ReReadathon 2013: Intro and Goals

This month, Shelver over at Bookshelvers Anonymous is hosting the ReReadathon. While I'm already feeling overwhelmed with books for July, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't ready to load even more on my plate. Hence my participation! I'm going to try to keep it reasonable and I'm not going to worry too much if I can't meet my goals, but I at least want to give it a shot!

Books I want to reread:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
Fire by Kristin Cashore.
The Hunger Games Trilogy (yep, all three!) by Suzanne Collins.
The Claidi Chronicles #1-3 by Tanith Lee. (I finally located book #4 in this series after years of casual searching, so in order to refresh so I can finally read it, I should reread books 1-3).

That's all I'm really going to try for. It's 8 books which, along with my review books AND the books I'm reading for a Goodreads Group Challenge, is going to ensure that I have zero social life. I guess we'll see how this goes.

Wish me luck and make sure you check out Shelver's Intro to the Challenge post if you're interested in joining!


Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.

The Lunar Chronicles #2.
Published February 5, 2013.
Published by Feiwel and Friends.
Source: Received from Raincoast for the Ottawa Blogger Meetup. Thanks, Raincoast!

Goodreads Blurb:
The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review:

Marissa Meyer follows Cinder with the equally impressive and fantastic Scarlet! After reading Cinder, I wasn't worried about disliking Scarlet at all, but Meyer still exceeded my expectations in weaving together the continuing tale of Cinder and Kai with the new story of Scarlet. This leaves me with no doubt that the other two books in the series, Cress and Winter, will be absolutely wonderful as well.

I really appreciated the use of multiple points of view in this story because while I absolutely loved getting to know the rough, determined, kick-butt Scarlet, I knew I would have missed Cinder and Kai had their perspectives not also been included. I also think it was great for setting up the state of Meyer's world in multiple different areas, which only served to pull me in even more. Her world-building is phenomenal and the ideas she has put in place are very creative and exciting, but not so out there that I couldn't believe they were possible. It was the perfect mix and, as I mentioned in my Cinder review, I don't want to leave that world!

Of course the other thing that was consistently impressive was the cast of characters. Seeing more of Cinder and Kai was fantastic because it allowed them to grow more as people and so readers get an even deeper understanding of and love for them. I also ship them so hard... just throwing that out there. As for the new additions, in Cinder's early plot line we meet "Captain" Thorne, who, aside from being attractive, is kind of everything I don't like in a man rolled up into a pretty irresistible package. I don't know how Meyer did it but in every scene he just kept growing on me and honestly, I was happy to let it happen. In the other storyline at the beginning we have Scarlet and Wolf. Scarlet is the type of girl who doesn't take no for an answer, especially when there's something important at stake, and I can't help but admire her for it. Wolf is also pretty persistent, but he often seems like a walking, talking contradiction. He makes a living fighting illegally, yet in early encounters with Scarlet is soft-spoken, kind, and almost meek. They shouldn't work as a team at all, but somehow they find a rhythm that just works, at least from a reader's perspective, and it's wonderful to watch.

Another thing to note is that while I read the books back to back, a lot of people don't have the patience to wait as long as I did, so there's a big gap between books. With Meyer, that doesn't seem to be a problem at all. When re-introducing Cinder's story in Scarlet, she gave a short but effective (and not boring) recap of Cinder's predicament from the end of Cinder. I thought this was very smart and I don't think she could have executed it better. I also thought she did an excellent job hiding things from readers because there's a lot that isn't as it originally seems, some of which I never guessed. It was awesome seeing those secrets unravel in front of me.

Once again Marissa Meyer presents an exciting, engrossing novel with well fleshed-out characters and a consistently moving plot line. She makes use of the point of view shifts extremely well and always seems to know when you're missing one of the focal characters because she brings them right back in. Scarlet was even more than I wanted it to be and serves to set the scene for more excitement and plot twisting and meshing in the next two follow-ups.
An impressed 5 stars!


Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Lunar Chronicles #1.
Published January 3rd, 2012.
Published by Feiwel & Friends.
Source: Purchased.

Goodreads Blurb:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Review:

Everyone was saying I just had to read Cinder. Everyone was loving it. Everyone thought I would, too.

Everyone was right.

What a rich, imaginative story. It's a retelling of Cinderella but still manages to be highly unique. I absolutely love how it's clear where the parallels are between Cinder's story and the Cinderella fairy tale, but this is still a very distinct and original story in itself. Meyer has woven the fairy tale deftly into her own incredible imagined world that was constantly coming alive in my mind. The setting completely drew me in. It wasn't always easy to picture everything in it, but I was so engrossed in the futuristic, mechanical/high-tech version of Beijing that I couldn't stop myself from imagining it all right in front of me. I am so excited that there are three more books set in this world because I'm not ready to let go!

Cinder herself is a character I found so easy to love and sympathize with. As much as there were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to get over something, I could always see her reasons for worrying or hiding things. She was a well developed character; strong, intelligent, and determined, but very self-conscious of being a cyborg and feeling like she doesn't quite fit in. This all helped shape her into a real person instead of just a character on a page. I also have to say that I loved her emotional capacity being completely unhindered by her cyborg status (much as her legal guardian, the "step-mother", likes to pretend is non-existent) as well as the sass that came out of her sometimes. She was so much more than just a Cinderella figure, or a misfit, or any one trait.

Cinder's relationships were also fantastically presented in a way that I grew very attached and felt truly invested in where they were going. Her friendship with her android, Iko, was a comfort amid a family that, for the most part, completely rejected her. Only her younger sister, Peony, truly treats Cinder like family, and watching their relationship change and be revealed as the story developed was at times heart-warming, at others absolutely heartbreaking. Finally, her banter and growing friendship/attraction with Prince Kai was so much fun to follow. I do wish Cinder hadn't been quite so meek around him for so long, but I really can't fault her for it because she is still a teenage girl. Kai himself was so persistent and adorable, I couldn't help but love him. I was definitely happy to get a few chapters from his perspective because not only did it mean he was around more in the story, it also gave a wonderful insight into his side... his messy, stressful, difficult side of the story. I'm so glad I got to know him better and I'm definitely excited to see all these characters again in the rest of the Lunar Chronicles books! But no more villain Queen Levana, please. I despise her. She is so easy to hate and I would like someone to go ahead and rip her head off now, please. She is definitely an interesting villain though, I'll give Marissa Meyer that much. I'm curious to see what happens. Hopefully Levana is disposed of quickly, though somehow I feel she has a lot more trouble to cause.

For a fairy-tale retelling, this was so much more than I could have expected. A smart plot that had similarities to the tale but was an amazing story in its own right. Characters that you can't help but love (or hate with a burning passion). Extremely well thought out plot points and set up for the next three books. Some secrets, some hints, some shocking revelations. Cinder has it all. I'm so excited to see how everything ties together throughout the whole series.
A loving 4.5 stars! 

Special note: Are you someone who loves audiobooks? Considering reading Cinder as an audiobook? Check out this special clip preview of the audiobook from Macmillan:
and then head over to the Macmillan website for more info and a way to purchase the audiobook!


Sophomore Spotlight: Kasie West

I'm so excited to welcome Kasie West to the blog as part of Sophomore Spotlight! She is here to chat about her sophomore novel, The Distance Between Us! (Also, please forgive the wonky formatting on this post. Blogger is picking a fight with me on it and is clearly winning. I'll work on adjusting it).

To be published July 2, 2013
by HarperTeen.

Goodreads Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

I have been excited about this one for a while because this sounds like a love story I can totally get behind. Plus Kasie has described it as "Pride and Prejudice meets Pretty in Pink". Hello, Pretty in Pink? I'm in.

Welcome, Kasie! Thank you for taking part in Sophomore Spotlight!

Describe THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US in 5 words or less.
K: Doll store, Prejudice, Sarcasm, Wealth, Rocker

What is the most exciting thing for you about your sophomore release in particular?
K: I feel a lot less stressed this time around so I've been able to enjoy it more. And I've always had a soft spot for contemporary so I'm feeling very excited to have my first contemporary come out.

Did you write THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US between PIVOT POINT and its sequel, as their release dates suggest? If so, what prompted you to write them in that order? What about this story just couldn't wait for the PIVOT POINT story to be over first?
K: I actually wrote the first half of The Distance Between Us way back when I was trying to find an agent for Pivot Point. It was my project that kept me sane for the six months it took to do that. But then I stopped writing it and put it aside once I found an agent and had to refocus on edits for Pivot Point. Then I wrote the sequel to Pivot Point. THEN, after one of my dear friends who reads my books while I'm writing them (to give me encouragement and moral support) begged me to finish TDBU, I finished it. And she really had to talk me into it because I just didn't see the point at the time. I didn't think I'd be able to sell a contemporary. And I thought my agent would encourage me to wait until after Pivot Point came out to pursue anything else. But my friend is relentless. And I'm grateful for this. Because I finished it and let my agent read it and we decided to try and sell it. It was all kind of sudden, but great. My editor decided to release it between Pivot Point 1 and 2.

I think we all owe a big thank you to that friend! What a great person to have in your life.
How did the journey for this book differ from that for your debut?
K: My debut was a heart wrenching process. The rejection month after month was really taking a toll on my confidence and emotions. It was the first time in this whole process that I seriously considered quitting. Finding an agent and editor for it was amazing. But even then, it still took 21 months before it was finally out. So it just felt very long and drawn out between the months of writing/editing, the months of searching for an agent/editor, and then the months of waiting for it to be out. The Distance Between Us was way more....surprising....I guess. I loved the book, but honestly wasn't expecting a lot to happen with it. At least not right away. And then it did. If you compare writing a book to having a child, Pivot Point was my planned baby and TDBU was my 'surprise' baby. :)

That might be the best usage of the "book as baby" metaphor I've ever read. Sounds like a pretty fun surprise baby, too!
Can you share a favourite quote from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US?
K: One of my favorite interactions is at the end of chapter 4. Xander (our rich boy) comes into the doll store for the second time and at the end of visiting with Caymen (the MC) and learning her name for the first time it goes like this:

He pockets his phone. "Caymen"


"Does this mean I won the game?"

"I didn't realize we were playing a game."

He picks up the doll and backs away with his lower-lip-biting smile. "I think you did."

Ooh! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing that relationship develop! :)
Are you interested in ever trying to write a different genre from contemporary (as Pivot Point seems to have a very contemporary feel to it)?
K: Well, Pivot Point is paranormal/sci-fi. But it does read very contemporary. I really enjoy contemporary. I like reading and thinking that I could walk outside and actually meet the characters I'm reading about. So I think all my books will have a big contemporary lean. But I will do more books in both the contemporary and the sci-fi genre.

Do you listen to music while you write/edit? If so, can you share one song you listened to a lot while working on this novel?
K: I know many authors do but I can't listen to music while I write. It distracts me. I start singing the lyrics. But I do listen to a lot of music when I'm not writing that constantly inspires me. I'm a huge Maroon 5 fan, love anything by them. And I love The Fray and Lifehouse and Secondhand Serenade. I could go on and on. I love music.

I can totally relate to that. If I'm listening to music I love while writing or reading I have trouble ignoring the songs!
If you could introduce one of your characters from THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

K: I'm a huge fan of classics. In particular Charles Dickens. He's my author boyfriend. I think Caymen would like to meet David Copperfield (from the book with the same name). It would really put her life into perspective. Plus, he could use some humor in his life.

If you could live any fairy tale romance, which would you choose?
K: Well, considering The Distance Between Us has been compared to Cinderella a couple times now, I think I have to pick that one. :) I mean, who wouldn't want to be whisked away by a handsome, rich prince?? Especially after learning to be deep and caring first because you've lived a hard life.

Can you share anything special about your next project? Either the PIVOT POINT sequel, or even what's coming after that for you?
K: Split Second (the sequel to Pivot Point) is a little different than Pivot Point because we have another POV in the book--Laila, the spunky best friend. It was so fun to channel her and write from her perspective.

That should be interesting! Thank you, Kasie. Sounds like we definitely have a lot to look forward to from you!

Kasie has kindly offered to send a copy of The Distance Between Us to one lucky US/Can reader!

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Neither Kasie nor I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten of 2013 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature created and hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic has made me realize that I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to be able to pick a top ten for the year like I did for 2012. It was already tough for me to make this list with only 10 books and we're only just over halfway through the year. The end-of-year list will be a little torturous for me. But at least that can wait for later. For right now, here are my Top Ten Books I've read (*and reviewed*) in 2013 so far.

Note: The Archived by Victoria Schwab and Belladonna by Fiona Paul would totally be on this list, but I haven't yet reviewed them, so I'm making it easier for myself and limiting it to those I've reviewed.

Code Name Verity 
by Elizabeth Wein.
A heart-wrenchingly beautiful story about friendship set during World War II?
Read it, loved it, cried over it.

 by Cat Winters.

A gothic ghost story does not really seem like my kind of thing, but I was absolutely captivated by this one set during WWI and the Spanish Influenza.

by Katherine Longshore.
I love my Anne Boleyn stories but this one totally blew me away and gave me a totally new view on the girl behind all the legends.

by Dianne Salerni.
Exactly what about this one really made me love it, I'm not sure. Maybe the way the author took a love triangle and showed us how it's done. Maybe the beautifully developed character relationships. Maybe everything.

17 & Gone
by Nova Ren Suma.
Another one that is generally totally not my thing, but it seems that going out of my comfort zone is really paying off so far this year! This was eerie and mysterious and absolutely beautifully written.

by Una LaMarche.
The contemporary novel that got me interested in contemporary again. Wouldn't be fair to leave this one off the list! The friendships that tie this story together were amazing in their honesty.

Born of Illusion
by Teri Brown.
Magic (real and fake), mystery, 1920's, good-looking guys, and a compelling but painful mother-daughter relationship. Where's the bad?

by Megan Shepherd. 
Another gothic tale, this time a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Definitely had the creep factor, but the emotions the characters brought out in me are what really made this book a winner.

Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers.
A lot of people raved about this one, so I knew I had to read it and luckily it was definitely worth it! No way could I turn down assassin nuns.

by Jennifer McGowan.
I was so lucky to be on the blog tour for this one and loved the girls and the story of Meg becoming a spy for a fabulously portrayed queen.

Let's just take a minute to note how EIGHT of my top ten so far are historical fiction in some sense. That's crazy. Clearly I love the genre. Didn't hurt that I spent a whole month reading and reviewing them for my Into the Archives April event, but still. I'm expecting to have a very hard time narrowing down my top ten of the whole year, so I'll just enjoy the minimal struggle that was this list.
What's on your "Best of 2013 So Far" list?


Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games by Kiersten White.

Mind Games #1.
Published: February 19, 2013.
Published by: HarperTeen.
Source: Won from The-Society. Thank you!

Goodreads Blurb:
Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future. 

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

My Review:

This is not an easy review to write because while I didn't think this was a bad book, it just didn't do a lot for me. "Heartstoppingly intense" are not the words I would have chosen to describe it. I wasn't blown away by anything, I didn't love any of the characters... honestly, I'm just glad it was as short as it was because I don't know if I would have finished it otherwise. Nothing exceptional, at least in my books.

The book is set in our world but almost with another layer to it. There are people called Readers, Feelers, and Seers. And I couldn't tell you much about them if I tried. I mean, Readers read people's thoughts, Feelers feel people's emotions, and Seers see possible future scenarios. That's about all I got. I felt like because it was more or less a contemporary world, White possibly didn't see the need for worldbuilding, but as a reader (little "r"), I sure did! I felt like I had a million questions and few of them were answered by the end of the book. This not only made it harder to really understand, it also made it harder to connect.

When it came to the characters... meh. Nobody really excited me or intrigued me. Fia's narrative felt very disjointed and erratic which was understandable in a way because of the life she has been leading. While I'm glad White made Fia's experiences have a noticeable impact on her (unlike so often in YA when a character brushes off a terrible action), I felt like it kept me from really enjoying her perspective. On the other hand, I did find Annie easier to follow, but she wasn't all that exciting. So much meh. I also was kind of annoyed how easy it was for her to be so blind (no pun intended) to the person her sister truly is. This actually seemed to go both ways, which I feel didn't work so well. Both Fia and Annie say (and show) that they would sacrifice anything for their sister, yet neither of them seems to know who her sister truly is. It just didn't do a whole lot for me.

James, who is supposed to be this big baddie to Annie and the dangerous-but-hunky guy that Fia wants but can't have, bored me. I know people who love him, and I do see where he can be interesting. There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding his true intentions and where his loyalties lie (as his father is portrayed as the big bad guy), but I wasn't feeling it. Maybe I just didn't believe it because I didn't believe much else, but I did not find him likeable or swoon-worthy, and he was really only mildly interesting. I was also disappointed by how much Adam, a boy Fia meets who lives a life completely outside of her messed-up world, was a plot tool much more than a character. It seems like there's a possibility for more of him in the sequel, but while I liked him in theory - nice, cute guy who is the escape for the girl with the crazy life - I just felt like there was nothing to him. The escape for Fia is all he really was; to show her the life she could have. When the only character I truly enjoy is more plot device than character, well... I think that speaks for itself.

The ending was really the only part that had me actively, happily paying full attention because it finally picks up and adds some mystery with another, competing force that throws the idea of who is good and who is bad into limbo. The very end was ultimately unsatisfying, though. While it was finally exciting and ended with a cliffhanger, I still felt like I knew almost nothing about anyone. That is not going to make me want to pick up the sequel! I still might, but it's not on any priority list, that's for sure.
A disappointed 2 Stars.


Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.

Published: January 29, 2013.
Published by: Balzer & Bray.
Source: Won from Epic Reads. Thanks, Epic Reads!

Goodreads Blurb:
In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

My Review:

The Madman's Daughter is an engaging, dark and mysterious novel that captured my attention from the second I first read the synopsis and kept it right through the final page. Some minor notes aside, I was completely enthralled in the story. Some of the characters fell a little flat for me, but the ones I felt something for, I REALLY felt something for, which helped to make up for the less exciting ones.

Poor Juliet has experienced so much hardship in her life that I couldn't help but feel for her. She is one of the characters who occasionally fell a little flat, but I still sympathized and wanted to root for her. There were, however, characters who really elicited a strong reaction from me. One thing I loved about this book is that there were two characters I felt the most for and they were at complete opposite ends of every spectrum.

First was Juliet's father, the doctor. This is a man I hated with a passion. He is controlling, demeaning, and considers himself like God for creating the creatures he does. My most common emotions towards him were fury and disgust. The worst (or best, for the story?) part about him was that he knew exactly what he was doing and fully believed in it. It just felt so right to hate him, which also helps me sympathize with Juliet even more. On the other end of the spectrum is Balthazar. He is one of the doctor's creatures and for a while he is just a side character who goes unnoticed. When he begins to show readers his humanity, though... I was a mess. He is the character that made me cry. I honestly wept for him. What a beautiful, innocent, creature. I couldn't help but love him for his honest, child-like qualities in the middle of all the horror of the island. It was an incredible contrast that had my emotions all over the place.

Despite the fact that yes, there is a love triangle in the novel, I still enjoyed the relationships. I think the love triangle was handled better than many are in that each boy had a connection to Juliet that makes sense. Juliet had been crushing on Montgomery since she was a child, so it completely made sense to me that there were still feelings there for him. As for Edward, explaining their connection would be a spoiler but there is more to it than just a "love at first sight" type situation. I admit, I did find myself leaning towards Montgomery, even though like many of the other characters (including Edward), there is a dark secret revealed about him. This is a book where the characters are definitely not what they seem at first glance, which was enjoyable to read because there is always something new to discover. It helped keep me interested in characters that I might not necessarily have been connecting with emotionally.

One of my difficulties with the novel was the creatures on the island. The creatures were the doctor's creation and they are often described as combinations of different animals, yet somehow they somewhat resemble humans. This was extremely hard for me to picture and so, since I like to visualize as I read, I was occasionally brought out of the story as I tried to create a picture of some of these creatures in my mind (more often than not, I failed to do so). It is certainly not a deal-breaker for the novel, just something I found difficult to work out.

I think one of the most compelling aspects of this novel was the atmosphere created. There seems to be a constant feeling of unease, as if something is not quite right. This not only helped to envelop me in the story, but it also contributed to allowing the darkness in the characters to come across without feeling out of place. I also often felt like some of the characters were standing on their toes over a cliff... as if one little move could send things spiraling out of control. The tension created with this helped to make me react in the right places even when I may have had suspicions about what was coming. While there were some aspects that I was able to guess, there were others that did take me by surprise, so it was a good mix of feeling like I was understanding the story, but not being bored because I could see everything coming.

Overall, there is so much to say about this story, almost all of it in praise. This is one I hated to put down, so I read late into the night, which only resulted in a creepy scene coming up and scaring me into reading for even longer so I didn't have to turn out my light. It was a pretty vicious cycle, but I wouldn't have traded that reading experience because the story was completely worth it.
An excited 4 stars!

By the way, have you seen the cover yet for the sequel? It was just released on Monday the 10th on YA Books Central and it is gorgeous!


Waving Goodbye to GFC (+ Follower Love Giveaway)

Well friends, the day is almost upon us. On July 1st, it seems that the Google Reader really will be leaving us and your GFC subscriptions will no longer lead to anywhere you can actually read the blogs. So what can you do?

I have found an alternative that I personally really love:

Follow on Bloglovin

Yes, Bloglovin'. I've been using it for a couple months now and am really enjoying its functionality. I love that I can group the blogs I'm following into sections and only view one group at a time, or everything at once. I think the layout is great, seeing the title, a photo, and the first few lines of each post. I'm really impressed with it, so if you're looking for a great reader alternative to GFC, I definitely recommend Bloglovin'!

It's really easy to switch everything over, too. If you go to their main site, http://www.bloglovin.com/, you can set up an account and it should let you transfer all your GFC subscriptions right over so you don't lose out on any of them! If you need more help, these blogs have created great guides to making the switch: Independent Fashion Bloggers or Miss drifted Snow White

As a little more incentive to find a great way to replace GFC, I've decided to host a little giveaway. This giveaway will only be for blog followers. More specifically, only for people who follow either on Bloglovin or by the tried-and-true method of email. Those are the only two ways to get entries to this giveaway because I'm hoping you all will actually want to keep up with my posts! Follower love! I really appreciate all of you who follow my blog, comment on posts, and all that fun stuff. I know it takes time out of your day and I'm honoured that you choose to spend some of it on my blog. This is just a way for me to say a little extra "thank you" to my wonderful readers.

So what can you win?
Any 2013 release that comes out after the end date of the giveaway, July 12th! That's right, I'll give one winner any pre-order that is available from The Book Depository for under $15 at the time of purchase. This also means, of course, that this is an international giveaway.

Here are some examples of books I would choose (you don't have to pick one of these, they're just examples):

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ Winner can choose any one 2013 book provided its release date is after July 12th, 2013 and it is under $15 CAD at The Book Depository at the time of purchase. If the book isn't available for me to order at the time, I'll ask the winner to choose a different one from the list.
~ This giveaway is open Internationally, provided The Book Depository ships free to your country (check here).
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ I am not responsible for lost or damaged packages from TBD.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck and thank you for wanting to keep up with my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore.

Published: June 18, 2013.
Published by: Viking Juvenile.
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher (via Ottawa Blogger Meetup) in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Goodreads Blurb:
Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court--and to convince the whole court they're lovers--she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice--but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.

My Review:

Where to even begin this review? I have always been fascinated by Henry VIII and his wives, but most especially by Anne Boleyn. I always hope that when I read another book about her it brings me something new to love. Katherine Longshore has not only done that but has completely surpassed my expectations in doing so.

Anne Boleyn. There is so much to be said about Anne Boleyn. There are countless books written about her, both fiction and non-fiction. So why does this one stand out? Katherine Longshore has written a young Anne with the kind of perseverance that is common in many accounts of her, but also with a heart she tries to hide and a sense of insecurity she tries to swallow that is often ignored. In Tarnish, Anne is not a list of character traits, successes, and mistakes. She is a young woman caught up in the wonder of the court of King Henry VIII and all the deception, secrets, and potential it holds. She is trying to make a place for herself where nobody else will. She is trying to balance her desire for power and free-will with her blossoming yearning for love. She is ever growing and learning, for better or worse. She is unfailingly witty and excels at the games she plays, especially when it comes to playing with men's hearts. Despite being mocked and rejected at court and by her own family, her resiliency is impressive. She believes in herself as a woman and as a person, and she doesn't step down to take the easy road. She refuses to be controlled by the wills and whims of the men in her life. Anne Boleyn is so much more than what she is often classified as: a manipulative, power-hungry temptress. Katherine Longshore shows us that other side of her. Tarnish made me fall in love with both Anne and Katherine Longshore's storytelling all over again.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed the most, aside from Anne's character, of course, was her interactions with the men at court. Right away it is clear how intelligent she is, and it comes across constantly in her conversations (which often felt more like battles of wit) with her brother, George, and her friend at court, Thomas Wyatt. With both men she has entertaining and smart back-and-forth that can change in an instant from light and humourous to playful and flirty (with Wyatt, at least) to venomous and back again. Sometimes their conversations made me laugh out loud, sometimes they broke my heart, and sometimes they left me thinking about the historical figures I thought I understood, but I always, always wanted more. Watching Anne play the game of Tudor court life with these two men was never dull and I was thrilled to get such an in-depth and exciting look at their relationships and conversations.

I also adored the way King Henry was presented in the novel. So often we picture Henry as he was in his later years; bound to his chairs by injury, growing ever fatter and grumpier. But here we see Henry in his prime; an incredible hunter and dancer, physically fit, and confident in himself. He was a marvel in his prime and it was wonderful seeing that reflected in Anne's view of him. I was thrilled with the timeline Katherine Longshore chose to follow as it really demonstrated Anne's growing attraction to Henry and his growing interest in her at the pace she likely felt it. It was a slow build, but filled with entertaining distractions to keep the plot from lagging. There were moments of tension and setback, but moments of growth and pure elation on Anne's part to help balance the growing relationship out. I often wonder why the Henry we think we know was so interested in a woman who defied him as strongly and openly as Anne did, but Tarnish leaves me with no doubt in her charms and his infatuation. It was a beautiful exploration of Anne's many relationships; both the struggles and the triumphs.

Tarnish absolutely entranced me. I am not one to often find historical fiction boring, but I am also not often completely captivated by the words and the setting and the characters the way I was with Tarnish.
An undeniable 5 stars!


Event Recap: Books of Wonder Signing

The Sunday after BEA there was a signing at Books of Wonder with Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, Elizabeth Norris, Lauren Oliver, David Levithan, and Andrea Cremer. My bf and I actually had taken to calling this event "The Mafing" after a tired comment by me about the fact that it was Tahereh Mafi signing(!). So after an exhausting week, the two of us made the trek over to Books of Wonder because there was no way I was missing this all-star line-up. Again, I sucked at taking pictures. I'm sorry. It was not a good trip for that.

After all the craziness of people buying their books and finding seats settled down, the event began with introductions by everyone of themselves and their books. Since David and Andrea were there for the book they co-wrote, Invisibility, they swapped roles and David was now Andrea, while Andrea was now David, and they chatted a lot about how Invisibility came to be as one another. They had clearly done this before because they were excellent at being one another and it was quite entertaining.

After the intros there was a Q & A session run by one of the BoW employees, followed by the chance for audience questions. We learned new things from everyone during the question period, like:

~ Liz Norris is indeed done the Unraveling series, which is officially a duology (well, + novella). She has something else in the works right now for later on in 2014.
~ David Levithan has a new book due out in August called Two Boys Kissing.
~ Lauren Oliver addressed the multitudes of fan reactions to the end of her Delirium series in Requiem, saying she knew the ending from the beginning and kept it open because she wanted readers to feel like the world was still alive somewhere. She didn't want to shut everything down completely. (This does not mean she'll write more to the series, though).
~ Lauren's next YA book, Panic, is due out in 2014 and sounds like an awesome concept! It's about a dangerous game that high school kids play over the summer and I can't wait to get my hands on it! She also has an adult book coming out in 2014 called Rooms.
~ Andrea Cremer has a very busy year this year with at least three books coming out between now and the end of 2014: Her adult novel, Captive, which is a "very adult" book (not for young eyes, people!) set in the Nightshade world, under the name A.D Robertson; Snakeroot, another YA in the Nightshade world; and a new series she is working on called The Inventor's Secret.
~ Tahereh Mafi talked about how she loves Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein as authors, especially the way they just made up words to suit them. There was also a lot of talk from her about isolation chambers, which made for some interesting comments.
~ Tahereh also confirmed that the third book in the Shatter Me series will indeed have 'something Me' as a title (not literally "something", though) and will have an eye on the cover. No more changes for this series! She is also planning on writing another novella which would come out before book #3.
~ Ransom Riggs is currently editing the Miss Peregrine's sequel, which as of now is titled Hollow City. There is also a Miss Peregrine's graphic novel coming out!

Finally, there was the signing where I got books signed and a couple pictures taken (finally), which was wonderful!

Me with Ransom. Matchy polka-dot twins!

Me with Tahereh. My bf says he apologizes for the awkward photo.

As a Canadian, I have the international edition of Unravel Me, which is a paperback. Tahereh was surprised to see an international edition at the signing and so we chatted about Canada for a bit, which was fun!

Overall, I'm so glad I went because it was a great panel of authors. There were lots of laughs and lots of people excited to meet everyone, so it was really a good time. Thanks, Books of Wonder and all the authors, for all the fun!


Stacking the Shelves: A Long Time Coming

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly post by Tynga's Reviews showcasing your new books! 
Links (the book titles) go to Goodreads.

I haven't done a StS post in a very long time, but I recently got back from BEA and figured I'd give you an idea of what I got and therefore what you can expect to see in the coming months. I'll include some of the non-BEA books I've picked up in the past few weeks as well, so this one won't be a short one, but it'll be filled with lots of goodies. Also, I'm not going to name or link every single book because that would take way too long and I really want to get back to reading TARNISH by Katherine Longshore!

BEA/a few Teen Author Carnival books woohoo! TAC goodies include Ink, This Song Will Save Your Life, Tumble & Fall, Scorched, Boy Nobody (below) and Heartbeat. Lots of BEA ones here that I am extremely excited about, especially All the Truth That's in Me (the top of the middle pile that got the flash spot), Vicious, Antigoddess, The Extra, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, and ROSE UNDER FIRE!!!!!!! *flails* I'm also pretty proud of myself because, yes this is my first BEA and yes, maybe I went a teensy bit overboard, but for the most part I stuck to my wishlist. I also was able to bring all my books home in my and the bf's luggage and not go over the weight limit! So I think I did well, overall!
A few more (darn oversized ones) below:

Some of the books from the SimonTeen party, which I talked about in detail here (plus win Just Like Fate!).

Two others from SimonTeen goodie bag: bound manuscripts of Perfect Ruin and When I Was the Greatest! Yay!

Next up: BEA finished copies I lined up for:

(Where It Began actually came from Teen Author Carnival).

Books I bought at NYC bookstore The Strand ($9 hardcovers!):

 For Review:

Thank you, Macmillan!

Thanks to Raincoast Books for Famous Last Words, Simon & Schuster Canada for Smoke, and Harper Collins Canada for The Chaos of Stars!
Thank you Candlewick! (Oh my gosh new Patrick Ness!)

Gifted from The YA Bookcase because of a shipping issue (thank you guys tons, that was so kind).

Aaand the books I've bought recently AKA why I am broke:

Smoke (review book above) is the sequel to Burned, which I read and loved and realized I didn't own! Had to be fixed immediately, and Chapters/Indigo's Buy 3 Get 1 Free promo made that easy! 

So clearly I need to stay away from book stores for a long time because I have a ton of reading material I've amassed over the past while! If I disappear from social media/life for a bit, you know why!