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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: October 18, 2011
Pages: 404
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

In short: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is a brilliant and memorable story with fantastic characters and beautifully descriptive prose.
Maggie Stiefvater, where have you been all my life? Okay, I know, it's totally my fault for only clueing in now and finally caving to peer pressure after reading countless reviews that have raved about her books and her writing. You guys were SO right. I loved The Scorpio Races entirely. And I couldn't be more impressed with Maggie Stiefvater's writing and her mastery at utilizing imagery to craft the most beautiful sentences and scenes. Plus, growing up I was one of the horse-crazy girls who wanted nothing more than to spend her time frolicking with ponies (I still do, really). So naturally, I was pretty crazy about a storyline revolving completely around horses.

Maggie Stiefvater's genius wasn't immediately apparent to me, however. The Scorpio Races is a quiet book, one that kind of snuck up on me. At first the pacing seemed slow and it felt like nothing was happening. At some point though - not sure exactly when - it just hit me: this book is BRILLIANT. The Scorpio Races has a quiet grace to it. The story, the characters, the setting - they were all understated, yet completely impactful and memorable in retrospect.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around the water horses at first. As someone who has once witnessed a horse become spooked by a bit of floating plastic, it was hard to picture horses as predatory and vicious. It didn't help that these water horses apparently looked much the same as regular horses, with no predatory morphological characteristics whatsoever. Evolution be damned! But I digress... I'll just call it pure fantasy and be done with it.

And it wasn't long until I was lulled and convinced into believing in the concept of killer horses thanks to Maggie Stiefvater's descriptive prose. I don't know much about her or her interests, but it was immediately apparent to me that she knows what she's talking about when it comes to horses. Not only did she get the terminology right, but she completely captured the personality and quirks of horses that are so uniquely equine. As a horse-crazy and detail-oriented girl, this was SO important to me. If I had read a description that wasn't at all in line with how I know horses to act, it would have taken me completely out of the story. Thankfully, this never happens. Maggie Stiefvater NAILED it.

But horse personality isn't the only thing she got right. Nor is it hardly the most important aspect of the novel - The characters were fantastic. Puck is my favourite kind of protagonist: very flawed and not immediately likeable until you get to know them and you realize they have a heart of gold and a fierce spirit hidden behind their faults. I also loved Sean, the novel's other narrator, for his quiet, no nonsense demeanour. And I ESPECIALLY loved the bond between Puck and Sean and the bond between them and their horses. Just perfect. The antagonists are definitely note-worthy, as well. They were truly horrible and intriguing and memorable and did I mention HORRIBLE? There are very few thing that get me riled up quite as much as animal cruelty, so I was sufficiently repulsed and enraged by the novel's baddies.

Alright, I could go one and on about all that I loved about The Scorpio Races, but this review is getting quite long (for me anyway) so I'll stop here. I just loved it a lot, you know? I loved the understated yet powerful story, the moving characters, the gorgeous prose. AND THE HORSES!!

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
Courtney Reads A Lot
Poetry to Prose

Author Links:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013

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

The Sea of Tranquility
by Katja Millay

My Review | Goodreads

This book is angst-central. But I'd like to point out that though The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay is an emotionally draining novel, it is also one that will leave you breathless from the outstanding beauty of the characters and the writing. The Sea of Tranquility is about a lot of pain, but through all that hardship, there is HOPE. So while the journey was hard, the ending was beautiful.

The Archived
by Victoria Schwab

My Review | Goodreads

Just when you think there are no more truly original ideas left for books, enter The Archived by Victoria Schwab with an entirely unique and exciting concept that was so refreshing in its originality. It's a fairly complex concept, but Victoria Schwab nails the execution of it, ensuring that the reader is never confused, only intrigued.

Etiquette & Espionage
by Gail Carriger

My Review | Goodreads

I may have a new author crush in Gail Carriger. She has a definite talent for humourous writing, vibrant characters, and fast-paced entertaining plots. I do admit though that there was some bias in my love for Etiquette & Espionage because it had a vague semblance to Harry Potter - a quirky boarding school, fun and cartoonish characters, a general whimsical atmosphere. Sounds fun, right?

Shades of Earth
by Beth Revis

My Review | Goodreads

FREX, Shades of Earth was INTENSE. This was the third and final book in the Across the Universe Series - and it went out with a bang! Shades of Earth, and indeed the entire trilogy on a whole, was exciting, surprising, and entertaining. Chaos, lies, and murder abound in this absolutely thrilling finale. If you haven't read this trilogy yet, then what the heck are you waiting for?

Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

My Review | Goodreads

Shadow and Bone was my JAM. 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!

Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare

My Review | Goodreads

Overpowering happiness and emotional devastation - is it possible to feel such entirely different emotions over the ending of a series? Because with Clockwork Princess, the final book in one of my most favourite and beloved series, I sure felt that way. Clockwork Princess was a mixed bag of thrills and laughs, anguish and dread. I could not think of a more perfect outcome and ending for this amazing series and its beloved characters.

by Elizabeth Norris

My Review | Goodreads

Unbreakable was just as exciting and electrifying as Unraveling. Elizabeth Norris has a true talent for crafting ambitious story lines and she handles them exceedingly well. Part of what makes Unbreakable so riveting is its breakneck pacing. I mean, GOOD GRIEF it was kind of insane how non-stop the action was. But what I think I loved even more is that the insane and numerous action scenes were never at the expense of character growth and emotion.

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

My Review | Goodreads

The 5th Wave is the best sci fi novel I've ever read and is one of the best post-apocalyptic reads I've read (alongside The Road). Combining an intriguing plot, intelligent prose, and vivid characters, The 5th Wave is an absolutely gripping story and one that is not to be missed. For folks who are wary of sci fi: this is your chance to try one that is guaranteed to enthral you and leave you wanting for more!

by Marissa Meyer

My Review | Goodreads

With a futuristic Asian setting, a plucky cyborg for a heroine, and the intrigue behind the mysterious Lunars, Cinder was a definite WIN for me. Cinder is compulsively readable, equal parts comforting as a retelling of a well known fairy tale and exciting as an original futuristic world. As a fairy tale retelling, Cinder was definitely predictable, but there was still enough excitement and creativity in the setting and concept to ensure I was never bored despite this.

The Scorpio Races
by Maggie Stiefvater

Review to be posted this Thursday | Goodreads

Maggie Stiefvater, where have you been all my life? The Scorpio Races was my first read of hers and I loved it entirely. I couldn't be more impressed with Maggie Stiefvater's beautiful writing, as well as her ability to craft an understated, yet completely impactful and memorable story. Plus, I love horses so I was pretty crazy about a storyline revolving completely around them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: June 4, 2013
Pages: 272
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

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

In short: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney was a wonderfully moving read with a fantastic cast of dynamic characters.
When You Were Here is a novel about death, but it's also about moving forward after dealing with so much grief and reconnecting with life. Danny is three weeks away from graduation when his mother dies after a long battle with cancer. As he has already lost his father years previously and has broken up with the love of his life, he is left alone, despondent in his grief. With nothing left, Danny decides to take a trip to Tokyo where his mother spent much of her last few months to try to come to terms with his grief and the secrets his mother was keeping from him. When You Were Here is a novel that will strip you down with grief and then rebuild your spirit whole again in a beautifully effective way.

When You Were Here gave me an urge to see Tokyo in a BIG, BAD way. I've always wanted to visit Japan, but never before with quite the same fervour as this book made me feel. Tokyo's mix of flashy sites and more traditional Japanese culture was described so well and presented so vividly by author Daisy Whitney. The setting was like a character unto itself, which is my favourite kind of setting.

The characters were great and dynamic, as well. I've never personally had to deal with the death of a parent - thankfully - but I still found it easy to relate with Danny. It was so inspiring to see Danny regain his spirit after so much grief. I also love how a few of the characters remained something of an enigma for much of the novel, only to have their stories finally come together in a moment of true enlightenment at the end. Standout characters include Danny's dog, Sandy Koufax, - because dogs are THE BEST - and Danny's new Japanese BFF, Kana, - who, okay, was a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG), but I still liked her a lot and I think she had a lot more depth than your standard MPDG.

The only thing that stops When You Were Here from being a 5 Star read for me is that I don't believe I felt the full emotional impact that I could have felt from the story. Don't get me wrong, it was definitely a lovely read, definitely a poignant story. But I wanted MORE. I wanted to feel more emotional investment with the characters and storyline. I wanted to be hit hard by THE FEELS. But this is a relatively small complaint because When You Were Here was still definitely a wonderful and moving story. This was my first Daisy Whitney read, but it won't be my last.

Other Reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
i swim for oceans
The Perpetual Page-Turner

Author Links:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR (Help Me Prioritize!)

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

I NEED YOUR HELP! The above ten books are the books that I would hope to read this summer (sequels I've been putting off, books that are being made into movies, and books that I've been meaning to read for FOREVER), but I likely won't be able to get to all of them this summer. So I need to know what books I should prioritize! This idea is inspired by IceyBooks' feature, What's Next.

And so I've made a handy poll! Any reasonings for your choices can be left in the comments below. Thank you!!

Help me prioritize! What book should be on my Summer TBR?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: January 3, 2012
Pages: 387
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In short: Cinder by Marissa Meyer was compulsively readable and quite simply, the BEST fairy tale retelling I've ever read.
Cinder was the second most urgently recommended book after Shadow and Bone from the commenters in my Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread post. And so, considering how well my reading experience went with Shadow and Bone (it was my JAM), I decided to make Cinder my next read when I next found the time between review books.

I knew pretty early on that Cinder was going to be a WIN for me. With a futuristic Asian setting, a plucky cyborg for a heroine, and the intrigue behind the mysterious Lunars, I was hooked from the start. Cinder is compulsively readable, equal parts comforting as a retelling of a well known fairy tale and exciting as an original futuristic world. As a fairy tale retelling, Cinder was definitely predictable, but there was still enough excitement and creativity in the setting and concept to ensure I was never bored despite this. Also, the final reveal was SO obvious, right from the beginning, that I have to imagine that Marissa Meyer meant it to be predictable. And in that sense, I thought the obviousness added to the fairy tale feel as fairy tales are quite predictable themselves.

Cinder is a standout as a protagonist. I felt instant sympathy for her as a cyborg orphan who is essentially a slave to her step-mother. I didn't pity her mind you, because Cinder is above pity. Cinder is one capable cyborg! She was not one to rest on her laurels and be emo about her situation, as terrible as it was. She rebels subtly, in her own way, and I loved her for it. The romance was pretty swoon-worthy, as well. Prince Charming has got NUTHIN on Prince Kai.

Cinder wasn't perfect... Of course - being me - I took issue with the flimsiness of some of the so-called scientific explanations (it was really just magic). But I can't say it matters much when I take into consideration how much I enjoyed myself while reading Cinder. It was SUCH a fun and addictive read. I loved picking out all the nods to Cinderella as well as making note of the interesting spins on the original story. Cinder is most definitely the BEST fairy tale retelling I've ever read. I cannot wait to see what is in store for the characters and the story in Scarlet!

Other Reviews:
Courtney Reads A Lot
Late Nights with Good Books
Lunar Rainbows

Author Links:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Summer 2013 Catalog

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

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

Weather Witch by Shannon Delany
Date: June 25, 2013
Add to Goodreads

In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!
Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!
But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.

Witches plus steampunk? Yes, please!! I adore both of those things so it almost seems like this one can do no wrong. Although I wasn't in love with the last book I read by Shannon Delany, I am hopeful that Weather Witch will be everything I want it to be.

Love in the Time of Global Warming
Date: August 27, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.
In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.

What a charismatic title, cover, and blurb! I think my main interest in Love in the Time of Global Warming is that I don't really know what to expect, but I can tell that it's something very intriguing. I am very curious about this one!

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Date: September 10, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.

AHHH, how good does Antigoddess sound from the blurb?! I'm excited for it because I love mythology and - though I haven't read her work myself - I understand that Kendare Blake is a talented author from the fans of Anna Dressed in Blood.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Date: September 10, 2013
Add to Goodreads

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

So a girl, obsessed with a certain book series for years and years, is reluctant to leave the fandom despite everyone else moving on after the end of it. STORY OF MY LIFE. Has there ever been a more relatable premise for me? I cannot wait to read Fangirl!

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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 17, 2012
Pages: 352
Source: Received from the author
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When Marshall King and Elyse Alton suddenly wake up tangled in each other's arms with zero memory of how they got there or even who they are, it's the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.
Terrified by their amnesia, Marshall and Elyse make a pact to work together to find the answers that could restore their missing memories. As they piece together clues about their lives, they discover that they're in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls. Everyone seems happy there, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town's perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall's mom, not the hidden violence in Elyse's family, not even the day-to-day anguish of being a high schooler.
Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marshall and Elyse fall into an intense relationship founded on their mutual quest for truth. But the secrets they're trying to uncover could be the death of this budding love affair—and of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.

In short: Though the big reveal of the mystery wasn't as satisfying as I wanted, I was still kept entertained with Glimmer's intriguing premise and the piecemeal revelation of the big secret.
Strangers Elyse and Marshall wake up naked in bed next to each other and can't remember a thing about themselves or their lives before. But it gets stranger: in their town of Summer Falls, Colorado, it never gets cold and everyone seems perfect in a freaky Stepford Wives kind of way. The inhabitants are also susceptible to these things called "heatnaps" in which any upsetting incidents cause people to faint and are forgotten upon waking up. There is a hint of something more sinister afoot in this seemingly perfect, sleepy town and together, Elyse and Marshall must unravel the town's dark secrets to get back their memories.

I love these psychological mystery kind of stories. I love being confused, if that makes sense. It's kind of fun losing yourself in the mystery and not knowing what's going on, unravelling the mystery as the characters do. Stories like Glimmer are also guaranteed to maintain your interest throughout, if only because you feel like you NEED to find out the solution to the great enigma presented in the beginning. Glimmer is told through alternating POVs between Elyse and Marshall, but there is little overlap between the dual narratives ensuring the story moves along at a good pace. The mystery comes together piece by piece, which was great fun. Glimmer is a standalone so thankfully there were no major loose ends left hanging at the end.

The characterization was interesting with respect to the plot because the characters essentially wake up as blank slates, not knowing who they are or what they were like before. Over the course of Glimmer, they slowly uncover some nasty things about their life before and some unpleasant things about themselves that indicate they weren't as good people as they thought they were. The result is an interesting look into the characters' psyche.

I did have a few issues with Glimmer, however. Though there were no major loose ends left hanging at the end, there were still more outstanding questions leftover upon closing the final page than I would like. I also had a major problem with the plausibility of the concept. So I would say Glimmer's conclusion with the big reveal of the mystery wasn't as satisfying as I wanted, but I still had fun with the story. I was still kept plenty entertained at the intriguing premise and the piecemeal revelation of the big secret. I don't think Glimmer will be particularly memorable for me in the long run, but I had fun with it while it lasted.

Other Reviews:
Bookworm Recommendations
i swim for oceans
Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic

Author Links:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Summer 2013 Catalog

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

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

Starglass by Phoebe North
Date: July 23, 2013
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Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.
But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.

Starglass reminds me a lot of Across the Universe - a city-within-a-spaceship, a murder on ship, a protagonist responsible for protecting the entire populace on the ship. I hope it's just as good as Across the Universe and yet still manages to bring some originality to the table!

The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Date: August 27, 2013
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Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother left, her neglectful father -- the maestro of a failing orchestra -- has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help -- if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

I've heard very good things about Claire Legrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, though I haven't read it yet myself. The Year of Shadows is another MG paranormal/fantasy offering from Claire Legrand and I hope it does just as well in reviews!

Thin Space by Jody Casella
Date: September 10, 2013
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Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.
But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.
As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.

I am very much intrigued by the concept of a Thin Space - a barrier between worlds that is thin enough to get through to the other side. And concepts involving parallel/alternate worlds are a favourite of mine so suffice it to say that I am very curious about Thin Space!

Final Descent by Rick Yancey
Date: September 10, 2013
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Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?
Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face. But through it all, Dr. Warthrop has been at his side.
When Dr. Warthrop fears that Will’s loyalties may be shifting, he turns on Will with a fury, determined to reclaim his young apprentice’s devotion. And so Will must face one of the most horrific creatures of his monstrumology career—and he must face it alone.
Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.

Final Descent is the final book in the four book series, The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (of The 5th Wave fame), and I absolutely CANNOT wait to read it as this series is one of my all-time favourites. This fourth and final book almost didn't happen due to poor sales of the series until us fans got together to try to reverse Simon & Schuster's decision with a letter writing campaign organized by Stephanie Reads. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when, in a completely UNPRECEDENTED move, S&S decided to go back on their decision to cancel the series. It was unprecedented because publishers almost never reverse their decisions once they've discontinued a series. So it was a pretty big deal! And I am just pleased as punch that I get one more book set in The Monstrumologist world! And it's a good thing, too, because Will Henry's story clearly could NOT end the way it did in the third book, The Isle of Blood.

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Muggle Monday: New Chamber of Secrets Cover Reveal and First Edition Philosopher's Stone Auctioned

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

So, I haven't done this feature of mine in over half a year. Honestly, there hasn't been much going on in the Harry Potter fandom to talk about. Pottermore continues to fail to truly impress me and the announcement of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion, while cool, is OLD news as fans have known that it has been in the works, in secret, for years now. But there have been some notable pieces of news recently that I would like to highlight:

New 15th Anniversary US Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Cover Art Revealed at BEA:

Artist Kazu Kibuishi revealed the cover for the 15th Anniversary US Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at Book Expo America this past Thursday, May 30. He had previously created the artwork for the 15th Anniversary US Edition of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (as seen to the left).

I am LOVING these new covers. I can't say that anything could ever replace the old covers in my eyes, as I have too many nostalgic memories associated with them, but I really love the artwork and I love how each cover features a key scene from Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (entering Diagon Alley for the first time and escaping the Dursleys in the flying Ford Anglia, respectively).

It makes me wonder what key scenes they're going to use for each of the next five cover releases. Any ideas? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments!

First Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Featuring Annotations and Illustrations from J.K. Rowling Auctioned Off at Sotheby's:

A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has been auctioned off at Sotheby's for 150,000 GBP (about 300,000 USD). What makes this particular copy so special is that it features 43 pages of notes from Jo herself! There are also 22 original illustrations by J.K. Rowling.

One example of the annotations includes a note about Hufflepuff house on the title page of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:

"Perhaps Hufflepuff house would have the respect it deserves from the fans if I'd stayed with my original idea of a bear to represent it?"

And, under the chapter title Quidditch, Jo writes:

"-invented in a small hotel in Manchester after a row with my then boyfriend... I had been pondering the things that hold a society together, cause it to congregate and signify its particular character and knew I needed a sport... [Quidditch] infuriates men… which is quite satisfying given my state of mind when I invented it."

AIIIEEEEE!! What I wouldn't give to get my hands on this treasure! My left leg? My first born? My undying and eternal gratitude? I would give it all up, I say! I'm guessing its new owner won't be up to sharing anytime soon though, unfortunately. Ah, oh well. I guess I could start saving my pennies so that maybe one day I could afford to spare $300,000 in an auction for something like this. I can dream!