Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Me on Powerless

Title: Powerless
Authors: Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Sourcebooks imprint)

Kenna is tired of being "normal." The only thing special about her is that she isn't special at all. Which is frustrating  when you're constantly surrounded by superheroes. Her best friend, her ex-boyfriend, practically everyone she knows has some talent or power. Sure, Kenna's smart and independent, but as an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world, it's hard not to feel inferior. So when three villains break into the lab where she interns, Kenna refuses to be a victim. She's not about to let criminals steal the research that will make her extraordinary, too. But in the heat of the battle, secrets are spilled and one of the villains saves her life. Twice. Suddenly, everything Kenna thought she knew about good and evil, hereoes and villains, is upended. And to protect her life and those she loves, she must team up with her sworn enemies on a mission that will redefine what it means to be powerful and powerless.

Powerless is quirky, snarky, punchy, and all kinds of intense. It's all teen angst and arguing, all plots and plans and superpowers. All truths and secrets, all good vs evil and the shades of grey we never see until we open our eyes.

Kenna is smart and passionate, she's ready and willing to do the right thing. To help people. To support the superheroes who do battle against the villains. Even if she doesn't have any powers, she can still help. But she learns quickly that the world isn't that black and white, isn't actually that simple in terms of hero=good and villain=evil. It's a smack in the face for her, a massive wake-up call, and it changes everything she thought she knew.

As smart as Kenna is, as thoughtful and compassionate, she's upset that some people around her discount her because of her lack of powers. That leads her to feeling inadequate about her own abilities. She needs a confidence boost, a self-esteem boost. It's not always about extraordinary powers.

As it often happens with books featuring heroes and villains, a lot of this book, of Kenna's thoughts, focus on good and evil. How do we define who is good and who is evil? Is it a mark on their skin, the ability they have? The look in their eye? Who decides? Who defines certain actions as done in the name of good while similar actions are said to have been done in the name of evil? With all the differences between the two, the more it comes to light how similar they are and how twisted the definitions have become.

This book is exciting and fast-paced. Kenna and her friends, old and new, are constantly moving, constantly plotting and planning. There are times when it feels repetitive, times where it seems like Kenna is worrying too much about being around villains, worrying too much about how the heroes are always the good guys. There's a lot revealed in the last half of the book, and considering how it ends, I'm hoping the next book will be just as explosive.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (160)

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. ;)

So hot. *melting* It going to be really hot here this weekend, so I might be hiding out somewhere cool in order to get some reading done. Maybe. I might just end up melting into a puddle.

Reviews going up this week will feature Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs (Tuesday) and The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (Friday). :)
The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent (Borrowed from the library)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett (ARC from Raincoast Books)
How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have a Clue by Jess Keating (ARC from Raincoast Books)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Me on Gotham Academy Volume 1

Title: Gotham Academy Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Writers & Artists: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, & Karl Kerschl
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: DC Comics

Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits... Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude... and an unexplained fear of bats. Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Mags is kid sister of Kyle, Olive's sort of ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus, the secret society conducting bizarre rituals, and Bruce Wayne, the weirdo billionaire who funds the Academy-and may know the secret to Olive's big mystery. Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?

Gotham Academy Volume 1, filled with mystery and drama, is a fresh and new story in an already well-established comic universe.

There's a little bit of an ensemble cast going on, the same reoccurring characters popping up, but if there had to be a main character it would be Olive Silverlock. It's her second year at Gotham Academy but things aren't going so well. Olive is filled with questions because she's not quite sure what happened to her over the summer. Why did she end up spending the summer alone? Why is she so angry now? Thankfully, she's joined almost at the hip to Mia "Maps" Mizoguchi, the most excitable, nerdy freshman who also happens to be her sort-of boyfriend Kyle's sister. Their friendship is everything. It's all about their interactions, how they don't always agree and make compromises when it comes to investigating the secrets of Gotham Academy.

The artwork is awesome. The academy comes across as atmospheric, all the details of the stone towers and the interior wood paneling. And the different facial expressions. Olive's determined face, Maps' big grin, Pomeline's sneer, Kyle's confusion. There seems to be a faint dark wash over everything, giving the comic a dark tone, but it works. This is the start of something new, this is when the start of more than a few mysteries are discovered, when all the sneaking about under cover of night starts. It'll take time before everything is brought into the light. Plus there's Maps being all big smiles and excitement, ready to brighten up the day with her lime green backpack.

When it comes to diversity it seems to be there. An even balance of female and male named characters with more emphasis on Olive and Maps. The characters are racially diverse. There are a couple of mentions made to Olive not having much money, her being on scholarship and not having a cellphone, but it still feels like a rich kids' school. And I really hope that there will be some LGBTQIA characters appearing in the future.

Now, don't worry, you don't need to be well-versed in the DC/Batman universe before picking this up. It's a good intro to the universe but it stands alone. There are the standard references to certain characters and places, like a mysterious asylum, but feel free to just jump in. It's meant for all ages, there's nothing too graphic when it comes to violence or language, but remember that the characters are all teenagers. At its heart, it seems to be a fun and mystery-heavy boarding school drama with a complicated, flawed heroine searching for answers and her sidekick full of joy and tricks ready at her side.

I've been reading the single issues and I'm really curious as to what will come next. What's going on with Olive's mom? What's going on with Olive? What's this new kid doing there? Complicated characters, lots of mysteries to uncover, a supportive female friendship. If you're new to comics or an avid reader, you might want to give this a read.

(I received an e-galley of this title to review from DC Comics through NetGalley. I also purchase the single issues from my local comic book store.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (232)

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

Title: Madly
Author: Amy Alward
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi - an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam's family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they've fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. 

No big deal, then.

I really enjoyed Amy's previous books, The Oathbreaker's Shadow and The Shadow's Curse, so I'm looking forward to this new series. When I first found it I thought it took place in a medieval setting, but with the megapharma company, world news, and social media mentions, I'm thinking maybe not. ;)

Note that Madly is called The Poison Diaries in the UK, releases on July 2nd, and this is the cover. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Me on The Leveller

Title: The Leveller
Author: Julia Durango
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins imprint)

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she's a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. But when the game's billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn't some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he's left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn's not hiding—he's being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why? Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they've encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

The Leveller is danger upon danger, upon even more danger. In the MEEP, Nixy is suspicious of everyone and everything. Nothing can be trusted. But in a virtual world, is there anyone or anything you can really trust? And what if the biggest liar of them all is out in the real world?

Nixy is clever and wily. She's practical and intelligent, always watching out for herself, always planning. In her under the table work as a leveller she doesn't have time for illusions or lies, which is amusing. The MEEP is all about illusion. Nixy knows that, she knows that while it can be glamourous it's not real. She's able to see the disappointment in it, in waking up and discovering that the lush paradise you crafted isn't real, and she has plans for her future beyond it. She doesn't have time for a billionaire's son's sulking in a fantasy world. Or so she thinks.

How do we know when something is real and when it isn't? What if the world around us isn't real, what if it's an illusion made up by computers and manipulated brain waves? How do we then determine what's real? How far does that reach? Is the pain felt in that illusion real pain? Are the emotions felt real? Pain, anger, sadness, hunger, fear. Does this leave us open to someone else's control? And how will we know when we're back in the real world?

This is an intriguing mix of virtual reality, adventure gaming, and perception. It's all about who to trust and when to trust yourself, when to trust your instinct to run or fight when the space around you is peaceful and welcoming. With what was revealed and how the book ended, I'm curious as to where the next book will go and who will be in it.

(I downloaded an e-galley of this title from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (159)

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. ;)

So much sun this week! But also so much puppy! My sister's been wanting a puppy for ages and finally picked one up over the weekend. Her name's Lucy, she's a miniature poodle, and she's all kind of rambunctious and excited. I haven't gotten much reading done this week, I've been puppy-sitting and trying to work out a schedule that works with me being on the computer and Lucy not being lonely during the day and Lucy not chewing on things she shouldn't. Hmmmmm.

It also looks like I'll be heading back to the library in August for what's become my usual volunteer bit. Which is great, it's a hectic week but it's also fun listening to what teens are interested in and reading and writing and everything else.

Reviews going up this week will feature The Leveller by Julia Durango (Tuesday) and Gotham Academy Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy (Friday). :)
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (ARC from Kathy at A Glass of Wine who picked this up for me at BEA)
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Me on A Book of Spirits and Thieves

Title: A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Modern-day Toronto: It's a normal afternoon in her mother's antique bookshop when Crystal witnesses her little sister Becca collapsing into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language. Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn't think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home. Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself.

A Book of Spirits and Thieves is mysterious and magical, complex and complicated. Here are two vastly different worlds that are somehow connected, two worlds full of secrets and magic, and what happens in one could greatly impact the other.

Crystal and Becca are two very different siblings. Different personalities, different goals. And suddenly in two different situations. For Crys, she's been left to discover why a book put her sister in a coma, why her mother and aunt are keeping such important secrets from her, and why her father left their family. With her mother refusing to answer her demands, it's up to Crys to poke around in things she doesn't understand. But Crys doesn't know what she's about to come up against, or that Becca isn't in a coma. Not really.

Farrell is rough, bitter, rich, and bored. He doesn't do much of anything beyond drink, flirt, and attend secret society meetings every so often. But then the leader invites him further in and Farrell now knows what he wants. But at what cost? Farrell doesn't have much, doesn't do much. Not after his older brother's death. It left him confused. But now? He knows what he wants. It's difficult to like Farrell, what with his callous attitude towards life, his parents, girls. Everything.

Maddox is an unwilling pawn, a con man's prisoner, forced to use his bizarre but sort of magical powers in order to rob superstitious people of their coin. But then he sees a spirit, a girl who talks strangely and dresses strangely. Then he ends up in a plot to take down a goddess. Then his whole world is turned upside down. Without any real control over his magic, all he can do is hope he's trusted the right person and follow them.

There is danger in each world, in Toronto and in Mytica, and both must be navigated carefully if anyone hopes to survive. Mytica sounds like a land in a fantasy book, full of magic and kings and dangerous goddesses, but I liked the chapters set in Toronto more. It gave the real world a magical twist, gave weight to secrets, to truths and lies. To books.

I do wonder if I've missed anything because I haven't read the Falling Kingdoms books. I wonder if there are any references or names that appear in both series. That being said, I didn't feel that lost. As two out of the three points of view are in Toronto, I felt that I could keep track of what was going on and who to watch out for. There were a number of twists and turns, some I expected and some I didn't, and I found myself rushing to find out how it would end. I rather enjoyed this, and I imagine fans of the first series would as well. I'm looking forward to the next book.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (231)

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

Title: Dreamstrider
Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

Fantasy plus espionage? Sign me up.

This sounds really interesting. I like the idea of Livia's ability, parts of it make me think if Inception, like the entering someone's dreams/mind parts. I'm really interested in what happens, what secrets are uncovered and discovered, and as always, how it ends.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Me on Tangled Webs

Title: Tangled Webs
Author: Lee Bross
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets. But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London. Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

Tangled Webs is cloaked in danger and mystery. Arista is caught up in a web of truths and secrets. When it unravels underneath her, will she be able to land on her feet? Or will she instead get caught up in the strands, unable to escape?

Arista is intelligent, watchful, and dangerous. She's craving escape from a life of crime and misery. She's craving freedom. Travel. She wants to leave the slums, leave Bones' hold, but she's afraid of him. For the sake of her affection for her friends under him, for the sake of her greater desire to stay alive, she stays. When things start to fall apart, when Wild finds her, when this new deal is struck, it changes everything for her. She can see a light at the end of the tunnel now, but this new world, this proper world, is difficult to navigate. In the slums it was easy to know who to trust and who to keep both eyes on. Who would sell you out. But not now, not when she's surrounded by people who are nice to her, who like her, who want to help her. But what if all she's done now is make the same old deal with a different devil?

The setting is well described, well established. This is a time period of lavish parties and masquerades, of pickpockets and thieves, of buildings ruined by fire. Of thief lords and highwaymen. Of travel, adventure, and empire. Of young women wishing they had the freedom and power of their male counterparts. Arista is constantly under a man's thumb, under his control, and she wants nothing more than to be in control of her own life.

I found this to be a clever mystery, an adventure of sorts for Arista. She has to navigate a number of treacherous situations, she has to decide who to trust and for how long. She has to be hard and practical if she wants to survive. But she still has a soft heart that wants to keep her friends safe. I would suggest that fans of historical YA like Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra give this book a read.

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

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (158)

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. ;)

*continues to melt under the heat*

No books this week. I blame the heat. So hot. But then Friday was all windy and so cold.

I did go to the comic book store, though, but again, I'm never sure if you all are interested in my thoughts on comics and webcomics. As always, if you're looking to start reading comics, here are some suggestions.

  • Saga. This got me into reading comics more regularly. It's fantasy plus sci-fi plus conflict plus relationships plus a lot of graphic adult-type situations (sex, childbirth, gore, swearing, etc.). It's really good. I realized the other day that I've been picking up the single issues of this series for almost 2 years.
  • The Wicked + the Divine. It's full of mythology and an angsty, lost, floundering girl and loads of metaphors that I just can't wrap my head around, but I really like it.
  • Pretty Deadly. Death and magic meets the wild west, but when the second arc starts up in the fall, it'll be set during World War I. Emma Ríos' artwork is gorgeous.
  • Ms. Marvel. This series is so good. It's about Kamala discovering she's now a superhero, yes, but also about her being a teenage girl and being Muslim and navigating all these different spaces. There is some reference made to other Marvel superheroes, but I think newbies should be good.
  • Gotham Academy. An expensive boarding school full of mystery and secrets anchored by two intelligent female characters. The nice thing? You don't need to know anything about Batman or the DC universe before you read it.

There are other comics I've sort of read that look interesting, like Rocket Girl, Lumberjanes, and Fables, and you're welcome to check those out as well. It's just that I've read the above ones more. Which comics would you recommend?

Reviews going up this coming week will feature Tangled Webs by Lee Bross (Tuesday) and A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes (Friday). :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Me on Alive

Title: Alive
Author: Chandler Baker
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Stella Cross's heart is poisoned. After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive. Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable. Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart? After all, the heart never lies...does it?

Alive is dark, tense, and mysterious. What are the secrets of the heart? It pumps blood through our veins and arteries, it keeps us alive. But can it do other things? Can it connect us to other people? Can it be controlled by someone else?

Stella has come back from the brink, back from the edge of living or dying. Saved by a heart transplant, she now has to return to high school, return to what should be her normal life, the life before her illness. But her parents are worrying that she's not going to get into university, she's behind on homework, and her friends feel just a bit different than when she last saw them. Then the hallucinations hit, the sudden and intense chest pains, and she knows that something must be wrong. But it's all in her head, yes? Her body can't be rejecting the heart. Is it something else?

Now, when a hot new guy appears just days after Stella goes back to school with her new heart, I was instantly suspicious. Maybe I've read too much and am just suspicious of any new character or plot twist, but I was wary of Levi. Even at the beginning when things were going okay. I understand Stella's feelings. He's nice, smart, he's quick to learn more about her, spend time with her. Love, teen love, puppy love, it does things to you. It causes your heart rate to climb, your blood to throb and pulse under your skin harder and faster than normal. In some ways it makes sense for Stella to equate her weird feelings to being in love with Levi. But the hallucinations? The lingering pain? Not so much.

I did like Stella's friendships with Henry and Brynn. They got along and argued like real friends, back and forth, calling each other out on their crap. Feelings were hurt, apologies were made. Hanging out together was enjoyed. I liked that they stuck with her, that they weren't about to give up on Stella. Even when she was way too obsessed with Levi.

While I wasn't the biggest fan of Stella and Levi's relationship and how creepy it gets, I found the mystery of Stella's hallucinations and chest pain to be interesting. Why always at the same time of day? Why the hallucinations of blood and death? Where did Levi come from? It took a little while, and I never liked how obsessive or controlling the relationship got, but in the end I found this to be a rather intriguing mystery with a hint of the paranormal. If you're looking for something like that, then maybe give this a read.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (230)

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

Title: The Scorpion Rules
Author: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster imprint)

From Goodreads:

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive. 

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages. 

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

The internet buzz for this just makes me want to read it more and more. This is going to be so good.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Me on The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books (Penguin imprint)

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she's willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is dark, mysterious, and disturbing. It's a look at faith and survival, about the dangers of blind faith, about the strength we find in ourselves when we believe for ourselves and not for anyone else.

Minnow Bly is lost, depressed, confused, but also harsh. She doesn't want help from anyone, she doesn't want to think about her life before being sent to juvie, doesn't want to remember the sights and the smells and the pain. The book starts just after her arrest, her hands already gone from her arms. The reader starts off with no knowledge of what she's done to end up in police custody, it's revealed to them over the course of the book. Where Minnow is from, what living in the Community was like, who the Prophet was. How she lost her hands. As the reader learns the truth about Minnow, Minnow learns the truth about the world, that it isn't how she was taught. That you can't always listen to someone just because they say they're a prophet send by God. Or someone who says they're now in charge.

The cult aspect is rather disturbing. The persuasiveness of some figures, their desire to control the will and thoughts of others. Sometimes because of money, other times because they believe that they are a source of knowledge and strength. It's frightening, knowing that people like this exist, that people like Minnow's parents believe the words of false prophets and give up all their worldly possessions in order to follow them. This also extends beyond religion, consider the stories of people who invested their money only to have it stolen out from under their noses in pyramid schemes and scams. It's all about faith, who we put our faith into depending on how much we think of what they're saying is true.

I was initially intrigued by the book because of the Grimm's fable it is inspired by, The Girl Without Hands. Knowing the tale, I wondered how the author would use it to tell Minnow's story. It's not the same story, but I didn't expect it to be. What it is is something powerful, thoughtful. What it is is an exploration of faith and knowledge, of trust and belief. How do we get others to believe what we do? How can we prove to them that it exists when we cannot show it to them? Why do we trust some so easily? Minnow finds her faith here, finds the truth, confronts it and acknowledges in. Not having read any of the comparable titles, I would recommend this to those looking for a narrator hiding from memory and truth, a narrator trapped, a narrator who sees the world and regains the strength that was taken from her.

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

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Me on This Week's Book Week (157)

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

Hello! It's going to be super hot here this weekend. Ick.

I've been vaguely sick this past week, some bad headaches that have me cutting back on screen reading and caffiene, so there isn't much for me to chat about. I did get some reading done, but then it faded away all too quickly and I've been stalling on this next book for a few days now. I don't think it's a slump, maybe more of a sort of being distracted by other books.

Reviews going up this coming week will feature The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (Tuesday) and Alive by Chandler Baker (Friday). :)
The Conjurer's Riddle by Andrea Cremer (ARC from Penguin Canada)
Soundless by Richelle Mead (ARC from Penguin Canada)
Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski (ARC from Penguin Canada)
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest (borrowed from the library)
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (borrowed from the library)
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (E-galley from NetGalley)
Darkthaw by Kate Boorman (E-galley from Abrams through NetGalley)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Me on Hidden Huntress

Title: Hidden Huntress
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Angry Robot

Beneath the mountain, the king's reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king's power. Or his manipulation. Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high. To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Hidden Huntress is a dangerous and magical search for a witch, a lesson in conflict and indecision. Does Cécile search down what the king wants, potentially freeing him from the underground, or does she leave her troll prince trapped and jailed?

Cécile is desperate to get back, desperate to save everyone in Trollus. She's in Trianon because it's the best place for her at the moment, away from the trolls who would do her harm, away from certain death. But she's lonely and lost without Tristan. This time around we see the complicated relationship she has with her mother, a woman she should hate, but Cécile is desperate for her affection. Even as her mother berates her, yells at her, pushes her. Cécile isn't perfect, she's emotional, stubborn, head-strong. Maybe a little reckless.

Tristan has never been so low. Jailed and beaten, trapped, he's still trying to plot and plan around his father, around those who would take the above-ground world for their own without paying any mind to the humans. It's interesting to see more of Tristan's thoughts this time. He's nowhere near perfect. He's brusque, controlling, harsh, practical. He's ragged around the edges. He's trying to save the trolls and half-trolls that want to be free from his father's tyranny. He needs Cécile.

There's a lot more world building this time around, up above in the human world in the city of Trianon. The house Cécile lives in, the opera house, the palace. The lavish opulence. The humans walking the streets. Trollus is still there, the mines and the mountain ceiling that hangs over them. The deception and the death. Both places are highlighted, and after a while, neither place seems safe.

This book feels so much longer than the first. There's a lot of planning and plotting going on, a lot of searching and discovering. I won't deny that it slows everything down. There's a lot going on here. That being said, the ending is explosive. It opens a whole new can of worms for Cécile and Tristan to battle. I'm very curious as to what will happen next, how everything will end.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (229)

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

Title: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Edited by: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror.

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through tales by these talented authors:

Stefan Bachmann
Leigh Bardugo
Kendare Blake
A. G. Howard
Jay Kristoff
Marie Lu
Jonathan Maberry
Danielle Paige
Carrie Ryan
Megan Shepherd
Nova Ren Suma
McCormick Templeman
April Genevieve Tucholke
Cat Winters

This sounds creepy and weird and I want to read it. I saw someone on Twitter talking about it over the weekend, it just made me want to read it even more. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Me on Daughter of Deep Silence

Title: Daughter of Deep Silence
Author: Carrie Ryan
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after torturous days adrift with her dying friend Libby, knows that the Persephone wasn't sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son, Grey, are claiming-it was attacked. To ensure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very powerful Wells family, Libby's father helps newly orphaned Frances assume Libby's identity. After years of careful plotting, she's ready to expose the truth and set her revenge plans into motion-even if it means taking down the boy she'd once been in love with: Grey Wells himself.

Daughter of Deep Silence is full of intrigue, suspicion, and hidden truths. Frances is ready now, ready to get her revenge on those who hurt her, who ruined her life, but she has to realize that, even with years of planning, nothing about this will be easy.

Frances is calculating, determined, methodical. She's plotted and planned and now the time has come. Now to put on the act, put on the costume, and bring to light the truth of what happened that night on the Persephone. The past four years have blurred her identity. Who is she now? Has she become Libby? Or does Frances still remain, angry, desperate to strike? She's a mixture of the two, the girl she's worked to be and the girl she is deep down inside, the girl who's sticking to her plan while letting emotion take control when it comes to Grey. Because, like she couldn't forget what happened on the ship, she couldn't forget Grey.

The opening pages are rather visceral, rather visual. The smell of the sea air, the despair racing through Frances, the overwhelming taste of salt that makes her sick, the pain of the sores and the sunburn on her skin. The overwhelming memories of the murder of her parents, of Libby's death. The smell of blood. The sound of gunshots.

Packed with truth and lies, secrets, and deception, this book is both chilling and thrilling. How far some go for revenge, how far some go to cover their crimes. How much we never forget no matter how hard we try or how much time has passed. Those looking for thrilling, tense mysteries with a flawed but still fighting heroine should check this book out.

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