Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie’s beat-up old Toyota. But this isn’t just any list; it’s a dead girl's bucket list. Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy’s list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy’s last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero? As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together ... when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing was a quick, easy read. Though the story was decent, it was one that unfortunately didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. Perhaps because of the short length, the characters were also a bit flat.

While I liked Sophie, she and her friends were just a tad self-absorbed. As a result, my favourite character in the novel was probably Johnny because of his easygoing attitude and the way he helped Sophie and her friends with their dares, eventually becoming a friend of Sophie’s.

I also appreciated that Downing didn’t force her characters to rush into a relationship. When Sophie realizes that her crush on Johnny might be reciprocated, she lets him know that she isn’t interested in being strung along or becoming the other girl. Instead, she gives him time and space to figure out who he wants to be with. It was really nice to see a YA protagonist deal with her love life in a mature manner.

None of the Regular Rules was released in November 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: Despite what the cover looks like, None of the Regular Rules is more of a coming-of-age story than a romantic novel. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the author for free via Xpresso Book Tours. 

None of the Regular Rules can be bought from: [Amazon]


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton

From Goodreads: Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines, drawing comics and feeling invisible. She's desperate for soccer star Mark to notice her. And when her BFF texts Mark a photo of Blaze in sexy lingerie, it definitely gets his attention. After a hot date in the back of her minivan, Blaze is flying high, but suddenly Mark's feelings seem to have been blasted by a freeze-ray gun, and he dumps her. Blaze gets her revenge by posting a comic strip featuring uber-villain Mark the Shark. Mark then retaliates by posting her "sext" photo, and, overnight, Blaze goes from Super Virgin Girl to Super Slut. That life on the sidelines is looking pretty good right about now ... 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I hadn’t read any reviews of Laurie Boyle Crompton’s Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) before I dove into it, and so had no idea of what to expect from it. Usually, I’ve had good luck with these types of books because I’ve ended up liking them way more than I thought I would in hindsight, but that wasn’t the case with Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains). And to think it started off so well!

At first, I found Blaze to be an endearing character. She was responsible, made me smile with her thoughts, and had a great relationship with her brother and his friends. It was also pretty easy to relate to her crush on a guy above her social ranking. At some point prior to the halfway mark though, Blaze became more annoying than endearing; and eventually, became one of the stupidest main characters I’ve ever encountered. Here’s why:
  • Her infatuation with Mark – we never really get to know much about him other than the fact that he loves soccer and likes blondes – started to feel obsessive. 
  • She and her friends continually talk about what a slut one of their classmates is and thereby continue to perpetuate that rumour. 
  • After Blaze suggests that her friend, Amanda, flirt with a buddy of Mark and he ignores her, Amanda sexts a picture of Blaze in a fit of anger. Instead of dumping her frenemy, Blaze remains best friends with her. 
  • Even before Mark takes an interest in Blaze, Blaze’s younger brother hints that his coach might be a player. Blaze chooses to ignore Josh’s warnings and promptly proceeds to lose her virginity to Mark – after one movie date where she lets him get to second base! – in the back of her van … without using a condom! Blaze then assumes Mark is her boyfriend for some reason. WTF?!
  • Although it’s clear that her dad doesn’t give a damn about his family after leaving them to pursue his acting dreams, Blaze thinks her dad can help solve her problems and decides to drive to New York from Pennsylvania (without letting him know she’s coming).
Though Blaze essentially ruined the book for me, the big positive about Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) was that Crompton showed the serious ramifications of sexting.

Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) was released by Sourcebooks Fire on February 1, 2013. 

Comments About the Cover: I like the pink hair, but why is the model’s entire face covered by her hair? The windblown look makes it seem as if there’s a hairdryer or something positioned at the back of her head? 

Note: Unlike my ARC, the finished copy has illustrations that resemble those of a comic book.

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs

From Goodreads: While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse. To survive, 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 will to escape. But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her - including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back ... 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Greta and the Goblin King by Chloe Jacobs was a book that started off great, but could have used a little more clarity towards the end. Here’s what I liked and disliked about the novel: 

  • One of two female bounty hunters in the story, Greta is a likeable protagonist who’s quite capable of taking care of herself due to her career choice. However, she also displays moments of physical and emotional vulnerability. For example, having been stuck in Mylena for the past four years, she desperately wants to return home yet also wonders how she’ll fit in once she gets back.
  • There’s plenty of action in Greta and the Goblin King.
  • Mylena has tons of fantastic creatures.
  • I liked the allusions to Hansel and Gretel.
  • I didn’t really enjoy the romance between Greta and Isaac. At the beginning of the novel, Greta is angry at Isaac for manipulating her; but midway through the book, she suddenly starts feeling differently and begins making out with him. The change in heart was way too fast for me!
  • The attraction between Greta and Isaac stems from their first meeting – a meeting that Greta keeps referring to. However, we’re never given a proper flashback of it, and so I couldn’t really understand why Greta found Isaac so appealing.
  • There’s a love triangle. Unfortunately, Greta comes to care about Wyatt pretty quickly too.
  • I felt the ending was slightly rushed and so was left a little confused by the time story wrapped up.                               
Greta and the Goblin King was released in December 2012 by Entangled Teen.

Comments About the Cover: I love the cover since it indicates that the novel is most likely a fantasy, features a heroine who can wield weapons, and probably has a hot guy who may or may not be a villain. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Entangled Teen) for free.
original image from thegate.ca

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Transparent

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: Transparent
Author: Natalie Whipple
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Release: May 1, 2013

Goodreads Description: Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is. An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years - everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults. After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily. Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Why am I waiting? Besides the awesome cover, I love reading about characters with superpowers. And, it sounds like Fiona has some additional skills that make her a badass. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

From Back Cover: Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison - even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: In Scarlet, Marissa Meyer brings together two separate storylines into one. First, we’re introduced to a new protagonist who is trying to find her grandmother with the help of a mysterious street fighter. A few chapters in though, we rejoin Cinder as she attempts to escape from prison in order to find out more about her past from a woman named Michelle Benoit.

While Cinder won me over in Cinder because she was so different from her fairy tale counterpart, I didn’t love Scarlet as much since she was a lot more similar to hers. Thus, like Little Red Riding Hood, Scarlet is rash and willing to trust sketchy strangers. However, I also found her to be loyal, brave, determined and opinionated.

On the other hand, I actually liked Wolf more than Kai. Like Kai, Wolf’s life is complicated; but I feel as if he’s less of a pushover. Plus, Wolf is tough and very protective of Scarlet. I did find Scarlet and Wolf’s romance fast progressing though, and wish that Meyer had given it a bit more time to develop. After all, less than a week passes between the start of the novel and the end.

With the stories of Cinder and Scarlet now overlapping, I look forward to seeing how Meyer will integrate Cress in the next book. With POVs from all sorts of characters in Scarlet, I’m curious to find out whether there will be three main narratives in Cress (i.e. Cinder’s, Scarlet’s and Cress’) and whether Meyer can continue to keep her characters’ voices distinct. 

Scarlet was released on February 5, 2013 by Feiwel and Friends. 

Comments About the Cover: I love that Scarlet’s cover matches that of Cinder. The red cloak also instantly tells you which fairy tale Meyer is retelling.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Follower Love Giveway Hop

The Follower Love Giveaway Hop is being hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Reader's Antidote

For the hop, I'll be giving away any book of your choice worth up to $10 CDN from The Book Depository. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 04, 2013

Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

From Goodreads: It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both. Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Having read an ARC of Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky, I can say that I’d been waiting over a year for the release of Through the Ever Night. When I have such heightened expectations for a sequel, I’ve found that those sequels – particularly if they're the middle book of a trilogy – have often disappointed me. That wasn’t the case at all with Through the Ever Night because the stakes were raised and the characters continued to develop.

One of the issues I had with Under the Never Sky was that Rossi was very vague about the Aether and the Still Blue. Although Rossi still doesn’t say much about the Still Blue in Through the Ever Night, she does describe the origin and initial consequences of the Aether.

With the Aether storms worsening, both Aria and Perry are under greater pressure to find the Still Blue. I assumed this would mean that the two would set out on another journey together. However, for a large part of the book, Aria is with the adorable and hilarious Roar instead. Their relationship remains purely platonic, and I loved that Rossi demonstrates that a guy and girl can be capable of being just friends and nothing more.

Aside from Roar’s increased presence, we also get to see a different Soren and more of the Six, my favourite from them being Reef. As well, we finally meet Liv. I didn’t like her at first, but she grew on me once I understood her decisions. I am still shocked though by what happened to Liv at the end; I can’t believe Rossi did what she did with Liv!

While Perry and Aria still alternate narratives, I feel like Through the Ever Night showed more of Perry’s growth than Aria’s – the opposite of what I thought occurred in Under the Never Sky as Aria became more confident in her abilities to survive outside of the Realms. Here, Perry slowly but surely becomes a true Blood Lord as he makes some tough decisions that others may not think or approve of.

A novel that’s just as amazing as its predecessor, Through the Ever Night was released by HarperCollins in January 2013. I can’t wait to see what Rossi will put her characters through in Into the Still Blue! 

Comments About the Cover: Although I like how the cover matches the cover of Under the Never Sky, Perry looks quite modern and well-dressed for an Outsider. He doesn’t resemble the Perry of my imagination at all!