Developing the story where Shatter Me left off, but in the POV of Warner – Juliette’s captor. Now THIS is how you do a character development story. Mafi continues with her eloquent style of writing, with flowing words and phrases without it being contrived. She completely steps into the shoes of Warner and allows us all to get another look at this apparent villain. So much angst and anguish. This story did to me with Warner what the “Confidence Man” episode of Lost did to me for Sawyer: highlighted the soft side of a bad boy. <3(less)
Little is known about the mindset of Lena’s best friend Hana. Bring in Oliver’s 5-chapter installment of the Delirium tale, from the viewpoint of a supporting character. While it’s been a while since I read the two books in this series, this was a nice refresher to the world where people were afraid of contracting the “love disease”. I love this series & the main characters, but maybe there’s a reason Hana wasn’t in the front & centre. It was interesting to read her story, but I found myself not really caring too much about what she was going through.(less)
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's p...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's pregnant with a married man's baby. The affair with her professor/thesis advisor is made more dire when a string of bizarre attacks start happening worldwide. The strange disease seems to be affecting women with blonde hair and turns them into vicious killers. Hazel must struggle to find her way home to Toronto and wrestle with the dilemma of whether to tell the father about her pregnancy.
After having just finished reading James Patterson's Zoo where animals go crazy and attack everyone, I don't know if I was prepared to read a book where blonde women go crazy and attack everyone. Even from the book jacket premise, I wasn't sure what to expect withThe Blondes and Schultz's novel proved to be a mix of heartfelt emotion, traumatic experiences and edge-of-your-seat paranoia. I hadn't realized when I started it that the novel was set in New York City and Toronto, which was a pleasant surprise.
Told in the voice of Hazel speaking to her unborn child, the narrative jumps frequently between the present, recent past and even further past. This was a nice way to break up the story and keep the pace going & discovery of facts timed right but I found it a bit jarring at times, to figure out what point Hazel's life this particular moment was at and how it related to everything else in that moment. I also felt that what Hazel was saying didn't always seem particularly appropriate to be telling her child, unborn or not. Perhaps Hazel doesn't find it bizarre telling her baby about the details of her and the father's relations but I found it a bit disturbing and inappropriate.
While I felt the ending left things a bit unresolved, I enjoyed the overall journey of getting there. Schultz establishes some great characters with very real and believable personalities given the scenarios and circumstances they find themselves in. I also loved that Hazel's thesis and major was on aesthetics, and the idea of aesthetics become such a big factor in the story - the paranoia, judgement and treatment of those with a certain look about them.(less)
Christine suffers from a rare form of amnesia after an accident from many years ago. E...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Christine suffers from a rare form of amnesia after an accident from many years ago. Each day, she wakes up with no memory whatsoever of the days gone by. Each day, her identity and her past experiences are a mystery to her and each day her husband reminds her of what her life is like with painstaking repetition. As she undergoes treatments with a doctor, Christine begins to wonder if her loving husband is telling her the full story.
Reminiscent of the 2000 movie Memento, Christine’s life is pieced back together before our eyes. Mostly told through her own journal entries, we learn about her past at the same time she is. I was very curious as to how this whole book would play out. Would it be repetitive, having to re-live each day with the main character? No, not at all. Watson is extremely good, and careful, about not reiterating too much of the same thing.
The growing sense of urgency that is established also played really well into the narrative. We needed to find out what happened to her, we had to find out what these other characters’ motivations were. Seeing the world through an amnesiac’s eyes, is not only frustrating but also eye-opening. Even without the catalyst of an accident or traumatic event, many families that have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s go through a similarly repetitive motion, potentially many times a day. Getting a real sense of Christine’s confusion with each day that she wakes up not knowing who or where she is, it’s a horrifying thought to imagine someone going through.
Never knowing quite who to trust, Before I Go To Sleep leads the readers on a page-turning mystery that will leave you racing to find out what happens. What I initially thought was a regular drama, this book ended up being one of suspense and mystery. I had already heard many great things about it, but it still surpassed my expectations. Fantastic read.(less)
To her best friend at school, Karou is just a regular gir...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
To her best friend at school, Karou is just a regular girl with blue hair, fills her sketchbook with amazingly imaginative drawings and often disappears on mysterious errands with no notice. What Zuzana doesn’t realize is just how different Karou’s life really is. When Karou is sent to Marrakesh on one of her errands, she finds herself in the middle of some commotion that breaks out and comes face to face with Akiva, a stranger with a fiery intense stare. The chaos in the market is part of a larger war among worlds that is about to begin, and Karou finds herself caught up in the middle of this battle and slowly realizing that her closest ally is also one she has been brought up not to trust.
What a beautifully written book. Taylor’s style is so poetic and descriptive, elegant and eloquent. The depictions of all the characters and the setting of Prague makes you feel like you were walking the streets with Karou. However, it might have been too descriptively written for me – so much so that it distracted me from focusing on the story itself. I felt myself lost in all the beautiful language and imagery to really follow the plot at times.
A story about angels & demons, Daughter of Smoke & Bone has a nice twist, allowing those lines to be blurred of who or what is considered good or evil. The story has a very old-world feel to it and I often found that it was actually set in an older time until mentions of technology brings me back to the present day. Approximately the last 1/4 of the book feels like a completely different novel. Understandably, this portion is to tie up and explain a lot of what was going on but it felt so disconnected from the rest of the book that you almost forget what had happened before.
That being said, I do acknowledge and appreciate the imaginative story and wonderful narrative that Taylor has created. Of all the beautiful things written in these pages, one particular quote stood out to me. It is such a profound line that really made me stop & reflect on the truth of that for so many people.
“You really think joy is easier to come by than pain? What have you had more of?”
For me, this book was a 3-star up until the latter part of the book where things were coming together, bumping it up half a mark. I like a good, interesting reveal.
Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. Ever since his father died on the job, he has taken on t...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. Ever since his father died on the job, he has taken on the role of “killing” ghosts that won’t, or can’t, move on. After getting rid of a ghostly hitchhiker, Cas and his mother pack up and move to Thunder Bay, a city in northern Ontario, to chase a lead that Cas received. The lead was to hunt down Anna Korlov, a young girl who was killed on her way to a dance and now spends her afterlife decimating, without a trace, anyone who steps into her former home.
The whole time leading up to reading Anna Dressed in Blood I had thought the main character was a female. I’m not even exactly sure why I had that impression, but I was definitely surprised that “Cas” is a guy. The dynamic that Blake has established between Cas and his witchy mother is great. The narrative shows their unconventional lifestyle in a unique way and I loved that. It’s not often that there are many YA books that have a mother/son dynamic as loving and understanding as this. I suppose with the manner that Cas’ father had died, they would have to have an open mind about this sort of paranormal thing. Foregoing the familial factor, I also enjoyed that the main character was a male, written by a female. Of the YA books that I've read, it was often starring female leads and many male characters were written by male authors.
Blake is also exceptional at painting a fantastically horrific picture of what is going on. It’s easy to fall into clichés with ghost stories and her imaginative descriptions are not only frightening but, at times, absolutely grotesque. While some characters definitely have the potential to be further developed, the ones she did explore are quite well established. As the reader, you get a sense of who Cas is and what his motivations are.
While there is a touch of romance, it’s not necessarily the main focus of the book. It is the ghost stories that drive this tale, and Anna Dressed in Blood is a good ol' fashioned scary story - and I absolutely love that.(less)
A sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein spends his privileged life being home-school...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost...
A sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein spends his privileged life being home-schooled with his twin brother Konrad and cousin Elizabeth. Often accompanied by their family friend Henry, the foursome spend their days playing and exploring around the Frankenstein estate when not learning from their father. When Konrad suddenly falls seriously ill, the remaining three companions stumble upon an old library full of strange languages and recipes. They are convinced that if they manage to figure out how to concoct the Elixir of Life, it will save their friend. The trio must race against time and danger to gather the only 3 ingredients required, before it's too late for Konrad.
This book has so much of what I love that I'm kicking myself for how long it took me to get to it. A touch of alchemy with a dash of action and adventure, this book was reminiscent of
if Harry & the gang were a rebellious trouble-making bunch. (Well, I guess that can be debatable...) There were so many moments in This Dark Endeavour that brought back great memories of the J.K. Rowling series, from the 2-guys, 1 girl dynamic to the strange creatures and alchemy "magic" that are encountered. There is that same sense of peril & mystery-solving in a more-than-meets-the-eye kind of world.
The depiction of the brother dynamic was also really well executed. The love/hate relationship that Victor and Konrad have with each other feels so real. Whether it's competing with one another to intense jealousy to unrequited brotherly love, anyone with a sibling, let alone a twin, can attest to having at least some of those emotions about each other at some point. I felt this sibling love/rivalry that Oppel described was so well played where siblings can be angry and fight about anything but as soon as something jeopardizes that, blood always comes first. Another major topic of This Dark Endeavour was the debate between science vs faith, which I likened to the long-running theme on
. With Victor's desire to find a solution rooted in alchemy to cure his brother, Elizabeth was equally as passionate in praying for Konrad's health at mass. Oppel lays out both arguments in a fair manner, not necessarily leaning towards one way or the other which allows the reader to take from it what they will. Rather than make a potentially controversial declaration that one was more correct than the other, Oppel shows the highs and lows of both sides.
Once again, drawing from another literary source comparison, I loved that this was a backstory to a pre-existing, well-known tale. I thought of Gregory Maguire's
, where everyone thinks they know the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, but Maguire illustrates so much more depth and history to Elphaba. Oppel achieves the same effect with this book, giving new life and backstory to the man who eventually creates Frankenstein's monster. A fantastic beginning to an edge-of-your-seat series that will leave readers gasping with shock and crying out in surprise. (less)
Mara wakes up in the hospital after an accident that kills her friends. She has no mem...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Mara wakes up in the hospital after an accident that kills her friends. She has no memory of the incident and in fact, isn’t even sure of what her real name is. When her family relocates to Florida to get away from the tragedy, she tries to fit in at the private school that her and her brother are enrolled in while dealing with the flashbacks and nightmares. Attributing them to PTSD, Mara is reluctant to take meds or go through therapy until her hallucinations keep coming more and more frequently. What she uncovers about herself and her involvement with the accident leaves Mara and her new love interest stunned.
To be honest, I didn’t know too much of what the book was about. The book jacket synopsis is mysteriously vague and the gorgeous cover gives the impression of something to do with water. I don’t often like going into a book with no idea of what was going on but it worked out well in this case. I liked the mystery aspect to the plot and the uncertainty of what happened with her friends coupled with her eerie hallucinations kept me hooked. I’m conflicted on my thoughts of Noah, the love interest. While I am often partial to the bad boys, a lot of his actions seemed so contradictory & over-the-top to his bad boy label that I found myself rolling my eyes at times. The extravagance of his gestures sometimes seemed a bit contrived and I found the tour of his house a bit “Edward Cullen-esque” in its opulence. That being said, Noah is quite the charming character and, cheesy or not, he’s an interesting one to keep your eye on.
While I did really enjoy the story, one brief detail stuck out at me right from the first page that I couldn’t shake the whole way through. (view spoiler)[The book begins with a “handwritten” letter from Mara Dyer indicating that her lawyer asked her to pick a name since she couldn’t remember anything. So it’s established before the story even begins that Mara Dyer is not her real name. But right from the first chapter where she’s playing with a Ouija board pre-accident with her friends, there is so much emphasis on the fact that Mara is her name. I kept waiting for something to tie in that first handwritten page with the rest of the story since there was SO much attention to her name, whether it was how people pronounced it or how her parents were Mr. & Mrs. Dyer. I kept hanging onto that the entire way, wondering how that was going to loop back around with the way the story was going. (hide spoiler)]
Setting that aside, however, I thoroughly devoured this book. I couldn’t put it down and needed to keep reading until I found out what was going on. Sometimes, you just have eto suspend your disbelief and enjoy an entertainingly creepy read. One good thing about waiting so long to get to this one is that I don’t have that long to wait for the sequel!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
America, in the distant future. The world that once was has been decimated by the plague. Orph...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
America, in the distant future. The world that once was has been decimated by the plague. Orphans were enrolled into schools and on the eve (hah.) of Eve's graduation from an all-girl's school, she discovers the actual horrifying fate of the new graduates. She escapes and her life is forever altered, now a disillusioned girl on the run. Eve and another student who managed to escape set out to Califia, a far-off distant land that they know to be a safe haven. Along the way, they meet Caleb, a boy living in the wild with other males. Eve wants to trust him but her brainwashed upbringing, that all men are evil, keep nagging at her. When the King's troops start hunting for them, Eve must make some tough decisions in order to survive.
Perhaps I wasn't in the mood for another "mysterious school withholding information from the students" type of book - and granted, that premise isn't the main plot of the book - but Eve took me a little while to get into. I liked that Carey kept the King in the City of Sand and the reason why Eve was being hunted a mystery. It made me want to keep reading, to find out what the "meaning of life" was to them. I also enjoyed the subtleties that Carey brought to this dystopian narrative. Eve scrounges for food and tosses aside a $100 bill, showing the lack of relevance for money in a world that knows no paper currency.
Nothing about the title character made her particularly likable to me though. She's sheltered, confused and selfish - made all the more evident in a pivotal scene of the book. However, it was that selfish moment that finally got me on board with the story. That climactic scene propels the otherwise stagnating narrative to an emotionally gut-wrenching ending that sets it up for the sequel. The finale of this book isn't necessarily a cliffhanger, as I could see it as a standalone in a way, but it opens up the possibilities of more story development. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out more about the mysterious City of Sand and its leader.(less)
Jacob has grown up with his grandfather Abe’s outlandish stories and had become more a...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Jacob has grown up with his grandfather Abe’s outlandish stories and had become more and more skeptical as he got older. When Abe dies in a bizarre circumstance, Jacob tries to piece together his grandfather’s life and have some closure with the traumatic event by travelling to the island that Abe had grown up on.
The most striking thing about this book is that the story is written from actual bizarre black & white photographs. The origins and circumstances behind these pictures may be known or not, but Riggs has concocted an amazingly fluid narrative that ties these together. It was amazing to think that these photos actually already existed and weren’t taken for the purposes of the book.
I actually had no idea what to expect with this book prior to picking it up. The cover looked creepy, and I was intrigued. The story that develops between the covers is so well thought out and so much more than just a collection of “bizarre photos”. I felt it a bit reminiscent of Big Fish, where one may think another’s stories have been so embellished through the years that the truth of it has been lost. That journey to find the origin of those outlandish stories is what Miss Peregrine’s reminded me of.
The cast of personalities that Riggs has created are so vivacious and full of character that they really fit with the images. You felt like you were actually seeing photos of the people he was describing. While the plot does take an unexpected turn, a twist that’s even stranger than the photos, it does leave it open for a future installment, which is tentatively slated for June 2013.(less)
Benson Fisher has gone through the foster system all his life, ha...moreThis, and other reviews, can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Benson Fisher has gone through the foster system all his life, hating every moment of it. So when the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy came up, Benson jumped at the chance to better his life. However, from the moment that Benson steps into the school grounds, he notices that things aren’t quite normal. There are cameras everywhere watching their every move, and no adults in sight. The students are split up into gangs who govern each other. Benson realizes that he is now trapped in this bizarre academy and struggles to understand why nobody else finds this situation strange. When people start going missing, Benson’s plans to escape are forced to come to fruition quickly.
OMGWTF is basically my reaction to this book. The reader sees the school through the eyes of Benson and we discover the outrageous circumstances at the same time he does. Which is why I had no idea what was going on most of the time – and it was fantastic. I often fall into the habit of over-thinking a plot with what hints the author may be leaving behind but that is not the case with Variant. Going into this book, I knew nothing about it other than it seemed like a Lord of the Flies-esque story, where it’s a society made up of all young people. I had no idea of what was going on with this bizarre school and what, if any, twist it would take. And I’m glad for it. Therefore, I won’t/can’t say much more in this review for fear of giving anything away! While the tagline says to “trust no one”, trust me on this – the less you know, the better the payoff will be!(less)
Fifteen year old Katelyn is found dead in the bathtub on Christma...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Fifteen year old Katelyn is found dead in the bathtub on Christmas evening, a still-plugged-in espresso machine lying in the water with her. The circumstances surrounding her death are up for speculation, whether it was an accident, a suicide or a homicide. Hayley and Taylor, twins that possess a psychic ability of sorts, feel strongly that their old friend didn’t kill herself and set about trying to solve this mystery.
I often give many books a chance and I wanted to like this one so much. I love a good creepy mystery with a paranormal twist, even with the true crime factor to it as well, but this one just fell flat. The characters were not very well developed and there seemed to be so much detail on irrelevant things, like tangents that went into so much detail about how one guy loved his wife’s planked salmon. All the people in the town of Port Gamble felt like caricatures, painting the teenagers in such a superficial and frivolous way.
Like Kevin Ryan, the twins’ father in the story, Olsen is also a true crime writer and father of twins. Perhaps he was pulling from his own experiences in writing Envy (a true-crime writer, writing about a true-crime writer, writing about true crime!) I haven’t read Olsen’s other novels, but this being his first YA novel, I hate to say that it really shows. At first, I commended him on the specific detail and brand name references that he worked into the story as if to entice the younger generation, but what lost me was the attempt at teen text speak. The texting seemed so excessively truncated for the sake of making it look like how teenagers would text.
MIGHT NOT ACT BUT I AM. DON’T DO WELL. MAKS MY IZ PUFF ^ N L%K EVN SMALR THN THYRE.
Actual quote. One of many similarly written “texts” which were painful to decipher.
The twin psychicness was bizarrely established and really vague in how it played out. Without giving anything away, the whole resolution of all the loose ends seemed unexplained and quickly brushed under the rug. Oh, that’s a problem? Nope, not anymore. (view spoiler)[I mean, even the whole espresso machine in the bath tub was glossed over. No reason WHY there would be coffee machine in the bathroom to begin with, but you're just expected to believe it and she grabbed for her towel and yanked it down into the tub with her?! Oh. Okay. (hide spoiler)]
While the main plot was “pulled from the headlines” of an actual story, the main redeeming quality that kept me reading was solving the mystery more than the paranormal factor. I liked that Olsen tackled the very timely topic of cyber-bullying and how twisted and cowardly that can be. I commend him for showing the outcomes of what those actions could lead to but I definitely felt that this could have been an even better book without the paranormal twist, focusing just on the cyber-bullying.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off....moreThis, and other reviews, can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5 stars)
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off. The old Lena is long gone and the new Lena struggles with the loss of everything she had ever known, left behind in her past life. As the new girl among a group of so-called "invalids", Lena has to adjust to this new life in the Wilds as part of the resistance. Told in alternating chapters between then and now, glimpses of Lena's adjustment to her new life are mixed in with the current situation she is faced with as the timelines piece closer and closer together.
Can I take back the 5-star rating I gave Delirium and apply it to Pandemonium instead? Because honestly, I thought I loved Delirium... but I loved Pandemonium so much more, if that's even possible! Where Delirium sets up the story, with it's build-up of the disease known as love, Pandemonium quite literally lives up to it's name. It is a darker, action-packed story right from the get-go and keeps you stringing along with both then & now storylines.
Where the first installment is set in Portland, Maine - a "safe" suburban city, reflective of the name Delirium, Pandemonium was mostly set in New York City. I really enjoyed the imagery between the "concrete jungle" with Lena's time in the Wilds. The grittier story filled with mystery, espionage and full-on fight scenes make for an exciting read that I couldn't put down. While I had a feeling where the story was heading, it still kept me on the edge of my seat on how it would get there. Oliver is a great storyteller, pacing out the narrative in a fantastic way, planting plot points and red herrings at certain innocuous moments only to bring it up again later when you may have forgotten about it.
I feel like I have so much more to say about it, but can't find the words to express those thoughts - especially not without giving anything away! Therefore, I shall leave it at this: READ NOW. Pandemonium = Phenomenal. (less)
This, an interview & giveaway and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Violet thought the biggest problems facing her as she turn...moreThis, an interview & giveaway and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Violet thought the biggest problems facing her as she turns 17 was the constant reminder that it was the anniversary of her mom's death, and whether there was anything going on between her & her friend Lincoln. Little did she know that what was waiting for her was the discovery that there were angels of different rankings all around her, ready to wage a war on each other. She finds herself caught between the light & dark, trying to figure out the good & evil as she struggles with whether or not to accept her destiny.
Embrace starts off like a contemporary YA story before spinning into quite a complex web of angel hierarchy. To be honest, some of the intricacies lost me along the way throughout the middle portion of the book, even though I could absolutely appreciate the in depth details that Shirvington worked into this world she has created. Don't let the beautiful cover fool you into thinking it's just another angelic love story either, there's a substantial amount of action-packed fighting in these pages which breaks up the love triangle storyline - and in some cases, adds to it - quite nicely. While it is paranormal in that it deals with angels, there were moments of the book that were definitely easier to suspend my disbelief than others. Personally, I think I can get on board with the angels and all the otherworldly aspects but once it gets spiritual, it loses me.
Overall though, it's a fantastic set-up to the next few books. The writing & research into the hierarchy is greatly detailed and the steamy love triangle definitely will have fans starting up teams for their favourite guy. Looking forward to seeing what the next installment will reveal!
A re-imagining of the famous fairy tale, Cindertakes place in New Beijing - where it...moreThis and my other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
A re-imagining of the famous fairy tale, Cinder takes place in New Beijing - where it's been over a century since World War 4 and humans & androids coexist precariously in a land where a plague runs rampant. Cinder, the best cyborg mechanic there is, is blamed by her stepmother for her stepsister's illness. Shunned by those around her, Cinder happens on a chance encounter with the handsome Prince Kai who becomes enamoured with her. Conflicted with her own feelings and finding herself tangled up in a larger political plot, she must figure out her role in all of this before it is too late.
I have been waiting to read this highly-anticipated novel by Marissa Meyer for the last few months. The cover alone drew me in, but the premise of the story equally caught my interest. What an imaginative undertaking, to make an iconic of a character as Cinderella be a cyborg. I enjoyed that the setting was not a commonly used one such as United States or England (even though the one mention of Canada uses "hesitant" in the sentence ;)), but I felt the Asian cultural aspect of New Beijing could have been more fully utilized.
Meyer's writing of her characters is descriptive, with a lot of detail and attention paid to their mannerisms and facial expressions. I couldn't quite get on board with Prince Kai's constant sarcasm though. It felt out of place to me, and didn't match the overall environment of the story. I loved this futuristic twist on a familiar tale, with enough variations on a classic to keep you guessing. Even though I saw some plot points from quite early on, it's the journey to get to that moment that kept me reading. The first in a 4-book series, Cinder has definitely piqued my interest to keep me wanting more. I'd be curious to see if the subsequent installments are still focusing on the Cinderella story, or whether other fairy tales make their appearances too.
Set in the late 1800s in Russia, The Gathering Stormfollows...moreThis and other reviews can be found on my blog, Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Set in the late 1800s in Russia, The Gathering Storm follows Katerina Alexandrovna, a young duchess surrounded by royalty and luxurious balls while trying to hide a secret she has - that she can raise the dead. When she's forced to use her power to save another royal, it catches the attention of many. Katerina finds herself conflicted with what she wants and what is best for her family. Opposing families are vying for Katerina's necromancy powers for their own agendas and she must figure out which side is the one she can trust.
The premise is an interesting one, with the history and detail seemingly well-researched. (I say seemingly, only because I personally don't know enough about that time period to say it was or wasn't) The flow of the narrative is a fairly easy one to follow and moves along quite nicely. The one thing I found a bit confusing was keeping track of who was who. Bridges has a preface in the beginning explaining how people are named at this time, etc. but all the names/nicknames/titles being used was a bit hard to follow.
I liked that Katerina is a strong female character. Even when she's the subject of male attention or facing interference from her elders, she still holds firm to her ambitions to become a doctor. I loved the mix of historical fiction with a bit of paranormal twist to it. However, the cover doesn't do the book justice. Judging by the cover (and I know you shouldn't do that, but we all do), I had quite a different idea on what the book was like. Pleasantly surprised though.
The first in a trilogy, The Gathering Storm is filled with action and intrigue. A great set-up to the next two installments.
Amidst the chaos and ruins of the city around her, Araby...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Amidst the chaos and ruins of the city around her, Araby lives a relatively privileged life being the daughter of the scientist who saved humanity. Her father invented the masks that everyone must wear to protect themselves from the disease; at least, everyone who can afford one. Surrounding herself with glittering nights at the Debauchery Club with her best friend April, she immerses herself in this night club designed to help those lose themselves for a night and give in to temporary oblivion. That is, until she attracts the attention of two – very different – guys, both with their own agendas that they want Araby a part of.
I was not familiar with the short story by Edgar Allan Poe of the same name, but you don’t need to be to fully enjoy this story that Griffin has told. She has used Poe’s work as inspiration to concoct a full-length novel that tells the other side of the story. Where Poe’s story features Prince Prospero, Griffin’s shares the other point of view, from his “subjects” and the commoners.
The dystopian world and all-consuming fear of a disease in Masque of the Red Death reminded me at times of Lauren Oliver’s Delirium. The narrative captured the widespread panic, chaos and suspicion among a decimated community trying to live their lives as best they can, given their circumstances. While there are two guys vying for the attention of Araby, their distinctive qualities and personalities is sure to divide the readers on who is better for Araby. The dilemma Araby faces, of whether she should follow a life of being successful in love or in wealth while trying to stay alive makes for a compelling tale of survival, romance and intrigue.
With captivating characters, Griffin paints a vivid picture of a city in ruins, with paranoia running as rampant as the disease that they’re afraid of catching. With all the buzz surrounding this book prior to its release, I’m so pleased to have it meet my expectations for a phenomenal read. (less)
Being the new girl in school is tough enough as it is, but whe...moreThis and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ (2.5/5 stars)
Being the new girl in school is tough enough as it is, but when the only reason why you're there is because the previous new girl disappeared, it makes the situation all that more awkward. The missing girl, Becca Normandy, seemed to be quite the popoular, in-demand girl. Her disappearance affected everyone at the school, especially the new girl's roommate, Dana. Constantly being compared to Becca, the new girl faces constant accusations from her peers that she was trying to replace a girl she never knew. Alternating between the POV of Becca and the new girl, the story unfolds simultaneously a year apart as the reader learns more about what lead to Becca's disappearance.
The idea of the story was interesting. I love a good mystery, and being set at a boarding school can always be a good time. (Plus, as the new girl mentions, she equated it with the idea of Hogwarts!) The alternating viewpoints of each chapter was also a good storytelling method. Without it being too repetitive and sounding rehashed, you would get the story from the new girl, and then from Becca at that same time of year (but from the previous year, pre-disappearance).
However, that was about as captivated as I got with the book. Most of the characters were extremely superficial and, perhaps intentionally, often really irritating. I absolutely detested Becca, and honestly couldn't feel any empathy towards her - or, really, any - of the characters. The "mystery" of her disappearance (whether she's alive/dead/run away/etc) is eluded to all throughout the book, from cover to cover. Whether I'm suspending my disbelief about where the beer suddenly comes from for all their parties, the stereotypical behaviour of guys & girls (ie. that lateness is a "flaw in most girls") or the convenient wrap-up ending, I did appreciate one of the most poignant, most mature moments in the whole book when, near the end, new girl is reflecting on life & death. (less)
This, a mini interview with Megan Crewe, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
What begins as a little itch here, a nagging cough t...moreThis, a mini interview with Megan Crewe, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
What begins as a little itch here, a nagging cough there turns into the biggest outbreak a small Canadian East Coast island has ever seen. Kaelyn and her family moved back to their hometown island after a brief stint in Toronto only to find that things have changed since their absence. When the townspeople start falling ill and dying, the government impose a quarantine on the island forcing those that are ill and those that are surviving to continue existing together. It's survival of the fittest, where everyone's fight or flight instincts are put to the test in hopes they can last long enough for a cure to be found.
Wow. I picked this up the day before Megan Crewe's book launch in Toronto, and started reading it on the subway ride there. I almost wish it took longer to get there because I didn't want to stop reading it. This novel captivates you right from the get-go. I enjoy a good story about ghosts or monsters, but what makes The Way We Fall absolutely terrifying is the fact that it's about a very real and plausible enemy: a biological virus outbreak.
Written in the style of journal entries from Kaelyn to a former friend, the narrative style suits the storytelling nicely. As the reader, you feel like you've stumbled across a girl's diary of unsent letters documenting the outbreak on the island. Broken into three parts (Symptoms / Quarantine / Mortality), the chapters and pacing of the story flow seamlessly from one moment to the next.
The true nature of people faced with that dire and seemingly-helpless situation is explored in all aspects, from those that have survivor's guilt to those wanting to help to those who take advantage of the situation and wreak havoc. It's not only the disease that seems to be infectious, but the paranoia among everyone that catches just as quickly.
The Way We Fall encapsulates so many things that I enjoy in a book: mystery, thriller, great character dynamics and set in Canada (partially in Toronto, no less!) What's not to love?
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helping...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Superhero Girl can leap tall buildings (up to eleven storeys) while saving kittens and helping the elderly. Without the mask and cape, she's an ordinary Canadian girl who lives in the shadow of her superior superhero brother and tries to deal with an annoying nemesis all the while managing day-to-day life of having to do laundry and pay the rent.
I absolutely adored this graphic novel. Like, full-on LOVED this collection of comic strips by Faith Erin Hicks. Being a fan of comic books, graphic novels and comic strips, this collection pokes fun at many aspects of the superhero genre. In a similar fashion as Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant!, Adventures of Superhero Girl has an ongoing story as well as random interjecting comic strip "interludes".
The drawings are cartoon-like and very much the style of other Faith Erin Hicks works, with enough detail and realism mixed with the absolutely strange & bizarre scenarios. I wish there was more to say about this besides my raving but this is a definite must-read if you're a fan of graphic novels, superheroes and comic strips. Even if you just love a good laugh-out-loud read - this is the one to pick up.(less)
Set in Old Havana,The Beggar's Opera follows several main characters as they race again...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Set in Old Havana, The Beggar's Opera follows several main characters as they race against time to solve a brutal assault & murder of a young boy. It's Christmas morning when the boy is found in the water, and Inspector Ramirez is heading up the investigation. Ramirez races against the clock to secure an indictment, all while he believes himself to be suffering from the same disease that his grandmother had - seeing the ghosts of unsolved crimes.
What a whirlwind of a crime novel! I was immediately caught up in the story from the beginning, with Blair's depictions of the Havana city and way of life absolutely engaging. The writing is full of detail and research, but not over-done as to make the reader feel lost or overwhelmed with law jargon or Cuban slang. The descriptions of Havana hotspots and landmarks paint a vivid picture of the setting to this mystery.
One thing that I picked up on throughout the book, which really had no relevance to the story, was the constant mention of things being Chinese. Chinese tape recorders, Chinese table tennis, Chinese bicycles... I didn't understand why, and it really started to bug me. I think I ended up noting at least 6 instances of this, thinking that China was somehow going to make its way into this story about Canada/Cuba but to no avail. [Edit: Peggy explained that it was interesting to see how reliant Cuba was on China for so many things because of the embargo. However, maybe a small precursor would be helpful for those who don't know much about Cuba or the embargo. Learn something new every day! :)]
That factor aside, I loved Blair's storytelling and story-weaving in this debut novel. The Beggar's Opera keeps you wondering and guessing right to the end with the twists and revelations. As it's narrated by the several main characters, you get to learn new evidence and information as they learn it. The pacing is fantastic and all the breadcrumb clues that are laid out in strategic detail along the way make for a satisfying payoff.
Ellen’s third book catches readers up on what’s been going on in...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Ellen’s third book catches readers up on what’s been going on in her life since her previous book, The Funny Thing Is…, was out eight years ago. From her life being married to Portia de Rossi to quitting American Idol, Seriously… I’m Kidding is filled with stories, quips and random silliness that lets you experience what it would be like to hang out with this hilarious talk show host.
That being said, it feels more like what it would be like to hang out with a talk show host who is always “on”. I’m sure she’s not always like that, but this book feels like a stream of consciousness at times. It’s exactly how she might come across on TV with the random comments and sidebar tangents, which get a bit old eventually. It’s quite an appropriate title because she meshes serious moments with jokes that sometimes you’re not quite sure what’s real or what’s part of the gag.
Understanding that this is a book filed in the “humour” category, I actually wished there was more of a heartfelt genuine moment with the star. Everyone sees the zany side of her that’s on TV but I wish she would follow through with some of the sincere moments more. There were quite a few points in the book where she touched on some important observations and ideas, but they’re all played off with jokes that it loses the message.
Overall, I did enjoy the read but I found myself eventually sighing at every nonsensical “randomness for the sake of randomness” moment.(less)
The adult life of Alice in Wonderland is explored in this twisted gr...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ☆ (2.5/5 stars)
The adult life of Alice in Wonderland is explored in this twisted graphic novel series from Zenescope. The story and characters we are all familiar with are given a dark and grown-up makeover where the frightening Jabberwocky has held Alice hostage. Her escape and plot to get rid of the monster is the driving force of this story.
I love a good re-imagining, with the graphic novel series Fables being one of my favourites. I’m by no means prudish when it comes to comic book art as I know that’s fairly standard to sexualize the female characters but boy was I not expecting the extent of it in this. The image on the cover is probably the tamest outfit that Alice wears (which she actually doesn’t even wear throughout the whole book). So many times I felt awkward about anyone seeing me read this with page after page of extremely scantily-clad women. (Oh the ridiculousness of the reasoning – or lack thereof – for these barely-there outfits)
The story itself is a decent one, even if it was slightly confusing with the “younger Alice” being sent back while Alice proper is left in Wonderland to grow older (and apparently have her clothes shrink as she’s growing older). The Jabberwocky and Cheshire Cat are especially frightening in their portrayal with the disturbing Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts holding their own as well.
Truth be told, the art is very beautifully done. The play on the orientation of the layout and spacing of the boxes at certain points are very clever, working along with the story. While some of the speech bubbles from the Queens were a bit hard to read (white on black, white on red), I’m not sure if that can solely be attributed to my e-copy and perhaps the print version is not as hard on the eyes.
Overall? Decent story but the whole thing left me feeling dirty.(less)
Dash is wandering the shelves at the famous Strand bookstore in New York City when he comes ac...moreThis, and other reviews, can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Dash is wandering the shelves at the famous Strand bookstore in New York City when he comes across a mysterious red notebook. The notebook has a set of clues that lead him on a scavenger hunt throughout the store. Thus begins a fun game among two teenagers – strangers to each other yet sharing more personal thoughts than they had ever shared before to anyone else. A kinship develops as they get to know each other through their notebook messages left throughout the city for the other to find.
I absolutely love New York and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is an ode to this bustling city filled with both popular and lesser-known sites. Told in alternating points of view, starting with the days leading up to Christmas, the reader is taken on a tour of the city through the eyes of these two new friends. I did find the narrative to be a bit juvenile at times, so it was all the more startling when the f-bomb got dropped in a couple instances. Also, another slight tidbit I found a bit odd was the mention of Boxing Day. Considering the number of times I have been asked by my American friends what Boxing Day was, I was surprised to see one of the characters mention it – let alone wanting to celebrate it!
Setting that aside however, this book was quite the entertaining read. Taking place in the span of 10 days leading up to New Year’s, it’s the perfect quick read for the holiday season!(less)
Madeleine is a mute, having never been able to speak. She i...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Madeleine is a mute, having never been able to speak. She is hidden away by her family, strapped to her bed in the night to prevent her from wandering off as she follows the voice she constantly hears in her head calling for her. When her brother banishes her out of the house, she wanders the woods before encountering mysterious and somewhat intimidating company.
I enjoyed that the premise of Titan Magic was really unique. Lamm has fleshed out the origin and history of her characters quite well, creating a realistic world of fantastical elements. She has developed a world of titans and golems, filled with a rich back story with intrigue and ulterior motives.
That being said, I had a challenging time trying to picture what each of the characters looked like. I felt that sometimes the physical descriptions didn't match their mannerisms or behaviour, which made it a bit difficult to buy the idea that so-and-so was doing this or saying that. In particular, I found many of the male characters in Titan Magic to be on the creepy side. With the comments and actions made towards Madeleine, regardless of their age or relationship to the girl, the dynamic left me feeling a bit uncomfortable for her. Another pivotal moment in the book felt a bit left askew where - without giving away major spoilers - Madeleine is to summon for help with the next time she "says" a certain person's name, however his name comes up several times without anything happening, as if the story's forgotten that important plot point.
It's been a while since I've read a full-on fantasy-genre book, often favouring ones that are a blend of realism with fantasy/paranormal elements. Despite my previously mentioned challenges, I did really enjoy the story. The characters will keep you guessing till the end as to their motives in this well-paced novel by Lamm. (less)
The Friday Society follows the lives of three clever & capabl...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
The Friday Society follows the lives of three clever & capable women, all three assistants to powerful men in turn of the century London. Cora, a lab assistant to an inventor often found in opium labs, Nellie, a magician’s assistant to the highly-acclaimed Great Raheem, and Michiko, a Japanese fight assistant whose employer can’t understand much of what she’s saying to him. When people are mysteriously killed, the girls take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of it. An unlikely trio who become fast friends, they use their individual skills to work together to solve something the police don’t seem too interested in, before it’s too late.
This was my first steampunk novel, and it was definitely a fun read! I loved the theme of feminism throughout the whole story especially set in olde-tyme England. Perhaps because of the overwhelming sense of girl power, it allowed the readers to really assess the male characters and their motives. I kept suspecting the wrong people, or felt like I was wrong to be trusting others. Told through alternating POVs between the three girls, Kress does a good job of keeping the story moving while still giving adequate time to each girl’s story. I especially loved the tenth chapter, where it was broken out by quarters (10¼, 10½ & 10¾) , indicating it’s still the same scene – but different POVs.
While I found Nellie to be a bit too airheady and Michiko’s disjointed conversations with the other two girls to be a bit tiresome after a while, I definitely loved Cora’s personality and character the most. She was tough, smart and earned the respect of powerful men by seeing her as an equal. I also loved The Great Raheem, who is such a great supporting character in this book. He exhibited the kind of reverence and respect while not being patronizing towards his young assistant and her new friends. I find that it can be a fine line between being a father figure and sounding condescending and Kress writes this dynamic well.
The Friday Society is a great steampunk mystery with a Charlie’s Angels kind of vibe. A very fun & entertaining read!(less)
When Hadley misses her plane by 4 minutes, she’s forced...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
When Hadley misses her plane by 4 minutes, she’s forced to spend her time waiting in a crowded airport for the next available flight. As luck (or fate) would have it, she befriends Oliver, a charming British boy who is on the same flight that she ends up getting on. They immediately hit it off but end up losing track of each other when they land. Hadley is preoccupied with thoughts of the boy while trying to come to terms with being in her father’s second wedding.
What a delightfully cute story. The whole story takes place in the span of 24 hours, each chapter being a time-check on the day. Both Hadley and Oliver were completely likeable, and I found myself constantly rooting for them to meet up again. The humour and banter between the two characters immediately show the chemistry that Smith has so brilliantly conveyed. There’s just one moment in the story that I don’t believe gets explained at the end, which left me wondering what was actually being discussed. Otherwise, my only gripe is that the book was too short! At 236 pages, it went by way too quickly. An easy & captivating read, the speed at which I read this book almost felt like getting caught up in the whirlwind of Hadley and Oliver’s busy day.
Some people say delays happen for a reason, and Statistical Probability is a perfect illustration of that mantra. It’s definitely one of the better contemporary romances in a story that I’ve read, being a lot more believable than most. It’s quirky and cute, while staying away from the uber cheesy factor of it all. (less)
Brittany Ellis and Alex Fuentes are from two completely different worlds. She’s a blon...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a lil' lost
Brittany Ellis and Alex Fuentes are from two completely different worlds. She’s a blonde cheerleader with the seemingly perfect life and he’s a bad boy who’s part of a Latino gang. They’re the most unlikely of pairs but when they’re forced to be lab partners in their chemistry class, the sparks start flying – whether they want to admit it or not.
In a way, the story of Brittany and Alex and their forbidden love is not a new one. There have been countless stories told where two people who hate each other yet find their undeniable attraction hard to ignore. What makes this book different is Elkeles’ style in her storytelling. Switching back and forth between the POV of Alex and Brittany, she manages to keep the narrative moving while telling both sides of the story. She successfully captures two very distinct voices in Alex & Brittany, bringing the reader into the facade of a perfect life with Brittany’s family and the constant terror of walking in Alex’s shoes. The constant use of Mexican slang really drove home the difference between these two worlds, and to really set the environments apart from chapter to chapter.
What set this book apart for me was that I genuinely had no idea how the story was going to end. Often with romance stories, you can see where it’s headed and can figure out the ending, but with hiccups and plot points along the way, it kept me speculating on whether there actually would be a happy ending or not. Without letting on which ending I was hoping for, I admittedly did give a big ol’ eye roll to the epilogue. I understood the point of it, but to me it painted an otherwise gritty romance with a taste of cheese.(less)
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and g...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and guidance in which they must lead their lives; of honesty, intelligence, bravery, selflessness and peacefulness. These factions were set up to maintain order and upon turning 16, an aptitude test is administered to the young people in the society to determine where they belong in society. Beatrice Prior has never felt like she belonged in the faction that she was raised in, and after the results of her test are announced, she discovers the reason why – she might not belong to any one group alone. Once Beatrice makes her choice, she must live up to the expectations and live with the decisions she has made while realizing that the harmonious society that she’s grown to know isn’t all that it seems.
Like with another highly recommended book, I can’t believe it took me this long to get to Divergent – what a phenomenal read. Roth is well-versed in the world that she’s created and satisfyingly sets up the first in a trilogy. There were times that I felt it reminded me of a mix of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Not in the story context (and I’m by no means directly comparing these three books), but certain elements of it – such as being divided up into factions (“Houses”) that are so distinctive, the “new kids in school” feel to groups of characters, or the intense training that the new initiates go through, definitely gave a familiar nostalgic feel to the previously aforementioned books. While it did take me a little bit to grasp & remember which faction meant what virtue, Roth does a subtle but steady reminder of what is what to help the readers be completely immersed in her story.
I also loved that Beatrice is such a strong character in the book. Her personality and relationships with those around her drive the story of the book as much as the plot itself. She’s a regular teenage girl with complicated and confusing feelings to her family and friends, especially under such stressful situations.
Overall a fantastically captivating read. At just under 500 pages, I was surprised how quickly I flew through this. Thank goodness I don’t have to wait for the next book to come out! If you haven’t read Divergent yet, what are you waiting for? Don’t make the same mistake I made by waiting so long to get to it!
Kitty Tylney and Catherine Howard have grown up in the...moreThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
Kitty Tylney and Catherine Howard have grown up in the household of the Duchess of Norfolk, surrounding themselves with games, mischief and boys. When Catherine captures the attention of King Henry VIII, their girlish dreams of going to court are realized. Among the glitz and glamour of court life, Kitty soon realizes that she may be in over her head with the secrets, scandals and lies that are around every corner. Her feelings and loyalty are conflicted, forcing Kitty to put herself before her best friend for once.
I love historical fiction, especially surrounding the reign of King Henry VIII. Perhaps it’s the familiar names and characters that are prevalent throughout these types of books, across different authors penning them. Gilt was the first YA historical fiction in this time period I had read and I absolutely loved it. It worked so well with the setting that many of us know so well from TV shows like The Tudors to movies/books like The Other Boleyn Girl.
Longshore is exceptional at painting a picture of the dark & light sides of courtly life; from the opulence to the backstabbing. And the characters – oh the characters. They were so vivid and had so much personality that it stirred up a lot of emotions within me. Catherine was so ridiculously outrageous and selfish that I often wanted to toss the book at her. How Kitty could have been friends with that girl is beyond me. And Kitty… young, impressionable Kitty with her flirtations of such bad timing with William, were just gut-wrenching to witness. Those swoon-worthy scenes also made me want to throw the book at the two of them to get their act together already and stop fooling themselves!
Overall a really enjoyable & fantastic read. I would have wanted a bit more resolution to certain storylines and perhaps that might be in the cards for future installments, although the second book in The Royal Circle series, Tarnish, will focus on Anne Boleyn instead. Highly recommend for those that love a good romance, a bit of debauchery and the court of Henry VIII.(less)