Monday, March 31, 2014

Mini Reviews: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley and When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens

From Goodreads: Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed - or cursed - with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture. Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley was a thriller I enjoyed. Although a lot of people may find who the killer is to be very obvious, it took me a while to venture a guess as to who the murderer could be; and only when Aria figured out her own riddle did all the clues really fall into place for me.

Besides the good mystery, I liked Aria. I found it very easy to sympathize with her frustration of being an oracle and having to answer any question she overhears, her loneliness due to being considered a freak by her classmates, and her desire to be normal.  

Ask Me will be released by Soho Teen on April 8, 2014. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Soho Teen) for free via Edelweiss.
From Goodreads: First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can't wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute for a "security breach," squashing Audrey's chances for making any new friends. What good is having a bowling alley if you don't have anyone to bowl with? Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless - until she discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary. The former first daughter's outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun ... and more problems than she can handle.  

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens was a nice MG read, which imagines what life as a First Daughter is like in modern times and contrasts it with the fictional – though based upon much research – diary chronicling Alice Roosevelt’s experience as a First Daughter in 1901. I liked seeing how similarly restricted both girls felt but also discovering how much more freedom the First Daughter would have had just a century ago.

Since I don’t know much about American history (being a Canadian, duh!), I enjoyed learning about Alice Roosevelt. While I liked Audrey, she seemed very young (which isn’t surprising because she’s only thirteen) and not as interesting in comparison to the sixteen-year-old Alice.

When Audrey Met Alice was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in February 2014. 

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

From Goodreads: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined. Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity. But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader. As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Since I love fantasy and haven’t read a story about trolls yet, I was really looking forward to reading Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird. Although the book ultimately didn’t live up to my expectations, it still turned out to be a decent read.

For me to enjoy a fantasy thoroughly, it’s crucial that I don’t question the worldbuilding. In Stolen Songbird, I was content to accept a world where trolls existed, were cursed to live under a mountain, and traded with some humans who knew about them. I wasn’t so satisfied with the worldbuilding though once it became clear that the story was set on Earth because very little explanation was provided about the human world outside Trollus. We also don’t find out where Trollus is situated on Earth. Personally, if a fantasy involves creatures other than faeries, I prefer that it be set in a fictional world.

Another thing that wasn’t well explained was Tristan’s physical appearance. According to the novel, all the royal trolls are physically disfigured due to inbreeding. Yet the crown prince of the trolls is the most handsome “man” that Cecile has ever seen! I hope there’s a deeper reasoning behind the decision to not have Tristan suffering from disfiguration other than the fact that it’s easier for both Cecile and the reader to fall in love with a good-looking troll than an scary-looking one.

Speaking of Cecile, even though her situation seemed impossible, I liked that she continued trying to find ways out of Trollus … at least until she realized that she was in love with Tristan. I thought the transition from hate to love was a bit too sudden, and wasn’t very pleased that Cecile was the one who had to sacrifice everything – and was willing to do so – to live with Tristan (under a mountain!). 

Stolen Songbird will be released by Strange Chemistry on April 1, 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: I love the font, and think the cover does a good job of indicating that the novel is a fantasy. 

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

From Goodreads: When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs - however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

My Rating: 1.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: When I saw the synopsis for Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, I immediately wanted to get my hands on a copy of the book because I thought it sounded like a fun read, with a girl trying to right her mistakes and falling in love with her best friend. I wasn’t even close!

Instead, Side Effects May Vary features one of the meanest, bitchiest characters I’ve ever encountered! One character in the novel accurately describes Alice as “… hollow on the inside … Rotten too. (88% on my Kindle)” At no point in the book does it say that the chance for remission isn’t high, but Alice accepts the news that she has cancer like a death sentence and takes full advantage of it to do whatever the hell she wants. This makes it hard to sympathize with her, particularly since she shows little growth throughout the novel and continues to manipulate her best friend, Harvey, even after remission.

The alternating narrations are provided by Harvey, who I pitied. He’s very aware that Alice is using him, but still helps her with her revenge schemes because he loves her. Since I loathed Alice, I needed Harvey to explain how and why he has been in love with her for years. Unfortunately, a concrete explanation never materialized. Harvey does eventually stand up to Alice, but it takes way too long for him to develop a backbone!

A novel that ended very abruptly – I would have thought there were pages missing if I wasn’t reading it on my Kindle – and left me in an angry mood, Side Effects May Vary was released by Balzer + Bray on March 18, 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s simple but unique, and stands out easily. 

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. Raised among the Wardens - a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe - Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. Then she meets Roth - a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to - especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne ... it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Although the Covenant series ended on a disappointing note and I stopped the Lux series after the second book, I still wanted to give Jennifer L. Armentrout’s latest series a try. The first book in The Dark Elements series, White Hot Kiss, is much like Armentrout’s other novels: full of tropes but an entertaining read nevertheless if you don’t think about the book too hard. Once you get past the surface of White Hot Kiss though, it’s hard not to see its flaws.

First, I didn’t like that White Hot Kiss romanticizes stalking. I’m not sure why authors think stalking is okay if it’s done by a hot paranormal creature, but it’s something I absolutely hate. In White Hot Kiss, Roth clearly tells Layla that he has been following her for months, yet Layla overlooks that fact pretty fast.

Therein lies my problem with Layla: she attempts to stand up for herself but eventually gives in. Her decisions also made little sense to me, and seemed to revolve only around anger at Zayne for paying attention to another girl - who actually seemed to be quite nice - and discovering that she could finally kiss somebody. Who decides to trust a demon with unknown motives over the family that has raised them?! It didn’t help that Layla’s best friend’s sole purpose appeared to be to urge Layla to get laid, which I found super annoying.

Thankfully, there’s no love triangle in White Hot Kiss because Roth really is the only option for Layla. Not only does he have no soul and therefore can get physically close to her, but he also accepts her for who she is, unlike Zayne.  

A quick read that’s heavy on romance and not much else, White Hot Kiss was released by Harlequin Teen in February 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s hot, but that’s not a book I’d want to be seen reading in public ;) 

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer (and Giveaway)

From Inside Jacket: In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has. 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: After loving both Cinder and Scarlet, I couldn’t wait to see what Marissa Meyer had up her sleeve with Cress. Originally, I found Cress to be a bit slow, but eventually the plot picked up and I ended up drawn into the story.

Unlike Cinder and Scarlet who were strong heroines right off the bat, Cress starts off very much as a damsel in distress. Having been socially isolated for years, she also made me laugh at her naivete. I found it so cute how she built up this fantasy of Thorne in her head and decided she was in love with him even before meeting him.

I thought Thorne therefore was the perfect romantic interest for Cress because of how he complemented her. Whereas Cress is socially awkward, Thorne is charming and was able to deal with Cress’ crush without coming off like a jerk. In this manner, Meyer also successfully avoided a case of insta-love, which was awesome.

Of course, Cinder's and Scarlet’s storylines are marvelously interwoven; and it’s obvious that the world and characters that Meyer has created aren’t too big for her to handle. Aside from being reunited with everybody, readers will also meet the very intriguing Jacin and get a glimpse into the complex mind of Winter.

With the way things ended in Cress, Winter definitely tops my list of must-reads for 2015!

Cress was released by Feiwel & Friends in February 2014. 

Comments About the Cover: I love that the cover matches that of the other books in the series and clearly tells you that Cress is a retelling of Rapunzel.

Marissa makes an appearance
While I wasn't able to meet Marissa last year, I was lucky enough to meet her this year when she decided to come to Toronto in February as part of her Cress Tour. While waiting for Marissa to arrive at Chapters Yorkdale, I hung out with Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict and Shelly from Read. Sleep. Repeat. and got a chance to chat with Liz from Midnight Bloom Reads

Marissa talking about something
The event started at 7:00 PM, with Marissa talking about how she came up with the idea of Cinder and telling us the Grimm Brothers' version of Rapunzel. She then answered some questions - which I no longer remember, sorry! - and signed books.

Since I bought a paperback copy of Scarlet, I decided to get my ARC of it signed for a giveaway. So, if you're living in the US or Canada and are over the age of 13, feel free to enter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Dreams of Gods and Monsters

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: Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Date of Release: April 8, 2014

Goodreads Description: By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz. When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love. But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world. From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter? 

Why am I waiting? That summary! I was a bit late in reading this series as I couldn't believe that it would live up to the hype, but I was proved wrong. Days of Blood and Starlight was even better than Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I can't wait to see how Taylor will conclude this series. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook

From Back Cover: Avery and Nora bonded back in first grade when a school assignment revealed that the girls had something in common - they were both adopted. Years later, the two friends have drifted apart. Avery is at the top of the social ladder at school and Nora ... Nora's not even on the map.. Avery knows that Nora has problems, but she's got her own. She's trying to get into the Ivy League, and her long-term boyfriend wants to take "a break." Then Avery learns the devastating news that Nora's overdosed. Searching for her own birth mom might be a way to honour Nora and get into the college of her dreams all at the same time. Avery enlists the help of Nora's friend, Brody, and together the two embark on a quest to find her past. She hopes it will help her hang on to the world she's built, but it may result in losing everything. Avery just might discover that what she really needs goes deeper than genetics ... 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: In comparison to Eileen Cook’s previous books, I’d have to say that her latest novel, Year of Mistaken Discoveries, is probably the most serious in tone. The subdued humour wasn’t what I was expecting, but I appreciated that Cook decided to try something new.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get fully invested into the story because it involved more telling than showing. We also don’t get to know Nora very intimately, and so her death had little impact on me.

Furthermore, I couldn’t connect with Avery or Brody. In the case of Avery, I think this can partly be attributed to the fact that she herself doesn’t know who she is. Brody, on the other hand, seemed like a guy that I would easily like since he was sweet and honest … but, something just seemed to be missing to make him come alive off the pages.

I really liked the last few chapters of the novel however. Although Avery’s search for her birth mother progressed easily and in an unrealistic manner, the result of her search was unexpected and made her – and the reader – reflect on the definition of family.

Year of Mistaken Discoveries was released in February 2014 by Simon Pulse. 

Comments About the Cover: I don’t like that the cover emphasizes the romance between Avery and Brody because their romance actually doesn’t play a huge role in the book. Instead, the main themes in Year of Mistaken Discoveries are family and self-discovery. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free.
original image from

Friday, March 07, 2014

Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop

The Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop is being hosted by Valerie at Stuck in Books.

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

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Oh, and don't forget to check out the other blogs that are also participating!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Review: Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

From Goodreads: At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio. The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain? 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I normally tend to complain if a novel has too much drama, but in the case of Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin, I was mentally prepared for it. How could a book not be full of drama when the main character’s ex has written a song about her?! Sadly, Another Little Piece of My Heart didn’t live up to my expectations.

I think the lack of drama in Another Little Piece of My Heart can be attributed to the writing style, which forces the reader to spend large chunks of time in Claire’s head. As a result, you get a lot of Claire reminiscing about her past – and thereby, lots of telling rather than showing.

This wouldn’t have been such a big issue if I had liked Claire more. Unfortunately, I found Claire to be whiny, and disliked that she blamed others for making her miserable instead of reflecting on how she herself is partly to blame for her situation. For example, she spends quite a bit of time regretting her breakup with Jared and blames her parents for this decision. Sure, her parents may have disapproved of Jared, but it was her decision to ultimately break up with him!

I also didn’t understand why Claire was still pining over Jared after he wrote a song about her. I know that the two were attracted to each other because of their shared love of music; but besides that, I have no idea what other things they had in common. It would have been nice if their relationship had been more fleshed out so that I could see why no other guy was worth Claire’s time.  

A novel that had the potential to be entertaining, Another Little Piece of My Heart was released by Harlequin Teen in December 2013. 

Comments About the Cover: I like its simplicity.  

Note: I only found out that Another Little Piece of My Heart was a retelling of Persuasion after I finished it. If you’re looking for a great retelling of Persuasion, I’d recommend reading Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars instead. 

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