Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

A Girl Named Digit (Digit, #1)A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Publisher for review
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
Release Date: June 5, 2012

Farrah "Digit" Higgins may be going to MIT in the fall, but this L.A. high school genius has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year. But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group's number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping-- all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously. So much for blending in . . .

Fast, fun, and just plain adorable... there's three words to describe Annabel Monaghan's fiction debut, A Girl Named Digit.

Farrah, code name nickname "Digit," is a secret math genius. She's tried to keep it secret from her normal, popular friends lest she get labelled as the numbers freak again, but there's no denying that she scored perfect on her math SAT. Now, as far as I know, Annabel Monaghan doesn't share Digit's genius-level affinity for numbers (WHO KNOWS) but she does do a wonderful job of setting the scene in Digit's head. This girl eats numbers for breakfast, breathes in patterns and trends like air and still manages to be a character I could connect with. Digit's wired for math, yes, but she's also into bumper stickers and boys (correction: one dedicated and likeable rookie FBI agent boy).

A Girl Named Digit is a short but action-packed adventure. I had high hopes for a light read that involved terrorist codes and secret hide-outs, chase scenes and romance, and Monaghan met them all. There was never a chance for me to worry about some of the more far-fetched concepts because I was having too much fun to notice!

With a romance that will keep a smile on your face and a plot that will keep you on your toes, A Girl Named Digit is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Cover Comments: Fun and SHINY... what more could I ask for? I was seriously surprised when I looked at the size of it though... So much fabulous in so few pages! :)

4.5 Golden Crowns!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Didn't You Read that Last Week?

On re-reading

Hello everyone! :) I hope you've been having a great week! I'm actually kind of sick right now and so am a little behind on visiting blogs (when am I not? there are too many of you awesome people!) but it was a good day of reading, watching TV with my sister and just relaxing. Homework will have to wait for tomorrow ;)


Part of what I did today was re-read The Prisoner of Azkaban. Now I don't know how well known of a fact this is but I re-read the Harry Potter series FREQUENTLY. Like I'm talking at least one of the books a month and often more. I don't always read straight through but if there's a certain passage that's calling my name, I'm there. It's been like this for as long as I can remember; this obsessive re-reading of J.K. Rowling is so standard for me. There's a quality and connection that I have to her world that allows me to re-visit again and again and again without ever getting tired of it.

But, Harry Potter aside, I don't do nearly as much re-reading as I used to. Before I got into blogging, I was a huge re-reader for many books. In grade seven, I checked out Squire by Tamora Pierce from my school library TEN TIMES. And although I don't re-read as much now, the idea still appeals to me. I actually did my first re-read (HP not included) in a loooong while last week (Lola and the Boy Next Door, you're still sparkly and fabulous) and I loved it! There's so much that you forget and re-discover during a re-read, and, for me at least, it makes me fall in love with a book all over again.


So why don't I re-read as much now? Huh? If I love it so much?

Pretty simple, really. I don't have time.

(As in, busy... reading other books. It's a good problem to have, I know)

As much as I love blogging (AND I LOVE IT A GREAT DEAL, TRUST ME) I do feel a bit of pressure to read enough books to be able to review and share and all that great stuff. And seriously, it's not at all a bad thing because I love reading NEW books and trying out new things and reading just the HP series for the rest of my life probably won't get me that. Probably. I don't know if the Sonia that lived on fantasy and mythology would have picked up a book like If I Stay (one of my all-time favourite books) enthusiastically.

So while I do sometimes feel like I shouldn't be re-reading with so many other books to read, it all works out in the end. Because while I spend time re-reading old favourites, I could be missing out on the chance to discover new favourites.

Are you a re-reader? Has blogging changed that at all for you?

(I think I have a serious problem with using GIFs in these random kinds of posts.)

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (51)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine so that (this is me paraphrasing) we can all FREAK OUT TOGETHER about some rocking upcoming books. Warning: extreme fangirling may occur.

Ask the Passengers
Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: October 23, 2012

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.
As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.
In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society's definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything--and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.
So I have this coming for review (probably after publication) and I. cannot. wait. I don't read nearly (as in barely any) enough GLBT novels. I've heard nothing but high, high praise for King's novel Everybody Sees the Ants and though I haven't read it (or her other two novels) I have high hopes for this author. The early reviews look wonderful so far!

What are you anxiously waiting on?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath (Everneath, #1)Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, 370 pages
Release Date: January 24, 2012

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she's returned--to her old life, her family, her boyfriend--before she's banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance--and the one person she loves more than anything. But there's just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki's time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's queen.
Everneath is a beautiful and haunting story that will suck you in and refuse to let go until it's told its tale. Unique, addictive and bittersweet.

I had an inkling of worry when I started this novel that the switches between past and present would become confusing or tiring but wow, was I wrong. If anything, the time changes just added to the overall mystery of the story. I loved seeing the constant contrast between how vibrant and wonderful (at least on the surface) the past had been and how Nikki's trip to the Everneath had changed that. There was this feeling of being on the verge of discovering something at every chapter and it just made me want to keep reading more more more.

Nikki was really a fantastic character to get into the head of. Although drained (literally) from her time in the Everneath, Nikki has this strength and courage that I couldn't help but admire. Her whole purpose for returning to Earth warmed me to her instantly and it was her kind and selfless personality that kept me cheering her on.

And it wasn't just Nikki that was incredibly well-written. Cole and Jack were both fascinating characters in their own right. I hear the term 'bad boy' tossed around a lot in the blogosphere but Cole? Damn. There is clearly a lot of emotion and information hiding just under the surface with Cole and I loved the little glimpses of them, whether it was genuine affection for Nikki or something much darker. This boy was such an enigma and I'm having a blast trying to figure him out! And JACK. Jack is sweet, understanding and just there for Nikki, no matter the time or place. I loved him so. much.

Although we don't get as deeply immersed in the mythology as I would have hoped to (but hey, there are still 2 more books!) it was definitely something that held my attention. I love the spins Brodi Ashton has taken on the myths of Orpheus/Eurydice and Hades/Persephone. And speaking of spins... Everneath features a killer ending. I can safely say that I did NOT see that one coming!

Cover Comments: This is the most beautiful cover everrrrrrrrrrrrrr <3 I am hugging it to me AS WE SPEAK.

4 Golden Crowns!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Blogspiration (10)

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

Source: Insanity & Vanity

Can we just put these EVERYWHERE?

I love little examples like this of kindness in the world. I feel like I'm always so surrounded by what's wrong with the world -- the violence, the inequality, the power struggles, whatever -- that I forget to take time to marvel at the beauty and wonder and just love of others. Human beings have such potential for goodness and even though, really, all this is, is a sheet of paper... it's so much more than that.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate & Michael Grant

Eve and AdamEve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Add it: Goodreads
Source: eARC from Raincoast Books - thank you! <3
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Release Date: October 2, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, EmmaRose, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible. 
While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything... until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and Emma-Rose may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.

Eve and Adam is not the book I thought it was.

Looking at my Goodreads page now, this seems like an easily avoidable mistake since apparently everyone else has by now realized this as well. But while I came into the novel with expectations of epic world-building and mind-boggling twists, what I actually got was a light, fun, almost fairytale-like read. Was I taken aback? Yes. Did I enjoy the book any less because of it? Absolutely NOT.

Evening Spiker is daughter to one of the most successful businesswomen in the country and lives a privileged life thanks to her mother's multi-billion dollar company. I kind of expected Evening to be this huge snob, but while she's not the epitome of humility, she is surprisingly down-to-Earth. Smart and caring, Evening had so many layers to her that I was itching to pull back. I loved the complicated love-hate relationship she had with her mother especially.

Solo was another interesting character (and really, they're all quite fascinating). I loved reading his portions of the book where he was sneaking around at Spiker Biotech, searching for answers. It really had a light spy mission kind of vibe to it and I had tons of fun along the way! Although the book is 300 pages, I breezed through it no time. This is the perfect read if you're looking for something quick and interesting!

For me personally, the story itself was the best part of this book. The actual project Evening undertakes of creating the perfect human being was fascinating. There were so many things to consider, from physical attributes to personality traits and even the correlation between intelligence and social skills are considered. It may sound complicated but that should definitely not be a concern. Applegate and Grant keep the science light and easy to understand... perfect for me ;)

A fun read if you're looking for something original but not too heavy.

Cover Comments: LOVE IT. I love all those connections to sci-fi, technology and the original biblical story!

3.5 Golden Crowns!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Blogspiration (9)

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.


There's a whole world out there ready for discovery and exploration behind the closed door.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm (Elemental, #1)Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Won from the fabulous Beverley!
Publisher: Kensington
Format: Paperback, 353 pages
Release Date: April 24, 2012

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys - all the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming.

If you visit any of the same places that I do, I'm sure you've heard of Storm. Words like 'amazing' and 'breathtaking' are being thrown around so often that they've become synonymous with the book in my head. Do you know what's even better? I COMPLETELY AGREE.

Brigid Kemmerer's characters are so compelling. The heroine, Becca, sure doesn't have it easy at the moment but she is such a fighter. She stands her ground in a way that I couldn't help but admire and she easily reached my list of favourite heroines! There's a vulnerability that's apparent when reading Becca's thoughts but hell if she's going to let her ex-boyfriend and the cruel kids at her school ruin her life.

And then the boys. THE. BOYS. Chris, Nick, Gabriel, Michael, Hunter... I just want them alllll. The way that the Merrick brothers in particular are with each other just was so wonderful. They're hilarious and charming and infuriating, they get at each other's throats and have some real, burning tension between them, but at the end of the day, they're SUCH a family. I loved how they looked out for each other and cared for each other and just ahhh. Plus, their individual hotness didn't hurt....

Oftentimes, I have a part of the story that's my favourite, whether it be the characters, plot, writing, etc. But for Storm? I just can't choose! I loved ALL OF IT. The story itself is such a heart-pounding adventure, more so because I was so in love with the characters. Brigid paints bullying in such a gritty, raw light, even though it's not the main focus of the novel. All of the elements in Storm are so wonderfully intertwined that it just all makes for one of the BEST books I've read this year.

HIGHLY recommended!

Cover Comments: Weeeell, I'm certainly not complaining... *bats eyelashes at Merrick brothers*

(So, as you can see from the excessive use of capitals... I kind of loved this book)

5 Golden Crowns!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cover Reveal: Dark Triumph

The cover for Dark Triumph, sequel to the brilliant Grave Mercy was recently released. Have you seen it yet?

Whew, that is one beautiful cover! I always worry in a series where I love the first book's cover that the rest won't match up to expectations but this one does not disappoint. The cover model totally reminds me of the type of expression/body language that Sybella would have from the little I know of her and I just like... everything. Be sure to add Dark Triumph on Goodreads!

What do you think of the cover?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

(You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki

(You) Set Me on Fire(You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Penguin Canada for review
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Release Date: September 4, 2012

This is a story about college, about fire and also about love.
Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she's been in love once (total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both love and fire have left their scars.
Looking a little more burnt chicken and a little less radiant phoenix, Allison takes up residence in Dylan Hall (a.k.a. Dyke Hall) at St. Joseph's College, where she discovers the true gift of freshman year: the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Miles away from the high school she's happy to leave behind, her all-female dorm is a strange new world, home to new social circles and challenges. Allison still feels like the odd girl out ... until Shar appears. Beautiful and blinding, Shar quickly becomes the sun at the centre of Allison's universe, drawing her in with dangerous allure.
Will Allison get burned again? And, if she does, what kind of scars will she earn this time?
I wanted to love this book for a number of reasons. It's a Canadian read. The author seems pretty great. There's girl/girl romance. When I first started the book, I was immediately captured. Personally, I love distinct narration in a voice that actually resembles what goes on in my own head and that's exactly what I found in Allison's. It's dramatic and chaotic, with exclamation points and capitals galore. The narration was easily one of my favourite things about the novel. I really felt it gave me a personal look at Allison's journey and it just felt comfortable, like reading a diary or something.

But while I liked Allison's voice, there was something about her actual character that just didn't click with me. I completely understood where she was coming from for most of the book -- her past experiences in high school and beyond provide a less than solid foundation for college and the struggles that she faces with her new-found freedom are realistic and believable. But I just didn't like her at all. While that's not necessary for me to enjoy a book, I do like to connect with my characters and that didn't happen with Allison.

A large part of that reason was Shar. Allison, for reasons beyond my comprehension, is utterly enchanted by Shar and they quickly form a very dependant relationship with one another. Then when things start getting kind of dangerous and unpredictable, it just keeps going. Allison doesn't seem to change anything she's doing despite the fact that Shar is clearly not who she thought she was and that there are actually (REALLY NICE) people that keep offering their kindness and friendship to Allison. I just felt like Allison had choices and she ignored them.

With some more character development for Allison, I think I would have enjoyed this one a lot more. It was definitely an interesting change to read about a college setting and the writing was quite nice. While it wasn't a favourite book of mine, I didn't dislike it, and I hope that anyone giving it a try will find it more to their tastes!

Cover Comments: I think it's an okay cover. It matches the story pretty well but I don't love the look of it.

3 Golden Crowns!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

(You) Set Me on Fire Blog Tour: Interview with Mariko Tamaki

Welcome to the final stop on Penguin Canada's (You) Set Me on Fire tour! You can find a list of the other tour stops at the bottom of this post. Today I have an interview with none author than the hilarious and charming Mariko Tamaki, author of the novel. Enjoy!

What can readers expect from (You) Set Me on Fire? What's it about?
The main story is about a girl, named Allison Lee, who is transitioning from high school to university/college life. I think the book is about a lot of things though. It's about falling in love. It's about mean friends and good friends. It's about change and how change happens in life, the changes that happen to you and the changes you make.
The main character, Allison, has such a distinct and personal voice. Was this a conscious decision on your part?
I love talk. I love listening to people talk on the subway, in malls, in schools. All that stuff. It's a huge part of my research process for a book, talking at talk. Watching videos and eavesdropping on groups of kids downtown, listening to them gossip.
When I teach creative writing, I spend at least a day looking at dialogue and voice. How people say what they say is something I've always been interested in, the difference between "yeah" and "yes" and "sure" and "I guess." I studied Linguistics for three years, which I would highly recommend. If you have the time. It made me focus on the subtleties of communication. The pauses. The things people say and don't say. I think understanding what a character sounds like is pretty key to understanding that character. So. Yes.
You've just been told that you must choose a book and live in that world forever. Which one do you choose?
I don't know. Do I want to live in a utopian world, in a fairytale world where I'll have magical powers and a pet dragon? Or do I shack up in the world that I like reading about, which is usually a pretty dark, REAL, world. I want to say I'd like to live in David Sedaris's writing, but it would mean being a punch line a lot. But it would be an interesting life. I think a fairy-tale life would bore me eventually.
I wouldn't mind living in one of Scott Westerfeld's book (maybe The Specials). Especially if I could have all the bio-gadgets and stuff his characters get.
Allison's struggle to discover her place in the world is one that I think lots of readers will be able to relate to. Was there a reason you chose to portray this in a college setting rather than the typical (for YA) high school choice?
I went back and forth on the decision to set this book in University/College.
My memory of being a reader in high school was that I wanted to read about older people. You know, I read Seventeen magazine when I was 15. When I was in high school I started reading writers like Douglas Coupland, who was writing, at the time, about twenty somethings. So that was one thing I considered when setting this book in University/College.
Plus, this time of life seems like a pretty fertile territory for stories about being a young person. And you ARE still a young person in freshman year. I was 17.
Still, while there are tons of movies about the college/university experience, I hadn't, at the time I started writing, read any YA books focusing on freshman year. I'm not saying they're not out there, I just hadn't ready any.
Which gave me a little pause, like, maybe there's an unwritten rule out there you're not supposed to write about college?
Then I thought back to my first year at McGill. It was such a big year for me and fed so much into who I became as an adult. That year is such a signficant leap in a young person's life: a change of place, a possible change of person, a time when all the rules shift and you have these incredible new freedoms and responsibilities.
So I thought, you know what, this would be an ideal place and time to write about for YA.
So I did.
Do you have any novels that you would recommend to fans of (You) Set Me on Fire?
Ah. Well, tops, I would recommend David Sedaris for people who liked the humor of the book. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a huge inspiration for me. Also, I would recommend Alice Munro's The Lives of Girls and Women, which is a series of incredible short stories about growing up. It's a book they assign in high school, which might make it sound like a less desirable read, but it's actually really amazing.
So you should all read it.
In terms of YA, I am a huge fan of King Dork by Frank Portman, was also a big inspiration for my approach to writing for young adults. Portman is very frank, super gritty.
Also I think if you liked the protagonist in this book you might also like The Fault in our Stars, by John Green. Green writes an incredibly strong and well-rounded female voice in this book. I loved it.
And finally, because I just couldn't resist, I noticed TWO Harry Potter references in this book! Would you call yourself a fan?
Ha! Well, yes, I'm a fan. I'm more a fan of the myth of the phoenix than I am of Harry Potter, but I am a fan.

As if I wasn't already eager to take a Linguistics class in university! Doesn't it just sound fascinating? I'll also definitely have to check out all of the books Mariko's recommended because I haven't read any of them. And aha! I knew she was a Potterhead ;) The best people are.
(You) Set Me on Fire