Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Read: May 20th- June 14th, 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: BEA 2018

Description from GoodReads:

   It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

   Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

   The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

   On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.


   Three average, everyday girls. a little lonely, a little ignored.
   I read my first Lauren Oliver book maybe 6 years ago, having picked up Before I Fall because for some reason I thought it was the first book in the Delirium series. Since reading the final book in that series I haven’t really been keeping up to date with the latest Lauren Oliver releases. But of course, she had to come along and release the cover for Broken Things, and have me hooked instantaneously. Especially considering it ended up being a thriller mystery. So now here I am, having finished the book and wanting to talk about it. 

    The three girls in Broken Things certainly took being book obsessed to a whole new level, with creating a sequel to the book, and even going as far as attempting to recreate sacrifices to the fictional demon like god from the story. It made for an interesting read, as well as made me wondering if at one point I’d eventually go that far in my obsession with books. 

    Broken Things ended up being a hit and miss for me, where there were many things I enjoyed about the book, it also came with a bunch of things that I didn’t. 

    Two out of three of the girls live, and so we get perspectives of the living girls throughout the book. Including how dark their lives are now that their town thinks they killed their best friend. Mia’s life has become complicated to the point where she’s a homeschooled girl who lives with a hoarder mom., and Brynn’s life is bouncing from back and forth between rehabs, faking being a drug addict and alcoholic, just so that she has somewhere to live. It was really interesting to read as to how the characters dealt with their circumstances, as well as how the problems were solved in the end. It also made the story that much more interesting when I found out that the circumstances were inspired by real events in Lauren Oliver’s life. 

    One thing I simply didn’t care for, but yet found interesting was that at almost every beginning of a chapter we were given a snippet of The Way into Lovelorn, the story the girls were obsessed with, or a snippet of the story the girls wrote themselves. I was never a fan of the fanfiction snippets when I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and I wasn’t a fan now. I can certainly see how this would appeal to other people though. 

    Then finally the major kicker for me was how easy it was for the murderer to be discovered. In the end the mystery just felt so rushed, like Oliver needed the story to be finished with already.  I wouldn't say I was disappointed in the end, but I certainly wasn’t satisfied. 

    Broken Things didn’t end up being a favourite, but I’d certainly give another one of her books a chance if or when I ever pick them up.  


Favourite Quote:

"No one's ever lonely in lovelorn. No one except the shadow."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Thrillers, Mystery, Books come to life, Murder Mystery 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Release Date: May 8th, 2018
Read: June 8-10th, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 320 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review.

Description from GoodReads:

   Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

   So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

   Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.


  That which rots you marks you.
   No matter what I pick up, I end up basically adoring every paranormal book I read, Undead Girl Gang included. I had requested Undead Girl Gang after my coworker thought it was the grossest and funniest book she’s read in a while. Obviously it was a perfect rec for me. 

   The first thing I noticed and loved about the book was it’s protagonist. Mila is an actual realistic YA character, even if she was a witch. She had personality and flare but most of all she wasn’t the perfect, not flawed, character that most paranormal or fantasy books have. Mila is a fat, confident Mexican girl that felt very real. I personally don’t think I’ve read YA book with a fat character that didn’t make the book all about them being fat. It was a refreshing change to just have it be a thing, without it being a huge part of the plot line. The same went with her heritage. 

   Another thing that really stood out for me was the “fooling around” scene that occurs later on in the book. Without saying anything to spoil the book too much, the protagonist ends up kissing someone and the other person pulls away. Mila’s first thought after they pulled away was “Consent revoked. Permission denied.”, and I couldn’t help but be overjoyed at the little addition. Lily Anderson didn’t have to include that, but I’m sure glad she did. 

   Finally, I could not get over the humor in the book. Where situations should have been super awkward and gross, Lily made them super funny and well, still gross, but in a funny way. Along with everything else I mentioned, it made for a terrific read. 

   Undead Girl Gang had everything I wanted humor and gross factor wise, and I could not have been happier. I look forward to seeing what other gross but funny book Lily Anderson has in store for us next!


Favourite Quote:

"Sometimes, magic looks a lot like how my mom prepares chicken."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies, Witches, Witch Craft, Murder Mystery

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Read: December 29th 2017- January 1st, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: My Lady Janies, #2
Format: ARC, 464 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

   You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

   Or does she?

   Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.


 I feel like we're getting a bit off topic.
   It's been almost two years since I first read the hilarious and exceptionally cute book My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows. It was one of my favourite reads of 2016, and I couldn't have been happier to hear that the publisher had purchased two more books in the series. Flash forward to a month or two ago, when I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of it's sequel My Plain Jane.

   With both books, I knew the history of the original story of both Janes going into the books. Unlike My Lady Jane, I never enjoyed the original Jane Eyre story. So it was exciting to go into My Plain Jane and expect a comical twist to the originally bland story.

   Of course with a trio of such fabulous authors working together, I couldn't have expected anything less than perfection. My Plain Jane turned out exactly as I'd imagined, and more. The humour from their first novel was back and even stronger than before.

   With My Plain Jane you had the perspectives of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brönte and the supernatural ghost hunter, Alexander Blackwood. What made this book all that more intriguing was that while having the perspective of Charlotte Brönte, the original writer of Jane Eyre story, the authors made Jane Eyre a real life friend of Charlotte, and that she was the object of Charlotte's novel that she continues to write throughout the book.

     Like the first book, you did not need to know Jane Eyre's story to understand My Plain Jane. I found in this case that if you had read it before picking up this book, then you would have noticed a few head nods in it's direction. But otherwise you will find that you will be rather pleased with the book no matter what your situation was before reading the book.

   One of my favourite parts of the book was when we got a bit of a peak at a few of the characters from My Lady Jane, confirming that the stories take place in the same world but rather at a different place in time.
   My Plain Jane was a absolute hit with me, written with the perfect amount of wit and romance. I can not wait for it to release for everyone else to read it, and I look forward to the next in the series, My Calamity Jane


Favourite Quote:

"Let's start with the girl.
 Her name was Jane."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Paranormal, Humour, Jane Eyre, Ghosts, Retellings

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Read: January 28th- February 15th, 2018
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Series: The Shadow Game, #1
Format: ARC, 400 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Description from GoodReads:

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.


   Don't trust unless you must.
   Like everyone, I too, was excited to get my hands on Ace of Shades. A book of gambling your money, and your life? WITH powers? How couldn't I be excited? But of course, the anticipation was short lived when I actually picked up the book.

   You'll notice I have two strong opinions when it comes to Ace of Shades. The first being about the world building, and the second being that I couldn't shake the feeling of having read it before.

   Amanda Foody's world building was exceptionally marvellous, you couldn't help but be in awe when it came to the society, as well as the gang groups and wealthy families. Amanda had them so well put together that when I walk by someone with white hair in the streets I can't help but be a little more cautious. The rankings of the groups, the way the gang's bloodline was still a major focus as it is in reality, but with special abilities, you couldn't help but be amazed at it all.

   The biggest flaw to Ace of Shades was that it wasn't published earlier. If the novel had been published maybe two, three years earlier I'm sure it would have been a huge hit with me. But unfortunately I had already read The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, and heard so much about Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo before reading this one. I couldn't help but compare everything, and I mean everything from Ace of Shades to The Last Magician. It was actually kind of ridiculous how similar they were. Even the plot twist in Ace of Shades was predicable because the plot twist in The Last Magician was the exact same thing. It was because of this, that I couldn't stand the book. That and the  character Enne, literally drove me mad with all her whining.

   I really wished I could have loved Ace of Shades, but it ended up being a wrong place at the wrong right situation. Since it was the story rather than the writing that ruined the book for me, I still look forward to reading Amanda Foody's debut, Daughter of the Burning City


Favourite Quote:

"People do not play this Game to win, my dear. They play this game not to lose."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Powers, Gambling, The Last Magician, Six of Crows

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Release Date: September 12th, 2017
Read: August 22nd-23rd, 2017
Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Frostblood Saga, #2
Format: ARC, 416 pages
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Description from GoodReads:

   All hail the Fire Queen.

   Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…

   Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.


   The last thing I want is to smother you
   I didn't adore Frostblood, the first book in the series, that much is known if you read my review. But in the end I requested the ARC since the author is Canadian and I wanted to give her another chance. 
   All the problems that occurred in Frostblood that I did not enjoy, reoccurred in Fireblood. Everything from the similarity to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, to the book being a walking cliche of everything Young Adult. The Deja Vu factor had returned in full force.
   In complete honesty, the cliche factor was a deal breaker for me. I thought I could get over the fact, but in the end I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy really anything about Fireblood. Especially not when the only memory I still have of the novel is me groaning every five minutes. 

   Although, saying all of this, I do still believe that anyone just starting to read YA books should give the Frostblood saga a chance. If you haven't read a ton of YA yet, then I could certainly see Fireblood as an interesting and fun read. Because of that fact, I would still recommend it to people. 

   Fireblood was a walking "ugh" for me, so I probably won't pick up Nightblood, the final book in the series, unless someone shoves it in my face. 


Favourite Quote:

"You’re quite amusing when you’re not lashing me with that sharp tongue."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Old Time YA Books

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Release Date: January 18th, 2018
Read: August 15th-21st, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Series: Standalone
Format: ARC, 368 pages
Source: McNally Robinson

Description from GoodReads:

   Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

   Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


   My love he wooed me. My love he slew me.
   It's been roughly seven months since I read The Hazel Wood, and I still remain bitter about the story and the hope I had for the book being crushed. I had such a strong anticipation for The Hazel Wood before it released; the cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was everything I needed from a fairy tale novel, but in the end it let me ever so down.

   I found the lead up to the Hazel Wood to be a complete mess, to me nothing made any sense at all. It was clear that everything was done in anticipation of heading to the Hazel Wood, but it was just filler to me. Not to mention we were constantly told about how all the Hinterland stories were oh so important to saving the mother as well as other things, but we basically got a list of their names and were told the stories later on when the novel was basically almost done. It was later announced after The Hazel Wood was written that there'd be a bind up of all the Hinterland stories, but I honestly think they were needed to comprehend this novel.

   I also found the protagonist and friend were completely bland characters, nothing about them stood out and at times I was even annoyed at hearing their voices. It didn't matter what happened to them in the novels, I could care less about what happened to them.

   I wanted a unique new fairy tale story, but what I got was a bland mess. I still don't understand the hype to the book after having read it, and I'm still so disappointed that a book with such a gorgeous cover could be such a mess underneath.

   The Hazel Wood was a disaster, and under no circumstances will you see me picking up it's sequel in the future.


Favourite Quote:

"If you're not with the book you want, you might as well want the book you're with."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Cities, Murder, Blood

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Read: October 18th-29th, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: Even the Darkest Stars, #1
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: McNally Robinson

Description from GoodReads:

   Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

   But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

   The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.


   Why do you fear me, brave one.
   At work we have this shelf of Advance Readers Copies that us booksellers are allowed to take to read and keep. That was how I first encountered Even the Darkest Stars. Unfortunately by the time I had finally decided to pick the book up and read it, someone had already taken the copy. I found that by not being able to read it anymore, it made me want to read it all the more. Long story short, I went out the next day and bought my own copy to read.

   Even the Darkest Stars was one of my favourite fantasy books of 2017. After reading it in 11 days, I could not stop talking about it to people and I still can't. I even went on about it WHILE reading it to all my book friends. The book had all my favourite elements of a fantasy; witches, kingdoms, magic, mountains and dragons. They were all blended together beautifully to create a magical world of mystique and adventure.

   I couldn't be happier with how Heather Fawcett wrote her story in a setting of hard cold and snow. I live in a setting where we are known for our harsh winters, we even have nicknames relating to how our only season is winter. Most YA novels take place in biomes that have warm temperatures or just don't have to deal with the same kind of weather as we do. It was fantastic to finally have a story where I could relate to the elements, I hope that other writers take the hint and start to have their own stories be set in a similar element.

   Even the Darkest Stars is the adventure that'll make you realize that even on the the most dangerous adventures, not everything and everyone is who they seem.

   And with that, I begin my countdown to the release of All the Wandering Light, the second and final book in the Even the Darkest Stars duology. 


Favourite Quote:

"Your soul is rich like honeycomb. Like strawberries."

Recommend to People Who Enjoy:

Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Magic, Mountains, Shapeshifters, Adventures