Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland...

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led The Revels There
by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland #2)
Published October 2nd, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

September has longed to return to Fairyland after her first adventure there. And when she finally does, she learns that its inhabitants have been losing their shadows—and their magic—to the world of Fairyland Below. This underworld has a new ruler: Halloween, the Hollow Queen, who is September’s shadow. And Halloween does not want to give Fairyland’s shadows back.

Fans of Valente’s bestselling, first Fairyland book will revel in the lush setting, characters, and language of September’s journey, all brought to life by fine artist Ana Juan. Readers will also welcome back good friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. But in Fairyland Below, even the best of friends aren't always what they seem. . . .
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is the second book in the Fairyland Series.  I'd been looking forward to returning to Fairyland with September and reuniting with A-through-L the wyverary and Saturday the Marid to name a few.  The idea that the story would take place in 'Fairyland-Below' or beneath Fairyland was especially appealing to me, since it sounds darker and more mysterious.  I also knew the story would revolve around how September lost her shadow in book one and what that would entail for her and the fate of Fairyland.  I looked forward to the gorgeous prose and adventures that Catherynne M. Valente had in store for us this time.  My expectations may have been set slightly too high going in though, because as much as I enjoyed this new adventure, it didn't quite live up to it's predecessor for me.

So the story picks up a year after the events of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making but a lot of things have changed for our lovable protagonist September. It's not just her adventure in Fairyland and the subsequent loss of her shadow that are to blame though.  This time around, September is 13 years old and a proper teenager; so she's done some growing up in the past year.  Of course, it isn't long before she finds herself back in Fairyland and upon her return, she finds that she isn't the only one that's done some changing in the past year.  Fairyland itself is losing it's magic - and it's inhabitants are losing their shadows!  It seems that Fairyland-Below has a new ruler: September's own shadow, now known as Halloween, the Hollow Queen, and she's the one responsible for the missing shadows and lack of magic in the world above.  Considering Halloween's connection to September herself, it's not surprising that our little heroine feels responsible for at least trying to put things right again.

True to form, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland is beautifully written and filled with wonderful morals and life lessons.  It's charming, funny and it tugs at your heartstrings plenty of times along the way.  I cannot praise Catherynne M. Valente enough for reimagining fairytales in such a fresh and relevant way.  I also thought it was really exciting to explore Fairyland-Below and all of it's inhabitants.  As you can imagine, there was a wide array of quirky characters to get to know!  The coolest thing though had to be getting acquainted with the shadow selves of beloved Fairyland characters.  Not just September's own shadow self but A-through-L's and Saturday's too! Seeing the differences and similarities between the actual characters and their shadows was definitely a highlight.

For whatever reason though, the plot seemed to move slower this time around.  It's like nothing significant happened for at least the first half of the story.  September didn't really have a plan going in, so I guess it's to be expected but it just sort of dragged a bit there at first.  I'd mentioned in my review for the first book that this is the type of story that can't be rushed, well the same holds true for the sequel and the combination of the two just made it seem even slower this time around.  And I mean you guys know I read my fair share of high-fantasies brimming with extensive descriptions and world-building, so it's not like I don't read slower paced books. Without much world-building needed and since we were familiar with the world, I just expected things to get going quicker than they did and since they didn't, I just didn't feel as absorbed in the story as I had for my first trip to Fairyland.

The other thing that was a bit of a bummer was specifically due to the fact that The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland dealt with the shadow selves of our beloved characters.  And I hear you thinking: didn't you say the shadows were one of your favorite parts of this book?  I did indeed say that.  BUT: exploring Fairyland Below and the shadows that inhabited it meant that the real characters like A-through-L and Saturday were largely absent from this story.  Despite exploring new grounds, I had still been looking forward to September reuniting with her friends, so their absence was something of a letdown.

All things considered, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There was still a solid addition to the series, but in my case it was simply a case of my expectations not matching up with the story that was being told.  Once the plot picked up around mid-way (which is quite quick since the page count for these is fairly low), I was once again fully immersed in September's adventure!  I still don't think the sequel quite lives up to the first book though, but it was still an engaging and worthwhile read.  I'll definitely be going on with the series and I'm hoping next time all the secondary characters return full-swing!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #48

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Best Hogwarts Secret

Ooh this is a tricky topic - I mean, we clearly don't know all of Hogwarts Secrets.  There might be something truly mind-blowing that we never even heard of - the entire castle seems like it's made up of secrets!  Slytherin's hidden chambers, secret passageways, paintings that move, classrooms that change places...not to mention every mysterious thing that Dumbledore has in his office!  The mind boggles.  There's one that's a clear standout for me though and it has to be:

The Room of Requirement

The Room of Requirement is absolutely brilliant, there's no doubt about it.  From the moment JKR first gave us a hint through Dumbledore in which the Headmaster claims he was never able to find the room again, until Dobby rediscovered it in OotP, the room has been an integral part of the plot.  The D.A. could never have trained without it.  Malfoy certainly made use of it in HBP, but so did Harry when he hid the Prince's textbook (unknowingly) next to the Diadem.  And finally in DH it served as a refuge for Harry's allies when they needed to escape the Death Eaters.  Not to mention how the room served to usher in Harry's triumphant return to Hogwarts!  It may have been entirely destroyed in the end there but I hope somehow it was able to magically heal itself. It would be a shame if it didn't exist anymore.

More on the Room of Requirement:
The Room of Requirement, also known as the Come and Go Room, is a secret room within Hogwarts Castle, that only appears when a person is in great need of it. The room is thought to have some degree of sentience, because it transforms itself into whatever the witch or wizard needs it to be at that moment in time, although there are some limitations. For example, it cannot create food, as that is one of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration. It is believed that the room is Unplottable, as it does not appear on the Marauder's Map, nor do its occupants, although this could simply be because James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew never found the room. - Harry Potter Wikia 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *79*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

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

The House of the Four Winds
by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
(One Dozen Daughters #1)
Expected Publication: August 5th 2014 by Tor Books

The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

Full of swashbuckling adventure, buoyant magic, and irrepressible charm, The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted fantasy romp.
How in the world did I only find out about this book last week?!?  I mean it's already coming out in August and considering it's about Pirates AND Magic, this seems like a glaring gap in my knowledge not to have known about The House of the Four Winds sooner. The best part about this one? This girl dresses up as a boy just so she can be a part of the swashbuckling adventures.  And THEN she takes part in a mutiny and KILLS the captain! Oh and after all that, they meet a Sorceress. A freaking Sorceress! Yup, I'm sold. I need this book in my life...guess it's a good thing I got approved for it on NG then ;-)  Eeeep, can't wait to dig in!

Are you as excited for this one as I am?
Let me know in the comments when you link me up to your WoW!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves *37*

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've gotten a hold of (bought/given/gifted/trade/for review).

Hi all :)  Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! This week's haul is all about ARCs that I'm extremely pumped about getting my hands on so let's get right to it:

I just recently ordered City of a Thousand Dolls so I couldn't resist requesting Empire of Shadows.  Of course I had to have A Thousand Pieces of You: parallel universes + that pretty cover = win.  And despite my minor issues with The Burning Sky, I need to know what's going to happen as the series moves along so The Perilous Sea was another must have.

I'm planning on reading Scorched in the next little bit so I was very happy when Shattered arrived on my doorstep.  The Night Gardener I actually won on the Goodreads first-reads giveaway (first time I've EVER won anything through them!) so that was another exciting arrival in my mailbox.  And after reading some wonderful reviews for The Lost, I quickly went and requested a copy of my own :)

**HUGE thank yous go out to Penguin Canada, SourceBooks, Balzer + Bray, Harper Teen & Harlequin MIRA for all the pretties**

What did you guys get? Link me up!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published September 10th 2013 by St. Martin's Press

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
*An ARC was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review*

Fangirl was my first contemporary read in over ten years (no joke!) - I've made it no secret that my reading habits always tend to lead me towards fantasy/sci-fi books.  Naturally, this was also my first experience with author Rainbow Rowell and I have to start off by giving her props for creating such living, breathing and incredibly relatable characters that not only tugged at my heartstrings, but kept me engaged till the very last page.

Not surprisingly, I was attracted to the fan-fiction aspect of Fangirl.  I consider myself as being a part of many fandoms, so I was intrigued by the idea of a main character who is as obsessive as I am.  Now I've never read *that* much HP fan-fic - I always preferred just re-reading the series instead -but I have read some.  Reading this book kind of made me wish I'd been on board with all that HP-fic when it was going down. I did find it a bit odd that this Simon Snow character was clearly supposed to be a reference to Harry Potter but that HP still existed in this world...but beyond that I thought the fandom aspect here was very well done.  It was especially entertaining to me that the MC Cath's fan-fic was all about Simon and Baz together, especially going in knowing all about Harry/Draco fan-fics out there!  I do think that Simon/Baz would have been adequate Harry/Draco substitutes and that the real Harry Potter world wouldn't have needed referencing here at all, but this is a minor issue, so let's move on...

I want to talk about the characters because to me, this is where Fangirl shines. Starting with the main character Cath. I can not tell you in any words that I possess how much my heart went out to Cath.  I just can't.  She was so unbelievably relatable to me, her awkwardness, her anxiety, her obsessive fangirling, her antisocialness.  All of it just spoke to me, especially the 'me' at Cath's age in Fangirl, fresh out of high school and starting Uni with all her quirks and issues.  And while I was never quite as far gone as Cath was, I could certainly relate to her issues all too well.  I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and hold her...if I knew that doing that wouldn't have made her uncomfortable of course ;-)

So yeah, Cath goes off on her own and has to deal with so many things she's clearly not ready to face.  Being on her own, dealing with a new roommate, classmates, teachers, PEOPLE.   Because of her social anxiety, she escapes into fanfiction as a way of dealing (or not dealing) with her issues.  As much as her struggles hurt my heart and made me tear up a few times, I was rooting for her. Hard.  Despite all the obstacles she faced, I still found Cath to be quite brave -and I admired her a lot for it.  She was also intelligent, observant, honest and caring.  She's easily one of the MC's I've most identified with in recent memory and I just love her for it.

Besides Cath, there is a host of likeable characters to be had here.  From Regan, Cath's tough and sometimes harsh roommate, Wren, Cath's twin sister who's got her own issues to deal with. And then there's this boy. Levi.  I'm not even going to start on Levi since it will cue endless gushing and 'awwww'-ing. Even though he infuriated me for a bit there, I was rooting for him too. I just really loved all of these characters dearly and to me they were the real heart of this book; it's core. They were all incredibly human and memorable characters and I couldn't get enough of them  Whether they were study buddies, teachers or parents, they were all so real and I loved getting to know every single one of them - even the ones that I didn't like.The writing style in Fangirl was compulsively readable.  It made me laugh out loud at times, tear up at others and it even had me wanting to stand up and cheer a few times!  The banter between the characters was adorable, swoon-worthy and had all the right ingredients to make you giggle one moment and sob the next.  Yes this book brought on a lot of feels but it was so worth it in the end.

My only other concern here was how abruptly it seemed everything ended.  Sometimes when a book ends, it's perfect but you don't want it to end.  That wasn't the case here because to me it felt like everything stopped juuust short of their proper resolution. Or maybe I just needed more closure after growing to care for Cath and everyione else so much. To me, it seemed like the plot wrapped up too quickly in some places: like Cath's school project, her finishing up Simon Snow, the physical aspect of her romance... not to mention her ongoing issues with both parents. All of these issues felt like they deserved a bit more time story-wise to conclude in a truly satisfying way.

All things considered, this was a successful venture for me! Contemporaries aren't my strong suit, but I was still easily taken in by the witty dialogue and engaging characters.   It also read a lot quicker than I was expecting and now that I've finished Fangirl, I feel like reading all the Rainbow Rowell books!  Although knowing me, I'll need to space them out with a few fantasy reads in between ;-)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #47

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Best 'Hermione' Moment

Again another topic with infinite possibilities!  Hermione is a fantastically strong, brilliant and loyal character.  I absolutely love her to bits and I look up to her.  I adored so many moments of hers, like when she took the blame for the Troll incident in their first year at Hogwarts. Or when she figured everything out about the Basilisk in their second year.  Watching her get away with a million extra classes with the help of her Time-Turner is a clear favorite...Then there's when she shows up at the Yule Ball and no one recognizes her XD  When she accompanies Harry to his parents grave in DH is another heart-wrenching favorite but today I'm going to go with the first moment that popped into my head.  Instead of bringing the feels, I'm going with Hermione bringing the laughs with:

The cauldron incident in Potions Class in Half Blood Prince

Seeing the brightest witch of her age so out of sorts just puts a huge smile on my face. She was clearly following the instructions in the book, so WHY wasn't her potion as good as Harry's?!  LOL  I wanted to cheer when I saw the film and they had actually put in that bit with her hair growing pouffier and pouffier as her potion got worse and worse! Good times...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *78*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

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

Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Expected Publication: August 19th 2014 by Harper Collins

“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth—meaning, she shouldn't even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
Elemental Magic?! I freaking LOVE elemental magic!  In this case, it's conjuring storms and lightening which I think it beyond intriguing.  Especially in this world where only men are born with these powers and those who are, are killed.  So this MC is pretty much an aberration who gets sold off to the highest bidder and then trained to be an assassin.  And you guys know how I feel about assassins right? ♥  I simply can not wait to dive right into Storm Siren!

Thoughts on this one? Let me know in the comments below when you link me up to your post!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Raven Cycle #1
Published September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
The Raven Boys is a book I'd had on my wishlist/tbr since before it came out. Honestly I cannot believe it's taken me this long to get to it and now that I've read it, I'm even more shocked that I even waited at all.  I devoured this book, when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it and now that I've finished it the characters and their adventure have taken up permanent residence in my head.  I'm left wishing I could disregard any and all review copies to read the sequel right this instant!

The Raven Boys starts off by introducing us to it's main characters.  Firstly, there's Blue which I connected with straight away.  Blue is funky and offbeat but she's also mature for her age and has a good head on her shoulders.  She's been surrounded by actual psychics her entire life but as a non-seer herself, she's clearly had a very unique upbringing but she manages to have a level head, even when it comes to romance! She isn't prone to stupid decision making and she wasn't quick to be taken in by the Raven Boys.   Yeah, I was impressed and it made me love her even more.  She's also really brave and kickass without being too showy or angsty about it, which was a plus.

Then there's the actual Raven Boys, a group of boys who all attend Aglionby, a very private boarding school.  Getting familiar with the Raven Boys instantly grabbed my interest.  Each of them were fully developed, complex and although they all had their flaws, they were extremely likeable.  The best part of it all though was their companionship and loyalty to one another.  There's Adam who attends Aglionby on a scholarship and doesn't quite fit into the rich crowd that surround him.  There's Gansey, the clear leader of the group - and the heart of it as well.  Gansey didn't win me over right away with his blue-blood and smooth words but I'm not sure he was meant to.  I kind of felt akin to Blue when she first met him and then he slowly won me he did with her.  Gansey is an old soul and a young and gorgeous body, if he doesn't make you swoon at some point in this story, well, I'm not sure what to tell you.  Another of the Raven Boys is Noah, who's much more mysterious than the other boys. You don't get to know him as quickly as the other boys but when you do: woah! You will be blown away!  His is easily one of the most compelling backstories of the lot.  And finally there's Rowan.  Rowan is dark, tortured and angry.  Rowan has buzzed hair and a tattoo. Rowan lives dangerously and doesn't take sh*t from anyone.  And of course, Rowan won me over without even trying.  The ending of this one has me mystified where he's concerned which makes me even more excited to get into The Dream Thieves. I freaking love the guy!

The pacing for The Raven Boys is not your typical YA paranormal/fantasy fare.  Because this is such a character driven story, a lot of time is dedicated to getting to know Blue and the Raven Boys along with the relationship dynamics that exist between them.  I'll admit, this was one of my favorite aspects of the entire read.  I love action as much as the next person, and yes sometimes when there's not much going on I can get bored...but this was something else.  I was engrossed in the way Maggie Stiefvater revealed these rich characters and the ties that bind them to one another.  I reveled in how Blue and the boys met and how they all became a part of each other's lives; slowly and properly - the way things tend to happen in real life.  Ah!  It was sooooo satisfying to witness it all unfold! That's not to say that the action was lacking though - honestly it was a perfect balance of intrigue, action, and the supernatural.  It all worked so well together though that already I feel like this story has always been a part of me.

It seems like an understatement to say that The Raven Boys is a book consumed me.  Truly, I was swept away by this town, it's people and it's magic.  I want to move to Henrietta and look up Blue, Gansey, Adam, Rowan and Noah so that I too can join their misfit group. This was my first read by Maggie Stiefvater but I can guarantee it won't be the last.  I'm thrilled that I have book 2 at the ready - I don't think I'll manage resisting it's pull too long.  A huge thank you to Lee @ Rally the Readers for gifting me a copy of this one and putting me out of my misery ♥

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #46

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Characters I Wish We'd Learnt More About

Oh wow, this is a great question...with oh-so-many possible answers, I'll never be able to narrow it down >.<  In my typical Harry Potter fangirl fashion, I wish we'd learnt more about Dumbledore of course.  The man played a HUGE role in the story but I feel like we only learned about him personally at the end there...and much of it was lies perpetrated by the evil Rita Skeeter.

I also wish we'd learnt more about The Three Peverell brothers because I loved learning about their adventure with death and how they got the Hallows.

Olivander is another one I've always been curious about, especially his job which I think would be my job if I lived in the magical world hihi.  I'm fascinated by wandmaking - the woods, the cores and how they all combine so learning more about how Olivander got into that job would have been excellent - to me at least XD

And finally, I wish we'd learnt more about Ginny Weasley.  I'm a HUGE Ginny lover and even though we do get to know her loads more in the books, I could have done with even MORE!  I loved her bravery, her fierceness and of course I could totally relate to her love of Harry hehe

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *77*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

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

Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Gates of Thread and Stone #1
Expected Publication: August 5th 2014 by Skyscape

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
Guys...the MC can 'manipulate the threads of time'. Eeeeeek!! I like the twist that she's not supposed to have any magic at all, because there's only one all-powerful man who has ALL the power O.O so you just know there's going to be trouble here.  Then one of the first words in the blurb is 'labyrinth' and you all know how much I love mazes and labyrinths!! *squee*  Oh, this just sounds absolutely amazing and that cover seriously makes me drool just looking at it - it's SO pretty!!  I'm super excited about this one: time-travel, fantasy and magic are a winning combination for me any day of the week!

Thoughts on this one ^^? Let me know when you link me up below!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Stacking the Shelves 36 - BEA'14

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've gotten a hold of (bought/given/gifted/trade/for review).

Hi guys! This is technically part 2 of my official Book Expo America 2014 recap: my book haul! (If you missed part 1 and want to check it out click here) So... instead of having the official covers displayed and linking through that way like I usually do, I decided to just share my pictures for each individual day's haul and link up the titles. Here goes:

BEA Book Haul - Day 1:
Lux Beginnings by Jennifer L.Armentrout, The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost, Talon by Julie Kagawa, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley, Talented by Sophie Davis, Clariel by Garth Nix, Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid, Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro, Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto, The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Lauren D Estleman, Stitching Snow by R.C Lewis, Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, The Ring & The Crown by Melissa De La Cruz and Zodiac by Romina Russell (♥)

BEA Book Haul - Day 2:   
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, Pennyroyal Academy by M.A Larson, Salt & Storm by Kendal Kulper(!!!), Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (OMG ♥♥♥), The Young World by Chris Weitz, The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller, The 8th Continent by Matt London, Compulsion by Martina Boone, The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi, Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.

BEA Book Haul - Day 3:
Pathfinder by Angie Sage, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, A World Without Princes (School for Good & Evil #2) by Soman Chainani and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

And finally the complete haul, including my two favorite totes: The Throne of Glass one of course (Celaena & Chaol & Dorian & Nehemia) and the 'I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie'.  There's also some cool swag + souvenirs in there, i.e. my cool sparkly Batman cup :D

**A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Harlequin, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Hyperion, Simon Pulse, Harper, Harlequin Teen, Little Brown, Harper Teen, Razor Bill, Simon & Schuster, Orbit, Source Books Katherine Tegen Books, Delacorte Press and Feiwel & Friends who were all very generous, wonderful, and helpful publishers to talk to! **  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

BEA'14 Recap Post

Hi everyone and welcome to the 2014 edition of my Book Expo America recap post.  This will be the first of two post with part 1 focussing on the event itself, the authors & the bloggers. Stay tuned for my book haul recap post coming up in part 2.  BEA'14 was held at the Javits Center in the phenomenal New-York City.  For more information on the event or to register for future events, visit the BEA website.
This year marked my second time visiting New-York City and my second time attending Book Expo America (read last year's ridiculously gushy BEA'13 recap post here). I found that this time around I was a lot less overwhelmed by both the city and event itself so I was able to soak it all in and enjoy myself a lot more!  I know I'm not alone when I say that authors are my rockstars, so getting the chance to meet up with many of them, chat books and other bookish things means EVERYTHING.  Not only that, the fact that as bloggers we are all getting together under one roof to be unashamedly bookish together is just plain AWESOME.  We all know no one else gets us like other bookworms so being able to meet many virtual friends in real life is pretty freaking amazing!  I love bookish people ♥

As a second-timer at BEA, it felt easier to chat up fellow bloggers.  I mean, chances are a lot of the other people there are just as awkward as I might feel right?!  Anyways, chatting about books is a perfect ice-breaker for fellow bookish people.  I was also much better at exchanging business cards with other bloggers.  It's a great way to be remembered amongst the crowd - not to mention it will help you remember who you chatted up when you get back home so you can follow them and stay in touch! Being able to relax take it all in stride was key for me this year but since I was more familiar with the Javits Center layout and how things were going to work, it was a lot easier.

BEA Exhibits Entrance @ Javits

My least favorite part of BEA was BookCon itself.  Last year it was called 'Power-Reader' day and it seemed to go off without a hitch.  This year instead of 1000 power-readers, they sold 8000+ tickets to BookCon.  The BookCon peeps were only allowed in one section of the Javits so picture an already crowded and slightly chaotic venue and then add 8000+ new people - including youth and their parents. The event simply was not organized to handle that many extra people.  Plus for some reason that morning we weren't allowed to line up for signings like the other days which lead to chaos and in some cases panic.  It made me sad in light of how incredibly well the event was organized the two first days - and the year before!  Hopefully the organizers will keep this in mind when planning for next year's event.

With that being said, let's move on to recapping the awesomeness of event itself.  Once again this year, I travelled to NYC with Giselle of Xpresso Reads. We arrived in New York City Tuesday evening and had a full day Wednesday left to explore the city. So Wednesday morning we headed out to the Javits Center where BEA is held to sign in and pick up our badges so we wouldn't have to wait in line with the crowd early Thursday Morning.


Day 1 of BEA was Thursday which kicked off with the Harlequin Teen Author Breakfast.  I was lucky to attend the invite-only event for a second time this year, which featured Julie Kagawa (Talon), Jennifer L. Armentrout,  Alexandra Adornetto (Ghost House), Adi Alsaid (Let's Get Lost) and Robin Talley (Lies We Tell Ourselves). It was fun to be able to sit with each and every one of these authors and learn more about their books.  A huge thank you to Lisa Wray and the rest of the Harlequin Staff in attendance for putting the entire thing together, gifting us with ALL the books and a fabulous tote-bag...not to mention feeding and caffeinating us so early in the morning ;-)

Julie Kagawa & Jennifer L. Armentrout (Photos via Xpresso Reads) 

After that we headed straight for the event floor where be scouted for galley drops and got in line for signings.  As usual, everything was laid out simply - booths and events were easy to find.  If you ever get lost, there's always staff hanging around all over ready to help - and they're easy to spot with their matching t-shirts and hand-held signs. Author-wise, the highlights of the day included stalking Jennifer L. Armentrout at the signing for Lux Beginnings, the Garth Nix signing for Clariel, the Jeaniene Frost signing for The Beautiful Ashes - which I started while waiting in line at another signing - it looks great so far!, the Melissa De La Cruz signing for The Ring & the Crown, and a Sophie Davis signing of Talented.

 Meeting Garth Nix & Stalking Jennifer L. Armentrout at their signings

As for unsigned book highlights, day 1 was all about Zodiac by Romina Russell, The Jewel by Amy Ewing, The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater and Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis.

This was also the day I got to meet Anya over at On Starships & Dragonwings which was seriously cool!  Anya was one of the first bloggers I stalked when I was starting out and since we tend to read and love the same books (fantasy!) I was thrilled to find her in the crowd and chat books!


BEA Day 2 was more or less ALL about Sarah J. Maas and Heir of Fire for me- I'm not gonna lie. After doing a quick run around first thing in the morning for galley-drops, I headed straight to the signing area to get in line and wait for her arrival at 11 am. The line for her was completely insane but luckily I was #45 and after a 1½ hour wait, I finally met one of my all-time favorite authors! To say I was giddy and fangirling was an total understatement.  I thought I might cry and had to reign myself in more than once. SJM looks like a straight up Disney Princess (for real) and she was just as lovely a person as she looks ♥ After meeting her though I needed to catch my breath & recoup with some food hehe

Deliriously happy in line for SJM and then meeting the Queen herself  - do I look excited? Nah!

Other bookish and author highlights that day included Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper  (Witches!! Eeep.), The Young World by Chris Weitz, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, and Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.

Blogger-wise, day 2 was the day I got to meet the beautiful Nikki of There Were Books Involved and Octavia at Read Sleep Repeat which was epic and definitely a high point of the event!  I also got to sit down and chat with Anya again before she left Javits  :)

After BEA that day was the Book Blogger Picnic!  A massive shout out goes out to Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Andrea of The Overstuffed Bookcase, Kate of Kate's Tales of Books and Bands & Jen from YA Romantics  for putting the entire event together.  It was held at Central Park and was attended by the nicest bloggers I've ever met.  I got to see Nikki and Octavia again not to mention Tiff at Mostly YA Lit (a fellow Canadian!), Jessica at Lovin' Los Libros, Jennifer at Live to Read Love to Read Nicole of Feed Your Fiction Addiction, Rebekka at Endlessly Bookish and Jessica of Jessie Marie Reads to name a few!  We ate cake, chatted books and some people even brought books to giveaway, also know as that time I was lucky enough to snag The Darkest Minds (FINALLY) by Alexandra Braken. Thank you anonymous blogger donner, whoever you are :D  After taking a few fabulous pics on 'blogger rock' (hehe), it started to rain so a bunch of us headed out to McGee's Pub for drinks and more bookish chats. It was honestly a blast and I loved getting to know these fabulous ladies even better!

 Group Shots on 'Blogger Rock' courtesy of Alexa Loves Books

Mmmmmm Cake!!!!

BEA Day 3 - AKA BookCon day. Short version: it was chaos. The BookCon crowd was only allowed in one section which also happened to be where all the signings too place.  That side of Javits was quickly dubbed 'The Dark Side' by fellow blogger.   I missed a signing for Alexandra Braken's Never Fade because after being told we could get in line 40 minutes before, then 20 minutes before, and then 5 only to get trapped in a MOB of chaos, traffic jams and general insanity, I decided escaping with my life and sanity was more important o.O  Since the others signings I wanted for JLA (The Return, A Titan Novel) and Libba Bray (The Diviners) were all at the same time I missed those too.  Sad face.

Once I was safely on the Light Side again (and after a quick sit down to regroup), I managed to snag some much coveted books.  After a quick lunch, I braved the Dark Side one last time to see if there was a chance for the Soman Chainani signing (A World Without Princes - The School for Good and Evil #2).  The chaos seemed to have (somewhat) passed and since there was an actual line this time I waited it out.  I'd met him last year so I was very excited to get to chat with him again!  After that I returned to safety, met up with Nikki again, and got a few more goodies before me & Giselle decided to head out to our hotel.

Book highlights of the day: The Scorpio Races & Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

*For more pictures of the BEA experience, check out the album I posted on the blog's Facebook page*

To sum it up: I mentioned in last year's recap post that attending BEA was one of the highlights of my life. This year was no exception.  I will carry all the people I met in my heart forever and same goes for the books ♥ It was an incredible experience and one that I hope to repeat next year!  To anyone who's ever debated attending: DO IT!  I promise you won't regret it.

STAY TUNED for Part 2 of the BEA'14 recap featuring my Book Haul - 
It'll be up as a StS post this week-end!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #45

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Most Beautiful Spot in the Series

Sigh...There are oh-so-many beautiful spots in JKR's world.  Even Muggle London wins points with me hehe. I mean adding magic to anything makes it more beautiful in my opinion so even regular places have their whimsy to them when you think of them existing within the Harry Potter universe.  I'm not going to win any points for originality this week though, because hands down I pick:


Ahhh to be able to head out to Scotland (and maybe pick of fellow Scotsman David Tennant along the way) and make it to Hogwarts.  That's the dream isn't it?  Living inside a magical castle with other magical people, learning magical things. *swoon*  

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a British wizarding boarding school teaching the magical arts, located in Scotland[1] inside Hogwarts Castle. The castle is in the mountains near a loch. The precise location of the school can never be uncovered because it has been rendered Unplottable. Similarly, most wizarding schools locations are protected in order to prevent their ways of teaching being revealed, as well as protect the students and schools themselves from any harm.-Harry Potter Wikia 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *76*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

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

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
Expected Publication: December 9th by Delacorte Press

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?
I know I'm repeating myself but: I freaking love stories featuring mazes or labyrinths!  LOVE THEM.  It's so exciting to think of exploring them, especially in a fantasy setting where you just don't know what kind of creatures or magic you could find.  Suspicion has a maze and this maze is in ENGLAND.  Yeah, you all know I wouldn't be passing this one up - not in a million years.  To top it all off, this one has a gorgeous cover to boot.  I'm dying to get my hands on this one!

What do you guys think of Suspicion?
Let me know when you link me up to your WoW posts :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Ashen Winter

Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
Ashfall #2
Published October 16th 2012 by Tanglewood Press

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.
*An ARC was provided by Tanglewood Press in exchange for an honest review*

Ashen Winter is the sequel to Ashfall, a book that had blown me away with it's addictive story and heart-stopping action.  Needless to say, I had high-hopes going into the second book.  While it did deliver an engrossing and thrilling continuation to Alex & Darla's story, unfortunately it didn't live up to it's predecessor.

Ashen Winter is just as intense as Ashfall was, but in a different way.  The characters have gotten used to navigating this scary new reality - post volcanic eruption, but that doesn't mean things are going any smoother.  The world was plunged into a constant and aggressive winter, unlike anything we've ever seen before.  Most people have become savages, and more than a few have even taken up cannibalism.  Houses lie abandoned and/or vandalized, food supplies are scarce and past communities are in ruins or under-siege.  Ashen Winter explores this new icy reality through Alex's eyes as he and Darla set off to find Alex's parents.

It was interesting to see the characters grow accustomed to this vastly new world this time around.  The first book inevitably had a learning curb for everyone, but now Alex and his allies are learning to understand and have no choice but to adapt if they want to survive.  Things may have gotten worse in some ways but it isn't new to them anymore, so it was quite compelling to see how a disaster like this can change people in so many different ways.  That being said, I found Ashen Winter to be much less character-driven than it could have been; the emphasis here was clearly on the action. Now I love battles and conflict as much as the next person but to me, the balance of character development and action was what had made Ashfall so great!  I was hoping for something similar with the sequel but this time around, the focus seemed to be put squarely on delivering one heart-stopping sequence after the other.  Sure it was exciting but it was also exhausting to read because it felt like overkill.

There were a lot of characters from book 1 that we got to get to know even better this time around which I enjoyed, but there were also new characters introduced into the fold.  Notably, Alyssa and her autistic brother Ben. I did quite like Ben and I felt he was an interesting addition.  I'm thrilled author Mike Mullin decided to bring in someone like that into his story, because it's not something a lot of authors seem to feel comfortable in dealing with.  Alyssa was another matter altogether though.  Considering what we learn she's been through when we meet her, I found it unlikely that she'd be acting the way she was -especially towards Alex. Without going into spoilers, her behavior just really put me off.  Because of the way the plot develops, Alyssa becomes a pretty big part of the story and her actions just rubbed me the wrong way.

There's also a twist at about the halfway point that I'm sure it was meant to add suspense - it certainly does makes sense within the world Mike Mullin has created - but it just ended up frustrating me to no end.  I just wanted the thing resolved already but instead it dragged on for the better part of the book.  I'm going to chalk that one up to personal taste though,  I realize that said twist has likely riveted many a reader before me...and will continue to do so. I simply could not get into it and sadly it affected my overall enjoyment of the book.

Mullin is without a doubt a talented writer.  He's clearly done his research on volcanoes, survival, self-defense and every other element woven into his story.  Ashen Winter was for the most part a satisfying continuation to the series and I'm still a huge fan of Alex as a main character (and Darla!).  I'm hoping that the final book Sunrise will allow for more character growth for the both of them.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars