Saturday, March 30, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (45)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only I'm terrible with naming things. :)

This was an odd week with a high and a weird low.

The high: the Cassie Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan event. It sort of boiled down to waiting in line before the event or waiting in line during and after, and I was okay with waiting in line before because then I could talk to other book people like Caitlin and Jenny (and later on Mariam). And I got to see the wonderful Chandra who tweets from the Indigo Teen Blog account and her awesome friend Nicole. :) I also met some nice girls in line, they were fun to talk to (readers, not bloggers).

The event. It was what I expected: lots of people, a big line, lots of screaming and cheering from fangirls, Cassie being amusing and Sarah being funny. :) There won't be an event write-up because I'm going to link to the video of the Q&A. The talk proper starts at about 28:45 (just so you know). ;) (And a shiny nickel if you figure out which head is the back of my head, because it's there, I saw it in the video (so, that's what the back of my head looks like).)

The only weird thing was I felt the need to hide and decompress afterwards. Probably stemmed from all the people and the super loud DJ they decided to bring in.

The weird low: the ongoing saga of "the plague finger," or the finger that's had this weird infection since New Year's. It's still not all better. Remember how I went and got an x-ray done? On Monday, the first words out of my doctor's mouth were, "We need to run some additional tests." So something showed up, which is good, I want this fixed, but he still doesn't really know what's wrong. Fun. And so, because it could be something a bit serious like an infection in the bone. I was booked for more tests, one of which was a bone density scan that was done on Thursday. It was one of those "we'll be injecting you with something radioactive, do the scan, then have you come back in a couple of hours to do it again" tests. Based on what my doctor sees with this, I might have to get a white blood cell count done.

This year is a very very odd year. My sister was saying that maybe odd-numbered years will now be my complicated medical years. 2011: broken ankle. 2013: infection. 2015: who knows? (Her guess: virgin birth. Then we both laughed.)

(Also, yay to my sister who said yes to a grad school offer. It's the same school we both did our undergraduate studies at and she really likes the department and the staff, so we're happy for her.)

This week's reviews will be Nameless by Lili St. Crow (Tuesday) and In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (Friday). :)
Charmed Vengeance by Suzanne Lazear (from Flux through NetGalley)
Also, swag from the Cassie Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan event. Included: temporary rune tattoos (apparently, there were lots of different runes, but I only seemed to get the one), a small poster and card and bookmark for the City of Bones movie, the Untold teaser chapter, and a necklace with a penny on it. Now all my Cassie books are signed, except when next March comes and City of Heavenly Fire comes out. But considering she was here this past week and again 2 years ago (and before that as well, according to I think Caitlin), I imagine she'll come back to BC.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Me on Beautiful Decay

Title: Beautiful Decay
Author: Sylvia Lewis
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Running Press Kids (Perseus imprint)

Ellie has always needed her space. Literally. With a touch that rots whatever she encounters, Ellie must keep people at a distance for their own good. Not that her classmates are itching to be friends with the "freak" of the high school. So when newcomer Nate makes it his mission to get close to Ellie, she has her suspicions. But when he identifies her ability, as well as his own, she finds herself trusting him more and more. Unfortunately for the two, family secrets can kill, and they'll need more than their abilities to keep things under control. After years or pushing people away, Ellie's realization of the full extent of her powers and willingness to let people get close may be the only way to save the people she loves.

Beautiful Decay is an intriguing look at a rather intriguing and rather complicated girl. Secrets and truths circle her, circle her encounters with someone new, someone who doesn't see her as something to be feared or hated. Her pain, her suffering, is known by the whole town, and this is a look at how she suffers as well as how she learns to break free of her shell.

There is no place for Ellie in her town. She's shunned because of what she can do, shunned because everything she touches dies. There is nowhere for her to fit in unless she hides, unless she fades into the background, but everyone knows she's there. Because of this, she's become a sad girl, an angry girl, an annoyed and bitter girl. Her defence mechanism is harsh biting sarcasm. But she's not avoiding the truth of her ability like her parents, especially her mother who thinks that bleach and going off to college will fix everything.

Then Nate shows up, willing to get close to her, willing to touch her, and sends everything and everyone into a panic. Nate has his secrets, like any new kid in a new school would, but Nate knows. He knows what Ellie can do. With him, she isn't as alone as she used to be anymore, but Nate's secrets are bigger and badder than she ever imagined.

Her ability makes her feared and avoided, but it's an ability I haven't come across much in other paranormal books. In a way, it's similar to Juliette from Shatter Me, but in a way, it isn't. It's not that Ellie sucks the life out of someone when she touches them, it's more that she causes decay. It's more the description of bacteria, mould, and fungi that sets her apart. It may make the novel slightly more disgusting than expected, but it also has an earthy quality. It's life and death at the point where its connected to nature.

Ellie's ability and her classmates avoiding her are a metaphor for Ellie being bullied and verbally abused by those classmates. She's shunned for being different, she's ridiculed, she's called horrible names, she's abandoned. It's only a matter of time before she breaks and strips her gloves off, but it's up to her and how much inner strength she as if she'll crumble or stand tall.

As strange as her world is, it's meeting Nate that sends everything Ellie knew up in the air. Her world sort of becomes his once he shares what he knows about her ability, about his, about her not being the freak she always thought she was. But his world is dangerous and the danger is searching for him, stretching out its dark arms towards him, and if it finds her it might suck her in as well. The last third of the book was filled with suspense and intensity, so much tension and excitement. With that ending, I have many hopes for a second book.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (121)

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

Title: Half Lives
Author: Sara Grant
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette imprint)

From Goodreads:

I learned that surviving isn't all it's cracked up to be. If you survive, you've got to live with the guilt, and that's more difficult than looking someone in the eye and pulling the trigger. Trust me. I've done both. Killing takes a twitch of the finger. Absolution takes several lifetimes.

Seventeen-year-old Icie's parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie's only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what's happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all?

Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie's secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they're ruled by a teenager...and they have surprising ties to Icie.

This high-stakes, original, and thought-provoking adventure from Sara Grant follows two unlikely heroes, hundreds of years apart, as they fight to survive.

This sounds strange and weird and interesting and impossible and connected and complicated and I want to read it. It was at ALA Midwinter but by the time I saw it in the bags of other bloggers and librarians I knew it was too late.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Me on This is What Happy Looks Like

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

When teenage movie star Graham accidentally sends small-town girl Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun except their names or backgrounds. Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the prefect location for his next film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

This is What Happy Looks Like is a sweet, funny, and complicated few weeks in the lives of two teenagers whose first contact with each other is an e-mail send by mistake. This is an entertaining look at secrets and messages, at celebrity and fame, at hiding the truth as it's being exposed, and at what people's different versions of what makes them happy are.

The book starts with an intriguing premise, rather relevant now in the 21st century with so many lives circling around e-mail. If you were accidentally sent and e-mail from someone you didn't know, if the message was an innocuous as an owner's concern over a pet, would you reply back, not knowing where the message was going or who might read it? Would there only be that one exchange, or would it continue? What if that one encounter turned into something more, something bigger than either of you, something amazing and surprising? Would you see it as fate?

I was surprised as the tension in such a fun and light-hearted book. There was something building, something that neither Ellie nor Graham wanted exposed by photographers and reporters. Ellie is sweet, but she has her issues and her skeletons that she doesn't want anyone to see. Graham, by contrast, is constantly in the public eye as a teen actor, but he's not that typical of an actor. He has, to be blunt, human qualities, he hasn't been a famous Hollywood actor for that long, but he can't escape being a target and that puts a damper on his attempts to meet up with Ellie.

These days, as a celebrity constantly in the public eye, you can't escape the risk of being exposed, of being revealed, of having everything you struggle to hide shown to the world. People have public lives and private lives, but quite often with celebrities having a private life is seen as impossible, or even a joke. There are people out there who feel they deserve to know every aspect of celebrities' lives. I imagine it's a very trying and a very hard life to live.

If the e-mail Graham sent by mistake to Ellie was fate, then everything that happened afterwards was meant to be. The ups and downs, the laughter and tears, the scandals and the secrets. If it was fate, then they were meant to come face to face with it all, meant to struggle, and in the end it's up to them to work past it to see if they were meant to discover what happy really looks like to the both of them.

(I acquired an advance copy of this book at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (44)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but

Unlike last week, some books came. :) Books make happy faces. As does book mail 2 days in a row. :)

There've been a few ALA books that I've read and left little mini reviews of on Goodreads, so if we're friends over there you've seen them. Mini reviews so far include The Summer Prince (in lieu of a full review because any kind of review from me would be inadequate (a very unique story that's hard to describe)), Eleanor & Park (a sweet story that I know others have loved but just isn't my kind of contemporary), and Things I Can't Forget (which I didn't pick up at ALA but decided to leave a mini review of). 

I think Chapters/Indigo learned some things when Cassandra Clare and Holly Black came to BC 2 years ago, the main one being that lots of people would show up. And so I think that's why they set up the rules for next week's signing featuring Cassie and special guest Sarah Rees Brennan (too bad Maureen Johnson was only at the stops this week, she's loads of fun). Such rules include purchasing Clockwork Princess on the 19th at the store the signing will be at in order to get one of the 400 wristbands that will get you into the signing line.

So I went to the bookstore early Tuesday morning to get the book and the wristband, figuring it would get busy over the day but not right at 9am. I forgot about the power of fangirls and teenagers on Spring Break. My sister went with me (she wanted to go shopping after) and when we got there just before 9am, the line was 200+ people long (also, the line did hold a fair amount of friends/parents/pained boyfriends). Once the store opened, the line moved along at a good pace, meaning the line was directed straight to the checkout where the cashier would give you a copy of the book with the wristband tucked inside and you'd pay right away. Which meant we were only in line for about 30 minutes. There were still some there when we left the mall, I saw a Twitter update saying there were around 100 left close to 11am, then I saw that evening they still had about 20 wristbands left. I imagine they're all gone now.

Now, to determine what time to leave to get in line next Tuesday (it starts at 6pm). Do I go early and be close enough to the front to get a seat, around 1:30/2pm? Do I go later because of the wristband that automatically gets me into the signing line, around 4/5pm?

Would people like a giveaway from the Cassie and Sarah signing? What would be in the giveaway? A signed Cassie book? A signed Sarah book? Whatever swag I can get? I'm leaning towards maybe swag and away from a book, mailing the heavy Clockwork Princess hardcover sure could get expensive.

Upcoming reviews will feature This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (Tuesday the 26th) and Beautiful Decay by Sylvia Lewis (Friday the 29th). :)
Nameless by Lili St. Crow (from Penguin Canada)
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (from Penguin Canada for a blog tour this summer)
My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush by Laura Toffler-Corrie (from Macmillan through NetGalley)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (I read it on Tuesday after I got home. :))

Friday, March 22, 2013

Me on The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

Title: The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door
Author: Karen Finneyfrock
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Viking (Penguin imprint)

Celia Door enters her freshman year of high school with giant boots, dark eyeliner, and a thirst for revenge against Sandy Firestone, the girl who did something unspeakable to Celia in eighth grade. But then Celia meets Drake, the cool new kid from New York City who entrusts her with his deepest, darkest secret, who makes her look at things a different way. When Celia's quest for justice threatens her relationship with Drake, she's forced to decide which is sweeter: the revenge she craves or the friendship she never knew she needed.

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door is a clever, honest, and insightful look at one girl's entrance into high school and all it entails, including a reunion with the girls from middle school who made eighth grade painful. Celia is an interesting sort of character, funny and clever but sad and confused, and her experience will resonate with anyone who'd ever felt alone and bullied by their peers.

One thing that stands out the most in this book is Celia's voice. She's creative, she's wise, she's knowledgeable after reading book after book from the public library. She has her own way of seeing the world around her, seeing her parents' marriage stagnate and turn into something else, seeing Drake struggle with the secret that only she knows, seeing Sandy Firestone and waiting for the day she'll get her revenge. There's a mention of Celia studying the high school's yearbook so she could prepare for her freshman year, but there is no studying. It's a jump into the deep end for everyone, we just have to hope we can tread water or that there are people nearby willing to help keep us afloat.

Celia's poems are a coping mechanism, a way for her to express what she's feeling when she's keeping it all inside. She doesn't tell either of her parents, her forgetful mother or absent father, how she feels, she doesn't tell Drake the truth behind how she feels, and so it's all building up inside her, escaping in little bursts of poems that no one is ever meant to see.

At fourteen, Celia is a young narrator for a young adult novel, but the message of this book is no less powerful or important. She's been bullied, she's become Dark, but is getting her revenge on Sandy Firestone worth it? Is revenge ever worth it? With revenge, Celia wants Sandy to feel exactly how she felt, she wants her to feel the pain and the shame that she was put through, but she never considers the end. Those who plan revenge plots rarely consider the aftermath, the whispers, the additional pain that could surface. If Celia goes through with her revenge, she might lose the only friend she has.

Those early years of high school, the first year or two, they're the start of you discovering what you want to be, who you're going to be. You don't want those times to be sad, to be painful, to weight you down until you're about to buckle under the pressure. It's not about becoming who other people want you to be, it's about figuring out who you want to be. Be the best you you can be, hang out with who you want to hang out with. Maybe then high school will be pretty sweet.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (120)

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

Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindi McGinnis
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

This sounds so creepy and so brutal and so dangerous. I want to read this so bad. But it'll have to be in a brightly lit room, just in case someone shows up and tries to steal my glass of water.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Me on 17 & Gone

Title: 17 & Gone
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin imprint)

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common-they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent and immediate answers. Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? Is she next? As she searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

17 & Gone is haunting and hugely powerful. Dripping with mystery, intrigue, sadness, and determination, this is one girl's journey to discover the truth behind another's disappearance, behind multiple disappearances of teenage girls. Something happened to these girls, something that led them to be declared missing, and one girl takes it upon herself to reveal the truth.

The novel is Lauren's account of her experience right from when it starts, when she first sees Abby, when she first sees the visions, and as she sees girl after girl, story after story, until she's surrounded by them. Her voice feels slightly distant from the story as a whole, but I find that it stems from how this is told. Lauren is recounting what happened to her, what happened to the girls who went missing, and what happened as she traveled unknowingly straight to a surprising and revealing ending.

While the novel mainly features Lauren, it's not just about her. It's also about the girls who are 17 and gone, gone and disappeared into the mist, into a car, into an adventure, into a life they hoped was better than the one they left behind. It's a serious subject. What happened to those girls who leave and are never found, girls whose family wants them back while the authorities just wash their hands of them as they declare them to be runaways? It's heartbreaking, it's terrible to think about, but there are those who want to find them. There are people who care about them when no one else does.

The different stories, the different girls, they're all the different ways someone can become lost. All the girls are lost, but so is Lauren. She's lost in this mission they give her, swept away into the current they create, pushed into discovering the truth no matter how unexpected it might be.

What is the truth behind what Lauren is seeing? She thinks she's seeing spirits, ghost, visions of the past, but is she? Or is it all in her head? Is she making it all up? Are they ghosts searching for someone to help them, or is Lauren suffering from a mental illness? In a way, I think it's up for interpretation on behalf of the reader. They can choose to believe that what Lauren sees or not.

No matter if you believe Lauren or not, if you think the girls are real and crying out for help or not, this novel will still stick with you, whispering the names of lost girls, whispering their stories. Crying out for someone to find them.

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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (43)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but I'm terrible at naming things and this has stuck. :)

No books again. Sad face. But then I look at the books I have reviews scheduled for in April and think "NO MORE!" And then I go on Twitter and want more books. It's a terrible cycle.

It was finally really rainy this week. Last week was really nice, but this week was gloomy. Standard Lower Mainland weather. :)

So. Review buffers. I like having a buffer, I like not being in a rush to read a book and then write up a review. I've always tried to have a buffer, sometimes it hasn't worked out so well but at the least I've got the week's reviews ready to go up by that Sunday. Having a set schedule of what you're going to review and when also helps. I think I'm scheduled up until mid-June (thank you, ALA books). I'm going to try and take a week to read through some of the books I missed, the ARCs I picked up whose release dates have come and gone, and then jump right into April's review books. Since the blog event starts in May and the first two weeks are dedicated to it, and since I have a bunch of May 7 releases (7 of them, well, 8, but one of them counts for the event) they either get crammed into late April or mid to late May. Which means most of April will have 3 reviews a week weeks.

Would you guys appreciate me saying what reviews will be posted the upcoming week so you know beforehand? This week's reviews will be 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma (Tuesday) and The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock (Friday). :)
Read this past week or so:
The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony (An interesting contemporary YA. Girl's father joins a religious cult and when she doesn't go with him, she ends up homeless.)
17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma (A haunting story about being lost, discovering the truth, and what happens to those missing girls no one ever finds.)
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (Cute, sweet, fun contemporary.)
Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison (A murder mystery kind of ghost story.)
Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (Contemporary YA. High school grad works at a Christian summer camp, all about friendship and religion and dating and secrets and following the rules you feel are the most important.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Me on Marco Impossible

Title: Marco Impossible
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan imprint)

Thirteen-year-old best friends Stephen and Marco attempt a go-for-broke heist to break into the high school prom and get Marco to confess her love for (and hopefully steal the heart of) Benji, the adorable exchange student and bass player of the prom band. Of course, things don't always go as planned, and every heist has its share of hijinks.

Marco Impossible is an adventure of epic proportions, at least from Marco and Stephen's point of view. It won't be an easy adventure, and there might be times when they want to give up, but this is one of those life-changing adventures they won't ever regret if they follow it through to the end.

Stephen and Marco are two best friends, different in the ways that work, Marco plans the schemes and Stephen records everything. They work well off each other, Stephen as the cautious sidekick with Marco as the sometimes fearless sometimes battered wildly creative leader who desperately wants to confess his love before it's too late. An awesome pair with their own set of problems.

They're on a mission, a very important mission, like two detectives who never believe they could be in over their heads at any point (well, Stephen thinks they're in over their heads, Marco's too focused on the goal). But what would they do if they happen to end up involved in something sinister?

What I enjoy most about Hannah's books is they're about people, people with big flaws, big hearts, big problems, big dreams, big plans. Gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, questioning. Even fishboy. It's about people, it's people that matter. And Hannah writes about people in such a wonderful way.

Like any Hannah Moskowitz book, reading this was an unexpected surprise. Her books are always honest, always emotional, often brutal, and always heartfelt. This is something more sweeter than Teeth, her most recent YA novel, but it is by no means any less complicated for its characters.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Me on The Madman's Daughter

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

Juliet has built a life for herself in London: working as a maid, attending church, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one proved the rumours about her father's gruesome experiments, but when she learns he's still alive and continuing his work, she's determined to find out if the accusations are true. Accompanied by her father's assistant Montgomery and castaway Edward, both of whom Juliet is drawn to, she travels to the island only to discover the depths of her father's madness. His experiments live on, animals operated on until they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. What's worse is one of the creatures has gone wild, murdering the others. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island descends into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius, and madness, in her own blood.

The Madman's Daughter is a return to gothic horror with a twist on a piece of classic literature. This book is what one would expect, it's dark, dangerous, gruesome, and mysterious. On the island, Juliet is forced to confront with a number of terrifying things, such as her father's research and the fact it borders on insane and monstrous, the secrets surrounding the island and its inhabitants, and the truth that unknowingly lurks in her blood.

This book takes me back to proper gothic horror, horror in the vein of Dracula and Frankenstein. It is a new twist on The Island of Dr. Moreau, Wells' exploration of scientific ethics and gruesome experimentation, the struggle of one man to become God and have it all turn horrifically wrong. It's very faithful to the original, to the wild island setting, to the realization of danger and the wildness that lives in the hearts of those who walk not only on four legs but also on two. Wells is considered to be one of the co-founders of the science fiction genre. Here, Shepherd takes us back, back in time, back to the island, back to the howls and the screams that travel through the jungle's trees.

But retellings are complicated. A new story must be shaped from the existing, both must find a way to live together between the covers. Here, the original is everywhere, coating each and ever page, but so is the new. Juliet brings new life, new connections, and new complications that twist the story into something more. Juliet must be strong enough to stand on her own or else she runs the risk of being swallowed up, both by Wells and his creations and her own fear and dread.

I dreaded the love triangle between Juliet, Montgomery, and Edward, but Shepherd dealt with it well. She's drawn to both of them, yes, but it seems to be in different ways. Montgomery she knew before, Edward she just met. But she fears what might be inside her, in her blood, in the blood she got from her father, and so that complicated things. Until she learns the truth and must make a decision.

The idea that there will be two more books to follow, that this is a series, makes me both curious and intrigued. With this, Shepherd showed she could stay faithful to Wells' original, but the next two books will be a harder battle, I think. I'm sure more than one reader has wondered what would happen next after reading The Island of Dr. Moreau, and it's possible that with Juliet, we could see one interpretation of what could happen.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (119)

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

Title: The Lost Sun
Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood—the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of—the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

I adore Tessa's books, I love how she tells stories. That's what her books are, gorgeously crafted stories. And I know I'm going to love this next book of hers. Norse mythology and gods walking around like celebrities, a tweaked USA setting, a teenage guy battling bloodlust, a teenage girl dreaming of the future and people she doesn't know. I want to read this so much. I want more books like this, more books that don't fall back on the Greek mythology standard that I'm starting to get tired of. :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Me on Every Never After

Title: Every Never After
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill Canada (Penguin Canada imprint)

Despite their vow, best friends Clare and Allie once more find themselves in trouble, and traveling through time. Indulging in a low-key vacation at Glastonbury Tor, taking part in an archeological dig while soaking up the sights of summertime England, the girls promised each other three things. No time travel shenanigans, no involvement with dangerous Druids or villainous museum thieves, and no weirdness about the fact that Clare is now dating Allie's super hot genius cousin, Milo. But when Allie makes a discovery at the dig site, the skull transports her back in time to a Roman encampment besieged by rampaging Celts. Caught between the Legions and the war band, Allie is rescued from certain death by Marcus, a young Roman soldier with a secret. As she struggles to survive in the past, Clare and Milo race against time in the present to bring her back before she loses her head or her heart.

Every Never After is a welcome return to an entertaining series with witty and intelligent characters. A return to Clare and Allie means a return to 1st century Britain with a little time travel to help them along, a return to blood magic and raging Celts and Druids, a return to complicated time streams and ingenious teen girls. But things are different now, this time it's Allie who travels back in time, and it's up to Clare to help bring her back.

Things are a lot more complicated this time around. Now Allie is trapped in the past and Clare and Milo are racing to find away to bring her back without bringing two worlds together and crashing everything into everything else. The stakes are so much higher than they were before, merely a month ago to Clare and Allie, and so much is at risk of disappearing.

It's never easy for Allie and Clare. Time is fickle, working against them along with Druid magic and villainous thieves. But what makes this book so entertaining is Allie and Clare themselves. They're passionate and sometimes foolish and headstrong, but they're smart, they're ingenious and intelligent, and they always seem to find a way to fix what was broken by a rather pompous time-traveling man.

Time travel is so complicated, so intricate and delicate. There are consequences to messing with time, there are paradoxes, and every loose thread must be tied off. Or everything Clare and Allie have done with be for naught.

With both this book and its predecessor, Lesley Livingston combines history, science fiction, and witty characters to bring readers something entertaining, cleverly disguising a possible British history lesson with a lot of action and intrigue. This book turns up the suspense, the excitement, the danger, the time travel complications, and at the end left me breathless and desperate for a third book.

(I received an e-galley to review from Penguin Canada through NetGalley.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (42)

This Week's Book Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews but not as cleverly named. ;)

Yesterday I did a book purge of all three of my bookcases (2 in my room in the open with 1 hidden in the closet) because I needed to do a spring book purge. I needed to purge the books I hadn't read in years, I needed to purge the books I wasn't going to read again, but I still held onto the ones I loved. The battered and well-read books that make me love reading, that let me escape into a different world.

I also had a weird neurotic moment where I needed to count how many books I brought back from ALA and how many I had left to read. Out of 70 books, I have 46 books to read, which means 24 have been read, sent off to good homes, and/or are waiting for me to contact the library about giving them to their teen readers.

I've tweeted pictures of all the free books (with the exception of a few already claimed). Local bloggers and other people I know have first dibs at the books I'm getting rid of. For others across Canada and in the US and elsewhere, we might need to work out something so I'm not the only one paying shipping. Fair is fair, you know.

Remember my weird infected finger? Well, I saw my doctor this week. We've reached the 'send nail clippings to the lab' stage and 'get an x-ray done to make sure it's not an infection that's settling into the bone' stage. In a few weeks, we might be at the 'go see a skin doctor' stage. How fun. Stupid plague finger. At least all it cost me this time around was parking at the outpatient clinic for the x-ray.

My sister's starting to hear back from grad schools she applied to. Which is awesome for her. :) But she's been stressing over which one to go to and how much it'll all cost and if she'll get some kind of grant or fellowship to help with costs.

3 weeks until the Cassie Clare signing. :) It'll be nice to hang out with book people again.

Received: (I linked to each book on Goodreads because these are not the final covers.)
The Originals by Cat Patrick (from Hachette Book Group Canada)
Icons by Margaret Stohl (from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Me on The Culling

Title: The Culling
Author: Steven dos Santos
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux Books

Lucian "Lucky" Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known at the Establishment to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an "Incentive," a family member to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he'll have to choose death for his only living relative, his four-year-old brother Cole. Lucky will do anything to keep his brother alive. What he isn't prepared for is the undeniable attraction to the handsome and rebellious Digory Tycho. While they train together, their relationship grows, but daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly.

The Culling is brutal and deadly, a dangerous world controlled by a murderous government hiding behind a mask of righteousness. Lucian will have to fight, fight with everything he is, fight for everything he has, and hope it's enough to keep those he loves alive at the end.

Everything Lucian does is for Cole. Everything. He's all he has left, and so every sacrifice must be made. He just never expected to make this sacrifice, to be forced to leave him and train in order to return and fight for both of their lives. Then comes Digory, igniting a spark between the two of them, Digory who helps Lucian as much as he can, and Lucian ends up a little torn between him and his brother. There's also Lucian's past friendship with Cassius, the new prefect for the city. Something happened between them, something in the past before the book started, and I'm very curious as to what it was.

In any dystopian, there will be secrets the ruling group is trying to hide. There will be threats of physical harm and death. There will be those who choose to rise up and fight back and those who crumble under the massive weight of the world. In order to connect with readers, there must be strength in the characters but also weakness. Lucian is battered and bruised, especially after going through what he has, but he still pushes on.

It's not every day that I come across a dystopian YA where the main character is gay, or where a different male character has a husband and all of the surprise stems from the fact that he's already married and not that his spouse is a man. It gives a different sort of glimpse into the world the author has crafted. Yes, it's brutal, lethal, and razor sharp at all the edges, but apparently it's a world where people can marry within their gender and not be discriminated against.

Now, this book is similar to The Hunger Games, rather similar, but that being said I found it different enough to be interesting, to hold my attention right to the end. So many questions are left unanswered at the end, and so now I'm left waiting for the next book.

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (118)

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

Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.

This sounds all kinds of creepy and dangerous and filled with possible mix-ups. The alternate reality trend is slowly creeping its way forward after Through to You, very slowly, and I'm interested in more books like it. I'm rather jealous of those going to BEA this summer, I heard Gretchen will be there signing ARCs. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Me on When We Wake

Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healey
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Tegan is sixteen and just like every other girl living in 2027. She's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice. But on what should have been the best day of her life, she dies, and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened. Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity, even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and she appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

When We Wake is intriguing, incredibly thoughtful, and incredibly relevant. How much will the world change between now and 100 years from now? What will be our worth as people? What will the planet look like? How will visitors and refugees from different countries be treated? If a terrible truth is being hidden from the rest of the world, will anyone be brave enough to bring it to light? This is an exploration of a changing world, an exploration of faith, and a conformation that, sometimes, you have to speak out in order to save the world.

The best comment I can give Karen Healey about this book is that I hope I never experience a future like this. It's frightening realistic. I don't live in Australia, but I can recognize hints and pieces of what's happening then happening now. It's eerie, and scary, and serves in increase both my fear for the future and my hope that we won't ruin it.

Tegan brings a 21st century Aussie teen's attitude and knowledge of her world to a far different 22nd century Melbourne. And it's not just Melbourne, it's the whole world. She's so normal, she has friends and a boyfriend and she's passionate about changing the world, and suddenly she's a publicity stunt, a girl brought back to life, an instant celebrity. The culture shock is staggering at every turn but she still manages to fight her way through every roadblock, even when it looks like she might not make it out alive.

The future Tegan encounters is different from the present she knows. There's a notable loss of resources, the shrinking of the oceans and the disappearance of forested areas. The temperature is on the rise, inflation is on the rise, technology is on the rise. There are new diseases to fight, new battles to encounter. The social customs and norms aren't what she's used to, and neither is the technology, but Tegan is a fighter. Her guts and strength are what propel her into the unknown, into the journey she tells the reader all about.

I think the purpose of books like this is to show readers, teenagers and adults alike, that things need to change now in order to keep the future from looking similar to what's portrayed. Destruction, devastation, poverty, refugees. It all sounds pretty depressing. But we can hope that, if the future turns grey and dismal and if there's a secret as big as the one Tegan discovers, that there will be those fighting to tell the truth and help humanity remember its roots. The future doesn't have to be frightening, it can be better, but we're the ones who have to work hard to keep it bright.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Me on This Week's Book(less) Week (41)

This Week's Book(less) Week is like Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews only names by me. And no books.

What do you guys want to see during the Canadian YA Lit event? Besides a giveaway. Which there will be.

I developed an awesome bruise this week. I know that sounds weird. I had some blood drawn early in the week and the nurse had to move the needle around a bit and so now I've got this wicked bruise on my arm. :)

(I'm prefacing this by saying that I'm actually writing this bit on Monday.) So, I saw Penguin Teen tweet that the Isla and the Happily Ever After cover would be revealed on the 28th, as well as new covers for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. There has been so much blogger frustration over cover changes, and with Penguin especially, they seem rather notorious for changing covers during a series. But it's not just them. Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Disney-Hyperion, Hachette. I wouldn't be surprised if every publisher is guilty of annoying readers by changing the cover part-way through a series.

Now, take a look at some release dates. Anna: Dec 2 2010. Lola: Sept 29 2011. Isla: Sept 17 2013. It'll be 2 years between books. The cover change makes sense. Refresh, revamp, draw in new readers. Re-release Anna and Lola with new covers in paperback soon then Isla in hardcover in September. From a marketing standpoint, it makes sense. From an existing reader and fan of the previous covers and someone who hates it when book spines don't match on bookshelves standpoint, it stings. Since this is all speculation on my part, I'd love to know Penguin's reasoning behind it.

As the week went on (it's Wednesday afternoon as of this sentence), I became indifferent. Stephanie Perkins tweeted that she loves the new covers, that they're like her dream covers, that they're worth the change. On Wednesday, Kelly Jensen made a good point, and I'm going to paste her tweet here: "It's getting too hard to keep up with all the cover reveals and when and where and then it's super easy to forget the book period." Because it's true.

(And now it's Thursday and the new covers have been revealed.) It's amazing how people can be so passionate about their resistance to change. My Twitter feed is right now (Thursday afternoon) filled with a mixture of anger, enjoyment, marketing rage, and multiple people telling everyone to calm down and move on. I like the new covers, I'm happy that the author loves them so much, and this just means we're a little bit closer to FINALLY READING ISLA.

I debated on whether or not to totally erase what I'd written earlier in the week and barely talk about this, but I didn't. Feel free to comment at will. Or not. It's up to you. :)

No books this week. Instead, here's what I read over the past week and a bit. :)
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider (You guys know me, you know I don't read a lot of contemporary YA, but there's something about this book. It's out in June. Also, I've heard that this isn't the final cover.)
Gates of Paradise by Melissa de la Cruz (So many series are ending this year, I'm getting all emotional.)
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (I've read Wells' Moreau, so I knew what would happen, but I didn't expect the echoing liquid SQUICK sound that traveled through the book. Finally, some proper gothic horror. My review will be up in a couple of weeks.)
Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston (A re-read because of another book.)
Every Never After by Lesley Livingston (I really like Lesley's books, yay for Canadian content, and this series is all kinds of history and time travel and geek fun.)
City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (A rather interesting fantasy with Asian inspiration.)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Me on Let the Sky Fall

Title: Let the Sky Fall
Author: Shannon Messenger
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster imprint)

Vane has no idea how he survived the Category 5 tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the dark-haired girl who's swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is. Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She's also a guardian, Vane's guardian, and has sworn an oath to protect him. Even if it means sacrificing her own life. When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both their families, Audra's forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim, the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand, but unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them but the forbidden romance that's grown between them.

Let the Sky Fall is mysterious and enthralling, lush with power and danger. So important is the need to discover the truth, the need to prove oneself worthy, and the desire to survive. Connections twist their way around the pair, known but forbidden. There are whispers on the wind, brushing at them, pushing past them, telling them something is coming and they should be prepared for the worst.

An under-written, in my opinion, mythological creature is the sylph, the air elemental, containing the power to command the various winds and breezes that circle the world. Since they are under-written about, like other creatures that control the four elements, the sylphs in this book are so unique and different they make the book stand out as something new. Combined with the history and culture established by the author, as well as the different types of winds, they were possibly the most compelling part of the book for me. Air and wind, they're such normal everyday occurrences, but what if they could be controlled?

The danger in this book is very immediate. A precarious situation from the start, the author doesn't beat around the bush and instead introduces the reader to the tension almost immediately. Audra, also, doesn't beat around the bush with Vane. Someone is coming for them, possibly to take them, possibly to kill them, and so Vane is not-so-gently shoved head-first into a world he doesn't know and a battle he isn't prepared for.

Chapters alternate between points of view, showing the readers both Vane and Audra. The learning and the knowing, the discovering the truth and the fear of being found, the future in Vane and his powers and the past in Audra and the secrets she keeps. The two come together and need to rely on each other, hopefully without pride getting in the way.

Vane has attitude, snarky and sarcastic guy attitude, and it works well compared to Audra's prideful fear and stubbornness. He has a connection to the wind that reaches back into a past he can't remember, and he discovers he's more than he thought, that he's not what he thought, that there's more out there waiting for him. But does he want it? He wants Audra, he craves more than the simple connection of constantly seeing her in his dreams. Now he knows her, but he also knows what's at stake, and his pride swells at the chance of becoming stronger just for her. It's also for him. If he doesn't grow, if he doesn't survive, then what was the point?

Audra is a frightened, broken girl, unwilling to expose a part of their shared past to Vane. She doesn't want to be hated or feared by him. In a way, a complicated way, she likes him, but her mission draws a line in the sand between them. Teach him, train him, make him learn, but don't fall for him. Getting close isn't an option. And the secrets she keeps, and there are a fair amount, will only serve to hurt him in the end. Her pride and her fear, her massive stubbornness, completely block the way. She can be compassionate, she can seem so young and fragile, but when it comes to her flaws being exposed she can get volatile.

Something is chasing after Vane, someone who craves power and control. There is a saying about absolute power, that it will always corrupt those who attempt to possess it. There can be power, but there must also be peace and compassion, sense and reason. Violence will never be the answer.

Neither Vane nor Audra are perfect. Both have their issues and their mistakes, the desire to hide the bad parts of themselves from the other. Imperfect characters make for engrossing stories and powerful lessons. The looming darkness is drifting its way towards them, and soon everything will converge into one massive storm.

(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)