Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Info:
Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Synopsis:
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Review:
Ok, I'm going to try my best not to let this review dissolve into a fangirling mess. But Holly Black is one of my very favourite YA authors, even since I read Tithe way back when I actually was a young adult. One of the problems with a favourite author is that tiny doubting corner of my brain that is always asking "Is this the book that won't measure up to my expectations?"

Well, this book wasn't it. After being introduced to vampires in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Darkest Part of the Forest returns to the Faeries that starred in Holly Black's A Modern Faerie Tale series. I really loved this because, as I mentioned, I feel in love with Tithe as a teen (possibly because it was one of the first books I read with swearing and drinking and all that. What a rebel). So to go back to Faerie was really fun for me.

One of my favourite parts of this story was the setting of Fairfold. This is a unique town where the mortals are aware of and generally co-exist with the Faeries. However, tourists visit every year to catch a glimpse of these magical folk and every year, a few tourists don't make it home. It is equal parts terrifying and enthralling. I haven't yet decided if I would visit this place if it existed.

This story centers on pair of siblings, Hazel and Ben. Because Hazel and Ben's parents were extremely irresponsible, they spent their childhood running wild through the woods and at some point actually beginning hunting down magical monsters, Hazel with a sword and Ben with his gift for music. However, an accident forces them to stop and they do their best to be normal in such a strange place, at least until the terrible monster that lives in the darkest part of the forest begins to terrorize the town.

I really enjoyed the character of Hazel. Like all of Holly Black's heroines I've read, Hazel is deliciously flawed. I love Black's ability to craft such imperfect characters and make me fall in love with them all the same. I enjoyed Ben as well, despite his struggles and pain. I also loved Jack and how he embodied such a lovely combination of familiar and strange all in one. The only minor flaw I found in the book was in the character of Severin. I just really wish we had gotten to see more of him and gotten to know his personality a bit better.

Without giving anything away, there were a couple interesting twists throughout and a very exciting conclusion. I just wish for a second book, because I really didn't want to say goodbye to these characters.
 



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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top books of 2014



Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Books I Read in 2014. You are probably going to notice a theme of favourite series!

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
2. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
3. Cress by Marissa Meyer
4. Starcursed by Jessica Spotswood 
5. Sister's Fate by Jessica Spotswood
6. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (review tomorrow)
7. Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
8.  Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
9. Crewel by Gennifer Albin
10. The Winner's Curse by Maria Rutkoski

I loved all of these! Unfortunately, I need to leave for work, so I don't have time to fangirl about these or add pretty cover pictures. Sorry!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cover Compare: World War Z

Taking a break from the YA cover compares to talk zombies. World War Z is an awesome book that I highly recommend. Just don't expect it to be like the movie, which is totally different, but just shares a name. Anyway, on to the covers, because there's a lot!

English version 1
English version 2
English Movie-Tie

English Large Print
English Deluxe Signed Edition
Spanish
Italian
French Version 1
French Collector's Edition
French Version 2

Portuguese
Bulgarian
Swedish
Norwegian
Romanian
Russian Version 1
Russian Version 2
Slovak
Danish
Polish
Thai
Turkish
German
Hebrew

There's a lot! Most of them are fairly text-based, which I like. I'm partial to the English Version 1 because that's the one I have (and got signed by Max Brooks). My other favourite is the Portuguese cover. There are three that stand out as being the worst by far for me. The Russian Version 1 looks soooo cheesy and bad. I would never buy this amazing book based on that cover. I also don't like the Thai cover. The pink is weird and the zombies look like demon monkeys. But the Italian cover. What is going on here?!?! I discussed it with the boyfriend, who is a huge Max Brooks fan, and we determined they look like aliens from a hoax video. Who are holding each other's lobster claws.

What do you think? Which is your favourite? Are you a fan of such text-based covers?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Emerald Green

Info:
Title: Emerald Green
Author: Kerstin Gier 
Translator: Anthea Bell
Series: Ruby Red Trilogy #3
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: October 8, 2013 (originally publised 2010)
Source: Purchased

Synopsis:
Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.

She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve, and since then nothing has been going right. She suspects the founder of the Circle, Count Saint-German, is up to something nefarious, but nobody will believe her. And she’s just learned that her charming time-traveling partner, Gideon, has probably been using her all along.

This stunning conclusion picks up where Sapphire Blue left off, reaching new heights of intrigue and romance as Gwen finally uncovers the secrets of the time-traveling society and learns her fate.

Review:
I really loved this series, so it's certainly bittersweet to see it end (that's probably why I put it off for over a year O_o). I'm not 100% sure why I loved this series so much, just that I did. On one hand, it seems like pretty standard YA fare, but on the other hand, there was just something so lovely and wonderful about it.

I think my love starts with Gwen. She is such a likable, relatable heroine. Sure once in a while the things she says or thinks can sound a little canned, but as a character, she has everything I love. Funny, smart and resourceful, especially considering she is way out of her depth most of the time. The secondary characters were also great, especially Lesley and Aunt Maddie, who both had me giggling. And Gideon. Well, I certainly didn't like him much at the start of the book and, well, I'll try to avoid spoilers.

Another aspect I loved was the fact that Gwen could see ghosts. That just added a fun element, as their personalities came through big time. Most of them, I just wanted to hug, although I certainly could have done without 'Darth Vader'.

There were certainly a few huge plot twists in this one that I didn't see coming, which I loved, since I enjoy being blindsided with these kind of things rather than guessing them chapters before. But somehow, as crazy as things got, the story somehow stayed light and fun.


This is definitely a series I fell in love with and am sad to see it end and to have to say goodbye to my friend Gwen. That said, I know I'll read anything by Kerstin Gier that is translated into English, specially by Anthea Bell, who did a great job I think in the translation. And I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Dream a Little Dream, which I can't wait to dive into next week!



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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry

Info:
Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School #3
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Source: I received an eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Synopsis:
Class is back in session...
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all. 


Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

Review:
I am honestly so in love with this series. Gail Carriger is basically a steampunk genius. What I love is that despite the air-ships and vampires and werewolves and mysterious devices, it's still very Victorian, which I love. There's manners and bustles and the need for everything to be very proper, lest it start a scandal.

Sophronia is just such a likable character. She is loyal and resourceful and tons of fun. Plus I love her classmates Sidheag and Dimity (the only two really present in most of the book). And of course, Soap is my favourite. Lord Felix is also along for the ride and honestly, he gave me sleazy vibes the whole time.

And that's where this book dropped from 5 stars to only 4. It just got too love triangle-ish. I don't have a ton of patience for love triangles generally, but when the right decision is so obvious, that makes them even worse.

These characters go on a serious train adventure. There is scandal and intrigue and werewolf drama. Yep, it's pretty awesome. I'll be straight with you though, this book did make me cry. I don't want to give any spoilers, but man, it was rough on me. 

I absolutely can't wait for the next (and final I think) book in this series. But the good news is that I have the box set of Gail Carriger's adult series on my shelf that I can't wait to find the time to dive into!




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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Eleven New-to-me Authors I Read in 2014



Well, you know me, I love to try out all the memes. I've seen this one around for ages and I think I tried it once before and stopped. But trying it again. Yay! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Eleven New-To-Me Authors Read in 2014:

1. Maria Rutkoski - The Winner's Curse - 4 stars
I really enjoyed this one and can't wait to read The Winner's Crime in 2015!

2. Lindsay Smith - Sekret - 4 stars
This one was really cool because it was set in Russia, which isn't exactly common in YA books. Can't wait for book 2 in 2015

3. Kelley Armstrong - Sea of Shadows - 4 stars
Yep, I read my first Kelley Armstrong book in 2014. Don't worry, there's 5 more on my shelf!

4. Gennifer Albin - Crewel - 4 stars
Finally got around to reading this one. Now to finish the series...

5. Jaclyn Dolamore - Dark Metropolis - 4 stars
I didn't know what to expect with this one, but I ended up really enjoying it.

6. Livia Blackburne - Midnight Thief - 4 Stars
I've seen mixed reviews on this one, but I liked it!

7. Mary E. Pearson - The Kiss of Deception - 4 Stars
Mixed reviews here too. Again, I liked it, even with the love triangle crap.

8. Alecia Whitaker - Wildflower - 4 Stars
A contemporary made the list. Wow!

9. Kym Brunner - Wanted: Dead or In Love - 4 Stars
Boonie & Clyde + Ghost Possession = Very Cool

10. Caragh M. O'Brien - The Vault of Dreamers - 4 Stars
Mysteries and Conpirarcies and an ending I totally didn't understand.

11. R. C. Lewis - Stitching Snow - 4 Stars
YA Sci-fi for the win!

Yep, I just had to sneak that #11 in there. To be honest, I went by my star ratings and I had 11 books by new-to-me authors that I gave 4 stars, No 5 stars though! Weird.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Cover Compare: Legend

Legend by Marie Lu is one of those books that has been on my wishlist for ages, but I still don't have a copy. Christmas hint much? ;)

Most of these are very similar, which the symbol dominating the cover space. I like these, because they are eye-catching and different and not super YA-ish, if that makes sense. I'm really not a fan of the Indonesian cover. I like imagining my own faces etc. on the characters. I'm also not crazy about the Collector's Edition. It's a bit cartoon-y. The two different English versions are my favourites. What do you think? Let me know which is your favourite in the comments.

Portuguese
Indonesian
German
English edition - Putnam Juvenile
English - Speak

English - Collector's Edition


Spanish