Monthly Archives: November 2014

ARC Review – Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass

22379143Title:  Love and Other Theories

Author: Alexis Bass

Rating: ★

Synopsis: If you want more, you have to give less. That’s the secret to dating in high school. By giving as little as they expect to get in return, seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her three best friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free. And it’s all thanks to a few simple rules: don’t commit, don’t be needy, and don’t give away your heart.

So when smoking-hot Nathan Diggs transfers to Lincoln High, it shouldn’t be a big deal. At least that’s what Aubrey tells herself. But Nathan’s new-boy charm, his kindness, and his disarming honesty throw Aubrey off her game and put her in danger of breaking the most important rule of all: Don’t fall in love.

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

Well, it’s been awhile since I read a book that I vehemently did not like, but here you have it. Love and Other Theories is a book I feel that should have been up my alley as someone who loves pretty-ugly people, but this book does pretty-ugly pretty darn poorly.

Truthfully, there wasn’t a single character that I liked in this book. Aubrey was just horrible to people and without good reason most of the time. She was judgemental, she slut-shamed despite doing similar things herself, and while she claimed to be anti-relationship (which I am cool with and intrigued by considering I’m a married woman), even that angle was just frustrating to deal with. I don’t mind an unlikeable protagonist if there’s good reason for what they are doing, I dislike it when there seems to be no purpose for it. Plus the female attitude towards men being stupid and only wanting sex — I’m sorry, but why is this still a thing that needs to be brought up? Yes, men in high school are immature, but guess what? So are girls! I mean, it’s irritating that this mentality still has to be brought up and in this book it’s written in such a degrading way. Plus the girls in this book talk down to the men in the story but then do stupid things with them! I’m sorry, I have no sympathy for that kind of behaviour.

Plus this book has such a huge focus on partying, drinking, betraying your friends, which I’m fine with depending on the context of the book (something like Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, it works perfectly) but it felt like there was so little consequence to what was being done by these characters, to the point where you expected there to be larger consequences. You know, I think what frustrated me the most is that Aubrey leads Nathan (he we assume is her crush throughout the story, she’d tell you it’s something different) and to the point where she then drops him, and then takes awhile to feel bad about it. REALLY? REALLY? I’m sorry but no, I just can’t buy into that. I can’t also buy into the idea that the person being lead on is OKAY with it for the most part. That them “being together” it just didn’t feel fully developed considering all the dramatic crap before.

This book is all dramarama, but it’s not even the fun kind of dramarama to read about. There’s no substance here and the characters are so hollow that it felt impossible to make any sort of connection. As I got to know everyone in the story, the more I had no desire to learn more (except, ha ha, you do). Nathan was the only character I tolerated and in the end even he makes enough stupid decisions that I found myself checking out of the book pretty damn quickly. The mentality this book presents is one I just cannot agree with. I finished the book, I tried to get on it’s wavelength and I just found myself more angry as I read on. I just cannot recommend Love and Other Theories with any sort of endorsement because remembering it just makes my blood boil.

River’s Quickie Reviews #6

22171558Title: Twisted Fate by Norah Olson (January 20th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books)

Synopsis: When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney’s mind, Graham’s odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.

River’s Review: Well I’m not sure what to think about this. I liked it and it kept me engaged, but there were WAYYYYYY too many POVs (like, some only happened once in the book) and the ending just made no sense. I started to sense the ‘twist’ coming, but there are a lot of places in the book where I was like ‘does this even work?’

Also, nothing like We Were Liars.

Overall this was a pretty fast read that kept me guessing, horrified me quite a bit, and then had a sloppy ending that made me drop it a star. There’s a lot of negative reviews about this, and while I can see their merits, I don’t think it was an awful book. I really did like it up until the very end. 3/5 Stars.


20527903Title: Suspicion  by Alexandra Monir (December 9th 2014 by Delacorte Press)

Synopsis: 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?

River’s Review: Well… this was boring. Or I was bored. I just couldn’t get into this book. It sounds gorgeous and it should be, but it’s super flat. Everyone is super stereotypical YA and Imogen is supposed to be this ‘teehee fish out of water look how cute it is she has NO CLUE about almost anything British despite spending half her childhood there and living in NYC’. I just don’t get how Imogen is so damn clueless about so many aspects of British culture. And whenever she makes some slip up it’s always like ‘aww, so cute, you silly American’.

I guess what I really didn’t like was the way things were set up. The first half of the book is the ‘before’ being a Duchess and then the second part is the ‘after’ becoming a Duchess part and the first half just didn’t really do much for me other than give us background and info. Which could have been done with like, a prologue or something so the majority of the story could have been focused on her actually being at Rockford and the paranormal stuff.

And good lord the paranormal stuff was boring. It wasn’t even in the book for most of it!

So I gave it a try but sadly just didn’t connect. 2/5 Stars.


 

Huge thank you to Netgalley, Edelweiss, Delacorte Press and Katherine Tegen Books for these ARCs!

River & Sam’s Fave Books of October

Well, this doesn’t happen too often, but River and I have the same favourite book this month. Guess what? It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.

River & Sam’s Pick:

17378508

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Are any of you REALLY surprised at this pick considering how much fangirling River and I do when it comes to this series? This book was perfect, perfect, perfect. It made me love Adam SO MUCH MORE (even though Ronan is my favourite) and it created Gansey Fancy Face, which I am convinced needs to become a meme. Seriously, if you haven’t read The Raven Boys yet — get the heck on it. Please. It’s amazing. GET ON IT, DAMMIT.

… now we have to wait until next year for book four. 😦

What was your fave read in October? Let us know in the comments!

Late to the Party ARC Review – Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

17303139Title: Of Metal and Wishes

Author: Sarah Fine

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

Huge thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

While I feel bad for missing the deadline on this, I’m also really happy that I read it now, right before Halloween. PERFECT CREEPY FALL READ. This is a re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera and I LOVED that, and I loved this. I loved that it took place in a slaughterhouse, that there was a ‘ghost’ and that it was a mix of what felt like a dystopian world with steam punk elements. It actually never says when or where this takes place, but I kept picturing a future China after having some huge technological crash. They do have some modern conveniences in here, but then there’s also a lot of things that feel very historical.

I really liked the characters in this. Some I LOATHED. And I love that I loathed them. A lot of them got what they deserved, and others broke my heart. I loved Wen, loved her relationship with her father (even the bad parts) and her relationships with both Melik and the ‘ghost’.

The writing in this is beautiful and parts of it are just down right savage. There’s a lot of blood, a lot of death, a lot of killing. There’s also quite a handful of social commentary, which I thought was woven in quite well and didn’t come across as preachy at all.

I can’t wait for the next book! Super excited to see how everyone’s fates turn out.

ARC Review – A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

20877332Title: A Thousand Pieces of You

Author: Claudia Gray 

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Well that was a wild ride! I actually wasn’t expecting too much out of this because I wasn’t the biggest fan of Gray’s vampire books, but this was quite well done. There’s always the chance that things will just sound wayyyyy too ‘made up’ when it comes to books like this that have a lot of, well, made up tech, but this didn’t seem too out there. I kept picturing ‘Fringe’ (miss that show!) and just letting things flow. I LOVED all the science-y stuff (if you don’t know, my husband is a scientist –AI / computer science– and it was really fun and easy for me to connect to that part of the story.

I really liked the worlds that we got to visit in this and in those parts it did feel a bit Cloud Atlas-y (at least the movie, I never read the book) and I LOVED the worlds. Super high-tech London, super low-tech Russia, UNDER THE FREAKING SEA… they were all really fun.

The romance was okay for me, but I’m never a huge fan of love triangles and I found Paul to be kinda boring at times. I didn’t see the twist coming though, so that was nice. And the writing was really pretty. I also loved the themes of family and friends in here.

Overall a pretty solid book, just not enough UMPH in it to make me have ALL the feels so that’s why it’s at a nice 4 instead of a 5.

ARC Review – Crashland by Sean Williams

20877349Title:  Crashland

Author: Sean Williams

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Where is Q? Clair and Jesse have barely been reunited when the world is plunged into its biggest crisis since the Water Wars. The d-mat network is broken. The world has ground to a halt. People are trapped, injured, dying. It’s the end of the world as Clair knows it—and it’s partly her fault.  “The girl who killed d-mat” is enlisted to track down her missing friend Q—the rogue AI who repeatedly saved Clair’s life. Q is the key to fixing the system, but she isn’t responding to calls for help, and even if she did…can she be trusted?

Targeted by dupes, abandoned by her friends, caught in a web of lies that strike at the very essence of who she is, Clair finds powerful allies in RADICAL, secretive activists who are the polar opposite of anti-d-mat terrorist group WHOLE. However, if she helps them find Q, will she be inadvertently trapping her friend in a life of servitude—or worse, sending her to an early death by erasure?

Caught between pro- and anti-d-mat philosophies, in a world on the brink of all-out war, Clair must decide where she stands—and who she stands with, at the end.

Huge thank you to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

MY GOD THAT ENDING. Williams is EVIL with his endings. I need the next book NOW (which is pretty much how I felt at the end of Twinmaker.

So this book picks up where the first book left off and you are THROWN into the mix and the pace does NOT slow down at all. This is good because it makes you want to plow through the book and keeps you on the edge of your seat… but it didn’t work for me ALL the time because sometimes it felt that things were going a little TOO fast. I got confused and found myself having to backtrack a bit. I even had to go back and re-read the end of Twinmaker. So I would have liked a few more moments to breathe.

Overall this was excellent. I loved the philosophical arguments, the mix of characters, and the jumps all around the world. I LOVE the names that Williams uses in these books too. Some are so refreshingly original and clever and some are just so normal that they fit. I really loved the new characters (especially the twins) and how we got to know some characters better.

I would have liked a little more romance between Clair and Jesse. There were some moments that had so much potential and they would kiss and… fade out. Or Jesse would fall asleep. I know this isn’t a romance-heavy novel, but I WANTED MORE THEY ARE SO SWEET TOGETHER.

And Q. Q. Q. Q. DAMN. I didn’t see that coming. Again. I love that I don’t see this stuff coming.

Next book nowwwwwwwwwww please!

Book Ban – Final Check In

This is it: the final update of my September to beginning of November Book Ban. Unfortunately, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but I will say for the entire month of October I didn’t buy a single book! Still, September I caved a bit thanks to Word on the Street, but I’d like to think I can keep this up. I own so many books (both physical and digital) so my goal is to continue to cut back as much as I can and knock out more of my TBR. At this point in the year, I’ve read 261 Books! It’s been an inanely productive year for reading, and I can only hope I keep the pace up. Think I can make it to 300 before the end of the year?

Anywho, onto the books!

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – Reviewed!

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin — I am going to have to find the rest of this series because I really enjoyed this first book. I love LeGuin’s way of telling a story and I like that she doesn’t give you all of someone’s characterization right off the bat and that the readers get to grow with Sparrowhawk as the story unfolds. Quite enjoyed this one!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill — Other than the dog murder (I don’t know why but in this book it bothered me so damn much), I really loved this one. The creep factor was genuine, the amount of times I laughed uncomfortable and then went OMGWHATTHE was frequent. Just a fun romp. I ended up buying this book for a few of my friends as holiday gifts simply because I think they’ll enjoy it too.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater — This book was SO MUCH BETTER THAN LAMENT! I was fine with the first book, but I feel like James was such a better protagonist for this story, especially because Dee’s characterization went completely downhill for me. This book takes some interesting twists and turns as well, and I can only hope we’ll get a third book in this series at some point.

Trapped by Kevin Herne — Book Five of the Iron Druid series and omg this made hockey references in terms of how crappy the Leafs are as a team and I nearly died. Also the sexual humour in this was pretty funny and quite spot on. Only two more books in this series and then I am caught up!

Ebooks Read:

Love and Other Theories, by Alexis Bass — There’s a review appearing on the blog soon, but the short version: I wanted to throw this book in a fire, that’s how angry it made me.

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond — Review!

Waistcoats and Weaponary by Gail Carriger — Review!!

Number of books bought on the ban: 9 (None purchased in October, I blame Word on the Street for me failings in September!)

Number of (owned) books read on the ban: 33

ARC Review – Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

17838538Title: Girl on a Wire

Author: Gwenda Bond

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

Huge thank you to Skyscape and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

First, let me just say that this might have to be one of my favourite covers I’ve seen in a long time. It really captures the novel quite well!

I liked Girl on a Wire. I expected to love it because I am sucker for stories that take place in a circus or have the circus as some sort of centralized theme, and this novel was successful on that front. I thought the characters were quite wonderful, and the circus described in the novel is really colourful, with just enough mystery.

That being said, the prose in this novel didn’t always keep me engaged. I think what I struggled with was that a lot of the description was too drawn out and dull. I found myself skimming in parts simply because I found I wanted to simply get on with the story, but some of the longer winded passages I could have done without. Sometimes Bond’s prose was stunning, and sometimes it felt a touch awkward in places. For me, the writing was what I found myself fighting with the most because when I loved it — I really loved it, and when I disliked it — I skimmed.

Admittedly, I loved that this book didn’t fall into a lot of currently popular YA tropes. I loved how realistic the characters felt and there struggles were things that I felt that as a reader I could sympathize with. I cared about what was happening, but my goodness I did not like that ending. I do not like the type of ending where everything has to be explained even though it was kind of obvious? So frustrating!

In the end, I liked Girl on a Wire, but it definitely did some things that I didn’t enjoy. I wanted to love this book more than I did, but I don’t feel like my time was wasted. There is really wonderful characters here, and if anything, that is why you should pick this book up.

ARC Review – The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

21416862Title:  The Walled City

Author: Ryan Graudin

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run. 

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

Huge thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book is beautiful and dark and dirty and sexy and terrifying. I loved the setting, loved the writing, loved the atmosphere and the plot. The characters worked for me, and I loved their relationships, but I didn’t really connect with them. Also, this book is told from multiple POVs, which is something I am never a fan of. It was okay, and I didn’t get lost in the voices, so that was nice.

The biggest issue I had with this book is the lack of world building. Apparently the Walled City was a real place, located in Hong Kong. I REALLY wish that this would have been a part of the story. I have very little background in China and Hong Kong’s history, and I really don’t know how many other people are going to know that this was a real place. The first half of the story had me struggling with a time (it seemed very historical… like I kept picturing Edo-era Japan) and when modern things (cars, guns, airplanes) started getting thrown in I was like WHOA. So yeah, some history would have been REAL nice.

And because I spent the first half of the book thinking that it was a historical setting I had A LOT of trouble wrapping my head around all of the modern stuff that came up later, and even picturing it taking place in modern times. And whenever Dai would use some modern slang or phrases I was jarred out of the book and I really hate it when that happens.

Another thing that bothered me was how there were never any mentions of actual places. There were fictional city names, but then there were vague references to ‘the homeland’ or ‘his country’ and like… the Ambassador has a Japanese name, so I’m thinking that he’s from Japan, but anytime his country is referred to it’s very vague and I don’t know why it was done this way. It was another thing that unsettled me when trying to anchor this story into a place and time.

Overall though this is worth reading for the beautiful writing and the dark setting alone.