Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Fall - Bethany Griffin Guest Post



There is nothing better in the lead up to Halloween than reading a deliciously creepy story. The Fall by Bethany Griffin is filled with chills, intense atmosphere and will send shivers down your spine. I have Bethany stopping by today with a guest post on how she created the mood of this chilling read.

You'll also want to be sure to enter the amazing giveaway below. Totally jealous of whoever wins this one!


First, here is a little info about this novel....



Title: THE FALL

Author: Bethany Griffin

Pub. Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 432

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

Bethany gives some amazing insight into capturing the atmosphere of this novel in her guest post below...

The atmosphere and mood seems to be a huge part of this story. Discuss how you created the particular tone/atmosphere for this novel.

This is an interesting question, and one that sort of makes me question my writing process, because I’m not sure if I can separate creating atmosphere completely from all the other parts of writing, and in this book it permeates everything, in some ways the atmosphere is the story since it’s so connected to setting, plot, and characters!

To begin with I read Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher several times. I made a list of words from Poe’s story that I wanted to use in mine as well as some descriptions like the blasted white trees and the eye-like windows that I wanted to be sure to include. Once I started I didn’t go back to Poe’s story, and I’m not sure I remembered I had the list. I do remember that at one point I realized I’d used darkness/blackness too many times and ended up having to go to a thesaurus where I found the word tenebrous, which appears once, I think.

The first scene was the first thing I wrote. If I couldn’t pull that one off, I knew I couldn’t pull off the book. It had to be awful and claustrophobic, but the reader also had to have the sense that this wasn’t a completely new or unexpected happening for Madeline—waking up in a coffin, no, but waking up from a trance was something she was very used to...so she’s weirdly calm until she realizes where she is.

My first draft process is to quickwrite, either on paper or on my computer, and then to layer in details, take out unnecessary words and repetitive details, layer in more, take out more, layer in more, and so on, Some of the atmosphere comes from the first draft, I have a picture in my head I want to create, some of it comes from that layering process as I try to make the picture that’s in my head clearer/understandable to readers.

To create the atmosphere in the Fall I called upon every nightmare I’d ever had. I had a lot of nightmares as a child, and still have them occasionally. In my early 20’s I had a reoccurring dream that involved being unable to move. I tried to work the horror of that into the story as best I could, as well as other terrors of childhood.

Poe’s story has a heavy sense of gloom, and in my own way I hope I created a mirroring heaviness and gloom, a feeling of being watched, a feeling of history which makes Madeline’s efforts to escape both frighteningly futile as well as wonderfully brave.

A large part of the tone was a sense that the house was watching all the time. Some weird things from my childhood—my family was Pentecostal, and I had a lot of confusion with religion--there was definitely a sense in childhood of not being alone, of being watched, and a feeling that the watcher was all-powerful but not entirely kindly. I was the only girl in my family, and because of this was gifted with a large and not all-together-uncreepy collection of expensive china dolls. They were lovely during the day, but at night they watched me. I made bargains with them if they let me live through the night.

If I’m being honest, I woke up a few times in adulthood with horrible nightmares, realizing those creepy creepy dolls were in storage in my attic. I moved them to the garage, and eventually got rid of them, but the sense of malevolence I felt from them remains, as well as that sense of helplessness, of making bargains with something you don’t understand.

At the same time the setting for the house was every dark and fascinatingly dismal place I’ve ever visited, with bits of beauty shining through. I love urban decay, and the house was most certainly decaying around Madeline.

Whether atmosphere, or simply plot- I’m fascinated by characters who are trapped, and Madeline was undeniably trapped by the house and her relationship with it.

I feel like once I start a story, I find the atmosphere in the same way I find the main character’s voice? Sometimes you write scenes where you lose the voice, or the atmosphere, particularly if you are adding in a new scene, or have taken a break for awhile, but when you lose that thread, it’s really obvious, and really just means you have to immerse yourself in the story to find it again.

A huge thank you to Bethany for writing up such a fantastic post, and the ladies at Rockstar Book Tours for including me.

Bethany Griffin is a high school English teacher who prides herself on attracting creative misfits to elective classes like Young Adult Literature, Creative Writing, and Speculative Literature. She is the author of HANDCUFFS, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, DANCE OF THE RED DEATH, GLITTER AND DOOM, and THE FALL. She lives with her family in Kentucky.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads




Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour. Here are the rest of the stops for this week. You can view the whole tour schedule on Rockstar Book Tours website.

9/29/2014- Bookish - Interview
9/30/2014- A Glass of Wine - Guest Post
10/1/2014- Stories & Sweeties - Review
10/2/2014- Novel Novice - Review
10/3/2014- Burning Impossibly Bright - Interview

Be sure to enter the giveaway below to win these amazing prizes! That scarf is amazing! The necklace, and of course those amazing bookmarks!


The contest is USA only and you can enter by using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 29, 2014

Winterspell by Claire Legrand



Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Release Date - September 30, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 464 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
This is certainly not the Nutcracker you'll remember from your childhood. Claire Legrand is offering up a dark, sexy, twisty take on the classic tale. One that is filled with just as much wonder, whimsy and magic as the original, but also embraces it's own voice to become something entirely new and fresh.

Fans of the iconic story will delight in the nods woven throughout the story. Character names, scenes, and objects all pay homage to the ballet from which this draws inspiration, sometimes in surprising ways. I anticipate that you'll get more enjoyment out of it as a fan of the Nutcracker, and do recommend pairing a watching of the ballet with reading this novel so that it's fresh in your mind.

This is a sensual, decadent take on the Nutcracker tale. Those darker undertones are present in the source material, but they are pushed to the forefront in this retelling. The sensuous, lush writing style only adds to the steamy tone that is woven throughout many scenes in the novel. Clara, herself, is having an awakening of sorts. She timid and shy about sex. Her experiences have not been positive as she lives in fear of drawing attention to herself. This awakening is paralleled in the magic that is infused in every single aspect of Cane. It's intoxicating, and alluring and all part of Clara's journey. They are meshed together in a very organic way that worked well rather in the story.

I've heard much talk in reviews of the fact that Clara is attracted to Nicholas when he's in his 'nutcracker' form. For me, this aspect, while highly unusual, worked well within the story. It paid homage to the curse from the original while incorporating it into this sexier, and more dangerous adaptation. The connection, built from her younger years, makes their subsequent interactions feel more authentic. While Clara was sharing her secrets with Nicholas, she was also keeping him from going insane. There is plenty of chemistry between her and Nicholas and that stems from this bond that was formed without either of them really knowing it was being built.

Clara also has some real sparks with Anise. Their storyline is rather intriguing, but spoiler filled so I won't say much. I will say that it goes in directions that I was not expecting and completed Clara's journey.

The world building, while adeptly done in some cases, was not descriptive enough for me in others. I had a hard time picturing the world of Cane. Clara's New York and it's gritty, dirty underbelly was an easy setting to bring to life. However, Cane was much more difficult to imagine. In particular the mechanical creatures that have overtaken Cane. Also illusive to picture was the constant tearing down and rebuilding of the land that Anise was doing. I could not picture how that would work, or what it would look like. It made picturing these fully formed characters harder because their surrounding canvas felt like a mystery.

All the characters have themes of betrayal, forgiveness, prejudices, and survival strewn throughout their journeys. The political struggles between the various groups (humans, mages, and fairies) was well constructed and believable. It's this aspect of the story that shone the brightest because it felt timeless. Anise wasn't a one dimensional villain. Her treatment and was pushed her to the Anise we see in this story was horrendous. The novel stops short of excusing her actions though, and instead presents the characters has having choices. Choices are what define us, and how we treat others.

The pacing, well off at times, was mostly kept in place due to a ticking clock that constantly ensured the characters did not hesitate in their actions. The readers are constantly aware that something is coming and it added a nice bit of tension to the storyline. A tension that would have been missing if not for this element.

Claire Legrand has written a grown up fairytale for those who enjoy stories filled with fairies, kissing, snow, and magic. While I didn't fall as in love with Legrand's Cane as I wanted to, there is still more than enough to love within these enchanting pages.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New To My Book Closet


It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

I have a very small mailbox this week. One e-novella that I am excited to get to read!


Locked by Parker Witter (goodreads)

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

BOOK

Locked by Parker Witter (goodreads)


This enovella actually ties into Rebecca Serle's upcoming Famous In Love. The movie being made in Famous In Love is an adaptation of this book. Rebecca (and her publishing team) decide to offer up the 'book within a book' for fans to read, and I am thrilled. I have already purchased the ebook only novella and cannot wait to devour it. It sounds different than Rebecca's normal writing, but I am excited to see what she does with something that is not contemporary.

If you've read Famous In Love you'll want to grab this one immediately and for those who haven't met Paige, Jordan and Rainer yet, just trust me when I say you'll be rushing to purchase this right after.

TV/MOVIE

Gone Girl movie advertisements


The Gone Girl promotional team has released new adverts for the upcoming thriller....




This movie's promotional team is pure genius. They've made this movie into an event. They have released everything in a very controlled, planned manner that teases and tantalizes. I need this movie in my life, immediately. I am hoping to see it as soon as possible.

How To Get Away With Murder Pilot Episode 

Did you catch the premiere? Insane doesn't even begin to describe this show. It's going to be one of those shows that has a ton of buzz on social media because of the twists and reveals that are happening. If you missed the first episode, catch up before the second because it's the show everyone will be talking about.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is: 

Book character(s) you'd like to see with their own Twitter page

Magnus Bane from the Mortal Instruments series. He would be hilarious and fun!

Happy Weekend!

Sway by Kat Spears



Sway by Kat Spears
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books/St Martin's Griffin
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.
Jesse is a manipulator. He's got the charisma, connections, and means to get you anything you want, for a price of course. I went into Sway expecting a novel filled with character progression and a love story worthy of changing someone. While it was a decently written, sometimes cute story, I never did connect with it the way I wanted to.

There were elements of the novel that might be uncomfortable for some readers. The disabled, women, the overweight, and various other groups are ridiculed and have slurs expressed about them. It made Jesse's character worse than he needed to be, and almost irredeemable for me. I am fine if this type of thing services the plot, but this didn't really feel like it was doing that. This is a novel where the reader is supposed to see Jesse transform, and while there is growth, I just don't feel it was enough for where he starts out.

The girl who turns Jesse's life upside down and changes his very core was, surprisingly, absent from a lot of the novel. Jesse and Bridget don't share nearly as much time as I expected together. While I understood why she would capture Jesse's interest, I never felt the bond between them. This is one of those cases where the romance should have been the focus. The plot relies on you being invested in their connection, and it just didn't quite come across that way. Jesse had a much stronger connection to Bridget's brother Pete. Their story interested me much more, and pulled me into the story in a way that nothing else did.

Pete was one of the most interesting characters in the story. His anger, frustration, and pain over his disability, and the way he is treated as a result of it, was a compelling aspect of the novel. He is the only character I felt something for and it was this mixture of sympathy, and frustration. I wanted to both help him, and smack him.

The overall message of the story is the lesson that Jesse learns throughout the novel, however, the path that he takes to get there just didn't feel quite enough for me. The growth didn't quite feel genuine to me, because what starts him down that path wasn't fleshed out enough. The aftermath from the pivotal scene where everything comes crashing down felt rushed. Forgiveness is given all too easily without the contrition to back it up.

A novel that I never really connected to, it ended up leaving me with no strong feelings either way. This may be a case of me being the odd one out as I see a ton of really positive reviews for it, so do check them out. Personally, I was hoping for more of a connection, more of a love story, and just more in general.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday ......... Vendetta


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Vendetta by Catherine Doyle


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block--a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him -- and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic's knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she's torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she's now in love with. She'll have to choose between loyalty and passion. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death.
Romeo and Juliet meets the Mafia? Yes, please. It sounds dark, twisty and (hopefully) romantic. I am looking forward to devouring this one as soon as I can!

Expected release date - February 24, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran



How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran
Release Date - September 23, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  336 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn't enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes - and build yourself.

It's 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there's no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde - fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer - like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes - but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she's smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She's writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Caitlin Moran's How To Build A Girl. I'd never read any of her previous work, and didn't really know much about her. It turns out that How To Build A Girl is a sharp, poignant look at what it means to grow up as a girl. It also happens to be a book with a lot to say.

Caitlin's writing is like a razor. Stinging, sharp, and attention grabbing. I found myself unable to read this in public simply because I was laughing too much. Her writing won't be for everyone. It's unapologetic in it's brashness, but that is why I adored Johanna's voice. This, from what I understand, is semi autobiographical, and as a result the novel pulses with Johanna's personality. As her confidence in herself grows (both real and put on for appearances) the writing reflects this. The writing, gives Johanna a very real, and honest voice that shines through the entire novel.

Sex, the act itself, and sexual discussion, is prevalent throughout the entire novel. Johanna is a girl who is sexually curious. She masturbates. She wants to have sex. She thinks about sex, a lot. I have a longer, more focused post idea discussing this, but the notion of female sexuality and how it is shown in media has always both fascinated and angered me. How it was handled in this novel, however, was brilliantly done. Both men and women enjoy sex. It may seem like an obvious thing, but in media it sometimes doesn't feel that way. Women are held to a different standard than men when it comes to sex. I can recall being told growing up that a 'proper lady' did not talk about sex. Woven into this is, obviously, slut shaming. Johanna is shown to be judged for her sexual activities in ways that her male counterparts would never be. She even, at times, judges herself. This is made all the more poignant when she realizes that it's perhaps not even what she wants to do, but rather what is expected of her because of this persona she's built.

The idea of being someone you're not to please others is something I could over-relate to. I am guessing many people will feel the same. There is a telling section where Johanna asks herself if she is doing something because she wants to, or because it'll make someone else happy. She admits that she's never stopped to ask herself what SHE wanted, and if she was enjoying something. Was she having sex with someone because she wanted to? Did she really want to smoke? Does she really not like that band? These questions are peppered though out and speak to not only her character, but the theme of novel. Girls are told to be 'good' and to be 'gentle (at least I was). That being too forceful in your opinions, especially with men, was not attractive. You were not to argue or cause a fuss. Luckily, I grew up and became my own person, and that is Johanna's journey. Imagine, though, if we told all the young girls out there that their opinion mattered right from the beginning? I think that would be a truly wonderful thing, and I think Caitlin Moran is saying that here.

My only issue with this novel is that, at times, it does feel repetitive. Johanna seems to be learning the same lesson over and over. However, isn't that realistic? Don't we all make the same mistakes again and again? People often make those same decisions, and face the same outcomes. It may have felt realistic, but it did cause a bit of a drag to the middle of the novel in an otherwise tightly woven story.

A bitingly hilarious, honest look at growing up, Caitlin Moran, captures all the ups and downs of coming of age, and the lessons we all have to learn. There is plenty to enjoy for those who enjoy brash, abrasive humour, and plenty of thoughtful insight in their writing. A truly engaging read that charmed me, and left me laughing. This will have younger girls sneaking it off their mother's (or older sister's) bookshelf to devour, and I can think of no higher compliment than that.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender



Famous Last Words by Katie Alender
Release Date - September 30, 2014
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Hollywood history, mystery, murder, mayhem, and delicious romance collide in this unputdownable thriller from master storyteller Katie Alender.

Willa is freaking out. It seems like she's seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles -- a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa's strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There's Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there's Reed, who's ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There's also Wyatt, who's super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life.

Acclaimed author Katie Alender puts an unforgettable twist on this spine-chilling tale of murder, mystery, mayhem -- and the movies.
A novel that mixes my love of mysteries with my obsession with Hollywood? Yes, please. Famous Last Words seemed to be everything that I would love in a novel. While it was mostly enjoyable, some elements did not work quite as well, for me at least, and it ended up just being a rather average read.

The supernatural element mentioned in the synopsis almost takes over the entire plot. The Hollywood inspired murders are woven in to this supernatural element, but are secondary in the focus. I found that it did not quite mesh well with the setting and felt disjointed. The plot all ties together at the end, but it still wasn't enough for me to forget my disconnection at the beginning. Personally, I would have enjoyed this more without the supernatural element to the story.

Willa was different than I expected her to be. She's being haunted by these ghosts, and yet she's handling it remarkably well. She was taking control, and dealing with it. Her attitude was one of action, rather than sitting back and letting things unfold. She didn't feel sorry for herself, and instead focused on actually fixing the situation. While she wasn't as developed as I would have liked, there was more than enough to make her interesting. In particular, her father's death and it's impact on her while subtly done, resonated rather well.

The romance felt rushed, but I think that is because it was such a background focus. The time spent together was mostly plot driven, and related back to the mystery at the focus of the story. There were some promising elements as they began to share deeper aspects of themselves, and I would have greatly enjoyed it if the 'love' word had not been used. It could have been a cute, initial starting out with the potential for more. Willa has a lot going on, with being haunted and all, so it would have worked to have a slower paced flirtation.

The last few chapters are paced well, and are filled with the tension that wasn't quite there in the rest of the novel. It's a dizzying, chilling ending that was what I was looking for when I picked up this novel. The ending reveal, while one that you'll mostly see coming, is logical, and executed rather well.

A novel that is a mix of realistic and supernatural chills. The focus on the supernatural was unexpected, and did not quite work for me, but the result is an otherwise fairly enjoyable read. A lighter (despite it's subject matter) fluffy read that many will breeze through.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

Short and sweet this week as I am going through the worst jet lag ever right now.

BOOK

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (Goodreads)

This book's synopsis sounds amazing and exactly like something I want to read!
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink.
Poppy.
Midnight.
Two girls.
One boy.
One summer.
One bad thing.
What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.
You immediately want to read this, right? It sounds darkly delicious and I cannot wait to devour it in 2016.

Disappear by Megan Miranda (Goodreads)

Mystery novels with missing girls seem to be the new big thing. This pleases me as I LOVE these novels. This one caught my eye and it sounds amazing...
Disappear is told in reverse and covers a period of two weeks. The story unravels the mystery of two missing girls who vanished 10 years apart, and whose cases are linked by the same group of friends in a rural North Carolina town.
The 10 years apart thing has piqued my interest as does the whole 'same group of friends' thing. I have read some novels from this author before, and enjoyed them enough, so I am looking forward to see what she does in this genre. I believe this is an adult novel as well.

OTHER

Las Vegas

I just got back last night from Las Vegas on a work trip. It was so much fun. I am already looking forward to going back on personal trip. The highlight was getting to see Jersey Boys, and the Cirque Du Soleil Kà. If you get the chance to see Jersey Boys, do it! It's amazingly done.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson



I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson 
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - Penguin/Razorbill
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
There is something truly magical about a book that resonates deeply with you. One that makes you feel every range of emotion. The type of book that can leave your heart in pieces and yet healed at the same time. One whose characters, and plot come together beautifully to create something that is beyond words. Something that lingers with you long after the final page has been turned. I'll Give You The Sun left me with the kind of book hanger that doesn't come along often because it is a perfect blend of everything you could want in a novel.

I often complain that multiple view points in a novel sound too similar. There is no uniqueness to the voices. This is not the case. Jude and Noah's voices are both so fully realized, both so unique, and both so utterly spellbinding. You'll effortlessly fall in love with both of them. Neither are perfect, and that only adds to their character and appeal. They are both so fully formed that you expect them to leap off the page. It feels like you're reading someone's diary instead of a fictional novel.

Having never read a Jandy Nelson novel before I didn't quite know what to expect. I know a lot of people have gushed about her writing and every single thing said is true. The words seem to be precisely chosen and strung together. Each sentence and turn of phrase seems deliberate. She tapped into the character's voices so deeply that it feels like they are the ones telling you their story. Needless to say I've become a certified fangirl, and will read anything she writes next. Her writing sears you with it's emotion and enthralls you with it's beauty.

There is a magical quality to not just the writing but built into the story itself. Noah's lyrical, chaotic voice, and Jude's poetic narration only add to this feeling. From coincidences, fate, and the notion that 'some people are meant to be in the same story' we see how the universe may have things planned for you. Even if getting there isn't quite the route you wanted to take.

I fell in love with the beautiful, flawed, and infuriating Oscar. His delicious British accent, charming demeanour, and bluntness made him an easy book crush. The 'cocky broken beautiful boy' from the above description certainly lives up to his name. The romance is just as crushing, just as exquisite and just as painful as you would expect. This novel feels like a rollercoaster and your emotions are flung all over the place before the story is finished.

The sibling bond is perhaps my favourite part of this story. Extra care was taken to develop this relationship and make it more important than the others. It's the focus of the novel, and even when they are not taking or sharing the same space this relationship looms ever present. It's the driving force of the novel, and you cannot help buy hope they can bridge the gap that has come between them.

No words will be able to justice to this beautifully written, incredibly moving novel. A story of the bonds between people, the decisions that we make, and the impact those choices have. A story of love, jealousy, forgiveness and grief, it's one I won't soon forget.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday ....... All The Bright Places


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself-a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.
This sounds heart breaking, but amazing. This already has some buzz behind it as there is a movie being made and Elle Fanning is staring as Violet. I predict this one might be very popular as contemporaries, especially ones of this nature, are really hot right now.

Expected release date - January 6, 2015

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ashes To Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian



Ashes To Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  400 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

**SPOILERS FOR BURN FOR BURN AND FIRE WITH FIRE**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
New Year's Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.
After Rennie's death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn't left with Reeve... If Kat had only stayed with Rennie... Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.
Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?
Anger can devour you if you let it. It can be more harmful to you than the person you're angry with. It's said that if you start down the path of revenge be sure to dig a grave for yourself as well. Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's series shows just how heartbreakingly accurate this age old proverb is.

After finding out that Mary was dead at the end of Fire With Fire, I was immediately dying for Ashes To Ashes. All those questions I had were addressed in this final installment of the series. We learn why Lillia and Kat could see Mary and interact with her. We also get the hows and whys of Mary's power, and get to see exactly what she's capable of. Mary is a force to be reckoned with after Fire With Fire, and she's not about to sit quietly by after everything that has happened. Her presence is so all consuming in this book that the tension feels earned and natural. It was natural, gradual progression from the first novel to the Mary we have leading into book three.

The most stunning character development, however, is Reeve. We get so much more back story to his relationship with Mary and what his life was like right after her suicide. Things I thought were true turned out to have more than one side to them. Jenny and Siobhan have crafted a complex character that at first seems one dimensional and flat. It's his journey more than any other, combined with Mary's story, that shows the entire point of this series. Having a character surprise readers, and defy our initial perception of them goes right to the heart of bullying itself. Take a closer look and you might not see what you think you do, and people are often so much more than they first appear to be.

The ending wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be. It felt rushed, and the emotional resolution I wanted just didn't happen. The characters were not given a chance to react to the events that unfolded, and after three novels I wanted that. I care about these characters, and was invested in what happened to them. Getting to experience the emotions they felt about the events at the end should have been a priority with this novel. It's something that prevented it from being a full five star book for me. Everything was quickly dealt with, and brushed away that it didn't quite mesh with the thoughtful beginning that came before it.

In many ways the notion of a happy ending was never in the cards for this series. Sacrifices of many different kinds are made before the end of the novel. Sometimes your happy ending doesn't look like what you thought it would, and that feels very true to reality. We grow and change, and that shifts what our happy ending is. Our story is never done, and that's the most realistic element Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian wove into the story. The notion that something we didn't expect might turn out to be exactly what we needed is a powerful message and one that I found beautiful.

For a series that deals with anger, a lot of it's message is ultimately forgiveness. The overall message of revenge, and what it takes from all parties involved was beautifully threaded throughout the three books. As Kat, Lillia and Mary's story comes to close the only word that comes to mind is realistic. It might not be the exact ending you want, but it feels an awful lot like real life.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Get Even by Gretchen McNeil



Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  400 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.
Get Even has been described as John Hughes with a body count.With it's mix of high school drama, murder, and humour, Get Even does, indeed, bring to mind some classic John Hughes movies. It's strength, and what sets it a part, is in the murder mystery itself

If you're read Gretchen's previous novels you'll know that crafting suspense is something she does incredibly well. This type of story is all about the tension. The added tension of the group dynamic ensured that the outside tension was only magnified by the inside tension. None of the 'DGM' members can fully be sure they trust each other. A shaky alliance built on a shared desire to inflict their brand of justice doesn't exactly instill confidence,and the fact that one of them could be killer is played with throughout.

The moral ambiguity of what 'DGM' does doesn't escape the characters, or the readers. The nature of 'an eye for an eye' is played with here, and all the blurriness that comes with it. Is 'DGM' any better than the bullies they are trying to inflict justice on? That question doesn't have an easy answers. It's hard to deny their usefulness when you see the good they can do, but when it's shown along with the harm it become less fun, and more conflicting. As readers, I think we're meant to feel, at least a little, uncomfortable with what they are doing even as we cheer them on.

This is an ensemble novel. It's got a large cast of characters to keep track of, and each of them have side storylines. It can sometimes be disorienting and dizzying because of the multiple characters we are following. Once you begin to fall into pattern of the novel, and know the characters though, it's a rather enjoyable reading experience. Pacing has always been one of Gretchen McNeil's strongest elements and this is no exception. She keeps everything moving, even with the multiple plotlines and does it without the story feeling weighted down.

The cat and mouse game that the killer (or killers) play with the members of 'DGM' raises the stakes, and made it so that it was personal. It gave them a vested interest that might not have otherwise been there. It all ties back to the pacing and this is the section of the plot where Gretchen's skills as a writer truly come out. The various twists and turns are well plotted, and the number of suspects will certainly keep readers guessing.

The final few pages of this book ensure that the sequel will be nearly impossible to not devour immediately upon release. The unmasking of the killer may have to wait, but there are more than enough clues to keep you hypothesizing until the sequel's release.

A fun murder mystery that offers up plenty of suspects and mixes humour with it's thrills. A few implausible elements, that would however feel at home in a old school teen movie, didn't detract from this enjoyably pleasant read.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

The theme this week is TV! Lots of teasers for the upcoming television season!

BOOK

Heather Demetrios' Flail Worthy Surprise


Taken from Heather's Instagram account

If you look at this list you'll see a familiar blog name. I got teary eyed when Heather let us know this was going to be in the hardcover of Exquisite Captive. It's pretty mind blowing and totally awesome. A huge thank you to both Harper Collins and Heather for making this happen. Trust me when I say you want this book, and there is a fantastic pre-order campaign going on right now.

The cover of The Witch Hunter (goodreads)



Such a striking, eye catching cover. The synopsis of this one also sounds amazing so it's high up on my wishlist. I love that the cover is so different from everything else out there right now.

The Conspiracy of Us cover (goodreads)



I love the colour scheme of this cover. The title treatment is pretty awesome too. I am excited to read this because of the awesome sounding synopsis too.

TV/MOVIE

The Affair trailer



So one of my most anticipated shows of the autumn season finally has a premiere date. I am stunned by this teaser. It's intense, and I did not expect the murder mystery aspect to this. Who died?! That is the question and the answer better not be Joshua Jackson's character. (Side note, WHO CHEATS ON JOSHUA JACKSON?!)

American Horror Story: Freakshow trailer


Creepy. That is the first word that comes to mind. The freaky clowns that they've teased already scare me. The teaser has a lot of potential and I cannot wait for it to start.

Gotham 'Heros' Trailer



Heroes Aren't Born, They're Forged says the tagline for this trailer. It's possibly my favourite trailer after the brilliant one teasing the arrival of The Joker. The premiere is so close and I cannot wait.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Beyond The Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block



Beyond The Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - St Martin's Press/Raincoast
Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 224 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

**Adult Novel**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Maternal, sexy Catt and her beautiful, daring best friend Bree are hairdressers at an L.A. salon called Head Hunter, and work out at a gym called Body Farm. They have over a decade of sobriety behind them and are getting close to living the lives they've always wanted.

But when Catt's husband, Dash, leaves her, and then her neighbor is brutally murdered, possibly by a man being called the Hollywood Serial Killer, Catt's world begins to come crashing down. The murdered victims all seem to bear a chilling resemblance to Bree. Catt suspects that Bree is the next target of the Hollywood Serial Killer...is she losing touch with reality or simply coming to terms with the truth?

In Beyond the Pale Motel, a terrifying and intensely erotic novel, Francesca Lia Block explores the dangers of modern living, loving and dying with lyrical edge and sensational attitude.
Sensual and dangerous. Haunting and chilling. Beyond The Pale Motel is the literary equivalent of watching one of your best friends spiral so wildly down a dark path and yet being unable to do anything about it. A modern look at the dangers of dating, and the risks we, perhaps, unknowingly take when we let someone into our lives, and beds.

Catt is a hot mess. She's desperate, and spiraling. Seeing her make unfortunate choices made me feel protective of her. I wanted to shake her and tell  her that she mattered. That she was loved. Catt, for all her flaws, is guilty of nothing more than wanting love. She's tempting fate by looking for all forms of love in the absolute wrong places. She uses the love of others to feel validated, rather than finding that love within herself. Self worth is something everyone struggles with, and someone like Catt is, sadly, not that hard to find in real life. Her addictive personality has her latching on to unhealthy things, this time it just happens to be people. Something makes her feel good, and she craves it. The blending of this aspect of her personality into the story was effortlessly done. The fight to remain sober, the impact the addiction has on the people around them, and most importantly, how the craving never really leaves.

The serial killer storyline is almost a background story. This is a story of a women struggling with her demons. It's a character study and Catt is focus. We get to see every single inch of who she is, even if it's uncomfortable at times. Francesca's writing is raw, abrasive and cutting. She pulls your emotions taunt to the breaking point, and keeps pulling until you snap. The elements of the mystery, and who the killer is are well done. There are plenty of viable suspects, and Catt's increasing paranoia helps the murkiness.

A chilling commentary about the risks that, women especially, take in the modern dating world. It's message of never quite knowing who you're meeting, particularly with the introduction of online dating, is timely, and on point. It's a metaphor for the risk of giving your heart away. There is always a chance it'll get broken, and in this case it could cost you more than some heartache.

An explicit, unflinching look at searching for love in the all the most dangerous places. A novel that reminded me a little of Looking For Mr Goodbar, it left me chilled, and more than a little unsettled. It's as sexy as it is scary, and the danger is all part of it's allure.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is: 

Before blogging (dark times people!) how would you find out about new books or did you?

Dark times, indeed. I used to just browse at the bookstore, my local library and the Scholastic book fair at school was also a highlight.

Happy Weekend!

Blackbird by Anna Carey



Blackbird by Anna Carey
Release Date - September 16, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  256 pages
My Rating - 2.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
This twisty, breathless cat-and-mouse thrill ride, told in the second person, follows a girl with amnesia in present-day Los Angeles who is being pursued by mysterious and terrifying assailants.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.
Blackbird caught my attention with it's mysterious premise, and it's promise for lots of action. Sadly, this one ended up not being for me. As someone who is a character driven reader, as I wanted more from pretty much every element of the story.

While reading Blackbird something felt off during the entire novel. I couldn't put my finger on it until I was almost done. I didn't connect to the characters. I wasn't connecting to the story. I didn't feel the pressure or the rising stakes. There is little to no character growth or development because the writing style prevents it. It quickly become apparent that the writing style, second person point of view, was not something I enjoyed. It creates an insurmountable barrier, at least for me, and prevented me from fully getting swept away by the story. I am sure others will enjoy this style more than I did, and I am sure it presents it's own challenges while writing, but I don't feel it worked in this scenario.

There are plenty of twists packed within these 256 pages. Some of them fun, and breathtaking, others felt unlikely and didn't mesh as well into the story. When the truth behind what is happening to the main character is revealed, it is chilling. It has all the making of a pulse pounding, consuming story. All the elements from romance, danger, excitement, action are all there. It's the execution that didn't quite pull together for me.

An unusual writing style left me unconnected to the story, and sadly, made the story hard to get into. There is an intriguing premise here, and it may have worked better, at least for me, with a different writing style. Those who love second person point of view may enjoy it better, so I do urge you to check out other reviews.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday ......... Girl Online


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week is Girl Online by Zoe Sugg


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever.
A cute, fun cover and an adorable sounding synopsis made this one an must read for me. It sounds REALLY sweet, and I am hoping for a delightful romance.

Expected release date - November 24, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang



Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Release Date - September 9, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  304 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
It's usually not one moment that crushes a person, rather it's a culmination of little moments, and little choices. Falling Into Place looks at those little moments and the choices we each make and their sometimes devastating impact.  It's a subtly written novel whose lasting impression is anything but quiet.

This is Amy Zhang's debut novel. For the record, it is one of the most beautifully written debuts I've had the pleasure to read. She's a writer that I predict will be dazzling readers for many years to come as she continues to only improve on her already strong voice.

This is one of the novels where the characters seem effortless. They seem all too real. They're flawed, so flawed in fact that I predict many will claim they are unlikable. It's a shining example of character likability not dictating the strength of the novel. They are unbelievably well constructed characters, and they may be too realistic for some. It may hit too close to the heart, but that's a good thing. It's shines a bright light on some of the darkest topics. The secrets we don't want anyone, least of all ourselves, to see. It's a perfect discussion novel, and a large part of that is the characters.

The narrator is a mystery, at least at first. It quickly becomes apparent who is telling us Liz Emerson's story and it's a rather brilliant twist. Extremely observant and perceptive this is the prefect character to tell us this particular story. This is a narrator that is rarely (if ever) used as a narrator in novels, and one whose whimsical, lyrical voice was pitch perfect for the story. It's non linear format of storytelling only adds to the over all dreamy quality of the voice of the narrator. It dictated the tone of the story and effortlessly resonated through the entire novel. The subtle clues to the narrator ultimately pave the way for the reader to guess, even if the title of the narrator is even so much as whispered. The author lets the reader put together the clues, and gives us everything to solve the mystery.

While the ending left me wanting a little bit more to bring it all together, the rest of the novel is so wonderfully crafted that it's a minor thing. The message, and what I took away from the novel are what will stay with me, along with it's characters. They are ultimately what makes it's way into your heart, flaws and all. They are the important element of the story, and this is a perfect read for those who love character driven novels.

The buzz for this one is almost deafening and it's clearly more than warranted. A hauntingly beautiful look at choices and how they impact not just ourselves but others in our orbit. The writing will leave you spellbound and it's story will linger long after you turn that final page.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare



The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Release Date - September 9, 2014
Publisher Website - Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  295 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.
Some novels leave you enchanted. They fill you with whimsy and wonder. In the case of The Iron Trial it was the risks that the authors took, and well as the delightful characters that ensnared me. It is a darkly thrilling, exhilarating, magical journey that is only just beginning. It's a novel that plays with what it means to be the hero, the villain and those delicious shades of grey in between.

I rarely read middle grade. I make a few exceptions and don't often find myself as engrossed as I did with this story. The writing style is geared more towards the younger readers, but there is something captivating in the story that will charm older readers as well. It's one that I believe will have cross over appeal for a broader audience.

Certain genres have tropes. Things that you expect to happen, in some format at least, before you even read a single page. These tropes often work well, and that is why they continue to be used. Defying those tropes, and creating something truly surprising out of them, is what Cassandra Clare and Holly Black designed to do with The Iron Trial and they succeeded. It takes those expected elements of the middle grade fantasy novel and delightfully twists them

There were a few reveals that are truly jaw dropping. One however is truly 'game changing'. It defies the genre in a way that is unexpected and intriguing. I think many will want to continue reading just for the tantalizing possibilities these reveals set out for the further novels.

There is a prophecy contained within that sets out an incredible premise for the rest of the series. A premonition of things to come, and none of them are exactly cheerful. Dark, twisty novels tend to be my favourite, and the fact that this will only progress as the series characters (and it's readers) age leaves me with anticipation. I predict that these authors will not be afraid to crush our hearts and continue to defy our expectations as Callum's story continues.

The setting and it's characters are only beginning to be fleshed out. The world building is limited to the Magisterium itself, and even that feels like ground work for more to be unveiled in further installments. There is plenty of character development as we get a good feel for each of the main characters. Aaron and Tamara in particular as they have a larger role in the story to come. Aaron's story in particular was not what I expected, and I look forward to seeing that progress as the series continues. The roles of these characters are clearly defined, even if who is fulfilling that role isn't quite what you expected. The most important element is that I found myself growing fond of these characters already. I am looking forward to continuing their journey and all the surprises still to come.

A masterfully surprising read that I cannot wait to share with my nieces when they get a bit older. The Iron Trial left me spellbound and eager to follow the rest of this magical series.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

New To My Book Closet


It's that time of the week again. Time to show you what bookish goodies made their way into my home and book closet (to be saved from the evil book eating cat monster named Aria). This is inspired by the various "mailbox" posts out there (eg. In My Mailbox by The Story Siren, and Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews).

I have a very small mailbox this week. One e-novella that I am excited to get to read!


Summerfall by Claire Legrand (goodreads)

A prequel novella for her Winterspell novel. I am going to be reading this soon as well as Winterspell.

What books made their way into your mailbox this week?

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekly Obsessions


The awesome Kelly at KellyVision started posting a weekly post highlighting whatever she happened to be obsessed with that week. I LOVE this idea, so much in fact that I will be doing it myself every Saturday.

A short and sweet one this week.

TV/MOVIE

The Riot Club movie poster

Last week I shared the trailer. This week, it's the movie poster for my newest movie obsession.



Why hello there gorgeous guys in fantastic suits. It captures the tone of the movie without giving away how dark it actually seems to get. I cannot wait for this to reach Canadian theaters. I am not sure it has an official release date in North America, but it is scheduled to release in the UK on September 19th.

OTHER

Fall TV season

The fall TV season is just around the corner, and I couldn't be happier. I am, of course, excited for the next season of my returning favourites, but there are a lot of amazing new shows starting as well. Top of that list is obviously Gotham. How To Get Away With Murder, a new show from Shondra Rhimes also looks worth checking out. There will also be plenty of new shows starting in the winter months (Jan - March) that look interesting.

Las Vegas trip

My work is sending me a on work trip to Las Vegas. I leave this month and am starting to get excited about going. I have a bunch of things to do between now and when I leave so the time will fly by.

What are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Follow Friday


Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet new blogger friends.

This weeks question is: 

Are you also a writer and what genre or did you ever consider writing?

I am not a writer. I do have a few ideas, but haven't really focused on writing one as of yet.

Happy Weekend!

Q and A With Alice Kuipers



Today I have Alice Kuipers stopping by for a Q and A all about her new novel, The Death Of Us. If you have already, do check out what I thought of this book by reading my review.

Here is a little about The Death Of Us


A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

Callie is shocked when her friend Ivy reappears after an unexplained three-year absence, but the girls pick up where they left off, and suddenly Callie’s summer is full of parties, boys and fun. Beneath the surface, things aren't what they seem, however, and when a handsome boy with a dark past gets tangled up with Ivy, the girls’ history threatens to destroy their future.


1. Twitter pitch The Death Of Us (describe it in 140 characters or less).

Someone at my publishing house came up with: A love triangle with a deadly angle. It's on the back of the book and I think it absolutely sums up the novel. And it's way fewer than 140 characters. Or, how about: Three tangled lives, one terrible accident, who survives?

2. If someone were to make an ice cream flavour for your book, what might be included?

A dash of spice - cayenne, a hint of something exotic - cardammon, a swirl of sweet raspberry, plain vanilla, and a lot of chocolate. Underneath would be a darker taste, something bitter, perhaps strong coffee.

3. Friendship is such a huge part of this novel. How would Callie and Ivy each describe their friendship?

Callie would say: I missed Ivy and having her back in my life is the best thing possible. Really. Yeah, I know it was messed up first time round, but she's so amazing. And the past is in the past. Right?
Ivy would say: Callie is the sort of friend I need. Loyal and true. I respect that. I have to trust her. If I can't trust her, I can't trust anyone.

4. If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel? 

A lot of the travelling in the past was exciting and extraordinary but it came at huge cost. Like, I imagine being on HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin, but I know there was a young girl on that ship who had been kidnapped from her people as some sort of curio. Her name was Fuegia Basket. She barely gets a mention in history but her life was destroyed. That sort of destruction and disrespect takes away the appeal of travelling in history. So I think I'd rather travel forward, into the future - go to a new planet, like the one in Michel Faber's new novel, The Book of Strange New Things.

5. What three things do you need while revising? 

My editors.
A strong stomach.
Coffee.

Thank you to Alice for stopping by and answering these questions. Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for setting up this interview.

You can find Alice online by visiting her Twitter or her website

Harper Collins Canada can be found online at the following - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy

Here are a few places you can purchase The Death Of Us - Chapters //  Harper Collins // Amazon //


ALICE KUIPERS is the bestselling, award-winning author of three previous novels, Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You, and the picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best-Ever Bookworm Book. Her work has been published to critical acclaim in twenty-nine countries. She lives in Saskatoon. Find her here: www.alicekuipers.com

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