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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Fall 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 Penguin Fall 2013 Catalog:

Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron
Date: September 26, 2013
Add to Goodreads

In a magical land called Ellegandia, a young boy named Promi scrapes by, stealing pies, cakes and sweets to survive. But little does he know that his country is a pawn in an ages-old war between good and evil, battled both in the spirit realm and in the human world. Harboring secrets of his own, Promi teams up with a courageous girl named Atlanta and the two vow to save their land—and each other—no matter the cost. But their vow has greater repercussions than they ever could imagine—in fact, it may just bring about the creation of Atlantis, an island cut off from the rest of the world, where magic reigns supreme.

Atlantis Rising will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series as it is a Middle Grade book with mythology. It sounds like it's original enough to hold its own though!

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron
Date: October 3, 2013
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Love can be a real monster.
Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.
Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.

Man Made Boy sounds like a book that is not meant to be taken too seriously. I think it has the potential to be a hilarious and fun read! I'm so curious about this one - can't wait to read some early reviews!

This Wicked Game by Michelle Zink
Date: November 14, 2013
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Claire Kincaid’s family has been in business for over fifty years.
The voodoo business.
Part of the International Guild of High Priests and Priestesses, a secret society that have practiced voodoo for generations, the Kincaid’s run an underground supply house for authentic voodoo supplies. Claire plays along, filling orders for powders, oils and other bizarre ingredients in the family store, but she has a secret.
She doesn’t believe.
Struggling to reconcile her modern sensibilities with a completely unscientific craft based on suspicion, Claire can’t wait to escape New Orleans – and voodoo – when she goes to college, a desire that creates almost constant conflict in her secret affair with Xander Toussaint, son of the Guild’s powerful founding family.
But when a mysterious customer places an order for a deadly ingredient, Claire begins to realize that there’s more to voodoo – and the families that make up the Guild – than meets the eye.
Including her own.
As she bands together with the other firstborns of the Guild, she comes face to face with a deadly enemy – and the disbelief that may very well kill her.

Ooh, I think there is so much potential when it comes to voodoo! So hopefully This Wicked Game will utilize it to its full potential. It certainly sounds like it will, with the mentions of mysteries, Guilds, and deadly ingredients.

The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell
Date: November 19, 2013
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When a mysterious parcel arrives at her family’s new home, eleven-year-old Lin Rosenquist has a curious feeling she’s meant to discover what’s inside.
Much to Lin’s surprise, the ornate key contained in the parcel unlocks a spellbinding world called Sylver, hidden behind the cellar door. Sylver is an enchanting land of eternal winter, inhabited by animals that shared a special connection with children in the real world, either as beloved pets or tamed wild animals. In death, they are delivered to Sylver, where they take on a curiously human-like form and still watch over the children they cherish. While Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with her beloved pet, Rufus, she soon learns that the magic of the Petlings and Wilders is failing, and snow trolls want to claim Sylver for themselves. Lin must discover a way to stop them and save this enchanted world.

Oh my. The Twistrose Key sounds like it was made for me! I mean, an enchanted world in which our beloved pets live on after their death to watch over us? Aww, that premise is making me ALL KINDS of sentimental. How lovely. The concept also reminds me a bit of Narnia and The Golden Compass, so that's a plus in my eyes.

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: August 20, 2013
Pages: 480
Source: For Review from Bloomsbury/NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 Stars

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

In short: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon has a highly ambitious and imaginative concept, but the execution of the world building was not up to par.
I am not one of those people who gets scared off from reading a book because of the immense buzz surrounding it. Quite the opposite: I am a total lemming and I become instantly curious in any book that receives massive amounts of hype. And with a seven-book six-figure deal, a nineteen-year-old debut author, film rights already optioned, and a ton of early buzz reviews, The Bone Season definitely fits the bill. I needed to involve myself in the hype of this book to see for myself what all the fuss is about.

And the result was that I was both impressed and disappointed by The Bone Season. The highly ambitious and complex world building in The Bone Season was somehow both its strength and its weakness. Samantha Shannon - at the tender age of nineteen, still a student at Oxford, when she wrote this book - has crafted one of the most original and visionary fantasy worlds I have ever come across. It was so unlike anything I have read that it was hard at first to even wrap my head around the concept. But it's hard not to appreciate such breadth and richness of imagination.

It was the execution of the creation of such a unique world that I found issue. Notice how I have not even attempted a brief summary of the world in The Bone Season. There is just SO MUCH there and it's all very complicated, and I couldn't possibly adequately explain even the basis of it. The world building was not nearly as clear as I would have liked. It felt like a chore at times, keeping track of all the lingo and rules. There is a glossary in the back, which might have been helpful, except I wasn't aware of its existence until the end and it would have been a pain to flip to in ebook format anyway.

Perhaps I would have liked The Bone Season better if I had more patience. As it was, I didn't feel like trying to take in massive loads of complicated information and making sense out of this highly complex world. I actually really like complicated concepts and world building, but only if they seem effortless; this seemed laboured. If I were the type to DNF books, I probably would've ditched this one early on when the info dumps were numerous and the many details convoluted. But as it is, I am utterly unable to ditch books part way through, so I stuck it out. Thankfully, the story did get a bit easier to follow in time, and therefore way more enjoyable.

Don't get me wrong, The Bone Season was a good book that I liked and admired for its ambition and imagination. It is also a very fast-paced and exciting book once you get past the initial intro to the world. Characters were another highlight here; many were complex and enigmatic. There is the beginnings of a romance here and I have a feeling it's one that a lot of people will really love for its tension and intensity. So there was a lot of good in The Bone Season. I'm just not completely positive I am ready to commit to a seven-book series when I am still a bit fuzzy on the details of the world.

Other Reviews:
The Page Turner
Realm of Fiction

Author Links:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Top Ten Topics That Make Me NOT Want To Pick Up A Book

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

This week's topic is the reverse to my Top Ten Topics That Instantly Make Me Pick Up A Book.

Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make Me NOT Pick Up A Book

Embarrassing Covers

I will freely admit it: I judge books by their covers. If I dislike a cover, it's going to take some convincing to get me to pick up the book. The worst are the covers that I deem embarrassing and would not want to be seen reading in public. True story: the sole reason that I have been putting off reading Vampire Academy is that I find the covers to the series to be quite horrid. But I vow that this will change this summer - I WILL read Vampire Academy soon!


There might be certain very, very rare circumstances where insta-love works in a story, but the vast majority of the time, I hate it for how unrealistic it seems. While the idea of love at first sight is certainly a lovely one, I don't really buy into it realistically. I would much rather read about a relationship in which the romance is slow building and tension-ridden. It's so much more exciting that way! Insta-love just seems so bland and lazy in comparison.

Paranormal Fiction

I've been a bit wary of paranormal fiction of late. To be honest, I find the bulk of it to be so cliched, it bores me. I've lost count how many times I've reread the same Twilight-style storyline, but with angels, faeries, mermaids, you name it. It takes a very original concept to break the mould of all the similar-sounding paranormal stories. Daughter of Smoke and Bone certainly managed that with its truly fresh take on Angel vs. Demon lore and it utterly won me over for that reason.

Love Triangles

While there have been a few instances in the past in which I have appreciated the complexity of a love triangle (Clockwork Princess - I'm looking at you), more often than not, I find love triangles to be unnecessary and unrealistic. I dislike it when they are included in a story purely as a means of introducing drama in the romance. And I ESPECIALLY dislike it when love triangles make one or more parties into arseholes (which they almost certainly do; Requiem - I'm looking at you). What I appreciated so much about the love triangle in Clockwork Princess is that every party involved respected every other party equally.


Okay, this might sound bad, but I can't for the life of me even humour the idea of reading nonfiction. I can't imagine a nonfiction book ever being able to hold my attention the way fictional stories do. I totally equate nonfiction with
being tedious and something that you would read for school, not for pleasure. But I realize these biases are probably causing me to miss out on some great nonfiction reads! Or so I've been told by a few bloggers (I'm still a bit sceptical). So how about it? Any nonfiction reads that you might recommend to a nonfiction-noob like me?


I do like a good romance, don't get me wrong, but when the only thing going on in the story is a romance between two characters, that's when the story loses me. I NEED something more in the plot to keep me interested and the romance CANNOT be the major focus. Of course, I speak only of speculative fiction here; I have enjoyed in the past contemporary romances like Anna and the French Kiss. But the point of speculative fiction for me is that you have something, ANYTHING of more interest than just the romance.

Novels in Verse

Like nonfiction, the main reason why I am not compelled to read a novel written in verse is that I have convinced myself that I would not like it. It is just SO far outside my comfort zone. And I worry that I would make the attempt and then I just wouldn't get it and I would feel dumb. However, I have heard very good things about Ellen Hopkins' novels in verse from Sara of Just Another Story and Ambur of Burning Impossibly Bright. They assure me that her books aren't painful to read at all and I trust their opinion. So I think I'll have to go outside my comfort zone just once to try it out.


Eeeee, I admit to not being able to handle a lot of smut in my reading because it embarrasses me so! Fifty Shades of Grey last year on a sort of dare and it was a pretty painful experience indeed (though for many a reason beyond just the presence of smut). I am young at heart and that is why I stray more towards MG/YA.
Yes, I am a grown adult of almost 25 years. And yes, I still get embarrassed and red-faced upon reading scandalous sex scenes. I read

Animal Cruelty

I just can't deal with cruelty to animals. I am extremely sensitive when it comes to that sort of thing and will actively avoid books in which I know animals are hurt or die in the story. The reason why I never seeked out I Am Legend or Marley and Me (both the books and their movie counterparts) was purely because I was made aware that the dogs die in the end. And I Just. Can't. Deal.

New Adult

I just don't get it. I don't get what all the hype is about the New Adult genre. At first I was on board; I wanted to read more stories with college-aged protagonists dealing with things a person of that age might face so that I might relate to them. But at some point I started to notice that all these new NA releases basically seemed like the same thing - some variation of good girl falls for bad boy and he opens her up to new sexual experiences. I realize that not all NA is just "YA with sex", but a lot of it seems to be and I am not interested. I did however very much enjoy The Sea of Tranquility and When You Were Here, so it's not a complete loss cause. Does anyone have any other NA reads to recommend that you think I might like?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Published: September 15, 2011
Pages: 206
Source: For Review from Candlewick Press
Rating: 5 Stars

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...
This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

In short: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is simultaneously one of the most devastatingly heartbreaking and rousingly beautiful books I have ever read.
A Monster Calls tells the story of thirteen-year-old Conor who has a recurring nightmare in which a monster comes to visit him at 12:07 every night. The monster tells him three stories and in return, Conor must tell the monster the story of his truth. But A Monster Calls isn't a story about a monster who visits a boy in his dreams. It's a story about dealing with the devastating impacts of cancer. It's a story that cuts you to the core and leaves you breathless and emotionally drained. But it is also painfully beautiful and completely worthwhile.

Patrick Ness relays in a stark and brutal way the emotions and grief that one endures when having to deal with the influence of cancer in a loved one. And who among us hasn't been affected by the destructive effects of cancer at some point in our lives? Siobhan Dowd, the author who conceived the idea behind A Monster Calls, herself had the disease. And, in a most tragic turn of events, Siobhan Dowd succumbed to her illness before she could write this novel. Patrick Ness stepped in to write it and see her masterpiece to publication.

A Monster Calls is simultaneously one of the most devastatingly heartbreaking and rousingly beautiful books I have ever read. I have said it already in my reviews of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy, but Patrick Ness is simply a genius with words. I would read anything he writes and will be guaranteed to love it, purely based off his ability to craft emotional prose, complex characters, and deeply moving themes. You are missing out if you haven't read his books yet!

Other Reviews:
Call Me Crazy Reviews
Courtney Reads A Lot
The Dancing Reader

Author Links:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Fall 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 HarperCollins Fall 2013 Catalog:

Find Me by Romily Bernard
Date: September 24, 2013
Add to Goodreads

"Find Me." These are the words written on Tessa Waye's diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa's just been found...dead.
Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target. Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick.
Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick's deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?
Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.
But she's going to find this killer no matter what.
Because it just got personal.

I only just read my first early review for Find Me a few days ago (courtesy of Melissa from i swim for oceans) and it sounds like this one has that perfect blend of mystery and thriller that I love. I haven't read many great mysteries lately, so I'm looking forward to what should be quite a good one!

Black Out by Robison Wells
Date: October 1, 2013
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Laura and Alec are trained terrorists.

Jack and Aubrey are high school students.

There was no reason for them to ever meet.

But now, a mysterious virus is spreading throughout America, infecting teenagers with impossible powers. And these four are about to find their lives intertwined in a complex web of deception, loyalty, and catastrophic danger—where one wrong choice could trigger an explosion that ends it all.

A short synopsis, but one that has my complete attention. Black Out sounds like it should be able to bring the intensity of a true thriller. Plus, who doesn't love the teens-with-superpowers stories?

Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Date: October 1, 2013
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An all-consuming love affair.
A family torn apart by scandal.
A young author on the brink of greatness.
Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.
Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

So this could be interesting. I don't know a ton about Mary Shelley so I am curious to learn more, even if some of Hideous Love is likely to be fictionalized. This one is written in verse though, so I'm a bit wary of that.

Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund
Date: October 15, 2013
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Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.
On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.
Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

Aw yeah, the companion novel to a 2012 favourite of mine, For Darkness Shows the Stars, is almost upon us! I was so impressed with the writing and characterization in For Darkness so you bet I want to read Across A Star-Swept Sea. Though I will admit to having very limited knowledge of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the book Across A Star-Swept Sea is retelling.

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

Monday, July 15, 2013

Muggle Monday: J.K. Rowling Is Sneaky And Has A New Book!

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 by now you've probably heard: J.K. Rowling secretly published another novel called The Cuckoo's Calling under the pseudonym "Robert Galbraith". Back in April! And prior to the announcement, it had only sold 1,500 copies (but also garnered many positive reviews).

Publisher: Mulholland Books
Published: April 30, 2013
Pages: 455
Series: Cormoran Strike

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

What's further, they even made up a fake "About Me" section for Robert Galbraith:

After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world.

So basically, Jo is as sneaky as a Slytherin! I can't believe she got away with this for three whole months. But I can definitely understand her desire to publish something anonymously, without all the hoopla that her name brings to her other published works.

But now that the secret is out, there will be thousands more readers for this book than there was previously. I myself have already checked the bookstore and they had only one copy and it had been sold just prior to me arriving! And supposedly only 3 copies were left available in my entire city!

I have already requested an egalley from NetGalley and I suggest others try that or buying the ebook if you're interested in reading it. Otherwise I imagine you won't have to wait too long until Hachette will do another printing, maybe with a new cover with Jo's name on it. It is supposedly only the first book in the Cormoran Strike Series, after all.

Is anyone interested in reading The Cuckoo's Calling? So far, the reviews for it seem to be better than for The Casual Vacancy, which wasn't very well received by HP fans (although you may recall I LOVED it, personally). As for me, I'm just pleased as can be that we get a new book from Jo out of nowhere! What a fantastic surprise.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Apocalypse! Blog Hop Giveaway

Hop! I am participating in the Apocalypse! Blog Hop Giveaway hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings, Love of Books, and The Nocturnal Library. For this blog hop, I will be giving away...

A post-apocalyptic/dystopian book of your choice! 
(worth up to $20 CAD from The Book Depository)

(The above books are some of my favourite post-apocalyptic/dystopian books, but the winner can choose whichever book of the genre they want)

1. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below
2. Open Internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you
3. Ends July 20 at 11:59 PM EST

4. Entrants must be at least 13 years old
5. The winner will be emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen

And may the odds be EVER in your favour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Vortex (Insignia #2) by S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 400
Source: For Review from HarperCollins Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.
Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.
Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?
Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.

In short: Vortex by S.J. Kincaid is an excellent sequel that ramps up the intensity in the plot while still maintaining the fun and hilarity of its predecessor.
I was incredibly eager to return to the incredibly cool and imaginative world of S.J. Kincaid's Insignia series after reading and loving the first book last year. And thankfully, I loved Vortex just as much as Insignia! For those who don't know, the Insignia series is about fifteen-year-old Tom Raines who is recruited by the Pentagon to fight in an intrasolar World War III thanks to the help of a chip that has been inserted in his brain that allows him to remotely control fighter ships in space. It's AWESOME.

In Vortex, things aren't very much different from Insignia. As with Insignia, there are plenty of seemingly pointless - but incredibly fun - scenes with the simulations. Tom and his friends get up to the same kind of hilarious shenanigans. S.J. Kincaid's signature clever humour and inside jokes are also present again, much to my pleasure. The main difference is Vortex is a bit darker and more political than Insignia. A more concrete villain has developed, Tom is having to be serious about his future, and a hint of rebellion is forming. And all this is managed without sacrificing the fun and hilarity of Insignia.

Possibly the thing I was most looking forward to in Vortex - even more than the highly imaginative and cool world building - was the return of the gang: protagonist Tom and his best friends Vik, Wyatt, and Yuri. THESE GUYS. They have got to be my favourite bookish group of friends ever (after the HP Trio, obvs). I love each of them individually, as well as part of the group. They are very loyal (though they do occasionally have disagreements) and are incredibly playful and teasing with one another. They feel like real life friends to me!

Tom is a hard person to love, considering his many, many faults, but I do like him overall. His arrogance and stubbornness often border on stupidity, but his intense loyalty to his friends and his refusal to play by corporate rules are truly admirable. His highly immature antics are equal parts exasperating and amusing; he is just a fifteen-year-old-boy after all and I think a very realistic one. One that has to face the music in Vortex and learn not to be an arrogant ass all the time. Tom is a very memorable character and I credit S.J. Kincaid with coming up with a non-stock protagonist.

I had the same issues with Vortex as I did with Insignia: The story was sometimes slowly paced and bogged down with exposition and technological jargon that made the reading a bit rough. But overall, Vortex was just as much fun as Insignia while also ramping up the intensity and seriousness of the plot. Dystopian and sci fi lovers who like male protagonists and plots that aren't super romance-heavy would love this series!

Previously, my review of Insignia.

Other Review:
Nose Graze

Author Links:
HarperCollins Webpage

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published: June 4, 2013
Pages: 435
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

In short: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is a game-changing sequel that has everything we loved about Shadow and Bone and MORE.
Shadow and Bone seemed to have all you could want in a novel: 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. Siege and Storm somehow has all this and MORE. Creepy shadow monsters, ship voyages with pirates, a mythical sea beast, a fantastical flying ship, and one very calculating and smarmy prince. Yes, it really is ALL THAT.

The Darkling was one of my favourite things from Shadow and Bone, but much to my dismay, the Darkling's presence was noticeably less in Siege and Storm. But, as if Leigh Bardugo knew that her readers would feel the hurt from less Darkling, a new equally as intriguing character is introduced in the form of one very cunning privateer. How does Leigh Bardugo do it, constantly come up with swoony new characters for us to obsess over? She seems to have a never-ending capacity of new secondary characters that interest us just as much as the main players.

Alina and Mal are as incredible as ever, both alone and together. I love their banter. We get to see them grow and endure and bear new roles that test them and their love. And they make it through remarkably well. But I did get a little frustrated at the cliched romantic feud designed to add drama to their relationship. Basically, one party deserts the other right when they're at their most desperate and in need of support. And that is not any kind of love that I know of or understand. Adding complexity to relationships is fine - even welcomed - but introducing drama for petty reasons that involves abandoning your loved one when they need you... not a fan. Still, this was a relatively minor quibble.

Siege and Storm was truly a fantastic sequel, rife with action and hooks and intrigue that held me ensnared from the very opening scene to the game-changer ending. I cannot possibly express my excitement for Ruin and Rising adequately enough!

Previously, my review of Shadow and Bone.

Other Reviews:
Ink Skies
Just Another Story
YA Book Queen

Author Links:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Life in June: Pride, Loneliness, and Creepy Monkeys

Hihihi. So I have never done one of these monthly recaps before, but I was thinking I might start doing them as a means of keeping track of my life, blogging, and reading from month to month. As I will be returning to school in September, I will likely have less time for reading and so I thought I might introduce a more personal non-reading aspect to my blog... then again, maybe not if no one is interested. I guess this will be a trial run! Feel free to tell me if any of this is TMI. I can take it.

There are so many bloggers who do these monthly recap type features that I don't really know who to credit for my version. But it would probably be a safe bet to throw in Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner's name as she is frequently the originator of popular memes and features.

My Life in June: Pride, Loneliness, and Creepy Monkeys

The first big event of June for me was the 2013 Edmonton Pride Parade:

(photos from my Instagram)

This was actually my first time attending the pride parade and I have to say, it was kind of overwhelming! In a VERY good way. There were a ton of people who came out to support the LGBT community. It was such an uplifting experience. Definitely gave me the warm fuzzies!

After the excitement at the beginning of June, things quieted down for me for the rest of the month. My bf was away doing field work hunting for dinosaur fossils, so I spent a lot of time on my own and was consequently quite lonely. I know it might sound a bit pathetic to completely fall apart when your boyfriend goes away for a few weeks, but there it is. Can't change the way I feel.

And unfortunately, this really affected my reading habits! I am a total mood reader so if I am not in a good mood, I can't enjoy reading. I got so little reading done in June, it was sad! My mood also affected my blog commenting. I usually pride myself at returning comments to each and every person's blog for everyone who leaves a comment on one of my posts, but unfortch, this did not completely happen in June. And I felt SO guilty about it! Sorry guys, I hope to do better in July!

I did manage to occupy myself and keep my spirits up with a few good get togethers with family and friends, at least. My cousin from New Zealand was up visiting, which was nice because I rarely get to see her. She taught me the Maori word for "book"! There was also an Edmonton Book Bloggers meet-up this month and it's hard not to be happy surrounded by fellow book lovers! I also had a number of meaningful conversations with close friends this month and that did wonders for my psyche.

I also managed to keep myself entertained in June with a number of good TV Shows and Movies that I would highly recommend:

Sherlock is simply brilliant. It's a contemporary retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I loooove Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson, respectively. Sherlock and Watson have the best bromance of all time!!

I also watched all 13 episodes of The Comeback starring Lisa Kudrow and it was pretty entertaining. But also uncomfortably awkward in that UK Version of The Office kind of way. It is a brutally honest satire on the making of sitcoms and a reality TV shows. And it's kind of brilliant.

Monster's Inc. is one of my all-time favourite movies, so I was stoked (and a little nervous) to see its prequel, Monster's University. While I don't think a new movie could ever live up to the original, I do think it was a pretty damn good effort. I really enjoyed all the inside jokes and references to the original. But I missed Boo!

I also re-watched 500 Days of Summer and somehow was able to love it even more after the second time. I love it alotalot.

Something else of significance this month: this absolute GEM was found in a thrift store:

O_O  I think my initial reaction was, "Holy shit." I don't know that I have ever seen anything creepier in my life. It appears to be a creepy-ass monkey in a bonnet and pearls. It also seems to be a salt shaker, but its pair was not in the store, alas. And it was only $3, so of course I had to have it. I figure it will make an excellent joke house warming present. But until then, I have to deal with it living in my house. I will be taking Jessica's advice and keeping it locked in my closet at all times lest it MURDERS ME IN THE NIGHT.

Blogging in June

In June, I joined Instagram finally and immediately became obsessed. You can find my profile here. Also, you can leave your username in the comments and I will look you up and give you a follow!

June was the last month of Google Reader, one of my other main obsessions. And of course, as the World's Biggest Procrastinator, I waited until the last possible moment to make the switch. But I still haven't decided which I prefer, Bloglovin' or Feedly. I will follow blogs on both platforms for a while until I make up my mind. Does anyone have a preference?

Posts in June:
Muggle Monday: New Chamber of Secrets Cover Reveal
Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Summer 2013 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Summer 2013 Catalog
Top Ten Books At The Top Of My Summer TBR (Help Me Prioritize!)
Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2013
Review: Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis - 3.5 Stars
Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer - 5 Stars
Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney - 4 Stars
Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - 5 Stars

If anyone is interested in the results of my poll that people voted in to help me decide which books I should prioritize for my reading schedule this summer, here are the results:
1st Place: 38% said Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
2nd Place: 31% said The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
3rd Place (tied): 25% said City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
3rd Place (tied): 25% said Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

And finally, the best book I read in June was...:

The Scorpio Races, of course! It's hard to put into words how much I loved this one. But with the most beautiful writing, characters to love, lots of pretty horses, and a sport that is more dangerous than Quidditch (and that's saying something), it was hard not to love The Scorpio Races. Highly recommended!

Alright, that's it for me. But I would love to receive any feedback with regards to this post, my first monthly recap. Too long? Too ramble-y? Too personal? Maybe less pictures of creepy-as-f*ck monkeys next time? Let me know!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Muggle Monday: Newly Redesigned Harry Potter Covers!

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.

There have been a whole ton of new Harry Potter cover redesign releases recently and I am LOVING it (obviously). And no, I don't think these redesigns will ever replace the originals in my mind, but it's still cool to see the covers in a new light:

New 15th Anniversary US Editions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

J'ADORE! I love these covers as much as the first two Kazu Kibuishi covers for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I love the animation and the attention to detail. I think they've done an excellent job so far at choosing the perfect scene to represent each book for the new covers. I also love how you can see Past Harry collapsed in the background of the new Prisoner of Azkaban cover. The new Goblet of Fire cover is pretty fantastic, too, though in my mind I still picture the Hungarian Horntail resembling the one from the UK/Canada Children's Edition, rather than this version.

I honestly couldn't say which of the four new US Edition covers I like best so far. Does anyone else have a favourite one so far?

EDITED TO ADD - New Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Also Released:

Of course, only a few hours after I had this post scheduled, the 15th Anniversary US Edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released! And of course, it's GORGEOUS:

New UK Adult Editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban:

The UK Adult Editions of the books are also getting a makeover. The first three books have been redone and the next four are set to be released in the coming months. I love the woodcut style of these! They are very bright and graphic and eye-catching. Sigh, if only I were rich, I would buy ALL the editions of the books, new and old, domestic and foreign editions. And they would be my pretties.

What do you think of these new Harry Potter covers? Let me know in the comments!