Monthly Archives: December 2014

ARC Review – Transcendent by Lesley Livingston

22042962Title: Transcendent

Author: Lesley Livingston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis:  On a terrace high above the streets of Manhattan, Mason Starling kneels beside her beloved Fennrys Wolf, who lies in a pool of blood, his life hanging in the balance. Even if he lives, their future is far from certain as chaos swirls around them. Has this unstoppable heroine-smart, savvy, deadly with a blade-reached the limits of what her sword can vanquish and her soul can survive?

Huge thank you to HarperCollins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am so sad this series is officially over! However, it really did have quite a hell of an ending, if I must say. Transcendent is a book that keeps you entertained from the get go and it immediately begins where Descendent left off. Mason is now a Valkyrie, and she must learn to harness her new found, if super sucky power (though personally, I think it’s kind of nifty, if morbid). Mason gets a ton of growth and what I enjoyed about her in this particular instalment is that she gets crap done.

Was this last book perfect? No, it definitely has a few problems. There were so many mythologies crammed into the story, and I wished that story had main focused on one or two. I mean, I get that it’s an epic battle of the gods, but it did become a bit overwhelming at times to keep all the names straight. Still, this is a long sequence of battles, chaos and absolutely craziness, with many of the characters facing tough decisions and attempting to figure out what is truly “right and wrong.”

Poor Fennrys Wolf though, he takes quite the kickin’ in this story, and I really felt for him at times. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. I don’t really want to embark on spoiler territory, but this book packs continuous punches, each more furious as the story progresses. Plus, the writing is snappy and it’s so easy to just become absorbed in this world and the story being told. I’m said this trilogy is over, but I cannot wait to see what new shenanigans Lesley Livingston will come up with next.

 

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Book Review – A Promise of Magic by Melissa Giorgio

21899003Title: A Promise of Magic

Author: Melissa Giorgio

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 / ★★★★

Synopsis: As a child growing up in California, Evan Underwood only has a basic knowledge of Silver Moon, the organization that keeps the world safe from demons. After accidentally setting his parents’ house on fire with magic, he’s sent to the New York Silver Moon HQ to learn how to control his powers. Frustrated by his teacher’s refusal to show him anything beyond magical theory, Evan decides it’s time to take matters into his own hands. But teaching himself magic isn’t as easy as Evan imagined, and it’s during one of these practice sessions that he’s discovered by Alexandra Chen, a strange girl Evan finds both frustrating and alluring. Making a promise to show Alex magic, Evan is determined to live up to her expectations, even if it means breaking a few rules in the process. But when things backfire, Evan must rely on his friends to help free him from the clutches of a new, sinister character.

River’s Review:

WELL THAT WAS FUN. And steamy! This is by far Giorgio’s sexiest book. Buuuuut it is mainly about Evan (who isn’t even the one getting the most steamy parts!) soooooooooo yeah.

So I liked this, I really liked this. It was really fun getting so much back story, seeing wittle Rafe & Evan becoming BFFs and all that. BUT I MISSED GABI SASSY PANTS OKAY. The feelings I got from just even reading the last story (the giddiness, the awwww, the hilarity) just weren’t quite there when I was reading the other two. There’s just something about Gabi’s voice! (And now I’m dying to read the last book. HURRY UP AND GIVE IT TO MEEEEEEE.) And her interactions with Rafe… PRICELESS.

But like I said, I really enjoyed getting all that backstory. Evan and Alex’s relationship was very sweet (and violent!) and I am looking forward to seeing what Collins’ deal is (expecting him to be a major player in the last book).

And Phill & Kain’s story was just. Damn. Steamy. Sexy. Hot Hot Hot. Like I said… sexiest book yet! (Now we just need Gabi and Rafe to get it on HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah right, maybe when they’re 35!)

Also this is my favorite cover so far! LOVE IT! (SHE LOOKS SO SASSY!)

Sam’s Review:

Holy steaminess, Batman! There be some sexiness in this book and it was won-der-ful. I loved all three of the stories in this collection, and it’s easily the sexiest of Melissa’s books to date, but such a fun, fun story.

Evan’s story was great and I loved the balance of humor and sadness within the story. Giorgio pulls no punches when it comes to the feels in this novella collection, and Evan’s story has it in spades. Also having all the scenes with bitty Evan and teenie Rafe just made me giggle! They are so cute and their relationship and how it blossoms is just really quite darling. It’s great to see different sides to both these characters, and having that look into their home lives was both depressing as it was interesting. Poor, poor Rafe!

Admittedly though, there was something that drew this back from being my favourite and that was the glaring absence of Gabi. Yes, she appears in the last story, but she’s a huge part of what makes this series as charming and entertaining as it is. Her sassiness was greatly missed and thee just wasn’t enough of it. Though any time a Gabi story starts in the Convenience Corral, you know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

This is a great collection for those loving <i>The Silver Moon Saga</i>, particularly those who adore Evan and Alex. Since I love all the characters there was a lot of enjoyment to be had, but the lack of my favourite girl made me sad. However, learning more about Evan? Pretty awesome. Check it out along with the rest of the series. It’s delightfully charming!

ARC Review – Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

22546133Title: Stella by Starlight

Author: Sharon M. Draper

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: When the Ku Klux Klan’s unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella’s segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind.

Stella lives in the segregated South; in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can’t. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn’t bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they’re never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella’s community – her world – is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don’t necessarily signify an end.

Huge thank you to Atheneum Books for Young Readers & Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I adored this book. Stella was such a fantastic and methodical protagonist to follow around, and I loved her sense of curiosity, especially given the time period this novel focuses on. This book is insanely thoughtful, and it’s definitely one where you’ll find yourself nodding along to the story and having your heart captured by Stella and her wonderful family.

This story is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. It’s story that deals with the KKK and issues of segregation. There’s a lot of hard emotions, and Stella’s community is some easy to fall in with that the hardships and racism that they face is extremely heartbreaking. Draper writes this novel with such honesty, and it’s really quite lovely in parts. I found myself tearing up or raging during parts of this novel, because dammit, I cared about this community of people, I cared about Stella’s family, I cared about how they were being mistreated.

Move over, this is a novel that has a lot of charm outside of the tougher topics. Stella writes her own newsletter and it’s completely full of heart (and spelling errors). I loved these very personal moments in the story, and I loved the level of depth we get from her as our heroine. Her desire to know and to understand is really what makes her a truly wonderful character, and I loved her move from innocence to experience. It was simply well done!

Stella by Starlight is a wonderful read, and a somewhat timely book given some of the issues within the news. There’s intense, very beautiful story telling, and I love that Draper never avoids the tough topics or dumbs them down for the reader. This book is meaningful and difficult, but it reminds us of a horrific period in time, and brings these issues into a context that a middle grader could understand. Stella by Starlight is simply something special, and worth the read.

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – December Edition

It’s the end of the year! And it’s a new round of SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! This month we’ve changed things up a bit: I challenged River to read a book I gifted her for a series that I know she completely adores and just hasn’t gotten to yet. I am still reading a pick from her this month that she has in fact read (and wants everyone, yes YOU to read!).

Sam’s Pick for River:

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Dreams of Gods and Monsters
by Laini Taylor.

I have been nagging River to read this since it released. NOW SHE IS DOING IT!

River’s Pick for Sam:

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

So our official review for this one was insanely positive and you know what? I’m thrilled to read this as the synopsis has me completely intrigued. Pretty sure this is going to be a favourite, but you never know.

What are some must read books you need to get to in December? Let us know in the comments! Also join our reading challenge!

River & Sam’s Fave Books of November

It’s time to pick our favourite book(s) of the month! November was a stressful month, and the only thing that keep us both de-stressed? Reading! Reading fixes everything. I know for me personal, November was test and assignment hell, to the point where life was library school and reading to keep myself sane. Social life? I miss you, we should hang out some time.

On to the favourites!

River’s PIck:

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

After she finished reading it, River gushed about this book to me, so much so that it is what I will be reading for this month’s SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! (and including it in my reading challenge somehow!). Check out River’s Full Review where she tells you why you need this book on your TBR, and check in with me at the end of the month for my review in SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS!

Sam’s Pick:

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Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks

I am so glad River made me read this. SO SO SO GLAD! This book was just wonderful, magical and so damn poetic. River knows how much I adore thoughtful middle grade, and she also knew it had an awesome dog side kick, so no wonder this book stole my heart. This book definitely needs to be read, especially when it releases in North America in February.

What was your favourite book you read in November? Let us know in the comments.

SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! – November Edition Reviewed

November is over, December begins, which means it’s time for the latest instalment of SIT DOWN! SHUT UP! READ THIS! Reviewed Edition. River and I read some pretty awesome books in November, and the two we selected for each other? Let’s just say we REALLY enjoyed them.

Sam’s Pick for River:

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

River’s Thoughts: This book was so much different from what I expected. I mean, I knew it was going to be groundhogs-day-ish, but I guess beyond that I had no idea. I actually put this book off for a long time because I thought the whole re-living the same day thing sounded SUPER boring. And this book is on the long-ish side for a YA novel. I’m also not the biggest Lauren Oliver fan. I really didn’t like her dystopian books that much, but then I read PANIC and looooooved that so I guess I like her contemporary work? Like, a lot?

Now I can’t wait for Vanishing Girls and I NEED to pick up a copy of Rooms. But yeah this book was so good.

River’s Pick for Sam: 

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Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks

Sam’s Thoughts: What a magical story! I loved the adventure in this story, and I loved how it as much a mother-daughter bonding story as it was one of growing up. I think what the appeal is for Finding Serendipity is that it’s a book lover’s book, a book a writer would love to write. It made me smile from start to finish, I loved the characters, especially Baxterr (with his extra ‘r’!). The story is insanely cute and it’s accompanied by some beautiful illustrations.

Even though this is a middle grade novel, I feel like anyone can read this story and fall victim to its charms. It’s quirky, cute, and just plain fun. Sometimes you just want a story that’s fun and thoughtful in the simplest ways, and Finding Serendipity just excels at that. It’s seriously that magical and delightful of a book! Check it out!

Read any of our picks? Let us know what you think in the comments.

ARC Review – The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

23164922Title: The Strange Library

Author: Haruki Murakami

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: From internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami–a fantastical illustrated short novel about a boy imprisoned in a nightmarish library. A lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man plot their escape from the nightmarish library of internationally acclaimed, bestselling Haruki Murakami’s wild imagination.

Huge thank you for Random House Canada for this ARC!

The Strange Library is certainly one of Murakami’s more unique reads, but I’d argue for such a short book there’s a lot going on, a many mysterious left to the imagination. Actually, this book is insanely imaginative and kind of disturbing, but that’s ultimately what kept me turning the pages.

A kid goes into a library and is essentially taken hostage and forced to read books about taxes in the Ottoman Empire. Of course, he has an ill mother at home and a strong will to escape the hellish library so that he can make it home to her. He meets a voiceless girl and a sheep man, both with a desire to help him escape, and it’s a pretty fast journey.

The translation was one of my favourite aspects of this book, if only because it has this whimsy, creepy sort of tone to it. I mean, being trapped in a library should be a book lover’s dream, but for our nameless hero, it’s an absolute nightmare knowing that his capture is a man who wants to suck the knowledge from his brain. Yeah, disturbing.

This is a really fast read, and a fun one for the most part. It definitely not Murakami’s best work, but it has such a unique presentation with half the book filled with artwork and the other half text. Plus reading it requires the reader to play around with it for a bit. It’s surprising nifty! The ending, however, I admit, it was completely unsatisfying, though that may be because the story is so darn short.

While I don’t think The Strange Library will be for every Murakami fan, I do think it offers a fun, morbid take on libraries and it’s staff. There’s definitely some quirkiness here, and for the right Murakami fan, this book is sure to delight.