Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WoW: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

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

This week's pick:

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry

Release date: September 23, 2014

There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce. 

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong. 

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.

Gosh, this one just sounds like so much fun! I love scandalous Victorians!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Midnight Thief

Title: Midnight Thief
Author: Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

Midnight Thief is a quality YA fantasy with a likable but flawed main character and interesting lore. While it might not stand miles apart from the YA crowd, it was still a very enjoyable book and I would recommend it to all fans of YA fantasy.

Like I mentioned, Kyra was a likable main character, even though she had questionable morals, being a thief and all. She was the type of thief who didn't steal from the poor who were already having trouble making ends meet, but instead targeted "wallhuggers" (people who lived near the castle and had enough to spare). She also would give a portion of her take to the street kids, since she grew up on the streets herself.

The other characters were pretty good as well. Tristam is a young knight who has to learn that sometimes your duty and honour will be at odds with each other and there will be negative consequences either way. There's Bella, the kind-hearted cook who is like a mother to Kyra. There's Flick, Kyra's friend who protects her like a little sister and who I wish we had gotten to know better. Also, later on we meet Pashla, who I came to like and wanted more of her story. Then there's James, leader of the Assassin's Guild and all-around badass. He creeped me out from the start. He was so cold and manipulative and just gave me the creeps.

There's some interesting lore surrounding the tribe of barbarians that have been attacking farms surrounding the city of Forge. They have large wildcats that can easily take down livestock or humans. I don't want to give anything away, but these barbarians become a pretty major part of the story.

The plot is interesting, but not terribly unique. Kyra pushes her limits, then realizes just where her path is leading. There's some serious Assassin's Guild business that's not entirely based on just assassinating people. There's barbarians with giant cats that attack.

Overall, I though Midnight Thief was a good addition to YA fantasy. I'm looking forward to more from Livia Blackburne!

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Don't Just Take My Word For It:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: A Horse Called Hero

Title: A Horse Called Hero
Author: Sam Angus
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary ARC in exchange for a honest review.

On the brink of World War II, a family forced out of their London home flees to the country. Wolfie and his older sister Dodo are devastated to leave behind everything they’ve ever known, but they begin settling into their new life.

One day, they come across an orphaned fowl, which they raise as Hero, a strong and beautiful horse who lives up to his name when he saves the children from a fire.

Wolfie and Dodo find comfort in their new life, but the war is escalating quickly and horses are needed for combat. One night, Hero is stolen, and the children are shattered. Years then pass without any indication Hero will return. It’s only when Wolfie becomes a stable hand that he discovers Hero has ended up working in the mines under terrible conditions. Then and there, Wolfie resolves to save Hero, a plan that places both of their lives in jeopardy. Together again, can they will survive?

Last year I read Soldier Dog by Sam Angus and really enjoyed it. Well, maybe enjoyed isn't the right word, since I was bawling my eyes out every few pages, but for a book meant to make you cry, it was good.

Combining that with the fact that I love horses and I was excited when I got the chance to review A Horse Called Hero. Unfortunately, this one really fell short of my expectations.

I think my biggest issue was with the language Sam Angus used. It was very flowery and lyrical and I found it convoluted and difficult to follow. Especially for a middle grade book. I appreciate a good metaphor now and then, but this was a bit overboard.

I also got a bit confused with the passage of time. I thought about 6-8 months had passed, but then all of a sudden Hero was two years old and I was majorly confused.

My third complaint was that some of the events of the book seemed a bit random. Like when Hero entered the race, I thought that was going to go somewhere rather than be a stand alone event.

My favourite part of this one was the historical aspects involved with WWII and the 1940's in general. However, these weren't terribly plentiful and it wasn't even to save this book for me.

Overall, I preferred Sam Angus's Soldier Dog over this one. The language threw me off and there wasn't enough other stuff going on to save this one for me.

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Find the Author:
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WOW: A Thousand Pieces of You

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

This week's pick:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Grey

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

This one comes out November 4, 2014 by Harper Teen. It sounds so good!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: Dark Metropolis

Title: Dark Metropolis
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Dark Metropolis #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary eARC in exchange for a honest review.

Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading Dark Metropolis, but it wasn't what I got. Which is actually a good thing! I wavered on whether to read this one, but I'm glad I did.

Our main character in the beginning is Thea, a nice girl who is facing more than her share of trouble. Her father died in a war and now her mother is mentally ill due to a spell linking her with her husband. Thea has dropped out of school to provide for her and her mom and works nights waitressing at a club. And that's where things get interesting.

I'm not really sure what to classify this one as. Sometimes it had almost a dystopian feel, with the apparent changes after the war and some government conspiracy business, but it wasn't super dystopian-like. There's a bit more magic than I expected, so it could almost be Urban Fantasy, but it's a bit more subtle than most UF I've read.

Regardless of what category this book ends up under, I did enjoy it. I could have done with a little bit more world-building and Thea completely disappears for a large chunk of the book and I completely forgot where we left her.

The characters were pretty good. Like I said, Thea is a nice girl and I loved how dedicated she was to her family. Freddie was our love interest and I found him interesting, although not particularly swoon-worthy. But he goes through a lot of crap as well and I appreciate the way he cares for Thea. And no instalove!

My favourite character in this one was Thea's best friend Nan. I'm not sure why, there was just something about her that I loved. I think because she felt like she didn't fit in. And so many secrets! There is a ton of Nan's storyline that needs to be explored, so I'm definitely waiting for that in the next book. I also like Sigi, although I would like to get to know her better.

Overall, I enjoyed Dark Metropolis a lot, partly because it was not what I expected. Things get crazy, but the main characters look out for one another, which I loved. Definitely waiting for the next book already!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Embarrassing Things

Life of a Blogger is a weekly feature hosted by Jessi of Novel Heartbeat. Each week, we share a little about ourselves and our real lives so we can get to know the people behind the blogs!

This week's topic is Embarrassing Things. I try not to get embarrassed by the things I do, but here's two embarrassing things about me.

1. I'm clumsy, which is not embarrassing by itself, but when you fall down for no reason, it's hard to play it cool.

2. I play Dungeons and Dragons. Seriously though, it's actually really fun and I think lots of people would enjoy it if they looked past the crazy stigma about it. Also embarrassing: I haven't told my mom because she thinks it turns people crazy. True story.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WoW: The Vault of Dreamers

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

This week's pick:

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Doesn't this one sound super creepy!?!?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review: The Tropic of Serpents

Title: The Tropic of Serpents
Author: Marie Brennan
Series: Memoir by Lady Trent #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's The Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

The Tropic of Serpents is a great follow-up to A Natural History of Dragons. I really love the format of a faux memoir. It feels like historical fiction, but, you know, with dragons.

Isabella Camherst is a great main character. I love her fiestiness, especially in a time when it was frowned upon for women to pursue academics or go on adventures. She is definitely scientific, but also follows her emotions and her heart. She cares about people as well as science and I really respect her for that. The only thing that bothered me about her was her relationship (or lack of) with her son. Even though I don't have kids yet, I couldn't imagine leaving my 2 year old son for a year like Isabella does. At the same time though, I respect her for following her passions.

This installment features lots of cultural differences, political maneuvering (which Mrs. Camherst is caught up in involuntarily) and dragonic research. Not to mention a jungle that terrified me. It was honestly called "The Green Hell" and the tribe that lived there had little fear of outsiders because, in their words, "Our home will eat you." Nope, I'm not a fan of jungles.

If you love adventure stories, dragons or historical-esque settings, this book was really enjoyable. i think some people could find it a little dry, due to the historical style of the writing, but I really enjoyed it. I also loved the pictures that were scattered throughout.

Find the Book:
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Find the Author:
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Check out this awesome video of Marie Brennan on tour with Mary Robinette:

Monday, June 2, 2014

I'm on BookTube!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to announce that I have officially become a BookTuber! Yay! But don't worry, I'll still be blogging here as well. Check out my first video below and I would REALLY appreciate any views, likes and subscribes!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme by Tynga's Reviews to share the books you've recently acquired.

I missed a couple from last week and got a few new ones this week.

For Review:

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker
- Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada for these ones!


The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
- Thanks to Lori at Writing my Own Fairy Tale!


Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - Rescued this one from my mom's garage sale yesterday!