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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published: June 5, 2012
Pages: 358
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

In short: Thanks to my blog commenters who shamed me into reading Shadow and Bone, I got to experience a real treat. This book has it ALL!
A few weeks ago when I posted my Top Ten Tuesday post, Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread, there was something of a public outcry from my commenters who couldn't believe I STILL had not read some of the most hyped about books from the past few years. Out of all the books I listed, the biggest outcry was for Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which I bought shortly after it was released last year after a slew of rave reviews. Because I had been shamed by the commenters and because I apparently cave easily to peer pressure, I made Shadow and Bone my next read when I next had a break between review books.

So I guess I should start off this review by thanking everyone who made me read Shadow and Bone. YOU WERE RIGHT! I already knew going into it that this book was going to be my JAM, but I was still blown away by the story and not at all let down after all the hype surrounding it. THIS BOOK GUYS. It's been a while since I've enjoyed myself so much while reading a book. It had so many elements that I love, including (but not at all limited to): a wonderfully developed and beautifully picturesque world, a creative and fascinating magic system, a sort of boarding school setting, an awesomely relatable and fierce heroine, a slow building and fantastically swoony romance, and an enigmatic and complex villain. Shadow and Bone has it ALL!

I can't put into words how much I loved the world building in Shadow and Bone. I was just left mesmerized by it, much as I was with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's been a while since I've had that experience of wanting completely to become apart of a fictitious world, but I found it was the case with Shadow and Bone. Except instead of "I want to be a witch and put on robes and go to Hogwarts!", it was, "I want to be a Grisha and put on a kefta and go to Os Alta!" I mean, okay, it probably wouldn't be the best time to be apart of this world amid all the death and destruction at the time the book takes place, but you get the idea.

So yes, thanks to my blog commenters, I got to experience a real treat with Shadow and Bone - one where I was held utterly captivated from beginning to end and one that had me wanting to sew my own kefta. You guys are the bestest. Maybe I should pick the next most popular reading choice from that post to read next since this was such a resounding success for me.

Other Reviews:
My Precious
Paper Riot

Authors Links:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Movie Review: The Host

Distributed by: Open Road Films
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Release: March 29, 2013
Length: 2hr 5min
Rating: PG

What if everything you love was taken from you in the blink of an eye? "The Host" is the next epic love story from the creator of the "Twilight Saga," worldwide bestselling author, Stephenie Meyer. When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, Melanie Stryder will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about - Jared, Ian, her brother Jamie and her Uncle Jeb, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.

I was fortunate enough to score advance screening tickets to see The Host movie early. I loved The Host when I read it years ago. I was able to read it again this year in audiobook form and loved it even more than I had the first time around. I found I liked The Host more than Twilight because I believe Stephenie Meyer had improved as a writer by the time The Host was written. It has an insanely creative and cool concept and I loved the characters and the heart of the story. So I was very much excited for the film adaptation.

The problem is, it's not necessarily a book that translates well to movie. There is a ton of inner dialogue between Melanie, the body, and Wanderer, the "soul" (read: alien), inside of her. In the movie, the filmmakers decided to have Melanie talk to Wanderer in voiceover and Wanderer respond out loud. It was incredibly awkward and cheesy, much like the voiceovers for the wolves in Twilight. There were a ton of unintentionally funny moments, also just like in Twilight. To be fair though, I can't think of a way that the filmmakers could have made this work on the big screen.

It wasn't a terrible movie though: I liked the cast that they chose and they did the best they could with the corny dialogue they were given. Fans of the book will be pleased to know that it is a fairly faithful film adaptation, which is no small feat considering The Host is over 600 pages long. Still though, the pacing was a bit off and we lose a lot of the wonderful character and relationship development that was in the book.

Bottom line: I think Stephenie Meyer is a great storyteller, but I don't think her books translate particularly well to film, unfortunately.

Other Reviews:
Belle's Bookshelf
Poetry to Prose
Ticket to Anywhere

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy
Published: April 2, 2013
Pages: 416
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

In short: Though perhaps not hugely memorable, This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is an very charming romance.
This Is What Happy Looks Like is, in a word, charming. The ease and playfulness of the fun Notting Hill meets You've Got Mail plot, the easily likeable characters, and the enchantment of the small town setting combine to make This Is What Happy Looks Like a pleasure to read. Contemporary romance is not generally my kind of read, but even I can see the appeal in the lighthearted airiness of this romance. It's nice to be able to relax and not overthink what you're reading.

That said, I was a bit surprised at the depth displayed in This Is What Happy Looks Like. I was not expecting anything more than a simple romance, so I was impressed at Jennifer E. Smith's skilled inclusion of non-romantic family issues into the plot. Now, I'm not saying that the plot was instantly elevated to something profoundly deep by the inclusion of this - it really was just an easy romantic read - but it did at least have the benefit of adding depth to the characters. Ellie and Graham were perfectly likeable before, as is their cutesy romance, but by adding more to their backstory, it made me care about them and their relationship more.

I think my main problem with This Is What Happy Looks Like is that I would have liked to have seen Ellie and Graham's relationship grow gradually from the beginning. We are told that Ellie and Graham have been conversing over email and growing their relationship for months prior to the beginning of the novel, but we only see a few of these email exchanges. They already have strong feelings for each other when they meet and it kind of took away from my connection to the romance a bit.

Overall, This Is What Happy Looks Like is a super cute romance with some added depth. It may not be life-changing and hugely memorable in the long run, but it delivers what it promises: an enjoyable and charming romance. This Is What Happy Looks Like would be the perfect beach read!

Other Reviews:
For What It's Worth
Good Books and Good Wine
Maji Bookshelf

Authors Links:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is...

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

For people who like dystopians:

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins


The Hunger Games is probably my #1 most recommended book in recent years, due to the popularity of the movie. Because of this, it is also my #1 most lent out book from my personal library. Can't even remember at this point how many of my family/friends/coworkers have read my copies of The Hunger Games Trilogy! It's a sure crowd pleaser, too - they've all loved it! At this point though, pretty much everyone I know has read it, so it's not one I get to recommend to new readers very often anymore.

by Veronica Roth

Goodreads | My Review

If The Hunger Games is the top book that I recommend to people who haven't read any dystopian fiction before, then Divergent is my top recommendation to those who've read and loved The Hunger Games. I'm not sure I liked it as much as The Hunger Games, but Divergent is still a pretty dang amazing read - endlessly fascinating world building that I could delve into forever and a thrilling plot make for an addicting, unputdownable book.

Across the Universe
by Beth Revis

Goodreads | My Review

Across the Universe is one that I recommend to people who are either turned off by sci fi or are curious about trying it out, but are afraid it won't be their thing (The Host by Stephenie Meyer is another good one). Because let me tell you, I didn't think I would be into sci fi before I read Across the Universe. Beth Revis is the master of world building and surprise twists that will leave you gasping! Short chapters that end in mini cliffhangers will ensure you will fly through this one. It is just plain FUN.

Blood Red Road
by Moira Young

Goodreads | My Review

I was completely blown away by this debut and was completely floored by the sheer talent of its author, Moira Young. Some people may be turned off by the stream of consciousness writing style with no quotation marks, but I recommend Blood Red Road to people who are willing to take a chance on an unconventional writing style and are rewarded handsomely for their efforts. The bull-headed and fiercely loyal heroine and the SWOONY romance is absolutely NOT to be missed.

For people who like paranormal:

Clockwork Angel
by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads | My Review

Now, I am a big fan of Cassandra Clare's original series, The Mortal Instruments, but it was the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, that REALLY blew me away. It had everything I loved about The Mortal Instruments - namely, a wonderful cast of characters and fantastic humour - with the added benefit of the inclusion of steampunk and a Victorian London setting!
(side note: I haven't read Clockwork Princess as I am still waiting impatiently for it to arrive in the mail so PLEASE no spoilers!)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor

Goodreads | My Review

Having never been particularly impressed with any angel books, it was with some trepidation that I entered into Daughter of Smoke and Bone. As it turns out, my fears were completely unfounded - Laini Taylor has crafted entirely original and INSANELY creative angel/demon mythology in Daughter of Smoke and Bone that left me breathless and utterly MESMERIZED. This, combined with her stellar writing skills, means that Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not one you want to pass up.

For people who like contemporary:

Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins

So I don't read a lot of contemporary so Anna and the French Kiss is my go to recommendation for anyone looking for a cute, contemporary romance. I mean, even I loved it and I don't even do contemporary or romance, and certainly NOT contemporary romance. But I can almost guarantee that you will be swept up in the lives of these loveable characters and fun dialogue! Also, I feel like I need to stress that you should NOT judge this one by its terrible cover, title, and blurb.

For people who like GOOD writing:

The Monstrumologist
by Rick Yancey

Goodreads | My Review

Never have you come across a book that has a combination of terrifying monsters and absolutely exquisite writing quite like The Monstrumologist. Rick Yancey is a literary genius. Certain passages left me awed and breathless, they were so well written and horribly horrifying. I'm not going to lie though, The Monstrumologist challenged me: I read it with a dictionary at the ready. But for me, it was worth it.

The Knife of Never Letting Go
by Patrick Ness

Goodreads | My Review

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the best book I have ever read, after Harry Potter. Patrick Ness proves to be a true master of writing, with a boundless imagination and the capacity to break your heart with a few well written sentences. He is an incredibly emotional writer. One scene in particular truly hit me hard: I had to stop reading and did not continue, nor read anything else, for several days before I had calmed down. Still, I could not recommend this one more.

And finally:

Harry Potter
by J.K. Rowling

Well, obviously.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Review: Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: March 5, 2013
Pages: 391
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 Stars

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.
Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.
After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.
Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.
Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.
But we have chosen a different road.
And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.
Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: I was disappointed with the lack of closure in Requiem by Lauren Oliver, but I did like it overall.
It was with a bit of nervousness that I entered into Requiem, knowing that it had had some mixed reviews and people especially seemed to have a problem with the ending. I absolutely LOVED Delirium when it was released and was completely blown away by Lauren Oliver's gorgeous prose. Its sequel, Pandemonium, was pretty good, though I felt that the story had lost a bit of the magic that had kept me enthused about the characters and the plot in Delirium. For me, Requiem falls a bit below Pandemonium in ratings - not a terrible read and pretty exciting in parts, but in other ways, it was pretty disappointing.

For me, one of the most important factors in evaluating the overall satisfaction of the final book in a series is whether the major questions were answered and whether most loose ends are tied up by the series' close. On this point, Requiem kind of fails for me and I'm sorry to say that I agree with the majority reader opinion in not liking the ending as it stands. Some people may like the open-ended ending, as it allows them to form their own conclusions about the future of the characters and plot, but for me, I needed more resolution, especially for the love triangle. Where was my closure? I feel like we are owed that for sticking with the series to the end. Unnecessary epilogues annoy me, but I feel like this is one case where I really would have liked to have seen one.

And I'm sorry to say I wasn't in love with Lena's character in Requiem. I liked her quite courage and wilfulness in Delirium and I really loved her growth to a strong, mature person in Pandemonium, but I feel like she regressed a bit with two boys in the picture in Requiem. I really hate that she was stringing along one of the boys while actually liking the other one more. Oh, love triangles - why must you make assholes out of people? I didn't have any particular preference for either of the boys going into Requiem, but that doesn't mean that I didn't experience dissatisfaction with the outcome due to Lena's handling of the situation.

I don't mean to be so hard on Requiem because I did like it overall. I liked the action scenes and I liked the inclusion of Lena's ex-bestie Hana's point of view into the story as it provided an opposing viewpoint of the resistance. There were just the few faults outlined above that I found couldn't get past. Still, it is always such a treat for me to get to experience Lauren Oliver's writing. I have yet to be disappointed by it and count myself as a life long fan. Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult - I will read whatever she has planned and am guaranteed to be blown away by her writing skills.

Previously, my reviews for Delirium and Pandemonium.

Other Reviews:
More Than Just Magic
Nori's Closet
Realm of Fiction

Authors Links:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (11) and Vlog (8)

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.

In this overdue book haul vlog, I overuse the word exciting and swear I am not a stalker:

For Review:
Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris (Thanks to HarperCollins Canada!)
The End Games by T. Michael Martin (Thanks to HarperCollins Canada!)
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (Thanks to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley!)

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Mentioned in vlog:
T. Michael Martin's YouTube Channel

In other news, I've been GIF'd!! Bahaha!!!!
gif is from THIS Stacking the Shelves vlog

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

Publisher: Penguin
Published: November 13, 2012
Pages: 512
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 Stars

Cassia faces the ultimate choices in the long-anticipated conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy.
After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.
In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched Trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: Reached by Ally Condie is a satisfactory conclusion to a decent series.
I loved Matched when it was released. The world building fascinated me and the writing was exquisite. Its sequel, Crossed, was when I fell out of love with the series. It was at this point that I became a bit frustrated with the lack of any interesting plot, as well as the lack of character development for the main players. Still, the writing was just as beautiful. Unfortunately, Reached is much the same as Crossed in that the plot is boring and even with Xander's point of view added into the mix, I never formed much of a connection with any of the characters. But I still appreciate Ally Condie's poetic writing.

Just like with Matched and Crossed, Reached is a very slowly paced book. The slow pacing worked for me in Matched as I loved the time that was put into the amazing world building, but I began to lose my patience with it in Crossed in which the slow pacing was emphasized by a lack of anything particularly interesting going on in the plot. With Reached, it's much the same as with Crossed except instead of 350 pages, it's 500 pages long and all the more boring for it. There was a lot of medical jargon and info dumps that didn't really help matters. As readers, we expect and hope series finales to out with a bang. Unfortunately, very few scenes of significance and impact actually take place in Reached.

One of the most important things with the last book in a series is that your questions get answered satisfactorily. In this way, Reached was a success, I suppose. Overall, Reached was a passable conclusion to a decent series that I had unfortunately fallen out of love with. I would recommend Reached to those who have read and liked Crossed as it had a similar feel and tone. Though I was disappointed that the series went out with more of a whimper instead of a bang, I am glad that I saw it through at least.

Previously, my reviews of Matched and Crossed.

Other Reviews:
Logan E. Turner
Lunar Rainbows
YA Book Queen

Authors Links:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday! I decided I was tired of missing out on all the fun with everyone else. I may start alternating Top Ten Tuesdays and Waiting On Wednesday memes from week to week.

This week's theme is...

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordin
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Anna Dress in Blood by Kendare Blake
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

BEHOLD MY SHAME. In all of these cases, I was SO excited to read these books after reading other bloggers' reviews that I just HAD to run out and buy the books immediately... only to have them sit on my shelf for months, collecting dust. Occasionally I will make time in my reading schedule of review books to "reward" myself with one of these babies, but that seems to happen few and far between. And honestly, the list above is only a small fraction of the books I could've included in this list. This is just embarrassing.

Probably the worst offense on this list is John Green's Box Set. I own all of John Green's books (including Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and have been a HUGE fan of the Vlogbrothers since almost their inception. And yet... nothing. I have not read one book of his. And I have no excuse. But I will absolutely be making it my main goal this year to read John Green's books! Finally!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis

Publisher: Penguin
Published: January 15, 2013
Pages: 369
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed 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.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis was an intense and thrilling finale to an incredibly exciting and entertaining series.
FREX, Shades of Earth was INTENSE. The action picks up right where it left off in A Million Suns and does not let up. As with Across the Universe and A Million Suns, Shades of Earth is very fast paced and that, along with short chapters that all end in mini cliffhangers, will ensure that you speed through the story quickly. Shades of Earth is a fantastic conclusion to an incredibly fun and entertaining series. The stakes are raised to a seemingly impossibly high amount. I've come to care for Elder and Amy so much that I was all the more tense while reading, just hoping they would make it through the series okay. Chaos, lies, and murder abound in this absolutely thrilling finale.

Probably one of my favourite things about the Across the Universe Trilogy is the frequency of surprising and shocking twists in the plot. I'm not exactly sure how she does it, but just when you think there couldn't possibly be any secrets left to reveal in this world - BAM - Beth Revis hits you with a whopper that leaves you reeling and in need of a moment to gather your wits about you in the wake of all that craziness. Seemingly in the next moment - BAM - comes another blow, another crazy surprise twist that had never occurred to you and has you literally gasping out loud. Again and again and again. This is what makes this series so FUN and I LOVE it.

Those who have read Across the Universe and A Million Suns know that Beth Revis is a master of world building and Shades of Earth is no exception - it is always intriguing and never bogged down with too many details that would bore. What's more, she's set up an amazing base for if she ever chose to continue writing books set in this world. She could write a whole new trilogy with how much is left to discover! And it would be just as exciting and intriguing as the world building in this trilogy, I'm sure! And I would absolutely need to be first in line to get it.

Now, I can't say that Shades of Earth is absolutely perfect - I noticed a number of plot holes and scientific inaccuracies - but I could really care less. In my mind, those minor mistakes take a back seat to the real meat of the novel. Shades of Earth, and indeed the entire trilogy on a whole, is exciting, surprising, and entertaining. It is an awesome sci fi, and insane thriller, and a deep felt romance. If you haven't read this trilogy yet, then what the heck are you waiting for?

Previously, my reviews of Across the Universe and A Million Suns.

Other Reviews:
Alice Marvels
Mad Musings of Masters Mind
Nori's Closet

Authors Links:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Hop! Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, Books Complete Me, & author Cindy Thomas and running from March 15 to March 22, 2012.

For this blog hop, I'll be giving away:

Any Book worth up to $15 CDN from The Book Depository!

1. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below
2. Open Internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you
3. Ends March 22 at 11:59 PM EST
5. Entrants must be at least 13 years old
6. The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Spring 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 Macmillan Spring 2013 Catalog:

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Date: May 14, 2013
Add to Goodreads

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

The Rithmatist sounds SO creative and amazing! Plus, I've heard nothing but good things about Brandon Sanderson so I'm curious to see what all the hype is about. Why not start with this one, his YA debut?

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Date: June 4, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Darkness never dies.
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Okay, so don't hate me, but I am one of the very few left who hasn't read Shadow and Bone. I'm pretty confident I'll love it though. When the cover for Siege and Storm was released just last week, I decided it was way too pretty not to post!

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
Date: June 11, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Canny Mochrie's vacation takes a turn when she stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanting valley, occupied almost entirely by children who can perform a special type of magic that tells things how to be stronger and better than they already are. As Canny studies the magic more carefully, she realizes that she not only understands it--she can perform the magic, too, so well that it feels like it has always been a part of her. With the help of an alluring seventeen-year-old boy who is held hostage by a spell that is now more powerful than the people who first placed it, Canny figures out the secrets of this valley and of her own past.

Admittedly, my initial interest in Mortal Fire was that gorgeous cover. Seriously - J'ADORE! But I swear my interest does extend past its cover to its blurb, as well, which is very intriguing indeed!

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Date: June 11, 2013
Add to Goodreads

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars...
Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.
He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.
Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying. 

Charm & Strange sounds like a pretty crazy psychological thriller, but it also seems like it has a lot of depth and meaning. And I like that in a book!

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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: January 1, 2013
Pages: 304
Source: For Review from Scholastic Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.
Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

In short: The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington is a tightly plotted murder mystery with relatable characters.
The Dead and Buried is my first foray into Kim Harrington's writing and I have to say it was an absolutely positive experience. Kim Harrington specializes in murder mysteries and it was with this knowledge that I entered into The Dead and Buried expecting to get a good one. Though perhaps slightly predictable, the mystery was indeed well executed. It was tightly plotted, fast paced, and often surprising. I enjoyed this The Dead and Buried quite a bit, actually; it was a breath of fresh air in the wake of some less than impressive books I've read recently.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the characters and the romance in The Dead and Buried. Not that I was expecting to hate those things or anything, but I just had been expecting character development to take a back seat to the murder mystery, considering the shortness of the book. But I found Jade to be completely relatable, mature, and level-headed and the romance to be sweet and genuine. I also very much appreciated the time that went into the development of the secondary characters. It was these aspects of The Dead and Buried that I enjoyed most, even more than the well thought out mystery, and that's what surprised me. I was also surprised at how un-annoyed I was with all the high school drama; I usually HATE that stuff.

I can't say The Dead and Buried is a book that is particularly memorable or left much of an impact on me. But do I care much about that when what I got out of it was an entertaining mystery with relatable characters? Not particularly. Kim Harrington has herself a new fan in me!

Other Reviews:
The Nocturnal Library
Stories & Sweeties
Supernatural Snark

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