Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cover Reveal: ReBorn by Ada Adam

I have been a fan of Ada Adam's Angel Creek trilogy, and the FINAL BOOK IS ALMOST HERE! ReBorn is the third and final book in this trilogy, and here is the cover reveal: 

A self-proclaimed book and TV junkie, Ada Adams spends most of her days immersed in imaginary worlds. Much like the kick-butt female characters she enjoys writing about, she is a martial artist with a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate. She is also a big proponent of lifelong learning and has attained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology as well as a Masters of Science in Education.  

 Don't these three look SO GOOD together? I absolutely loved the first two, and I cannot wait to get my hands on ReBorn!! 

My review of ReVamped
My Review of ReAwakened


What do you guys think?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Review: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into Place

Title: Falling into Place
Author: Amy Zhang 
 HarperCollins Canada
Publication date: September 9, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Falling into Place is heartbreakingly real and beautiful at the same time. There is a mystery theme going through the book that keeps you guessing two things, 1) will Liz really die? 2) Who is the unknown narrator? Also, the nonlinear timeline works so well and Zhang does it in a way that keeps you wanting to flip the pages as quick as possible. I can't say I related to the main protagonist, Liz, but it doesn't mean her story isn't important to me. It doesn't mean I wasn't emotionally crippled after finishing the book. It doesn't mean that this book didn't impact my reality. Because it did, it seriously did.
The chapters jump between three different time lines: 1) weeks before Liz's suicide, 2) minutes before Liz's suicide, 3) After Liz's suicide. This type of storytelling was very powerful for this novel. Liz's world unravels to us in increments, little snippets here and there. Liz isn't a nice person, quite frankly, she's a bully. Her realization in the book is immediate, that is what actually propels her to commit suicide, sort of as a repenting to all the bad she's unleashed to the world. I can't say she's just the typical teenagers with a mean streak.. she really was a bully. I was horrified at some of the things her friends, and herself, did. However, Liz's inner struggle through all this was just as painful. There is an emotional rawness that Zhang delivers so well. My heart would literally ache reading this book. Liz's loneliness, her resolve to kill herself, and then her awful past of bullying. It was sometimes suffocating reading about it all.  People are so complicated, and you sometimes don't understand how they can be so spiteful, deliberately hurtful, and downright mean. Is it because they are inherently cruel? or is it their own inner struggles? the environment they grew up in? It is just scary. 
Liz's friends also have their own secrets and some are just achingly sad. I wanted to shake them and tell them to get help or snap out of it. To wake up and look at themselves. To stop caring what people think of them and to strip away their popular masks. They are as screwed up, if not more, than everyone around them. I cried so much in the last 30 pages of the book. I was actually in a public bus and had to hide my face while I bawled my eyes out (This is not related to the ending, which I will give no hint on). Falling into Place tackled so many issues teenagers go through. This is a bittersweet book, definitely falling into the realistic fiction setting. Many people couldn't relate to the main protagonist but that's fine. You can't relate to every person you meet, and like I said, it doesn't mean their story isn't important to tell. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Blog Tour: The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers + Author Interview

Title: The Death of Us
Author: Alice Kuipers
Publication date: September 2, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 240
A recovered friendship, a dark secret, and a love triangle with a deadly angle…

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

The Death of Us by Alice Kuipers was a book that was a surprise from HCC Frenzy. I really had no idea about what it really was about, but my ARC copy was bright yellow and I like yellow so I picked it up not really knowing what it’s about. The Death of Us revolves around three main characters who happen to be tangled into each other in ways that is not so easy to describe. The three main protagonists, Callie, Ivy, and Kurt each have diverse and unique personalities and characteristics. Despite the book being told from the three point of views, I personally felt like this book revolved more about Callie and Ivy. As I said before, each of them had distinct personalities, so I’ll speak a bit about that. I really didn’t know what to feel about Callie. I wasn’t really able to connect to her, and she kind of fell flat for me as a character. As for Ivy, I personally found her annoying most of the time. She was sort of the typical controlling “best friend” who is sometimes maybe mistaken as selfish. I just wasn't able to relate to her. 
The Death of Us was certainly a book that was full of unexpected events. I truly found it interesting how Kuipers was able to create such a dynamic relationship between the three characters, and the complexity of it was surely interesting to read about as well. Since it is a short book, I can’t quite give much about the big without spoiling a bit to the readers. The Death of Us was a book more of finding friendship and the relationships between character and such. Overall, it was a really fast and enjoyable read in which I think a lot of contemporary fans will surely enjoy reading.

Bestselling, award winning author Alice Kuipers moved to Saskatoon from the UK in 2003. Her first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, was published in 28 countries. She has published three further award-winning YA novels internationally, most recently The Death of Us. Her first picture book Violet and Victor Write The Best Ever Bookworm Book will be published this December.                                                                    
Find her here:
In less that 140 characters (a tweet), how would you describe The Death of Us? In the quiet town of Edenville find secrets, lies, love, heartbreak, danger and death
What initially inspired you to write The Death of Us? I was inspired to write about Callie, Kurt and Ivy by the opening scene in the book - the idea of someone waiting at a party and then realizing the people he's waiting for aren't going to arrive. It came to me clearly and appeared on the page and then I had to figure out what it meant and how to get there. I also had the images of Callie eating a peach over her kitchen sink, and Ivy unpacking her clothes and those images made me want to write. I think a lot of the writing I do comes from compelling images in my mind. Those images wake me up at night. They nag and snaggle at my brain until the story just has to be written.
The Death of Us is told from three different POV's, is there a reason for doing that? I wanted to story to be nuanced and layered because I didn’t want it to be easy to blame one person. That felt too simplistic and the only way to doubt the other characters was to have sections of the story told from different perspectives. We all have a dark side (at least, I do!) and I wanted there to be times in the narrative when readers wondered which character was heading into their dark side. Each character is the hero of their own story and that means they don’t all see the events of The Death of Us the same way. I think YA readers are sophisticated, smart readers and I knew the complexity of the storytelling would be worth it for this particular narrative.
You once mentioned that the Death of Us was difficult for you to write, may I ask why? Having the points of view of three characters, and the shift in time at the start (from the end back to the beginning), and the rapid timeline, and all of the various secrets and lies felt like a lot to handle on the page. I had to do tons of drafts to make sure the book really did what I wanted it to, but then there were times when I wasn’t sure anymore what I wanted the book to do. In those moments, I had to just go with it and write. I doubted myself and the narrative, but, in the end, it came together. I hope! 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Review: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper - lacked the magic

Salt & Storm
Title: Salt & Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
 HBG Canada
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Paranormal/Magic)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
I had high hopes for Salt & Storm. Avery, the main protagonist, believes her destiny is to become the next monro witch. However her estranged mother comes one day to where she lives with her grandmother and takes her away. Several years later, Avery is stuck with her mom and stepfather. Her mother put a binding spell on her that forbids her from looking and going to her grandmother. Avery also has another skill and that is interpreting dreams. One night, she has a dream that seals her very soon future with death. The first part of this book is Avery trying to break the spell, something she tries by seeking the help of Tane, mysterious tattooed sailor who knows a lot about magic. 
I personally felt the plot went nowhere. I expected actual magic involved but got nothing. It is four hundred pages that could have been written in two hundred pages. The romance is insta-love of course so I will not even bother mentioning it. However I need to point out that there’s a difference between insta-crush and insta-love. Insta-crush is something I’m totally for if it’s written right and doesn’t immediately jump to insta-love.. However insta-love from the get go is a big no for me. That is one sure thing that will definitely turn me off a book. 
I didn’t like the direction the author took with the plot and felt it really was a shame because so much could have been done with it. There is no way to redeem itself plot wise because this is a standalone. At some point I kept on reading just for the sake of reading. The whole book was her searching.. searching to break the spell, searching for her grandmother, searching for 100 other things. I’m just disappointed. If a book is being pitched as a witch/magic book.. it should contain that. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book and I was overall disappointed in everything about it, from the plot, character development, to the romance. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley - a favorite contemporary!

Rites of Passage

Title: Rites of Passage 
Author: Joy N. Hensley 
 HarperCollins Canada
Publication date: September 9, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 416
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
It's really hard for me to write this review and i've been putting it off because I find it really really hard to express my thoughts on a book I loved so much. However it's 12:40am right now and enough is enough, this review is getting written and I hope it does Rites of Passage justice. 
Let me start off by writing that if you are a 90s kid and watched Disney, then you probably have seen the tv movie Cadet Kelly. This was one of my favorite movies because I was so fascinated by the military school and all the training and, yes I have to admit, all the cool clothes Hilary Duff wore. As soon as I found out Rites of Passage existed, I put it on my wish list and priority TBR. I'm mentioning this to let you know I had more than average expectations for it.. honestly? they were pretty high expectations. BUT, Rites of Passage didn't just meet them, but totally exceeded them all. Everything about this book was exciting, fast paced, and addicting. Everything was working for this book, starting with the unique setting and plot line. 
Sam is a military brat, what that means is that she grew up in a family of military people. In her case, her dad, and her two older brothers are in the military. However, one of her brothers is dead but before he passed away, he dared her to enroll at the DMA, short for the Denmark Military Academy. You see, the DMA finally *eye roll* opened up its doors to females. We are in the 21st century and women are still discriminated against. sheesh. Don't throw a party yet though because barely anyone is happy about this huge change at the prestigious military academy, because women are going to bring down your standards *snorts*. Anyways, Sam enrolls along with four other girls. The book opens up with her traveling in the car with her parents to the school. That chapter will hook you, I guarantee it. One of the welcome military upperclassmen tries to flirt with her before he knew who she was and he got burrrrrnt (her dad is very high up in the military). 
Sam's attitude was what made most of this book for me. She's kick butt, brave, strong, smart, and an all around awesome person. She obviously knew what she was getting into by signing up at the DMA and she never once complaint, even through monologues, about how hard or unfair she was getting treated. And she was.. getting treated unfairly even compared to the girls. Ever heard of people trying too hard to NOT show favoritism but end up discriminating instead? yea that happened to her. The hazing and harsh treatment of some upperclassmen gets so bad I would wince sometimes during some scenes. Still, I loved her comradeship and her "never give up" attitude. The secret society mystery is also very interesting and I was on my toes trying to figure out what their next move is against the girls and their tries at kicking them out. 
Lastly is the romance, and we hit the jackpot with this book! I've mentioned in earlier reviews how I've started to ignore the romances in YA books because many are cliches and made from the same typical mold? well, the romance in Rites of Passage breaks that mold *hallelujah*. I loved everything about the love interest, Drill, and ah, I had my own swoon moments thinking of him! Hensley never let the love interest become the typical YA savior. There was a sense of equality between him and Sam's relationship that I really appreciated. One thing I must mention is the ending. I know many people say it is too open ended to their liking since there isn't a sequel (as of yet, go buy the book!!), however I loved it. It gave me enough closure but at the same time, hinted at what is to come. The lives of people don't stop after the end of the book so it would seem weird that a corrupt secret society would get cleaned up and the people would get over their sexism. That hasn't even happened in the real world!  
If you want a unique setting with a kick butt protagonist, a mystery, a secret society, hazings, and witnessing military training life, then Rites of Passage is just the book for you. I am already itching for a reread but I'm going to wait until my beautiful finished copy is in my possession before reading it again (hint: it is worth buying even though I've already read it).