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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: September 4, 2012
Pages: 306
Source: Traded with Stories & Sweeties
Rating: 2.5 Stars

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.
All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

In short: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr has a ton of potential, but is unfortunately bogged down with an exposition-heavy story that lacks in action and character development.
Creating dark and gritty fantasy worlds is something that Melissa Marr excels at. Her books tend to have these really sinister atmospheres that make for edgy and dangerous stories. And Carnival of Souls is no exception. Enter the world of the carnival in which cage fighting matches and masked seduction occur in equal parts. Transitioning between two different worlds - the normal human world and the parallel daimon realm - and four different characters perspectives, Carnival of Souls has a lot going on and a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel like the concept and premise of Carnival of Souls was used to its full potential. What should've been a dangerous and exciting read was more often slow and boring. I blame the crux of this problem on the poor world building. Melissa Marr has created a wonderfully complex world, but it is the execution of the set-up of this world that was lacking: a good majority of Carnival of Souls is exposition. The particulars of the daimon realm and the caste system are described at length and it really bogs down the story as there is very little actual action going on. The exposition-heavy story really hurts the pacing and reads more like a textbook at times as it is not integrated very well into the text.

And I can't say I particularly cared for any of the characters either. We never truly get to know any of them that well and that makes it difficult to relate to them. The romances were similarly underdeveloped and one of them was another ubiquitous case of insta-love. I spent Carnival of Souls feeling removed from the story and the superficial characters, not really caring what happens and eager to set it aside so that I could start something more engaging. And I hated the ending.

I can't help but think that most of the problems I had with Carnival of Souls could be fixed if only it was longer in page length. Very talented authors can get a lot done in very few pages, but I think even the most talented author would have had a hard time setting up such a complex world and still having time for character development and action scenes in just 300 pages. But as it is, Carnival of Souls was 300 pages of exposition - the execution of which was fairly poor and boring - and that's a shame because it really could've been a truly exciting story.

Other Reviews:
Books and Sensibility
Good Books and Good Wine
Novel Sounds

Author Links:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (7) and Vlog (4)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase any books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won to read.

This week, I made my fourth vlog, despite being almost thwarted by an annoyingly incessant car alarm. But the show must go on, as they say:

For Review:
Dust Lands: Rebel Heart by Moira Young (Thanks to Big Honcho Media!)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
Splintered by A.G. Howard (Thanks to Abrams!)
Elemental by Antony John (Thanks to Penguin!)
The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell (Thanks to Penguin!)

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke (Thanks to Paranormal Indulgence and Strange Chemistry!)

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Thursday, November 22, 2012

2nd Blogoversary Giveaway!

Hiiii. So. I have been book blogging for 2 years now and I can hardly believe it. I'm not sure where the time went! Blogging has become such a major part of my life and one of the best parts of my life, too. I've really enjoyed this second year of blogging, especially. It's not that I didn't like my first year, but my second year has just been better in every way: I've had a ton more time to read (I surpassed my reading goal 8 months in!) and a lot more time to post regularly; I've had some great and truly appreciated opportunities to work with publishers (I didn't even request any books in my first year); and overall, there's been a LOT less stress as I've learned to treat blogging as a fun hobby and NOT a chore. And I hope to maintain this attitude and these circumstances for my third year of blogging!

I've made so many blog friends over the past two years and it means the world to me that I get to talk obsessively about books with people as I have never really had the ability to do so in real life. It is definitely my favourite part of book blogging. It's strange, I never could have imagined that I could make such good friends over the internet, but it really happened and it makes me so happy. I would list every single name here if I weren't afraid of missing somebody. But just know that if I comment on your blog regularly, then I like you!

So with this in mind, I thought it would be a good time to give back. I will be giving away:
$15 CAD to The Book Depository!

And because this is my 2nd Blogoversary, there will be TWO Winners!

Thank you and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Winter 2013 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Simon & Schuster Winter 2013 Catalog:

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Date: January 1, 2013
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Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

I'm not really sure what to make of Teeth based on mixed reviews, but I am definitely intrigued with the story and I kind of want to find out what the deal is with this fishboy named Teeth. Also, I understand that Hannah Moskowitz's writing is pretty amazing.

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Date: January 15, 2013
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Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.
Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself at the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

I'm always interested in reading books that seem like they can introduce a new and original take on the same old dystopian/fantasy stories, and Level 2 sounds like it could deliver on that promise - there are so many different elements present in the synopsis, I don't know what to think!

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
Date: March 5, 2013
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Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.
Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.
When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

I mean, I would want to read Let the Sky Fall based on that gorgeous cover alone! But also, I really love books that involve elemental type powers and I am tickled that the main character's name is Vane (like a weathervane).

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Date: March 19, 2013
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Danger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

So who is NOT waiting on Clockwork Princess, the third and final book in The Infernal Devices series?! I am sure it is atop many people's most anticipated books of 2013 list and I am with them - I CANNOT wait to see how it all concludes and Clare has never been known to shy away from an action-packed finale.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Simon & Schuster Winter 2013 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Simon & Schuster Winter 2013 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Publisher: Penguin
Published: November 13, 2012
Pages: 384
Source: From Penguin Canada
Rating: 2 Stars

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.
When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

In short: Black City by Elizabeth Richards may cause a serious eyeroll sprain.
This is one of those situation where the book just wasn't for me and thus my criticisms will be very subjective and specific to my personal tastes and not necessarily reflective of the general opinion. So let's start with the positive: Black City has an interesting premise that, while not completely original, at least presented something intriguing to draw you into the story right away. I won't deny that Black City definitely had that addictive, easy quality to it that kept me reading right to the end. Also, that cover? Gorge.

And now for the not so positive. Black City was terribly cliched. Eyeroll inducingly cliched. In fact, I was kind of sort of impressed by how many of the overused teen book stereotypes that Elizabeth Richards was able to fit into one book. Let's see, we have not only one, but TWO instances of insta-love... within the SAME love triangle!! Ugh - I can't even. And it's not even that I've never enjoyed a love triangle before - because I have (as rare as it is) - but this one was so weak and both relationships were so underdeveloped and fast. And they were utterly lacking in any good romance squees and swoons. I had no interest in either.

And I can't say I particularly cared for any of the characters. Natalie especially - Ugh. At one point she actually uses the dreaded line - and I'm paraphrasing here - "if Day can't support my relationship with Ash then we can't be friends" and then she proceeds to dump her only friend for a boy she met and fell in love with in under a week. Natalie and Ash don't even have a good relationship - they were hot and cold with each other pretty much the entire book! I just have no tolerance for these incredibly juvenile and petty teen relationships. Can we please put an end to them?

I also wasn't impressed with the rather hamfisted allegory present in Black City - it was too literal and blunt. As for the writing, I feel like Elizabeth Richards has room for growth and I hope that she continues to improve. I would probably give her writing another try sometime, but not any sequels to this series. I want to stress that a lot of people have loved Black City and I would recommend it to hardcore paranormal romance lovers. But for those of us who have gotten tired of the same old cliches, Black City will leave you with a serious eyeroll sprain.

Other Reviews:
Alluring Reads
Avery's Book Nook
Icey Books

Authors Links:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Winter 2013 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which an upcoming, eagerly anticipated release is highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Winter 2013 Catalog:

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Date: January 8, 2013
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When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Admittedly, I've never read any of Gayle Forman's books myself, so my anticipation of Just One Day is based purely on what I know from what other people have said about her books: that they're beautiful and emotional and real. And for that reason, I am very interested in reading Just One Day (as well as her previous books, obviously).

The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
Date: January 10, 2013
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There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

The Cadet of Tildor is touted as "Tamora Pierce meets George R.R. Martin" and if that isn't enough to get people excited about this one, then I don't know what is. I love political medieval-era high fantasies, so I'm thinking I'm really going to love The Cadet of Tildor.

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Date: January 15, 2013
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Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.
But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.
Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS! The previous two books in the Across the Universe series have been fast-paced and intriguing as heck, and I really can't wait for any new surprises Beth Revis is going to cook up for us in the final book, Shades of Earth.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Date: February 13, 2013
Add to Goodreads

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.
Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

Just as with Just One Day by Gayle Forman, I have not read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, but based on all the raving reviews for that one, I know that Out of the Easy is going to be a book that I need to read (again, along with Between Shades of Gray). And I love that Out of the Easy takes place in 1950's New Orleans!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Winter 2013 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Winter 2013 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie

Publisher: Penguin
Published: November 1, 2011
Pages: 367
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

In short: While Crossed by Ally Condie was distinctly lacking in action, there was just enough intrigue to keep me interested in reading Reached.
I am such a lemming. People say how great Matched is and I find a way to read it as soon as I can. People say how disappointing Crossed was and I put off reading it for a year because of that. And unfortunately - and despite how much I loved Matched - I can't help but agree with reviewers who thought Crossed was a slow and sort of monotonous read. Not a whole lot happens and it seemed more like just a set-up book for the final book in the Matched Trilogy, Reached. I mean, Matched was a slow read as well, but I found that it at least held my interest throughout with its excellent world building and beautiful writing. With Crossed, the detailed introduction to the world was supposed to be over with in book one and I wanted some of the action promised to me at the end of Matched.

I'm also very much disappointed that I don't feel like I have any particularly strong connection to the three main characters - Cassia, Ky, and Xander. Especially Cassia. She's a bit on the bland side. And again, I remember feeling the same way about her character in Matched, but I was willing to excuse it at the time because I thought maybe all the characters were supposed to be sort of bland and similar because of their restricted freedoms and limited choices. And with how Crossed was set up at the end of Matched, I thought for sure this was going to be Cassia and company's time to come into their own a bit more. But alas, this was not the case. They're not bad characters by any means - I just don't have any particular attachment to any of them.

Okay, okay, so it may seem like I didn't like Crossed at all, but that's not true! I am still a huge fan of Ally Condie's writing style. She somehow manages to incorporate poetry and symbolism flawlessly into the text and not have it be distracting or over-thought. Ally Condie's writing accounts for the bulk of my enjoyment of Crossed. And I can't deny that there was just enough intrigue in Crossed to keep me coming back for Reached. So what am I hoping for in Reached (to be released November 13, 2012)? Ideally, more character depth and I really hope Ally Condie takes this opportunity to ramp up the action to make a truly exciting read. It is the final book in the trilogy after all!

Previously, my review of Matched.

Other Reviews:
Books: A True Story
Burning Impossibly Bright
Lunar Rainbows
My Precious

Authors Links:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Now on Facebook and Pinterest!

Hi hi hi. So... if you can believe it, I have never had a Facebook account in my entire life until now. I'm kind of a private person, I guess. BUT I decided that it couldn't hurt to create an account under my pseudonym specifically for my blog. So if you're interested in being my friend, then I'd be happy to accept: here!

Along with that, I've created a Facebook page for my blog. I'm going to be going through my favourite blogs and Liking everyone's pages and of course it would be cool if people could Like my page if you want, as well: here! You can also leave links in the comments to your blog's Facebook page to make it easy for me to Like your page!

And in the spirit of joining sites just so that I can see what all the cool kids are talking about, I joined Pinterest... and have no idea what to do with it. What kind of things to people use Pinterest for anyways? I would love to hear any insight you can give me on this in the comments below. If you're interested in following me, then I'd be happy to return the favour: here!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: October 9, 2012
Pages: 432
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

In most fairy tales, princesses are beautiful, dragons are terrifying, and stories are harmless. This isn't most fairy tales.
Princess Violet is plain, reckless, and quite possibly too clever for her own good. Particularly when it comes to telling stories. One day she and her best friend, Demetrius, stumble upon a hidden room and find a peculiar book. A forbidden book. It tells a story of an evil being -- called the Nybbas -- imprisoned in their world. The story cannot be true -- not really. But then the whispers start. Violet and Demetrius, along with an ancient, scarred dragon, may hold the key to the Nybbas's triumph . . . or its demise. It all depends on how they tell the story. After all, stories make their own rules.
Iron Hearted Violet is a story of a princess unlike any other. It is a story of the last dragon in existence, deathly afraid of its own reflection. Above all, it is a story about the power of stories, our belief in them, and how one enchanted tale changed the course of an entire kingdom.

In short: If I were to describe Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill in one word, it would be Charming.
Middle Grade fantasies featuring strong and charismatic protagonists and creative world building are among my favourite kind of books to read and I had a feeling Iron Hearted Violet would give me exactly what I wanted - and it did. Kelly Barnhill has crafted an adventurous and unconventional story with a completely endearing protagonist. And what's more, there was SUBSTANCE here in the themes and messages of the novel. If I had to describe Iron Hearted Violet in one word, it would be Charming. I was utterly charmed by the story, characters, and writing.

Iron Hearted Violet is narrated not by Violet, but by the Court Storyteller, stepping away from the more traditional first person and third person omniscient points of view, which added a lot of interest and texture to the story that I really appreciated. It also really brought home the message of the power of storytelling and gave the story a fairytale feel, which was genius on Kelly Barnhill's part. Her bewitching prose was a delight to read and so very playful. The plot was well done - perhaps a bit too predictable at times - but very intriguing and whimsical.

I loved Violet. She is not your typical princess - she isn't graceful or fragile. And she is described as being a homely princess, with a lopsided face, mismatched eyes, and a frizzy and unruly mane of hair. Though I have to say, even though I knew all this, I couldn't help picturing her as an adorable and charming girl, just based on the strength of her personality. She may not be princess-conventionally-pretty, but she is unique and beautiful in her own way. It's hard not to be charmed by such a clever, inquisitive, and dauntless protagonist!

I was mostly impressed by the illustrations present in Iron Hearted Violet, as drawn by Iacopo Bruno, though I have a few quibbles: first off, that awesome scene depicted on the cover of Violet riding on the back of a dragon? NEVER happens. So that was disappointing and misleading. Also, Violet as illustrated by Iacopo Bruno is not the Violet at described by Kelly Barnhill: the illustrations of her are more conventionally pretty than the physical characteristics described in the book and I would have preferred to see her as her unique and adorable self instead.

Overall, Iron Hearted Violet was a super charming read and I look forward to reading more books from Kelly Barnhill in the future. Iron Hearted Violet is a standalone.

Authors Links:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Published: May 15, 2012
Pages: 339
Source: For Review from Random House Canada
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends.
But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in “Verity’s” own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

In short: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an exceptionally brilliant story with emotionally powerful narration.
I knew I was going to need to read Code Name Verity when the positive reviews came pouring in, one after the other. Historical fiction isn't a genre that I usually read and enjoy and indeed, when I first started Code Name Verity, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. It was a bit disorienting following the narration in letter format as Verity switches between what is happening in the current and what has happened in the past in quick succession. There is also a ton of piloting details that, while really adding to the feeling of historical accuracy, were not always the most interesting to read about. But I continued on, knowing that people had gushed about the power and emotion of the story.

And I'm glad I did continue: because what I read in part two of Code Name Verity, this time told from Kittyhawk's point of view, was like a reward. It was like I had been moving through a long, dark tunnel in part one - appreciating Elizabeth Wein's beautiful narration and depiction of the friendship between Verity and Kittyhawk, but still struggling a bit with the point and direction of the story - and then BAM, there was light and suddenly everything made sense and it was like a puzzle snapping into place. The entire time in part one clues were being left and I was completely oblivious to it. It made me instantly want to return and read part one again to pick up on everything that I missed. What seemed like a frenetic and at times, irrelevant, part one suddenly became clear and evident and it was BRILLIANT.

Part two also opened up a whole new can of emotions: part one seemed more like your standard WWII novel - at least at the time that I was reading it - complete with a ton of intricate and interesting historical details (it is very evident that Elizabeth Wein has done her research well), whereas part two seemed more personable and emotional. And when I say emotional, I mean absolutely HEARTBREAKING at times. How can it not be when in such a short time you come to care so deeply for these two girls? These two girls who, while differing in personality, were both brave and admirable characters who forged a wonderful friendship. Elizabeth Wein will have you buzzing with happiness at times with the way their friendship is depicted and will break your heart in others with her strong and emotional writing.

I am happy I went outside my comfort zone to read Code Name Verity because I was rewarded handsomely with a powerful story that really had an impact; a story that left me astounded at its brilliance as all the clues in part one fell into place in part two. I highly recommend Code Name Verity to all readers, even non-historical fiction fans. Be patient with part one if it seems disorienting and unimportant because you will be rewarded if you stick to it.

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
A Girl, Books, and Other Things
Hooked on Books

Authors Links:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (6): My Third Vlog

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase any books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won to read.

This week, I made my third vlog, in which I am intense about dragons, excited about maps in books, and say the word "excellent" a lot:

Books Mentioned:
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
Darkwater by Catherine Fisher
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson

Huge thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada, Penguin Canada, and Random House Canada for sending me books to review!

Blogs Mentioned:
Alluring Reads
Alison Can Read
Small Review

Post Mentioned:
My review of What Happens Next

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: October 9, 2012
Pages: 320
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 5 Stars

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?
Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.
Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

In short: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton was an authentic and emotional read that really challenged my perception of the way I view the issues the novel dealt with.
What Happens Next was not my usual reading fare; those who know me know I only seldom stray into contemporary reads, choosing instead make-believe speculative fiction. And I RARELY make visits into the area of issue books, often scared away by the serious subject matter. But I can't say how utterly happy I am that I took the plunge and read What Happens Next, a story about a girl who gets date-raped while on a school ski-trip and the repercussions following the event. What a completely real and piercing read this was. As it turns out, I actually really love books that tackle serious subject matters - when they are done WELL, that is. I was definitely affected by the story and was given a lot to think about.

Sid is an instantly likeable and relatable protagonist, which makes her journey following the event all the more emotional. It's hard not to feel sympathy for a girl who loses everything in one night - her reputation, her friends, her self image, and her virginity - and yet somehow also feel proud of her that she wasn't completely beaten down. I loved how snarky and bold she was. And though I haven't personally ever gone through any experiences exactly the same to hers, I was still able to identify with the little things - her insecurities and doubts. Her authentic personality and appearance really made her stand out among a sea of cookie-cutter YA protagonists.

And I loved Sid's excellent support system in the form of her two best friends, her caring mother, her adorable brother, and her reliable pet Irish Wolfhound. And her love interest, Corey. Corey!! Corey is basically my idea of the perfect book boyfriend. Through it all, Corey is there to support Sid and it was such a relief to me that she always had him even when she felt she had no one else. He is thoughtful and caring, but also has his own insecurities and problems. The romance between Sid and Corey was pretty dang swoon-worthy, full of awkward and butterfly-inducing moments. And did I mention Corey bakes?! BAKES, people!!

Possibly the most notable part of What Happens Next is that it really challenged my perception of things and made me rethink how I view certain issues. And I am truly grateful to Colleen Clayton for that. I really appreciated her authentic approach to such serious issues. I was honestly shocked to learn that Colleen Clayton is a debut author because What Happens Next read like it was written by an experienced writer. I very much look forward to reading all her subsequent novels!

Other Reviews:
365 Days of Reading
Alluring Reads
Xpresso Reads

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