, for important reasons and for different reasons. And so she's genuinely torn between the two.

How unique this book and its world are, both rich with technology and built on greed and corruption. The closer I got to the end, the more surprised I was at what I was reading and the more I knew I would dread the wait for the last book.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 22: Maggie Stiefvater & Maureen Johnson

When I heard that both Maggie Stiefvater and Maureen Johnson would be coming to Vancouver, I was beyond excited. I adore Maggie's books, the magic and the realism and the adventure, and Maureen's books are so much fun to read. And so I went. (I knew it was going to be an entertaining 90 minutes when two teens from the audience went up to 'assist' with a reading from The Dream Thieves and stayed up there for the whole event. They were awesome.)

The event was mostly made up of questions, which lead to lots of funny stories. Here are some highlights (sorry about the length after the jump, I promise it's worth it) (I recorded the event so what's below is very close to what they actually said during the event). :)

When asked if it was difficult for Maggie to write male characters, she just said no. Maureen claims she has no line between reality and imagination. Maggie says that music keeps her in the mood, that noise-cancelling headphones are great on planes when she's still writing, how one song will come on and she's right back in the scene she needs to be in. Maureen mentioned that there's one song that she will hear sometimes and it's like she's been transported back to Suite Scarlett.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (150)

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

Title: The Worlds We Make
Author: Megan Crewe
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Hyperion

From Goodreads:

The virus has taken away Kaelyn’s friends, her family, her home.

And now a deadly enemy threatens to take the one hope she has left: THE CURE.

When Kaelyn and her friends reached Toronto with a vaccine for the virus that has ravaged the population, they thought their journey was over. But now they're being tracked by the Wardens, a band of survivors as lethal as the virus who are intent on stealing the vaccine no matter what the cost.

Forced onto the road again, Kaelyn and her companions discover the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is their best hope for finding scientists who can reproduce the vaccine. But with the virus already spreading among them, the Wardens hot on their trail, and hundreds of miles to cross, Kaelyn finds herself compromising her morals to keep her group alive. Her conscience seems a small price to pay if protects them and their precious cargo. Unless even that is not enough...

In the final installment in Megan Crewe’s captivating the Fallen World trilogy, Kaelyn is on the run from her biggest adversaries yet. While she continues to face horrific loss, her resolve is still strong. But to survive this shattered world, will she have to sacrifice all that's left of the girl she was?

I love that there's a Canadian series like this, one that doesn't push to be high-brow or literary or historical or hugely lesson-teaching. This series is one of the best I've read over the past few years, so dark and dangerous and so about people on a journey trying to make things right and save those close to them, and I'll be so sad when it ends.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Me on Waterfell

Title: Waterfell
Author: Amalie Howard
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright: the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon, until her father's betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa's upcoming birthday, the day she comes of age. Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa's mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?

Waterfell is a somewhat of a different sort of spin on mermaids, different enough to not sound like a repeat of similar books. Nerissa is a girl with massive amounts of responsibility and she wants nothing to do with it. She would rather stay safe, stay alive, stay far away from the one who betrayed her father the king, but her birthright won't allow it. As interested as I was in the book initially, I wasn't the biggest fan of Nerissa herself.

It's very clear from her voice and her tone that Nerissa has a massive ego. She's smart, she's athletic, she's strong, she's friendly. But it's too much. She's not angry but she seems annoyed, she's not necessarily spoiled but she's bordering on petulant. Nerissa's the kind of girl who gives orders, who sees taking orders as something almost beneath her. But Lo doesn't really listen to her 'orders' when she tells him to leave her alone, which only serves to infuriate her. He only keeps at it, slowly chipping away at her (not-existent, apparently, when it comes to him) barrier. It's rather suspicious.

She doesn't want to go back to Waterfell and takes her father's dying warning seriously, but her position isn't one she can easily walk away from. Being born into a position of power, being forced to take charge at a young age, it can be rather daunting. Every instinct is screaming at her to run and hide, but the weight of responsibility won't go away with a flick of her hand.

I have to give the author credit for trying to hide the twist, for raising suspicion in almost every other character to make Narissa suspect almost everyone, but when it was revealed I wasn't all that surprised. I do think fans of mermaids, of characters torn between love and royal duty, will like this book, but Nerissa's voice bothered me too much from the start for me to enjoy the book more.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Me on 3 Years of Me on Books

So... we've come back around to this date again. But is this the right date??
If we go by when my first review went up here (which I was going to link to then decided not to because it's terrible), then Me on Books' birthday is October 23rd. But on September 15, I got an e-mail from Tumblr saying the Me on Books Tumblr page (which I don't really use) turned 3 on that day. That could mean a few things, like I was fiddling around with this blog for a good month before I posted something, or that Tumblr made a mistake, or that I lost my mind at some point.

All are possible. ;)
I'm so happy to have met and talked with so many bloggers and reviewers and authors over the past 3 years. All the BC/Vancouver bloggers are awesome (Caitlin, Nafiza, AlitaJenny, Ariella, and Aly), and I'd love to meet the Ontario bloggers one day (Michele, Jenn, Liz, Sara, Christa, Melissa, Angel, Brenna, Amanda, AudreyKathy, Ciara, Emilie, Jessica, and Meaghan). Maybe I should start a Kickstarter campaign where everyone who donates gets a postcard from me in Toronto. ;)

And so, like with past birthdays (meaning last year because I ignored when Me on Books turned 1), I'm giving away a present! :) If Book Depository ships free to where you live, feel free to enter. And, as always, a second winner will be added if we break 100 entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (74)

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. AHHHHHHHH! It's probably a good thing, I still have lots to read and some library books that are due back at the end of the month.

It's all pre-Hallowe'en spooky here these days. The fog is rolling in and will stick around for about a week. Fun.

On Tuesday I'm headed out to Granville Island to see Maggie Stiefvater and Maureen Johnson talk for 90 minutes. Yay! :) Fingers crossed for possible book signing (it's more of a writers festival talk and not a book signing, but supposedly they give the authors time to sign books at the end).

I started a new fun thing on Tumblr called Canada Reads YA. It's like the CBC's Canada Reads, only YA and not on TV and just a lot of book suggestions. Well, I'm hoping for a lot of book suggestions. Go suggest a book or two. :)

Reviews for the coming week will feature Waterfell by Amalie Howard (Tuesday) and Altered by Gennifer Albin (Friday). :)

Sorry for the small post this week, but there's a giveaway post going up tomorrow so come back on Sunday for the 3 Years of Me on Books Giveaway! :)

EDIT! Looks like I lied a bit but it's not my fault. ;)
Borrowed from the library:
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (e-book)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Me on Battle Magic

Title: Battle Magic
Author: Tamora Pierce
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?

Battle Magic is a tale of distant lands and unique customs, a tale of magic and danger, a tale of battles that one cannot just walk away from. This book is about power, faith, and the lengths some will go to in order to save a kingdom from an invasion.

This is a return to familiar faces from previous books, to familiar young mages and their sharp teacher. Briar is older, sixteen now, and still as he ever was, caring towards his plants and his new family that saved him from loneliness and a life as a street thief. He's still apart from his foster-sisters, but he's still growing as a young man and as a mage, still learning. Evvy is back as well, the young stone-mage they rescued in Street Magic. And Rosethorn is Rosethorn, as prickly and as loving as ever.

Far away from their home in Emelan, the trio find themselves visiting both the lands of Gyongxi and Yanjing. Both seem to be inspired by Asia, the social customs and the weather, the clothing and the food, the ways in which the Yanjing Emperor has arranged his gardens. But not everything is covered in silk or studded with sparkling gems. The Emperor means to invade, to take everything the God-King of Gyongxi presides over, and if he cannot take it easily, he will make sure no one will ever have it.

This is what fantasy provides: heroes who save countless lives and stand up to tyrant emperors, unexplanable magics and god-like figures that science cannot explain, seemingly everlasting journeys and quests far from home. Kind-hearted, intelligent, and strong heroes who stand up for the weak are such an important part of many fantasy novels written for children and young adults. The setting may be different, but readers have a way of seeing themselves in characters, seeing that their lives are very much the same, and that they can help others in their own way.

My only issue is with the length of the book, with the amount of detail and explanation poured into every single page. I don't remember the other books being this long or this detailed. And it was clear that this book is aimed towards older readers, teenagers, taking the battle scenes into account. Those are too violent for middle grade readers.

Tamora Pierce is often who I think of first when it comes to middle grade and young adult fantasy. Elaborate world-building, lush descriptions of castles and keeps, people of all walks of life with different purposes, magic and its different uses, the trust people put in their rulers and the faith they give to various gods and goddesses, the nobles that understand they must also work hard and suffer in order to keep their subject happy. Strong and intelligent but flawed characters, both male and female. Her books are entertaining and enchanting all at the same time. It feels a bit odd, reading this book and reviewing it, when the first four books set in the Emelan universe were my favourite books when I was in high school. At 13, they were what I read over and over again. I love that the series is still going, that Tamora Pierce is still writing books set in this world, and that there might be more to come.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (149)

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

Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.

This sounds funny. I love it when authors mix humour with paranormal/urban fantasy stuff. Humour makes unbelievable things seem real. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Me on Fire with Fire

Title: Fire with Fire
Authors: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: August 13, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance. Not even close. For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before. And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her, it’s that he made her love him. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn.

Fire with Fire continues the story of three teen girls looking to get their revenge on those that have hurt them, those who have wronged them and almost ruined their lives. Now, after part of their plan has been put into motion, they have to be careful while continuing it. They can't run the risk of being found out, because if they are, everything will go up in flames.

Kat, Lillia, and Mary's plan to ruin homecoming for certain people sort of went wrong, but no one knows they set things in motion. No one knows they rigged the voting or slipped drugs into someone's drink. But they're constantly worried that someone will out them, that someone saw what they did and will expose them to the entire school.

The book goes deeper into what provokes them, what pushes them towards their certain goals in the revenge plot. Not Mary, necessarily, with her backstory already revealed in the first book, but Kat and what happened to her mother and Lillia and how she first met Reeve (part of Lillia's as well as Mary's backstory were revealed in the first book). There are shadows lurking in their pasts and they all still weigh heavily on them. The girls come together more in this book, work more as a unit, and move into the next part of their plan.

Now, while the revenge plot gives the girls the opportunity to give back as good as they got to those who wronged them, it's also petty, childish, and completely the wrong thing to do. With what happened at the end of Burn for Burn, they were lucky to go undetected. Lucky that no one died. By continuing they run the risk of being exposed even more.

On the surface, it's very much like a contemporary YA novel about three girls getting back at former friends and school bullies, but Mary sort of skews that idea. Mary's different. Mary can do things. Mary's still a wild card, still unpredictable, and at some point everything about Mary will be revealed to Lillia and Kat, to everyone, and then everything will change.

Because of the girls' fear of being discovered, the level of tension runs from medium to high, which was good. As with the first book, the overall premise was intriguing but I was still put off by the high school cliques and the catty nature of some of the characters, as well as the idea that getting revenge is the only way the girls will feel better. They have normal teen lives, but their plotting and scheming seems to take up a big part of those lives, more than I would think necessary. Fans of the first book and of previous books by both authors will surely enjoy this new installment.

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

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (73)

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. ;)

Woooo, long weekend. :) It's getting chilly here, like Fall is actually showing up and not transitioning from a super hot Summer to loads of Winter rain right up until April.

Tail end of a reading slump, I think. Ugh. Not sure which is worse, the beginning, middle, or end of a reading slump. It all sucks, really. Hopefully, the long weekend will get me reading more. My review buffer is looking rather woeful (meaning I only have next week's read and written at the moment but nothing beyond that, eeeep).

Also, if you're in Canada, don't forget to suggest books for Canada Reads. Books? Written by Canadians? On TV in March? How cool. :)

Reviews for the coming week will feature Fire with Fire by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian (Tuesday) and Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce (Friday). :)
Transparent by Natalie Whipple (borrowed from the library)
Rebel Heart by Moira Young (borrowed from the library)
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke (borrowed from the library)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Me on Never Fade

Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future, and who now wouldn’t recognize her. As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam, and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart, she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Never Fade is a thrilling, dangerous, and explosive sequel to Bracken's The Darkest Minds. This time around, Ruby's on the hunt instead of on the run. She's searching for someone, someone she'd hoped to keep safe from everything dangerous, safe from her, but the world isn't that easy on her. It never will be. And even though she's afraid of seeing him again, afraid of what might happen after she finds him, she doesn't have a choice.

Ruby's in more of a leader-type of role in this book. She's in charge, which means she's dangerous, ruthless. She has to be in order to keep herself and her team alive. Not that she wants to be. She still fears her abilities as an Orange, she still sees herself as a monster, as something that will only cause pain. Things will never be easy for Ruby, she will have to fight and claw her way through every situation. She will have to make those painful decisions, and that's what makes her human, the fact that she feels so much pain.

She's going where she doesn't want to go, searching for someone she never wanted to see again. It was her actions at the end of the first book that were supposed to keep him safe, but Liam as something she needs to find, something the Children's League wants, and she doesn't have a choice. She'll never have a choice, so long as someone has a need for her. So long as she's afraid.

The darkness and the danger of Ruby's world is almost palpable. Everything is in ruins, cold and bleak. America no longer exists, not really. Not with the camps, the skip tracers, and the Children's League. When the disease hit and children started to exhibit strange and dangerous abilities, the country crumbled under the weight of fear. Fear that they could take over, that they would be uncontrollable. The need to keep them locked away rose, but it only served to push some of them. Push them closer to the edge, push them into rising up. Into taking control.

Ruby has changed over the course of two books, changed from a frightened little girl to a dangerous (but still frightened), emotional, and battered young woman. As afraid as she is, afraid of becoming a monster, she will stop at nothing to keep those close to her safe, even if it kills her. This second book was just as tense and just as lethal as the first, and, hopefully, the third will be as well.

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (148)

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

Title: Wayfarer
Author: Lili St. Crow
Release Date: March 6, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow thrilled legions of fans with her dark paranormal series Strange Angels. Now she has created a stirringly romantic, deliciously spooky update of Cinderella, the alluring second volume in her trilogy Tales of Beauty and Madness.

Ellie Sinder is a Charmer—the most powerful of her age that St. Juno’s Academy has ever seen. But Ellie’s stepmother, Laurissa, wields manipulation and abuse to force Ellie to work her spells ever more intensely, for Laurissa’s profit.

Then a train from over the Wastelands arrives in New Haven, bearing on it golden boy Avery Fletcher, newly returned from prep school, wearing a sweater Ellie’d love to bury her face in and a smile as bright as his blond hair. Avery’s arrival sets Laurissa off on a dark and dangerous scheme—and this time the soul up for grabs is Ellie’s.

New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow has created a stirringly romantic, deliciously spooky update of Cinderella, the alluring second volume in her trilogy Tales of Beauty and Madness.

I think Lili St. Crow could write about anything and I'd read it. Of course, I haven't gotten around to her adult series' though. Oops. ;)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Me on Audacious

Title: Audacious
Author: Gabrielle Prendergast
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Orca Books

Sixteen year old Raphaelle is that girl who says the wrong thing, who crosses the wrong person, who has the wrong hair, the wrong body, the wrong attitude, the totally wrong clothes. She can’t do anything right, except draw, but she draws the wrong pictures. When her father moves the family to a small prairie city, Raphaelle wants to leave behind the misfit rebel, the outcast, the vengeful trouble-maker she was. Reborn as “Ella,” she plans to fit in at her new school, while her perfect younger sister goes to the Catholic girls’ school and her emotionally fragile mother looks for a job. But Ella might just be a different kind of misfit. She’s drawn to a brooding boy in her art class, Samir, and expresses her confused feelings in an explicit artwork. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the horrendous fallout spreads though Ella’s life like an uncontrollable disease. Ella is expelled from school and faces pornography charges, her mother is hospitalized, her sister fails all her classes, and her distant father finally notices something is wrong.

Audacious is a smart, powerful story about a teenage girl trying to navigate right and wrong. Hers is a smart, clear voice, lyrical and rhythmic, telling her story about being new and reinventing herself while being unable to escape her past. What's right and what's wrong will collide, leaving something unexpected behind.

Raphaelle, or Ella, has a very compelling voice. She's smart, sharp, witty, and bold. She's strong for the most part, there are those things that rattle her, that make her feel afraid. After this move, she's trying not be wrong anymore, not to say the wrong thing or wear the wrong clothes. She's not trying to stand out. Being herself got her labelled as wrong, as an outcast, and so not she's trying to figure out what's right. But what if being wrong is right for her?

Conflict comes at Ella from different sides, at home and at school. Her mother is ill and is incapable of moving on from a tragedy, her sister's failing grades are at times hidden by her asthma, and her father has become a workaholic that hides from his wife and children. At school, there is a boy that draws Ella's attention, a boy with dark eyes who makes her care about him, feel things for him. Ella doesn't flounder, caught up in too strong a current, but she doesn't know what to do. So she falls back on art, on what she knows, on how she knows to express herself. And then everything goes wrong.

So much of this book has to do with how we see ourselves and how we see others, how we define 'right' and 'wrong' in terms of acting, dressing, living, and creating. Being different is so often pushed towards the bring wrong side of things, that those acts and interests need to be changed in order to be 'right' or 'normal.' Being made to conform to the will of others, being told you can't speak on what you're passionate about or speak out against what you feel to be an injustice, like censorship or racism or sexism, is wrong. That might be the only thing I would say is wrong. Ella tries to do things differently, tries to do them the 'right' way. But when she's told she's still doing it wrong, what is she supposed to do then?

Verse novels have a certain something to them not often found in prose. They're often more emotional, their writers and speakers are more honest with the reader. What is there to hide? There's nothing to hide behind in verse novels. The reader comes face to face with the speaker's life, with their reactions and emotions, with their struggles and hopes.

What does it mean to be audacious? What does it mean to speak out, to be who you are, to not pretend or conform into an awkward pretzel? Finding her place, figuring out who she is, that's important to Ella. But then comes the end of the book, the end that makes me excited for the continuation of Ella's journey.

(I received an e-galley of this title from the author.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (72)

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 rain. It's times like this I wish I had a big over-sized chair for reading. And it gets dreary after a while.

My sister's looking so sleepy right now. She's in grad school now, working on her Master's degree, and her class schedule is messed up. Classes 5 days a week, and 4 of those days start at 8:30am. And she's had papers due this week and group work with control freaks and she really needs some sleep. Of course, with her back to school, I'm back to spell-checking and proof-reading her papers. Which I'm happy to do. Sometimes she buys me sushi or chocolate as a thank you. :)

I'm a little surprised at how bookish this week became. Of course, when some are e-books, and some are comic books, it doesn't seem like a lot.

The finished copies care of the wonderful Raincoast Books are sort of from the meet-up from a couple of weeks ago. At the end there was some prize-drawing done, 1 of which was a signed Eleanor & Park (which I didn't win) and 1 of which was $100 worth of books from publishers that they distribute (which I did win). And so Crystal told me to send her an e-mail with which books I wanted. And I did. And these are 2 of them because the other 3 aren't out yet.

Reviews for the coming week will feature Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast (Tuesday) and Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (Friday).
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (finished copy from Raincoast Books)
Vicious by V.E. Schwab (finished copy from Raincoast Books)
Saga Issues #13 and #14 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (bought, #13 online through Comixology, #14 in paper form)
Far From You by Tess Sharpe (from Disney Book Group through NetGalley)
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis (e-book borrowed from the library)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Me on 3:59

Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse. Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time: 3:59 a.m. Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror. Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day. But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh. By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

3:59 is dark and dangerous, a complicated and at times intense exploration of the possibility of alternate realities and the different versions of ourselves that could be on the other side. Josie is lured to this other world at the prospect of living a life that both is and isn't her own, but just because it's different doesn't it make it better, and she'll soon discover that the grass isn't necessarily greener, or safer, on the other side.

Considering the way Josie's life is taking a nose dive towards embarrassing and utterly heartbreaking, it's no surprise that she jumps at a chance to try out a different life. A life that's already hers, in a certain way. Her mirror is a portal to a different world, an alternate reality where there's another version of herself that also relishes the chance to get away. A life where her boyfriend hasn't drifted away from her? A life where she's popular? Of course she's interested. But just because it's different doesn't mean it's better, and soon Josie's moving as quickly as she can to figure out which side of the mirror she wants to be on.

What rooted this book more on the scientific side of things as opposed to the fantastical side of things, like Emily Hainsworth's Through to You, is that McNeil includes scientific reasoning as to why the portal exists. In this fictional world, through bizarre circumstance and complicated quantum mechanics, it's possible to connect parallel realities. It makes it sound slightly more human, more strangely possible, and so much more dangerous. It's just as likely that the attempts to join the worlds would've resulted in massive explosions. But not here.

This book makes you think about the life your living and the life you think you could be living. Maybe things would be different if you'd said yes instead of no to someone, if you'd turned right instead of left when driving. Maybe, in that version of your life, things would be better, easier, more advantageous for you. But it's just as possible that, with all of its faults, the life your living is the best one out of a million possibilities. What will it take Josie to realize that? And once she does, what will it take her to find her way back home?

I found this to be an intriguing sort of thriller, mixing complex, potentially impossible science and teen angst and wants with danger, deception, and a little horror here and there. Fans of the author's previous books will surely enjoy this new one.

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (147)

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

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

From Goodreads:

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

I love how Laini Taylor has crafted this series, how she's brought together magic and monsters and angels and love and war and humans and so many other things. :) And I saw there's going to be a companion novella called Night of Cake & Puppets coming out in November about Karou's friend Zuzana and her 'Violin Boy' Mik. *sigh* Talking about this series makes me want to read it all over again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Me on Perfect Ruin

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil. Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder, betrothed to the victim, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find. Or who she will lose.

Perfect Ruin is rather mysterious, the story moving slowly and almost effortlessly towards the ending. There doesn't seem to be any rush, because you'll get there in the end. This book certainly does question the utopian ideal, shows how imperfect is it, how certain freedoms are given while others are taken away, and how they don't stop the pain and suffering. How they keep those who want to jump off the edge tethered to the ground.

At the beginning, Morgan doesn't appear to have any agency. She's a daydreamer, living the life everyone else in Internment is living. She can be whatever she wants to be, she can live with purpose or without, but she must stay away from the edge. But she's a daydreamer, and so she dreams of what it's like to be on the ground, of who lives on the ground. There is nothing for her to react differently to, until someone is murdered. Until she starts noticing that secrets abound up high in the sky. Until she must decide.

Internment appears, on the surface, to be a utopian society. Everyone is in control of their own lives, they can choose to do whatever they want, but so many things are left unspoken. To live this peaceful life in a perfect society, everyone must follow the same rules, be governed by the same king. You marry who you're told to marry. You have children once enough people have died. Utopias are built on control. Once every aspect of society is under control, and once some freedoms are allowed, the population will obey. Of course, there are those willing to speak out, those who want to jump and discover what's below. They will be disposed of discreetly to keep the population from getting too riled up.

Isolated from the world below, Morgan wonders what else there is. Who lives on the ground, what happens on the ground. She would no longer be isolated up in the clouds dreaming of what's beyond the edge.

I found this to be reminiscent of the author's previous series. One girl trying to understand the world around her. One girl breaking the rules in order to discover the truth. One girl arranged to marry a boy who loves her. The book does progress slowly, so slowly it's as if nothing is happening, but it follows Morgan's gradual shift from being just another resident of Interment to someone who questions what is happening and why. As interested as I am in the next two books of this trilogy, I'm hoping the pacing will pick up in the next book.

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