Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (285)

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

Title: Not Your Sidekick
Author: C.B. Lee
Release Date: September 8, 2016
Publisher: Duet Books

From Goodreads:

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Yay for more superhero/supervillain books! I like how they're going these days, how they're looking deeper into good and evil, what defines the two and how they're not really all that different. It all comes down to actions taken, yes? In a way. This sounds like it'll be both fun and complicated, which is great! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Me on This Savage Song

Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins imprint)

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he's one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who's just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August's secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

This Savage Song is a story of monsters and the monstrous, of humans and humanity. Of what makes us and what defines us, of intent and intentions.

Kate is cold, hard. Ruthless. She wants acceptance from her father, faith that she can be just like him. That he needs her around. That she can be the one to carry on his name. She waits for the day when he can let go of the past, of the sudden loss of her mother. Until then, she'll be hard as nails, shielding herself in armour. Waiting for the day to prove herself, waiting for the day her father will welcome her back.

August is looking to help his family, to help protect those who are preyed upon. He's looking to be human, even with his monstrous origins. He doesn't want to be like the others, like his older brother. He looked up to his father, a protector. He lives his life locked away, alone, hiding his hunger. Wishing it wasn't there. Wishing his past wasn't there, full of death and sorrow.

What are monsters? Who are monsters? What defines them? Can they be humans who assault and murder, drug and abuse and steal? Or can they only be fantastical creatures with sharp teeth and darkness in their eyes? What if one of those creatures is struggling to hold onto their humanity with both arms, both hands. Fighting every day to keep the shadows hidden, to control the hunger.

This book is dark, full of things that go bump in the night and creep out of the shadows, ready to claw your eyes out. It's a deep look at humans and monsters, the acts that make us human and the acts that make us dangerous. It's also a look at the relationships the main characters have with their fathers. Both Kate and August look at their fathers as something to strive for, whether it be in terms of power or compassion. They want to prove to them that they can be trusted, be used in the oncoming battle. If you're any kind of monster fan or complicated character fan or Victoria Schwab fan, then you should give this book a read.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (212)

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 all. What a hard, sad, confusing couple of weeks we've had.

Looking at my review schedule, I can safely say that most reviews will be of already published books. Which is fine. There are lots of books I've meant to read and never had the time. Think of this as a special backlist summer schedule. Or like when you were a kid and you'd watch reruns on TV all summer because there were always a couple of episodes that you missed. ;) And as always, suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Reviews this coming week will feature This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Tuesday) and Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn (Friday). :)
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (e-galley from Raincoast Books)
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray (ARC from Raincoast Books)
No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista (ARC from Raincoast Books)
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (Bought)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Me on Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1

Title: Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1
Writer: Chynna Clugston Flores
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O'Connell
Release Date: June 8, 2016
Publisher: Boom Studios/DC Comics

What's to Love: We adore DC's Gotham Academy and it's been on our wish list to have them somehow meet the Lumberjanes. From the great characters to the fun stories, we saw a world in which these two groups could coexist. Fast forward and here we are—the crossover event we've dreamed about and can't wait to bring to you! What It Is: Something sinister is happening at a mysterious building deep in the woods, drawing the Lumberjanes and the Gotham Academy kids separately to investigate. Is it a weird cabin? An abandoned asylum? The two groups band together to find out what exactly is going on.

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 is a fun and mystery-filled matchup of mystery seekers and monster finders.

It's a quick jump into the story, into Gotham Academy's Olive Silverlock and Maps Mizoguchi, along with their friends, looking into the sudden disappearance of Professor MacPherson while the Lumberjanes head out into the woods to search for camp leader Rosie. And it's a quick jump into the action because soon they all fall into something a bit mysterious, as evidenced by the mysterious things they find in the forest. Story-wise, I think this crossover series will be good. Both series on their own have a fair number of similarities. Lots of things to investigate, lots of questions to ask and answers to find. Lots of clever, diverse, complicated characters. But because it's a limited series, I imagine it'll focus so much more on the plot than the characters themselves.

The artwork is bright and reminiscent of Lumberjanes, maybe not so much Gotham Academy. The latter is often serious and somber, the former more about friendship and support and fun. What appeals to me about Gotham Academy is mostly the art, is Karl Kerschl and Mingjue Helen Chen's different art styles. The art here by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell is still great, still clear and expressive and bright, thanks to the colours done by Whitney Cogar. It just makes me think more of the hijinks of Lumberjanes than the mysterys of Gotham Academy.

As a reader of Gotham Academy and an occasional reader of Lumberjanes (I've fallen behind, waiting for the trade volumes in order to catch up), I was excited when I heard about this six issue crossover. It's the coming together of two groups of clever teens who spend their days investigating the occult and the bizarre, of falling into trouble and rescuing their friends. If you're a fan of either series, I would suggest giving this a read, either now while the single issues are releasing (in print or online) or in March 2017 when the trade volume comes out. I'd recommend this to fans of both series, to hijinks and mystery fans, and to tweens and teens looking for something fun to read over the summer break. I would also suggest a read of at least the first trade volume of each series to new readers, just so you know who everyone is.

(I purchased a copy of this issue.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (284)

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

Title: The Midnight Star
Author: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin imprint)

From Goodreads:

The thrilling finale to the New York Times bestselling Young Elites series from “hit factory” Marie Lu.

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.

Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

Bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina's story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series.

This whole series has been a dark, deep descent into madness and sorrow and anger. Adelina is evil, creeping further and further away from the line that divided evil from good. I'm so excited to see how this series will end, how many more will die because of her and around her. I do wonder if Adelina herself will die at the end, if she's too far gone from redemption and has to be defeated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Me on And I Darken

Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House imprint)

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets. Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who's expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he's made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she's finally found someone worthy of her passion. But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

And I Darken is an epic tale of survival, of plots and plans, of secrets and deceit. Of a yearning for home that battles against a yearning for a person,

Lada. Lada is a strong girl, a fragile girl, a fractured and broken and hard as iron girl. She has her plans, her ideas, her priorities. She knows what she wants in terms of returning to her homeland, to her Wallachia. She knows what she wants in terms of strength and power, in leading troops and proving that she can be just as cunning and ruthless as all the men around her. She knows what she wants in terms of freedom, to never marry, to be her own person. Her own ruler. But she doesn't necessarily know what she wants when it comes to her heart, when it comes to emotions. When it comes to love. She's lived her life, seen her and her brother Radu used as pawns, as bargaining chips, as things to be tossed aside. She's seen what happens to the weak and she knows what she has to do. Even if it means breaking hearts, including her own.

The world-building here is so expansive and expressive. From the cold and the snow and the rough stone of Wallachia, from the smell of fire and pine trees and fear and sorrow, to the bright sun of the Ottoman Empire, to the luxury and the heat and the deceit of Edirne. From the high ranks of the sultan and his advisors to the slave-like Janissary soldiers. This story stretches far and wide, follows the actions of rulers and princes, follows the impacts of those actions on their children and the sacrifices they must make in order to stay alive. And the depth and variety of the characters. So many of them had plans, careful and cunning plans, and they all thought they would work. They all thought they were right, that they would see it to the end. But with so many plans, so many webs being woven, some were bound to be caught up. And some were bound to slip and fall.

It's somewhat hard for me to describe this book, to review it in any way that isn't a mad rush of words and sensations. This is an epic tale of a girl, a boy, and the boy they come to love. A tale of a girl rough and harsh, carved from stone and ice. Of a boy sweet and gentle, quiet, unassuming, always watching and waiting. Of the boy they love, one who strives to follow a dream and rule his people. There are so many things I loved. How strong and determined Lada was, how she saw certain acts, acts where characters started to find themselves and define themselves, as slights against her plans. How sweet and kind and intelligent Radu was, how after years of hardship and pain and fear as a child he found something to call his. He found a faith to embrace. This is far more historical than fantasy, but I do wonder about some things, about certain events. It'll probably be all in my head, but I can't help but wonder. I can't wait for the next book, to find out what happens next and what peril they will all find themselves in.

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (211)

EDIT! Hi all! So, there'll be a review of And I Darken by Kiersten White going up on Tuesday and a quick review of issue #1 of the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover on Friday.

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 all!

So. There might not be any reviews going up this coming week. A pretty bad migraine slammed into me mid-week and stuck around into the weekend, meaning I couldn't read or focus on anything for too long with all the pounding and the squinting. At the very least, a review will be going up on Friday of Kiersten White's And I Darken.

No books this week either! It was a slow week.

And now I will sleep all weekend.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Me on The Vanishing Throne

Title: The Vanishing Throne
Author: Elizabeth May
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal that she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception-a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana's memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she's about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and the fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life.

The Vanishing Throne is dark and deadly, the continuation of a story now filled with fear and despair. This is the fallout from actions made and evil plots carried out in the first book, the result of the worst possible scenario. But what drives the story forward is the determination of the returning heroine, is her unwillingness to give up. No matter how much pain she's in. No matter how much she wants to scream.

Aileana is lost to the human world, trapped in the Sith-bhrùth, in the fae kingdoms. Trapped by Lonnrach. Tortured by him. In the beginning she's full of sorrow and fear, left helpless, ready to give up. But that solid core of steel that is her strength is still there. Rescued by an unlikely ally, Aileana finds her home ruined, her city destroyed, and those she once knew all changed in some way. This is the healing and the rebuilding for her, the search for power and the unleashing of it. She looks at the rubble of Edinburgh and is filled with guilt, guilt that she didn't fight hard enough, that she wasn't strong enough to keep the fae from running rampant through human cities. It's hard to say it's all her fault when she's forced up against very powerful inhuman beings like the fae. Like Lonnrach and Sorcha.

There's something not so subtle that runs through this book, that starts with Aileana's capture and torture to her escape and beyond. From her fear to her determination, from the shift from victim to survivor. The ways Lonnrach's torture of her is described. His stealing from her and stealing into her memories. His painful attacks. His choice of words. To me, it was rape. It's rape without saying the word, without the explicit sexual action. It's Aileana captured, tortured, and used by someone for their own gains, for their own search for power and domination. And it's what follows. Her escape, the freefalls into dark memories that circle around his touch and his voice. His continued search for her. It would be easy, so easy, for Aileana to accept the offer to forget, but she refuses. She uses that fear, that anger, those fractured pieces of her, and she keeps on going. Keeps on fighting. Because she will get her revenge.

This is a tale of hard lessons and harder to stomach truths, of consequences, of pain and suffering and regret. Of clawing your way out and finding yourself, keeping yourself yours and not someone else's. Of returns and revenge. There were times when I felt uncomfortable, which was great, and there were times when I didn't want it to end, remembering the way the first book ended. This left me both satisfied and desperate. Satisfied because I hadn't expected so much to happen to Aileana, for her to be in so much pain, and for certain truths to be revealed. Desperate because it ended when I didn't want it to end, because this book left me feeling sad. Which, like the uncomfortableness, is good. Books that provoke this kind of reaction in me are good, they stick with me. I'm also desperate to know what will happen next, how the trilogy will end.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (283)

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

Title: When the Moon was Ours
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. 

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Yet another fall book that a piece of my reader's soul craves. Magical realism? YES. Queer characters? YES. Multicultural diversity? YES. And I'm so intrigued by the plot, by Miel and Sam, by the magic and the implications and the motives of the Bonner girls. Every time I see this cover I'm reminded of how much I want to read this and that I still need to read Anna-Marie's first book.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Me on Riders

Title: Riders
Author: Veronica Rossi
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen

For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does. Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse. Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen-Conquest, Famine, and Death-are brought together by a frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence. They fail. Now, bound, bloodied, and drugged, Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends, not to mention all of humankind, he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger. But will anyone believe him?

Riders is the beginning of a longer war, the first few battles against evil, the search for missing allies.

Gideon is the pensive one caught up in his past, the avoiding one trapped by his father's death, hoping that enlisting in the Army will help him forget what happened. After an accident that should've killed him, that did kill him, he comes back different. He comes back confused, powerful. He comes back hunted. And now the race is on, the race to find the others. The race to figure out these new powers and the weapons that come with them. And for Gideon especially, the race to try and punch everyone. Because he certainly tries to.

The part that intrigued me most about this book is the reworking and the usage of the four horsemen. I was curious as to how the author would use their origin and their mission, how it wouldn't be completely evil and bring about the end of the world. It's so much less of that here. Instead, it's more of a fated thing, of the four of them coming together, massive flaws and all, and trusting in themselves. In fighting back against the darkness.

Even before I read this, I was wary of it. The description says a lot, so much so that I was afraid it gave away most of the book. But it doesn't, not really. As most of the book is told through Gideon's flashbacks, everything is slowly revealed. Almost too slowly for me. His becoming war. Meeting the girl. Finding the others. But where is he? Who is he talking to? What's happening to him? As I read this I got hints of Kendare Blake's Goddess War trilogy and Brigid Kemmerer's Elementals series. The overall battle against a determined foe, the searching for others, the combination of the paranormal and the impossible in a contemporary setting. With how it ends, I'm so curious as to what happens next, but knowing it's a duology, that there's only one more book, I'm also confused. What could happen next that would only take one book to tell?

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (210)

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. ;)

Quick comics question! So I've picked up the first issue of the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover from my LCS, and I was wondering if anyone would be interested in little mini reviews as the series goes on. There'll only be 6 issues, it looks like 1 a month from now until November. Considering I've reviewed the trade volumes of Gotham Academy here, & the 1st of Lumberjanes when I picked it up from the library, it makes sense. It also would mean not waiting for next March when the trade volume comes out. So, let me know in the comments if you'd like to see them.

So I've been thinking of reading a bunch of books that I just haven't gotten around to over the summer, books that I always meant to read once they came out but then forgot or it came out in may or September when so many more books some out, and reviewing them. The thing is, I've sort of done this all year so far and there are a number of them that I just haven't liked as much as I thought. Would that be okay with you all, reviews that might lean a bit more towards the negative or the even more critical? Because once July hits there are a lot of gaps in terms of my schedule and me searching for upcoming releases that sound interesting to me.

Reviews this coming week will feature Riders by Veronica Rossi (Tuesday) and The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May (Friday). :)
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria (e-galley from Abrams Books through NetGalley)
Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 by Chynna Clugston-Flores & Rosemary Valero-O'Connell (bought)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Me on Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures

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

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.

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures is fun and adventurous, full of magical creatures and impossibility. Full of lessons learned and actions taken into Pip's own hands.

Pip is a smart girl who loves animals, who loves magical creatures and would love the chance to work with them and study them when she's older. She's like a tiny researcher. It's just too bad that she struggles to get her point across with adults and that they never believe her when she says she can talk to the creatures. Because she can. And she can understand what they say back to her. This makes Pip the perfect person to solve the recent fuzzle mystery going through town, why they've suddenly appeared in droves. If she can solve the mystery before its too late.

There are a lot of fun side characters in this book that compliment and contrast against Pip's desire to research and learn. There's new friend Tomas, who is allergic to almost everything. There's her aunt Emma, the friendly vet, and cousin Callie, an overacting musical theatre enthusiast. And there's Regent Maximus, a unicorn who's afraid of just about everything, like the sky, and thinks any number of things could jump up and attack him. Like the sky.

The entire book was full of accidents and magical creature fun and mystery solving, nothing too dangerous or evil going on. There were a couple of characters that came across as huge clichés, like they were only there to serve as foils and moments of conflict for Pip and her churning thoughts. But I still had fun reading this. So if you know a middle grade reader looking for something light and exciting and full of magic, give them this book.

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (282)

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

Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

So. When The Grisha trilogy came out, I was only sort of interested. I only sort of liked it. I'd like to go back and re-read it next year, just to see if my mind changes. I don't know what it was, I wasn't as intrigued as most other readers. Then Six of Crows came out and I was more intrigued because of the heist aspect, because I was drawn in by the Ocean's Eleven comparison. Then I read it and loved it. I'm always surprised when I first read an author, aren't completely in love with their books, but then fall head first into later books. It happens. It's all about a matter of taste, yes? Has this ever happened to you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Me on The Marked Girl

Title: The Marked Girl
Author: Lindsey Klingele
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)… When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they'll discover that she's more connected to his world than they ever could've imagined… and that finding home is no easy task.

The Marked Girl is a light fantasy-filled adventure around Los Angeles, a search for things long hidden and a race to stay ahead of multiple enemies.

Liv is hard-working, determined, and more than a little lonely. After moving from foster home to foster home as she grew up, she's looking forward to days of not having to rely on anyone to take care of her. Of being a film director, of making movies with her friends. It's chance that she runs into Cedric and his friends the night they appear in L.A., and it's chance she runs into him again, only to be caught up in the danger that surrounds him and the plan to get him home. But, when certain hidden things from Liv's past come to light, was it chance after all?

Cedric is noble, rather driven and focused on one thing. Returning to Caelum in order to rescue his family. It's all he knows, being a Guardian, being a prince and one day a king. Training with swords, living in a castle. Being cautious and wary of the wraths that plague the land. Ending up on Earth, in L.A., is something he never expected. At least he isn't alone, at least he has Kat and Marek with him for support, but this world isn't like his. There's a very steep learning curve. And then there's the knowledge that something else might've come through the portal.

Apart from A Book of Spirits and Thieves, it's been a while for me in terms of portal fantasy. There is something about it that appeals to me, fantasy characters who suddenly appear in modern day settings who are utterly confused by all the sights and sounds and smells of a big city. Of old magic weaving its way into the modern world of TV, cars, cell phones, and the Internet.

This is one of those on the fence books for me. There were parts I liked, parts I thought were interesting. The fantasy elements and the portal magic. There were also parts I thought were overdone and clichéd. It felt like contemporary chick lit YA mixed with portal fantasy elements, at times light and easy-going and others tense and dangerous. There's some of Liv angsting over her future, over Cedric, and there's a fair amount of running from evil creatures and searching out long lost stories. If you're looking for light fantasy, or maybe something for a younger YA audience of 13 or 14, then I'd suggest you give this a read.

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

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Me on This Week's Book Week (209)

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 it's looking like another week of summer-like weather here. I mowed the lawn this morning, which needed it, but at least I prepped for it with water and sunscreen. Considering the lack of clouds in the sky, I might've turned into a lobster.

For the past couple of months I've been watching and catching up on Critical Role, the D&D stream over on the Geek & Sundry YouTube channel. As someone who loves storytelling and world-building and character development, I've really been enjoying it. There are slow spots, times when the players/characters are planning out their next moves, arguing with each other over what needs to be done because everyone's motives are a little different. It's a little tricky to get into, the series starts partway into the overall story but at the beginning of a new quest so it's okay to be lost for the first few episodes.

Reviews this coming week The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (Tuesday) and Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater (Friday). :)
As I Descended by Robin Talley (e-galley from HarperCollins through Edelweiss)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Me on With Malice

Title: With Malice
Author: Eileen Cook
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident... wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

With Malice is tense, a book of hidden memories, of stories and rumour. Of assuming the worst and hoping for the best. Of never being sure what's true and what isn't.

Jill wakes up lost, confused, in pain. She's wondering why she's in the hospital, where her memories of the last six weeks have gone,where her best friend is. If she's the reason why Simone is dead. Jill is floundering is a sea of doctors, headaches, amnesia, and a number of people who think they know better. People like Jill's dad, like Jill's lawyer, like the hundreds of faceless Internet trolls who think Jillhad something to do with Simone's death. All Jill wants are answers and for someone to tell her what happened, what's going on, but they can't. No one really knows what happened.

There are many sides to a story, to an event, shown by the snippits of police interviews and revealed text messages. It's hard to know if Jill and Simone were still close friends, if they were fighting, if they were friendly, if they were cold and aloof. If Jill was excited about university in the fall, if she wanted to run away. If Simone was excited for Jill, if she was jealous, if Jill was the jealous one. Everyone saw something different. Only two people know the truth. One of them is dead and the other can't remember what happened.

I think this book says a fair amount about how we judge people when we don't know all the facts, about how we assume the worst and them proceed to smear them with even more dirt and mud. How we assume the worst when the accused is a woman, how the media is quick to pain women as treacherous and plotting while men are expected to screw up every now and then. Because of the change in how most get their news and the rise of social media, more and more people are tried in the court of public opinion. In the court of the Internet, where anyone can give an opinion on something they no nothing about. It also reminded me of the Amanda Knox trial (which I do suggest you look up if you don't know much about it/haven't heard of it). I think thriller fans and mystery fans will love this.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (281)

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

Title: The Left-Handed Fate
Author: Kate Milford
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Macmillan imprint)

From Goodreads:

Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine. They're not exactly sure what this machine does, but they have it on good authority that it will stop the war that's raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte's France. Despite being followed by mysterious men dressed all in black, they're well on their way to finding everything they need when their ship, the famous Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans.

And not just any Americans. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) are put under the command of Oliver Dexter, who's only just turned twelve.

But Lucy and Max aren't the only ones trying to put the engine together, and if the pieces fall into the wrong hands, it could prove disastrous. Oliver is faced with a choice: help Lucy and Max and become a traitor to his country? Or follow orders and risk endangering that same country and many others at the same time--not to mention his friends?

Yay to more middle grade with sailing and possible pirates! This sounds a bit more like an exploration and searching kind of adventure, plus some steampunk invention fun. :)