Saturday, June 29, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (58)

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

Happy early Canada Day. :) Not sure how around I'll be this weekend with the holiday coming up.

Summer is coming... next week, apparently. All the forecasts I've seen predict a heatwave to show up middle of next week. It'll be nice, because the rain is getting annoying, but it'll also be really really hot. I imagine we'll be hanging out in our cool basement during that time.

Google Reader ends on Monday, but you're welcome to keep following Me on Books in whichever new way you've discovered. I'll be over on Bloglovin, but there's other places like Feedly and the new (and possibly still testing, I think they're rushing to have everything working by Monday) Digg Reader. It's up to you. There's also the 'Subscribe by E-mail' option in the left-hand sidebar. :)

I posted pics of all the books I've got free to give away on Twitter and a bunch of people said they were interested. I so love how some people were local bloggers, saves me so much on shipping. The pics are still up on my Twitter page if anyone's interested, about 20 books have been claimed already. Keep in mind that depending on how many books you're interested in and where you live, you might have to chip in for shipping. No media mail in Canada so sending parcels is a bit pricey.

All other books that aren't sent off to new homes will be either given to charity, given to the nearby high school in the fall when school starts up, or dropped randomly by me around the Lower Mainland with big 'FREE BOOK' stickers on them. :)

Reviews going up this week will feature Way to Go by Tom Ryan (Tuesday) and Half Lives by Sara Grant (Friday). :)
Ink by Amanda Sun (My finished copy arrived, the outside cover is all textured and fancy.)
Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (I really like this series, as brutal as it is. It's about family, and love, and living, and fighting for what you believe in, and surviving. I'm just concerned that it'll go on for years and the ending will be a long time in coming. Volume 2 comes out soon, the cover looks rather badass with Marko's face all covered in blood. I might be searching for the monthly comics when chapter 13 comes out in August.)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Me on When You Were Here

Title: When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore. When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

When You Were Here is an emotional and moving tale of a young man's search into his mother's life. There is grief and loss and family, but also death and love, and how utterly confusing the two are.

Danny is a mix of messed up emotions. He's broken, depressed, listless, and with no sense of direction, no idea of what to do next. There is no emotion in him, apart from anger at the world, affection towards his dog, and confusion towards his sort of ex-girlfriend. It's like his mother was an anchor in his life, and his memories of her aren't enough to hold him down to continue on with his life.

Love and death have a way of going hand in hand in life. They are both completely confusing, hard to understand, and unmistakably irresistible. We can't escape either of them. We love, we die, the ones we love die, our love for others die. But why are love and death so important to the human condition? Why do we base our lives on them, why do we both run from them and run towards them? Is the challenge of trying to understand them that pulls us in? Or is it that, without them, life would be meaningless?

After his mother's death, Danny's at a loss and is unsure of where to go next. Losing someone takes a lot out of you, it leaves the world feeling incomplete, like you're not sure how to navigate the place you've always lived in, a place you know like the back of your hand.

Danny is searching for reasons why his mother died, but he never expects to learn lessons in love, life, and letting go. The world is far from perfect, there will be pain and loss, but you have to think of the good times, you have to do what makes you happy. You have to love life and love those in your life like nothing else matters.

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (134)

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

Title: Sweet Legacy
Author: Tera Lynn Childs
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

From Goodreads:

Greer has always known she was privileged, though she had no idea how special her second sight made her, even among her triplet monster-fighting sisters. But when a god starts playing with her mind, can Greer step up in her pretty high heels to prevent anything from stopping her sisters’ mission?

Grace loves her adopted brother, Thane, but now that he’s back and has joined her sisters’ team, it’s clear his past is full of dark mysteries. She wants to trust him, but will Thane’s secret put the girls in even more danger?

Gretchen knows she can rely on her sisters to help her stop the monsters. But after getting to know some of the beasties in the abyss, she finds her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined. How can she know what her birthright demands of her now?

The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and gods descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves. In this exciting conclusion to the Sweet Venom trilogy, these teenage heirs of Medusa must seek the truth, answer the ancient riddles, and claim their immortal legacy.

This series is one of my favourites, it's very rich in both Greek mythology, teenage angst, and girl power. As much as I don't want the series to end, I'm very curious as to how everything will come together, how the three girls will do battle and save everyone who needs saving.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Me on Ashes on the Waves

Title: Ashes on the Waves
Author: Mary Lindsey
Release Date: June 27, 2013
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin imprint)

Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him, until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever. With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied, but the violent, mythical Otherworlders who inhabit the island and the sea around it have other plans. They make a wager on their love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial, and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.

Ashes on the Waves is haunting and mysterious gothic novel filled with darkness and dangerous beings, filled with sadness and mournful wailing, filled with dark secrets and a love hopefully unbreakable.

Something unexpected in this book but welcome was Liam's voice. An old-fashioned way of speaking brought on by classic literature, intelligence that belies his age, but also a sadness that cuts deep. He's a melancholic young man hated by most of the villagers, shunned because of his origins, cast aside like a monster. When Anna comes along she doesn't see what they see, but she doesn't know what they know, what Liam himself knows. Anna returning to the island creates hope in Liam, awakening a dream of not being looked at in fear or revulsion.

Being in Liam's head shows readers the dangers of the island but keeps the secrets he also keeps from Anna, and so in that way readers learn as Anna learns. Readers are left in the dark, curious about why he is called a demon by the villagers, until Liam tells Anna what he knows. But even then it's not everything because Liam himself doesn't know the whole truth.

On the island is Celtic and old world mythology come to life. The Otherworlders are creatures of myth and legend, living on land and in the sea. They are very dangerous, and not so mythical, if they're present, if their presence is known. And they have their own agenda, wrapping up Liam and Anna in something sinister.

The author has brought new life to Poe's poem, to the sea and the castle rising over it, to the cliffs and the dark waters holding dangerous secrets, to the overwhelming love the narrator has for a certain girl. But how strong is Liam and Anna's love? Is it truly unbreakable? This is a modern day gothic novel with a compelling love story, it's utterly enthralling and utterly heart-breaking.

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

Me on Top Ten Tuesday (3)

Top Ten Tuesday is a bunch of weekly fun hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. :)

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2013

I've read 102 books so far this year. Some were great, some weren't. Some had amazing worlds, some had wonderfully-flawed characters. :)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Putting this book first (on an unnumbered list) when the release date is mid-September is rather telling. If The Raven Boys was curiosity and magic, this is more. This is the aftermath, this is what they didn't expect would come.

Coda by Emma Trevayne. This book was so creative, so imaginative, so intuitive, so musical. Anthem is, so far, the year's best unlikely hero.

Ink by Amanda Sun. Dark magic, ink drawings that come alive, the allure of Japan and its rich culture.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Sort of kicking myself for not reading this sooner. An intriguing tale of two teenage boys as they navigate a summer together and attempt to discover what the universe is made of.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Such a sweet, funny, sad, intelligent, geeky little thing of a book. This was so much fun to read, and I was surprised at how much of myself I could see in Cath.
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. I imagine tortured, snarky boys like Ezra Faulkner are why some go nuts over contemporary YA. He has his moments, that's for sure.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab. I adore the way Victoria has with words. Mac is all kinds of sad and tortured, and things don't get any easier for her.

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan. At times sweet and sad but always magical. A curious look at wanting to be seen and wanting to be invisible.
Reboot by Amy Tintera. When I picked this up at ALA Midwinter earlier this year, I started reading it that evening. A fast-paced high-tension story of a girl who's torn between following orders and possibly proving she's more that just a soldier with no emotions who never says no.

Absent by Katie Williams. A look at life, high school, friendship, rumours, and what you do with the time you're given if you're still around after you die.

I wonder how different this list will look at the end of the year. ;)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (57)

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

It's summertime... for the most part. :) And I only got one book this week, but it's a good one. ;)

Looks like it was cover reveal explosion time this week. I like seeing new covers, but that's about it. I don't quite get the need for big hooplas. But I guess it's business, publishers do a big reveal in order to start early early buzz and interest. My favourites have to be Wayfarer by Lili St. Crow and Let the Storms Break by Shannon Messenger. :)

I've been thinking if I need a new layout here at Me on Books. It's been the same one since I started back in October of 2010 and I wonder if it looks a bit outdated. Hmmm. Maybe I just need a button or an icon, like a circle with the blog background as the background and 'Me on Books' on top. Nothing fancy, you know. Hmmm. Must look into this. (Or, if anyone was bored...... ;))

So, Google Reader is going away soon. I added a button for Bloglovin where you can follow there (it's in the left sidebar, you might have to scroll down a bit). There's also the usual Follow by e-mail bit as well as the standard bookmarking the site and checking back on posting days (which are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (unless something's come up)). :)

Reviews for this coming week will be on Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey (Tuesday) and When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (Friday). :) (Do you like knowing which reviews are coming out on which day? Should I keep doing this?)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (from Kathy who picked up a copy for me at BEA and also sent some of the cards for Vicious)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Me on In the After

Title: In the After
Author: Demitria Lunetta
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive, and avoid Them at all costs. After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby, and much more.

In the After is an eerie post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller that hints at something more, something sinister just waiting to be discovered. Staying alive means staying silent, it means hiding in a world once thriving but now ravaged and ruined. There are survivors living on, but how long will they last? Can they last? Where did They come from?

The world After They arrived is sparse, silent, and dangerous. Before Amy is in the colony, her world is very clear, very simple. She knows what They are capable of and she knows how to hide from them. But after she and Baby are found, things aren't what Amy thought they were.

The Amy from Before and the Amy of After are like polar opposites. Before, she was foolish, selfish, and a smart-ass teenager, and After, she becomes an intelligent and silent protector of her and Baby's way of life. Three years can sometimes feel like a lifetime, and Amy's years of scrounging and searching have taken their toll on her.

There's a subtle and suspicious undertone in the colony of New Hope. Something is happening, something unknown to Amy in her years of silent survival. Something that could change the way she looks at everything. It affects her acclimation into this new home. Not everything works for her, not everything fits with what she's experienced. Not everyone is telling her the whole truth. So she goes searching.

Once I started this book, I found myself reading it rather quickly. It could be indicative of pacing, of how quickly the action moved, of the story and plot. It also could have something to do with Amy's voice, with the author's style of writing. I'm just not sure how I feel in regards to this speed and the book's 450+ page length.

Odds are readers will find similarities to other recent science fiction YA novels like Icons and The 5th Wave. All three are, in a sense, about survival, about secrets and lies, plots and plans, betrayal and hope, and the drive to continue living, but this book's surprising twist aims to set it apart from the others.

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (133)

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

Title: Starry Nights
Author: Daisy Whitney
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.

Recently I read Daisy Whitney's latest contemporary YA and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would (but I'm not a big contemporary reader). This sounds like it's a bit more up my alley. I like it when books take place outside of the US, there's so much more than just New York or L.A. I've been to the National Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and I just love the idea of artwork coming to life. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Me on Ink

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

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 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, but now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Ink is an intriguing story rich with modern day Japanese culture, Japanese mythology, and magic. In a country with such rich history there's bound to be something lurking around, something searching for power. A rather serious tone travels through the book because there's so much at stake for Katie. Like survival.

It's very much a stranger in a strange land sort of book, Katie with her American customs and American way of thinking. So much research has been done by the author on Japanese geography, customs, and myths. And the English/Japanese language barrier was addressed, which was good. It was nice to see the author not sweep it off to the side and avoid it.

I find that Katie tries to be strong and ends up with a façade over her face. She somewhat refuses to accept that, for the moment, she has to live in a foreign country with a relative she barely knows and speak a language she barely understands. In a culture so different from the one she grew up in, she's lost and puts up a wall, not complaining but not accepting. In the beginning, And so she waits for the day she can go back to North America, until danger arises and curiosity kicks in.

There's an instant something between Katie and Tomohiro. I'm wary of saying it was the often hated insta-love, I think it's more instant anger or hatred or confusion. And then Katie sticks her nose in because she wants to know why what happened happened. She wants to know why he's a walking contradiction, why he's angry and closed-off but also quiet and friendly. Why his drawings come alive. Yes, following Tomohiro around makes her a creepy stalker, and no, I wouldn't suggest doing this in real life, but Katie's recklessly stubborn and she wants to keep those she's managed to make friends with safe. And so, with her big nose, she shoves her way in like a foolish idiot and gets caught up in a huge mess of trouble.

Part of what I found compelling, beyond the setting, is the darkness and the magic in the ink. The fantasy aspect, the dark magic in the ink drawings, it all reaches back into Japanese myth, into lore and legend, and hints at the true power of the gods. In ways it's a subtle sort of magic, elusive at times, but in other ways it's clearly there, extremely dangerous and powerful. But Katie's involvement, Katie's connection, must be addressed. Why is a Caucasian girl from New York somehow involved?

Certain things are very clear in this book. The gods are real, the kami have power, the ink is dangerous, and it wants them both. Everyone is at risk. Now that she's part of it, Katie has to figure out what to do next.

(I received an advance copy from Harlequin Teen.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (56)

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

Odd weather. Pouring in the morning, bright and sunny in the afternoon, clouding over in the evening.

I really need to stop requesting e-galleys. But they keep saying yes and all. I just hope I don't end up with weird screen vision headaches because they really suck.

I went through another one of those spans of time where I read a few books in a few days and wrote up the reviews right after reading the books. It was awesome, but then I felt tired because my head was crammed full of a lot of words and worlds and plot points and characters and thoughts and feelings. And then I wasn't really sure what to put in reviews that didn't sound repetitive and useless. Maybe I need a break to read some non-review books.

Reviews going up next week will feature Ink by Amanda Sun (Tuesday) and In the After by Demitria Lunetta (Friday). :)
Indelible by Dawn Metcalf (from Harlequin Teen through NetGalley)
The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce (from Angry Robot through NetGalley)
Backward Glass by David Lomax (from Flux through NetGalley)
Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (from Disney Book Group through NetGalley)

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Friday, June 14, 2013

Me on The Wig in the Window

Title: The Wig in the Window
Author: Kristen Kittscher
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

Best friends and seventh graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying, bloody scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor, Dr. Charlotte Agford (aka Dr. Awkward). At least, they think they do. The truth is that Dr. Agford was only making her famous pickled beets! But when Dr. Agford begins acting even weirder than usual, Sophie and Grace become convinced that she’s hiding something, and they’re determined to find out what it is. Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pressure. They might solve their case, but will their friendship survive?

The Wig in the Window is an entertaining and exciting mystery, complete with two inquisitive girls and some curious secrets newly discovered in their quiet neighbourhood. Both girls are ready to put their spy skills to the test and uncover the truth, but they uncover something far more complicated than they expected and they'll have to work quickly in order to bust everything out into the open.

Sophie and Grace are smart girls, curious girls, girls who speculate and hope to discover the hidden truths behind their neighbours' strange actions. Of course, sometimes it's just their imaginations getting the best of them, but this time it isn't. This time it's something big, something with secret codes and a car that wanders around constantly. This time they've hit it big and it's time to get to work. But spying and uncovering mysteries isn't always fun and games, sometimes real life gets in the way.

Because of the first person point of view, the reader gets more of Sophie than of Grace. At times, Sophie appears to have more reservations than Grace, she wants to be more cautious, she wants to do things a bit differently than Grace. Grace seems to be Sophie's only friend. Sophie's varied interests, including those in tai chi and fung shui, make me wonder if Sophie is trying to be someone else, if she's trying to appear interesting. It's like she doesn't think she's interesting enough on her own.

Friendship is a big part of this book. Sophie and Grace have to stick together, have to work together, or else the big secret they're hoping to expose about Dr. Agford is going to fade away in the night. But they both have their own personalities, their own lives away from each other, their own way of going about life. They're bound to clash and argue, but can they get past it? Will their friendship survive?

This book plays on the dream that almost every kid has had, and that's the dream of exposing the weird secrets of his or her neighbours. Behind closed doors, behind drawn curtains, kids just know there's something going on next door or down the street. And then they can investigate to their heart's content. But what if they end up in over their heads? What are they going to do next?

This is a mystery filled with twists and turns and a danger that begs to be revealed. I can only hope for more.

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (132)

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

Title: The Infinite Moment of Us
Author: Lauren Myracle
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books

From Goodreads:

For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now . . . not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them . . .

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

I sort of hope it'll be sweet and fun with a happy ending, but I think it's going to be one of those emotional wrecking books. *sigh*

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Me on Rush

Title: Rush
Author: Eve Silver
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins imprint)

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game, her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. Inside, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Rush is a fast-paced battle for survival with teenagers forced into a battle they never expected, forced to eliminate a threat they never knew existed, all for reasons unknown and unexplained. When Miki gets pulled into the game, nothing is under her control anymore, and she's forced to decide whether or not to join in the fight. If she does, she survives. If she doesn't, it's game over.

The vagueness and the lack of explanation at the start leaves the reader as much in the dark as Miki is left in, forcing both to constantly pay attention, forcing both to learn what must be done in order to stay alive. The others in the group know more because they've been in the game longer, but no one knows everything. No one knows the entire truth. Except for one person.

Miki needs to be in control, she needs to know what's going on so she can be in complete control of the situation. But things in the game are kept from her, reasons and answers she desperately wants, and so she flounders and pushes back at Jackson in her need to be in control. It's like she has an anxiety disorder: Miki needs to be in control, because once everything is under her control everything will work out and no one will get hurt. If she isn't in control, she can't fix it.

One thing that happened near the beginning that put me off was Miki's almost instant thought of, after seeing Jackson for the first time, how attractive he is. I didn't find it important at all. Miki has questions, she has concerns, she has no idea what she's been pulled into or where she is, and one of the first thoughts she has (not her exact first thought) is how good-looking this strange boy that she's never met is. She even acknowledges that her finding him good-looking shouldn't be a priority, yet it is. And she doesn't even like him, he keeps the truth from her and the rest of the group. It makes her look shallow and unfocused, especially when you consider her need for control and order.

This is one of those books where 'seemingly ordinary' teens are taken and tossed blindly into a complicated and extremely deadly situation. No prep, no instruction, just instant danger. They're being pushed, pushed to their limits, pushed to see how far they will go. How strong are they, how tough are they, how quickly can they think and move and run. Who or what is in control of the game? How are they manipulating space and time to pull them in from all over? What is the truth?

Hidden motives abound in this book, those of the ones in charge of the game, those of the Drau, even those of Jackson. Who is he really? Is there a way out of the game?

I expected a different kind of science fiction novel when I started this. I expected more science fiction, I expected a distant future and a sudden shift in Miki from her life to her new life in the game, perhaps something similar to Monica Hughes' classic Invitation to the Game. Instead I found a modern setting with science fiction elements, with video game references and shifts through space and time, with dark pasts on distant planets and danger always on the horizon.

I found myself intrigued by the game and the reason for its existence but not necessarily a fan of both the instant attraction and how early in the book it occurred. I'm curious enough in the game and the plot itself to want to know how the series will play out.

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

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (55)

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

It's looking more and more like summer. I might have to go shopping. And not for books. And it's shaping up to be an e-galley heavy late summer for my to-read list.

So, how far in advance do you guys read books? Right now I'm reading the books I have scheduled to review in June. Afterwards, I'm going to try and read most of the remaining ALA ARCs I have. There are still about 20 that I haven't gotten around to yet. I'm kind of surprised, those books have made up most of my reading for the past 4 months. I can only imagine what it would be like if I went to BEA.

I've got an empty box. I'm going to stick a bunch of ARCs in it and give it away soon. I wasn't sure what to put in the box but I think I've got it all figured out, it's spread out a bit in terms of genre. Keep an eye out for a giveaway post in the next week or so. (I'm a little concerned about how much shipping could cost, though. It might end up being Canada & US only.)

Reviews going up this week will feature Rush by Eve Silver (Tuesday) and The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher (Friday). :)
Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl by Emily Pohl-Weary (from Penguin Canada)
Vicious by V.E. (Victoria) Schwab (from Raincoast Books) (so so so excited to read this)
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (e-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (e-galley from Macmillan through Raincoast Books)
Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau (e-galley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt through Edelweiss) (finally, an Edelweiss approval, and it's for a book out in early January, so it'll be a while until I get around to reading this)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Me on Linked

Title: Linked
Author: Imogen Howson
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Elissa used to have it all. Looks, popularity, a bright future. For the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. Finally, she’s promised a cure, an operation that will burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl, Lin, who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose, secrets that would shake the foundation of their world.

Linked is a curious science fiction thriller, filled with suspicion right at the start. Elissa is on an unexpected mission of sorts to discover the truth behind her visions, the truth behind Lin, and the truth behind the reason they were separated. As the book goes on it becomes darker and darker, the two girls running as fast as they can. This journey, combined with a sinister secret revealed close to the end, make this a compelling story.

Elissa is tired, tired of the visions, the bruises, and the looks from former friends and fellow students. She's never been normal, never seen herself as normal. How could she when she has strange visions and phantom bruises appearing all over her body? But she's wary of the doctor who suggests a medical procedure to stop everything from happening, she's wary of everything around her, and she wants to know the truth because she's not sure who to trust. Then she finds a girl who looks exactly like her. Then she learns the truth.

The connection between twins has been long explored, but what if the connection went deeper than we imagined? What if what happened to one also happened to the other? Elissa's torn between taking care of her twin and treating her with caution. Could you trust someone you didn't know, someone you never knew existed, someone who shares your face? Someone who's been through countless painful experiments? Someone who's dangerous, potentially lethal?

In Elissa's world, on her planet, the government was formed from a dark past mired in debt and a wasting away of natural resources. The planet is thriving now, producing jobs in space flight, connecting other planets. But why is the government after Elissa and her twin? What do they have to do with it? Will the girls be able to outrun those who are chasing them?

This is about discovering the truth behind who you really are, the truth about the piece that you feel has been missing in your life. It's about connections and joining together. It's about the value of a human life, the price we could very well pay in the future in terms of medical experimentation. It's about how far we will go to reveal the truth, no matter how painful it could be or how sinister the secret is.

(I received an advance copy to review from Simon & Schuster Canada.)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Me on Waiting on Wednesday (131)

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

Title: Untold
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

From Goodreads:

Free from bonds, but not each other

It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

How could Unspoken end the way it did??

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Me on The Oathbreaker's Shadow

Title: The Oathbreaker's Shadow
Author: Amy McCulloch
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Random House Canada imprint)

In Raim's world, you tie a knot for every promise you make. If you break that promise the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin, forever marking you as an oathbreaker. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one seems to know where it came from or which promise it symbolizes, and Raim barely thinks about it at all. Especially not since he became the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the day that he binds his life to that of his best friend and future king, Khareh, the rope ignites and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oathbreaker, Raim has two options: run or be killed. He chooses to run, taking refuge in the vast desert among a colony of exiled oathbreakers. Will he be able to learn the skills he needs to clear his name? And even if he can, how can he keep a promise he never knew he made in the first place?

The Oathbreaker's Shadow is an adventure curious and dangerous, filled with tradition and secret magic. It's at times spiritual and complex, engrossing in setting, story, and character. Not necessarily about truth and lies but the power a promise holds over those that make it, the power of a vow spoken aloud, and the darkness that lies ahead if that vow is broken. But what if you don't know what the broken promise was? Then comes the search, quite possibly for everything.

Raim is a strong and loyal young man, not necessarily expecting to be a hero but hopes to be a protector of others. He has simple hopes for his future, to be one of the Yun guard, but being scarred as an oathbreaker alters the path before him, forcing him onto one he never hoped to walk. Now he must search for answers hidden and unspoken. Now he must discover who he truly is, he must discover the secrets of his past, the secret of the single knot that has been around his wrist since he was an infant. This is now what drives Raim, as well as his promise to Khareh.

In Raim's world, promises are different. They're important, vital things that cannon be brushed aside without a moment's thought. There are consequences to breaking a promise, painful ones, and oathbreakers are forced to suffer for their actions.

Another highlight of this book, apart from Raim and the mysterious magic of promises, is the world crafted by the author. The nomadic lifestyle, the portability of families and their possessions, the barest of breezes that drifts over the desert, the dry smell of sand, the intense heat of the midday sun, the sharp clash of swords. Raim's is a curious world, steeped in tradition. The reader is tossed straight in, of course, with some explanation and history, but for the most part they're left to walk along side Raim as he travels across the dry desert in order to discover the reason behind his broken promise.

A fresh new voice introduces readers to a world both lush and arid, a young man determined and strong, and a journey that sheds light and attempts to shatter hope. A tale filled with danger and dreams of redemption, the first in what will hopefully be an exciting duology.

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blog Tour - Q&A with Amy McCulloch

Something a bit different today. Isn't that fun? :)

Today's the start of Random House Canada's blog tour for Amy McCulloch's debut YA The Oathbreaker's Shadow. Now, Amy was here in May as part of the Canadian YA Lit Event, but I could say no to having her come back and talk some more about her book and about being Canadian while living in the UK. :)
Q: What was the first spark of idea that would become Raim and The Oathbreaker's Shadow? Where did it all start?

A: Funnily enough, I can remember exactly when that first spark came: while I was sitting in the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto, waiting for the Lord of the Rings: the Musical to start. Random, right? I had gone to the theatre straight from class – a History of China class, where we had been discussing how Genghis Khan’s rule eventually led to the Mongol Empire conquering China. This same concept came coming up – of blood brothers, of men pledging their lives to their lord (or their khan). I suddenly wondered (probably something to do with watching a fantasy musical) what would happen if there was a fantasy version of that pledge. A promise with physical consequences if it was broken.

Then I had my first chapter (which actually ended up being the first chapter of Part Two in The Oathbreaker's Shadow): a young boy, scarred as an oathbreaker, exiled out into the desert, without knowing what the promise was that he had broken. Then the theatre went dark, the curtain came up, and I had to put my ideas on hold until after the three hour show ended!

Q: Promises are very important in Raim's world. What brought on the idea to have something physical and painful happen when a promise is broken, to have very real consequences?

A: I basically began to think of the worst consequence I could think of for a broken promise, beyond being struck dead or something! This is a very brutal world that Raim inhabits, similar in a way to Mongol medieval society, but heightened for fantastical purposes. You’re loyal, or you’re not. Medieval justice was sometimes very black and white! And if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that actually the physical pain/scar is not actually the worst part... in my opinion, it's the shadow that is worse than the scar.

Q: You've mentioned that you were inspired by distant places like India, Pakistan, and Mongolia, but you've also said that at its heart it's a Canadian novel. Was it at all complicated to combine setting and theme or did it come together easily?

A: It did all come together quite naturally for me – and I think being Canadian has helped that a lot. I’m a blend of cultural backgrounds myself – my Mom is Chinese, my Dad is English, and they own their own carpet store in Ottawa so I spent a fair bit of my childhood traveling to far flung places. I’m always struck by the similarities between cultures, as well as differences. I think that’s why this notion of fealty was so appealing to me: I’m a student of Old English and Medieval literature as well, so I know that the concept of fealty was fairly universal across the world – despite the disparate cultures! I also find it fascinating that it is a pretty ancient concept now. You don’t see too many people actively promising their lives in defence of another person these days (maybe a cause, or a country, but not a specific person…)

Q: You were born in the UK, moved to Canada, and now you're back in the UK. Is there one you prefer over the other, or to they both have their own unique charm?

This is pretty easy for me – I prefer Canada! I’ll be back (she says, in true Terminator fashion). I just love the Canadian way of life, the laidback attitude, embracing the outdoors and, oh yeah, the space! Haha. But actually, the UK has been pretty great to me – I came here to get into publishing as the London scene is bigger than Toronto (and marginally less competitive), which I succeeded in doing (I now work as a Commissioning editor for HarperVoyager, the SFF imprint of HarperCollins). And it’s been awesome to be here during the Royal Wedding, the Olympics and the Jubilee – London has totally come alive. Plus, you can’t beat the proximity to Europe for easy long weekend city breaks!  I’m just trying to enjoy my time here as much as possible, before coming back to Canada to settle down.

Q: Is there anything you miss from Canada that's hard to come by in the UK? The Timbits, the poutine, the maple leaf plastered on just about anything and everything?

A: Is it a cop out to say my parent’s cooking? I definitely miss that. Timbits, poutine, maple leaf, check, check, check, but I also miss the Canadian summers, NHL and my cottage.

Thanks for the great interview, Lindsay, and for having me on Canadian YA authors month!

Many thanks to Amy for answering my questions and to Random House Canada for the chance to take part in the blog tour. Here's the whole tour schedule so you know where to go this week. :)

Me On Books: June 3, 2013
More Than Just Magic: June 5, 2013
Retreat by Random House: June 7, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Me on This Week's Book Week (54)

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

It's June and it feels weird because it really doesn't feel like it should be June. Especially since it was raining so much this week.

This week a guest post I wrote for HarperCollins Canada's YA site/group/fun people @HCCFrenzy went up on the site during the week-long celebration of Hilary T. Smith's Wild Awake. They asked if I'd write a post on reading a book set where you live, as the book is set in Vancouver. And so I wrote something on reading a book set where you live. You can read it here. :)

Hopefully, this is my last plague finger update. It looks about the same, no better or no worse than when the PICC line came out. If it's not swollen or leaking gross fluid or exploding, there's nothing else they're going to do. And there's my free healthcare at work. I get it, it's not doing anything strange and there's nothing wrong with the rest of me, what else is there to do? Still. I didn't think I'd have to go through life with a weird finger. My next plan is to see how it goes as the nail grows out, wait a few weeks.

There's a special post going up on Monday (June 3rd)! I'm the first stop for Random House Canada's blog tour for Amy McCulloch's debut YA fantasy/adventure The Oathbreaker's Shadow. :) Other stops will be at Confessions of a Reading Addict, More Than Just Magic, Cozy Up with a Good Read, and Retreat by Random House. :)

So many e-galleys this week. It's like the internet version of BEA. I hope everyone who was at BEA had tons of fun. One day I'll go. *wistful sigh* ;)

Reviews this week will feature The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch (Tuesday) and Linked by Imogen Howson (Friday). :)
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (e-galley from Disney Book Group through NetGalley)
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts (e-galley from Macmillan/FSG through NetGalley)
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (e-galley from Macmillan/FSG through NetGalley)
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (e-galley from Bloomsbury through NetGalley)
Half Lives by Sara Grant (from Hachette Book Group Canada)
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (from Hachette Book Group Canada)

Borrowed from the library:
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead