It was initially hard to get into Margaret Buffie’s Winter Shadows because each chapter alternates between Cass and Beatrice so it was a little jerky,...moreIt was initially hard to get into Margaret Buffie’s Winter Shadows because each chapter alternates between Cass and Beatrice so it was a little jerky, but it became a lot easier to read once both girls’ stories started to overlap a bit. I was also expecting that Cass would time travel, but she actually is only able to get glimpses of Beatrice and read her journal in real time, which I really liked because I believe that spirits can exist but time traveling … not so much.
Although Buffie does a really good job developing both Cass and Beatrice, I found Beatrice’s character more captivating because I’ve never read a book where the protagonist was Métis (a mixture of First Nations and European descent). Having always loved studying Canadian history, it was interesting to read a bit about some of the prejudice the Métis would have experienced by the full-blooded Europeans. Beatrice even used Cree words, which made her story more authentic!
Winter Shadows was received for free through Goodreads First Reads.(less)
Owning a copy of Mary E. Pearson’s Scribbler of Dreams and having really enjoyed it, I decided to check out The Adoration of Jenna Fox from my local l...moreOwning a copy of Mary E. Pearson’s Scribbler of Dreams and having really enjoyed it, I decided to check out The Adoration of Jenna Fox from my local library. I don’t generally read sci-fi – Scott Westerfeld’s work is an exception – but this book just blew me away.
Set in a future that sounds highly plausible given current medical research and technological advances, the story is written brilliantly with early chapters being short and having a confused undertone and later chapters becoming longer as Jenna begins to recover more of her memories. Two things that made Pearson’s writing even better though was the use of definitions of words that Jenna looks up and applies to herself and the questions Jenna poses to herself. The former lets the reader gain a deeper appreciation of certain words while the latter raises ethical issues that will linger with the reader.
Pearson also does an exceptional job with the creation of her characters. Jenna’s character slowly develops from an isolated and bewildered girl to one who is able to be assertive and create her own identity. The reader also learns about Jenna’s life before the accident as the “new” Jenna watches video clips of herself and so is able to empathize with Jenna’s parents’ actions. The other secondary characters like Lily, Jenna’s grandmother, and Jenna’s friends, Allys and Ethan, are also well-developed so that the reader understands their actions and motivations. (less)
I was so excited to get Kiersten White's Paranormalcy because I had such high expectations for it and am so glad to say it lived up to its hype.
Evie...moreI was so excited to get Kiersten White's Paranormalcy because I had such high expectations for it and am so glad to say it lived up to its hype.
Evie was such an adorable character and I instantly fell in love with her! Not only were her love for all things pink, her tendency to say “bleep” instead of swear and her desire to simply be normal endearing traits, but she was also smart, witty and could kick paranormal butt. If only she was someone I actually meet …
White’s other characters were engaging as well and I cannot wait to find out more about them – and what will happen to Evie of course – in Supernaturally, the sequel to Paranormalcy. For now though, Paranormalcy will have to suffice.
Fast-paced and with her own unique twist on the paranormal world, White’s writing completely engrossed me as I tried to find out more about the prophecy surrounding Evie and rooted for the budding romance between Evie and Lend. (less)
Though Janette Rallison’s My Double Life has a serious message or two in it, it was mostly a light and breezy novel that will keep readers hooked beca...moreThough Janette Rallison’s My Double Life has a serious message or two in it, it was mostly a light and breezy novel that will keep readers hooked because pretending to be someone else is just a disaster waiting to occur. Throw in some humorous scenes and a happy ending and Rallison leaves the reader with a pretty satisfied feeling.
The characters were the greatest strength of the book. Alexia is a likeable character that readers can easily relate to. Her yearning to know her father so that she could finally feel complete, her confused feelings about how she would tell her father who she was and how she should feel about him, her worry over whether Grant would like her for herself and her desire to help Kari were all portrayed genuinely.
The evolution of Kari and Grant were also well done and shows that there is always more to people than meets the eyes. While Kari initially appears to simply be a dumb blonde, spending some time with her allows Alexia to learn that unscripted situations with tons of cameras cause Kari to freeze up and make stupid comments. In the meantime, Alexia’s initial attraction to Grant seems more based on his physical looks. Later on however, she realizes that aside from being handsome and rich, Grant is also an unpretentious, funny and amazing guy. (less)
Right from the start, Shadow Hills is attention-grabbing. It begins with a dream sequence that immediately has the reader on edge and manages to keep...moreRight from the start, Shadow Hills is attention-grabbing. It begins with a dream sequence that immediately has the reader on edge and manages to keep being suspenseful right up until the end of the novel.
Each of the characters that Hopcus has created is unique and multidimensional, and I liked that even the bad guys may not seem so “bad” once the reader understands their motivations. It takes skill to create well-rounded characters and Hopcus does this impeccably.
It was also fascinating to read about the secrets of the inhabitants of Shadow Hills and to discover that they came with a cost – a thing most people don’t think about when wishing they too had a similar secret.
An intense debut novel with a mixture of romance, supernatural, science and mythology, Shadow Hills will have readers asking for a sequel!(less)
A couple of weeks ago when I was browsing through the shelves of my local library, I came upon Justina Chen Headley’s novels Nothing but the Truth (an...moreA couple of weeks ago when I was browsing through the shelves of my local library, I came upon Justina Chen Headley’s novels Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) and Girl Overboard. Since I’d read North of Beautiful about a year ago and had liked it, I decided to check out both books. Though I haven’t read Girl Overboard yet, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) was a great book and I think it’s even better than North of Beautiful.
As someone who is bi-racial, Headley’s Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) really resonated with me because I can completely empathize with Patty. While I’ve been lucky to have never had to deal with racism like Patty, I do remember how it feels to not belong and hide your background to fit in better.
Patty was such a funny protagonist and the Truth Theorems and essays written by her that Headley incorporated into the novel were a very creative touch. I loved reading about Patty’s transformation from someone who was ashamed of her Asian heritage to one who embraces it! (less)
Set in a vivid and well-developed dystopian world, Elana Johnson’s Possession is a great debut with a huge dose of action along with romance and some...moreSet in a vivid and well-developed dystopian world, Elana Johnson’s Possession is a great debut with a huge dose of action along with romance and some paranormal elements, involving a satisfying cast of characters.
The protagonist is Violet (aka Vi), a smart and snarky character who you can’t help but fall in love with. She continually questions things and refuses to be told what to do. Vi’s love for breaking rules has led her to being convicted several times – seven, to be exact. When Vi is arrested for being out with Zenn, her match, and meets Jag, the bad boy with wicked hair, in prison, you just know there’s going to be a love triangle. It’s hard to pick a side for this love triangle though because Johnson has made both Jag and Zenn complex characters. They each have their secrets and just when you start rooting for one, you find out something that will change your mind and have you cheering for the other.
Despite liking the romance between Jag and Vi, I found that it developed a little too quickly; especially considering how much Vi cared for Zenn. However, Jag and Vi were sharing the same prison cell so I suppose living in close quarters is a reasonable explanation for the swift romance.
I also found that the plot was a little too fast-paced. In Possession, Jag and Vi always seemed to be on the run and in danger of being captured, leaving little time for the reader to process what was happening with them and to figure out which of the people they meet they should trust.
The ending though was incredible and made up for the frenetic pace of the novel. There’s no blatant cliffhanger but it does leave things open-ended, which means I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel.(less)
As much as I love books about angels, most of the ones that I’ve read haven’t been particularly outstanding. But, one series about angels that has bee...moreAs much as I love books about angels, most of the ones that I’ve read haven’t been particularly outstanding. But, one series about angels that has been recommended many times is the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand. I finally decided to give the first book, Unearthly, a try and wasn't disappointed.
Early on, I figured that Unearthly would be another typical paranormal YA novel because it seemed like Clara would eventually hook up with Christian, the boy of her dreams. However, Hand did a great job of deviating from that norm. And while doing so, she managed to create complex characters and realistic relationships, and explore the theme of fate vs. free will without making it appear heavy-handed. (less)
Out of all the novels I’ve read by Justina Chen Headley, Girl Overboard is by far my favourite. Headley always does a superb job with character develo...moreOut of all the novels I’ve read by Justina Chen Headley, Girl Overboard is by far my favourite. Headley always does a superb job with character development and Syrah’s evolution was no different. Initially, Syrah wants to just be seen as “Syrah” and not “Syrah Cheng” but by the end of the novel, Syrah has learned to embrace her last name and everything associated with being a Cheng while still being true to her own dreams.
Relationships were such a crucial element in Girl Overboard and this book had it all: a new friendship, an old friendship deteriorating but then being renewed, growing closer to family members, and maintaining the status quo. Each of them were portrayed so realistically and affected Syrah in their own way, which made the novel very emotional for me especially at the end. In fact, I did get teary!
The one complaint I have against Girl Overboard was that there was such a big mystery at the beginning of the book about the circumstances around Syrah’s snowboarding accident and the truth was a little anticlimactic. Still, the novel is amazing and has some wonderful messages that can be gleaned from it.(less)
It’s been a long time – probably a decade at least – since I read a mystery because the last ones I seem to remember reading are those from the Nancy...moreIt’s been a long time – probably a decade at least – since I read a mystery because the last ones I seem to remember reading are those from the Nancy Drew series. So, it’s a good thing that sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker’s debut, The Liar Society, reminded me how entertaining sleuthing with a fictional character can be rather than turning out to be a disappointment.
The Roeckers’ writing was so much fun to read even when events in The Liar Society took a darker turn. Much like Kate, I didn’t trust anybody and was as confused as her by the mystery behind Grace’s death. The Roeckers even had me wondering if Grace’s ghost would suddenly show up! Luckily, there is a reasonable explanation for Grace’s emails and the book never delved into the paranormal realm.
Kate was a wonderful main character who was spunky and smart. She knew when she needed backup and wasn't above accepting help. Seth, Kate’s neighbour, however was my favourite character because of his conspiracy theories, huge crush on Kate, and general nerdiness. In real life, I’d probably find Seth annoying; but in The Liar Society, I just wanted him to be Kate’s shadow so I could laugh at their interactions.
For those looking for a break from reading paranormal/dystopian/whatever your preferred genre, The Liar Society is a good choice as a book to pick up. Be warned though, while the mystery of how Grace died is wrapped up, the ending opens up a new can of worms that will leave you wanting the sequel.(less)
One of my favourite YA contemporary authors is Elizabeth Scott. So when I heard that her new novel Between Here and Forever was available on Galley Gr...moreOne of my favourite YA contemporary authors is Elizabeth Scott. So when I heard that her new novel Between Here and Forever was available on Galley Grab, I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, Between Here and Forever didn’t captivate me as much as some of Scott’s other books like Stealing Heaven or Perfect You because I didn’t really like the main character of Abby.
Scott made Abby a girl with self-esteem issues – a problem that anybody can relate to. But, Abby got annoying after awhile since a large portion of the book is spent reading about her bemoan how much she’s a nobody or hates her sister, Tess, for being so perfect. On top of that, Abby kept misinterpreting compliments; and when it’s blatantly obvious that Eli likes her, Abby repeatedly tells him to wait until Tess wakes up because then he’ll fall in love with her like everyone else.
Despite getting fed up of Abby, I found Between Here and Forever to be a fast read that tackled themes like appearance vs. reality, sexuality and racism very well. Scott’s portrayal of OCD as a disorder was also very realistic because it lets the reader grasp just how much severe OCD can affect daily living. (less)
Tightly plotted to slowly ratchet up the tension, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is a story set in an isolated town with secrets, where children gr...moreTightly plotted to slowly ratchet up the tension, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab is a story set in an isolated town with secrets, where children grow up with each other and strangers are unwelcome, and where each night a child is strangely disappearing after being tucked into bed.
Schwab’s writing is lyrical and was my favourite aspect of the book. With her words, the town of Near and the surrounding moor come alive and you can picture the hills bathed in moonlight, the grass gently blowing, and the wind whispering its enchanting song.
Schwab’s characters also come to life with her writing in spite of the fact that most of them aren’t described much physically. Cute, little Wren; strong and independent Lexi with her fierce determination to find the children of Near and keep her sister safe; mysterious Cole; and the wise, old Thorne sisters were all just so vivid in my mind’s eye.
The only thing I didn’t like about The Near Witch was the romance. It wasn’t a huge focus of the book, but it seemed to come out of the blue and felt unbelievable to me.