Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (207)

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

Title: I Heart Robot
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month 9 Books

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won't belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka 'Quinn' lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn's worlds collide when they're accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn's love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

This sounds really good, I hope it's really good. I'm curious about the human/droid romance, how much of a robot Quinn is, how a romance between a human and a robot is going to work.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (135)

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. ;)

Not much ramble this week because of the holiday and my birthday and not so much has happened book-wise that I can think about rambling on about. I hope everyone's been having a good holiday/end of year break so far, as long or as short as it's been for you. If you're working retail, hopefully it hasn't been too much like hell on Earth.

I've been making a list of books I hope to read/buy in 2015. Does anyone else do this? Top of my list has to be the 4th Raven Cycle book.

Just one review coming next week because I'm still on a break for the holidays and the new year, but come back on Friday for a review of Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock. :)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (gift)
Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (gift)
(Other Christmas/birthday gifts not pictured include a Chapters gift card, a new wallet, a new leather journal/notebook, clothes, chocolate, and some new mugs.)
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
The Cage by Megan Shepherd (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
The Leveller by Julia Durango (from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (134)

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's almost Christmas. It doesn't look like it'll be snowing here this Christmas, which is fine. I'm not the biggest fan of snow when I have to leave the house.

I'll be taking a review break to catch up on some reading (books I bought or won during the year plus some library books). I've already read a couple of books in the last couple of days, which is always nice. I stalled for a bit, but that's because I have a lot of e-books and e-galleys and my mom was borrowing my Kobo because she wanted to read one of my library e-books before I had to return it.

The longlist for Canada Reads came out. And there's actually some YA on it! There's (You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki, When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid, and the not technically YA For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu. All LGBTQIA books, 2 of which have PoC main characters. But they're either award winners or critically acclaimed by the (snoozy) literary crowd. Unfortunately, they're safe choices. I imagine I'll watch it in the spring to see how far the YA title will get (because of this year's format, 1 of the 3 will make the shortlist). I'm curious to see how seriously it will be taken, if at all.

I didn't think I'd be as chatty when writing this, considering I spent 4 hours waiting around different parts of a hospital. It was so boring there. (I wasn't the one in the hospital and everyone is fine now. No need to worry.)

Reviews will return on January 2nd (Friday). :)
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (e-book borrowed from the library)
Love, Lucy by April Lindner (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Me on Chorus

Title: Chorus
Author: Emma Trevayne
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids

The dream is all white from a memory that is too real, and its melody has continued to haunt Alpha, even though she has moved as far away from temptation as possible. Eight years after she was exposed to her first and only addictive musical track from the Corp, Alpha has established a new life with a band of her own in a city that has given her the space she was seeking, Los Angeles. However, it only takes one urgent call to bring Alpha back home to Anthem, the older brother who raised her as well as a revolution, and Omega, her twin brother whose contrasting personality makes her feel whole. As Alpha spends more time in the Web, she notices that the number of people who look sickly and addicted seems to be rising. With Anthem's health declining, Alpha and her friends will have to dig deeper into the mainframe than ever before in order to find the root of the Corp's re-emergence.

Chorus is a return to an enhanced future with secrets still lurking in the shadows. After the rebellion, after the revolution, the Web became a better place to live for Alpha and her brothers. But something has returned.

Alpha is her own person. She's finally comfortable with life, with living in Los Angeles by the beach. Away from the Web. But the Web is like a web. It can trap you, surround you, make it impossible for anyone to escape. Alpha has to find the strength to fight back with everything around her begins to crumble, and the strength to share the truth of what happened to her and Omega when they were children. I like Alpha, she's strong and dedicated. But she takes on too much. She keeps her own problems hidden away, buried deep where they only cause more problems. She doesn't share them in order to keep everyone safe, but she needs to if they want to get through this new crisis.

Power is addictive and insidious. In Coda, the Corp was everything. It controlled everyone, and Anthem brought it down. But pieces of it would always remain, waiting for the right moment, that perfect second in time that would allow it to rise up again and regain what was once theirs.

As with the first book, music is the backbone of this story. It's the message, the vessel, the drug and the cure. It's about what music does to us as human beings. How it lifts us up, how it breaks us into pieces. How it lets us express ourselves to those close to us, to those we've never met before. It gives us the chance to share hopes, dreams, thoughts, fears. It fuels us. And the Corp attempts to abuse it in the worst way possible.

As the titles implies, this is the chorus, the repetition. It suggests a cycle that exists in the world. Freedom, subjugation, rebellion, and back to freedom. It suggests that it will happen again and again, that there will always be  those who risk everything, even themselves, to save the world. It suggests that someone will have to make that sacrifice every time a force rises up in an attempt to exert control over the general population. It's a bit dismal, but it's honest. Things happen in waves, war and peace. There will be sorrow, but at the same time there will always be hope.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (206)

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

Title: The Storyspinner
Author: Becky Wallace
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher Margeret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

I know high fantasy and I don't always get along, which is strange considering how much I love awesome world-building, but this sounds really interesting. I'm half-hoping that Johanna isn't the missing princess. It's rather obvious, but I'm hoping for a big twist.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Me on This Shattered World

Title: This Shattered World
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Release Date: December 23, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

This Shattered World is dangerous, secretive, and thought-provoking. This is the story of a soldier and a rebel both fighting for what they believe in, both caught up in a battle neither ever saw coming, Both uncovering a secret that could change everything.

Jubilee is a soldier through and through. Hard, unforgiving, skilled. It's been trained into her since she joined up, and even before, with the shadows in her past. She doesn't really let herself hope for much beyond surviving and one day dying gloriously. Flynn is compassion, reason. He's a rebel in that he's fighting back but he's willing to talk, to put down his weapons and actually talk, even if most on his side believe the time for talk is over. They're on different sides of the same battle, but then they end up on the same side of a new battle and have to fight their previous allies in order to survive. It tests them, their strength in their beliefs and their shaky trust in each other.

Yes, this is science fiction, and yes, this couple's love story is hard and tragic, but as I read it I saw something else. I saw the colonists of Avon tired of being ignored, of not having questions answered, of not having access to health care and education for their children. I saw them fighting for what they believe in, fighting for the right to survive. Fighting to be recognized as human beings, as valid and important as anyone else. This group of colonists, protecting the planet they've called theirs for decades, deserves the same amount of respect and acknowledgement as a man with millions upon millions of dollars at his disposal who is quite possibly using his power and influence for nefarious purposes. It sounds so familiar. The number of parallels to modern day and current events I've seen in YA, especially in futuristic dystopias and science fiction, is growing. It makes me wonder if we're caught in a never-ending cycle of despair and hope. That we will spend years, decades, centuries, alternating between being divided and united.

Where These Broken Stars was isolated, focused for the most part of Lilac and Tarver, this feel so much more open and so much more dangerous. It's still about Jubilee and Flynn, their decisions, their crises, their impossible battles, but it's also about more. It's about everyone on Avon and their chances of survival. And it's about the whispers. If you liked the first book, odds are you'll enjoy this one while lamenting the wait for the third.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (133)

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. ;)

Our tree went up this week so it's getting closer to Christmas.

The Raincoast Teens Read Spring Preview was fun, it was nice seeing local YA bloggers and booksellers again, and the Raincoast publicity girls. It's nice that Raincoast is local, it lessens the blow when I hear about fun events that publicists in Toronto have set up. And it sounds like the Google Hangout video was a good idea for those non-local bloggers. (Take note, publishers.)

I'm back from dog-sitting. It was fun and everything went smoothly, but I could tell after a while that Koda got tired of me not being his family. Which I understood.

I've been debating whether or not to do a top books of 2014 post, I might do it on Tumblr instead, just post a bunch of covers because there are some books I've really enjoyed that I don't have finished copies of yet.

Reviews going up this week will feature This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Tuesday) and Chorus by Emma Trevayne (Friday). :)
The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler (ARC from Raincoast Books' Teens Read Spring Preview)
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (ARC from Raincoast Books' Teens Read Spring Preview)
Earthling by Aisha Franz (from Nafiza over at The Book Wars)
Also from Raincoast's preview event are some buttons, a small-ish poster of Fairest, and a Chronicle Books tote.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Me on The Name of the Blade

Title: The Name of the Blade
Author: Zoë Marriott
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

The Name of the Blade is thrilling, mysterious, exciting, and dangerous. Mio unearths something secret, something meant to be hidden away, and she's the only one who can stop it.

I rather like Mio as the heroine. She takes it all in, even though she has to or else she'll get killed. When the Nekomata comes after her, when Shinobu appears from the katana, she takes it all in with some "what in the world am I supposed to do now, I'm only fifteen" and some secret ancient Japanese power. She's not the boldest girl, and she doesn't have a killer instinct kind of mentality, but she has her strengths. Her welcoming personality, her understanding that none of what happens next will be a game. She takes it all rather seriously.

The friendship/relationship Mio has with Jack is the best. They support each other, they keep the other grounded, but it's not all blind faith and acceptance. Jack pushes back at Mio. It's the kind of friendship with unyielding support and also one where they challenge each other to do better, to be better. It's an honest friendship.

One of my main reasons for reading this book is the Japanese history and mythology. I was intrigued as to how it would appear, how it would impact Mio and her actions later on. I found it to be rather mysterious but also rather present, if that makes sense. There's magic and voices only few can hear, but there's the sword and what it does to Mio, there's Shinobu, there's the Kitsune and the Nekomata. Some of the conflict is internal, Mio warring over what to do next, but a fair amount of it is external. Which was exciting to read about, Japanese mythology and creatures against the backdrop of 21st century London.

I've been waiting to read this for so long and it didn't disappoint. Japanese mythology, the UK setting, magic swords and cat demons. But after reading it I wanted desperately to know what happened next. Who's controlling the Nekomata? Where did the sword really come from? What is the connection between Shinobu and Mio? The book takes place of a short period of time, and that barely scrates the surface of what's been going on for centuries. What the katana realls is. What the Yamato family has been hiding. I only hope it doesn't take too long for the nest two books to come out here.

(I borrowed a copy of this title from the library. Note that this is a review of the North American release. The UK release, titled The Night Itself, came out on July 4, 2013 and was published by Walker Books.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (205)

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

Title: Made You Up
Author: Francesca Zappia
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

I rather like the author's comparison titles of "Ouran High School Host Club meets A Beautiful Mind." I'm far more interested in that part of it that the description from Goodreads. Still, it certainly sounds interesting. This has to be one of my most anticipated titles of 2015.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Me on The Iron Trial

Title: The Iron Trial
Authors: Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come...

The Iron Trial is mysterious, magical, and dangerous. This is the beginning of a young boy's journey through magic, fate, and learning the secrets that have been kept from him. The secrets that have the power to change everything he thought he knew about himself.

Callum is an interesting main character. He's a little harsh, a little bitter, and he's full of sarcasm. Not an always looking on the bright side of life kind of 12-year-old, but I like that. It has the look of a dark and dangerous series and his attitude fits. And the different personalities of Tamara and Aaron, the girl under pressure from her parents to achieve greatness and the boy with a smile on his face and only sadness in his past. The three of them form a unique group, different pasts and different motivations. It looks like they'll work well together.

There are a number of questions left unanswered, which was to be expected. This is the first in a five book series. Nothing is really going to be solved in this book. There's an introduction to Call, to the Magisterium, to the magic that exists, to the enemy they battle, to the fellow students that are bound to become Call's closest friends. And there's a truth revealed that I certainly hadn't expected.

Now, I've seen a lot of comparisons to Harry Potter in regards to this book, both positive and negative. You could also compare this to any other middle grade series about a 12-year-old with magical powers searching for the truth about who he really is. So try and set aside those comparisons as you read this.

As the series goes on, I have to wonder at what else will be revealed. Revealed to Call, revealed to his friends and fellow apprentices. Revealed to the Magisterium. What the truth really is behind the war with the Enemy of Death.

(I received a copy of this title from Scholastic Canada.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (132)

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. ;)

Hello! It's December now. *hides from the passage of time*

Another week in which the world was a sad and complicated place.

Starting yesterday (Friday), I'm house and dog-sitting for a friend of my sister's until Wednesday. I'll be taking my laptop, posts will still go up regularly, but at the moment I'm not sure how much I'll be online.

Reviews going up next week will feature The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare (Tuesday) and The Name of the Blade by Zoë Marriott (Friday). :)
Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus (e-galley from University of Minnesota Press on NetGalley)
The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White (e-book borrowed from the library)
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (e-book borrowed from the library)
House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple (e-book borrowed from the library)
Kissing in Italian by Lauren Henderson (e-book borrowed from the library)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Me on Rain Reign

Title: Rain Reign
Author: Ann M. Martin
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan imprint)

Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger's syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (reign, rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose's father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn't have much patience for his special-needs daughter. Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose's father shouldn't have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

Rain Reign is insightful and emotional, and at times melancholy. This is the story of a smart young girl and how she sees the world before, during, and after the disappearance of her beloved dog.

Rose is a very intriguing narrator. Now, I can't speak as an authority on children with Asperger's/autism or OCD (even though I did once work as a behavoural interventionist), but Rose's voice sounds very authentic. She sounds very matter of fact, a young girl without guile or artifice, unable to lie or pick up on subtle clues in certain social situations. She has her routines, her preferences, her likes and dislikes. She has her meltdowns and her struggles. But throughout the story she grows, she learns, and that's what's important.

It's easy to support Rose, given her relationship with her father. It's not that he's given up, but he's very much a man who doesn't understand and, to be honest, doesn't want to understand Rose's diagnosis. He sees it as her just not paying attention, her acting out, when it's not. Telling her to stop won't make it better and he refuses to try another method. It makes me wonder if the departure of his wife and Rose's mother left him depressed.

Before I read this I thought back to when I was a kid and devoured the Babysitters Club books, and I wondered if I'd be able to separate the two. But then Rose completely took over and her story filled my mind. This is her story and she shines in it. A definite must read for kids and parents alike and for those who enjoy unique characters.

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (204)

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

Title: Stone in the Sky
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.

I'm really looking forward to this, I loved Tin Star. It was definitely a different kind of YA novel, almost no romance, it was all about Tula and her finding a home on the space station, her interactions with the other humans and the aliens. When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I freaked out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Me on Chasing Power

Title: Chasing Power
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind, things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers, and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again, which would mean grave danger for them both. When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel, a boy with the ability to teleport, he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

Chasing Power is a mysterious adventure filled with twists and turns. Deep down, it's all about actions, mistakes, and regrets, about secrets and lies. About how far some will go to obtain power.

Kayla is rather confident in her ability, as weak as it is. Maybe too confident, maybe a bit too cocky and controlling, but she feels she has to be. She's extremely protective of her mother because of what happened in their past and would do anything to keep them safe and away from her father. She's prepared for any dangerous situation that might arise. She sees risk where some wouldn't, like when she first meets Daniel. But things change after they meet, and the world isn't as small or simple as Kayla thought.

As often as it comes up, this book might as well be about secrets, about keeping them and sharing them, and about the frustration they create. There's a lot that Kayla doesn't tell her mother, about her using her power, about Daniel and their trips around the world. It did annoy me at times, how close her and her mother were and yet she wouldn't tell her what was going on. There are some things that her mother kept from her, some rather important secrets, but that doesn't make it better. The fractures in their relationship get longer as the book goes on because neither of them tell the other the truth. Considering how often Kayla's life is in danger, it bothered me that she felt she just couldn't tell her mother.

There are a lot of twists and surprises in this book, maybe too many for my liking. It gets a little complicated, trying to remember who'd finally told Kayla the truth, what was once a lie but wasn't any more, who was coming after her, her mother, and Daniel. But it's still an interesting story. There's a lot of tension as Kayla and Daniel search for the stones, a few life or death situations that I hadn't expected. I imagine fans of the author's previous books will enjoy this as well.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (131)

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. ;)

Hi. It was a sad, strange week for the world this week. And so not much chat.

I will say that it's looking like it might snow here, or that it might've already snowed when this goes up. It all depends on how cold it gets and how long the clouds linger.

Reviews going up next week will feature Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (Tuesday) and Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Friday). :)
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall (ARC from Penguin Canada)
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby (ARC from Penguin Canada)
A preview booklet of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (from Penguin Canada)
How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel by Jess Keating (e-galley from Sourcebooks on NetGalley)
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (e-galley from Disney-Hyperion on NetGalley)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (e-galley from Macmillan on NetGalley)
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (e-galley from HarperCollins on Edelweiss)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Me on Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up. Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost. Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is haunting and powerful, a far more heavy and melancholy book than I had anticipated. A return to Henrietta, Virginia, yes. A return to Blue and her raven boys, to their search for a dead Welsh king hidden along the ley lines, yes. A return to a place where the real world and ghosts and psychics combine and make the world a far stranger place, yes. But not at all what I had expected.

In some ways, in good ways and bad ways and sad ways, this is Blue's story. She's always felt like her raven boys pulled her into their world, their search. But the truth is that all they did was turn on the light hanging over Blue's world when all that was lighting it before was a candle. All they did was show her that there was far more going on right under her nose at 300 Fox Way that she ever would've imagined. Which is so Blue. A girl who sees herself as the white sheep in a family of black sheep. A battery in a house full of psychics.

Everyone, everything, is changing. And not necessarily in a good way. They're all thinking about what the future holds, or what it doesn't. College, family, romance, escape, dead Welsh kings. Life. The only one who doesn't think about change is Noah, already dead. He changes in little ways, in frightening ways, but he's always the same Noah. Blue is no longer the same Blue. The same can be said of Gansey, Adam, and Ronan.

A somber tone trickles and winds its way through the pages of this book. Their mortality is so obvious now. They all seem so fragile, ready to break the second someone tips them over. But things are getting darker, more dangerous. They're getting closer. The Raven Boys is discovery, full of possibilities. The Dream Thieves is adrenaline and mistakes and dreams, it's harsh and explosive. Here, they're staring to think about the future and what it might hold.

This is the step before the last. This is one more step before jumping off a cliff. They're getting close, so close I can feel it skitter up and down my spine. What's to come, what will come and what won't, both frightens and excited me. I will never want my hours, my days, my weeks and months and years, in this world to come to an end.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (203)

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

Title: Invaded
Author: Melissa Landers
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

From Goodreads:

The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe...until a threat to both their worlds reunites them. 

Cara always knew life on planet L'eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L'eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L'eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L'eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L'eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx's people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists' multiple attempts on Aelyx's life.

The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return?

I liked the first one, and so I'm looking forward to reading this one. I'm curious as to how much second book syndrome (when the main couple is split up) this is going to suffer from, though. It happens so much in the second book of a trilogy, it's a plot twist/cliché I wish would go away. But I'm still looking forward to this, I'm hoping what happens with Cara and Aelyx makes up for the separation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Me on The Shadow's Curse

Title: The Shadow's Curse
Author: Amy McCulloch
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Penguin Random House Canada imprint)

Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath. In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane? Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.

The Shadow's Curse is the conclusion to an epic journey all about the struggle between following fate's path and forging your own. It's a magical tale of promises and spirits, fear and friendship, and the blistering heat of the desert.

Raim is on a mission to discover the truth about his broken oath and to stop his former best friend from slaughtering thousands in his quest to rule the world. He's very much an unintentional hero in his own mind. He never thought he would be a leader, a ruler. He knows what he wants. He wants his sister and grandfather to stay safe. He wants to rescue Wadi. He wants to stop Khareh. He wants to know the truth. But he keeps getting pushed further and further in order to complete someone else's plans.

Wadi is confined to Khareh's side because of reasons she can't control. She's trapped by circumstance and Khareh's own growing tyrannical leanings. Unlike the first book, here we see more of her, of her supportive and bold personality, her desire to see Raim and return to his side in order to help him, and also see more of Khareh. He is the other side of Raim's journey. The cruel leader who wants control over the desert, control over the continent. Over the world. I was torn because he doesn't abuse or torture Wadi, not physically. She's actually treated rather well, but I still didn't want to like him.

This is very much a journey to find oneself kind of book, a journey in order to discover our purpose in life. It feels rather Canadian, the prolonged journey across a trying, harsh landscape in order to find oneself. Fate and choice are intertwined. Is everything fated, already sees by prophets and set in stone? Or can we still make our own decisions? Are we still in control of our own destinies?

This is the story of one young man searching far and wide, over deserts and across the sea, in order to discover the truth about himself. On this journey he will discover his fated purpose when all he really wants is to live a comfortable, safe life with those he wants to protect and support. At the beginning of the duology, Raim never acts like he wants to be a hero, and here he's still humble and unassuming, even with Draikh at his side, but now he has to decide if he will actually step up and save everyone. A definite must-read for epic fantasy fans.

(I received a copy of this title from Random House Canada.)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (130)

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. ;)

The rain has returned, like we all knew it would. Lately I've been thinking about the winter, about how much snow we'll get. I'm hoping it'll be like most years, some but not enough that everything shuts downs and people freak out. Some snow is nice. Lots of snow sucks.

I posted the January-February book for the Canadian YA Book Club. Everyone is welcome to join in and read along with us next year. :)

I read Blue Lily, Lily Blue this week and unfortunately couldn't savour the book hangover that followed because I had to jump right into an e-galley before it expired. And I'm doing it again now with what I'm currently reading.

I see that, like past Friday evenings, Twitter was all a-buzz with HarperCollins' YA e-galleys going up on Edelweiss. And then, like always, I go look to see what's there, and I see some titles I'm interested in but not a lot because A) it stings a bit not being on the auto-approve list for Harper titles, and B) most of the e-galleys are contemporary. We're still feeling each other out, me and contemporary-set YA. I'm really hoping I'll get approved, the only one I requested was Made You Up.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch (Tuesday) and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Friday). :)
Jewel of the Thames by Angela Misri (from Fierce Ink Press)
Thrice Burned by Angela Misri (e-galley from Fierce Ink Press)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Me on Stitching Snow

Title: Stitching Snow
Author: R.C. Lewis
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

Stitching Snow is an intriguing mystery all about a mysterious girl on a cold planet and the secrets in her past that can't stay hidden any longer. But she's torn between hiding and confronting those secrets, between keeping herself from reliving that pain and keeping the solar system from going to war.

Essie is a strong girl, a girl perfectly happy staying where she is and working hard. Doing battle in cage fights, showing tough men that she can take care of herself, repairing the drones that work in the mines. She has her reasons for fighting. She wants to make sure that the men know she can protect herself, that she can fight back, that she'll never be used or be a victim again. Which I have to applaud. She's not whining about being on Thanda. It's not the best place to be, but she's carved out her own little spot, she's proved she can survive. She has a place where she can be safe. But then Dane crashes nearby and ruins everything.

I don't usually elaborate on the romance unless it's a love triangle that I thought was done well (or not), but this is an exception. There's no love triangle (unless it's between Essie, Dane, and Dimwit), but there is a moment that made me sit up and respect the romance. Essie and Dane, though mistake and circumstance and kidnapping, are drawn to each other. But they have bigger things to worry about, like saving innocent people. Like surviving. As much as they acknowledge that there's something there, that they might be getting too involved with each other, they understand that their budding romance isn't a priority. It was a mature, rather adult decision to make. And it's not ignored, it's always there, waiting for when they're not constantly looking over their shoulders.

There are hints and pieces of Snow White in this fairy tale retelling, but not so much that it felt like I was reading something too familiar. I can see where people are coming from when they compare it to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, but there are enough differences for me that I can enjoy them for different reasons. Cinder for discovering her past and her strength, Essie for confronting her past and unleashing her strength.

This book is part discovery, part self-discovery, and part journey to confront those monsters under the bed. It works well as a standalone and I'm satisfied with the ending. I imagine this will appear to fans of fairy tale retellings set in outer space and quirky robot companions.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Hachette Book Group Canada through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (202)

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

Title: Pip Barlett's Guide to Magical Creatures
Authors: Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater (also illustrator)
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.

Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

It's not often I find myself gushing over or being totally desperate for middle grade, but I'm really looking forward to this. Jackson and Maggie words, Maggie artwork. Magical creatures. *packs suitcase* I am so onboard for this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Me on Drama

Title: Drama
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic imprint)

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can't really sing. Instead she's the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

Drama is funny and sweet, a wonderfully drawn and told story. It's an entertaining look at friendship, young love, crushes, and what goes on backstage during a middle school theatre production. No matter what's going on, onstage or offstage, there's bound to be drama.

Callie is kind, creative, smart. She's so excited about being part of the stage crew, she's got so many ideas on how it could be the best production ever. But like any kid with ideas, like any person in general with ideas and hopes and dreams, she's stuck because of that tunnel-vision. She can only see what she's aiming for, gathering in the people and things around her, when looking at the bigger picture might be better. But that's what happens when you're a kid, when you're devoted 24/7 to something and you want the world to see it. Obstacles? Challenges? Drama? Everything will work out. Until it doesn't.

What's fun and interesting about this book is as much as it's about Callie and her ideas, it's about her and her relationships with her friends and family. Being friends, having crushes, getting nervous around boys and girls, not understanding their actions and decisions when they sort of ruin things. At this age, it's all one big mess of hope, excitement, and developing hormones. And it's all anchored by Raina's bright, clear, realistic artwork.

Rare in middle grade fiction is the book that includes and semi-focuses LGBTQ characters. But why is that? There are coming out stories told by people who knew when they were young that they were gay. It's not something you realize when you hit high school or college. So why aren't there more middle grade books for those kids who are starting to realize they don't have crushes on kids of the opposite gender? Or that they have crushes on both? It's a bit easy for the kids in this book, they aren't hated or avoided because it's discovered that they're gay. Sometimes it is, sometimes the people close to you accept it and continue on, but other times it's not that simple. It's far more painful and frightening.

There's something about this book that screams fun and excitement. There are hard times, yes. Nothing is perfect. There were bound to be fires to put out. Just look at the title.

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (129)

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. ;)

Hi! It was really cold this week. And I was mowing the lawn last weekend. *face-palm* Why you ask? Because it was sort of nice and the lawn was looking gross. I didn't enjoy it. Also it looks like I'll be doing it again soon because it still looks a bit gross out there.

Everyone's at the Toronto Book Fair and I'm super jealous. Now, from what I've seen from some people's pictures, it looks a bit fancy. Like a fancy showroom of sorts. (Those who've been, feel free to correct or confirm. Also, know that I'll be stalking your blogs for recaps as I'm tempted to go if there's one next year.)

I'm at a standstill with NaNo, to be honest. The idea I had initially has shifted in something totally different and I don't think I like it anymore, and I don't want to stick with something I don't like, or go back and fix it. I think I might semi-cheat and start a different idea, but I'm not sure. I need to catch up on my reading, I've read one book in the last week and a half.

Christmas things are slowly exploding everywhere! Too early? When I saw red Starbucks cups were in on the 1st, I thought it was too early. Remember when the red cups would show up in the last few days of November?

Reviews going up next week will feature Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Tuesday) and Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis (Friday). :)
The Name of the Blade by Zoë Marriott (e-book borrowed from library) (I like the UK covers way better, and the UK title, The Night Itself. I mean, the nine-tailed cat monster is really cool, and the katana, but the UK covers have an actual Asian girl swinging a katana around. With the awesome Diverse Books movement that's going on right now, I want that on a cover.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Me on The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Title: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
Author: Julie Berry
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong. But when someone else in their village drops dead, the girls realize that not only is their independence at risk, but also their lives. The stakes couldn't be higher.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a clever mystery anchored by seven rather quick-witted and intelligent young ladies. With their headmistress and rather odious brother suddenly dropping dead over dinner, the girls must work together in order to discover the reason, and if need be, the culprit.

All seven girls have their own reasons for deception and keeping the sudden deaths in the house secret. All seven girls have their own tragic histories, their own home lives they'd rather avoid returning to, and their own desire to stay together. They've finally, even if it did occur in a rather unsavoury manner, found a place to call home, found people they care for and who care for them. Each girl is supportive of the other. They all want to discover what happened.

The mystery is rather clever, with different layers and pieces to be put together. And clues dropped here and there that string both the reader and the girls along, leaving them to uncover the truth.

This is a very intelligent, humourous, clever, and witty story. It pokes fun at whodunit-type mysteries and gifts us with a cast of young ladies whom no one expects would know what to do in this situation. A definite read for fans of middle grade historical and mystery books and girls who take charge in order to solve a mystery.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (201)

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

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins

From Goodreads:

Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in this groundbreaking fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza's hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? 

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy rich with symbolism and steeped in allegory. Her John Green–meets–Neil Gaiman approach to character development and world building will draw readers of all genres, who will come for the high-concept journey through the sky and stay for the authentic, confused, questioning teen voices. Jason and Aza's fight to find each other somewhere between sky and earth is the perfect anchor for Headley's gorgeous, wildly vivid descriptions of life in Magonia.

This sounds really interesting, sort of like The Girl with Borrowed Wings, so I'm really looking forward to reading this next year. :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Me on Waistcoats & Weaponry

Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry
Author: Gail Carriger
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Waistcoats & Weaponry is as entertaining and exciting as adventure as the previous two installments. Mysterious, compelling, and ever so complicated, this is perhaps Sophronia's most dangerous adventure yet.

These are the things we've learned about Sophronia: she wants to know everything, she will always help those she considers close friends, she doesn't like not knowing what's going on around her, and she is most comfortable when in control of the situation. And this does rattle her, this mystery involving Sidheag and her werewolves up in Scotland. There is no question that she will not put down everything and go help. If I were in a similar situation, I would be thrilled to have Sophronia step in and take over, save the day as she so often does.

This time around, she's caught even more between Soap and Lord Mersey. Soap respects her, he will always understand the risks she takes and the decisions she makes. But Lord Mersey... I feel he respects her when it comes to certain things, and I fully believe he is waiting for the day when she will finally acquiesce to his wishes. In terms of Sophronia's own feelings, both of them confuse her. Soap with his changes in this book, and Lord Mersey with his knowledge of a group she is increasingly suspicious of. Both keep her from moving any further forward in terms of a relationship, but she has far too much to worry about.

What I love about this series in the contradiction in the tone. It's a rather serious tone, there's nothing to laugh about in regards to intelligencing and adventuring. Each girl, Sophronia especially, takes her time at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality very seriously, but the mishaps and the adventures, the names and personalities, are just so outrageous that I can't help but chuckle each time I turn the page.

Sophronia has been learning these past two years, of that there is no doubt, but when it comes to putting it all into practice and thinking about the future? That's new, and somewhat frightening. In the end, who will she give her loyalty to? I'm sad that the series will end next year with the final book, but I'm so excited to find out what will happen next.

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (128)

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. ;)

Another sort of slow week! I blame NaNoWriMo.

I'm having a weird time trying to include time to write while trying to read review books. Last year I sort of had a buffer so I wasn't so worried about it. This year, not to much. I didn't have an idea until a few days beforehand. It's not that I don't want to write this story and get it out of my head into a file where it can sit and fester until I think up edits and fixes, it's that I need to squeeze some writing time in there. I'm also slightly worried about all the screen-reading I'm putting my eyes through. *sigh* Well, I'll be taking Sunday off writing like I have the past couple of years. I might half-quit and work on just one scene a day instead of 1667 words.

All of the Christmas things have exploded a bit early this year. Well, it just explodes earlier and earlier as the years go by, doesn't it?

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Monday) and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Friday).
Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (borrowed from the library)
All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry (borrowed from the library)
Prairie Fire by E.K. Johnston (from the author via NetGalley)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Me on The Walled City

Title: The Walled City
Author: Ryan Graudin
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Dai, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible. Jin hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister. Mei Yee has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window...

The Walled City is rough, dangerous, brutal, and deadly. The people of this book are filled with fear and despair, but there are those that still hold a glimmer of hope in their hearts. The hope that one day they will be able to escape and return to the world beyond the walls.

Dai. Jin. Mei Yee. The three of them are trapped in the city and they are all desperate to escape. To live outside, to return, to no longer life a life filled with fear, pain, hardship. But they're all held prisoner. Prisoners of circumstance, of someone more powerful and ruthless, of their own decisions. This book is their coming together, their attempt at escape.

It's no secret that the author was inspired by Hong Kong's Kowloon Walled City and what occurred behind those walls. I think this book does two things in terms of the setting. First, it definitely highlights the fear and the danger felt by those who lived in the real Walled City. And second, with the references to modern day culture, it certainly implies that this could happen today, that this is happening today. Drugs and gangs, human trafficking. Murder. Children running drugs for self-styled 'entrepreneurs.' Young girls sold into prostitution and being forced to have sex with men three times their age. It's the most frightening thing about this book, that something very similar to it could exist now.

This book is difficult to review. I don't want to give away too much, because it has to be read. As painful and terrifying and hard on its main characters as it is, it just has to be read.

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (200)

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

Title: The Sin Eater's Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

A startling, seductive, deliciously dark debut that will shatter your definition of YA fantasy.

16-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she's engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn't a member of the court. She's the executioner.

As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she's taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he's able to look past Twylla's executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla's problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

This sounds interesting, even though I have a weird relationship with high fantasy. The not being able to touch anyone without killing them idea is interesting, but I already have my ideas about how she and this new guard mentioned in the description will get around it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Me on Killer Instinct

Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance. But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father—a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

Killer Instinct is mysterious, thrilling, and full of tension. This is a journey into the psyche of a killer you'd never want to some up against, and a race against time to stop said killer and save all the would-be victims without becoming one of them.

Cassie is back, trying to solve murders, trying to navigate a house full of gifted but slightly broken teens. Trying to fix everything and understand everyone. Which is frustrating, considering she lives in a house of people with secrets and hidden motives. It's a complicated web of truth and lies. And Cassie wants to help, she genuinely does, but more than a few of them don't want her kind of help. The pure and honest kind.

There are a fair number of complicated relationships in this book involving almost every single character. Cassie, Dean, Michael, Lia, Briggs, Sterling. The FBI. As much as it's about solving cases, catching murderers, understanding what motivates people towards good or evil, this book is about the relationships people have. How they connect with each other, what they get out of that connection, and what they do with it.

What motivates criminals to become criminals, into committing arson, assault, rape, or murder? Do you really want to know? Do you really want to learn to think how they do, to think about what they think about? This is what Cassie does, but is it really for the best? What if there's a mind she gets into and can't escape from?

I was a bit lost at the beginning, not remembering everything that had happened previously, but enough was mentioned that I easily fell back into this series. And so little is known about the others, anyways. Cassie is slowly learning more and more about them over time, her fellow Naturals and the FBI agents, so you're never really left out of the loop. This felt just as tense and dangerous as the first book, so fans shouldn't worry.

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (127)

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, which is why this is so short.

Also, I'm attempting to do NaNoWriMo this month. Which might not be the best idea, I still have books to read for review purposes and other Real Life (in capitals) things. I also didn't have an idea until a couple of days ago, so this year might be the first in a while where I don't hit 50,000 words.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Tuesday) and The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Friday). :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Me on Fiendish

Title: Fiendish
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten. Now she's out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why. When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.

Fiendish is a darkly magical tale of a girl hidden away and the changes she finds in her small town when she wakes up. The townsfolk know about those who live off in the woods, they know about their magic. And they fear it. But now that Clementine is free, something's coming, and it's not just that it's coming. It's that it's coming back.

Clementine's voice sounds a bit young, but it fits. The innocence in her voice makes sense. Locked away in a cellar for ten years, her body aging as her personality sort of stays the same. Her way of being rather blunt and matter of fact at times. It all makes sense. And perhaps that's why she's the only one who really wants to investigate what's happening. Because she doesn't know what's been going on, she's slightly set apart from the divide between the normal townsfolk and those like her and her cousin. Those with magic in them. She just has to know why she was locked away. And she just wants to do the right thing. She wants to help everyone. Especially Fisher.

Like Brenna Yovanoff's past books, the mood and setting are quite chilling, similar to The Replacement. The Hollow especially, filled as it is with magic and dark and dangerous things. With the magic everywhere, creeping out, reaching out, I was never sure what would pop up next, but I knew it would be frightening.

This is a definite must-read for fans of Brenna's past books, for fans of magical realism with hints of horror and monsters. Yes, it's set in a creepy place with creepy people and creepy monsters, but it's still about this one girl brave enough to search for the truth. A girl brave enough to stand up and protect those she cares about.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (199)

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

Title: The Shadow Cabinet
Author: Maureen Johnson
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

All I really have to say about this book is a lot of unattractive, desperate moaning and wanting to read it so much. And then there's another book after it. *sobs from all of the Rory feels*

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Me on My True Love Gave to Me

Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Authors: Stephanie Perkins (editor), Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, & Kiersten White
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with this anthology.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories is an entertaining anthology filled with stories of love, of finding people and uncovering secrets, and of the winter holiday season.

As it's an anthology, it's a bit hard to review, so hopefully you'll forgive the non-standard review today. I could talk about every story, but I don't want to. Partially because that would take a long time, and partially because I imagine I'm not the only one who likes going into anthology not knowing what I'll get. But I will attempt to describe what each story has.

Some are contemporary and some are fantasy. All have endings, happy or sad or contemplative. All have different characters with their own thoughts and feelings towards the holiday season, joy or sadness or hatred. And all were searching for something, searching for meaning in the holiday, searching for someone to spend it with, searching for the truth. Searching for themselves. There were some I liked more than others, some I wished were longer or shorter. I hoped for more than one LGBTQ story. But all in all, it was a fun, sweet anthology. One I would definitely read again over the holiday season.

(I received an e-galley of this title from Macmillan through NetGalley.)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (126)

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! (Like it wouldn't be raining here.)

The event during the week with Marie Lu and Robert Paul Weston was so much fun. They're some of the sweetest people. If only it hadn't been just pouring like mad as I left the event space and got soaked on the way to dessert with some book people/friends.

Like after any event, I wonder when the next one will be... and I have no idea. Well, I have an idea about an event, but in terms of a signing? Nope. We've possibly hit another lull. ... Well, I do know that P.C. & Kristin Cast are going to be here for a signing next week, but I don't think I'll be there. It looks to be at an awkward time and I haven't read any of the books. But after that, I'm not sure. I can always guess and hope, considering past events. I imagine Cassie Clare will be back at some point (probably not next year). I imagine Richelle Mead will be back. I hope Maggie Stiefvater will be hitting the west coast next year for Raven Cycle #4. And I imagine there will be events for local authors when their next books come out, like Eileen Cook and Rachel Hartman.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature My True Love Gave to Me (Tuesday) and Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff (Friday). :)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (bought/pre-ordered and it arrived earlier than the Canadian November 1 release date)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (ARC from Raincoast Books)
All the Rage by Courtney Summers (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen (ARC from Raincoast Books)
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (e-book from library)
Monstrous Affections anthology edited by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (e-book from library)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Me on Through the Woods

Title: Through the Woods
Author: Emily Carroll
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there...

Through the Woods is a haunting, frightening collection of illustrated short stories. Each story is brought to life (I type as a shudder runs up my spine) with thin, spindly lettering, bold colours, and dark surprises at every turn.

Each of the five stories here are not for the faint of heart. All take dark, twisted turns, trailing deeper and deeper into the shadows. Into the darkness where the monsters lie in wait.

The artwork is also amazing. Shadows made from the darkest blacks, rosy cheeks and lips the brightest reds. Long, thin fingers. Large, round eyes. Everything seems more dangerous brought to life the way is is here. I imagine as prose, these stories wouldn't be nearly as frightening.

When I read the first story during the day, I was fine. But when I went to read it at night, when the shadows creep in around you, with the textured cover sliding and scraping against my fingertips, I'll admit that I wanted to go hide it somewhere where it couldn't get me. Dark and dangerous, filled with creatures and monsters and shadows, this is a perfect book for those interested in atmospheric reads and haunting stories.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (198)

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

Title: None of the Above
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Middlesex meets Mean Girls in this one-of-a-kind YA debut.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant? 

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s world completely unravels. With everything she thought she knew thrown into question, can she come to terms with her new self?

Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

I really really want to read this. How often do you come across a book with an intersex protagonist? I read Middlesex years ago (and again more recently) and loved it, so I'm interested in how this is going to be told, how much gender, sexuality, and identity will be involved. Middlesex was all internal, though. It was rather private and just in the family. This sounds like it's going to be public and extremely painful.

But the Mean Girls comparison, though... I'm super wary of that.