Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *84*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles # 3.5
Expected Publication: January 27 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
I've ALWAYS been fascinated with the story of how notorious villains become...well, so notorious and villainous. So I guess it should come as no surprise that I am super pumped to read all about the evil Queen Levana's story!  Are we going to get glimpses into her childhood?  Will there be a single defining moment that turns her from regular girl to pure evil, or a combination of things?  What does she REALLY look like under that glamour?  These are all questions I hope Fairest will answer. And I can't wait to see how everything unfolds!

Are you looking forward to Fairest?
Let me know when you link me up to your WoW post below :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

ARC Review: The Young World

The Young World by Chris Weitz
The Young World trilogy #1
Expected Publication: July 29th 2014 by Little Brown Books

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
*An ARC was provided by Little Brown Books in exchange for an honest review.*

The Young World was all the buzz at BEA this year - everywhere you went there were ads for it, even in the bathrooms! For real though, see for yourselves. Since it's been awhile since I read a really good dystopian, naturally I got really excited about getting my hands on it, and I've been eagerly awaiting cracking this baby open since then.  Sadly, this one didn't end up living up to it's own hype...not for me, at least.

The Young World started out with loads of potential.  There's this virus that annihilated most of the world's population; the adults and the young kids are all gone.  Only teenagers remain but when they turn into adults (around 18 years old or such) they start to get sick, and soon die.  For some reason, the hormones that teens produce made them immune to the sickness, but the second their body stops producing said hormones - a.k.a. when they become adults, they're out of luck.  No adults means that all types of media and technology went down with them, seeing as there are none of them left to run things.  And considering that all the teens have a pretty short life-expectancy; well things have turned bleak pretty quick. You don't fear dying or killing when you know you have little to no time left.

Set in New York City, The Young World focusses on a tribe of teens, led by Jefferson, which is one of the story's narrators.  Jefferson and his friends have made a more or less peaceful existence for themselves in Washington Square. They haven't taken to killing for no reason, the girls living with them are treated as equals, not play-things and they try to keep the peace whenever possible.  The story is told in alternating point of views, switching every chapter from Jefferson to Donna, the main female of the tribe whom Jefferson also happens to have a crush on.  While I had no issues with Jefferson's voice, Donna was something else. In an attempt to make these characters sound like true teenagers, author Chris Weitz (Director of New Moon and The Golden Compass to name a few) gave Donna major teen-speak.  She spoke every sentence like she was asking a question, even when she was stating a fact - like she wasn't even sure herself of whatever the hell she was saying.  And then she inserted 'like' into almost every sentence she spoke OR thought. At first, I figured I would get used to it, but to be honest I never did.  Her chapters annoyed me on a constant basis and I found myself wishing that Jefferson would be the only MC. I mean, it's not like Donna's chapters added that much extra insight anyways.

So this crew has carved out a semi-peaceful existence amidst chaos, until they find a clue that might just lead them to an eventual cure to this sickness and save humanity.  Then they set off on a quest all over New York, where they face one crisis after another. When they first set off, I was all for it.  I loved the idea of exploring New York City, especially now that I've actually been there a few times.  It was fun reading about familiar streets and places and actually recognizing them.  Without getting into any spoilers, the stuff Jefferson and his tribe faced seemed to get more and more ridiculous as the story progressed.  It's like they randomly found themselves in these far-fetched situations just for the sake of adding action to the plot. And to me, questing out in a hellish war zone set in NYC should have been exciting without even trying. Instead it just felt like Weitz was trying too hard.  Not many of these trials felt like they added anything to the story, instead it was like they were filling up time till we got to the ending.

When we were privy to useful information, about the virus or how it all started, it was mostly in the form of info-dumps.  And when combined with the random action sequences, lackluster romance and characters that ranged from average to worse, The Young World simply did not cut it for me.  I had high hopes for a nice, quality dystopian to suck me in and never let go but this just didn't measure up.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #52

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

  Best 'Ron' Moment

Ahhh Ron Weasley, it seems to me like the poor guy is so underrated! I think it's because people tend to remember his moments of weakness, when he puts his own issues ahead of his friendship with Harry - and his loyalty to the cause.  I've always thought that having been compared to all his older brothers and his gifted little sister would have been awfully tough on the guy.  Being a part of a big family sometimes means slipping through the cracks for some kids and clearly Ron had a hard time differentiating himself from the pack.  It makes me sad though that people forget all the brave moments Ron's had throughout the series, so I've taken it upon myself to highlight some:

That epic chess game

Setting out with the twins to rescue Harry from Privet Dr

Facing a debilitating phobia by 'following the spiders'

Willingly entering the Chamber of Secrets (twice!)

And my favorite:
Saving a drowning Harry, facing what was in the Horcrux and destroying it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *83*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Reckoners #2
Expected Publication: January 6th 2015 by Delacorte Press

They told David it was impossible--that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.
It seems like it's been far too long since I featured a Brandon Sanderson book as my WoW pick.  Clearly, I'm dying to get my hands on Firefight and see how David and the rest of the crew will attempt to take down more Epics.  Learning about these super-heroes and their skill sets was beyond fascinating in Steelheart, and I can only assume things will get a lot more epic as the series progresses ;-)

Who else is excited for Firefight? Let me know!
Don't forget to link me up to your WoW ♥

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Harry Potter Month (4)

Harry Potter Month is a blogger event put together by Faith over at Student Spyglass for the month of
July. For more information visit this link.

Hi all!  Today's addition to Harry Potter Month is all about chatting with you all about my Favorite characters from the series. Obviously, there are A LOT of characters to choose from - is there any aspect of this story that doesn't shine through as being beyond brilliant?  I think not. Anyways, I tried to narrow it down as best I could to the bare necessities. Everyone ready? Here we go:

Harry himself of course, but I won't go into all the details in this post, I'll save that for my upcoming post on the boy himself ;-) Suffice it to say he's THE hero in this story.  He saved the world...oooh I don't know, like 7-8 times and survived the Dark Lord himself just as many times! Enough said.

Dumbledore. The man is a genius clearly. His mind boggles my mind; I mean everything about him was so elaborate and wonderfully complex! He knew Harry was up for the challenges he faced so he allowed him to keep trying.  He always had a plan and helped out as much as he could.  He taught Harry all he needed to know.  Sure he had secrets but how could you be Dumbledore and NOT have secrets.

Sirius. Obviously right? The guy is a cool rebel with a tragic life but he was such a bright light for Harry...and one that was so very needed.  Their time as a family burned out too soon but it was worth EVERYTHING!  I love his recklessness and impulsiveness an the fact that he would always risk himself to save Harry. His love for his godson is one of my absolute favorite parts of the series.

Lupin. Another clear choice for me.  THE BEST DADA teacher we ever got to know, no contest.  He taught Harry how to make a Patronus Charm, he was one of the few who trusted Dumbledore no questions asked, till the very end AND he overcame his demons and found love.  Another tragic life ended too soon but he was oh-so important for Harry...I just love him to bits.

Hermione.  THE brightest witch of her age, hands down.  Hermione is handy in a tight spot, as brave as any boy and twice as smart. She's not afraid to proudly display her inner nerd, she never backs down and she will fight for what she believes in.  Sure she always doubted Harry when he was clearly right O.O BUT she was the voice of reason, she always did her research and she saved the trio's asses too many times to count.

The Entire Weasley Clan: Ron, Ginny, Mrs Weasley, Mr. Weasley, the twins, Bill & Charlie. I only left out Percy (for reasons) even though he came around at the end there...But yeah, this is a fantastic family.  Ron faced almost everything Harry did and willingly followed him into mortal danger nearly every.single.time.  Ginny is my hero but she's also sadly under-appreciated.  That girl was worthy of Harry more than any other girl in Hogwarts.  She's ridiculously powerful and gifted, fiery and fearless - I just love her.  Mr & Mrs Weasley need no explanation I think.  These people took Harry in as one of their own and risked everything over and over for him and for what was right. They're the best fictional parents EVER.  The Twins were at Harry's side when it counted too, they made us laugh and then made us cry (WHY?!) Even the lesser known Bill & Charlie were always kind, cool and brave - I have nothing but love for this family. Except Percy.

Luna.  I freaking love Luna.  She's wonderfully weird, has a huge heart and cherishes her friends above all else.  She's just impossible not to love, from her offbeat beliefs to the way she is so fearlessly herself. I wish I'd known strong female characters like her growing up! She's an inspiration.

Neville.  The final member of the Silver Trio (Ginny, Luna & Neville) who went through things worse than Harry himself.  He came a long way from his first year at Hogwarts and his character evolution throughout was probably the most impressive.  I was so proud of him when he came into his own and really lived up to his true potential, I wanted to cheer.

Ollivander.  Possibly an odd choice, I mean the man was clearly impressed by all kinds of power, good or bad.  But I love that he gave Harry his wand, I love his knowledge of wands and since I like to think I'd take over his wandmaking business for him, he gets my vote.

And that's it for me, although I'm sure I must have missed someone important.  
I'm curious: Who are your favorites? Let me know :)
...which will also help me remember if I missed anyone >.<

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Published May 20th, 2014 by Penguin Canada

When orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip arrive to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house, they discover that the house and its inhabitants are not what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier's exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

A Victorian mystery in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

*An ARC was provided by Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review*

I was lucky enough to win The Night Gardener through the Goodreads First Reads Program.  It had been on my reading list for quite some time so I was really psyched about getting my hands on a copy.  Since I haven't read a middle-grade book in awhile, I jumped right into this one as soon as I could and it turned out the be a welcome return to the genre!

The Night Gardener focuses on two abandoned Irish children, Molly the older sister and her younger brother Kip, as they are hired as servants in an eerie English Manor on the verge of disrepair. Of course, it soon becomes clear that something is very much amiss in this house.  It isn't long before the children encounter an evil spirit that haunts the house and it's inhabitants, while they sleep. What's not clear is why exactly the place is cursed and what the terrible specter is up to when he appears - other than terrifying everyone, of course.  The story is told in alternating points of view from Kip and Molly and I really enjoyed both their voices a lot.  It's clear that these two siblings love and care for each other very much so their relationship with one another is sweet. More than that though,  their unique voices and their individualized take on the events taking place gave the story added perspective and colour.  Both Molly and Kip do speak in a sort of Irish slang and I know sometimes writing slang can be hit or miss, but in this case once I got used to it, I found it only added another layer to the sibling's personalities and helped set them apart from the stuffier English family that hired them.

Now normally you all know that I don't do scary books, but I figured I was safe with a nice creepy middle-grade ghost story.   The Night Gardener was just the right mix of childhood innocence and eeriness to keep my attention throughout.  I was quickly pulled into the mystery of the chilling spirit that haunts an equally unnerving house and I needed to know all the details: Why was this house haunted? When did it start?  Is the ghost really evil or is something else going on?  Are the family that live in the house responsible for it's haunting in any way? Are they all safe?  And how do our two young MC's Molly & Kip fit into it all?

Luckily these mysteries were revealed one by one but honestly, the fun part was in the 'not-knowing'!  I thoroughly enjoyed the journey from wondering what was up, to starting to realize there is something very wrong here, to HOLY HELL EVERYONE GET OUTTA THAT HOUSE!! AAAHH!  Author Jonathan Auxier did a wonderful job of delving out the suspense one tiny morsel at a time.  It was always a perfect balance of wonderment and anxiety, and paired up with short chapters and a simple, yet engaging writing style made for a delightfully quick, not to mention enjoyable read.

Now I realize my review for The Night Gardener has been mostly vague but I think this is a book best experienced by knowing as little as possible about the plot going in.  I feel like both the author and publisher tend to agree because the blurb is kept decidedly short and enigmatic. But I will say this: if you're a fan of middle-grade books and enjoy a good haunting/ghost story that's both deliciously atmospheric and ominous, I'd recommend checking this one out!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #51

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

  Bravest Character Moment

I *almost* feel like for me, all the Harry moments should be eliminated, since I gush and rave about him all the time...and I've probably highlighted his bravest moments a million times...buuut I can't bring myself to do so.  So, forgive me for repeating myself but I had to pick:
The Forest Again

Yup. I'm sorry but knowingly sacrificing yourself to save your friends and loved ones is kind of hard to top. Read: impossible to top. Harry is and forever will be my hero and the bravest wizard ever.

Ok, since I love you guys so much and don't want you to come over and read the same stuff time and time again, I decided to highlight some other favorite character's bravest moments:

Ron: following Harry on every crazy quest since day one.  Playing a wicked game of chess. Rescuing Harry from Privet Drive.  Facing those spiders - which were his PHOBIA by the way.  Destroying a Horcrux. Willingly venturing into the Chamber of Secrets (twice).

Hermione: again, following Harry since day one and facing most of the terrors he did.  Figuring out that the Basilisk was petrifying students (ON HER OWN, with only a mirror and a library!) Voluntarily going into the Shrieking Shack. Making excellent use of her Time-Turner. Getting the idea to form the D.A. Destroying a Horcrux.

Sirius: Facing & surviving the death of his best friends AND then Azkaban.  Being a member of the Order of the Phoenix.  Being brave enough to be himself (and a Gryffindor) when his entire family were dark wizards.  Risking everything to talk to Harry, help Harry, visit him and even going straight into the Ministry to save him *sobs*

Dumbledore: Gathering intel on Tom Riddle. Living every day knowing he might have ended his sister's life. Not bowing down to Fudge or the Ministry.  Facing/fighting/denying Voldemort time and time again. Voluntarily dying to make sure his plan to take down evil succeeded.

Lupin: Facing every damn day as a werewolf. And THEN facing losing all his dearest friends in one single night (death Azkaban). Risking his life time and time again to fight evil.  Allowing himself to be loved and have a family.  Trusting Dumbledore and Harry until the very end.

Neville: Living his life knowing what was done to his parents and being unfairly compared to them. Standing up to his friends so they don't get Gryffindor in trouble again :)  Letting go of all his fears and making an incredible amount of progress as a wizard.  Offing Nagini and destroying a Horcrux in the process.

I could go on and on...
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