Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review: Love, Lucy by April Linder - Wanderlust

Love, Lucy

Title: Love, Lucy 
Author: April Lindner
 HBG Canada
Publication date: January 27, 2015
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 304
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.
I am so surprised by Love, Lucy. Several days later and I'm still thinking about it. I loved everything about this book. It is set in Italy (at least over half of it), and the main protagonist is so likable. I truly loved the whole contemporary and wanderlust feel of it. By the end of the book I had the traveling itch so bad. Love, Lucy is the story of Lucy, who gave up her dream of acting for enrolling in business school at her father's alma mater. It isn't that simple, trust me. However as an appeasing gift, her parents send her on a month or two long european trip. The book doesn't cover the whole trip, but only once she arrives to her last destination, Italy. 
Italy holds a special place for me relative to all the other european countries. That is mainly because of all the stories I heard about it from both my parents when they visited it often as kids. Being only two hours away and living on the Mediterranean made it quite easy to go to Italy from time to time. Unfortunately I never went there so I experienced everything Lucy described for the first time.. from the streets, the people, the food, to the culture. One thing I could relate to Lucy is the need to get lost in a foreign country. I love just going where the path takes you, especially when traveling to foreign countries. It really is as serene and beautiful as Lucy described it. I truly felt how realistic the experience was for Lucy, it was like April Lindner actually walked the steps that Lucy walked, went through the same emotions as she did, and I love this authenticity in writing.  
This is a love story, but it is also a story about Lucy finding herself. It isn't about Lucy ditching everything and everyone and going after what she wants, but it is about making the best out of her situation and trying to turn hit into something she recognizes as her own. This realistic aspect of the book resonated with me. So many of us end up doing things to please the parents or to complete an obligation.. but not all of us get to have that movie happy ending where everything gets resolved and you get exactly what you wanted from the beginning. It's all about compromising and again, Lindner really wrote it superbly.  
I've been burnt quite often with abroad romance novels but I actually thought the romance in Love, Lucy was super cute, natural, and really fit well with the whole book. The guy didn't become Lucy's everything, and everything transitioned so well. The conflict was well played out and I really liked the love interest. This is not something I say often when it comes to this type of romance. I am so glad I gave Love, Lucy a chance because I ended up loving it so much. Bravo Lindner! 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2) 

Title: Golden Son (Red Rising, #2)
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Genre(s): Adult (Science Fiction)
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 464
Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart,Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.
Let's start with my thoughts as soon as I finished the book (acquired from Goodreads):
"I... That ending. I was dozing off because it is super late but the last 4 pages woke me up with a virtual slap. Wow wow wow. This is crueler than Red Rising. That ending *cries* this book was glorious and exceeded my expectations by 100x times." 
Yes, I was blown away by Golden Son. If you read my review of Red Rising, you would know that I thoroughly enjoyed it but I wasn't blown away.. however, I stand corrected, Pierce Brown really hit it out of the ballpark. This book was so much more than I expected. I don't think I've ever read a book with this much plotting, manipulation, gasp inducing scenes, twists, and shocking revelations, all written in an engaging and addicting read. I honestly couldn't stop thinking about Golden Son, even after I finished my buddy read with Giselle from Booknerd Canada (I also buddy read Red Rising with her last year). There is just so much in this book that rereading it almost immediately will still result in discovering new things for the first time. 
Golden Son is set two years after Red Rising and the whole book spans another year of Darrow's life. I was quite impressed with this jump in timeline because this series is hovering, if it isn't already, on the line between young adult and adult fiction. I feel the gruesomeness of the book and the events that take place would shock many younger readers, however, being twenty four, I welcomed the uncensored feel of the book. Darrow really is a fantastic protagonist. I generally don't read male POV books because I don't connect with them but in Golden Son, Darrow captures your attention from the get go and you can't help but cheer him on and feel for him and invest your emotional well being in his outcome. 
I also loved the breakdown of all the colors as well as the houses and the people in them. It is always welcomed when fantasy/science fiction books include such glossaries and breakdowns so that we won't be lost halfway through the book. Those sections are so pretty (as evident from the photo above) and I just love the cover of the book too.  
Like I mentioned, from the first chapter, Brown kept throwing at Darrow (and us) complication after complication, twist after twist, I honestly wish I could say I was able to predict some of them but I couldn't predict a single one. It actually hurt my pride of being able to predict things, but at the same time I was ecstatic that finally, I can read a book where I 100% got everything wrong. It is glorious. Putting aside the plot, some of our favorite characters come back including Servo. God I love that foul mouthed boy. He is hilarious and I cracked up every time he said anything. There has also been a ton of crying moments (I admit it.. I cried) and I loved how Golden Son was able to tug at all my heartstrings but at the same time have so much substance and just so much action. I respect Brown for being able to create such a world and plot with so many details and all the interwoven plots without losing us. I am very excited for Morning Star and I honest'y don't know how I'll be able to wait over a year until it is in my hands. 
My review of Red Rising 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Raving Review: Willowgrove by Kathleen Peacock - Everything I wanted the book to be

Willowgrove (Hemlock, #3)
Title: Willowgrove (Hemlock, #3)
Author: Kathleen Peacock
Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Genre(s): Young Adult (Paranormal/Werewolf)
Source: Won from author on twitter / Own HC copy too
Format: ARC / HC copy 
Pages: 368
Willowgrove is Kathleen Peacock's riveting conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy, a dark, romantic, paranormal suspense series that pits friendship against survival, and trust against love.

Ever since Mac's best friend, Amy, was murdered, Hemlock has been a dangerous place. But now that Mac, her boyfriend, Kyle, and Amy's ex, Jason, have investigated a mass breakout from Thornhill, a werewolf "rehabilitation" camp, the danger has only grown. Fear of the infection spreading is now at an all-time high, and anyone with a scar is suspected of being a wolf.

What makes Mac even more afraid, though, are the dark experiments that the warden of Thornhill was performing on wolves in a secret asylum called Willowgrove. Uncovering the truth about what happened may be the only way for Mac to save everyone she loves and end her nightmares for good.
I can't even begin to describe my love for this trilogy (if you don't believe me, read both my reviews of Hemlock and Thornhill!). This review will be spoiler free because I want people to know that this trilogy as a whole did not disappoint in the least bit and that the third and final book was everything I wanted it to be! Thank you so much Kathleen Peacock for creating such a refreshing take on the paranormal genre and werewolves. The Hemlock trilogy contains everything I love: Mystery, thrilling pacing, friendship, a fantastic romance, and a kick butt main protagonist. Don't think this trilogy is just a typical paranormal, it contains all that I mentioned in a winning blend. 
Willowgrove did not disappoint at all. I was never afraid of it being a disappointment, I was afraid of some possible outcomes that Peacock could write in Willowgrove. However, I loved everything about Willowgrove.. even the scenes that made me bawl my eyes out. I had to take a break, cry my heart out, then get back to the book. I love it when authors paint their world and the events in it realistically. Not everyone gets their happily ever after and not everything miraculously gets fixed. That's life (even if it is a non contemporary world). 
The characters make up this book. Mac, Kyle, and Jason. Those three are just so freaking amazing. I love love their friendship, even when it is screwed up, they still manage to love each other unconditionally. Even when it seems like one of them is lost to the rest, they manage to bring each other back. It is truly a friendship to be envied and admired. The love interest (It really isn't a love triangle but I still won't say who because that would be a book 1 spoiler), is just so so sweet and I love him to bits. Mac and him are just the most adorable couple and their romance is just so lovely. It truly restores my faith in YA romances. You guys know how many are underdeveloped or turn to be the main focus of a non contemporary book. However in Willowgrove (and whole trilogy) all I wanted was more of them and the three friends too. Not only that, but two other characters, Trey and Serena also stole my heart.  
The paranormal aspect in this novel is woven into the novel so naturally. Lupin syndrome is a disease that turns humans into werewolves (shape shifters). There are concentration camps and just so much fear and hatred towards werewolves. Some of our characters are werewolves. Mac's best friend, Amy, was killed by a werewolf. That was the setting to book one. So I didn't spoil anything for you. I just loved the development of the story from Hemlock all the way to Willowgrove; it is very thought out and I was gasping left and right at all the reveals. 
I can tell you to pick up Hemlock based on many things, either the friendship, the paranormal aspect, the plot progression, the mystery, the fresh take on werewolves, the romance, or even the side characters. There is just so much to love about this whole trilogy as well as the concluding book, Willowgrove. I personally did not have one thing I disliked about Willowgrove. So this point seems like a good stopping point. I am so so very sad that there are no more books to look forward to. The ending was so satisfying but I would still love novellas about some characters *hint hint*. I will definitely be reliving this world soon because I can't stay too much away from the Hemlock world <3 Thank you so much Kathleen for writing such memorable characters and books that have become one of my favorite books I ever read.
My raving reviews of Hemlock and Thornhill

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Title: Horrorstör
Author: Grady Hendrix
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: September 24, 2014
Genre(s): Fiction/Horror
Source: Publisher
Format: Finished Copy
Pages: 256
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour, dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
On first glance, Horrorstor looks like any furniture catalogue you would see. It really doesn't look like a novel, which was one of the factors that intrigued me to further look into at. After reading the synopsis, I really wanted to get my hands on it and read it. I'm a big fan of horror stories, and when they have pictures and images, that just excites me even more. I was very happy when the publisher sent me a finished copy, and I devoured it for quite a while before I even started reading it.  
Horrorstor is a story about Amy, a girl who works at the retail store Orsk. Amy is a girl who works hard and struggles to pay her rent. One day, weird stuff started happening at Orsk. The staff working there would find poop on furniture and vandalism on walls of bathrooms and such. Basil, the manager of the store, decides to keep two staff members with him in a night shift, where they hope to find the culprit of this vandalism. Saying anything more will most likely spoil the book for you, so I will stop here. The characters in the book were great. Amy was just your typical teenage (her age was never mentioned... I'm assuming she's in her 20s? does that even make her a teenager anymore? I don't think so...) girl who works hard to get money to pay for rent and gas and food. Truth be told, she didn't stand out for me much. Basil was kind of funny, but sometimes annoying (aren't all managers). Other characters were also included, which added more character depth overall. 
One of the major problems I had with this book was that I think it could have ended faster than it did. Instead of it being 256 pages, I think it would have wrapped up nicely in about 200 pages. Some of the stuff felt repetitive to me, and I found myself getting tired. That was really upsetting for me, because the book started off really well and I was excited to see what would happen later on. Despite the predictable scenes in the middle of the book, I can say that I enjoyed how the book ended. Would I recommend this? Absolutely. It was fun going through the book. The overall experience was fun, and I loved the theme of it being set in something similar to an IKEA store. This may lean more towards those who are younger teens.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Review: The Darkest Part of The Forest by Holly Black

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: HBG Canada
Publication date: January 13, 2015
Genre(s): Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
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 pointy 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 and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?
It's been a while since I've read a fantasy book so I was definitely very excited to begin The Darkest Part of the Forest. I knew I wanted to read it just from what the synopsis had said and it was definitly a fun read. It was super easy to get into which normally isn't the case with fantasy novels as they take a while to explain the world/settings but with this book I never really found myself bored with it, I was able to fly through it pretty quickly. 

The book begins by explains how things are in the faery town of Fairfold. There are traditional aspects from what you would expect fairies to be but there are also slightly different rules in the interaction between the humans and the fae. This made the book quiet interesting as it wasn't predictable at all. If I can predict a book halfway through then I immediately become uninterested in it! The one thing that I really enjoyed about this book was that the main "problem" to be solved occurred early on in the book so you can see how the characters interacted with one another and how their relationship with each other grew. One of my reading pet peeves is when the entirety of the book is spent relaxed and calm and in the last few chapters is when the problem is created and solved. This leaves few space for the reader to see more of the other characters in the book and not simply focus on the protagonist. 
I really loved how each character developed in their own way throughout the book. The main character, Hazel, achieving her dreams to be a knight and her brother finally accepting himself for who he really is. They both go through a journey that was unexpected and intriguing. Even though near the end of the book it was easy see how it would fall through, Holly Black was able to still make it an interesting ending.  
I was pretty happy with the book up until about halfway through where the love interests were kind of decided and I was definitely rooting for the opposite couple. I did enjoy though that the book didn't fall under the typical cliched love story and has many twists and mysteries in its own way, it's hard to believe Holly Black fit it all in one book. If you give this a read, you'll definitely know what I'm talking about!