Monday, January 28, 2013

Mini Reviews: Lullaby by Amanda Hocking and Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill

From Goodreads: Harper only wanted a safe, normal life. But when her younger sister Gemma runs off with a dangerous clique of beautiful girls, Penn, Thea, and Lexi, everything changes. Vowing to get her sister back no matter what the cost, Harper must face dangers unlike any she's ever experienced. Fortunately, she has Daniel by her side, a gorgeous guy who's devoted to helping her find her sister - and who's immune to the girls' dark powers. While Harper searches for her sister, Gemma struggles to adjust to her new life.  Gemma's powers are growing by the day, and the longer she lives with her new "sisters," the harder it is to resist entering their magical world.  It's a realm both dark and beautiful, and where she's plagued by strange hungers and unspeakable needs.  Just as she's drifting far away from her old life,  Harper and Daniel find her ... but no one can deny how much she's changed.  All she wants is to return to her family and the mortal world, but how can she do that when she's become something else entirely - and will they still love her once they learn the truth?

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Lullaby by Amanda Hocking delves further into the siren mythology and is a tad more gruesome than its predecessor, Wake. However, like with Wake, it still feels as if there’s something missing, preventing me from falling in love with this series. The characters – other than Daniel and possibly, Marcie – continue to be merely okay, and the romances aren’t really anything special.

Lullaby was released by St. Martin’s Griffin in November 2012. 
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From Goodreads: It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the - gasp - wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be"). But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts ... from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My Rating: Wavering between 3 and 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: While I liked Lauren Morrill’s Meant To Be because of its London setting and a couple of surprising twists, it wasn’t as cute a romance story as I thought it would be. Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t overly fond of either Julia or Jason. Although I found Julia relatable in some aspects (e.g. she’s a nerd), she’s also terribly judgmental. As well, I found it ridiculous that just because they “married” each other at the age of five, Julia couldn’t get over her neighbour who moved away when she was seven. Jason, meanwhile, often acted like a douche and came off as very immature at times. 

Meant To Be was released in November 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

From Goodreads: Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father's apprentice, Logan - the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her. At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared. As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can't be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: One of the debuts from last year that I was most excited about was Defiance by C.J. Redwine. After seeing some trusted bloggers’ reviews for it though, I lowered my expectations; and as a result, was left pleased with the novel overall.

Anyway, for this review, I’ll be switching up my format to discuss what I’d seen from a few reviews before reading Defiance and whether I agree or disagree with others after having read the novel. 

What I remembered seeing from reviews: The worldbuilding could use some more work. 

My opinion: I’d have to agree because there’s very little backstory to how the existing situation in Defiance comes about. 

What I remembered seeing from reviews: The synopsis describes the personalities of Logan and Rachel quite well. 

My opinion: I liked both Rachel and Logan. Although Rachel was at times a bit too rash (e.g. she tries to leave Baalboden without much of a plan), I found her to be a strong heroine that was very capable of defending herself. She’s definitely someone I’d want on my side if I entered a fantastic/dystopic setting! However, I also think that Rachel lacks that little something extra that would make her stand out amongst other heroines within the genre. My biggest issue with Logan meanwhile – aside from his tendency to keep coming up with best case/worst case scenarios – was that his protectiveness of Rachel sometimes came off as a little patronizing. 

What I remembered seeing from reviews: There seem to be mixed feelings about the romance. 

My opinion: While I found the attraction between Rachel and Logan to be believable, I thought their individual realizations that they loved the other person occurred too early in the novel. I couldn’t buy, for example, that after two years of being angry at Logan for hurting her, Rachel would so easily dismiss those feelings. Oh, and does anyone else get the sense that there may be a love triangle in the future?

Defiance was released by Balzer + Bray in August 2012. 

Comments About the Cover: I’m inclined to like it of course because purple is my favourite colour. I also think Rachel looks sort of fierce.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Charming Canucks: Interview and Giveaway with Chloe Jacobs

Charming Canucks is a feature I’ve created that will be posted every other month or so in an effort to spotlight more Canadian YA authors and their books. 
Today, I'd like to welcome Chloe Jacobs.
 
A bit about Chloe (as found on Goodreads): Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she'd at least gotten a female cat. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers. 

Greta and the Goblin King, your debut novel, was released on November 13 by Entangled Teen. Give three reasons why everyone should read it. 
Well, I think everyone should read it because Greta is totally kick ass. I also think everyone should read it because otherwise you’ll never believe a goblin could be so hot! And finally, everyone should read it because it’s a fantastic, high-action story, with themes of home and friendship and responsibility, that I’m really proud to have written :) 

Greta and the Goblin King is a fantasy. Is there another genre you’d love to try your hand at someday? Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing? 
I love writing stories in all different kinds of genres. I’d like to try some contemporary and steampunk, although I don’t think I will ever be the type to write mysteries. Even if there is some mystery in my books, if I were writing a book where the mystery was the main point I think I would always keep thinking I was ruining it. The answer would be too obvious and no one would be surprised at the end. 

What is your writing process like? Are you a pantser or a planner? 
I like to plot the main story – just the first couple of big points, and then see what I can do with the rest as it starts to unfold. Sometimes that means the book deviates from the original plan, but I think that’s ok and I’m willing to go with it most of the time. 

Describe your writing space. 
I can pretty much write anywhere as long as I have my laptop. I’m not constrained to a desk or a particular “spot” although I usually tend to write in a cushy chair in my living room, or out on the deck when the weather is nice. As long as there’s coffee somewhere, I’m good. 

I know Greta and the Goblin King is the first book in the Mylena Chronicles. Can you give a hint of what to expect in the sequel? 
I can’t say much, sorry! Except that Greta and Isaac still have much to overcome and a dangerous path to follow. I hope that readers will be excited by their journey and the reappearance of certain characters from book 1!

Quick Questions: 

Your website mentions that you’ve lived in practically every province of Canada. Growing up, where did you love living (city or province) and why? 
My family moved around a lot. When I was young in Alberta, there was a really harsh recession and my dad ended up out of work for a long while. We moved to a couple of places while my parents tried to make a better life. Finally, that meant settling in Ontario, where I’ve been ever since, although I did my fair share of moving around after I left my parents home too. 

You go on a cross-country trip across Canada. What is the one place you have to visit? 
Drumheller, Alberta. It’s called Dinosaur Valley and I think everyone has to check it out. Even if you aren’t a ten year old boy in love with all things dinosaur, the museum and badlands are amazing to see!Although … it’s hard to pick just one place in Canada. If you love nature and the outdoors, then Canada is THE place to be. I LOVE visiting Northern Ontario in the summertime, and the City of Ottawa with all its museums and the National Art Gallery of Canada. I love the Rocky Mountains, and the downtown Toronto skyline, and going to Kensington Market.There’s also Niagara Falls, and Jasper National Park, and the Bay of Fundy, and … wow I could really go on a tangent here. LOL. 

What's your favourite book by a Canadian author and why? 
I have read and loved many many books by Canadian authors so I hate to pick just one, but a classic that stuck with me when I read it a few years ago is The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence. It’s a disturbing book published more than 30 years ago, but it stands the test of time. One of Canada's most revered authors, Ms. Laurence won two Governor General's Awards for Fiction and was given more than a dozen honorary degrees in her lifetime. 

A huge thank you to Chloe for taking the time to answer my questions!

Chloe can be found on: [her website] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
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Click here to find out more about Greta and the Goblin King!
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Monday, January 07, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Almost Truth and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook

From Back Cover: Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised. She knows she can have a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time. But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash - and fast - or she’ll be stuck in this town forever. Then Sadie sees an age-enhanced photo of a missing girl who looks like her. With her best friend's help, she devises a plan - the ultimate con - to get the money. But the more Sadie learns about the missing girl, the more she starts falling for her own hoax ... and for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own con. Suddenly it seems like she has a lot more to lose ... 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Having read a couple of Eileen Cook’s previous books, I knew that The Almost Truth would be an amusing novel that I’d finish in one sitting. However, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that when the potential arose for a little bit of seriousness to be added to the story, the book ended abruptly. As well, I never really connected with Sadie since she and her best friend, Brendan, were pros at conning people whereas I don’t really approve of lying. Overall, although I had fun reading The Almost Truth, it’s probably my least favourite of Cook’s novels. 

The Almost Truth was released in December 2012 by Simon Pulse. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free.
original image from thegate.ca
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From Goodreads: In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood made a choice. She betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Ditching Helen was worth it, though, because Lauren started high school as one of the It Girls - and now, at the start of her senior year, she's the cheerleading captain, the quarterback's girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she's ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.
But Helen could never forget Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she's moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn’t dropped her old grudges. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that's ever been important to Lauren - starting with her boyfriend.Watch out, Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I found Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, an older Eileen Cook novel, to be a bit more enjoyable. Although I couldn’t understand why Helen would still hold a grudge against Lauren years after having moved away, I’m always game for a story involving revenge. Unfortunately, Helen’s revenge tactics turned out to be pretty petty.

I did like Helen’s voice though and the fact that Cook showed that getting revenge may not actually make you happier. Sometimes it’s better to concentrate your energy on yourself rather than on others. I just wish the story could have concluded differently because you never find out what type of consequences – other than the fact that her friends sure got over being used quite fast – Helen faced due to her actions. This was one novel where I could have used an epilogue!

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood was released by Simon Pulse in January 2010.
original image from thegate.ca 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Chantress

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Chantress
Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of Release: May 7, 2013

Goodreads Description: “Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing - and she is swept into darkness. When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses - women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England. Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion ... Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Why am I waiting? I'm not going to lie: I was attracted to this because of the pretty cover :) But, Chantress also has magic, is set in seventeenth century England, and sounds like it has a romance that develops slowly. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop

The Happy New Year 2013 Giveaway Hop is being hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Babs Book Bistro.

For the hop, I'll be giving away any book of your choice worth up to $10 CDN from The Book Depository.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form.
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