Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

From Back Cover: When his small mountainous country goes to war with the powerful nation of Attolia, Eugenides the thief is faced with his greatest challenge. He must steal a man, he must steal a queen, and he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph - as well as his greatest loss - can only come if he succeeds in capturing something the Queen of Attolia may have sacrificed long ago.

My Rating: 5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Before I begin my review, I going to warn you that I’ve tried to make it as vague as possible so that as few spoilers as possible from The Thief and The Queen of Attolia are revealed. 

The Queen of Attolia is the sequel to Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, and it’s every bit as good - if not better - as the first book of the The Queen's Thief series. Usually, I tend to find that sequels aren’t as good as the first book of a series but this wasn’t the case with The Queen of Attolia.

The Queen of Attolia starts off with Eugenides, the Thief, sneaking around Attolia’s castle and getting caught. As punishment, Attolia – the monarchs’ names are changed to that of their country once they inherit the throne – initially decides to have him hanged, but then at the suggestion of the Mede ambassador changes her mind and chooses to punish Eugenides in the way thieves traditionally used to be before sending him home. Consequently, the tone of The Queen of Attolia is darker than that of The Thief because Eugenides can no longer pretend that he’s invulnerable and must acknowledge his constraints.

In retaliation for the way Eugenides was treated, the caravans of Attolia are seized by Eugenides' monarch and so Attolia declares war. Pretty soon though, the three countries of Sounis, Eddis and Attolia are all embroiled whereas in the distance, the country of Mede patiently waits for Attolia to ask for aid so that the Medes can take it over and expand beyond their borders.

Told from the third person view of Eugenides, the Queens of Eddis and Attolia, and the ambassador of Mede, The Queen of Attolia shows off the delicate machinations that go into planning a war and attempting to win it. While readers may sometimes know more than the individual characters, Turner still manages to provide surprises throughout the novel, including an unforeseen but brilliant romance.

The Queen of Attolia was released in January 2006 by Greenwillow Books.
Comments About the Cover: I love the cover! I mean, how wickedly gorgeous and dangerous does the contraption held by the Queen of Attolia look; and doesn’t it just want to make you read the book?!

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.

XVI by Julia Karr

ARC of Cryer's Cross (courtesy of Jessica Secret from Shut Up! I'm Reading)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Where I Belong

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: Where I Belong
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Release: February 8, 2011

Goodreads Description: Corrinne Corcoran’s upscale Manhattan life is perfectly on track - until her father announces he’s been laid off and she’s shipped off to Broken Spoke, Texas, to live with her grandparents. All alone in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the glamorous life she’s supposed to be living. But as she grudgingly adjusts - making new friends and finding romance along the way - this city girl begins to realize that life without credit cards and shopping sprees may not be as bad as it seems ... In this sparkling debut that flawlessly balances romance and humor, readers will grow to love sharp and sassy Corrinne as she goes on her totally reluctant but completely irresistible journey of self-discovery.

Why am I waiting? The cover looks adorable, and the premise is a reminder that it wasn't so long ago that we had the recession. I'm interested in seeing how Corrinne adjusts to her new lifestyle; and hopefully she'll be able to learn that money isn't everything. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

From Inside Jacket: In a city as mean as this, even a big bad wolf should be afraid. And Henry Whelp is that Big Bad Wolf. Or will be, someday. His dad is doing time for the double murder of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, so everyone assumes crime is in Henry's blood. For years, he's kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves on the outskirts of Dust City - a gritty metropolis known for its black-market, mind-altering dust. And the entire population of foxes, ravens, and hominids are hooked. But it's not just any dust the creatures of this grim underground are slinging and sniffing. It's fairydust. When a murder at the Home forces Henry to escape, he begins to suspect his dad may have been framed. With a daring she-wolf named Fiona by his side, Henry travels into the dark alleyways and cavernous tunnels of Dust City. There, he'll come face to snout with legendary monster Skinner and his Water Nixie henchmen to discover what really happened to his father in the woods that infamous night ... and the shocking truth about fairydust.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: For fans of fairy tales, Dust City by Robert Paul Weston is a highly creative story that’s full of mystery and suspense. From the dream Henry has involving Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother to Henry finding out why the fairies abandoned them, the dark atmosphere suffused throughout the novel made Dust City an enjoyable read.
I also really liked how Weston made fairydust a drug that people crave because it can help you achieve your destiny. However, it became even more unique in his book because it had the potential to not only just have good effects but also bad ones. What happens when fairydust brings out your most animalistic instincts?

On the lighter side, it was fun seeing the many characters from fairy tales scattered throughout Dust City. Although Weston puts his own spin on them and provides them with their own narratives, they were still identifiable. The character based on Rumpelstiltskin gave me a little trouble but I finally realized it was him at the end and felt like an idiot. For some reason, I kept wondering if the story of King Midas was a fairytale.

The only problem I really had with Dust City was that it was hard at the beginning to imagine how Henry looked. I assumed he was a wolf on all fours until it was mentioned that another wolf at St. Remus was over six feet when he stood up. Luckily, Weston (through Henry) explains a little later on that evolution has caused the animalia to evolve bigger brains for speech and features like thumbs so that they resemble hominids in some ways. Nevertheless, the animalia also retain properties like feathers and fur.

Dust City was released in September 2010 by Razorbill.     

Comments About the Cover: If not for the wolf’s eyes and the fact that I knew Dust City had some fairy tale elements, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. However, the black used for the entire cover actually goes well with the story and makes the big white title really stand out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Demonglass, Desires of the Dead and Delirium

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.

This week I'm waiting for a couple of books from different series.

Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins 
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH
Date of Release: March 1, 2011

Goodreads Description: Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth. Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers. But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Why am I waiting? I loved Hex Hall and Hawkins' writing, which is why I can't wait to read more about Sophie's adventures as well as her relationship with Archer.  

Title: Desires of the Dead 
Author: Kimberly Derting 
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Date of Release: February 15, 2011 

Goodreads Description: When Violet Ambrose's morbid ability to sense the echoes of those who've been murdered leads her to the body of a young boy, she draws the attention of the FBI. She is reluctantly pulled into an investigation that will endanger more than just her secret ... but her relationship and possibly her life as well.

Why am I waiting? Besides the unique plot, Jay and Violet are a great couple so it'll be fun reading more about their relationship.  

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Release: February 1, 2011

Goodreads Description: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love - the deliria - blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Why am I waiting? Before I Fall was my favourite read of 2010 and with so many bloggers being delirious about Delirium, I'm really looking forward to reading it myself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Things I've Been Meaning to Post Up

Some time ago, I was given The Versatile Blogger Award by Danya from A Tapestry of Words: YA Reviews. Then, Carla from Library Mosaic and Lulu from The Book Worm is Here! both gave me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thanks for the awards guys and sorry for posting it up now (I did say I was a major procrastinator).

The award's rules are to:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason. 
  4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.
So, I'll be sharing seven things about myself, confession style:
  1. I'm a shortie at 5'1" as listed on my driver's license. The lady who wrote down my height was being a little generous since I'm actually closer to 5'. Although my height used to bother me, I've now learned to accept that I won't be growing any taller.
  2. Speaking of driver's license, I can't really drive. I just have my G1 - the license you get in Canada when you pass a written test that basically shows off your knowledge about driving rules and signs - and that will be expiring later this month. 
  3. I suppose it's a good thing that you won't be seeing me on the road anytime soon since I'm horrible with directions. Shh, but in times of stress, I even forget the difference between my left and right! This actually happened in one front of a regular customer and every time he shows up, I'm embarrassed to serve him.
  4. I'm terrified of pretty much all insects and spiders, and probably would be diagnosed with a phobia if I lived in an environment where I saw bugs on a regular basis. What this means is that my parents - my siblings just laugh - must kill any bugs that I see at home and my friends will do the same if I'm out with them. I have awesome friends :P
  5. I'm clumsy, which is probably why I disliked gym. Oh, and the two times I broke a bone ... yep, in gym class. Let's not talk about how I broke those bones, shall we? 
  6. I used to be scared of the dark when I was younger. So, I would cover myself completely with a blanket at night to prevent the monster under the bed from eating me and create little air holes to breathe out of.
  7. I'm usually oblivious to what's around me. Friends have been known to wave at me for awhile and my family doesn't really ask me to help find things.
Okay, I know some of the blogs that I'll pass the awards are award-free zones but I'll be choosing them anyway because I think they're awesome (and will be contacting those that do accept awards when I get the time and if I remember). These 15 bloggers are: 
  1. Small Review
  2. i swim for oceans
  3. Supernatural Snark
  4. Imagination in Focus
  5. Snuggle Up and Read
  6. Recovering Potter Addict
  7. Read Between the Lines
  8. Frazzled Book Nommer
  9. Rainy Day Reads
  10. Irresistible Reads
  11. Miss Page Turner's City of Books
  12. In the Closet with a Bibliophile
  13. Daisy Chain Book Reviews
  14. Confessions of a Book Addict 
  15. Books for Company

Also, I have a couple of winners to announce:
  • The winner of my $45 CSN Stores giveaway was #15 - Ashley. She has already responded and been sent her promo code. Congrats Ashley!
  • The winner of my Reading Resolutions Hop was #97 - Rose. She has asked to be sent Poison Study by Maria Snyder. Congrats Rose!
  • The winner of a copy of The Grimm Legacy is #51 - Brooke. Please reply back within 48 hours or a new winner will be picked.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    In My Mailbox (7)

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.

    Afterlight by Elle Jasper (courtesy of Chrizette from All the days of)

    Finding You by Kristen Kehoe (courtesy of Candace from Candace's Book Blog)

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

    Goodreads Summary: Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life - until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her. Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her - a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking. In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
    My Rating: 4 hearts

    Thoughts on the Novel: The last time I read a dystopian novel was back in sixth grade, and my only experience with the genre made me not like it (probably because I was forced to read the book and didn't bother to give it a fair chance). So, with the abundance of dystopian novels hitting the YA market, it was only a matter of time before I read another one. Little did I know that it would be Katie Kacvinsky's Awaken, a very good start towards building positive feelings for the genre.

    What I really liked about Awaken – barring flying cars or ones that can travel underwater – was that Kacvinsky’s vision of the future was pretty realistic. In 2060, most things can be done digitally and so there’s no need to go out for school, work, etc. We’re already starting to see the beginnings of these possibilities with online schools and social networking sites, and so it isn’t hard to imagine that face to face interactions could become rare in the future, especially if free online schooling becomes mandatory for students. I know most of the friends that I see on a regular basis are those that I’ve met through school.

    Maddie was a pretty good narrator as well and I liked that she was willing to question the way things were. However, for someone as smart as she was, I felt that she was way too trusting of Justin early on, particularly given who she is and her past. I mean, who is so eager to introduce you to their friends if they’re going to be leaving town soon?

    Speaking of Justin, I thought he was an interesting character but I didn’t really like him as a romantic interest because I felt that he was trying to get close to Maddie for her connections. Even later when I knew that Justin liked Maddie, I felt that his feelings for her were muddled up with the advantage Maddie presented to him and his side. Their relationship was a little frustrating to read with Maddie wanting Justin whereas he kept saying that he wasn’t good enough for her and his job would always come first to him.

    The other complaint I had reading Awaken was that there were a bunch of grammatical errors. It was an ARC though so those mistakes will obviously be fixed before publication.

    A solid debut by Kacvinsky, Awaken will be released on May 23, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

    Comments About the Cover: The cover is really creative and I like that the flowers are captured perfectly in a jar because the plants that Maddie sees daily are not real but synthetic. As well, the colours that are used give a nostalgic feel, which goes really well with the story of trying to elicit a change in society back towards the good old days of face to face communication.

    In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for free via NetGalley.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Waiting on Wednesday: The False Princess and Exposed

    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.

    This week I'm waiting for two debut novels. One will be released in January and the other is scheduled to have a February release.

    Title: The False Princess
    Author: Eilis O'Neal
    Publisher: EgmontUSA
    Date of Release: January 25, 2011

    Goodreads Description: Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia's led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when it's revealed, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city of Vivaskari, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known. Sinda is sent to live with her only surviving relative, an aunt who is a dyer in a distant village. She is a cold, scornful woman with little patience for her newfound niece, and Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. But when Sinda discovers that magic runs through her veins - long-suppressed, dangerous magic that she must learn to control - she realizes that she can never learn to be a simple village girl. Returning to Vivaskari for answers, Sinda finds her purpose as a wizard scribe, rediscovers the boy who saw her all along, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history, forever. A dazzling first novel, The False Princess is an engrossing fantasy full of mystery, action, and romance.

    Why am I waiting? Imagine being a princess and having your every whim catered to, and then finding out that you're actually not and being thrown out. As if that's not enough, then Sinda learns that she's capable serious of magic! Not only does that sound like a fun plot to me but I'm crossing my fingers that there's some revenge thrown in there for good measure. I'm so evil!

    Title: Exposed
    Author: Kimberly Marcus
    Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
    Date of Release: February 22, 2011

    Goodreads Description: Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is photogirl - sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime - and the accuser is Liz's own best friend. As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself, shifts out of focus. And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view. Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse,  Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.

    Why am I waiting? It sounds like a more darker read and so will be good for when I'm actually in the mood to think. I'm also looking forward to reading about Liz's reactions and the way her relationships will be affected since the accused is her brother and the accuser is her best friend. 

    Sunday, January 09, 2011

    In My Mailbox (6)

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.
    The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
    The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

    Saturday, January 08, 2011

    Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

    From Back Cover: In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen - terrified but intrigued - is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess. 

    My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

    Thoughts on the Novel: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb was recommended to me by Laura (not the author), and was very different from anything I’ve ever read.  

    It’s a love story involving two ghosts (referred to as the ‘Light’), Helen, a woman who has haunted five humans (referred to as the ‘Quick’), and James, a Light who has come to inhabit the body of a seventeen-year-old boy named Billy who overdosed and had his spirit leave his body. As the two struggle to be together despite the obstacles surrounding them, they also attempt to piece together their memories from before they were Light to determine why they are in limbo.

    On top of the unique plot, Whitcomb’s writing is very beautiful and haunting, and the romance between Helen and James is intense. However, I felt very removed from the characters themselves, which is probably why I didn’t read the book in one sitting. Also, even though I ended up liking A Certain Slant of Light, the writing style isn’t something I’d read on a usual basis (since it seems reminiscent of older times) and so I’d recommend this novel for more mature teens and adults. 

    A Certain Slant of Light was released by Graphia in September 2005.

    Comments About the Cover: I love the cover because it gives off a really eerie feel through the use of muted, somber colours and the way the girl is lying in the bathtub holding up her ghostly hands as if they don’t belong to her. 

    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    Waiting on Wednesday: The Iron Witch

    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: The Iron Witch
    Author: Karen Mahoney
    Publisher: Flux
    Date of Release: February 8, 2011

    Goodreads Description: Freak. That's what her classmates call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood. When she was seven, a horrific fey attack killed her father and drove her mother mad. Donna's own nearly fatal injuries from the assault were fixed by magic - the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms. The child of alchemists, Donna feels cursed by the magical heritage that destroyed her parents and any chance she had for a normal life. The only thing that keeps her sane and grounded is her relationship with her best friend, Navin Sharma. When the darkest outcasts of Faerie - the vicious wood elves - abduct Navin, Donna finally has to accept her role in the centuries old war between the humans and the fey. Assisted by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout with secrets of his own, Donna races to save her friend - even if it means betraying everything her parents and the alchemist community fought to the death to protect.

    Why am I waiting? Aside from the fact that the cover is gorgeous, the premise sounds unique, dark and just super interesting!

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Review: Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

    Goodreads Summary: Heroine, Bridget Duke, rules her high school, but when she crashes her car and ends up in limbo, she must confront the people she has wronged, all of whom want her to go to hell. The outcome of these meetings will decide her final destination.
    My Rating: 3.5 hearts

    Thoughts on the Novel: I decided to request Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison because it sounded very similar to Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, one of my favourite reads of 2010.

    Harbison’s novel begins with a prologue in which Bridget is speeding and crashes her car before taking the reader back a few weeks in time to reveal how she got into her current predicament. In the present moment then, Bridget ends up in limbo and has to walk in the shoes of some of her friends and stepmother to see the consequences of her thoughtless words and actions on them. Here Lies Bridget therefore does a good job of showing how a person’s deeds matter and the tremendous impact they can have on somebody else even without realization.

    What I didn’t like about the novel though was that the transformation of Bridget seemed a little too sudden. Right from the start, I disliked Bridget – I mean, she was speeding in the prologue and hoping to die just so everyone would be sorry! – and as the story progressed, I started to hate her. I kind of wished she would die because she was such a horribly mean character! So, when Bridget does feel remorseful after seeing the effects of her interactions on those she knows and is eager to fix her mistakes, I couldn’t fully believe that she wanted a second chance entirely because she was repentant and not also because she didn’t want to die.

    As well, the character of Anna confused me because initially I thought that she was a new student who Bridget feels is taking over her place at school. It doesn’t turn out to be as simple as that, and so I was left wondering who/what was Anna.      

    A novel with a nice lesson ultimately, Here Lies Bridget will be released by Harlequin Teen on February 1, 2011. 

    Comments About the Cover: Although the cover is cute, I feel that it has too much of a cheerful vibe; and if not for the tag saying “Bridget” on the toe, it could probably serve as a cover for a bunch of other novels.

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

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    Reading Resolutions Giveaway Hop

    The Reading Resolutions Giveaway Hop is being hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Pure Imagination and Reading Angel.

    For the hop, I'll be giving away any book of your choice worth up to $10 CDN from The Book Depository. Please read the rules before filling out the form. 

    1. This giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country. Click here to see the list of countries to which shipping is available. 
    2. You must be over the age of 13.  
    3. You do not have to be a follower to enter.
    4. This giveaway will end on January 9 at 11:59 PM EST. 

    Sunday, January 02, 2011

    In My Mailbox (5)

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme held by The Story Siren.
    The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
    Dust City by Robert Paul Weston
    The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell

    Saturday, January 01, 2011

    Holiday Break Reading Challenge: Goals for 2011

    Today's task of the Holiday Break Reading Challenge is to list our goals for 2011. I don't really make resolutions, but I like the idea of listing my goals for some reason even though I know that they're pretty much the same thing. The word "goals" just sounds so much nicer I suppose ... 

    Anyway, my goals for the year would be to:
    1. Read more. I'm a procrastinator and since my laptop is usually on when I'm studying, I tend to watch TV shows or surf the Internet when I'm bored or tired. If I spent some of that time reading instead, who knows how many more books I could finish.
    2. Comment more. There's a couple of blogs I usually check where I always try to leave a comment but then there are blogs that I regularly check where I don't leave comment. I'm hoping that will be changed this year. 
    3. Have more author interviews. I had one last year to get my feet wet, and would love to do more this year since I enjoyed the experience.