Monthly Archives: June 2014

ARC Review – Crushed (Soul Eaters #2) by Eliza Crewe

20758278Title: Crushed (Soul Eaters #2)

Author: Eliza Crewe

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Meda Melange has officially hung up her monstrous mantle and planted her feet firmly on the holy and righteous path of a Crusader-in-training. Or, at least, she’s willing to give it a shot. It helps that the Crusaders are the only thing standing between her and the demon hordes who want her dead.

After all, everyone knows a good girl’s greatest weakness is a bad boy.The problem is, the only people less convinced than Meda of her new-found role as Good Girl are the very Crusaders she’s trying to join. So when a devilishly handsome half-demon boy offers escape, how’s a girl supposed to say “no?”

Huge thank you to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley!

Sam’s Review:

You know what I love about this series? It’s blunt, gorey, and absolutely dripping with sarcasm. There’s nothing more interesting or engaging than an assassin/demon that actually follows through on their urges. I get so sick of romantic plotlines in YA where it’s like “omg I am a demon/werewolf/vampire/whatever and we are from different worlds, but I love you!” nonsense. That doesn’t exist in the Soul Eaters series, as Meda and Co. are exactly who they are and want you to take them at face value. Huge props to Eliza Crewe for creating a memorable cast of characters who don’t fall into bad stereotypes.

But series, Meda is fantastic. She’s sarcastic, sure of herself, and even when she makes a mistake, she rolls with it. While she isn’t much for positives, you read this because Meda is a narrator who tells it like it is: no sugarcoating, no lies, just blunt truths that ooze with sarcasm. This series is fun, and this book was just as good as the first because the action was solid, the writing was so focused, and the humor was just spot on.

I’m not going to spoilt his book for those interested because it builds right off the first one, but I love how much the secondary characters like Jo evolved. I loved the friendships between the characters, and I loved that the friendships were built on some violence, some truths, lots of humor and can I just say how awesome this book is for its female friendships? So good.

Plus, Meda is a demon who KILLS! I appreciate that she fits the bill of who she is. Also I love how she has to cope with the fact that she’s not allowed to eat people because she’s stuck with the Crusaders, and I’m just going to keep fangirling. This series isfun with the right amount of complexity and humour. Seriously, you’ll love Meda and friends. They are just so cracktastically awesome, and I keep hoping even with that ending that perhaps there will be more in the Soul Eaters universe. Read this series — it’s fantastic.

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ARC Review – Rain by Amanda Sun

18134013Title: Rain

Author: Amanda Sun

Rating: ★★★★ / ★★★

Synopsis:  American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She’s started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can’t imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she’s fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She’s flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo’s dark ancestry, as well as Katie’s, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend

Huge thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Oh Amanda Sun, why are your books so fun? I don’t know what it is, but the Paper Gods has this brand of melodrama that just sucks me in every time. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I picture reading this as an anime or manga, but I every page I read I find myself visualize everything aspect of this story that just makes a lot of the elements feel natural.

I love that in this instalment we learn more about the ink and how it inhabits life. A lot of the paranormal elements just feel so naturally woven into the story and they are the most intriguing aspects. Further more, I love love love Kami, and even though I’ve studied Japanese literature and folklore for many years, I always enjoy seeing different interpretations or revisions because it’s interesting to also see what stays in tact and what is changed in order to tell the intended story. Overall, it’s fun, and it stays fun because the characters just make it so dramatic and kinda crazy.

I’m still not huge on the romance or love triangle aspects in this series, but I will admit that parts of this novel made me sad. Katie was so much more of an observer in this book as opposed to an active participant, yet we get two very sad stories from both Tomo and Jun and I was just so heartbroken for the two of them! Truthfully though, I think Sun has a great talent for writing male characters, especially the kind that are wounded but want redemption of some kind. Hopefully in the next book, both those boys will find the solace that they are clearly seeking. Oh and Shiori? She needs a big smack.

Rain was just a fun read overall, and even with it’s melodramatic aspects, it’s so easy to be an active participant in this world, and I loved the fusion of culture and language. There is such a vividness to the flow of language and I love how easy everything is to visualize, which I think is a feat in itself considering it’s not always easy to picture what you are reading. I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion, but oddly I think I’m patience enough that I’m in no hurry to get there.

River’s Review:

This book was MUCH better than the first one. There were still a lot of things that made me roll my eyes (see all of my status updates) but THANK YOU FOR NOT USING GAIJIN!!!! Finally. It was only used 2-3 times in this book and it was used in the proper way. Finally. The whole name thing bothered me because it’s really not a thing for foreigners. In my seven years in Japan I have never had any issues with names.

Also, Ishikawa getting shot and then it being basically no big deal outside of the small group involved in the book is just unrealistic. Guns are illegal in Japan and if a random high school kid ended up in the hospital from a gun shot that would be HUGE. The lack of media frenzy around that was just weird. The lack of ANY frenzy was weird. I mean, earlier this month here in Japan a stupid pop star got attacked with a saw and that’s ALL anyone could talk about for WEEKS. I once heard a news story about a weirdo shooting girls with mayonnaise. A gunshot wound would big A BIG DEAL.

Katie was much better in this. Still can’t believe that she lost her mom a year ago and is just so okay with it. She was less stupid and less stalker-ish, but there were a few times when I just wanted to tell her to SHUT UP OMG. Shiori was super annoying but made some good points that highlighted some issues that I think are important to talk about. Jun was too melodramatic and his drama was so annoying. I feel bad for Ikeda and loved Tomo (dream sigh) as always.

Overall I felt like this was a lot more story and a lot less of Sun trying to prove that she has some authority over teaching us Japanese culture. The first book felt like LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF I KNOW ABOUT JAPAN and this one had a LOT less of that.

Annnnnd finally, as with the first book, I don’t believe Katie’s Japanese ability AT ALL. There is no way that she’s as fluent (speaking wise) as she is. There’s no way she’s running around able to understand everyone, saying everything correctly, no problem, and then turning around and having so much trouble with reading and writing and then turning around and whipping out text messages and reading others no problem. Also, they’re all supposed to be speaking Japanese, but again there’s a bunch of Japanese words written in romanji thrown in and it just makes no sense. A lot of the words were also defined and explained in text this time (despite having a functioning glossary in this eArc, unlike the first one). I really wish that all of those random romanji were left out. It MIGHT make it a bit more believable (or at least make me think less about what language they’re speaking) that they’re speaking Japanese all of the time.

ANYWAY. If you liked the first book, then you’ll like this. And sorry not sorry for being so nit-picky, but I feel that if we’re going to go the whole #weneeddiversebooks route then the books with all the diversity in them should at least be accurate.

ARC Review – Jellaby: Monster in the City by Kean Soo

cover44107-mediumTitle: Jellaby: Monster in the City

Author: Kean Soo

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: As Portia, Jason, and Jellaby continue their journey through the city of Toronto, Portia is torn between her friendship with Jellaby and her duty to help the sweet monster find his way back to his home. How can Portia say goodbye forever, when Jellaby has become her best friend?

But the clues leading them to Jellaby’s origins begin to turn sinister. When a hooded wizard introduces them to another monster like Jellaby, Portia and her purple friend are in for a gruesome shock — this monster befriends children, too — and then she eats them Now Portia must find a home for Jellaby, save Jason from the grasping tentacles of his new “best friend,” and come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of her father. It’s a lot to take on, but Portia is mad, bad, and ready to kick some monster butt.

Huge thank you to Stone Arch Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I was a huge fan of the first Jellaby graphic novel. If there’s one thing Kean Soo knows how to do well, it’s create humor without the use of dialogue. This definitely returns in the sequel, but Jellaby, Portia and Jason have to face some scary situations in this book, some which are quite terrifying.

I’m not going to sugar coat my feelings for this book. A lot of the reason why I loved this story was that it reminded me of my father when I was a little girl growing up. This book takes place during the Canadian National Exhibition, an event my dad worked every year until his death. Seeing the Polar Express, the Zipper, the Food and Automotive Buildings, the Princess Gates, it all reminded me of him. When I was a young girl, he used to take me by the hand and guide me through the event like a VIP, and when I got older, I worked the CNE and it became a huge part of my summers.

Seeing Jellaby and the game roam through the CNE just brought up a lot of memories. When Portia is on the swings, her arms outstretched, I was reminded of myself at her age, and how weightless things can feel. I loved Jellaby trying to understand rides and people — those moments made me smile the widest. At the end when Portia is talking to her father, and then again to her mother, my eyes welled up.

Soo does an amazing job of capture emotion, as well as the City of Toronto in a way that many people don’t quite get. It almost makes me wish a big purple monster would be roaming around the city because that would make my life complete. However, I suppose I’ll simply have to settle for Jellaby being immortalized in these comics, and in my heart as well.

ARC Review – The Fever: A Novel by Megan Abbott

18822308Title: The Fever

Author: Megan Abbott

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I FLEW through this book. I really wanted to know what was causing all of the girls to get sick and in the end it wasn’t what I expected. I went back and forth between an actual virus/bacteria and the supernatural.

Basically, this book drags you in with it’s intrigue and holds you close with the tension. Why are all the girls dropping like flies? What’s causing it? Is Deenie the common factor? The lake? Something more?

I kept reading to have all of these questions answered and the answers were satisfactory, but just not what I was expecting.

Also, a lot of the reviews claim this is a ‘mean girl’ book but it doesn’t even really get like that until the very end. And even that wasn’t very ‘mean girl’-sh. I expect mean girl books to be like Courtney Summers books. THOSE are mean girl books.

The writing in this is dense, and sometimes I didn’t jive with it too well. I love beautiful writing, metaphors, similes, what have you. But sometimes the ones in this book just hit me at odd angles and didn’t work with me.

Overall I liked this book, but it didn’t quite deliver what I was hoping it would.

Book Ban – Completed!

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Not all of the books I read are featured here. 😦

So the book ban finished on the 1st of June, but I was away from my computer then. In fact, I was still in Disney World, the happiest place on earth (and I had a great time). Honestly this was a great experiment and I only broke my ban once (for the low price point of $3 to support Melissa Giorgio’s newest release, which I then read and nearly threw my Kindle because that ending broke my heart). I did successfully read fifteen books, but I failed to diversify a lot of what I read, but truthfully I don’t care.

I succeed at my goal and I made a dent my physical backlog which was the important thing. I’m not going to go into intense detail about what I completed but you can see what I finished on this Goodreads shelf.

Overall this was a positive experience to blog about. I was motivated and I proved to myself that I could avoid the temptations of getting all the books from the library or buying all the books at the store. Since the ban was lifted I only bought one new book (The last of the Never series by Lesley Livingston) and I’ve managed to not buy anything else. I did go the library and I took out ten books, but I’m actually going to pace my reading of those ten books (I’ve read all the graphic novels so seven books to read!). I want to keep this up though and just keep pushing through what I own. I will get better with this, but the big thing is pacing one’s self. If I had all the money in the world, I’d support authors, but it’s not the most viable reality at this moment, so the library has been very helpful as has galleys.

I want to see if I can push through and knock out more from my backlog. At some point then I want to go and sell off/donate more of my books, especially the ones I know I’m not going to read again or loan out. Those books need a good home too, y’know?

I definitely think I will do this again next year. Book bans are hard, but can be successful if it means you’re working through your backlog and finding what you love and what you’re okay with parting with.

Hope you all enjoyed reading my progress. I would love to hear other people’s stories of how they dealt with book bans or restraining themselves from spending all the money at the book store.

ARC Review – Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

18490629Title:  Child of a Hidden Sea

Author: A.M. Dellamonica

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles. The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.

Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.

But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile.

Huge thank you to Tor and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Tor and Netgalley for this ARC!

I’ve been having trouble trying to put into words why I enjoyed Child of a Hidden Sea. Timeslip novels are so difficult to do because they need to have some believability, but we all know how incredibly unrealistic they are as well. Usually what I factor is into is “do I want to timeslip back into this world again” and in the case of A.M Dellamoncia’s Stormwrack, the yes is unabashedly yes.

A.M Dellamoncia creates a strong and rich world in this novel, and one that is easy to visualize and sensationalize as well. You get a sense of how the water may smell, how the air is, how vivid towns and cities are, and she immerses the reader in all of this without much difficultly. Furthermore, she fleshes out the characters so well, as it’s easy to enjoy Sophie’s antics, or the mysteries surrounding the various deaths within Stormwrack. There’s a surprisingly number of them!

I like stories they do a great job of making the reader feel included. The only downside to this book I found was that sometimes the writing was a bit vague or confusing, and I know I had to reread bits to ensure I understood what was happening. There’s also a lot of telling in sections where I feel more showing would have benefited. The balance is not the best, but I don’t feel it makes the book so weak that it’s unreadable.

Overall, I can say that I had a lot of fun reading Child of a Hidden Sea. The mystery elements with the added layer of fantasy and magic just made for such a fun voyage. Also sailing! Politics! And Bram. Bram is a fantastic character, and easily my favourite. This is a great adventure, and if you want something that will whisk you away, check this book out when it releases.

ARC Review – Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

18803174Title: Illusive

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against he government that could cost them their lives.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I really liked this, but there was a little something missing that prevented me from giving it a full five stars. And towards the end I started to get fatigued a bit and felt like I just wanted things to hurry up and wrap up. I have a feeling there could be a book after this and I kinda hope there is! I would love to learn more about everyone and find out what Ciere’s fate is.

Overall this book is really good. The immunities, virus, and vaccine were a little confusing (well, more than a little, but I just gave up on trying to totally figure it all out), and keeping track of the different powers was also a little too much for me. The names for everything, while clever, were difficult to remember.

But I liked the story, I liked their powers, and I liked the dialogue. Everything and everyone was so sassy and sexy. I would LOVE to see this as a movie.