Monday, June 20, 2016

Mini Reviews: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

From Goodreads: In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point - he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With a clever thief who has a knack for getting in trouble as its narrator, it’s hard not to see the similarities between Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Sage and Gen from Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief. Nielsen is no Turner however; and where Gen is subtle, Sage’s hints are blindingly obvious when read from adult eyes. Moreover, The False Prince’s plot is a little far-fetched. As a book in its own right that’s intended for middle graders though – unlike The Thief – The False Prince is a pretty enjoyable read and will especially appeal to boys. 

The False Prince was released by Scholastic in April 2012. 

From Goodreads: Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged. In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings - Peculiars - and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them. One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley - Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed. First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish ... and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann is a book that I’d describe as well, peculiar. It was written by Bachmann when he was in his teens, yet reads likes it’s been written by a more experienced author. It’s classified as a MG novel, yet has an adult as one of its two main characters and features steampunk and politics, topics most middle graders aren’t really interested in. Personally, I felt emotionally disconnected from the characters; and while the worldbuilding was imaginative, I would have liked it to be better explained.

The Peculiar was released in September 2012 by Greenwillow Books.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mini Reviews: Wanderlost by Jen Malone and Soldier by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads: Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe. Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story. But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is - she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I haven’t had the opportunity to travel much so I love it when books incorporate traveling abroad. It’s too bad then that Jen Malone’s Wanderlost didn’t do such a great job of making me feel as if I was in Europe since it involved more telling than showing. Also, the chance for Aubree to go on a trip to Europe began with the laughable premise of her perfect older sister being arrested for literally no reason. If you’re in the mood to read something that will make you want to book a trip ASAP, I’d recommend Kirsten Hubbard’s Wanderlove instead.

Wanderlost was released in May 2016 by HarperTeen. 

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

From Goodreads: When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side. As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Considering that the series feature dragons, the books in Julie Kagawa’s Talon series have yet to wow me – and Soldier was no exception. Yes, it advanced the overarching plot and confirmed my suspicions about Ember and Dante’s heritage, but it still focused a little too much on the love triangle for my liking. As well, the reveal about Garret’s family felt very rushed. With two more books planned for this series, I don’t think I’m going to continue on with it. 

Talon was released by Harlequin Teen in April 2016.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

From Back Cover: When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks). But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing - if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that? 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Morgan Matson’s novels always have a nice blend of family, friendship, and romance, which is why I enjoy them. However, her latest book, The Unexpected Everything, was my least favourite of her novels.

Since my thoughts for The Unexpected Everything were kind of all over the place, I figured the best way to review this book would be to write a pros and cons list.

  • Despite the fact that she didn’t make the best decisions, I still found Andie to be a likeable character. 
  • Clark was an adorable love interest. 
  • I loved seeing the change in Andie’s relationship with her father. I would have liked The Unexpected Everything to have spent a little more time exploring that relationship in greater detail and a little less time on the drama between Andie’s friends. 
  • At just over 500 pages, I think this book was a little too long. Had it been shorter, the plot wouldn’t have dragged at times. 
  • I found the character of Topher – and by extension, Andie’s relationship with him – to be totally unnecessary.
  • Although I understood how important Andie’s friends were to her, I still didn’t care about the drama between Bri and Toby.
The Unexpected Everything was released by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in May 2016. 

Comments About the Cover: It makes the book look like a great beach read, which I could easily imagine The Unexpected Everything being.  

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