Saturday, November 29, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (131)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

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

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

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

Friday, November 28, 2014

Me on Blue Lily, Lily Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (203)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Me on The Shadow's Curse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (130)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

Me on Stitching Snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (202)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Me on Drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (129)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Me on The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (201)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

Me on Waistcoats & Weaponry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (128)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

Another sort of slow week! I blame NaNoWriMo.

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

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

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Me on The Walled City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (200)

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

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

From Goodreads:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Me on Killer Instinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Me on This Week's Book Week (127)

This Week's Book Week is rather similar to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only with far more rambling and a less witty title. ;)

No books this week, which is why this is so short.

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

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