Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa Meyer            
Release Date - February 4, 2014
Publisher Website - Macmillan/Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 560 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
Magical. If I had to describe The Lunar Chronicles series in one word, that's the one I would use. A story that has, so far, spanned three novels, and is woven masterfully together to create a stunning overall arc.

Cress is a dreamer. She uses her day dreams for comfort and a means of escaping her prison. I saw more of myself in Cress than the other heroines of this series, and because of that I immediately adored her. She's effortlessly beguiling, and her quirks are a large part of her charm. Her innocence does not mean a lack of resourcefulness which is refreshing. She doesn't always need to be saved, even though she's been so sheltered.

The interaction between the characters really begins to come together in this installment. The focus is on setting up the big finale, and it's like a chess board. Marissa has been setting everything up to get to this point, and the execution is pitch perfect. It's easy to spot when things have been plotted, and crafted in advance. This series reflects that careful planning, and is all the more cohesive for it.

The romance in this installment is my favourite out of all the romances in this series. It's tinged with a sweetness, and tenderness. Cress' innocence (due to her seclusion) made for some rather swoon worthy moments as her heart is given to another. Who wins her heart? That would be a spoiler, but safe to say everyone is going to want to be Cress after reading this. This romance reads more like a classic fairytale than the others, and infused it with a little whimsical element that is easy to gush over.

These three different, but each amazing, women coming together to save the world is what delights me the most about this series. There is romance, and kissing, but at it's core, it's very much about these women, and their journey. It's easy to see Marissa's other influences in her female characters. She delivers a message that women can save the world, and be vulnerable, and find love. She's taken what are often one note characters in fairytales and has turned them into wonderfully complex characters whose motivations are far outside those of their inspirations.

The brief glimpse of Winter that we get is delicious. She's everything I hoped she would be and more. That her madness is consuming her is evident from the second she speaks. Marissa talent at characterization is never more present, when in a brief glimpse, she gives us insight and a grasp into who Winter is. I am impatiently waiting to fall into her story, and be as captivated by her as I was by Cinder, Scarlet and Cress.

A intricately woven fairytale that deserves to be a classic in it's own right. A wonderfully plotted series that not only has a gripping plot, but ridiculously endearing characters. Marissa is an auto buy author from me since Scarlet, but Cress cemented exactly why she should be on that list.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday.... Dorothy Must Die

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 Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!
Teased as Kill Bill meets Wizard of Oz and I was immediately sold. The whole remove the Tin Woodman's heart, steal the Scarecrow's brain and take the lion's courage?! HECK YES. I can't wait to see Amy do all of this. Turning Dorothy bad could either go disastrously wrong, or deliciously right. Luckily, based on the e-novella No Place Like Oz, it seems to be off to a fantastic start.

Expected release date - April 1, 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Release Date - January 28, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
Beauty and the Beast meets Greek mythology. Cruel Beauty twists them into an engrossing story of love, forgiveness, sacrifice, and whimsy. With writing that is as beautiful as this novel's cover, dreamlike imagery, and two captivating characters, Cruel Beauty with a decadent story to fall into.

The effortlessly beautiful writing that lyrically weaves this story is one of the stand out elements of this novel. Rosamund Hodge's prose is not only fitting for this fairytale elements, but allows a whimsical element that compliments Ignifex's castle. This author has delivered an astonishingly well written debut that will captive as much for the story, as the writing.

Nyx's anger scorches off the page. Her life has been mapped out since before she was born, and death almost an inevitable conclusion to her brief existence. Her anger defines her, pushes her, and provides a catalyst for the most important part of the novel. It allows her to see Ignifex as something more than a monster. Kindness, and precedence is nothing something she is used to having. Her father bargained her away. Her sister is looked upon as the favourite. Her Aunt sees her as nothing more than a means of destroying the Gentle Lord. Nyx feels like a weapon, with her wants and feelings being an inconvenient afterthought. Ignifex  surprises her, because he shows respect, gives her room to make her own choices. Add this to a charming, if sometimes infuriating attractive demon and it's easy to see how she begins to fall for him.

The romance is swoon worthy. It's filled with yearning, angst, and a wickedness. These are two broken people, who are each drawn to wickedness, and yet bring out the best in one another. Nyx begins to understand forgiveness, and Ignifex finds something in himself worth fighting for. The push/pull of duty versus following your heart that occurs with Nyx's every breath is a battle that perfectly compliments this couple. Their seriously sexy banter was flirtatious, with a hint of war thrown in. Nyx never forgets what is at stake (or who she is dealing with), just as Ignifex never forgets that people want him dead.

Greek mythology and the classic Beauty and the Beast tale weave together surprisingly well. The compliment each other, and allowed Rosamund to take this story into different directions. The influence, and inspiration she garnered from various sources is evident, and yet she twists it to create something that's all her own. The result is a sensual, and thrilling fairytale in it's own right.

An intensely romantic, lush tale that weaves together as beautifully as any fairytale. Cruel Beauty delighted an surprised me in the best way possible. I look forward to anything else Ms Hodge releases in the future, and urge you to pick up this twist on the tale that is as old as time.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd  
Release Date - January 28, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.
Darkness. Seduction. Madness. Her Dark Curiosity questions whether there is darkness in us all. It's an atmospheric read filled with engaging writing. It's one that offers a polarizing protagonist and plenty of romance.

Megan Shepherd's imagery invoking writing is once again breathtakingly present. She captures the tone, mood, and feel easily. It's perhaps the strongest part of the novel, and showcases the writing talent Megan has. It manages to enthrall, and captive. The creepy, unsettled feeling of this particular London is only achieved because of Megan's atmospheric writing.

Juliet makes mistakes. Some of these mistakes are tied directly into her character growth, others felt like they were servicing a love triangle (which might be more of a love square) that didn't really need it. The flawed, conflicted, seduced by darkness Juliet that I was fascinated with in The Madman's Daughter is equally compelling here. She makes a mistakes, but admits it. She's the girl who regrets their actions just a little too late to take them back. She also very naive. When she should be questioning, and demanding answers, she's backing off and letting her judgement be clouded. The madness that plagued her thoughts continues to eat away at her, almost driving her mad by default.

The romance is a huge focus of this novel. It may even take over the novel in some places. This will either delight or frustrate depending on your opinion of triangles and romance driven novels. Juliet's affliction seems to be romance and it's ability to make her lose rational thought. She's a perfectly capable young woman when it comes to everything else, but once romance enters the picture she allows herself to be taken advantage of, and manipulated (see the not asking questions, demanding answers, etc above). I could look past this, but it's only the romance that turns her into this. I hope to see her character develop, and become a little more decisive in the last novel.

The nod to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is much more quiet than I anticipated. Juliet's fear that perhaps she is turning into a monster, and the delicious question that perhaps we have a little darkness inside us, plays with the themes in a subtle, yet compelling way. Of course, the larger nod of someone turning from a mild mannered man into a beast is there, but it's the more quiet inspiration that haunted me as I turned the pages. These inspirations are done really well, and I feel that this inspiration was woven in even more beautifully than in the first novel.

The ending offers up some large hints as to what literary classic will be the inspiration for the last novel. The set up, and reveal has me optimistic that it'll be a compelling end to Juliet's story. The back half is much more action filled than the quieter, more introspective first half, and it will certainly catch reader's attention.

How you feel about Her Dark Curiosity will largely depend on how you felt about The Madman's Daughter. Megan Shepherd's writing captures the mood, and essence of a stalked London, along with a descent into madness. This certainly won't be a novel for everyone but I, however, relished in a character who is drawn to the darkness, makes mistakes, and questions everything about herself.

Sunday, January 26, 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).

Some amazing things in my mailbox this week. A book by one of my favourite authors showed up, and I am dying to dive right into it!

The Blonde by Anna Godbersen (Goodreads)
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Goodreads)

I loved Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tigerlily and fell in love with her writing style. I can't wait to read The Vanishing Season. The other book also sounds good. It's a fictional story revolving around Marilyn Monroe as a SPY! Amazing right? A huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Weinstein Books for these.

I also go another book that was promptly borrowed by one of my fellow Ottawa Blogettes

To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (Goodreads)

A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for this one. The praise that my fellow Canadian bloggers are heaping on this one makes me want to read it immediately!

Let me know what you got in your mailbox this week!

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, January 25, 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.

Here are my obsessions this week. Sort one this week, but I expect that'll change in the upcoming weeks (see reason below).


Cover Reveals For Fall Titles

With many publishers releasing their fall catalogs in February/March the time for cover reveals is upon us. Early February is normally filled with covers being released almost daily. Fall tends to be the publishers 'biggest' season and that means a lot of amazing titles are coming out. I personally can't wait to see so many of them (and I will even be helping to reveal some of them on the blog in the upcoming week or two!).

Dorothy Must Die ARCs

I feel like I've been waiting FOREVER to see this in ARC form. I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

Picture copyright via the official Dorothy Must Die Facebook page

The official Dorothy Must Die Facebook page posted this image and I may have fangirled (just a little bit).


Breaking Bad

Still. Always. I am not over it. I don't think I'll ever be over it. I want to both re-watch it and discover it for the first time (which is obviously not possible, but still). Seriously, one of the best shows in recent television. So thankful to Kelly (from Kellyvision) for making me watch this.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan    
Release Date - January 28, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.
Could your DNA brand you a killer? Uninvited asks this very question. It is a thought provoking, relevant social commentary that sadly loses some of it's potential in favour of a love story that controls the plot, rather than have it woven into it.

The message in this novel is probably my favourite part of the story. The way society can overreact. The way that stereotypes, prejudices, and fear created by the media can lead to a perfect storm. This is all too easily imagined because we've seen this on smaller scales already. The world Sophie Jordan created is chilling, and terrifying. I just wish it had been used to it's full potential. The idea, and it's execution have a lot of promise. There is a lot that engaged me, but it didn't quite come together the way I hoped.

The other interesting focus is the reaction of those branded as killers. We see how some of them want to prove their diagnosis wrong, and yet others want to show society just how right they are. It's almost a self fulfilling prophecy in that society has said they are violent, so they feel they must act that way. It's a basic question of being defined, and if you'll let it happen, or if you'll listen to yourself. Define yourself. There is also the bone chilling realization that some of the branded are truly dangerous. It creates a tension that is so apparent in the first half of the book. The tension that this society creates is one of the strongest points of the entire novel, and yet it winds down as you get closer to the end of the book.

The romance takes over the focus of the story almost immediately. Davy is put into situations that are deliberately there to set up the romance, instead of furthering the plot. She needs to be rescued, and Sean conveniently is able to save her. It made the romance feel rushed, predictable, and undeveloped. They have chemistry but the 'why' is never really explained. It's not clear why Davy likes Sean, or vice versa. I would have taken less romance in exchange for a more developed story.

The intense build up and pacing dies down as the end nears. I expected an intense finish to the novel based on what had come before, and felt that the later half of the novel was not as strong as the first. I have questions that I want answers to, and that will ultimately be what makes me pick up the second novel.

A novel that holds a lot of promise, but didn't quite deliver on it as much as I wanted to. If your looking for a book that focuses on the romance, this will be sure to please. I wanted a little more from it, and as a result ended up feeling a little lukewarm overall.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday... Since You've Been Gone

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 Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um….
This sounds incredibly cute. Provided Sloane comes back. It could also be part fun, part heart crushing. All I know is that cover makes me think of summer, and happy things. I love the idea of a to-do-list. I imagine I am going to like Emily quite a bit, and am really excited to see how she handles some of these 'dares'.

Expected release date - May 6, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Rule of Three Blog Tour - Interview With Eric Walters

The Rule Of Three is a pulse pounding, action filled story of survival. The author, Eric Walters, is stopping by the blog today to answer a few questions. I've reviewed the novel today as well, if you're curious to read my thoughts.

Before sharing the Q and A, I wanted to first share the amazing trailer for the book. It captures the tone of the novel perfectly.

1 Describe The Rule of Three in three words

Most will die

2 The Rule of Three is all about being prepared. What three things do you think everyone should have in their survival kit?

 Chlorine tablets, lots of canned/packaged food, and probably a weapon of some kind.

3 What are three things that you can share about Adam, the main character?

A belief that we should try to do the right thing, a tendency to overthink things, a functional paranoia – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not trying to kill you.

4 The novel feels very realistic. What kind of research did you do for this novel?

I did all the technical research (including having my son the engineer help with some things), read survival guides, and set the novel right in my neighborhood.  That allowed it to be so real . . . at times too real.  It’s unnerving to wake up in the middle of the night dreaming through scenes and have to go downstairs to lock the door . . . just in case.

5 What three things do you need when you are revising your novel?

A really good editor, patience, and a sense of humility (what do you mean my words aren’t perfect!)

A huge thank you to both Penguin Canada, and Eric Walters for this interview. Be sure to check out The Rule of Three which goes on sale TODAY!

Here are some order links if this book has caught your attention

Chapters//Amazon//Barnes and Noble

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters      
Release Date – January 21, 2014
Publisher Website – Razorbill/Penguin Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 416 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
One afternoon, every single machine in sixteen-year-old Adam’s high school computer lab stops working. Outside, cars won’t start, phones are down, and a blackout is widespread. Soon Adam will discover that the problem has paralyzed not just his town but the whole country and beyond. As resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends, he will see that his suburban neighborhood must band together for protection.

Violence will erupt and Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government agent living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys
to his survival.
Horror novel rarely scare me, especially ones anchored in the paranormal. I've always figured there were real life horrors that were terrifying enough. Eric Walters takes a plausible scenario and easily turns it into the stuff nightmares are made out of in The Rule of Three.

The tension in this novel is palpable. You feel it tightening in your chest. This world that Eric Walters has created is all to vivid, and that only adds to the tension. The choices, and consequences play out the tension reaches excruciating levels. It's one of the most well done aspects of the novel, and the author uses the potential for unease to his full advantage. Everything from the landscape, characters, and action serve to continue not only the plot, but the increasing terror.

Adam will be instantly relateable for a lot of young male readers. An authentic voice, mixed with a unassuming, resourceful personality make him a perfect protagonist. The inclusion of his aviator hobby allowed for the plot to unravel nicely, and yet feel realistic. Adam isn't a character who is doing things beyond his means. At the end of it all, he is still just a teenager. He just one who wants to help, and has useful skills.

The mysterious Herb was fascinating. Someone who is a little paranoid, and extremely observant. He is a take charge type, and is instrumental in not only the story, but how it unravels. The friendship that builds between Herb and Adam was one of my favourite parts of the book. They rely on each other, and Adam learns a lot from him. It felt like Herb was a pseudo father while Adam's is away. Unraveling the mystery of Herb was almost as thrilling as the novel itself, and while he does keep his secrets, I was satisfied with what we do learn.

The novel mainly revolves around male characters. There are a few female characters, but I felt they were underused. Adam's mother is a police caption, and was shown to be quite intelligent and capable. I just wished we would have see her skills used more. Adam's crush, Lori, is one of the few people who have farming skills, and that is something that never is really explored. In fact it's mentioned that she may like to teach some of the younger kids.

There are plenty of survival tips and tricks woven throughout the novel. This makes some of it read a little bit like a how-to-guide. These parts lagged a bit for me, but otherwise it provides some interesting things to mull over. I, personally, was terrified at unprepared I would be for something like this, and how quickly things could escalate. It felt jarring, and that made it all the more realistic.

This novel will definitely appeal to many readers, but I do see it perhaps having a special place with young male readers. Adam will be instantly relateable for a lot of that particular audience. An authentic voice, mixed with a unassuming, resourceful personality make him a perfect protagonist.

A novel that felt terrifyingly real, and provided as many chills as it did survival tips. A page turning read right up to the frightening ending. It will have you running out to stock pile your own survival kit as soon as you close the last page.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Release Date – January 28, 2014
Publisher Website – HarlequinTeen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
Everyone deals with grief differently. We all cope with it in vastly different ways. Heartbeat is an examination in the different ways grief can consume us, mend us, and sometimes drown us. It's an honest, if slow moving, story of love, loss, and guilt and how interconnected they can be.

Grief is shown in many different ways in this novel. The anger, sadness, and hopelessness that can often accompany grief are reflected in Emma. We also see how grief can break apart a family, but also how it can help mend. Shared grief has the power to bring people together, but it also has the power to drive a wedge between them. Grief often goes hand in hand with guilt, and that is portrayed wonderfully in many of the characters in this novel.

Emma is an angry young woman. She is trying to deal with her mother's death and yet is stuck in a cycle of never ending grief. The heartbreak of being able to hold her mother's hand, and yet never feel her squeeze back is crushing. It makes it seem fresh every time Emma goes to visit her. You feel it in every word Elizabeth Scott writes. It leads to a deep resentment, and an immeasurable amount of guilt. As a reader, I understood Emma's motivations, so even if I could not relate to her, I could understand her. It allowed for a different perspective than what I would have, but one that felt honest and true for the character.

The hot topic of life support being used to save a baby is dealt with rather well in this novel. I felt a clear picture of both sides of the argument was provided. Emma's anger becomes understandable as we learn what exactly her mother's body is going through. We see more clearly her anger at not just her step-father but the baby itself. The other side, the one where the infant is an innocent party in this, and deserves a chance, is also shown to heartbreaking effect. It's not an easy decision, and the most important thing this novel stresses is how essential communication is. The conflicting emotions presented in the novel allow the reader to ponder what they would do, while never taking a stance. In the end, the right thing to do isn't back and white. As a result, this book will easily provide lively conversation among readers.

The romance does sort of take over the novel. It's the other half of the coin though. It's what Emma escapes to. Having someone like Caleb who isn't part of the most devastating thing that has happened to her allows her to breath. Caleb has his own issues to deal with, but they do help each other. They offer support, and lean on one another. Caleb's own grief and guilt, while different than Emma's own, offers a mirror for Emma (and vice versa).

A story of being stuck in grief, and the bittersweet hope of finding your way out of it. There is plenty to enjoy in this novel, but I did want a little more from it. Those who love contemporary novels will most likely devour it, and there is no denying has an emotional impact.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Unbound Blog Tour

Today I am honoured to be part of the blog tour for Victoria Schwab's The Unbound. The Archived was a fantastic read, and it's follow up is publishing on January 28th.

Victoria is stopping by with a list of books that are in her personal archive! Some great titles - 


In talking about THE ARCHIVED series I often refer to the Archive itself, this repository of the dead, a place where a person's entire life, and all their memories, would be stored. And in thinking about that, my mind drifts to a more traditional archive, one with books. I often think that books can define us as much as anything. They speak not only to our tastes, but to what inspires us, to the kind of escapism we seek.

And so I thought for this post I would share the top 10 books in my personal archive, the ones that define me most. I hope that in the comments you'll take the chance to share a few of your defining books as well.

1. THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman

Adventure. Whimsy. Magic. Westley. A book full of sword fights and six-fingered men, dungeons and danger and friendship and villainy. This is one of my favorite stories ever told.

2. NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman

I wavered over which specific Neil Gaiman book to choose for this list. I knew there would be at least one. In fact, there are two. The first, Neverwhere, is a strange blend of magic and reality, the urban and the fairy tale and the fantastic. And while I struggle to sum up my feelings, the fact remains that I adore this book. And the second Gaiman title?

3. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

Set in a graveyard, dark and yet deceptively playful, this is simply one of my favorite books.


Elegant and epic.

5. GRACELING by Kristin Cashore

To me, the perfect kind of fantasy, one that is thorough without being overwhelming, with the kind of supernatural element that makes you wonder where you would fit. The way one wonders which Hogwarts house they'd be put into, I read and wondered what my grace might be. And Po remains to this day one of my favorite characters.


This book is a tome. Those who have not read it perhaps will not understand the charm. Only those who've conquered it, committed to its strange mass and stuck with it to the final pages, tend to love it. This is the book that made me want to be a novelist...

7. WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by Shel Silverstein

And this is the book--of poems--that made me want to be a writer. If you're a dreamer, come in...


This dark, angsty, psychological installment of Harry Potter often ranks lower on people's HP lists, but it is my favorite by far. I don't know (well, I mean, I do know) what that says about me.


Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought I'd be an astrophysicist. But science aside, Bill Bryson is by far my favorite voice when it comes to educational non-fiction. This book is a delight, and part of my personal canon.

10. HAMLET by William Shakespeare

I'm not an avid fan of Shakespeare, but Hamlet is without a doubt on the shelf of my personal archive. Murder, revenge, and some of the most delightful monologues. It doesn't hurt that now when I read it I picture David Tennant (thanks, Royal Shakespeare Company).

A huge thank you to Victoria for sharing (and having me be part of her tour). You can add The Unbound to your Goodreads , and pre-orders are available from Chapters, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles (as well as your local bookstores). Be sure to visit Victoria on her website, or follow her on Twitter.

What books would make your personal archive? Let me know in the comments. 

Saturday, January 18, 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.

Here are my obsessions this week:


City of Heavenly Fire cover reveal

It's Clary and Sebastian on the front. I am most excited to see the inside flap that is supposed to have some other characters featured (but not Magnus, apparently. Which, I just don't understand). I feel pretty neutral about the cover, but am looking forward to reading this. I am slightly scared about who is going to die, because Cassandra Clare is pretty brutal with her characters. (Goodreads)

Cover of Dark Metropolis 

Something about this synopsis caught my attention, and it sounds like it has a lot of potential. I love the 1920's feel of the cover mixed with the creepy vibe. Can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Cover of Blood of My Blood 

Simple. Creepy.  This series has some of the best covers because they compliment the story really well. I am sure this one will be no exception (Hello, Crow King) and it'll be bittersweet to say goodbye to Jazz and Howie. I want to know how it ends, but could also read about these characters forever.


Breaking Bad

I finished the series on Thursday night this week, and am still processing. I don't know whether to blame or thank Kelly (from KellyVision) for the state my heart was in at the end.*curls up into fetal position thinking about the last few episodes*  I spent the last 3 or 4 episodes in a state of intense anxiety but was ultimately satisfied with how the series ended. A few loose ends that I wish would have been tied up (mainly because it involves a character that I love) but it was otherwise a fantastic finale. Jesse Pinkman and Walter White are two characters that I won't soon forget. If you haven't checked out this show, do it. You're missing out on one of the best shows in recent television.

Flowers In The Attic

Pretty sure that my teenaged self, and a majority of my friends, read this book in highschool. It was almost like a right of passage for a lot of teen girls. I am not sure if this book is still being sneakily taken from bookshelves, but I predict a resurgence with this remake being shown on TV. I am incredibly excited to watch this TONIGHT since I won't be able to watch the Screen Actors Guild Awards. I am expecting trashy, over the top drama that is incredibly fun. I already have wine at the ready.


Book Expo America

I have my pass. It's officially 2014. I want it to be BEA time! I always start to get excited/antsy around February when things start to be revealed. I can't wait to see what authors will be signing, and what titles will be getting some extra promotion during the event. I am most looking forward to sharing an apartment with some of my favourite bookish ladies! NYC with these ladies is going to AMAZING!

So what are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, January 16, 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:

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2014?

How much time do you have? Seriously. I could list so many books. How about I link you to my Most Anticipated 2014 books list and say it's a small portion of what I want to read.

I am also looking forward to City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins and The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

Happy Weekend!

One Tiny Lie by K. A. Tucker

One Tiny Lie by K. A. Tucker
Release Date – January 4, 2014
Publisher Website –  Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Livie has always been the stable one of the two Cleary sisters, handling her parents' tragic death and Kacey's self-destructive phase with strength and maturity. But underneath that exterior is a little girl hanging onto the last words her father ever spoke to her. “Make me proud,” he had said. She promised she would...and she’s done her best over the past seven years with every choice, with every word, with every action.

Livie walks into Princeton with a solid plan, and she’s dead set on delivering on it: Rock her classes, set herself up for medical school, and meet a good, respectable guy that she’s going to someday marry. What isn’t part of her plan are Jell-O shots, a lovable, party animal roommate she can’t say ‘no’ to, and Ashton, the gorgeous captain of the men’s rowing team. Definitely him. He’s an arrogant ass who makes Livie’s usually non-existent temper flare and everything she doesn’t want in a guy. Worse, he’s best friends and roommates with Connor, who happens to fits Livie’s criteria perfectly. So why does she keep thinking about Ashton?

As Livie finds herself facing mediocre grades, career aspirations she no longer thinks she can handle, and feelings for Ashton that she shouldn’t have, she’s forced to let go of her last promise to her father and, with it, the only identity that she knows.
New Adult, when done right, can be a perfect way to explore that scary, life changing time between highschool and becoming an adult. K.A Tucker not only does it right, but she writes a compulsively readable story as well. Part sexy, all plot, One Tiny Lie, delights in showing how a good girl becomes a little bit bad.

Livie is the quintessential good girl. Perfect grades, straight laced, driven, determined. Making a mistake would shatter her world. Failure is not an option. She's seen someone self destruct and, as a result, is sure that she can't veer from this path she's started down. As much as I loved Kacey in Ten Tiny Breaths, I couldn't see myself in any part of her. Livie connected with me much more because I could see parts of myself in her. The need to please people, following the path of what someone else wanted for you, protecting yourself by pushing others away. She's someone who needs to be okay so that she can fix those around.

Ashton is infuriating. He's infuriating from the moment you meet him. The most infuriating thing about Ashton, however, is that as much as you want to, you can't hate him. Livie can't hate him. There is something there that allows him to work his way into Livie's heart (and the reader's heart too) in spite of how maddening he is. He's reckless, impulsive, and a little self destructive. He pushes Livie and it's not hard to see why they rile each other up. Livie is used to broken, and Ashton is as broken as they come. It reminded me of how loyal, and how patient, she was with Kacey. It made sense that Livie would find someone like Ashton.

This novel looks at the different ways people have a hold on us. The different ways they influence, and the restrains it can put on us. Breaking from from them, whether self imposed or otherwise, is part of growing up. It's part of find out who you are. This is perfect for the people going through this. It allows a reflection of what they are going through. Holding a mirror up to the various ways you come to terms with this, and deal with it makes for a compelling read.

The issue of therapy and how beneficial it can be is at the core of this series. It is painted in a positive light. The need for a perfect fit between therapist and patient is shown in the interactions between the characters. I found it refreshing to have it incorporated in such a way that it wasn't the focus, and that the therapist doesn't have all the answers. It shows that mistakes are part of what it means to be human, and that we can live and learn from them.

A novel that shows the potential companion novels have to allow a reader to immerse themselves back into a beloved world. This is one that surpassed the original for me. A sexy, and engrossing story of letting go, growing into yourself, and stumbles we take a long the way to adulthood.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday ....... Sisters' Fate

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 Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood


Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.
The first two novels in this series have been stellar. They are some of my favourite witch inspired novels. If you haven't read Born Wicked, do so immediately so that you can join me in waiting for the end of this trilogy. I am both scared, and excited to find out how the story of the Cahill sisters will end.

Expected release date - August 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Stay Warm With Simon and Schuster Canada

Do January and February give you the winter blues? If so, Simon and Schuster has just the thing to help you warm up those cold winter days.....

A contest filled with books, mitts, and other goodies to keep you warm, and strive off winter boredom. Sounds great right?

The titles up for grabs are
- The Ultimate Survival Guide (Canadian Edition)
- The Demonologist
- The Troop
- The Best Cook Book Ever
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: Wonders of Winter
- Hyperbole and a Half
- Octopus's Garden
- Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants
If you want more details, Simon and Schuster has a special website set up for the contest. You can enter right from there, and check out all the prizes included in the giveaway.

Let me know your stay warm winter tip in the comments below, and be sure check out Simon and Schuster for more details.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date – August 1, 2009
Publisher Website –  Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 300 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received as a gift**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever
Werewolf mythology is often hit or miss with me. I either don't feel immersed into it, or it's not fleshed out enough for me. Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver introduces what is not only my favourite twist on the mythology to date, but a subtly sensual approach to it as well.

The cold creeps through these pages. Like a thief, it steals moments Sam should have. It steals breaths and it will ultimately steal what is left of Sam's human life. It's an ever present thing that is never far from the minds of the characters (or readers). It creates a knife's edge that the characters are balancing on. Maggie Stiefvater uses words to allow her readers to feel the chill. There plenty of shivers for both the characters and reader.

The stakes are high for Sam and Grace. Their carefully concealed truth could come crashing down on them at any minute. There are outside threats that could tear them apart. The cold is perhaps their most pressing threat though. Sam could turn and leave Grace behind until summer.....if he comes back at all. The nagging worry that Sam's time as a human is limited tore my heart to bits, as you just want what Sam wants - for him to remain human. It creates a boiling urgency that can't be ignored .The inclusion of the temperature at the beginning of the chapters only increased my distress as we see it crawl slowly lower.

There is an instant ease that Grace and Sam have with each other. They are on the same wavelength immediately. It's like a puzzle piece falling into place. It's one of the rare occasions where this type of connection doesn't feel rushed or forced. Sam and Grace just feel right. They intersperse light moments that make the relationship feel developed, even though it does happen rather quickly. It might be helped that both Grace and Sam are wonderful. Sam is one of the best love interests I've read. He's flirty but respectful. He's concerned without being over protective. Grace is determined, wistful, and a bit of a dreamer. She's fascinated and pulled to the wolves in a way that she can't explain. They mesh well together, and make you want them to be together.

Maggie Stiefvater has a way with language and words. Her writing is compelling and captivating. This novel is no exception. Her writing is the showcase, but she uses it to bring her characters and the setting to life in the pages. She manages to make the characters feel fleshed out, even the secondary characters. The woods add mystery to the wolves, and the setting. It's all woven together to create something I couldn't read fast enough.

A novel that allows it's characters to be the focus, even while the high stakes action takes place. Shiver is a thrilling start to a series and I can't wait to immerse myself back into this world.

Sunday, January 12, 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).

Some amazing things in my mailbox this week. First up, Penguin Canada delightfully made my week awesome by sending me a copy of The Merciless to review! The back of the ARC is my FAVOURITE! The whole "Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned" is chilling and fits with the story. I am looking forward to diving into this soon.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega (goodreads)

I also got a finished copy of Red Rising from Random House Canada. I've been hearing amazing things about this title, and I am excited to check it out for myself. I also picked up a copy of Entertainment Weekly this week, due to the chilling (yet beautiful) cover for Gone Girl! I LOVE this cover. SO MUCH. It's perfect. That is Nick and Amy. I am excited to see this brought to life. I am less excited about the changes, but hopefully since the author is writing the screen play, it works.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (goodreads)

Let me know what you got in your mailbox this week!

Happy weekend, and happy reading!

Saturday, January 11, 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.

Here are my obsessions this week. They are movie/TV heavy because it's awards season!


Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are on Sunday! I love awards season, and the Golden Globes kick off the countdown to the Oscars.

I have a few favourites that I will be crossing my fingers for on Sunday. I want Jared Leto to take home the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. His performance was brilliant. TV wise I am hoping Aaron Paul wins for his role in Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston certainly deserves to win for playing Walter White (Breaking Bad again) so convincingly. I would be okay with Liev Schreiber winning for his role in Ray Donovan, but I think Bryan Cranston deserves it more. I also think Jennifer Lawrence might be adding another trophy to her collection.


I finally saw Frozen. It's amazing. Disney movies have always been a favourite of mine, and this one is no exception. There are plenty of great moments that I loved in it. The fact that it focuses on the relationship between Elsa and Anna rather than romance made me very happy. It's got some great music (Idina Menzel's Let It Go is amazing), and a rather sweet message to it. I can't wait to own it and watch it again.

Gone Girl Entertainment Weekly Cover

I devoured Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and was extremely excited when the movie was announced. Entertainment Weekly's latest cover offers a first glimpse at the direction David Fincher is taking, and to see Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy.

It's creepy and SO fitting to the story. It gives me hope that David Fincher is going to do this right. I am a little concerned about the 'changes' made to the story, but Gillian Flynn is writing the script. This is her novel, and I trust her to do something wonderful with the script. The article has sold me on Rosamund Pike. She gets Amy, and even Ben Affleck seems a great choice for Nick. SO EXCITED FOR THIS.

So what are you obsessed with this week?

Thursday, January 9, 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:

Resolutions: Put together your blogger resolution list for all of us to see!

I only have one big one - comment more. I am the worst. I need to share the love and comment much more. I am actively trying to be better at this.

Happy Weekend and Happy Holidays!

2014 Most Anticipated Books Giveaway

You may have followed along while I shared some of my most anticipated books of 2014 in Nov and Dec. Now it's time to get your hands on one of these awesome sounding titles!

If you need a refresher, here are the titles I highlighted

1 Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
2 Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
3 Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel
4 The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
5 Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
6 Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
7 Brazen/Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
8 The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors
9 Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
10 The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
11 After The End by Amy Plum
12 Winterspell by Claire Legrand
13 The Fall by Bethany Griffin
14 The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
15 Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
16 The Merciless by Danielle Vega

You can win one of these titles (and some fun swag where available for these books). The entry information is below. The answers to the questions can be found in the posts themselves (linked above).

Contest is open internationally (as long as Book Depository ships to you) and the winner will get to pick the book they wish to receive. The book will be pre-ordered if not released before the end of the contest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday.... Second Star

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 Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
It's no surprise that I am a Peter Pan fangirl. Pretty sure I've mentioned this a few times. It should come as now surprise that I think this sounds AMAZING! I love the twist and I am really excited for the Hook/Wendy/Peter triangle. I am curious to see what nods there are to the original, and what points the author will make all their own.

Expected release date - May 13, 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Release Date – January 7, 2013
Publisher Website –  Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Fatal attraction, primal fear, survival in the forest: From the author of the Printz Honor Book STOLEN, the highly anticipated thriller about deadly games played in the dark.

Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd's dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl's broken body. "Gone," he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent -- isn't he? Before he's convicted, she's got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee's charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her -- the kinds of games that can kill?
Lucy Christopher's Stolen was the first novel I reviewed on this blog. It remains one of my favourite (and most heart crushing) reads to this day. When I heard that The Killing Woods was being released I was ecstatic. I am thrilled that my high expectations were warranted, as The Killing Woods is an intense, twisty read that made my pulse race.

The setting of this novel is all encompassing. The woods surrounding Emily's house are a character in this story all on their own. Thye seem to breathe and come to life within these pages in a way that allowed me to slip into the peaceful, eerie and secret filled setting. Lucy Christopher manages to make you feel like a part of the setting and the research and care she puts into the descriptions is glaringly evident.

The suspense is kept throughout the novel. We're offered more than one suspect in the case of who may have killed Ashlee Parker. Each of the suspects are viable options, and each have their own motivations. Lucy Christopher weaves doubt, and twists into the story so that you're constantly changing your mind as to what happened. The truth, well unexpected, fit within the story. It also rang true to Ashlee's character, and the running narrative of the lives of these characters. It also turned the story into something I wasn't expecting. I went in expecting a completely different kind of novel, and Lucy twisted it into something else entirely.

The story is told in a dual narrative. Emily, and Damon each narrate their own part of this story. This allows us to learn things that we would not be privy to without this style of narration. Often my biggest complaint with this type of narrative is that there isn't a difference in the voice of the characters. Lucy manages to create two distinctive voices. We take different journeys with both Emily and Damon, but each leads to the truth of what happened in a way that shows how one would not be complete without the other.

Emily is the kind of character I would love to see more of. She's a typical teenage girl, living a normal life. She isn't remarkable, she's average. Her life is turned upside when her father carries Ashlee Parker's body out of the woods in a dazed state. Her family life had already been rocked by her father's return from war with PTSD. They're a family just trying to piece together some semblance of what they had before. Her passionate support of her father, her driven desire to clear his name, and her need for the truth is all something that leaps off the page. It defines Emily's character. Her worry that her father may have killed Ashlee, and not because he is suffering from PTSD, haunts her. She is afraid of not only what it says about her family, but what it means for her. Her fear that she shares her father's blood and the impact that could have if he is a stone cold killer, is chilling. It eats away at her, until she is unraveling and unsure what she believes. Seeing her loose faith, and question everything she was sure about allows the reader to feel a sympathy for her, and lets us into her head.

Damon is an enigma. His role is Ashlee's death is undefined for most of the novel. You, and Emily, are not quite sure what to believe when it comes to him. His reckless lifestyle that includes the mysterious 'game' mentioned is something that lends itself to secrets and lies. There is a delusion of invincibility that often is associated with teengers, and Damon displays this in spades. He, and others, have to face their own vulnerability in the wake of what happens. The desire for the thrill, the need to push the limits, and to go a little further is in every aspect of Damon (and his friends) and that makes for a fascinating look at how things can spiral out of control.

A pulse pounding look at how things can quickly escalate to the point of no return. A story of how secrets can do more harm than we expect. It's also one of healing, and holding on to your convictions. Lucy Christopher has one again provided a novel that is spell binding and spine tingling.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Defy by Sara B Larson

Defy by Sara B Larson
Release Date – January 7, 2013
Publisher Website –  Scholastic
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating-2.5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
Expectations can help you pick up a novel. They can also hinder your enjoyment of it. Defy is a perfect example of this. It ended up being not quite what I expected, and didn't quite work for me as as result.

The set up of Defy sounds amazing. A girl hidden as a member of a Prince's guard. A delicious love triangle, and above all else, some amazing action. The novel itself starts off strong. I found myself immersed into Alexa's world right away, and really respected her character. Sadly, about half way through the novel it felt like I was reading another book. One where the driven, focused heroine was reduced to someone was distracted (and defined) by the boys in her life.

I was expecting romance. I knew going in it would be the focus, because of the attention the love triangle is given in the synopsis. I didn't expect for it to define Alexa, though. She immediately becomes less focused as soon as the love triangle enters into the equation. She also deems herself unworthy of the Damian's affections. This is at odds with the focused girl we meet at the beginning. She unravels as the story goes on, and looses some of that edge I felt she had in the beginning. The romance itself felt rushed, and under developed. I didn't get a clear picture as to why Alexa liked Damian, other than his looks. He was mysterious, and perhaps held a certain allure, but there was nothing about their interactions that would lend itself to love. He's infuriating most of the time, and Alexa herself doesn't have very nice things to say about him most of the time. We see brief glimpses of a different man underneath but without interaction, it didn't feel earned enough. Rylan is the boy who has cared for her from afar (and obviously knows her secret) and is more believable in his affections. He has had time with Alexa, and knows her well. It is quite evident whom Alexa prefers, and who holds her heart, which is nice after a first installment, but I just wish I would have been allowed to experience the falling in love. I felt as if I was told, instead of shown.

The sibling relationship between Alexa and her brother is one of my favourite parts of this story. It's a bond that shows us more about Alexa. We see how much family means to her. We get to see how rough her life has been. We come to understand her desperation and what lead to her decision to disguise herself. They have an easy, protective nature between them. I wish this relationship had been a larger focus.

The set up of the world, and why Alexa is disguised as a boy is done rather well. The breeding houses and what they represent for the kingdom, and what it says about it's King are something that directly impacts Alexa. It gives her purpose, and it gives the reader higher stakes. We know what awaits her if she is found out. We become invested. It is something that I wish was explored more, as it is the driving force behind the 'why' of Alexa. Everything she does is to avoid this fate. It should have been fleshed out, and I feel there was much left unexplored. The jungle setting certainly felt a little undeveloped as well. The balmy, sweaty climate was captured perfectly, but I had a hard time envisioning the character's surroundings.

The direction of the story at the end of the novel is a mystery to me. Many of the events that happened in this installment I anticipated happening much later in this series. The surprise direction was welcome, and it made it feel not drawn out. The question, however, is where it goes from here. It may be the one aspect I am curious about as most of the other plot points are wrapped up by the end of this book. It felt like it could have been a stand alone, but that does leave potential for something entirely new in the sequels.

Do I think there will be others who fall in love with this book? Of course. There are things that present some promise for this series. It ended up being, overall, just not a novel that was for me. I think I wanted something that this novel was never going to be, and those expectations may have shaped my feelings going in.

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