Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Greta and the Goblin King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Greta and the Goblin King
Author: Chloe Jacobs
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date of Release: November 13, 2012 

Goodreads Description: While trying to save her brother from the witch three years ago, Greta was thrown into the fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon. To survive, 17-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter - and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape. But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil being knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the boys she finds stranded in the woods will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back ...

Why am I waiting? First off, the author is a Canadian which I think is reason enough to read it :) Other reasons though include: a) there are ogres, goblins and ghouls, b) the Goblin King sounds hot - I'm shallow, I know! - and c) rather than humans doing the hunting, it seems like we are the hunted. I just hope Greta acts like a bounty hunter and doesn't disappoint me like Celaena from Throne of Glass.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

From Goodreads: Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect ... or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean - but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: It took a few stories involving mermaids but with Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty, I finally found one that delivered on its promise of seductive yet vicious mermaids. Combine the dark plot with ghosts, a curse lasting generations and descriptive imagery, and it’s no wonder that Fama’s book is my favourite mermaid novel to date! Told from the seamlessly alternating perspectives of the mermaid Syrenka and the human Hester born almost a century and a half later, Monstrous Beauty slowly reveals how the lives of these two young women are intertwined.

Although she harbours a crush on her best friend Peter, Hester remains wary of falling in love. After all, Hester reasons that love eventually leads to wanting a family – something she can’t afford to have because every woman in her side of the family dies several days after giving birth. When Hester encounters Ezra and falls for him suddenly, – I didn’t like the instalove even if made sense in the grand scheme of things – he helps her realize that the pattern of deaths may be because of a curse rather than due to genetics.

I liked Hester; but I thought Syrenka’s story was much more captivating – and not just because I found Syrenka to be a more complex character than Hester. First off, Syrenka’s POV allows us to be privy to knowledge that Hester must discover herself in order to piece together what happened many, many years earlier. Additionally, the events leading up to the curse occur during Syrenka’s lifetime and so those events are part of the present for Syrenka but part of the past for Hester. Although I love history, it’s more fun to read about events as they’re occurring.

A must read for those looking for an enthralling mermaid tale, Monstrous Beauty was released on September 4, 2012 by Farrar, Strous and Giroux. 

Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity but I feel like it’s a bit too plain, you know? 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

From Goodreads: Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met ... a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head. But all that changes when the Lynburns return. The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown - in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Suffused with wit and humour, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan isn’t at all like your typical YA novel! Here are three reasons why: 

  1. The main character, Kami, is smart, persistent, and has a voice in her head that she often talks to. Adorably quirky, Kami knows she’s a little weird and is okay with it!
  2. Kami’s parents not only make frequent appearances throughout the novel, but actually have a personality of their own! Her father, for example, is hilarious! Here’s just one of Mr. Glass’ brilliant quotes: “Why are you putting on lip gloss, my daughter? Dad asked. “Trip to the library? Trip to the nunnery? I hear the nunneries are nice this time of year.” … Are you going out on a date?” Dad asked tragically. “Wearing that? Wouldn’t you fancy a shapeless cardigan instead? You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.” (pg. 143)
  3. There’s no love triangle … or even much of a romance. Instead, the tension in the relationship between Kami and Jared comes from the fact that they have a beautifully complicated relationship where they know each other intimately (mentally, anyway) but have also succeeded at building psychological walls so that there is some semblance of privacy. Once they discover that the imaginary voice in their head isn’t imaginary at all, neither of them knows what the other person should be to them. Should they ignore each other, continue to be friends or become a couple? 
If it weren’t for the weird pacing of the plot, Unspoken would have definitely garnered a higher rating from me. The book starts off great and ends with a surprising ending; but it was the slow-paced middle that I had problems with since it made me feel detached from the characters. Another problem I also had with Unspoken was that although I really liked that it managed to be consistently entertaining, the seriousness of some events or moments was lost due to Kami cracking a joke or doing something ridiculous. 

With a vivid Gothic setting, a fun mystery, and amusing dialogue; Unspoken was a good introduction to Brennan’s writing for me. This certainly won’t be the only novel of hers that I’m going to read!

Unspoken was released by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 11, 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: This is one of the few times where I actually prefer the US cover compared to the UK cover because it’s so whimsical looking. It’s perfect for this novel!

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill - a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk - Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec. During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death - but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Since I’ve never read Juliet Marillier’s adult fantasy novels but had heard good things about her work, I was curious to see what her newest YA novel, Shadowfell, would be like. The fantasy lover in me is always thrilled when I can find a new world that I can fully immerse myself in; and in that regard, Marillier delivers. However, Marillier’s mystical world full of magic and danger is unveiled agonizingly slowly as Neryn, the protagonist, journeys through Alban. As such, I’m pretty sure this book won’t appeal to everybody.

If you don’t mind a slow plot involving a lot of walking though, then I would recommend giving Shadowfell a try because not only does it have great worldbuilding, but it also has sensible characters. While I liked seeing Neryn grow and become more determined and self-confident, my favourite character was the mysterious and complex Flint who carries quite a burden. That said, I wish the characters could have been a bit more memorable since it felt like they lacked that little something extra.

A solid fantasy with a hint of romance; Shadowfell was released on September 11, 2012 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 

Comments About the Cover: Although I like that you can tell that it’s the cover of a high fantasy novel, I feel like it’s sort of boring looking. I suppose that’s okay because of the way the novel is written – it’s probably better suited for older teens and adults. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Entice Me Day: Griffin

Who’s excited about Entice Me Day (aka September 15th)? Unfortunately, we still have a few more days to wait for that!

So, in the meantime, why not learn a little more about Griffin Moore, my favourite character from The Violet Eden Chapters?

Here’s what you need to know: He lives in secrecy and has made a career out of surviving. He is in supernaturally good shape, sports an old fashioned style, and is known for his leadership, trustworthiness and goodness. Not quite the one for social graces, Griffin is the steadfast leader of the Grigori in Violet’s city. He has dedicated himself to winning the war against exiles.

Also, Jessica taped herself in Sydney’s historical urban park, Centennial Park, to reveal some family secrets from the famously reticent leader.

And don’t forget to check out Griffin's character bio (which has even more facts about him) as well as this quotes quiz!

Make sure to follow the rest of the Entice Me Day features via the blogosphere, Twitter and Facebook. The full schedule can be found here!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Charming Canucks: Interview and Giveaway with Jessica Martinez

Charming Canucks is a feature I’ve created that will be posted every other month in an effort to spotlight more Canadian YA authors and their books. 
Today, I'd like to welcome Jessica Martinez.
A bit about Jessica (as found on her website): Jessica was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. As a child she played the violin, read books and climbed trees incessantly. She went on to study English and music at Brigham Young University, and since then has been a high school English teacher, symphony violinist, elementary school teacher, violin teacher, and mother. She currently live in Orlando, Florida with her husband and two children. 

The Space Between Us, your second novel, will be released on October 16 by Simon Pulse. Give three reasons why everyone should read it.
a) It takes place in Florida and Banff – two vacations, no airfare.
b) Neither of these sisters is annoyingly perfect, and neither calls their dad “daddy.” You’re welcome. 
c) You just might find yourself falling in love alongside Amelia. I definitely did.

Both Virtuosity and The Space Between Us are contemporaries. Is there another genre you’d love to try your hand at someday? Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing?
The novel I’m working on a now (my fourth) is suspense/crime drama. I’ve never written this kind of book before, which makes it exciting, but scary too. After I finished my third novel (also contemp) I felt the need to force myself to do something totally different and this certainly fits that description.
I have a hard time imagining myself writing paranormal or sci-fi.  I don’t dislike either genre, but my mind just doesn’t work that way.  When I do read it (usually because someone has recommended a book) I find myself tuning out the paranormal and sci-fi elements to focus on the relationships and character development, so I might be missing the point …

What is your writing process like? Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’m both, but mostly a pantser. I start by pantsing it, then at about 10,000 words I freak out and realize I have no clue where I’m going. At that point I make an outline, but I almost never stick to it. Every 10 or 20 thousand words I have to stop and change my outline. My plots are so character driven that it’s really hard to know exactly what my people are going to do until I live through certain things with them. I sometimes think it would be easier if I could just be a planner, but I don’t want to change. I love how my characters evolve and take the plot with them, even if it’s a huge headache and sometimes requires massive rewrites.

Describe your writing space.
My writing space is constantly changing. On any given day I’m writing in bed, in the car, at the kitchen table, at gymnastics, at soccer practice, etc. I used to have a writing room, but now that I’m expecting my third child my official workspace is the corner between the hamper and the rocking chair. Nice, eh?  Given that option, wouldn’t you write in the car too? I envy people who have clean desks and writing playlists and physical space to think, but there’s something to be said for making the magic happen whenever, wherever. It’s the only way I can fit writing into my life.

Do you have any writing projects currently planned? If so, can you give a hint of what to expect.
As I mentioned, I’m drafting my fourth novel. My third comes out next October. It’s about best friends, a guy and a girl, who get married so one can stay in the US. It’s dual point of view, alternating chapters, and it’s the first time I’ve written from a male perspective. I loved doing it.

Quick Questions:

What’s the best thing about growing up in Calgary?
When I was eight years old I got to go to several Olympic figure skating events in my hometown.

You go on a cross-country trip across Canada. What is the one place you have to visit?
As a child I read every book L.M. Montgomery wrote, so I have to do the whole Anne of Green Gables tour on P.E.I.

What's your favourite book by a Canadian author and why?
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje because while I was reading it I met and fell in love with my husband. 

A huge thank you to Jessica for taking the time to answer my questions!

Jessica can be found on: [her blog] [her website] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
Click here to find out more about Jessica's books!
For this giveaway, one person will get the chance to win a copy of either Virtuosity or The Space Between Us. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Mini Reviews: Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery and Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Emily’s world crumbles when her boy friend dumps her, and when she thinks her life can’t possibly get any worse, a series of secrets are revealed that threaten to tear her beloved family apart. Emily’s heart has been broken into a hundred pieces and she feels like there is no one to turn to, until an unexpected friendship blossoms with a troubled classmate named Leo. Sometimes moody but always supportive, Leo is Emily’s rock in an ocean of confusion and disbelief. But Leo doesn’t have an easy life either. He struggles to be both mother and father to his little sister while his mom battles her alcohol addiction. His deadbeat dad darts in and out of the picture, and Leo would rather he stay away, permanently. The two friends lean on each other, and in the end discover the inner strength to face whatever life throws at them.

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: My biggest problem with Sylvia Gunnery’s Emily For Real was that it squished a variety of topics like a breakup, family secrets, alcoholism, etc. into a short book. As a result, none of these subjects were covered in depth. However, there were other problems as well: namely, that Emily was kind of immature, that what was supposed to be a meaningful friendship between Emily and Leo felt superficial at best, and that because I felt emotionally disconnected from Emily, I just didn’t find her family drama that engaging. 

Emily For Real was released by Pajama Press in April 2012.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Pajama Press) for free. 
original image from
From Goodreads: Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make: 1) I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you? 2) I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine. 3) High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry - get it?) Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable. (Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.) (Sorry. That was rude.)
My Rating: 2.5 hearts 
Thoughts on the Novel: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett is about one girl trying to get through her first year of high school. While the writing was okay, I wasn’t pleased that the book ended so abruptly, particularly since I thought the plot and the characters – none of whom I really liked – weren’t memorable enough. I also didn’t care about the romance because I couldn’t see what Rose saw in Jamie or figure out why he, a senior, would fall for a lowly freshman. Moreover, I thought it was very hypocritical of Rose for judging her best friend for staying with a cheating boyfriend when she herself makes out with Jamie, a guy who has a girlfriend. 

Confessions of an Angry Girl was released by Harlequin Teen in August 2012.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Harlequin Teen) for free via NetGalley.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Belated Blogoversary Giveaway

Wow, time sure flies! Without even realizing it, my blog turned two slightly over a week ago! And I managed to reach 1000 followers last month – a number my newbie self could have only dreamed about reaching!

There’s no way I would have been blogging this long though without the support of all the generous authors and publishers I’ve been lucky to work with. And of course, you guys (especially those of you in my blog roll)! Thank you for keeping me motivated when I go through reading/blogging slumps, for recommending me books to read (or avoid), for checking out my posts, for leaving comments or sending emails and Tweets that brighten up my day; and most of all, for loving books as much as I do.

Of course as a way to thank you (and to celebrate my blogoversary), I’m having a giveaway. There’s one catch though: You have to guess at least one of the covers below.

But, before you start, here are the prizes:
  • The first person to guess all the covers correctly gets a book of their choice worth up to $10 CDN. See, it pays to be a cover whore :) 
  • Everyone who can guess all the covers will be entered into a random draw. The winner will get a book of their choice worth up to $10 CDN and any one of the books below. 
  • All entries are considered eligible to be entered in a random draw to win any one of the books below.
Oh, and if you need a hint, all of the following books are either upcoming 2012 releases or will be released in 2013.

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