Monday, June 30, 2014

Me on Midnight Thief

Title: Midnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Growing up on Forge's streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that's not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she's not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he's persistent, and darkly attractive, and Kyra can't quite resist his pull. Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease. When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival, and vengeance, might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra's past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

Midnight Thief is mysterious and intriguing, a curious tale of secrets, plots, and plans. A tale of one girl trying to fix her mistakes and save lives before even more are lost. A girl who discovers there's more about the world, and herself, than she thought possible.

Kyra spends her days and nights trying to survive. She has friends, those who would support her, but she's mostly alone in the city of Forge. She struggles to steal and scrape together enough coins to eat and sleep and be safe. When James comes along with his offer, she's wary but she's interested. There's looking a step ahead, and there's looking three or four ahead of that. Some can't see that far, can't piece together situations that quickly, and so Kyra falls in with people far more dangerous and ruthless than she expected. But she tries to make it better, she tries to fix her mistakes. She's foolish, stubborn, but not careless. She cannot be faulted for giving up, for stopping and going back to fix what's gone wrong.

Tristam, by contrast, is a loyal by-the-book knight, intelligent and straight-forward. Maybe he's a little more soft in the heart than some, a little more compassionate. Those traits are at odds with each other, the caring and the following orders with a cool head, but he's still trying. He believes in the old ways, the old methods, the basic codes of conduct and behaviour. It's just too bad that people have their own motives and with push the rules around in the mud.

Kyra's world feels familiar in that it's a fantasy world with knights and thieves, palaces and taverns, orphans wandering the street looking for scraps of food, and hints of magic here and there. Even out in the forests it feels familiar, but it's the characters that set it apart. Their motives and plans, their decisions. Their encounters with the Demon Riders and their wildcats.

This book reminded me of a Tamora Pearce fantasy novel. Hints of magic and intrigue, characters with shadowed pasts and evil plans, a slowly moving tale. There is tension and action, yes, but it doesn't necessarily happen that quickly. There's no rush for Kyra to discover the truth behind her missions for the assassins, no rush for Tristam to stop the Demon Riders and their repeated attacks. Well, there is somewhat of a need for those things, but it feels like they were given time to figure things out as opposed to being rushed into a dangerous situation. After how this book ended, I'm very curious as to what will happen to Kyra in the next book, what other secrets she might discover about herself.

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (109)

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. ;)

Yay for rain in the summer. I'm not looking forward to it, they're saying it's going to be hotter than normal with less rain than usual. Other people are happy, but I guess those people like going to the beach, have air conditioning, and don't have to mow their lawns in the blazing heat.

I hope everyone who made the trip down to Vegas for ALA is enjoying themselves. :) I heard it's supposed to be really hot this weekend, so remember to fan yourself with books to stay cool. ;)

I was watching 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' the other day with the family and discovered what a bizarre but funny movie it is, just like 'Moonrise Kingdom.' I would recommend both if you're looking for a movie that's funny and a bit weird but also very clever. Both are well-crafted stories with great actors.

Reviews for the coming week will feature Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (Monday) and Relax, I'm a Ninja by Natalie Whipple (Friday). On Tuesday, there will be a special cover reveal with a giveaway so be sure to stop by. :)
The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch (from Random House Canada)
Starbird Murphy and the World Outisde by Karen Finneyfrock (e-book borrowed from the library)
Eternal Night by Carina Adly MacKenzie (from Paper Lantern Lit through NetGalley)
The Last Changeling by Chelsea Pitcher (from Flux Books through NetGalley)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Me on Sinner

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

Cole St. Clair has come to California for one reason: to get Isabel Culpeper back. She fled from his damaged, drained life, and damaged and drained it even more. He doesn't just want her. He needs her. Isobel is trying to build herself a life in Los Angeles. It's not really working. She can play the game as well as all the other fakes... but what's the point? What is there to win? Cole and Isabel share a past that never seemed to have a future. They have the power to save each other and the power to tear each other apart. The only thing for certain is they cannot let go.

Sinner is enthralling and mesmerizing, a powerful punch right into the heart of everything. It's two people trying to find something, trying to find everything. They cannot live without each other, but they can't let the other in for fear of being broken.

In the beginning I saw Cole as all slick and sly and smooth and all kinds of other words that start with 'S', but he isn't. He's all of those things and he's none of them. The world sees him as talented but broken, an addict, a joker, a car accident waiting to happen. But is he truly any of those things? What I am sure of is that he's complicated beyond all understanding of the word. What I am sure of that he's human, and that he's a werewolf. And that he's completely and utterly head-over-heels in love with Isabel.

In the beginning I saw Isabel as a doll, her expressionless and carefully sculpted face covered in barely there hairline cracks. No one else can see them but her. No one is allowed to see them, she won't let anyone near her, near her heart, fractured and tucked away deep inside her hollow body. She's one blow away from breaking, shattering, falling to the ground in a shower of glass and screams and tears, and that blow will only ever come from Cole.

They want each other, they need each other. They fear each other. They rage and cry and fight and love and scream and curse and wish and dream of, at, and for each other. This is Cole and Isabel at their most vulnerable.

The ways in which we wreck and ruin ourselves and put ourselves back together are all in this book. As are the people we need in our lived who make us feel whole and the people who break us and leave us lying in the street with the proverbial bullet to the heart, because they are often the same person.

Who we are, who we were, who we want to be, who the world sees, who the world wants us to be. Never will they be the same thing, the same person. As Cole says to Isabel, "'Looks and is aren't the same. Otherwise they'd be the same word.'" (Chapter 32, will update with page number as soon as possible.)

Reading this, it felt like I was sitting at the edge of my chair watching a movie and waiting not-so-patiently for the explosion at the end. My heart would race, my breathing would speed up, my eyes would grow wide in an attempt to soak up every single word on every single page. I would be hard-pressed to think of a book more honest and more powerful than this.

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (183)

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

Title: The Spiritglass Charade
Author: Colleen Gleason
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Chronicle Books

From Goodreads:

After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa "appear lunatic," using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, "there are no coincidences." It will take all of Mina's wit and Evaline's muscle to keep London's sinister underground at bay.

Contrary to my struggle to suspend my disbelief while reading the first book, I did enjoy it. It was interesting and fun, it was different. It showcased two rather similar but different young women trying to solve problems while struggling with their weaknesses (stubbornness, more often than not). And so I'm looking forward to reading more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Me on Rain

Title: Rain
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Katie has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling. As a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control. When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life: blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help: Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.

Rain is certainly darker than the first book in the trilogy and perhaps even more dangerous. If the first book was all about discovery, this one leans more toward revelation, answers to complicated questions, and an introduction to a new and deadly problem.

Katie is still in Japan, still hopelessly in love with Tomohiro, still awkward in terms of social cues and customs, and still taking control in finding out what's wrong. She seems to take the reins in terms of discovering the truth behind her connection to the ink threatening to take over both of their lives. She's trying, she's not that passive about the situation, but the trying and searching make her seem reckless. She doesn't want to lose someone she cares about, not after losing her mother so suddenly, and so she'll do whatever it takes to keep Tomohiro sane and in control of the ink he can command. Even if that makes her a target.

Katie staying in Japan means she's still immersed in Japanese culture, customs, food, language. It means more opportunities for her to make mistakes, for her Western culture upbringing to shine through and make her look like she's just fumbling around. She's still struggling with the real life aspect of living in Japan, like learning kanji and knowing when to address someone by their last name instead of their first. It's a different culture than what she's used to, less noise and more silent opinions and judgments. A lot of people seem to keep their thoughts to themselves, but Katie can't complain because she does that, too. She doesn't tell everyone the truth about everything, she doesn't tell Tomohiro everything because she's afraid it'll make everything worse. She's still trying to find her middle ground, still trying to find her place, and it's not going well.

The romance is still present, and maybe it does take over, the two of them do get rather involved with each other, but I wasn't surprised. I knew the romance would take over, would wind itself around the mythology as the book went on. Katie and Tomohiro have hit a bit of a rocky road, though, with him thinking he can protect her from the ink if he stays away from her, but it's not that simple. It'll never be that simple.

I like how this book goes deeper into the mythology introduced in the first book, deeper into the Kami and their origins in Japan's distant past. This feels very much like a learning and growing kind of second book. Questions are answered here, about the Kami, about Katie and Tomohiro's connection. Not every question was answered, of course, but hopefully the rest of the secrets will be uncovered in the last book.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Harlequin though NetGalley.)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (108)

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 been rainy and sunny, but no lawn-mowing. Really sunny last week means nothing's grown enough. Yes! *fist-pump*

It was a sad book news day yesterday when Angry Robot said it would be discontinuing their mystery imprint Exhibit A and their YA imprint Strange Chemistry immediately, saying it's been hard for them to carve out their own place in a saturated market. It's sad, yes, because there are a few Strange Chemistry books I've loved. Laura Lam's Micah Grey books, Danielle Jensen's Stolen Songbird, and Eliza Crewe's Meda in Cracked. Which is why I made an emergency trip to the bookstore yesterday, couldn't find them, wasn't in the mood to drive an hour in the opposite direction, and ordered some at an indie bookstore so I'll get them in a couple of weeks. (And I have to agree with some of the articles and blog posts I've read, Angry Robot has been rather professional about all of this. I imagine there is some anger on behalf of everyone involved, but no seething hatred. It seems like Angry Robot still cares, and that's a good sign.) (This also means that I won't be reviewing Crushed, Cracked's sequel, because it's not coming out anymore.)

Reviews for the coming week will feature Rain by Amanda Sun (Tuesday) and Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (Friday). :)
The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton (bought)
Rain by Amanda Sun (bought)
The Heiresses by Sara Shepherd (e-book borrowed from library)
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (e-book borrowed from library)
Dream Boy by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg (from Raincoast Books)
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (finished copy from Raincoast Books)
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (e-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Me on One Man Guy

Title: One Man Guy
Author: Michael Barakiva
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek's parents announce that he'll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could've predicted that he'd meet someone like Ethan. Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can't believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend, he's barely ever had a girlfriend, but maybe it's time to think again.

One Man Guy is light-hearted, humourous, and fun. The summer starts with Alek predicting boredom and disaster, but it slowly becomes anything but, an adventure into both the city and himself.

Alek seems to have reached the stage where he's trying to figure out who he is, and it pushes against the boundaries of how his traditional Armenian parents have raised him and his older brother. It's not that he hates them or his life, he wants to know what else the world has to offer a fourteen-year-old guy. All the excitement that other teenagers get to experience. Like taking the train into New York City, or shopping somewhere more interesting than the Gap.

I found the relationship between Alek and his parents to be rather interesting. They're traditional, steeped in Armenian culture, and Alek sort of straddles the line between them and 21st century America. It's a bit like the past and present coming together. But not in a hateful or spiteful way, I never got that feeling while reading. There wasn't any cruelty, any disdain. A lot of this book is about understanding, about family and love, and I thought this was a great glimpse into Alek's life, into a culture I rarely see represented in books, TV shows, and movies.

I can see this as a coming of age story, but not necessarily as a coming out story. It's all one story, it's all Alek feeling out of place at the beginning and slowly chipping away at the space he's been given so he fits into it better. It all worked together in a way I don't often see in LGBTQ YA. Alek and Ethan just felt right, it wasn't a grand production, it wasn't surrounded by hatred or fear, it was two teenagers maybe sort of falling in love the way teenagers do.

So much of this book is about family and understanding, about acceptance and love. Alek is pressured by his parents to advance at school, to be the best, but as serious as they are they're also supportive. This was a refreshing and fun read, and if it hadn't ended I would've hoped for more.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (182)

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

Title: Love is the Drug
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic imprint)

From Goodreads:

From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that's John Grisham's THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton's THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school.

Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC's elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus--something about her parents' top secret scientific work--something she shouldn't know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

I liked The Summer Prince, it was different and interesting, and I like the sound of this one. It sounds creepy and suspicious. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Me on Dark Metropolis

Title: Dark Metropolis
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules. Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own. Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Dark Metropolis is a mysterious, enchanting, and engrossing story. In a post-war world, people are rebuilding, recovering, but the city sits on top of a secret, a rather dangerous and seemingly impossible one, and discovering it could be treacherous.

I wasn't expecting this book to be told in third person, to follow more than one character through, and under, the city, but it works. Each character followed provides a different piece of the story, it wouldn't be enough if just one character was followed. Thea has her worries, her mission to find Nan and rescue her mother, her concern for other people and not necessarily for herself. Freddy has secrets, more secrets than one would think possible, a curious ability, and in some way he is connected to the biggest secret of all. Nan has her past and her present, her unknown whereabouts coming together with her returning memories. In the end, one way or another, they all come together.

There's a 1920's glamour feel to the setting. It seems to be set in a different world but everything feels a bit old-fashioned, gleaming, sparkling in the night, like the night clubs of the 1920's and 30's. There's a vague sense of optimism in the city as everyone is moving on from a war only recently over, as well as a growing dislike of magic and a growing rebellion against the few who are in charge. As intriguing as the setting, not much is explained about it. The book does seem to be focused more on plot, on the characters, on the present of the story, and not so much the past or any origins.

The author herself has said that the book has zombies, so I don't think that saying there are zombies is a spoiler. It's more about the secret behind their existence, the reason for them being in this world, in the city. They're a different sort of zombie, not a gruesome horror version but one more rooted in magic and unexplainable abilities.

As the story went on I was constantly curious as to what would happen next, what piece of the secret would be revealed next. The pacing was good, it slowed down and sped up but never to the point that I felt bored or rushed. I found the ending satisfying, I didn't feel like I'd been left hanging, annoyed at the prospect of a wait. Knowing there is a second book makes me curious, it makes me wonder what could be coming next.

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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (107)

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 there! After not getting any books this week, some books showed up in the mail. And it was really sunny this past week, apart from yesterday when it rained.

I'm thinking changing up this post, maybe add some weekly book news stories, like links to cover reveals or articles or blog posts I liked. Would anyone be interested in that?

I saw there's going to be another Beyond Words calendar featuring fantasy authors. I heard about the first one and thought it was an interesting idea but didn't back it. This time around I'm a little more interested but I'm still not sure. It'll feature different authors this time around, like Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs. Here's the link if anyone's interested. :)

Reviews for the coming week will feature Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (Tuesday) and One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva (Friday). :)
Relax, I'm a Ninja by Natalie Whipple (bought)
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (from Hachette Book Group Canada/Canadian Manda Group)
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (from Scholastic Canada)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Me on Otherbound

Title: Otherbound
Author: Corinne Duyvis
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected. She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes. Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea... until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive-and discover the truth about their connection.

Otherbound is unique, imaginative, and mysterious. It's a compelling and wonderfully written story of two teens from different worlds somehow bound together and forced to work together, or both of their worlds will be ruined. Complex, realistic characters and intriguing worlds are what make this book, they're what anchors the reader in the story, taking them along for an action-filled adventure.

Nolan would give anything for a normal life, for not seeing Amara's world every time he blinks, sleeps, closes his eyes to sneeze. He doesn't sound defeated, but she does sound weary, tired. It takes up his entire life and barely leaves room for anything else. Maybe family, maybe school, certainly not friends. It's all he knows. He's never had the chance to be a normal American teenage boy. Amara also knows one life. Being a mute servant, protecting Cilla, keeping her head down and obeying the rules of her meager station, it's all she knows. It's never been about what she wants. As a servant, she has little control, and when Nolan appears with the ability to control her body? She turns to fear and anger. Her body has always been hers, if not her life, and to suddenly discover someone else can control it, can see through her eyes, is extremely frightening. The two are different, very different. They cause each other pain in different ways. But, as painful as it is, they only way to discover the cause of their connection is to work together.

It's no secret that I love well-crafted world-building. Two worlds were created for this story, one very familiar and one not so much, but both separate in their customs and culture. Both with varying levels of magic and fear. Both Nolan and Amara have to work to navigate their worlds, Nolan even more considering he's in both. Of course, his experience in the Dunelands is complicated as he's there not in his body with his abilities and disabilities but in hers with her different abilities and disabilities. That adds another layer of complexity to this story, navigating a different world than your own in a different form.

I don't think I've read a book where both the main characters were people with disabilities, with one being unable to speak and the other having lost a foot/part of their leg. Both react so honestly and realistically to the world around them, Nolan and his stumbling around on one leg while he's feeling sick, Amara's way of speaking through signing with her hands. They were never glossed over, but also never focused on to the point of overwhelming. They're part of who they are as characters but they don't define them. They're still people, still human, and they're not written as less than human (there are times, I think, where Amara is treated as less than human, but that's because of her servant status and not her inability to talk).

There are so many different layers to this story. Nolan's view into Amara's world, Nolan's at-home life, Amara's servant role, Amara and Cilla's relationship, Amara's purpose, Cilla's purpose, Nolan's ability in Amara. And so many emotions are expressed. Moments of happiness, fear, anger, confusion, sadness, compassion, love, rage. Along with all the magic in this book are characters with real problems, real emotions. Lives are at stake, and the pressure that comes with that knowledge is overwhelming.

There's much much diversity in this book. Race, gender, body shape, ability/disability, sexuality, culture. It fills the pages. It leaves me wondering when I last read a book with so many different characters, events, places, problems, emotions. I want more books like this, more perfectly imperfect characters and their human emotions running wild as they jump from one world to another trying to survive.

(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Canadian Manda Group.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Me on Dreamwood

Title: Dreamwood
Author: Heather Mackey
Release Date: June 12, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenille (Penguin imprint)

Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. But upon arriving she learns her father is missing, and rumor has it he's gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that's ravaging the forests of Saarthe. Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and a rather stubborn boy maned Pete follow William Darrington's trail to the deadly woods on Devil's Thumb. As they encounter Lupine princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn't reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.

Dreamwood is a mysterious and magical adventure into the forest, a quite possibly dangerous journey for a young girl searching for her missing father and her newfound friend.

I rather like Lucy as a main character. She's head-strong, determined, intelligent, and she doesn't believe in giving up or turning back. She trusts her father. She has faith in what he believes, in what they both believe about ghosts and spirits. When she hears that he's gone missing she does worry about him, like most children would worry about their remaining parent, and she decides to find him. Even though there is the possibility that she won't find him, or that he's died during this search of his, she continues on. Lucy must see this journey through the forest to the Devil's Thumb to the end. She has her worries, her fears, but she continues on.

The forests of Saarthe are rather haunting and magical. Lucy and Pete know to watch themselves as they search for Lucy's father and the long-lost dreamwood. They know the stories, they know ghosts could be lurking in the shadows. The setting is rather crisp and clear, the images of the faces in the trees and the sticks and mud under their boots are well-described by Mackey's prose. With all the nature, all the stories and ghosts and possible magic, I wondered if this book is meant to be a commentary on the relationship between nature and industry, how the landscape changes as technology comes in. Loggers, electricity. They're at odds with the Lupine and their roots.

In some ways I think this book is a growing period for Lucy. She has strength and character at the start, but over the course of the book she gains more. She faces down a forest that tries to get rid of her. She slowly gains a friend, one who sees beyond the ghost and spirit talk she's so interested in. She refuses to give up on her father. I would certainly recommend this to those looking for a new standalone middle grade book with historical and fantasy elements grounded by a very intelligent heroine.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (181)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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 MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

I kind of want to read this now. Who doesn't love reading winter holiday stories in the summer? (The other day I was trying to think up books for someone looking to make a summer reading list and my first thought was of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, which is set at Christmas in New York.)

When I was on Goodreads doing the little prep I do for WoW posts, I was looking through the huge gif explosions that make up pre-release non-review reviews these days and saw someone post this picture. O_O I know the little couples represent the couples in each of the stories so I really hope this picture means what I think it means.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Me on (Don't You) Forget About Me

Title: (Don't You) Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies. Except there's a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they'd kill them. Four years ago, Skylar's sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar, whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville's murderous cycle once and for all.

(Don't You) Forget About Me is bizarre and complicated, a trip to a town hidden away, a town where anything can happen. A town where you're extra cautious every four years because you don't want to be the one who goes off. Intriguing but strange, more depressing than entertaining.

Skylar is lost, still floundering after her older sister was taken away four years before. All she has are her memories of Piper, of their time together, and all she wants is to get her back. But nothing is as it seems in Gardnerville. Even Skylar, with her taste for secrets and her drug habit. All she has are her memories, and all she wants to do is forget.

A lot of this book has to do with memories, with what has happened in the past coming back to impact the present, and with burying those memories in order to continue living. Even if it means living a lie. Sometimes it's easier to forget, sometimes it's not as painful, but it never lasts. The memories must always be faced, must always be confronted.

I knew going in that this was going to be strange book, that things would be weird, but it quickly turned into the kind of weird that I'm not necessarily a fan of. It reminds me of a number of books. It reminds me of Bleeding Violet without the humour or unique personality of Hanna. It reminds me of Teeth and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer in that I was never sure of the absolute truth, even when the story ended. The vagueness keeps this book mysterious and haunting, but still weird, and I don't think it's the kind of weird I like.

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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (106)

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, I'm afraid. Maybe next week.

It's been really nice and summery here lately. We're probably going to have a long and warm summer this year, which is good in some ways but not so good for rivers and reservoirs and flowers and small plants. And people, what with sunburns and heat stroke.

Reviews for the coming week will feature (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn (Monday), Dreamwood by Heather Mackey (Wednesday), and Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis (Friday). :)

Since I have no new books to share with you, here's a list of what I'll be reading next. :)

Royally Lost by Angie Stanton
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore
Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica
Rise and Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer (I got these for my birthday almost 6 months ago and still haven't read them. *hangs head in book nerd shame*)
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Idols by Margaret Stohl

Friday, June 6, 2014

Me on The Strange Maid

Title: The Strange Maid
Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that's exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time, and she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to claim Signy's destiny.

The Strange Maid is an epic journey if there ever was one, a journey through destiny and fate, through riddles and dreams. The journey of one girl racing toward a battle that could change everything.

Signy searches for an answer to a riddle she can't solve on her own, a riddle that speak of her destiny. There is no part of her that doesn't not want to be a Valkyrie, but like a Valkyrie of old. A warrior, one of power and strength, of doing battle against enemies. But that's not what a Valkyrie does anymore, not so much, and it seems to bother her. There is a core of strength and fire that runs through Signy, and it felt more and more that not being like a Valkyrie of old, a death maiden, a strange maid, would be wrong.

I find Ned to be rather interesting. Like Signy, I'm curious about him. Where he comes from, what his secrets are. Why he seems to speak the truth but in riddles. It's also interesting thinking about what's said as truth, what Signy believes to be true, and what Signy knows is true. How trust works, how we decide who to trust for different reasons.

I love the world-building, the alternate Norse mythology-centric world, the gods and goddesses, the epic tales of heroes and monsters. This felt different than the previous book. Deeper into the mythology, darker. The thrill of battle and revenge, the purpose behind a sacrifice, the mournful wails and knife-sharp pain of death. The allusions to Beowulf and the epic feel of Signy's journey.

Gratton's writing is filled with story and description, nothing unnecessary given and nothing important left behind. I would recommend reading The Lost Sun before this, though, the two are connected in some ways. Even though the book takes place over the course of some months, it felt like no time had passed from beginning to end. When I reached the last page, I wished it wouldn't end, that the journey would continue. That I could read more about Signy Valborn, the strange maid.

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (180)

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

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

This sounds so good and so weird and kind of creepy and I just want it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Me on While We Run

Title: While We Run
Author: Karen Healey
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Abdi Taalib thought he was moving to Australia for a music scholarship. But after meeting the beautiful and brazen Tegan Oglietti, his world was turned upside down. Tegan's no ordinary girl. She died in 2027, only to be frozen and brought back to life in Abdi's time, 100 years later. Now, all they want is for things to return to normal (or as normal as they can be), but the government has other ideas. Especially since the two just spilled the secrets behind Australia's cryonics project to the world. On the run, Abdi and Tegan have no idea who they can trust, and when they uncover startling new details about Project Ark, they realise thousands of lives may be in their hands.

While We Run is a return to a shocking future filled with fear, hatred, despair, and secrets. The first book shocked and scared me, and this one did the same, making me wary of what may come to pass, even though hope remains, tucked away to be wished for but never voiced.

Here, the reader is led not by Tegan but by Abdi, a foreign student and singer in migrant-fearing Australia. His is a quieter voice, a thoughtful voice. In the beginning he is separated from Tegan, putting on a show for the public. The perfect puppets of a government that's crushed their hopes and ruined their exposure of the truth. At times I missed being in Tegan's head, her attitude and her 21st century way of thinking. Abdi has his moments, his strengths, his own pain and suffering, but there was a time or two when it felt like both he and Tegan were pulled along with everyone else, running, reacting instead of acting.

Like the first, there is a fair amount of fear and hatred in this book. There are still groups calling for answers, for an end to the migrants and refugees trying to enter Australia, for Tegan's death because it's not right for her to be alive. But it felt different than the first. Perhaps it's because of the point of view change, perhaps because some time has passed from the end of the first book. Perhaps it's because this is the aftermath. Now some truths are out, revealed in defiance of a controlling government, and Tegan and Abdi are suffering because of the consequences.

Both this and its predecessor are the only books to have frightened me so much. I am genuinely afraid of a future like this, where people are treated like nothing, where governments move further and further to the right, becoming more conservative, more isolationist. When visitors from other countries are feared, hated. If this is what the future could bring, I hope I'm not around to see it.

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