Thursday, 27 October 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Hachette Canada (Publisher)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 420 pages

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Before I start, I need to say this: I will not do this book justice. I tried my best but my thoughts right now are more, "HEART HEART HEART LALALA." I am left amazed and inspired.

I like a lot of books. I would even say that there are quite a few books that I've loved. There are not, however, as many books that tug me in every direction, that lose me in the story, that win me over so completely that I spend all my time trying to sneak in an extra line or two. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of those books.

Karou is such a phenomenal narrator. She's tough and smart, seen as both fierce and mysterious to her classmates. She has blue hair and a sketchbook filled with only the magic of her own talent, but that's more than enough. Yet, she is not without her vulnerabilities. There was realness in her longing for companionship and the dull ache of what she feels missing from her life is hard to miss. I wanted to get to know her - I felt like I did to a certain degree.

Now, Akiva. Akiva, Akiva, Akiva. This boy is entrancing and sweet, sharp and stunning. As the book progresses, more layers are lifted from his past and present and you really feel like you can understand him. There is so much pain in him, but so much beauty as well, and I was just left feeling so drawn towards him.

Then there was the romance. It is a rare thing that I am so invested in a relationship. Karou and Akiva had my eyes glued to the page, pulse racing at the electrifying interactions between them and heart melting at their undeniable connection.

If romance isn't enough to get you interested, there is also a fantastical world that has been created. Alongside brilliant and diverse characters, there is an epic war. What seems crazy and out there is blended seamlessly with our own world, and you may even start wondering how possible the impossible could be.

Easily one of my favourite books of the year.

Cover Comments: I don't really know how I feel about this cover. On one side, I love the fonts that have been used. The contrast between the black and the bright blue grabs your attention, but then I'm not too crazy about the rest of the cover. I don't know, there's just something about it that seems off. To end on a positive note, I do think Karou looks kind of like a bird in that picture!

5 stars

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (25)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...
 
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
 
Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: January 2, 2012
 
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

I am so excited for this book! I already have it pre-ordered. Love at first sight is such a hotly debated topic in YA and I'm interested to see the novel's take on it. I am ready to be convinced!

What are you waiting on today?

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Cover Reveal: Timepiece

No idea when this cover was released. I saw it on Goodreads yesterday and just had to share in case you missed it!

Timepiece (Hourglass #2) by Myra McEntire
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Add it: Goodreads


Isn't it awesome?! The first cover was great too and I'm so glad they kept the same theme going. WHICH WAY do you think the floor will be in the third book? SUCH POSSIBILITIES!

(By the way, I have read book one. I read it in August actually, and my review will be posted one day. I promise.)

(Unless it isn't. Then I'm sorry.)

(This is in case I die. Or something.)

On that morbid note...

Monday, 24 October 2011

YA Spooktacular

WELCOME!

You've reached yet another stop in the fabulous YA Spooktacular event, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Library
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 290 pages

"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Okay."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"


According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

So, Sarah Ockler's novel, Twenty Boy Summer is about tanning at the beach and meeting cute guys. It's what happens when two best friends head off to a summer home together for the first time. FUN, right? Oh... wait. There's also this monstrous black cloud hanging over their heads that represents the death of Frankie's brother - the same brother that shared a secret relationship with Anna, their best friend. Frankie doesn't know. All of a sudden, this happy tale gets a lot darker.

I was so impressed by the way Sarah made me feel while reading. Anna is going through some pretty tough times and all of her emotions were conveyed perfectly. There were times of cheerfulness, when Anna and Frankie were just hanging out like any regular best friends. There were also times of suffocating grief, and I teared up a few times.

Anna is a very easy character to relate to. I liked her from the start and even though what she's dealing with is so, so hard, she manages to stay strong. Frankie was a lot more of an adjustment for me. While I understood what she was going through, her actions really didn't make sense to me until the end.

Twenty Boy Summer is a powerful read about finding the balance between holding on and letting go. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Cover Comments: LOVE IT! The best covers are the ones with actual significance to the story, and this one delivers.

4/5

Friday, 21 October 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Bought
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
It's official: Stephanie Perkins has made it on to my list of favourite authors. With the ease and grace of her previous novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door spins a spectacular story. DARE I SAY that I actually enjoyed it more than the first book?!

Lola is a delight to read about. Her character is so fun, with her bright and colourful costumes. She was unique and smart, but also had that vulnerable edge that made her seem all the more real to me. Plus, when she comes with her two dads? Total WIN. I loved how protective and caring they were.

Now, this sounds almost blasphemous to say, but... I think I like Cricket Bell more than √Čtienne St. Clair. I KNOW! It was a complete shock to me as well. This boy though - wow. He's brilliant, awkward, kind and thoughtful. He talks with his hands and has good fashion sense. He is TALL. I dare you to not fall for him!

Stephanie Perkins has this way of writing that makes you want to stay in the book for as long as possible. Everything feels real and magical. She completely captures those feelings of first love - the awkward and the glamorous. It's more than just that though. There is realness in the friendships, the conflicts, the parental disputes.

If you haven't read any of Perkins' novels, you are missing out, I'm telling you. Do yourself a favour and pick up Anna and the French Kiss as soon as humanly possible. Meanwhile, I will be daydreaming about Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Cover Comments: Fuuuun! I love the houses in the background and Lola's hair and expression. Her clothes could be a bit more costume-like, but I'm happy they at least made her outfit a little quirky.

5 of my most GLITTERY stars!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Library
Publisher: Razorbill Penguin
Release Date: July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover (260 pages)

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren - a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi's curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she's ever had to make: the life she's always longed for - or the love she can't live without?
An intriguing story about love, choices, and killer mermaids.

I've never read a book primarily about sirens before, although they've always fascinated me. Mandy Hubbard had me totally captivated with the parts of her novel that went into the nature and behaviour of sirens... I just wish there was more!

That said, I did have some problems connecting with the characters. On one end, I thought Lexi was very well-developped. The details of her past and how they've affected her are clear, and I really sympathized with her for it. On the other hand, she seemed to change her mind every other page, and I really had a hard time keeping up with what her current frame-of-mind was.

As for the romance, I really liked where it was going! Cole was such a sweet guy and he seemed to genuinely care about Lexi despite her attempts to push him away. I only wish that we could have had more interactions between the two before the "new boy" showed up (was NOT a fan of him!).

Overall, a light story with some more heartfelt portions and an ending you probably won't see coming!

Cover Comments: Seeing this book in person was awesome because, while you probably can't see it very well on screen, Lexi's leg actually has scales on it! Pretty cool, right? I like the rest of the cover too, especially since Cole is wearing the clothes Lexi always complains about LOL.

3/5

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Add it: Goodreads
Source: Won
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover (288 pages)

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

After pining for this book for months, I can finally say that I've read it. I can also say that it is spectacular.

Right off the bat, I felt a connection to Payton. She has a bit of an obsession with organization and office supplies and is just so relatable overall. The story definitely shines a spotlight on Payton's own growth and how she comes to terms with her father's illness.

I wasn't too sure where the line would fall between light-hearted humour and more serious problems, but Sean Griswold's Head finds a great balance. There were things that made me laugh out loud and I definitely smiled my way through most of Payton's interactions with Sean. At the same time though, the book made me tear up a few times while Payton tried to get a grip on her life. Being Payton's age, I can't imagine finding myself in her situation, and the book did an excellent job of making me feel it.

One of my favourite things about this novel is just how real it is. The teenagers seemed like teenagers, and everything from how Payton reacts to learning the news about her dad to how her family interacts at home just felt so honest.

I would be remiss to not mention Sean Griswold in this review. This is the kind of boy I would want to date! Patient, understanding, funny and sweet, Sean was such a great guy to read about. He is protective about the people he cares about and passionate about what he likes. Oh, and he apparently has a massive head... me too!* Sean and Payton were so adorable together!

So, are you looking for realistic teen romance with splashes of deeper emotion? Look no further - recommended to fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Cover Comments: Love it! I obviously didn't know this before reading it, but the drawings on the chalkboard actually relate to the story (the pie diagram is actually one that Payton makes for her "assignment").

* Seriously, I can never even find hats that fit on my head! "One size fits all!" NO. IT DOESN'T.

5/5

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: January 1, 2012
My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy
love.

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

Aaaah, this sounds so good! I love the little excerpt from the summary, especially since it kind of matches the cover. L&L sounds romantic and delightful - can't wait!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

(BTW: I am alive.)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
(Goodreads profile)

Source: S&S Galley Grab
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 322
  All Chelsea wants to do this summer is hang out with her best friend, hone her talents as an ice cream connoisseur, and finally get over Ezra, the boy who broke her heart. But when Chelsea shows up for her summer job at Essex Historical Colonial Village (yes, really), it turns out Ezra’s working there too. Which makes moving on and forgetting Ezra a lot more complicated…even when Chelsea starts falling for someone new.
Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think that a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. But with Ezra all too present, and her new crush seeming all too off limits, all Chelsea knows is that she’s got a lot to figure out about love. Because those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it….

What a fun book!

Right off the bat, I was enchanted by this adorable novel. The main character's snarky attitude (albeit mostly in her head) made me laugh and I thought the setting of the historical reenactment village was spectacular. What might have been just another story of a girl dealing with first-time heartbreak and finding new love was spun into an entertaining ride through history and humour.

Chelsea was a great narrator for this novel. She manages to pull off the dramatic, love-induced teenage angst without coming across as too desperate or annoying (most of the time anyway) and her thoughts did just make me smile in general. I really liked the relationship she had with her best friend, Fiona. Actually, perhaps it's unfair of me to say that since I was sold on their friendship the minute I read of their aspirations to become ice cream connoisseurs, but I digress.

The romance between Chelsea and Dan was adorable. In the beginning, they were both more wary of falling for each other because, hello, these kids are at WAR - think Montagues and Capulets with historical reenactment villages and you'll get the idea. I found the war a fun and unique way of having starcrossed lovers in a contemporary setting without going overboard. As for the relationship between Chelsea and Dan, I was cheering them on from start to finish.

I cannot leave without mentioning once again how much I loved the setting of this novel. The atmosphere was just different inside the village, and I only wish we could have seen more of that. Seriously, if Chelsea's job was available near me, you can bet that I would be applying for it (I'm the Type 2 applicant, for those that have read the book).

Read this novel if you're searching for cute contemporary (I for one am always on the lookout) or if you like history woven into your plots.

Cover Comments: Cute! If Chelsea sticking her tongue out as if to lick ice cream like I suspect (really, what else would she be doing?)... double cute! I would have liked to see Chelsea in her Colonial Village get-up though.

4/5

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES IN THE SUMMARY.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
(Goodreads profile)

Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 386

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The Iron Fey series is one of my favourites. It's carved a spot in my heart because of the fantastic characters, stunning world and the COOLEST CAT TO EVER GRACE THE PAGES OF YA LIT, Grimalkin.

As soon as you begin The Iron Knight, the shift from narrator Meghan to Ash is apparent. The events of the The Iron Queen have left Ash completely and utterly destroyed. He is devastated and far from the emotionless creature others make him out to be. Honestly, I just wanted to reach into the book and give Ash a great big hug or maybe pour him a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Something that surprised me was how much I missed having Meghan around. While I liked her a lot in the previous books, I guess I didn't realize how much.

While Ash moped and glared at everything under the sun, Puck and Grim kept me very entertained. Puck was his happy, hilarious self and Grim (bless him) continues to be sarcastic and regal in his feline way. Grim, you may actually make a cat-liker out of me. I don't want to spoil this book for anyone, but there were also some new side characters that I really ended up liking. Kagawa always manages to create interesting characters for her novels, and this time is no exception.

One thing that I always love about this series is that there are trials and real danger. It's not always easy to see how characters are going to make it out of something, and I'm always transfixed watching them do it. Julie Kagawa isn't afraid to throw her characters into harsh circumstances and in the second half of this book in particular, I found myself holding my breath multiple times.

If you've read any of the books in this series, you know what I'm talking about when I say the world is simply enchanting. I feel like every corner of it has been explored but at the same time, there's more and more and more that I still haven't discovered. There is beauty and vibrancy, darkness and fear.

There is just one thing I have to say if you haven't started this series yet: GO. Seriously, drop what you're doing and pick up The Iron King. You won't be disappointed.

Cover Comments: This is my favourite of the series, which is saying something fierce. I love the chilling colours that are perfect for our favourite Winter prince and the back cover is FABULOUS.

5/5