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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Me on Oh Yeah, Audrey!

Title: Oh Yeah, Audrey!
Author: Tucker Shaw
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams imprint)

It's 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she's always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.

Oh Yeah, Audrey! is the story of one girl's day in New York City, her attempt to recreate events from the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany's, and what actually ends up happening.

I'm not so sure that this was the book for me. I thought it would be fun, sweet, and entertaining. At times it was, but other times some things felt too convenient, like some of the people she met. The book takes place over a 24-hour period and doesn't leave much time for character development. I guess I wanted Gemma to be constantly figuring something out, figuring herself out, instead of a slap to the face and a rude awakening.

I'm sure there are some who will enjoy reading this, Audrey Hepburn fans and New York City fans, fans of books where a girl goes on a journey to the big city to find herself. A girl who's making her own decisions. Instead of that, I saw a girl running away, a girl who followed around someone because of what she was given, a girl who was a bit too blinded by the bright city lights and the chance to pretend to be Holly Golightly. Instead of a girl taking charge and having fun, I saw a girl playing dress-up and get strung along by a pretty boy. It had its moments, but again, maybe not the book for me.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blog Tour - Megan Crewe

And welcome to the blog tour for Megan Crewe's Earth & Sky! *looks at the date* Pffft. So we're a bit early. Who cares when it comes to books? ;)

Here's the (long, apologies to Megan) question I posed to Megan: "As I read Earth & Sky, I was intrigued by the visitors/aliens. Their watching over us, their manipulation of the planet. Their control over us. It's frightening, knowing we're not in control, but it's also nothing new when you look back at Earth's history in terms of colonialism and invasions. Here, it's certainly a lot more subtle because people don't know it's happening (unlike Skylar, in certain ways). Where did this aspect of the book come from, the idea to have the visitors/aliens not be the 'we come in peace' kind? Is there a specific reason? Was it inspired by something specific, like from history?"

I find that the developing of a book is something like a chain reaction for me: Two or three elements connect in my head in a way that sparks a series of questions, one leading into the next until I have an entire story. With EARTH & SKY, the elements that created that spark were 1) a character who can sense that the world has been altered in some disturbing way but doesn't understand how or why (or whether it's really happening or just in her head), and 2) wanting to write something more intensely science fiction-y than the Fallen World trilogy.

When I started playing around with that first element, trying to figure out what would be causing the alterations my character would be noticing, I was considering going for a more magical angle. But nothing I came up with felt quite right. It occurred to me that time travel could explain them, but I didn't want to introduce some Earth-based secret time travel society, which I'd seen done a lot already and didn't really excite me. I also wasn't sure I believed that people on Earth would continue doing something that was starting to harm their own planet, since that would affect them just as much as everyone else. So who could be doing the time traveling (and manipulating)? Well, I saw someone mention the idea of humans in an alien zoo in an online discussion, and that triggered the thought that aliens could be observing and experimenting with people right here on Earth, which handily coincided with a desire I'd had for a while (see #2) to explore science fiction on a broader scope, with space ships and interplanetary travel and all that. Aliens who had no stake in our planet wouldn't care if their time traveling started having negative consequences for us. Voila--solution found!

Having the aliens not care what happened to the Earthlings whose lives they changed, just interested in the results of their experiments from a scientific perspective, also made them a much more frightening enemy and made solving the problem both more difficult and more urgent for Skylar and the alien rebels. And as I worked out their motivations (that chain reaction of questions continuing: Why would they be experimenting on Earth? What were they hoping to gain? Why haven't they stopped yet? and so on), it became clear that they would only have continued to manipulate events on Earth if they saw Earthlings as significantly lesser beings than themselves, the way we view lab animals--or, as you suggest, in past times and still sometimes today one group of people has viewed another group of people as not being not fully human. Win even points that out to Skylar: "Earthlings do it all the time, to each other. How many of your wars have been fought because one group of you decided you had the right to conquer another group, to enslave them or slaughter them?" The way my aliens think about and treat Earthlings, both in this book and as Skylar gets more extensive experience with them in the rest of the trilogy, was very much informed by the all too common invasions, genocides, and slave industries throughout our history.

Thanks so much to Megan for answering my long-winded question (why are they so long when I think them up?). Go check out Earth & Sky when it comes out on October 28th (and go check out my review)! :)

Me on Earth & Sky

Title: Earth & Sky
Author: Megan Crewe
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill Canada (Penguin Canada imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has always been haunted by fleeting yet powerful feelings that something around her has gone wrong. Those impressions have never seemed to reflect anything real, and have only earned her stares and whispers behind her back. But after she meets a mysterious boy named Win, she learns an unsettling truth: we are not alone on Earth. In fact, visitors from beyond the stars are manipulating our planet and the essential fabric of our world; life as we know it is starting to unravel. And Skylar, and her heightened awareness, just may be the key to our salvation.

Earth & Sky is an exciting adventure with twists, turns, and a number of surprises. What if someone else, someone in outer space, was constantly watching us, had been watching us for decades? Centuries? What if they'd done more than just watch?

Skylar is a perceptive girl, but that perception has lead to a fair amount of anxiety and coping mechanisms. She relies heavily on math and numbers in order to stay calm. Numbers can't be changed. There's always a solution. And so, Skylar can trust numbers. But trust Win? Not so much, considering he just appears out of nowhere. Considering he makes what she thought she knew about the world completely wrong. But that doesn't stop her from helping him.

I liked the world-building when it came to the science fiction aspect, the aliens and their purpose. What the author's had to do is craft a whole other world. A new species with new technology. A species with a curious set of motives, all in the name of science. As well as figure out who they are, what motivates them also had to be figured out, their reasoning behind their actions. Sometimes that's hard enough to figure out with human characters, let alone aliens from outer space.

A fair amount of this book has to do with control. There's the control that Skylar exerts over her world, her faith in numbers to keep everything ordered. But there's another kind out there. What if we weren't alone? What if something, someone, was in control instead of us? What if they controlled our destiny, changing events as they saw fit? What if we didn't even know it was happening?

It's an intriguing proposal, the idea that we are not alone in the universe, the idea that we're not necessarily in control but we're trying to fix it. It raises a lot of questions, especially for Skylar. What if she could change certain events in her past? Would those be for the best? But then what would happen to Win and his mission? This is definitely an interesting book with a solid ending still left open for the rest of the trilogy.

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

Me on This Week's Book Week (125)

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, all. And so comes the rain, and with the rain, the dreariness. Until April.

A dreary week plus a migraine right now (Friday) means there isn't much to talk about this week. On Saturday I'll hopefully be heading out to see Tahereh Mafi and Veronica Roth at Chapters (there's a strict wristband policy in effect, only 200 people and you have to buy a copy of one of their books, I already have all the Shatter Me books and I never got into Divergent so I'll be going to watch and take pictures and do some family birthday present shopping). Then next Wednesday is the talk/event with Marie Lu and Robert Paul Weston. :)

In Canada and excited for Blue Lily, Lily Blue? Did you know the release date up here is actually November 1st? Yeah. I asked Scholastic Canada to clarify and they said November, but it's possible that it'll be showing up in stores earlier than that. Fingers crossed!

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw (Tuesday) and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Friday). :)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (bought)
Blues for Zoey by Robert Paul Weston (bought)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (ARC from Raincoast Books)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blog Tour - Catherine Egan (plus giveaway)

Hi all! Today's post is a bit different today in that it's a guest post for the blog tour for Bone, Fog, Ash & Star, the final book of Catherine Egan's The Last Days of Tian Di trilogy. :) Plus a giveaway! (Details are below.)
Catherine Egan grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and wrote her first novel at age 6. It was about a group of kids on a farm who ran races. Each chapter ended with "Cathy won the race again!" Since then, she has lived in Oxford, Tokyo, Kyoto, a volcanic Japanese island that erupted and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband, Beijing, an oil rig in China's Bohai Bay, and now Connecticut, where she is still writing books (but Cathy doesn't win every race anymore). Her first novel, Shade & Sorceress, won a 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Award (Gold) and was named an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for 2012 in the Young Adult Fiction category. This was followed by The Unmaking and Bone, Fog, Ash & Star. You can find more on her website, at her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@bycatherineegan). :)

And so, without futher ado, here's Catherine!

This is the last in a series of blog posts on villains; you can check my blog for the full list of villain-posts. Let me know in the comments: who are your favorite fictional villains? Choose villains from books / movies / comic books / TV – just not real life! A winner will be selected by random number generator (I'll post a screenshot) and I will send you a book bundle – all three books in The Last Days of Tian Di series – chock-a-block with villains and their villainy.

An Exchange of Gifts

We don't always recognize the villain at first. He comes sauntering into the hero's world, and she isn't even a hero yet – not without a villain, not without a city to save. She's just a gifted girl who has lost everything but hangs on anyway, in determined stray-cat style. He comes whistling and peddling trinkets, "witch-white," as they call him: "His hair was white-gray like bleached wood, his eyes white-silver like tin, his skin was white as if he were a day dead." It's impossible to know, at first, if he's going to be her salvation or her undoing, as he strolls into the story with a tambourine, more vivid and stranger than anyone we've met thus far.

I've been posting all week about different types of villains. For a villain bent on doing evil, the question is often one of redemption – a glimmer of good is enough for us to allow it. Sometimes the villain feels (or pretends to feel) a deep kinship and connection with the hero and tries to win them over to his or her side, luring them towards darkness. Sometimes he wants to rule the world, become more powerful, or secure the power he has – that's common enough. He may believe his wrongdoing to be righteous, playing the hero in his own twisted version of the story. But this villain is different. This villain didn't start out evil and what he wants is not power or prestige. Evil is probably not the right word for him, even now – or maybe it is. Before, he was a loving brother and uncle, teaching his niece how to swim and do handsprings. Now, he leaves the countryside a ruin in his wake, dragging his monstrous vengeance towards the city that took his sister from him.

Vengeance is not exactly noble or heroic, but still, revenge stories are gripping and most of the time we can get behind the vengeful hero. Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride is hilarious but really quite moving as well, the comic and oft repeated line becoming oddly powerful when at last he says it to the man he’s been saving it for: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." I remember devouring The Count of Monte Cristo as a teen, chilled and thrilled by the story of a wronged man returning years later and decimating his enemies one by one. We cheer him on, even if some part of us is appalled, even if he's not the sort of fictional hero we'd want to invite over for coffee. The vengeful hero tips into truly villainous territory only when his or her revenge grows so vast and uncontrolled that it swallows the innocent as well.

That is Linay from Erin Bow's beautiful, wrenching, riveting novel Plain Kate. I could spout praise for this book to the end of time but I'm just talking about villains here, I'm just talking about Linay, mad with grief, working with blood and shadow to bring down a city and bring back his sister.

Anyone who has lost someone – indeed anyone who has loved someone – can empathize with Linay's designs, the depths he descends to, the horrors he is willing to unleash. If you had power to undo it, to bring them back, what would you balk at? What is the world worth to you, without your beloved in it? Why should others live and not the one you loved? Linay lures the terrible half-ghost of his sister down the river, pulling after them a deathly fog that leaves the countryside devastated. Kate is terrified of him – and he is frightening, mad and determined and powerful, with her shadow in a box and strange magic in his hands – but she feels for him too. She has to remind herself: "He does not love me. I do not trust him." But haven’t they both lost the one they loved best? Weren't they both turned out by their own people? Doesn't she understand it, more than she’d like to – his bottomless grief? Why save Lov? she has to ask herself. Why risk her life for the people who put a good woman to death, and the people who watched a woman die and did not care and did not stop it?

It doesn't feel quite right to call Linay a villain, when the true villain of the story, if there is one, is life as we know it: death, grief, cruelty, fear, ostracism, sickness, superstition. Still, anyone bringing death upon a city of thousands counts as a villain, and the beauty of Linay is that he is and does all the very worst a villain can be and do while remaining painfully human and sympathetic. When Kate tells him she is going to stop him, he replies, "I wish you could. I almost wish you could."

In Lov, Linay tells Kate to flee. The cat Taggle wants her to flee. When she sees the stake in the square where witches are burned, for a moment she almost wants to let Linay have his revenge. "That quick death was better than this city deserved." Kate is the hero because she grieves for her father but does not allow herself to be destroyed by that grief. She is the hero because in the grim city of Lov, she remembers how in other cruel places she has been saved by kind people. She is the hero because she can't bring herself to walk away and leave the city to its fate, because she is brave and loving even when there is so little hope for her and so little to love. She finds love anyway, and hope too. Kate embodies the best and withstands the worst, while Linay buckles under the worst and becomes a monster.

This is nothing to do with villains really, but I will say that this book made me cry, possibly more than any book has made me cry, and I am not a big crier over books. That makes it sound like a very sad book, but in spite of the grief and horror in the story, I don't think of it as a sad book. It is a beautiful book, and funny as well (OK, mostly Taggle). Linay in particular stands out for me as one of the most frightening and moving fictional villains I've read, and so any thoughts I have on villains end with him.

Thanks so much for the post, Catherine. Go check out The Last Days of Tian Di trilogy now! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Me on Beware the Wild

Title: Beware the Wild
Author: Natalie C. Parker
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed. Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance... and lonely boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

Beware the Wild is a haunting, atmospheric tale, one about memory, about family, about change, and about the lengths we will go to to save our siblings.

Sterling is afraid of a number of things, but she's determined to save her brother from the swamp. She won't let anyone stop her from finding him, from rescuing him, from finding out who Lenora May is and what she's suddenly doing in her house. Phin is so much of her life, she won't dare let him die. Even if he's going off to college soon. Even if she doesn't want him to leave. Nothing will stop her from saving him.

As strong as Sterling is in some ways, she's weak in others. Her fight with Phin changed things. The idea of him leaving frightens her. Why does he have to go? Why can't he stay at home? Why can't things stay the same? Change is one of those complicated things we want and don't want at the same time. We want to move on, we want to experience new things, we want to meet new people, but we're already comfortable with the way things are. If it's not broken, don't fix it, right?

Secrets and memories, remembered and forgotten, circle this story. How are we supposed to know which we're supposed to remember? What if we forget them? How are we supposed to remember them again? What if the biggest forgotten secret is something fenced off, hidden from everyone's eyes? What if it's right there for everyone to see?

I found this mysterious and hypnotic, the Southern summer heat from the swamp winding its way through the town. Small towns have secrets, things everyone knows not to talk about without remembering why. But Sterling isn't like that. She moves the story along, she asks questions and goes searching. Without her, it wouldn't be long until everything was forgotten. Recommended for those who like haunting mysteries, secrets hidden away in swamps, and fans of The Replacement and Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (197)

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

Title: Please Remain Calm
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

In this gripping sequel to THIS IS NOT A TEST, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough. 

Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find the girl he lost, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways...

I don't usually add e-novellas to WoW posts, but I had to add this one. This is Not a Test was one of the best books I read in 2012, so much so that I still think about it from time to time. It's my favourite Courtney Summers book, possibly because of the zombies. But the way it ended was just so... *flops onto YA angst fainting couch* I need more, and thank you, Courtney, for giving us more. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Me on Mortal Gods

Title: Mortal Gods
Author: Kendare Blake
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace. Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite. The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed. The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await.

Mortal Gods is a book of anger, a book of rage, a book of pain. Nothing is easier for anyone. If anything, it all hurts even more this time around. It hurts because they know what's happened, and they know what's going to happen. And preparing for death tends to leave behind a bitter taste.

Athena's determination and Cassandra's anger, both of them fuel this book. They push over and over, harder and harder. But their vision is blocked by blinders, leaving one only seeing the goal in front of her and the other unable to see anything past her fiery rage. But Athena is getting tired, weary, with more than feathers poking at her flesh. And behind the fire in Cassandra's eyes lies sadness and despair.

So much of this book is preparing. Preparing for war, for battle. Preparing for the end. The end is coming, there's no denying that. But for everyone, what is the end? For the gods, for Athena and Hermes, for Hera and Aphrodite, that end is surely death. Isn't it? They're all crumbling, falling apart. For Cassandra, what is the end? An end to her anger? Will she only be satisfied with Aphrodite and Hera dying at her hands? And then what? Will everything just become normal again? Revenge is never the answer. But what else does she have to give?

But at the end of all of this, how can there be a winner? This is a war between gods, a war of immense power, a war between the diseased and the crippled. How can there honestly be a winner when all of them are dying? I'm genuinely curious as to how this will all end in the next book. I know Kendare Blake books, there won't be a happy ending. All I can do now is sit back and wait for the epic battle.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from Macmillan through Raincoast Books.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (124)

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! The leaves outside my window are turning yellow and orange and red, and it's possible that I mowed the lawn fro the last time this year this week. *phew* What kind of mood is everyone in right now? It's Thanksgiving up here this weekend (holiday on Monday), but Hallowe'en is on its way. And grocery stores are starting to stock up on egg nog.

So many October 14 releases. *falls over dead from backed-up review schedule* And then BLLB comes out on the 21st. Exciting!

Next Saturday there's a book signing with Veronica Roth and Tahereh Mafi. I'll be going, but it's looking like it's ticketed with some really specific conditions. I'm thinking I'll just go to watch and take pictures. Then the next Wednesday is a Vancouver Writers Fest event with Marie Lu (The Young Elites) and Robert Paul Weston (Blues for Zoey). More exciting!

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (Tuesday) and Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Thursday) with a special blog tour post on Friday. :)
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang (finished copy from Raincoast Books)
Batgirl #35 (bought from my local comic book store) (I'm giving this a test read. The downside is I haven't read the last 34 issues.)
This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (free Starbound e-book)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Me on Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

Title: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
Author: A.S. King
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way... until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person's infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions--and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying: A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women's rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she'll do anything to make sure this one doesn't come to pass.

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is a dark, intelligent, layered coming of age. Through Glory's eyes we see glimpses of a near and dangerous future and how those glimpses change how she sees the world, how she sees the people around her. This is a definite must-read because of current discussions regarding feminism, equality, and women's rights.

Fresh out of high school, the world is there for Glory to take, to seize. The possibilities are endless. But how can they be when she knows what's coming? Can she still live her life, a happy one? A normal one? Or is the future to bleak?

I find it hard to review this like any other book I would review here. I could talk about Glory, her lonely life, her disconnect from a number of 'normal teenager things,' but all I can think about is the future Glory sees. That future frightens me, like Karen Healey's When We Wake, like Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, because it's so believable. This future could very well happen.

But it's not all dark and dismal. There is hope, as there always is, hope that those oppressed won't have to live in exile any longer, that they won't live in fear, that they will one night get more than a couple hours of sleep because they could be kidnapped or killed. It's just a bit hard to see.

I found this to be an extremely culturally-relevant book for the current climate, a book that should be read by all ages and all genders.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Me on The Spiritglass Charade

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

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.

The Spiritglass Charade is a return to an intriguing late 19th century London, a city technologically advanced in some ways and stunted in others. It's a return to a city filled with secrets, with dark corners and even darker figures. It's a return to the most intelligent Mina Holmes and the most intrepid Evaline Stoker, a return to their ongoing adventures and discoveries.

What's refreshing is that Mina and Evaline haven't changed a single bit. They're still the same young women from the previous book. One is all-knowing, all-presuming, all-problem solving, and the other is strong and fierce, ready to take up arms and fight back against evil. A mismatched couple, to be sure, but they're slowly coming to understand each other. Both their strengths and their weaknesses are highlighted throughout this mystery involving ghosts, spiritualists, and vampires.

I am wholly intrigued by the setting and the world-building. The mixture of the late Victorian era time period, the inclusion of steam and clockwork-based technology, the lack of electricity, the hints of time travel, the vampires. But the combination of Holmes, a fictional character, and Stoker, a real life writer/author make it hard to suspend my disbelief. There's a tiny scrap of it remaining, and it's because of this. This story is interesting, the characters are complicated, but this one small part still bothers me, and it probably will throughout the series.

But I'm still curious, still interested, still entranced by the mysteries that weave themselves around Mina and Evaline. More questions are asked this time around with only a few answered, and I'm still left wondering about the origins and motives of almost every other character. Mainly Pix. Who is he? If you enjoyed the previous book, if you're interested in steampunk mysteries with clever and flawed leading ladies, you'l probably enjoy this.

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

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (196)

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

Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

From Goodreads:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

It's less that I'm looking forward to reading this and more that it intrigues me. It definitely looks like an attempt to humanize Levana, a way of giving her actions meaning. Every villain is the hero of their own story, it's the only way to write them as believable characters. And so, in terms of Levana's story, her rise as Queen and plots and plans to take over, from her point of view those are all heroic and justified, not evil as we see from Cinder's eyes. I'm curious to see how Marissa Meyer will pull it off, if there will be readers that end up tugged over to Levana's side before Winter comes out next fall/winter.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Me on In Real Life

Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow
Author/Illustrator: Jen Wang
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: First Second (Macmillan imprint)

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

In Real Life is an exploration of many things. Gaming, economics, friendship, wealth, poverty, labour, heroes and villains. There are two worlds, both in real life and in gaming: what's on the surface, the sparkle and excitement that's constantly promoted, and what's underneath, the downtrodden. When Anda glimpses that underneath side, she learns the hard way that nothing is easy, that right and wrong aren't simple terms anymore, and that fighting back isn't always the answer.

Anda is a sweet girl. She's nice, and she's a bit lonely, she doesn't seem to have many friends beyond those who play D&D. When she's introduced to Coarsegold she's found her place to be, a place where she can expressive and happy, where she can meet new people who like the same things she does. All she sees is the camaraderie, the working together.

It's not that big a part in the book, but there's a moment near the beginning that I found interesting. When Coarsegold is first introduced, the girls in Anda's class are asked if they game, and then if they game as female characters. Out of the three shown, none of the girls keep their hands raised. After reading Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff earlier this year, a book about a teenage guy who games as a female character in a game similar to Coarsegold, I found this moment curious. Girls are playing as guys and guys are playing as girls. It's an interesting look at how we want to appear to others online, and at gender.

Anda certainly gets a crash course in economics, labour, and poverty here, learning that gamers will pay other gamers in real life currency to obtain special items and in game currency for them. That that's how some people, like the teenager in China she meets through the game, make money to live. That they have to farm gold for others because their current job pays so little and provides no benefits. Her way of living now seems luxuriant: living in a house with her parents, a computer, good food, a car, good health benefits through her father's job thanks to a recent strike and resolution. Not everyone has the freedom to strike against their employers as they do in countries like the US, Canada, and England (to name a few, I'm sure there are many more). This is eye-opening to Anda, and she knows she can't leave it like this.

While exciting and entertaining, bright and colourful, this book also hits on some harsh truths and consequences, some we forget when wrapped up in the bright lights of games. Anda's story is one of learning, of consequences, of economics, of wealth and poverty, of human rights, and of friendship.

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (123)

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's definitely feeling more and more like fall these days.

Ever read a review book and wonder how in the world you're going to phrase a coherent review of it? I have that problem now. It's already happened to me twice this year, with Isla and The Island of Excess Love. Usually I talk about character, about world-building, about something I found interesting (or didn't, in the case of negative reviews), but with this book... hmmm. Be prepared for a non-standard review soon.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang (Monday), The Spiritglass Charade by Colleen Gleason (Wednesday), and Glory O'Brien's History of the Future (Friday). :)
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (ARC from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Bought)
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.C. Carey (Borrowed from Nafiza)
Gotham Academy #1 by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, & Karl Kerschl (Bought) (I know, I don't talk about comics here, but this is going to be good. Gotham City, teenagers, creepy private school, weird goings-on. The only problem is I'm desperate to know what happens next.)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Me on The Young Elites

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin imprint)

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina's black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family's good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever's survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites. Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it's Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they've never seen. Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn't belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

The Young Elites is darkly magical, mysterious, and extremely dangerous. This is a book all about heroes and villains, about what pushes them, destroys them, what turns them into heroes and villains, and the actions they take in order to reach their goals.

Adelina. Teren. Enzo. Each of the Young Elites have a past, a dark past, filled with dark secrets and fueled by dark and dangerous motives. All have been hurt, shunned, beaten down. Those pasts have formed them into the people we meet here. The one-eyed girl hated by her father. The young Inquisitor hunting down those with dangerous abilities. The leader of the rebellion who tries to save lives while fighting back. The three of them coming together, meeting, is what sets off what is sure to be an even more deadly and dangerous trilogy.

I found the title to be an intriguing contradiction. In no way are those who were affected by the blood fever 'the young elites.' If they were, people would revere them, worship them, lavish them with praise and gold and jewels. Instead, they are feared, reviled, hated. Murdered. It's very much a name that they've come up with for themselves. They have impossible abilities. Dangerous abilities. They are the elite. They should be in control.

In some ways, Adelina's story is all about fear. What does fear to do us? What does fear create in us? What does fear turn us into? What if we embrace our fear, let it fuel us? Do we stay the same, or do we become different people? In the end, what does Adelina become? Will the darkness take hold of her and refuse to let go?

I found this story to be compelling and deadly. Adelina's part certainly feels like the main story, there are more chapters told from her point of view, but the other chapters do give the impression that there's more going on that just her journey. There's more than one story, more than one plot to change the world as they know it, and more than a few unspoken secrets circling. After I read this I read that Marie wanted to focus on what makes a villain and what makes a hero with this book/trilogy, what makes someone fall to the dark side. How intriguing. After reading the book and knowing that, I'm greatly anticipating the next two books, curious as to how far into heroism and villainy certain characters will fall.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (195)

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

Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press

From Goodreads:

A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay -- in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

I haven't read many Ally Carter books, I keep meaning to get back to the Heist Society ones. This sounds rather interesting. I like the embassy part, how it's all secretive and full of international intrigue. I did see Ally mention on Twitter the other day that the book possibly has a fantasy element, which just made me even more curious. :)