Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (101)

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

Title: Transparent
Author: Natalie Whipple
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

From Goodreads:

X-Men meets The Godfather; in which an invisible girl has to stop her dad—an infamous crime lord—from ruining her life.

On the run from her mind-controlling father, the infamously invisible Fiona McClean hides in a small town, hoping to finally rid herself of the crime world she has always known. But playing at “normal life” with a mother she hates, a brother she can’t trust, and a boy she can’t stand proves more difficult than she ever imagined. Soon her father is hot on her heels, and it’s up to Fiona to protect not only her family, but the friends who’ve taught her that life doesn’t have to be as lonely and cruel as she thought.

Darn books that make me want them so much just from the summary. After Holly Black's White Cat series, I've been wanting another mobster-related story. This sounds pretty interesting, I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it next year. :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Me on Days of Blood & Starlight

Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to dream of a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world. Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she's sought. She knows who she is... and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: she loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. Now she has to decide how fall she will go to avenge her people, but while she and her allies build an army out of dust and starlight, an angel wages a different sort of battle. A battle for redemption, for hope, if hope can be salvaged from the ashes of a broken dream.

Like its predecessor, Days of Blood & Starlight is darkly magical, eerie, and dangerous. Pages filled with lyrical, descriptive prose show readers the after. After the handprints on the doors. After the explosions. After a tear ripped through the sky. So many questions race through the minds of readers. Where's Karou? Where's Akiva? Where's Brimstone? What will happen now, now that Karou knows who she is, where she came from? Will the world still be the world she knows when everything ends?

For Karou, she must determine her next course of action after traveling through the rift in the sky, but that all depends on what she finds there, if it be friend or foe, if she's capable of completing the task at hand. Everything is in the balance: her love of Brimstone and the chimaera, her love of her human friends, and her love for a certain angel.

For Akiva, his search for Karou, to discover whether she's alive or dead, is hampered by a larger task at hand. War is looming, and he will be forced to rejoin his angel brother and sister and the ranks of solders, forced to march on in an age-old battle, and forced to make a choice between his people and his love.

This book is dark, mysterious, and earthy, born from complicated dreams and sweet nightmares. A fantasy where monsters are human, where angels are monsters, where humans are magic, and deep down, everyone is the same, hoping for the same thing. A world to live in free from pain and terror where one can live peacefully with the ones they love most. If such a world exists for Karou and Akiva, their battle for that world will be long and hard, and my heart weeps at the journey they must take.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (23)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only named by me when I was at a loss for a title. It seems to have stuck. It's the same sort of meme, but with more rambling about how my week was.

No books this week. Well, no books that you'll care about. I doubt you're interested when I feed my newfound manga habit. For me, 2011 was the year of e-books, and it looks like 2012 is the year of anime and manga. What will 2013 be the year of, I wonder. ;)

Me on Books is 2 years old. I hope it won't suffer from the terrible twos or anything. There's a giveaway going on right now for another couple of weeks, so make sure to enter to win a 2012 YA debut of your choice. There's a free entry option, because why not, so if that's how you want to enter, you can. :) If it hits 150 entries, I'll add another winner.

So, my brain's been rejecting reading e-galleys. It's not their fault, it's my brain and how it won't connect to it like a paper book. I've got a few to read, but after that I might have to hold off requesting any e-galleys until next year. Unless it's a book I really want to read. I feel bad, more publishers are moving towards e-galleys, but if I end up not liking a book because of the font size on the screen and I can't make it bigger or smaller because it's a PDF and not an ePDF, it's not fair to the author or the book.

There's an event next Saturday in North Van that I'm going to with a bunch of local authors (and one we're borrowing from the Seattle area). There might be a write-up the week after, so keep a look out. ;) I'm rather excited, there'll be some BC authors I haven't met yet but know through their books and Twitter.

Hope you guys got some great books this week. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Me on Stealing Parker

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks

After her family's scandal rocks their conservative small town, Parker goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian who runs off with her girlfriend. The all-star third baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds, and starts making out with guys. A lot of guys. But hitting on the new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far, especially when he starts flirting back.

Stealing Parker is a refreshingly realistic contemporary novel, a well-written glimpse into the many complications and struggles a teenage girl faces. Parker faces a number of struggles, but the most important one from what I could see is her struggle with God, her complaints and her anger over how her life changed when her mother came out.

To be honest, to me, Parker sounds like a liar, or at least someone who deflects blame so none of it sticks to them. All the blame is on her mother for leaving and revealing that she's a lesbian, and on God for taking her mother away and changing her whole world. She reminds me of Sam from Janet Gurtler's Who I Kissed, another girl who couldn't move on from the troubles in her life. Of course, their situations are different, Sam takes on all the blame while Parker pushes it onto others, but they couldn't see two feet in front of their faces, they couldn't move past that fact that, while one thing was different, everything else was the same. They still had family, still had friends, but it was that one event that stopped their lives and became an insurmountable mountain.

Parker decides to change her life, but is it for the best? She puts the blame squarely on God for taking away what he's given her, but placing blame is never a good idea, whether it's on God or another person. She can blame God all she wants, but Parker has to live with the changes she's made and accept that things are different or she won't move forward.

By quitting the softball team, Parker hopes to not be branded a lesbian. This kind of stereotyping bothers me, but that fact that it bothers me shows how close contemporary novels are to real life. There are stereotypes of lesbians liking sports, or drums or shop class like in Karen Bass' Drummer Girl, and it's upsetting that there are teenage girls out there who cave and give up the things they love. No one deserves to be labelled something they aren't just because they like a certain thing. It's sad that Parker caves to the rumours, that she wasn't strong enough to push past them and keep on playing, but if she had this book wouldn't exist. This book is all about her regaining that strength she lost.

Going around kissing almost every guy in school might stop the lesbian rumours, but it makes Parker seem flighty and vapid, an immature girl who'd hiding from the truth. It's clear she's smart, given her grades and early admission, but being a quitter and a kisser makes her an unreliable and unfavourable narrator when the book begins.

At the heart of the book is Parker's struggle through high school, her trying to figure out the world when her brother has issues, her dad has given up, her mom isn't there, the church preaches at her, her former friends continue to spew forth slander and lies, her current friends and possible crushes. Always at the heat of contemporary YA is teenagers working to figure out how the world works, how to carve out their spot and move forward on that path. Here, it's very obvious that Parker is trying whatever she can to figure things out, and could possibly try anything.

(I received an advance copy of this book from Raincoast Books.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (100)

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

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HarlequinTeen

From Goodreads:

I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.

Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench.

A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness.

And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine.

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

After the massive anime and manga kick I've been on this year, I can't want this book more than I do right now. And the magic part sounds so interesting, it's always nice when the magic comes from something artistic or fancy like ink drawings. :) And the author's Canadian, which is always nice. More Canadian content to promote on the blog. ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Me on Necromancing the Stone

Title: Necromancing the Stone
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan imprint)

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is finally getting used to his new life. He hadn't exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf maybe-kinda-sort-of girlfriend, but things are going fine. Well, no, they're not. He's tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for starters, and his new house seems to hate him. His best friend is now a were-bear, someone's threatening his sister, and while Sam knows he's got a lot of power at his fingertips, he's not quite sure how to use it. When everything starts to fall apart, he decides it's time to man-up and take control, but that only raises more questions. The biggest one: is Douglas really dead?

Necromancing the Stone is a well-written mix of teenage male sarcasm and spooky things that go bump in the night. Whether you see it as a funny horror story or a creepy teen humour novel, it doesn't matter. It's a welcome return to Sam the unexpected and reluctant necromancer drop-out who has issues galore dropped on him and is expected to figure them out before everything goes to hell. Or wherever dead people end up. If they're actually dead.

Sam is back as a ragged and rather unlikely hero. He's not so much a slacker anymore now that's faced death and the evil tool that Douglas was, but he's exhausted. He's being run into the ground by Brid's brothers as they teach him self-defence, he's dealing with a not-so-human butler/assistant he's inherited from Douglas, he's living in a house that's screwing with him, and he's still not quite sure how to use his necromancer powers. Things aren't any easier for Sam this time around.

His relationship with Brid is still complicated as well. It just sort of happened in the first book and it's clearly not your average relationship. It's not every day a college dropout new-to-his-powers necromancer hooks up with a half-werewolf half-fae hound heir to her protective father's pack that is filled with overprotective brothers and skeptical werewolves. I like them together, but considering their positions, it's not easy to be together.

There's also the darker side of the book, the side that's trying to kill Sam. Being a necromancer, Sam's power is in his blood. In any book where blood has to be spilled for any kind of magical or paranormal ritual, like Tessa Gratton's Blood Magic, it raises the question on whether or not the author is using it as a metaphor for cutting or self-harm. Here, I don't believe that's the case. Sam's still uneasy about his necromancer abilities, isn't a big fan of the pain it brings when he has to spill blood to raise the dead, and doesn't have anyone to teach him the proper way to do things. He's heading into his new life a little blind, or at the very least rather near-sighted. It has the ability to chance one's perspectives on death, being able to raise the dead. If they can come back, is anyone really dead? Is there really an afterlife?

Sam deals with a lot of stuff, stuff he never thought he'd have to deal with. He's not always happy about it and doesn't always know how to fix it, but he still gets back to his feet to give it the old college try, or the old Sam LaCroix try since he dropped out. I hope that there will be more books about Sam and the dark and dangerous world he lives in.

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Me on Two Years of Me on Books

As of tomorrow, it'll be two years since I started review blogging.

It feels weird. But fun. :)

Hugs to all the bloggers and authors I've met and talked to online and traded books with. You guys are all awesome. :)

To celebrate, I'm holding a giveaway. If you win, you'll get the 2012 YA debut novel of your choice (as long as Book Depository ships free to where you live). :)

If there are more than 150 entries, I'll add a second winner. :)

Thanks for stopping by. Here's to another year of blogging and amazing books. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (22)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only filled with my rambling babble about how my week went. ;)

There wasn't a post last week because I didn't get any books. Sad face. But there's a post this week so we can all rejoice. ;) Well, I can. I don't know about you guys.

I got another bookcase last weekend, which was awesome because it gets a bunch of books off the floor and onto a shelf. It's not that my other bookcase was full but that I have neuroses and set ways of shelving books. The old one has only YA now and the new one has graphic novels and manga, my to read pile, and some series that have a lot of books, like there's a Richelle Mead shelf and a Holly Black/Cassie Clare shelf (I only have 2 Holly books but she goes with Cassie because they're friends and I saw them together).

So, I was looking at my review schedule for the rest of 2012 and, from mid-November to the end of December, wow, that's a lot of empty. It's not like I don't have books to read, because I do, 6 of them came just this week, but you guys know my rule on not posting reviews of ARC's until a week before the release date and that limits what I can post reviews of. It's also because the publisher asks me to hold back on the review and I like publishers very much, so you won't be seeing reviews of books like Scarlet or 17 & Gone until February and March of next year. No matter how much I want to read them right now. SO MUCH. Everything I got this week is outrageously tempting.

Which begs the question: what do you want reviews of? Origin? Destroy Me (even though it's a novella and might be a short review)? Rage Within? Starling? Are there any 2012 debuts that both you and I missed out on that could be easy library borrows? I never did get the chance to read Something Like Normal or What's Left of Me. Hmmm.

Also, I'm still compiling a list of the past year's underrated YA novels (like last year) and I need your suggestions. These are the books you read that you don't think got enough recognition from the rest of the reading world, the ones that didn't get a lot of publicity or ones you just happened to pick up and it was your best book of the year. A suggestion of mine would be Adaptation by Malinda Lo, a present day sci-fi with an LGBT twist. Either suggest here (and add your name and blog name) or on Twitter or e-mail me your picks. :)

Keep an eye out for the usual Tuesday and Friday reviews, and come back on Monday for a giveaway. Yay. :)
Received (all from Penguin Canada):
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Prodigy by Marie Lu
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Second Chance by Heather Brewer
Darkwater by Catherine Fisher

Friday, October 19, 2012

Me on Dangerous Boy

Title: Dangerous Boy
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin imprint)

Harper's new boyfriend, Logan, is everything she never knew she was looking for, including the fact that he's exhilaratingly dangerous while she's a little meek and ordinary, but dating him gives her the chance to say good bye to her good girl past and hello to adventure. There's only one problem: Logan's twin brother Daemon, a possibly bad seed with an icy stare and the ability to freak her out. But they're a package deal. Then some strange things happen, like cow bones being found in mailboxes, a flock of dead birds scattered around the school, and cars stamped with blood red handprints. Harper wants to believe Logan, that Daemon isn't to blame, that they want to start over, but the more he tries to protect his brother, the more she wonders what she isn't being told. Harper must unearth the hidden secrets of the brothers' history, but discovering what brought them to town will put more than her heart in jeopardy.

Dangerous Boy is dark and mysterious, filled with questions and heavy with secrets. Something is going on around Harper, something dangerous, something possibly lethal, and she'll have to determine if she's brave to find out.

The setting was so well-crafted. Perhaps it's because I live in the same climate as both the author and the book, but it was so clear in my mind. Everything smelled of the earth and rain, things were dripping wet, the landscape was covered in dirt, hills, and so many trees. Lots of shadows for dangerous boys to hide in and watch Harper from a distance.

Harper is a little, or more than a little, emotionally crippled. Her father has thrown himself into their farm, her mother died in an accident, and while she has some friends at school she's not Miss Popularity. She's not particularly focused on moving on or letting go, enough so that she had a list of fears she's not exactly willing to confront. But all of that changes when she meets Logan, when she starts dating him, much to her surprise, and he starts to open her up to the world.

But he has some secrets he'd like to leave buried, secrets like his twin brother Daemon, secrets like the reason they just moved into town. And it doesn't help that Daemon freaks out Harper. She's scared, clearly, and worried about what could happen, but does she want to know the truth or does she want to avoid it? Does she want to go back to the lonely life she was living before?

The dangerous mystery aspect, the deadly secrets, the thumping tension, all were kept up throughout the book, right up until a very surprising ending. I kept speculating on what was behind the secrets as I read, but I didn't guess right. A must-read for those who enjoyed the author's previous YA novel, Ripple, and for those interested in a darker sort of YA mystery.

(I purchased a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (99)

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

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette imprint)

From Goodreads:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

I hope this will be as sweet and fun as The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight was. :) It's an interesting idea, e-mailing the wrong person and continuing to talk with them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Me on Crewel

Title: Crewel
Author: Gennifer Albin
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

Sixteen year-old Adelice has a secret: she wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she's exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and not having to be a secretary. It also includes controlling what the population eats, where they live, how many children they have, and Adelice isn't interested. But because she slipped up at the worst time and wove a moment at testing, they'll be coming for her. Tonight. Once you become a Spinster, there's no turning back.

Crewel is an engrossing experiment in world-building. A dystopian society mixed with science fiction elements and the act of weaving leaves behind a book that feels so complex, so elaborate, but once you learn the truth everything falls into place.

The book is filled with secrets, things tucked away and hidden for those who are brave enough to discover the truth. Secrets, truth, lies. Control. Who controls whom? Spinsters can manipulate the fabric of Arras, can add to the world and can take away just as easily. But someone tells them what to do, when it add, when to stretch resources, when to rip. There are those who control, those who allow themselves to be controlled, and those who are brave enough to break free.

As much as this is a book about uncovering the truth, it's about control, having it and not having it. Adelice has an amazing ability, even amongst the Spinsters. She is unique, and she struggles desperately to hide it, because her and her parents know that once the Guild knows about her, her ability is no longer hers. She will have no control over her gift. She will belong to the Guild, become their tool, theirs to control, theirs to make into a symbol for Arras to keep things as they are. As they have been. Perfect.

It's a losing battle for the Guild right from the beginning, because Adelice is not one to be easily swayed, yet they try so desperately to bring her over to their side. They might steal her away in the middle of the night, they might lock her up in a tower, they might provide everything they have to offer in terms of privilege and eternal beauty, but given the chance, I believe Adelice would rather spit in their faces.

Adelice is always strong, even when they drag her from her home by force. She's willing to fight back against the Guild, against other Spinsters, but fighting back has consequences that could impact those she cares about. She has the strength and the desire to break free from the chains they've wrapped her in, but can she find the will to tear through them?

I was very intrigued by the weaving aspect of the book. Creating something from something else, creating crops and weather, it makes you wonder what the world is really made of. You can go on changing it as you see fit, removing the mistakes, but what happens when you're drunk on power and go too far? What if you realize it's all a lie? What could be on the other side of the weave? I wish there was a bit more of the weaving, at times I thought it was a bit overshadowed by the false glamourous world Adelice is pulled into, but if they're trying to make her into the new Guild poster girl, it's only right that it would be overshadowed. Less time for weaving, more time as a show horse.

After a very surprising ending, I'm very curious as to where the next book will take Adelice, as to what she will discover. The world is covered in a veil. Who will be strong enough to rip through it and uncover what's underneath?

(I received an advance copy from another review blogger.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Me on Drummer Girl

Title: Drummer Girl
Author: Karen Bass
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Coteau Books

The Fourth Down needs a drummer, and Sidney's easily the best in school, but the all-guy band has some conditions for her to be allowed in... such as dressing like a girl. Accustomed to invisibility, Sid soon discovers the consequences of her makeover. It's not just that playing her drum kit in a skirt is impractical, but as someone who was once taunted about her sexuality for being a girl drummer who likes shop class, she's now forced to deal with guys who see her as fair game and Sid soon realizes the the price of compromising who you really are.

Drummer Girl is an interesting look at someone who is clearly not a "typical" high school girl (I mean "typical" as what society and pop culture consider "typical" for high school girls, it's a stereotype I hope you'll forgive me for referencing). She's quirky, she's comfortable in jeans and old band t-shirts, she's a huge fan of classic rock bands, and because she's not "typical," there are assumptions and stereotypes placed on her. It's her choice to dress how she wants, to be interested in what she likes, to hang out with who she wants to, but she'll have to decide if she wants to stay the way she is or chance for the sake of others.

What I liked about Sid is she was certainly her own person. She just wanted to play drums, to listen to classic rock bands like Rush, to have fun in shop class. She wants to be the one who decides who she is, and when people start thinking she's something else, she gets punchy. Which I understand, no one wants to be called names or put down when they're being themselves.

But there was something that bothered me, and that was Sid's desire to change herself because some people assumed that she was a lesbian because of how she dressed and acted. There was nothing wrong with Sid, nothing beyond a warped sense of needing to completely change her image in order for people to see her as "straight" and "normal" and "a girl." It's not all her fault for changing, there were many times when I wanted to scream at all the jocks and the band guys and her cousin for making her think that she was wrong and they were right, but I wish Sid had a bit more inner strength. Of course, if she did, the book would've been very boring. Still, it's upsetting when teenagers, girls and boys, feel the need to dress or act a certain way because they think it'll help them fit in or make friends or stop the bullying.

One of the purposes of high school, besides learning, is giving teenagers the chance to figure out who they are, to invent yourself and reinvent yourself until you're comfortable with who you are. That's what one of the most important things, discovering who you are and what you're going to be, but you have to make sure you know where the line is between reinventing yourself and lying to yourself.

(I own a copy of this book.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (98)

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

Title: The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

London, 1894. Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns her father is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Juliet is accompanied by the doctor’s handsome young assistant and an enigmatic castaway, who both attract Juliet for very different reasons. They travel to the island only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: he has created animals that have been vivisected to resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape the island, even though her horror is mixed with her own scientific curiosity. As the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

I'm rather looking forward to this, I rather like it when authors do a retelling (especially of a book I've read) and don't make it all futuristic or different. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Me on Romeo Redeemed

Title: Romeo Redeemed
Author: Stacey Jay
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland. Unbeknownst to her, she's important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-toting Ambassadors, and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, to turn her away from her darker potential. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. He vows to protect her from harm, but when she is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable, and her own inner darkness might be what rips them apart.

Romeo Redeemed is the other side of a retelling of an epic love story. What first began in Juliet Immortal continues here, only here we have Romeo's chance at redemption, a chance to make things right after growing a conscience in the first book.

Ariel is a rather battered and ragged heroine, scarred and neglected. It's possible that what she needs isn't Romeo and his sweet words, but it's what she gets and what she latches onto.

Romeo is a very different sort of Romeo this time around. Maybe he's a little weaker, maybe he's a little smarter, maybe he's a little more conflicted in terms of his purpose this time around, but it'll all come down to his will. Will he be able to make Ariel fall in love with him? And when things get dangerous and deadly, will he be able to save her?

The second I finished reading this, I was rather confused how how I would write this review. It wasn't that I hated the book, and neither did I love it. In the end, I couldn't connect with it. I'm not sure why, I rather enjoyed the first book. I was satisfied with how this ended, satisfied that there was an ending, but I'm still pondering the reason for the disconnect.

That being said, I would recommend this to those who enjoyed Juliet Immortal, those who were intrigued at the prospect of Romeo getting his own chance at a happy ending.

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Me on This Week's Book Week (21)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelved hosted by Tynga's Reviews only named by me and not as cleverly. ;)

Hi. *snooze* Suffering from other round of e-galley burnout. More often than not it takes me days to read an e-galley, but a paper book I can read in a few hours. Sorry, digital world. My brain is still hardwired to only accept paper books.

The fall anime season started this week. Yay. :) *crickets* Well, this only matters to you if you like anime, and over the past 8 or 9 months, my TV watching has transitioned into anime streaming watching. But I'm sad. Out of 40 shows, there are 2 I really want to watch, 1 I happened across and found interesting, 2 I'm sort of interested in, and 1 with people chucking bombs at each other and lots of explosions. The sadder thing is that, while the list hasn't been finalized, Crunchyroll doesn't have 1 that I really want to watch and 1 that I'm sort of interested in. It's weird, in the summer there were about 9 or 10 shows I watched. There's something lacking in the fall season that confuses me. Hmmm.

Of course, I was pleased to find out that one of the shows I really wanted to watch is full of Shakespeare references. Book nerd win. ;)

Went to Word on the Street in Vancouver last weekend. More book nerd win. ;) I got my copy of Rage Within signed by Jeyn Roberts (they were giving away copies for free *gasp*), I bought a book I'd been meaning to get for a while now, and I hung out with Nicole who was author-stalking so she could get books signed. :)

Hope all the Canadian bloggers have a good Thanksgiving weekend. :) Mmmmm, pie.
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (it's so good, I previously read an e-galley and posted a review in September)
Way to Go by Tom Ryan (picked up at Word on the Street, yay for Canadian authors)
Destroy Me (e-book) by Tahereh Mafi (... oh, Tahereh, why are you so good??)
Kamisama Kiss Volumes 1, 2, and 3 by Julietta Suzuki (new manga, yay, also a new fall anime so reading along can be fun but not when each episode is a chapter or two)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Me on Velveteen

Title: Velveteen
Author: Daniel Marks
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

Velveteen is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem. The problem is, she landed in purgatory, and while it's not a raging inferno, it's certainly not heaven. It's grey, crumbling, and everyone has a job to do, which doesn't leave Velvet much time to do anything about what's on her mind. Getting her revenge on Bonesaw. She aches to deliver the punishment he deserves, and she's figured out how to do it. She's going to haunt him. It'll be brutal, and it'll be awesome. But crossing the divide between purgatory and the living has some consequences. Her obsessive haunting has cracked the foundations and jeopardizes her very soul, which is a risk she's willing to take, except fate has thrown her a massive curveball in the form of a new unbearably attractive and completely off-limits co-worker. But she can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules or taking revenge, and she might be angry enough to take everyone else down with her.

Velveteen is dark and complicated, packed with sharp, sarcastic wit and deadly encounters at every turn. Things are headed to, well, somewhere, in a handbasket, and Velvet's the only one who can figure it all out and keep everything from crumbling. If she can actually focus instead of obsessing over getting revenge on the psycho who brutally murdered her.

What I enjoyed about Velvet was her personality and her dialogue. She's bitter, she's angry, she's annoyed at almost everything and everyone in purgatory, but she had awesome dead teen spunk. Her complicated relationship with Nick is very complicated. There are rules to keep them from doing the purgatory version of dating, and she's all about following those rules (instead of the one that says 'no haunting'), but she has no qualms about flirting with him or ogling him. Of course, Nick's pretty weird himself, very self-assured. Theirs is one of those sweet and mushy forbidden romances, and because purgatory is like the real world in some ways, you forget that they, and almost everyone in the book, is dead. Who says the dead can't find love?

It's quite possible that there is life after death, or at least some kind of existence where our consciousness goes and is still conscious, but no one knows for sure. Here, it's called purgatory, where some go after they die. Sure, it's called purgatory, but the book doesn't seem to be a discussion of religion. It's just a place filled with people who don't seem thrilled to be there, it's dirty because of all the ashes, and it sucks. Fortunately, it's the perfect place for Violet to angst about being killed by a sick, sick man.

As I read this, I wondered if something was missing, and it wasn't until I was two-thirds of the way through that I realized I was missing a sense of immediacy. The book started so surprisingly, rushed right into a huge quake, and there was a certain sense of 'something happening and we need to figure it out,' but it's possible that it wasn't enough for me. Or that it got lost in Velvet's cute and squishy dead teenage hormone-fueled kissing moments with Nick. Of course, 50 pages later everything exploded and I got the rush I was looking for.

At times, this reminded me of Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves and the TV show Dead Like Me with its mix of death and clever, sarcastic humour. No one really knows what happens after death, and this was an interesting examination of a possibility and how it could all go wrong. And it's nice to see that dead teens can still have snark and angst.

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (97)

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

Title: Level 2
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen discovers that death is just the beginning. Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

So, it sounds kind of interesting. Another exploration of the weird limbo-type space between life and death. I hope the mix of the futuristic setting will work with the Heaven and Earth/good vs evil battle. :) And the cover is rather eye-catching, with all the white and the splash of orange for the title. Not sure about the slash through the girl's eye, though.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Me on Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Title: Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
Author: Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Release Date: October 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux

Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show growing in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendship, and his parents, all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a radio station in Minneapolis looks like a ticket to a better life in the big city, but his entire future is threatened when some people find out that Gabe the DJ is also Elizabeth from school.

At times humourous, honest, and complicated in the way only life as a teenager can be, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is a glimpse into Gabe's life as he's transitioning from Elizabeth to Gabe near the end of high school, a look into his life, his hopes and dreams, his pain and struggles.

What I loved about this book is its raw honesty. Who we are when the world sees us, who we are on the inside, who we want to be, who we see when we look in the mirror, they're all different. When you're a teenager, you're figuring out who you are, questioning your life up until that moment, questioning what you're working towards, questioning how your body doesn't look the way you want it to, and some even question their gender.

Gabe is wonderful. I like calling him Gabe because he's Gabe. When we meet him at the beginning of the book, there are little pieces of Elizabeth, but there's mostly Gabe. Of course, there will always be the little pieces of Elizabeth in Gabe. He deals with so much in the book, the trials and tribulations of high school, keeping Gabe a secret apart from his best friend Paige (who he has a crush on) and his family (who can't accept Gabe because all they see is Elizabeth). The only time Gabe can be himself is that one hour a week in the middle of the night at a community radio station talking about something universal: music. I loved how he was one of those music geeks who appreciates music and its message while being unable to play an instrument.

But then there are the times when Gabe would hide, like he wanted to be open with the world but not in front of people who knew him as Elizabeth because he feared the backlash. The way people can turn on each other because of differences and opinions is terrible. No one in the entire world is exactly alike, so why does it bring out the worst in people when our differences are exposed?

People, like records, have their A sides and their B sides. The side the world sees, and the side you are on the inside. Lots of people have their different sides. What's important to remember is this book is about Gabe and his different sides, Gabe the human being who deserves to be the person he wants to be and not the person his family or his friends or the whole world want him to be. It's all about Gabe, and he just happens to be transitioning from being a girl to being a guy.

I read YA because of books like this. New worlds, new viewpoints, new characters. It's not always a completely accurate representation of real life, but it's as close as the author can make it. I can only imagine the confusion and the struggles of teens like Gabe not just in the US but all over the world, but there are also good moments. There are the friends and the family members that keep supporting them, laughing with them, loving them. Everyone has their A side and their B side, and whichever you choose to live, live it the best way that you can.

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