Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Me on The Wizard's Promise

Title: The Wizard's Promise
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry

All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch, but unfortunately she's stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she's ever been before. As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

The Wizard's Promise is a curious journey across troubled waters and into unfamiliar territory. Away from everything that's familiar, Hanna has to keep her wits about her and figure out what's going on, what magic is coming for her, or she won't make it back home.

Hanna spends a fair amount of the book frustrated with a number of people, but she doesn't spend her days moping and complaining. Well, some of her days are spent like that, but more are filled with work and determination. As much as she wants to learn to be a witch, to use her power properly, she wants to get back to her parents and their village. And so she works hard, she's rather pro-active in that regard. It's rather unfortunate for her that some of the people around her are so tight-lipped.

It's a rather frustrating adventure for Hanna. Sure, she wants to explore the world, learn about magic, but this wasn't meant to be an adventure. And when Kolur doesn't tell her where they're headed, or why they won't be going back right away, or what's going on, it makes for an annoyed main character as well as an annoyed reader. I wanted to know what was going on as well, but with multiple characters being deliberately vague page after page, chapter after chapter, I began to lose interest. Not telling her the truth only makes Hanna more angry and more likely to do something that could ruin their plans, but it's their own fault for not telling her and treating her like an idiot who wouldn't understand. I imagine there's a lot more they haven't bothered to tell Hanna.

The world in this book is an interesting one. Talk of magic is normal, pirates who roam the seas are commonplace. What struck me most as original and also practical was how in one village Hanna couldn't quite understand the written language or what they placed monetary value on. Because those things would change, depending on how far your travel and in which directions. No two villages would be exactly alike, speaking the same language or using the same currency. The mysteries involved in the magic were also interesting.

It's a curious one, Hanna's journey across the seas. There are moments of action and mystery, of anger and dangerous magic, but also moments of quiet, of learning. It might not have made for a fast-paced read, but those quiet times for Hanna weren't necessarily wasted. But there were times when I found myself bored, wondering when Kolur would take Hanna seriously, when he would get off his high horse and actually respect her instead of ignoring her. If he really needed her, he should've told her more. I'm curious as to where the second book will go, if Hanna will have a better adventure than this.

(I received an e-galley of this book to review from Strange Chemistry through NetGalley.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (176)

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

Title: Ruin & Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I'm not totally desperate for this book like some people, but I'm still looking forward to it. It's different and interesting, the covers are striking. And the Darkling is still evil. He will not suddenly become reformed and nice. *stare down*

Monday, April 28, 2014

Me on In the Shadows

Title: In the Shadows
Author: Kiersten White
Art: Jim DiBartolo
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch. Thomas and Charles are brothers who've been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it, but they can't. Arthur is also new to the boarding house. his fate is tied to that of the others. He knows what darkness circles them, but he can't say why, and doesn't even know if they can be saved. Sinister forces are working in the shadows, manipulating fates and crafting conspiracies. The closer Cora, Minnie, Arthur, Thomas, and Charles get to the truth, the closer they get to harm. But the threat is much bigger than they can see. It is strangling the world. Until one of the boys decides he wants to save it.

In the Shadows is dark and thrilling. It's a story of secrets, of the evil that lurks in the darkness, and those who will do battle against it. Those who will push until all is revealed, until all are safe.

The prose is mysterious, recounting a moment in time where Cora and Minnie were brought together with Thomas and Charles, and along with Arthur discovered a dangerous truth about the world. That the world is not what it seems. That evil stretches farther than their small town. That sacrifices are demanded to keep order. As short as the prose chapters could be, each character has a personality, each one had hopes and dreams and motives. Cora's practicality, Minnie's wildness, Thomas' determination, Charles' good nature (even with his illness). Even Arthur's silence and stoicism.

The illustrated story, alternating with the prose, is a curious thing, a separate but not separate journey. Who are the people? What is happening? Who are they running to, or from? There are no speech bubbles but that doesn't mean the reader can't understand what's going on. There is a connection to the story of the boarding house, to the sisters and the brothers and the mystery they uncover, but it's revealed slowly over time, hints and clues appearing only when they need to. The artwork itself is amazing, at times dark with shadows and despair but always vibrant and alive, never boring.

I was a little torn on how to read this, if I should stick with the conventional left-to-right one page at a time method, if I should read the illustrated story first, if I should read the prose first. I went with convention, and I'm glad I did. Reading one before the other would meant leaving something important behind, both tell sides of the same story. I also read it more than once. The first time through was exciting, I wanted to know what was happening all the time, trying to connect the faces in the art with the descriptions in the prose. It was impossible to put down. The second time through was still thrilling but also bittersweet, knowing what it all meant, knowing what was coming and how painful it would be. This is an enchanting story, wonderful prose mixed with gorgeous artwork.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (101)

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. ;)

Back to lawn mowing. Ugh. You know, I tried to put it off for as long as possible, but grass just won't stop growing.

The Canadian YA Lit Event starts next week! Are you panicking like I am? Every time. *sigh* Well, hopefully you all will like the posts I have scheduled, author guest posts and Q&A's and reviews. And there will be giveaways, so check back.

Did everyone see the title and cover reveal for Maggie Stiefvater's third book in The Raven Cycle? I love the title, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and the cover is gorgeous. I can't wait for October for this to come out so I can be wrecked by all the feels.

Reviews for the coming week will feature In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim DiBartolo (Monday) and The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Wednesday). :)
Firebug by Lish McBride (from Macmillan through NetGalley)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Me on Dreams of Gods & Monsters

Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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. 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. 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?

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is an epic and powerful tale of pain and magic, of hopes and dreams, of life and death. The end is coming, a war is coming, and Karou and Akiva stand at the brink with their patchwork army against a tyrant and a secret huntress no one sees coming. Will they survive, live to continue their dream of peace, or will their hopes shatter at their feet?

Karou and Akiva, while together, still manage to be heartbreaking. Different sides, different missions, but the same dream for the future. After the first two books, after their revelations and actions, their plans and surprises, what are they to each other? Not enemies, not anymore, but not lovers. Well, not exactly. They're prevented from being together, by the coming battles and by themselves, by what they've seen around the other and inside their own hearts and minds. Their first story, the story of Akiva and Madrigal, was tragic, ending in screams of pain and misery. This one, their second chance, started with surprise, with hopes renewed, and continued again down that path of despair and death. They've battled long and hard, with chimaera, with angels, with monsters, and now the end is coming. But what kind of end?

Something that's always pulled me in with this series is the world-building and this book is no different. Earth, Eretz, the skies, the stars. Everything is something the author has crafted, and crafted beautifully. The vast deserts, the caves of the Kirin, the streets of Rome. Pulled from reality or from imagination, the locations have a life of their own. And they expand as the story expands, as it reaches out and pulls in more characters, more hopes and fears. It grows almost too big, nearly overwhelming the story, but it's all connected in curious and magical ways.

So primal are the emotions felt by those in this book. The burning need to survive. The bitter flame of anger. The crippling sadness. The cold, shaking fear. The bright shine of hope. The gentle pulse of love, like a heartbeat felt by pressing an ear to the chest of a loved one. No emotion is spared. It is enough to bring one to their knees.

There is a lot of anticipation in this book, a lot of build up. Something is coming, something big, something overwhelming. And then the explosion happens, then everything happens, and everything is revealed. Before reading this I re-read the previous two books, taking in the entire story in one long gulp instead of tiny sips over time. Doing that left me wondering if any words I could express about this book would be enough. I don't think I've been more overwhelmed than I have with this book and this series. I've been left in a magical, painful, and glorious head space, dripping with dreams and starlight.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (175)

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

Title: Gasp
Author: Lisa McMann
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

The visions aren't stopping, and neither is the danger in this third "dramatic, quick-paced thriller (Kirkus Reviews)" in a series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

After narrowly surviving two harrowing tragedies, Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and people around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the visions passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then they must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved.

That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And once she realizes who it is, she has to convince that survivor that this isn't all crazy—that the images are of something real. Something imminent.

As the danger escalates more than ever before in the conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she'll finally find out why and how this is happening—before it's too late to prevent disaster.

Recently I read book 2, Bang, and remembered how I enjoy Lisa McMann's writing. It's a bit sparse, the reader is only given enough to understand the story. No extra useless fluff, all important and meaningful. I sort of liked the Wake books, but I like these more. That weird bit of something extra that makes normal everyday non-magical life a little more unpredictable. Also, now that it looks like the visions move from person to person, I'm really curious as to who has them now, and how complicated the family feud situation might get.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Me on The Inventor's Secret

Title: The Inventor's Secret
Author: Andrea Cremer
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin imprint)

Charlotte has lived on the edge of Britain's industrial empire, hiding deep in the Catacombs, ever since she can remember. She and her fellow refugees are preparing for the day when they can join the Resistance and fight against the crown. But when an exile with no memory seeks shelter in their camp, he brings with him new dangers and secrets about the terrible future that awaits them all. His presence compels them to leave the safety of the Catacombs to seek answers in Britannia's exquisite Floating City. But Charlotte finds more than just answers there, and navigating a world of high society and political intrigue turns out to be more treacherous than the revolution itself.

The Inventor's Secret is curious and complicated, a tale of revolution and technology, of the elite and the down-trodden, of the ruthlessness of truth and the lengths those who want to hide and reveal it go to. It's an entertaining adventure in an alternate past filled with intrigue, secrets, and clockwork.

Charlotte is a girl born into a revolution who will one day fight against the Empire and its continued hold on America. She understands some of the world but not all of it. In the beginning she takes action, she searches for answers when secrets are concealed in front of her, but as the book progressed I found her taking on more of a reacting role. Being in a foreign setting like the Floating City, where she knows nothing of polite society and its shining traps, it's understandable, but there were times when I wished she took on a more active role. When I wanted her to demand to be told the truth. Hopefully, she'll take a more active role in the next book.

It's also understandable that Charlotte would know nothing, or next to nothing, of romance. There's no time in her life for it, for mooning over young men. All she needs to know is how to scavenge and how to survive. When the romance was introduced, I didn't mind it, I welcomed it. It was ragged at the beginning because she felt conflicted, but then the twist occurred and I lost interest. It felt rather rushed and more like a plot device, it didn't happen naturally. It felt like it was there only to add tension and conflict to the romance.

I'm often fascinated by steampunk when it appears in books, by technology not involving electricity, by machines that run on steam and clockwork gears, by gleaming silver and polished bronze crafted to look like objects or animals used for practical purposes. Here it works, and I'm curious as to where the author will take it.

In a way, steampunk seems to go hand in hand with alternate history. Here, there's no creation of the United States as we know it in the present day. No freedom or liberty but the British elite living off the blood and sweat of the working class. Poverty, near slavery. What will it take for the revolution to finally rise up and fight back? And what will the cost be?

I would agree that there is an adventure here, that it's full of action, tension, secrets, and lies. I'm curious about the world introduced here, the different machines, the secret Charlotte and her friends have discovered. I want to know more about the mission and the adventure.

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (100)

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 spring, and rain, and sort of lawn mowing? I still believe we don't have a long enough extension cord to do the mowing properly (electric mower).

On Friday I had dim sum with some friends from high school, RL friends and not blogger friends, and after we went to a mall with a book store. It was a bit funny because it was a lot of me going "this book was good" and "this book was ok" and "this is that one book with the people" in the YA section. And then they bought Cinder and Crash based on my recommendation. So, you're welcome, book store. ;) I also talked up In the Shadows but it's not out yet so I couldn't buy it.

Reviews for the coming week will feature The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer (Tuesday) and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (Friday). :)
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff (from HarperCollins Canada)
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama (from Raincoast Books)
Undone by Cat Clarke (from Raincoast Books)
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (from Raincoast Books)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Me on Miyuki

Title: Miyuki
Author: Veronica Bane
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Black Hill Press

In the town of Jericho, a group of misfit teenagers haunts the underbelly of their society. Armed with the ability to manipulate different parts of nature, these teenagers fight for their right to stay alive. In the months following an attack on their lives, danger still lurks around them. Those behind the original strike have risen from the ashes, and new powers are beginning to reveal themselves. With this mysterious threat imminent, Mara, Miyuki, and the rest of the Unusuals must stand together to fight. However, time is running out for the group because someone, or something, is hunting them, and this time around, not all of them will survive.

Miyuki is a return to dangerous, secretive Jericho, a town where people who are different are feared and quite often hunted down, a town where some rather unusual teenagers are fighting back while also winging it a bit.

The group is back, complete with Mara, Miles, Miyuki, Chris, Alex, and Terry. After meeting The Stranger and knowing what he's up to, they continue training in order to fight back, to push back, to save the others like them and put a stop to the death and slaughter. Mara's continued anger at her brother fuel her need for revenge and she struggles to move on from it, to focus on the task at hand, but it sounds like there's something dark in her past concerning him. Miyuki is focused more on finding others like them and keeping them safe. Like before, the two girls clash, perhaps because they both want to be in charge, both attempt to direct the action and their mission.

Enemies abound in this story both old and new. Danger is always following them, watching them. People are still after the Unusuals, wanting to find them, stop them, kill them. Things get dangerous rather quickly.

It felt like things were happening a lot faster in this book than in the first book. There is some back story at the beginning, some reminding, but then it seems to jump right into the action, right into the suspense and the fighting. Now that they know what they are, that they're not alone, that they're hunted, they're forced to fight for their lives. I hope that the next installment will come soon because, after that ending, I'm desperate to know what happens next. And I'm still shocked about who died. Wow.

(I received a e-book copy of this book to review from the author.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (174)

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

Title: Extraction
Author: Stephanie Diaz
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

From Goodreads:

"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves Promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With urgent writing, fluid dialogue, and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.

The cover certainly screams sci-fi, and I like the premise. It sounds rather tense and immediate. It also sounds like things could go pear-shaped rather quickly, and so I'm really interested in how everything will explode. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Me on Mara

Title: Mara
Author: Veronica Bane
Release Date: August 3, 2013
Publisher: Black Hill Press

For years, Mara Tucker has used her power of manipulating flames to punish those who have done her wrong. But things are changing in the town of Jericho. Rampant disappearances have forced Mara to seek out others with special powers. In a story that confronts the violence and turmoil of adolescence, Mara and a group of other "unusuals" like her grapple with new alliances and the villains pressing in all around them.

Mara is fast-paced and dangerous, a thrilling tale of unusual teens and their unusual powers in a small town filled with deadly secrets. If they don't work together, they could end up among the disappeared.

Mara isn't the only character focused on, but she's where the story starts. A lonely girl, a powerful girl. In the beginning she runs from something, someone, and ends up in Jericho. She's used her power over fire and flames to punish those who've tried to hurt her, but is that really all there is? If she's hiding from her past, what kind of future will that lead to? But then she's not alone, then she discovers there are others like her, with powers, and others who want to stop them.

All of the teens used to be separate, usually alone with no friends, but when they discover they're more alike than they thought, they're forced to work together. There are a lot of butting heads, a fair number of arguments and fights, but they'll have to come together or they'll be ripped apart. It was entertaining to see the group come together, different personalities and motives clashing and arguing.

Jericho is a small town filled with dangerous secrets and racism. Both hit hard and both linger. The racism spewed by certain characters is so obvious, so out in the open, that I felt sick. They don't bother to hide it, not caring what anyone things. It's this fear of the other that leads to hatred and fear, and for those considered to be the other, it could lead to retaliation. Because they will fight back to have their voices heard.

A novella is a curious choice, you only have so many words in which to tell so many things. It certainly makes for a more fast-paced story. There's can't be any extra information, it needs to be clear and to the point. No hiding behind back story. But there still has to be character development, and I felt there was. It's not just Mara that has to learn to work as part of a team but all of them. They all have their fears, their wants and needs, their reasons for wanting to run when it gets deadly, but they also have those moments of change that keep them from being one-dimensional.

I found this story to be interesting and exciting. The stakes are high and the tension is high, as they often are in life or death situations. Some questions are answered but others are left open. Hopefully, they will be answered in the next installment.

(I received a e-book copy of this book to review from the author.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (99)

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. ;)

*sees spring* *sees lawn* *flips a table over*

Sort of a slow week this week. Apart from that whole Heartbleed bug. Yeeeeeesh.

You all know that comics are slowly creeping into my reading list, and the one I picked up this week is one you don't want to miss. It's the 1st in a new series called Lumberjanes. It's about these 5 teen girls and their summer at scout camp, it sounds like it's going to be all about female friendship and hijinks and creepy forest creatures and solving mysteries and maybe a little punk rock. It was lots of fun and while I'm excited that there will be more, I'm sad that there's only going to be 8 issues. (I love the cover drawn by Nimona comic genius lady Noelle Stevenson. :))

Reviews for next week will feature Mara (Tuesday) and Miyuki (Friday) by Veronica Bane. :)
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (bought; with a fancy signed art print in the back)
Lumberjanes #1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen, and Shannon Watters (bought)
No Place Like Oz by Danielle Paige (e-book borrowed from library)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Me on The Geography of You and Me

Title: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father. Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and, finally, a reunion in the city where they first met.

The Geography of You and Me is thoughtful and emotional book, a story of two teens searching for something very important. They're searching for something, searching for a place that's theirs. A place where they can laugh, cry, scream, shout. A place where they can be themselves. But what if that place isn't a place?

Lucy and Owen are different people. They have their separate lives, their likes and dislikes, their reasons for wanting to find the place that's theirs and theirs alone. But for one night they're together, first trapped in an elevator then wandering a dark NYC. Their blackout banter was great. It wasn't easy-breezy but a little strained, a little awkward and unfamiliar. But it was because they didn't know each other. It was entertaining and honest, and as quickly as it started it ended. Their separate lives return with the lights, taking hold and pulling them back. What could have been disappears, but that doesn't stop them from thinking about the other.

There's a sense of longing that fills this book that's both bitter and sweet. Wanting to be in the right place and with the right person, trying to figure out who you are and where you want to be. Journeys like that can take a lifetime. After that one night, Lucy and Owen continue their lives, but something is missing. Something they keep searching for. With different people, in different places. But it's never the same.

I found this a heart-warming journey of a book. The idea that home isn't a place but a person is one some people don't consider. That sometimes it's with a specific someone and not a location is where you're the most comfortable being you. You're able to like what you like, hate what you hate. There's a curious sense of magic afoot when you meet someone and connect with them like that. Either in an instant or over time, either romantically or not, that person becomes extremely important to you. And you'd do anything to be by their side again.

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (173)

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

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

From Goodreads:

Picking up 8 years after the events of Coda, Chorus follows Alpha, Anthem's younger sister, now seventeen, as it becomes clear that the shockwaves caused by the earlier rebellion still ripple through the Web--and beyond.

I really liked Coda when it came out last year. It was different, it was edgy, and it was exciting. And this seems like it's sort of a sequel but sort of not. I'm excited to get Alpha's point of view, her and Omega were adorable kids. It sounds like an interesting premise, because there will always be aftershocks after a rebellion. It'll be curious to see how the world has changed and what is coming next.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Me on Always Emily

Title: Always Emily
Author: Michaela MacColl
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they're not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor's death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle... before someone else gets killed.

Always Emily is inventive and creative, an atmospheric setting and a dangerous mystery investigated by two opposite but passionate sisters. It's a race against time to stop crimes, uncover the truth, and ease someone's terrible suffering.

I was unaware of the differences between Charlotte and Emily's personalities before this book. Emily's carefree and wandering nature is often at odds with Charlotte's practicality, but both love writing. They love stories and creating new places and characters. This book is a fictional moment in time in the Brontë sisters' lives, and so I have to wonder how much of their personalities are their own and how much comes from the author. Also their habits and ways of speaking to both family and strangers. Creating new characters and worlds can be complex, but writing about actual people can be so much harder. The need to be correct is so important.

The moors of their home and the mystery make this a rather haunting book. A secret group holds its meetings in private, seemingly random thefts occur in the area, and a mysterious man with a mysterious mission suddenly appears. The mystery itself seemed rather timely, a possibility given what was and wasn't known about people and their motives in the 1800's.

But I have a problem with this book, and it's purely one of my own making though no fault of the book itself. My problem is that, with Emily and Charlotte, their hints and whispers of mystery-seeking and romance, it gives me hope for a happy future for them and their family, but that is not what happens. Not when Emily dies not long after their brother in 1848, rarely-mentioned sister Anne the next year, and Charlotte, while with child but in ill health, in 1855. It sours my opinion but I have to remember that, while the Brontës are real, this story is not.

As with Nobody's Secret, this was a creative and well-researched look into the adolescence of renowned literary figures. If the author chooses to write similar books, mysteries in the teenage years of other authors and poets, I will certainly read them.

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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (98)

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. ;)

Nooooooooo, it's the return of lawn-mowing season. *falls over dead*

It's sort of a bookless and boring week this week. I didn't go to the bookstore or the library, I didn't get any packages in the mail. I did go to the comic book store and get Pretty Deadly #5, though. I'll be going to the bookstore next week for Dreams of Gods & Monsters. :)

Reviews for the coming week will feature Always Emily by Michaela MacColl (Tuesday) and The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (Friday). :)

UPDATE: It's not a bookless week anymore. Looks like a package was delivered at some point yesterday and no one noticed.
In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim DiBartolo (from Scholastic Canada)
The Drowning by Rachel Ward (from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Me on Far From You

Title: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe
Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice. The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick. The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery. After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

Far From You is an emotional journey. Rough, painful, and unflinchingly honest, it's a story of searching. Searching for the truth, searching for acceptance, searching for memories. Sophie's struggle is real, so very real, and she'll be lucky if she makes it out alive.

Sophie has a fair number of problems. Some are her fault and some aren't. Some can be fixed and some can't. Some can be accepted, moved on from, and some will always be there. She's already climbed her way out of one hole, she's clean, working every day to stay clean and away from the drugs that almost ruined her life. But that won't fix everything, and it won't bring Mina back.

This book alternates a chapter at a time from the now, Sophie returning home after rehab and her investigating Mina's murder, and the then, the years before that start with the car accident that introduced her to Oxy. Because of the back and forth the reader sees two sides of Sophie, the recovering not wanting to let go of Mina but wanting to know the truth side and the in pain and a drug haze side. As the book progresses, the reader sees how Sophie changed, why she changed, and why there are secrets she still keeps.

In the fog brought on by the pills, Sophie can forget all about her pain. Everything is better there. Nothing hurts anymore. Whatever went wrong can be forgotten. But only for a little while. The drugs won't erase her pain, her scars, the lies she told, and the truth she hides. Those will always be there, drugged out or clean and sober.

On top of high school, friends, family, college plans, job plans, other thoughts about the future, teens are figuring out who they are as people, and that includes their sexuality. Bisexuality doesn't come up a lot in LGBTQ YA novels (the most recent ones I can think of are Adaptation, Inheritance, and Coda) but it should. It's important that it's talked about, that it's brought up in this book, but it's not the whole story. That's not all Sophie is. She's bisexual but she's also a drug addict, a liar, a gimp (as she calls herself), a daughter, and a friend.

There are so many layers to this book, I can only imagine how painstaking the crafting of this story was to Tess Sharpe. Sophie's voice is clear and determined. She's afraid, she's still mourning, but she won't give up. I couldn't put this book down, which means I'll certainly be reading whatever Tess Sharpe writes next.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Hachette Book Group Canada/Disney-Hyperion through NetGalley.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (172)

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

Title: Sinner
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic

From Goodreads:

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy. 

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

I remember Shiver as being one of the first YA books I read, and so Maggie books will always be special to me. Also, because they're awesome. I do wish they'd kept with the same cover scheme as the other three books, though, more of an artistic silhouette and not a photographic one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Me on Foretold

Title: Foretold
Author: Rinda Elliott
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

The Lockwood triplets have had a prophecy drummed into their heads since birth. Still, Raven, the eldest of the sisters, can't believe it's really happening. She's the reincarnation of a Norse goddess? One of the sisters is destined to die? When it starts snowing in summer in Florida, the sisters fear the worst has come to pass. Ragnarok, the Norse end of the world, has begun. Raven finds herself the secret protector of Vanir, a boy with two wolves, a knowledge of Norse magic and a sense of destiny he can't quite explain. He's intense, sexy and equally determined to save her when it becomes clear someone is endangering them. Raven doesn't know if getting closer to him will make a difference in the coming battle, but her heart isn't giving her a choice. Ahead of the sisters is the possibility of death at the hand of a warrior, death by snow, death by water or death by fire. Or even from something else…

Foretold is the start of what looks to be a fast-paced trilogy, filled with Norse mythology and teenage hormones, spiraling towards an explosive climax. The end of the world is coming, that much is known, but can it be stopped? Can all three sisters be saved, or must one be sacrificed?

Raven and her sisters Kat and Coral are all searching for a number of things, or people. Their mother. The possible warriors they're supposed to protect from their potentially insane mother. Raven seems to be the most practical of the three, but we only get her point of view and brief moments with her siblings. While they are all searching for something outside themselves, there's also the journey inside them that's happening. There's the norn inside of them, the ancient goddess. Is the norn something to fear or something to listen to? Will Raven accept it, or will it always be there, a sensation of power that she could lose control of?

I should've known that, from the description, there would be some insta-connection happening between Raven and Vanir. I'm not totally sold on the insta-love from her perspective, her main goal is consistent: keeping him alive and away from her mother. On the other hand, it feels like insta-love for him. He's described as touchy-feely, he keeps checking on her to make sure she's okay. His brothers provided some great comic relief at times but also a rational point of view, yelling about how it's all teen hormones and not love.

I do hope that Norse mythology will be the next mythology trend. More and more books are popping up with a heavy focus on it (books by Gratton, Livingston, and Paulson). I think Greek mythology isn't interesting anymore, the same myths are retold over and over. With Norse mythology there are different gods to explore, different mythical creatures to reveal. Mother figures and tricksters, berserkers and valkyries. I like what the author did with the mythology here, how it's woven into the present day and the lives of Raven and her sisters. How the world is really coming to an end.

I found this book exciting and fast. With the world actually ending, the stakes are the highest they could be. One wrong move and that's it. It's all over. And the Lockwood sisters are racing against the clock. Maybe it moved too fast at times, maybe Raven hit her head against something far too often to not end up with a serious concussion, maybe they rushed into making out, but I still enjoyed it. With the next two books focusing on the other sisters and their journeys, I'm curious as to how the end of the world will play out.

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