Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Pages: 464
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 5, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-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 and 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 has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review:

Cinder was one of my favourite books of last year, I loved how Meyer chose a retelling of Cinderella and mixed it in with Sailor Moon (I mean who doesn't love Sailor Moon). And after the ending, I was hooked and waited impatiently for a year for the sequel. And I must say what I follow up this was, there is so much more to this story (sitting next to Cinder, Scarlet is so much bigger in comparison).

In Scarlet we are introduced to many new characters, that you will fall in love with right away. Scarlet being such an amazing character. I love Scarlet's attitude and how close she is to her grandmother. Scarlet was such an interesting character and is determined to find her grandmother no matter what anyone else believes. I found that she reminded a lot of Cinder from the first book, being in a low level job where people look down on her and her beliefs seem to get her in trouble. Marissa Meyer did an amazing job of incorporating the story of Little Red Riding Hood into this series.

I will admit that my favourite character was Thorne in this book! He was adorable and had a great sense of humour. I absolutely adored the scenes with him and Cinder, I loved the back and forth the two of them had with one another. There was a chemistry between these two that I just kept wanting more of them (not that I didn't love Scarlet and Wolf's scenes together...) I found the Scarlet/Wolf scenes to be the more intense part of the book which kept me gripped to the story, and Cinder/Thorne were a great comedic add in, but still had some great action scenes as well.

There was just so much in this book and all I want to say about it is how much I loved everything. The plot was great and was always intriguing. This book is a great follow up to Cinder and still leaves readers wanting more from the story, Meyer does a great job of keeping her readers coming back. This is one of my favorite series, and I can't wait to see where the story will go from here, and what new characters we will meet!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Palace of Curiosities

Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine is a weekly feature where I get to gush about something (usually a book) that I am really excited for.

This book was mentioned to me last week by Shannon from Harper Collins Canada. We have come to realize that we have similar taste in books and when she said she was reading this and loving it I knew it was one I was going to have to check out! After reading more about it, I knew it needed to be featured because it sounds like such a cute and fun book! Definitely can't wait for this to be in stores :)

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: March 28, 2013


A luminous and bewitching debut novel that is perfect for fans of Angela Carter. Set in Victorian London, it follows the fortunes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the Flayed Man. A magical realism delight. Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps...and when Eve is born, the story goes, she didn't cry - she meowed and licked her paws. When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste? Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They will become The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.

What are you waiting on today?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

My Review:

What constitutes a tragedy? This is a question that Mr. Simon asks his senior class every year, and causes them to think about the biggest project they will have to do for school 'The Tragedy Paper'. In this story, the senior students must write a 20 page paper about tragedy using an event in their lives and connecting it with literature. This paper is a huge part of the story, because you see how this story connects with the paper, and really makes a difference on the lives of Irving's students.

I was interested to see how Laban would tell this story in two different points of view, because I wasn't sure what Duncan would have to do with the story of Vanessa and Tim. As the story continued, I saw that Tim and Vanessa's story affected Duncan in a very serious way, and it changes his senior year as he realizes he needs to change things so as not to miss an opportunity. I enjoy that throughout we are listening to the story as Duncan hears it, readers slowly learn everything that happened and what led up to this mysterious event that is continually talked about.

I could really feel for Duncan, and was so immersed in the story that I didn't even realize how much time had passed while reading it (just like Duncan felt listening to the story). For me I felt that Duncan's story got in the way, and though his story wasn't as prevalent, I felt that there were quite a few times where we were following Duncan and I just wanted to get back to Tim and what happened next with him and Vanessa. Many of the places that we were cut off from Tim's story leave readers on a cliffhanger to make sure you will come back.

What you learn from this book is beautiful and really applies in the real world. Don't life pass you by, no matter what. Tim was happy to sit in his corner and be unnoticed (being an albino made that difficult for him) until Vanessa came along and changed his life. This book was hard to put down and really made me think about missed opportunities myself, I don't want anything to pass me by. I suggest giving this book a try, the characters all feel so real and you become immersed in the story.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: In One Person by John Irving

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from the Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 29, 2013 (Paperback) Originally published in 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis

A compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love—tormented, funny, and affecting—and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character of In One Person, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a “sexual suspect,” a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of “terminal cases,” The World According to Garp. His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s In One Person is a poignant tribute to Billy’s friends and lovers—a theatrical cast of characters who defy category and convention. Not least, In One Person is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself “worthwhile.”

My Review:

I had seen a lot about this book when it first came out last year, it was advertised all over Toronto, and I meant to look up what it was about, but always managed to forget it. When I finally looked into the book, I thought it sounded beautiful and emotional, and after finally reading it, I can say that is was very emotional but Irving's writing draws you into the story and captures your heart. This is a book that needs to be read many times over to really get the whole feeling of the story (I definitely felt like I missed things in my first reading, and want to go back over the story myself). This book is just so powerful and the message that comes with it will stay with readers for quite some time after reading it.

Right from the beginning you can see that this story is not told like most stories, in a straight line. The narrator (Billy) jumps around a lot from his past, I felt that this is how someone would sit down and tell a story to a group of people, where many characters are mentioned in passing and then we come back and formally meet them later on. Though it was a little confusing for me at first I really got into it, because readers are being shown how each person that Billy meets makes an impact on his life in different ways. This book has a very large cast of characters that really make a statement with Billy, but you soon learn that every person is important and there is a reason that small characters that you may forget about, but then they resurface and Billy means for that to happen.

The main focus of this book is the question of sexuality, and it was really interesting to see how Irving wrote about it, and used literature to showcase these questions. Billy grows up not really being much of a reader until his stepfather decides it time that he gets a library card and starts reading books. I really enjoyed that Billy learned more about himself through the books he read, and came to terms with his own feelings through reading. The one thing that really made this book difficult for me was Billy's family. They are such a strong presence in his life, but they are very secretive and there is this mystery of his father that hangs over him for almost half the book. And for most of the book Billy and his mother have problems because of Billy's sexuality, as much as he tries to keep it hidden, it was heartbreaking and I loved when Billy was finally able to let his secret out to certain people.

Irving chooses the perfect setting for his book as well, as Billy grows the time of the AIDS epidemic really effects his life and takes many people that he has grown to love over time. Death is a huge part of this book and it really hits you over and over again.

There was one quote that really stuck out to me that needs to be repeated for all readers "Savor, don't gorge. And when you love a book, commit one glorious sentence of it--perhaps your favourite sentence--to memory. That way you won't forget the language of the story that moved you to tears" This quote is said by the librarian, Miss Frost to Billy about really reading and loving books.

This is definitely an adult book, Irving writes some graphic scenes of Billy coming into his sexuality, but they are meaningful and really make the book what it is. This book will not be for everyone, but I think those that read it, will be impacted by the story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review: Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When two beautiful teenage stage magicians in World War II England meet a pair of handsome men who can do real magic, sparks fly. But is it illusion, or delusion? Opening-night jitters are nothing new for Phil and Fee Albion, who come from a long line of stage illusionists. The girls love to dazzle London audiences, but in the aftermath of the Blitz they're bundled off to the countryside, where they're safe from bombs and Nazis--and bored to pieces. Phil, always the passionate one, discovers a hidden college of real magicians led by the devastatingly handsome Arden. If only Phil can persuade these unworldly magicians to help England win the war! Daredevil that she is, she'll risk anything to give her country a fighting chance, even if it means losing her heart . . . or her life.

My Review:

I'm not completely sure what I was expecting from this book, I knew there would be magic involved and obviously it takes place during WWII, but the synopsis didn't really give much to what would happen (which I liked). I definitely wasn't expecting what I got out of this story though. I enjoyed how Sullivan shows a different side of the world, I find it interesting to read a historical fiction book that adds in the supernatural (it reminds me a little of FATEFUL by Claudia Gray, just with a different idea).

Right from the beginning, we are taken into the magical world where twin sisters Phil and Fee are preparing to go on stage and perform their own routine together. But because of certain circumstances, that doesn't happen and the two girls are taken out of the city into the country, where no one pays attention to the war going on around them, and they all have this idea that nothing will touch them. From there it seems like things happen so quickly and I didn't have time to let things sink in. I just felt like everything was thrown at me at once and then the story slows down a bit I missed big chunks, and the the ending hits you like a ton of bricks. Everything felt disjointed and I had a bit of trouble keeping my concentration.

I enjoyed the relationship between the two sisters, it was the part of the story that really interested me the most to be honest. I loved how these two sisters were complete opposite of one another and had such different views on the world, yet were so close. I always got the feeling that they were one person split in half. They have an adorable relationship where they share everything with one another, and they have this interesting way of calming each other down by touching foreheads, like they can share everything through telekinesis almost. Though I did find both Phil and Fee to have a skewed view of the world, Fee falls in love at the drop of a hat, and imagines herself in many of those romance novels that she reads all the time like the Bronte sisters, and Jane Austen. Whereas Phil has a stronger personality and wants to fight for her beliefs and wants to do what she can to win the war. I honestly liked Fee a bit better because I found that Phil refused to believe that the war was worse than she imagined even after speaking with people who have come back from fighting.

There was some romance to the story (more so from Fee's side of things) but a lot of the story focused on the magical and fighting of a war side of things. Phil finds a college of male magicians that hide out and protect the world, but are not interested in the war. I really didn't understand a lot of what was happening at this point because there was just so much going on, and then the ending there was the huge fight which was interesting but still confusing.

The story as a whole had an interesting concept, but in my opinion there was just too much happening to really understand the story and connect with any of the characters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: Broken by A.E. Rought

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 384
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry's boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she's intrigued despite herself. He's an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely... familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel's.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there's something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks' estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

My Review:

I am always interested in retellings because I've had such good luck with them, and Frankenstein is such an interesting story I really wanted to read a modern day novel to see how it could be done. The cover of this is what first caught my attention, I love the colour contrast, I found my eye being drawn to it and that's a great marketing strategy.

I think Rought had an interesting story here, but I was disappointed to find that I knew everything that was happening (this book has the case of the synopsis giving away the entire book!) It ruined a lot of the story for me because nothing was surprising, and I just wanted to get to where Emma finds out about Alex and Daniel. I will say that though a lot was given away in the synopsis, there was still a good amount of things added in that made the book an interesting read.

I felt that even though I knew what was happening, Rought was still able to add in a great creepiness factor to the story. I really enjoyed her writing style for the most part, as she explained what happened, I felt myself cringing quite often, even knowing what was coming. Rought also added an interesting twist to how everything was acquired to make "the monster". Rought's writing style was quite descriptive, and at times I felt that it was taking away from the story, there was a lot of information to what Emma wears, everything she does, and every text she receives. I just wanted more of a story and a bit more to the actual characters.

I was really surprised at the romantic aspect of the story, I found there was a lot more romance than I was expecting from a story like this. I thought this actually added to the story though, I'm not a fan of the insta-romance in books for the most part but there is a reason behind the instant attraction. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Alex and Emma, because Emma is a strong character that fights back and she has this attitude with most of the guys (including Alex at times).

The ending did a great job of tying the whole story up, but what I really loved about was how intense it got. I wasn't the most interested in the story because I knew everything but the last few chapters were interesting and gripping. I will say that the ending made the book a better read for me and I am glad that I finished reading it because I enjoyed watching Emma and Alex deal with some of their issues.

Though there were interesting parts of the book, there was just too much that took away from the story for me. I can see readers enjoying this one if they pick it up and don't read about it, but other than that, there is just too much that is told to the reader that gives away the entire story.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 416
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 15, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.

My Review:

This book was such a heart wrenching yet beautiful story of love and always being in the face of the public. Everyone knows about Charles Lindbergh and his impressive flight across the Atlantic, but how much is really known about his personal life and his wife Anne Morrow? This story gives such an in-depth look into Anne's history and how she had to deal with marrying one of the most famous men of that time.

I really loved how Benjamin details the story of how Anne and Charles meet and end up married, everything in their relationship moves so fast in the beginning, you really get a sense of how they really don't know everything about each other. The way Benjamin writes the story made me feel like I was flying at certain points, high in the air and feeling like nothing can touch the characters. But then at other points, Benjamin makes you feel the unease of the characters, exactly as they feel when they are out in front of the public.

I love historical fiction stories that focus on the characters that are not as well known to the public, Anne was definitely on the side lines in her life with Charles, and it is very clearly seen in everything that happens to her. I loved reading more about her life and what she went through over the years, and you really see how being in the public eye all the time effects your life.

I really enjoyed the back and forth Benjamin has in her writing, where readers see Anne Morrow and her children dealing with the death of Charles, and back to see where it all began and how their marriage progressed to all the issues at that point. Many of the things Anne had to deal with was heartbreaking and I always felt bad for her while at the same time, I found myself angry at her for not being stronger and sticking up for herself more often.

Reading this story taught me so much more about Lindbergh than I knew before and really got me interested to read Anne's books for myself to learn about her life through her writing. Benjamin brings out so many of Anne's emotions in her writing, as you watch her lose a child because of being in the public eye so much, and then to reading about Anne raising so many children on her own because her husband is off having all these solo adventures. This is a story that will stay with you and wonder how everything came together for these two people.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 272
Received: Received an e-ARC from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

What if there was a 13th zodiac sign?

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign.

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s.

What about the rest of the world?

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs?

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it.

My Review:

So I am one of those people who are interested in astrological signs and what they mean for your personality (not that I'm obsessed, I just find it fun and amusing sometimes to read horoscopes . So naturally I was interested in a book that dealt with a 13th sign that when unlocked changes everyone's personality. For me, I am a cusp sign, I waver between Sagittarius and Capricorn, and definitely have characteristics from both, with this new sign, my sign changes quite a bit. What would you do if all of a sudden you unlocked this strange new horoscope sign, causing everyone around you to change in attitude, doctors, lawyers, etc. I really enjoyed how Tubb showed off this difference in people throughout the story.

First let me start out by saying yay for a standalone book! This book was so much fun and intriguing, but the author really knows where to end things, and I don't need to worry about what else will happen. I also really liked that there was no romance in this book, the book focuses on Jalen and this quest that she is on. I think it was really interesting to use the quest theme in this way, how Jalen must battle each of the astrological signs to get through and save the world from completely changing.

The beginning of the story was really confusing and all over the place, we don't really get information on the characters or what is going on with them. Jalen and her friend seem really young, but we are never actually told how old they are, or who this Nina is that she continually talks about (later you find out it's her grandmother). We find out that something is wrong with her grandmother but no explanation of what it actually is... I think there needed to be more characterization because everyone felt a little flat in the beginning.

I felt that I got off to a rough start with the book, but when Jalen begins to embark on her journey everything turned around for me and I was really interested. I love how as we encounter each sign throughout the book, there is a different test for Jalen, and she comes up with her answers through reading and learning about the signs. Jalen was a great MC for me, she is just a kid who has no idea what is going on but slowly her strength resolves and she fights for what she believes. But the greatest thing about Jalen is that she still has her own problems and she doubts herself at moments, she is a real character who still needs help from time to time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Publisher: Hyperion
Series: Shadowlands #1
Pages: 336
Received: Received a copy from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

My Review:

Wow, this book definitely took a completely different turn than I was expecting. The synopsis gives readers the feeling that this will be a creepy book, and Brian definitely delivered on the creepy factor with this one. I found myself quickly turning the pages and yet also slowing down at times because I was disturbed at what was happening.

I found that this book was heart pounding right from the beginning, making it almost impossible to tear yourself away from the story, I needed to know what would happen next with Rory. What really made this a creepy read is how Brian inserts chapters from Nell's perspective in between chapters, reading his thoughts gave me goosebumps. These added chapters made me want to look over my shoulder more often. I love when authors are able to add in the mind set of someone who has problems like Brian did.

I really found that Brian did a beautiful job bringing out Rory's feelings. If something like that had ever happened to me, I would be paranoid and always scared for my life. Everything Rory goes through is so realistic that you feel it yourself as you're reading. I really wanted to cry as Rory dealt with losing her mother again as she must leave her childhood home. Brian really hits an emotional side of things with this story, and not only goes out of her way to creep out her readers but also to really make them feel everything Rory does.

I do admit that I had one minor issue with this book and that was the relationship between Rory and her sister Darcy. I understand having problems getting along with a sister who is completely different from you, but I felt that Darcy was too over the top with her judgements. A lot of the time I felt that whenever Darcy was in a scene it was awkward, she was selfish and inconsiderate of how Rory was feeling after her encounter with Mr. Nell. I wanted her to be more supportive and understanding of why Rory was scared all the time.

There was an interesting mystery behind the town of Juniper Landing, all the people there were a bit weird and I wanted to know more about what kind of secrets they were keeping. When everything is revealed at the end of this book, you definitely get the feeling of "What did I just read?" It completely takes you by surprise and makes you want more from the story. This book gets you hooked right from the beginning and it is easy to finish in a day, needing to know the mystery. If you like a good creepy read, I suggest picking up SHADOWLANDS.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Painted Girls Blog Tour: Top 5 Historical Fiction Picks

So as my part of my involvement in The Painted Girls Blog Tour, I was asked to come up with a list of my top 5 historical fiction novels. To be honest this was kind of a difficult one for me, I really enjoy historical fiction but I don't get the chance to read a lot (the ones that I like are the giant books that take some time to finish). But after quite some time I was able to come up with a list, here it is.

1. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

This book is quite a hefty one (coming in at almost 1500 pages), but the story is absolutely beautiful. I actually had a hard time finding this one in stores, but when I did I read it immediately, devouring every page of Scarlett and Rhett. I hope to go back and read this story again in the near future.

2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This series is another one that each book weighs in at a good amount of pages, but the story is so enthralling I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed this one the most of his books (but am reading his new series as well right now). I really enjoy how Follett is able to write about so many characters and still tie them all together in this one story. This story was one of my favourites because I loved how it revolved around the building of a cathedral and that is what brought many of the characters together.

3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

It was this book that actually got me interested in historical fiction in the first place. I loved how Gregory was going into a time of history that everyone knew about but focusing on the parts that didn't have a story. This book interested me because it is about the Boleyn sister that didn't get the throne (and I will say I hated the movie because it still focused more on Anne, which is not the story at all!)

4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this book back in high school, and have always loved it. This book really brings out the emotional impact of such actions and I will always go back to reading it. This was one of my favourite school reads that I ever read. This is one I highly recommend reading!
5. Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden

This book took me some time to get to. I had seen the movie and I really wanted to see what the book was like (I will admit I thought it was based off a real person when I first heard about it). I love Golden's descriptions throughout, and I really love that this is a coming of age novel and we follow Sayuri through tough hurdles over many years, and how through everything she gets stronger.

What are some of your top historical novels? Any recommendations you have for me based on what I have read? Let me know!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Audiobook Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Dutton
Narrated by: Kim Mai Guest
Pages: 372 (8 Parts)
Received: Borrowed from Library

Release Date: December 2, 2010
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

My Review:

This book came highly recommended to me by Angel at Mermaid Vision Books (and I mean she was getting mad for me not having read it LOL). So I decided that since I was making a New Year's resolution to try new things, I thought I would give audiobooks a go, and this was one of the first I saw, so naturally one thing led to another and I am glad to say that it turned out very well!

I haven't really read many contemporary YA novels lately, I've been more into the science fiction and adventure filled ones, so picking this book up was definitely different for me, but I absolutely loved the story. What I really enjoyed the most about the story is the friendships that Anna makes at her new school in Paris. This is more than just a romance story, the friends that Anna has are a big part of who she is at school and though they are considered secondary characters, they still have a big influence on the story as a whole.

I will admit that at the beginning of the story I wasn't a big fan of Anna, I felt that she could be quite overdramatic at times and some of her reactions would bug me a little. I did get used to it rather quickly and began to understand Anna's feelings more as the story went on, also I found that it added in a good amount of humour to this book, which is what made it so much fun to read.

As I said this was my first audiobook and I'm grateful that I had such a good experience with it, the narrator (Kim Mai Guest) did a great job in my opinion. I feel that she did a great job bringing out the different voices of each character (I did chuckle quite a bit when she did the male voices, but it wasn't bad at all). I also really enjoyed this book as an audiobook because I felt that the narrator brought out Anna's emotions throughout everything and it really came across as more sentimental.

If you haven't read this book I will definitely recommend it, and why not try it as an audiobook, it's definitely very well read. I really enjoyed the story and loved the narrator for this one (I want to check out other audiobooks she has read).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blog Tour Review: The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 22, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A gripping novel set in Belle Époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the era.

Paris. 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventy francs a month, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work—and the love of a dangerous young man—as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Antoinette, meanwhile, descends lower and lower in society, and must make the choice between a life of honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde—that is, unless her love affair derails her completely.

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.”

My Review:

When I was pitched this book that was inspired by Degas's Little Dancer Aged Fourteen I was in love. I am always a sucker when it comes to books about ballet dancers (as I used to be one myself) and the fact that this one takes place in Paris, just got me jumping for joy.First I have to say how beautiful this cover is, I absolutely love the color of it and the statue of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.  I have always been a fan of Degas, his painting are beautiful and real (and I always had a thing for pictures of dancers). Okay, now onto the story itself.

The story follows the lives of the van Goethem sisters, and is told from the perspective of two of the three (Antoinette, the oldest child and Marie, the middle child). It was interesting seeing these two complete oppostie people in the same situation, and hearing their different voices and thoughts on what and why things are happening, and the two different views on life. The one thing I really would have liked that from this book is a point of view of Charlotte at times, because she was at a different stage, it would have been interesting to get to know her better (though it could have also been too disjointed of a story....).

What really made this story different is how it doesn't take place in a Paris that we know and love, this is a seedier Paris where the characters are struggling against all odds to make ends meet. I loved that this story takes readers to a dark place and yet it is still such a magical story. These two girls go through quite a lot for such a young age to help keep their family strong, and each has their own way of showing strength.

Buchanan does a beautiful job of showing the differences between these two sisters, and really making you feel for the characters, showing off how difficult it is to rise in the dance world when you can't pay for it. This book has been a hot topic for weeks and it is understandable why. With Buchanan's writing I can see this book being around for a while!

Learn more about Cathy Marie Buchanan and The Painted Girls at the Harper Collins Canada Website.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: The Archived #1
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 22, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My Review:

I had been waiting on this book for quite some time, everything about it sounds different from what's out there and I was intrigued. The book tells a story where the dead are kept in something like a library and are watched over. Every so often the dead will "wake" and this is where Mackenzie comes in, her job is to find those that have woken and send them back. This book gave off a great creepiness factor, which I'm really getting into, as something different from the dystopian books I've been reading a lot lately.

I found the book to be a little slow going in the beginning, taking it's time to find it's place, but when it did finally get into the mystery it picked up and became really interesting. What really interested me was Schwab's writing style. I liked the back and forth Schwab gives readers from Mac doing her job in the present, and her remembering what she learned from her grandfather. After reading this book, I feel like there were clues in those passages of the past that if you pay attention you may be able to figure things out.

The characters were really interesting, but I absolutely loved Mackenzie. Throughout the book, I really felt her sense of loss, Schwab makes it relatable and there are a lot of emotional scenes that just made me want to wrap Mackenzie up in a hug and never let go. She has dealt with so much and I think that helps on her journey in this book. I love what Mackenzie learns not only about the Archive but about herself and her relationship with her family.

The ending brought about a lot more action than I expected from this book, and I think everything was wrapped up really nice. I'm interested to see how the rest of the series will continue after everything in this book.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: Catherine by April Lindner

Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 320
Received: Received an e-arc from the publisher

Release Date: January 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.

My Review:

I loved WUTHERING HEIGHTS when I read it back in university, the characters were different and they had attitude. I'm always weary of retellings, even though I've had luck with quite a few in the past year, it's still something that I'm scared of because these types of books can easily be ruined. I found I had a few problems with the book, but overall I thought this was a great retelling of the classic story.

CATHERINE takes readers to modern day New York as the setting of this classic, and what really caught my attention is that Lindner places her characters in the rock and roll music scene. I thought Lindner did a great job bringing this story to modern times and took an interesting perspective to her writing style. I enjoyed the different perspectives between the present time having Chelsea search for her mother, and the past where we learn what Catherine went through that would cause her to possibly run away from her family.  But as much as I liked this twist because it brought up a great mystery aspect to the story, I felt like I wanted more of Catherine's back story and that Chelsea's story was getting in the way at times.

I also really wanted Catherine to be more like the original Catherine, I loved the character of Catherine in this story, and in WUTHERING HEIGHTS she was mean and vindictive herself a lot of the time, which was what made the story of her and Heathcliff so difficult. I felt that this was a great love story and I really loved Catherine and Hence. The character of Hence was interesting in this retelling, he's a tragic character but you see what Catherine loved about him in her story, and though when I was reading Chelsea's perspective I had a hard time liking him by the end of the story I really saw him for what Catherine saw.

The ending kind of took me by surprise, after going through the whole story, as I got closer I started thinking Lindner might take it that way, but I really hoped she wouldn't. It was a bit disturbing for me and really couldn't believe it. The ending made me quite emotional and I really had hoped it would end differently. But all in all, I really enjoyed this and couldn't tear my eyes away from the story. For a retelling, I definitely think Lindner did a beautiful job.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Publisher: Putnam
Series: Legend #2
Pages: 384
Received: Borrowed a copy from Christa at More than Just Magic

Release Date: January 29, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

My Review:

When LEGEND came out last year, I was in love, it was full of action and interesting ideas that I knew this was a series I needed to continue with. PRODIGY is definitely an amazing sequel. What I really enjoyed is that though PRODIGY did have some action, this was more of a world building story. Lu delves deep into the history of her characters and really lets us understand them more. I really loved the amount of emotions running high in this book. I loved how this story really solidified the relationships of the characters, and really made you understand everything each of them had gone through.

Readers get the chance to see the other side of things, as we meet those involved with the Patriots. I really enjoyed seeing how people worked on the other side of the things and watching as they try to take down the Republic in their way. I enjoyed how the assassination was supposed to happen and how the Patriot rebels were using Day as a figure head. This book is not loaded with action but there is still a great amount that will at times keep you on edge. A lot of interesting things come out in the open that just completely turned my thoughts around and made me see things differently.

I fell in love with the characters even more in this book because Lu gave us a more emotional side to both June and Day, the only exception to this was Tess. I really loved Tess in LEGEND, she was adorable and sweet, but she changed so much in this book and she really got on my nerves whenever she was around. I didn't like her attitude towards Day throughout everything, I understand why she acted that way but I thought she was over dramatic a lot of the time and it just bugged me.

I absolutely loved everything that happened in this book, until it came to the ending. Marie Lu killed me with the closing of the book. After everything that happened, ending it like she did was just mean. After everything that went down in this book, and everything that I learned, I am seriously nervous about this series ending next year... I am more in love with Day and June now than ever before.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 272
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance. Written by debut novelist Gregg Rosenblum, this gripping story shouldn’t be missed.

My Review:

So I read ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel Waters last year and loved it, and when I read the synopsis to this I thought a lot about that book for a younger generation. There was a creepy feeling at times to this book but it didn't really live up to what I was hoping. I found the book to be surprisingly short, and I was hoping for more to the story, I really felt that there wasn't enough information for me in this book (I'm not certain if this is part of a series).

I felt that Rosenblum did a great job with the world building in this book, he really made readers understand how and why the robots took over. The robots had a natural progression and evolution that is expected of technology, and I really liked the idea of why the robots took over, it was an interesting idea. For a novel like this, that is one of the most important things, but for me character development is important too and I think this story missed the mark a bit on that.

I liked a couple of the characters, but for the most part I just couldn't connect with them and felt that they didn't have much development over the course of the novel. They had one goal in mind and did everything possible to achieve that, which I admire immensely but I felt there should have been more to the characters. I did really enjoy the character of Kevin, how he was so immersed in learning more about the technology behind things. I think of all the characters, Kevin was one that actually grew throughout the story. He learned about things and understood how to change certain things to make it work for him.

REVOLUTION 19 did deliver on the action and intrigue about the robots, and this new world that was built. I enjoyed how Rosenblum describes the city center and he goes into great detail on the technology behind everything, which made this interesting at times. The main reason this book fell flat was the characterization, and I feel that if this does become a series that it can grow on people.

For more information on Gregg Rosenblum and Revolution 19 visit the Harper Collins Canada webpage.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Series: Altered #1
Pages: 336
Received: Received an egalley from the publisher

Release Date: January 1, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

My Review:

I wasn't really sure what I was getting into when I opened this book, I liked the idea that this story focused on the boys rather than Anna (though she is a big part of this book since it's told from her perspective). The story had an interesting mystery to it. Following the boys' escape they run to find out about their past. I really enjoyed how there are clues that take readers back to the guys past lives, it was really interesting to see how these clues were left behind. I also really enjoyed how as a reader you learn about everything along with the characters.

I really enjoyed the relationship the four guys had with one another. They had this special bond and always had each other's back when needed. I really liked how they were in tune with one another, and Rush gives a really great explanation for this. That was a big thing in this book actually, was a great scientific background to the experiments.

Anna was the most interesting character for me as well. As much as this is a story about the boys and their past it's also a lot about Anna learning things about herself. What I really liked about Anna was that you see her girlishness when she is around the guys because they are so big and strong but she hides it and tries to be strong instead of needing to have the guys save her. But despite the strength Anna shows throughout, you really get to see her weaknesses as well, I love that she isn't perfect, it makes her more real.

As much as I liked this book, I found that the chapters were very short (which isn't normally a problem) and ended very abruptly. When the chapters ended I felt like there still should have been more to it, and then the next chapter just starts up somewhere different. I wanted more out of the story, I just felt that at times (especially in the beginning of the book) should have added more information on things. But I do think ALTERED was a good beginning to a new series. I found that there were a lot of great twists that I definitely did not see coming and the ending wasn't much of a cliffhanger, I have a feeling that book 2 will be a continuation on the story but with different ideas.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: The Darkest Minds #1
Pages: 496
Received: Borrowed copy from a friend

Release Date: December 18, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

My Review:

I was really interested in the synopsis of this book, it gave off a really dark feeling of the world we live in with the children of the world contract a disease that give them supernatural abilities that can not be controlled. There was a good amount of action at the beginning and the end of this book, but what really kept me going was questions about people and the mysterious leader of East River. The story was interesting and I would like to see where Bracken takes this in the next book but sadly, I felt a little bored reading this at times and felt that it was missing something to it.

I did enjoy the character of Ruby, but it took me some time. At first I found her to be a little annoying and over the top, but after some time I found that she began learning to take care of herself and she became stronger as the story continued. There were times where I felt that she was too trusting and needed to be more aware of her surroundings, but she wasn't one who needed saving all the time. Ruby was someone who helped others all the time.

The main problem I had with the story is that it skipped over a lot of explanations on things. I would have liked to know more about the background of the disease, like what exactly caused it. Bracken focused more on the characters and learning about them and their history. I just wasn't completely sold on the world that Bracken introduces us to, she needs more information and more background. I also felt that the story went around in circles a few times, always coming back to the same idea, and this made the book a bit slower for me to get through.

I liked what came about at East River with what came out of it, mainly for Ruby's character. I feel like she learned a lot about herself through her experience there. The ending leaves a lot of questions and actually really got to my emotional side (I would rather feel strong emotional scenes throughout the book rather than at just one critical moment though).

It was definitely an interesting story altogether but I just found that in the end it left me with too many unanswered questions. I may continue on with the series in the future but it is not at the top of my list at the moment. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Publisher: Harper Teen
Series: The Dragon King Chronicles #1
Pages: 312
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: January 2, 2013
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Goodreads Synopsis:

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

My Review:

This book sounded a lot like GRACELING (which I didn't really like all that much when I read it, but will have to try again after reading this one). I was so taken with the synopsis that I needed to read this book and see what it was like, and wow did it ever capture my attention! I really enjoy the quest narratives in books and this one delivered well on that front.

This was a great book that dealt with family relationships (I have found that there are a few more YA books coming out lately that have the close family bond). Kira is a demon slayer who is in the kingdom to protect the prince who just so happens to be her cousin. I love the relationship between these two because even though they are younger they are close and the prince relies on her a lot. But I could also see Kira reciprocating her love for her cousin and will do anything to keep him safe. I really found that the story was propelled by the idea of family ties.

This book opens up with a lot of action and it is easy to see that there will be a lot more action throughout. I really found that PROPHECY delivers on the action front and keeps you intrigued with the quest happening and the different ideas that come up. The story line was definitely intriguing and I really felt like Ellen Oh brought out a great new fantasy novel.

I did have one small issue with the story though, I felt that the character of the prince acted a lot younger than  I was expecting. For a character that is supposed to be prince in the future they should have strength and should give off a feeling of power, but I felt like the his character was overly childish and cried a lot more than I liked.

All in all this was such a fun book and I will happily continue with this series (and I need to go back and read GRACELING with how much these two resemble each other). As an added bonus, this book has an amazing Asian setting, which is different from a lot of fantasy novels like this one. The characters and the history was well done, I just hope for a little more world building in future books. There were still a few questions left unanswered and I would like to know more about these characters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
Pages: 412
Received: Borrowed from Christa at More Than Just Magic

Release Date: December 11, 2012
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Goodreads Synopsis:

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

My Review:

I have just been newly introduced into the fantasy genre this past year through blogging and friends, and I have loved just about every one of the books that has been recommended to me, so when FALLING KINGDOMS came out and I heard high praises from many people that I respect I knew I had to get my hands on the story... and I can say I highly recommend this story!

I found that this book is a great introduction to fantasy novels for teens and younger readers, coming from someone who hasn't read a lot of fantasy I thought this was such a fun read and still had the adventure and violence that comes from these types of books. To be completely honest, I was actually surprised at the amount of violence that came out of this book, but I can see that it needed to happen to help certain characters grow during the story.

What really caught my attention with this book was the story with many characters that all have intertwining stories. Though there are a lot of characters, Rhodes did not make you feel overwhelmed with the different narrations. It made me think a little bit of Ken Follett's novels (which I absolutely adore!) Rhodes definitely set this book up as a start to what I foresee to be an amazing series.

The one thing that really stuck out to me in this book was the strong sense of family in all the characters. Everyone had different ways of showing their love but you could see how each of the main characters would do anything for their family members (which spurred a lot of the fights throughout the story). For me, when I see such a strong sense of family bonding in books it really makes me love the characters more, in my opinion I find strength in characters who are there for their families.

This book was a great introduction to each of the characters, and a lot happens in this book. The ending really took me by surprise, I thought one thing was going to happen and I was completely shocked when something completely different happened! Rhodes knows how to keep her readers interested, even through slow times (though there aren't that many). I really can't wait to see where she takes these characters next, and how they will grow throughout.


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