Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

I will pick up any novel in verse I can get my hands of, so it was an easy decision to read Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick. This book takes place over 72 hours when Kenna, as a result of being caught cutting herself at school, is institutionalized. The novel itself is an incredibly quick read, because of both the format and the short page count (only about 200). However, while it does provide a brief glimpse into the addictive nature of self-harm--even when a person doesn't start out with that intention-- as well as the community and potential for peer pressure, it's not actually an incredibly emotional read.

Perhaps because there's not enough time for development of the relationships, but for a book on such a serious topic, I felt like Kiss of Broken Glass was a bit superficial at times, especially when it came to the characters. Even components I appreciated such as Kenna's relationship with her parents, were often still simplistic, and I really wish that in particular the cutting group that she was a part of had been explored more. This is the first book I've read that deals with that real life possibility, and I wanted more from it.

Overall, there are definitely elements of Kiss of Broken Glass I appreciated, but it's a novel where I feel like with another hundred pages I just would have connected to it so much more. 

Release Date: September 9th 2014 Pages: 224  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: HarperTeen  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, September 01, 2014

All Those Broken Angels by Peter Adam Salomon

I picked up All Those Broken Angels by Peter Adam Salomon when I was just getting out of a reading slump and my main criteria for books was that they were short. Cause honestly, sometimes just finishing a book helps me get back into the reading groove. At 240 easy-to-read pages, I was able to finish Salomon's novel in a single day. But was it worth it?

All Those Broken Angels is told from the perspective of Richard, whose best friend Melanie disappeared when they were six-years-old. Despite never finding a body, she was declared dead, a fact Richard knew to be true because after he vanished a part of her remained-- a ghostly shadow named Melanie. But then a girl moves into town, also claiming to Melanie, and it's up to Richard to figure out that if the shadow is a fake, then who is she really?

This is a mystery novel with a paranormal twist, which isn't incredibly creepy but has a fun storyline that kept me interested in finding out what happened. That said, the characters were a little flat for me, and I didn't really find a connection with Richard. There were also too many aspects that just seemed unbelievable or unlikely or a bit confusing. Basically Melanie's entire story. However, the plot itself kept my interest, and even if there were some predictable elements there were still some surprises. Overall, All Those Broken Angels was an okay read for me, there was enough I enjoyed to keep me reading, but it isn't a book I'd rush out to recommend.

Release Date: September 8th,  2014 Pages: 240  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Flux   Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, July 05, 2014

All Fall Down by Mary Brigid Barrett (illustrated by LeUyen Pham)

All Fall Down by Mary Brigid Barrett (illustrated by LeUyen Pham) is very similar to Pat-a-Cake, which I reviewed yesterday (here), as they feature the style because they have the same author and illustrator. In this adventure, all kinds of things fall down.

All Fall Down is a bright, rhyming board book filled again with all kinds of different looking characters, which I really appreciated because I think it is super important for children to experience from a young age. There is a lot more text in this book than I expected based on Pat-a-Cake and I think it is a bit much for the small pages. I'm also unconvinced about the scenario that features a young child dumping all their food on the floor and it being celebrated-- I'm not sure that's something a parent, or whoever is reading the book to the toddler, wants to encourage, even in fictional form. Although the dog getting the scraps sure looks happy.

Overall, All Fall Down is a cute fun book that would definitely keep a child's attention but if you are only going to get one I would go with Pat-a-Cake instead. 
Release Date: January 7th 2014 Pages: 16  Format: Board Book
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Candlewick Press  Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, July 04, 2014

Pat-a-Cake by Mary Brigid Barrett (illustrated by LeUyen Pham)

A quick review for a quick little book. Pat-a-Cake by Mary Brigid Barrett is a board book, illustrated by LeUyen Pham with not much text and bright colourful pictures. A lot of the words inside the book are sounds that things make when you pat them, like a pudding "wibble, wobble" that make it fun and easy to read out loud. There's also a rhyme going on that helps it flow easily.

I appreciate the diversity of the characters in Pat-a-Cake it's nice to see all kinds of races represented. I also think the book is great for encouraging interaction with the child as they can pat the different items represented, and also discuss what those things feel like and what they would do with them. So overall, even though there's nothing super surprising about Pat-a-Cake it is a cute fun book for toddlers. 

Release Date: January 7th 2014 Pages: 16  Format: Board Book
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Candlewick Press  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

King Lear by William Shakespeare

A novel I was really excited to read referenced King Lear by William Shakespeare on the back of the book, so of course I had to pick it up and read it immediately. Although I read a lot, I am pretty much a failure when it comes to classics and I've only read a handful of the many "must reads" that exist. However, a play, even a Shakespeare one, isn't that much of a time commitment, so I picked it up. It turned out that it wasn't at all necessary to read it for the book that mentioned it, but the end result was me being a little more well-read, so no harm done.

I am always afraid when reading a classic that there's some deep meaning I'm missing, so I actually read 3 different versions of King Lear at the same time to make sure I got the full impact and analysis. I actually found it a lot of fun to read that way, and I definitely plan to pick up more Shakespeare in the future. In terms of King Lear itself, it's the story of an aging King, who asks his daughters who loves him. While the two older daughters make grand pronouncements, the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to and is cast out by her father. However it turns out that the two older daughter quickly ally themselves in a quest to take over as King Lear is so upset he begins to descend into madness.

As I said, I really enjoyed King Lear. It's hard to critic somebody like Shakespeare, but this definitely one of my favourite plays I've read by him. Although it's a classic, I didn't know how things turned out, and I really enjoyed the ending because it was unexpected and left a big impact. There is flowery prose, but there is also a strong message about love and death. I'm not one to say anything given how poor my own classic reading is, but it is definitely worth picking this one up!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Elegy by Tara Hudson

I actually preferred the second book Arise in Tara Hudson's Hereafter Trilogy to the first, so I decided to pick up book three, Elegy not long after, hoping it would be even better. Unfortunately, it was not. In this final book Amelia is threatened by the demons of high bridge that unless she turns herself over to evil forces, one person she knows will die every week. She and her friends plot to destroy the bridge-- and stop evil from crossing over for good. However, Amelia has a plan of her own, and she's not telling anyone until it's too late to stop her.

I felt like a lot of Elegy was a bit of a mess. The plans the teenagers make don't always make sense, like showing up at prom to recruit people for a secret plan. With alcohol. It just felt random and like a bad idea, created only to cause tension that didn't come across as authentic. The ending also felt like it was really trying to tie up all the loose ends and as a result it came across as forced and wasn't overly satisfying-- nor did it really tie many of them up. Despite getting some enjoyment out of book two, I was just really tired (and bored) of this series by the time I finished Elegy.

Release Date: June 4th 2013 Pages: 386  Publisher: HarperTeen  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, June 23, 2014

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

There are a lot of recent young adult novels with crossways into parallel universes, and I actually own a couple of them, so I figured it was time to start reading. Through to You by Emily Hainsworth is one such novel, and it captured my attention partially because of male narrator. Camden's girlfriend Viv has died, in an accident he blames himself for. She was his world, and when he sees a girl appear at the site of Viv's car accident, it turns out she's from a parallel world--one where Viv is still alive. However, as Camden travels to this alternate universe, he learns things aren't exactly perfect there either, and the window between the two worlds is quickly closing.

Through to You is an incredibly easy to read book mainly because of Hainsworth's writing which is clear and straightforward. However, it is kinda annoying how it takes so long to get to the point of the book that is promised in the blurb, where Cam actually travels to the other universe. I also feel like there wasn't anything I really loved about this book, there were plenty of things that were okay, but I figured out 100% how it ended almost as soon as it started, so that plot wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. I think it's a cool premise, and it's not even one I'm bored of yet, but I didn't feel like it was used to its full potential in Through to You.

Cam is also not as interesting a protagonist as I would have liked, pretty much everything bad has happened in his life but he is still kinda annoying at times. That said, even though it was very obvious where the story was going, it was still fun to read, and for a lighthearted, quick read I enjoyed Through to You well enough and would consider picking up another novel by Hainsworth in the future.

Release Date: October 2nd 2012 Pages: 272  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Blazer + Bray  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose by Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil

It's really hard to critic the diary of a girl who has died, but that's what I have to do in order to review Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose by Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil. Dear Nobody is the story of Mary Rose, collected from her diaries (although the entries are not dated, nor is the book all of her writing). Mary Rose is a teenage girl with drug and alcohol addictions, as well as cystic fibrosis. Her home life includes a neglectful mother who often has an abusive boyfriend. Basically, things are so horrible, it would be hard to believe if it wasn't the truth.

This is a real story, and Mary Rose isn't perfect either. She claims to love somebody, but often treats them horribly. She treats herself horribly. Awful things happen to her, but she also does awful things, and that's what makes it feel so real. This isn't a happy story, from the beginning, from the back of the book, that is immediately clear. This is the sort of storyline that would not be out of place in an Ellen Hopkins novel, but even without that thread of hope her stories usually provide.

As heartbreaking as Dear Nobody is, there were still a few things that bothered me about the book. Mary Rose writes a bunch of letters to another character that isn't really included in the book, so it's unclear who she really is and if she wrote back or not. Mary Rose is spilling her guts to her, and I know this is her story, but some context would have been useful. Also, likely because this is a diary, it was confusing and unclear at times, and despite being revealed absolutely everywhere I have read about this book, cystic fibrosis is seem as some kind of secret, which I found to be confusing. Dear Nobody is an unedited diary, and while that sometimes means it is confusing, ultimately it is also what makes it so heartbreaking and real.

Release Date: April 1st 2014 Pages: 330  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire  Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sometimes there are books you might pick up because of hype, and sometimes there are books you avoid. Although I have pretty much enjoyed everything I've read by John Green, over the last two years it was impossible to escape The Fault in Our Stars hype everywhere, pretty much becoming the novel representing contemporary YA. And I love contemporary YA. I even bought a copy of this book as soon as it came out. But then I got sick of hearing about it and only picked it up this year.

If you've somehow managed to stumble across this review and not know what The Fault in Our Stars is about, it's the story of two teenagers who both have cancer, Hazel and Augustus, and find each other in a Support Group. It is an emotional, well-written book and definitely had me near-tears at some points even though I knew how things ended because in the time since the book was released the ending has been spoiled for me. That said, it didn't change how much I was on the edge of my seat, desperately hoping that things would work out for Hazel who has overcome so much. That said, I really enjoyed the ending and thought it fit the book perfectly.

I don't think I loved The Fault in Our Stars quite as much as all the hype, but that's unfortunately the problem with hype. Even though there was a romance element to it, the most memorable part of the book was Hazel's journey for me, and that, as well as her relationships with other people, was what I enjoyed most. Gus and his friend Isaac also had an unexpected emotional moment for me. Where the book struggled was with how literary the characters could be at times, to the point that they seemed pretentious. It does seem to be intentional given the characters' interests, but it sometimes made them come across less authentic, especially when it was Gus and Hazel talking, which is probably why I struggled most with the romance.

Overall, The Fault in our Stars was a really emotional book that reminded me how little my problems are and how beautiful life is, and for those reasons Hazel is an unforgettable narrator.

Release Date: January 10th 2012 Pages: 313  Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal  Publisher: Dutton Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, June 13, 2014

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Elizabeth Fama's first novel in ten years, Monstrous Beauty, was easily one of my 2012 favourites so I was incredibly excited when I learned she had a new release coming out, and I picked up Plus One almost right away. In terms of storyline itself, like her previous book about mermaids, the concept of Plus One wasn't the most exciting or innovative. It's the story of a boy and a girl one of whom is a night dweller, and one who works during the day, in a future America that has been strictly divided into day and night classes. When the night girl, Sol, tries to kidnap her newborn day niece to bring her to meet her dying grandfather, she is caught by a boy, D'Arcy, who soon becomes the only one she can trust, and maybe love.

The alternative history behind Plus One is interesting, and just as with Monstrous Beauty it is seamlessly incorporated into the storyline so that enough is known for the world to make sense without bogging down the plot. There's lots of action but it doesn't take away from the emotion. Sol is a bit of a stubborn, emotional, character, but as a reader I really felt her passion. In many ways D'Arcy is the opposite, analytical and patient. However there was a predictable element to their connection I don't want to spoil, but which I felt was too cheesy and convenient and took away from it. 

As excellent as world-building seemed, there were some issues when you think about too much, but while I was reading I was plenty distracted by an exciting plot and writing that was very easy and engaging to read. However, it was definitely the characters that made Plus One memorable, and although Sol's plan is a bit ridiculous at times, it just seems so perfectly impulsive and emotional and her. Fama's most recent novel isn't flawless, but it definitely reminded me why her novels are so much fun to read and why I will definitely be picking up whatever she writes next.

Release Date: April 8th 2014 Pages: 373  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver is definitely an auto-read author for me, and has been ever since I first fell in love with her dystopian world where love is illegal (irony intended) in Delirium. However, it's been a couple years since she released a standalone YA novel, and so I was very very excited about the release of her latest book, Panic, which is the story of a small town where each summer high school seniors compete in a dangerous game called Panic for a large cash prize. This year the competition includes Heather and Dodge, who both have very different reasons for competing, and the novel alternates between both their perspectives.

I really love the premise of Panic, this small town with nothing to do and all the different reasons people might have for competing in such a dangerous game. I also liked how the game was run by a secret group of two students, although I didn't think it was that secret in the novel who they were. There was a lot of intensity and action in the novel, so it was fast-paced and kept my interest and I devoured it over two days. Oliver's writing is just amazing and it is so easy and lovely to read. However, it does require that the reader doesn't think too deeply about some things, which just don't seem that realistic (like the cops are just so incompetent and have somehow never managed to catch anyone or stop this game before).

In terms of the characters, I didn't have quite the connection with them I would have liked, especially with Dodge. I definitely enjoyed the Heather chapters more, at least partially because I just really disagreed with what Dodge was planning and I just couldn't sympathize with it. Overall, Panic was a good novel and I enjoyed reading it, but it doesn't fall into my Oliver-obsessed category the way her previous contemporary novel Before I Fall does. That said, I will definitely continue to reach for anything Oliver writes and I am excited to see what comes next.

Release Date: March 4th 2014 Pages: 408  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: HarperTeen  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

When it comes to experimenting with form, I think David Levithan is one of the most creative authors.  Many of his books have an unexpected twist to them, such as being written in the form of a dictionary, or in response to photographs, or with a narrator who gets reincarnated each day. In Two Boys Kissing the book is narrated by a chorus of men who died from AIDS. This unusual perspective of "we" which doesn't include any of the characters from the novel itself, makes its scope both huge and slightly impersonal and while at moments I did appreciate it, and other times it felt like it lead to the story dragging along.

There are several storylines in Two Boys Kissing, centering around two boys, a broken up couple, who are now kissing and attempting to break the world record for longest kiss. Meanwhile, another couple meets for the first time and connects at prom, and two boys come out to their parents in very different ways. These are just a few of the many stories of gay youth and while Levithan draws on some common elements, Two Boys Kissing ultimate emphasize how different the stories can be.

I really liked the storyline between Avery and Ryan, as I really wanted things to work out for them, the boy with pink hair and the boy with blue hair. Connor's story was heartbreaking, the kind where you want to reach across the pages and tell him that things will get better. There's not a ton of plot to the novel, it's more about the journeys the characters take, and although I didn't know a huge amount about each of the characters and wish there was more complexity and depth to them, I was definitely rooting for things to work out. However, I still felt that distance, most likely because of the form of narration.

Ultimately, while I wanted to get a little closer to the characters in Two Boys Kissing, I couldn't help feeling what an important book this is. I am so glad books like this exist, to remind teens they aren't alone, no matter how much it feels like it.

Release Date: August 27th 2013 Pages: 208  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit & Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

At the end of 2013/beginning of 2014 I read two books by Jeanette Winterson that I have decided to review together since I waited so long to share either of them. And because they are connected in a strange, but undeniable way. While Oranges are Not the Only Fruit is Winterson's first novel, it draws heavily from her own life, and the unfictionalized account is told in her memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? published nearly two decades later. It was actually the memoir I was planning to read first, but as soon as I began it, the many references to Oranges meant that I had to stop, put it down, and return after having read the novel first.

Winterson's life, and the story she tells in both books, is something I can barely imagine. A girl adopted by very religious parents (especially the mother) only to do the unthinkable, fall in love with another girl. Despite all her struggles, there is a glimmer of hope to the Jeanette (also the name of the main character in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) that Winterson later admits in Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? wasn't real. An entire character, invented. The light in the darkness, false. It is was absolutely heartbreaking to read. In an unexpected twist, the novel tones down the things that nobody would believe-- except there they are, revealed in the memoir as the truth.

Both books, like everything I've read from Winterson, are quite short and only around 200 pages. There are so many sharp passages and moments are beautiful clarity in her phrasing, so many absolutely breath-taking passages. There are also a few moments in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit that are weighed down by angst, and they do exist in the memoir as well, but I also feel like the distance offered by the additional years provides a bit of clarity to what has happened. As classic as Winterson's novel is, and as well as it wraps things up in a way that only fiction can, I think I prefer the honesty and truth of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? a book that broke my heart in a way that only an emotionally raw and revealing story--a life lived-- can.

Release Date: January 1st 1985 / March 6th 2012 Pages: 192 / 230  Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal / Publisher  Buy It: Book Depository / Book Depository

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

Finishing a series is a weird feeling, it's both a sense of accomplishment and sometimes a bit of sadness too. I have really loved Kelley Armstrong's Darkness Rising Trilogy, which is the second Trilogy in the Darkest Powers Series, and recently I finished it up with The Rising, which was good, but I just didn't want it to be over. Luckily, it appears that Armstrong is writing a novella that takes place afterwards and I have a hope for more books.

I'm not going to provide much of a description because I don't want to give any spoilers, but basically this is a series about a group of teens with ancient supernatural powers that were resurrected in them as a part of a giant experiment. Now they are on the run, and so it is a pretty intense busy novel. As always, Armstrong's writing is easy to follow and enjoyable to read. However, there is a romantic shift that I found a bit abrupt, although eventually believable. A few familiar faces from the other trilogy also show up in The Rising and I really loved seeing Chloe and Derek again-- can never get enough of them!

Reading The Rising also really makes me want to pick up some of Armstrong's adult novels because they are all interconnected in the same world. That's both the wonderful thing and the problem with books like these, once you fall into them there is no way to get out. So much to read! Overall, The Rising wasn't my favourite book in the Trilogy (I think I prefer book 1 and 2) but it was a fun, adventure-filled read with lots of secrets revealed and lots of potential for more books that I can't wait to read as well. I don't read a ton of paranormal fiction, but I am a huge Kelley Armstrong fan and if you are at all interested in the genre I definitely recommend trying out some of her books!

Release Date: April 9th 2013 Pages: 400  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Doubleday Canada  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Germ Code by Jason Tetro

You ever pick up a book that you think is just meant for you and it turns out to kinda be the opposite? That was sadly the case with The Germ Code by Jason Tetro, which I thought I would absolutely adore cause it was supposed to be all about the microbes we find around us and how awesome they are and how we can learning to "how to stop worrying and love the microbes".  For somebody without a scientific background, this provides some decent information about germs, where they are found, and the history of the human battle against them.

Unfortunately, I have a scientific background, and as a result I found The Germ Code a bit simplistic at times. I was also frustrated that Tetro didn't include any references, even at the back of the book. He writes that he does it to make the book more approachable, but I don't think a list at the back of the book would hurt anyone, and it would be useful for further reading. I also was really hoping for more information about how microbes can be useful, but despite claiming that there are plenty, the emphasis is really on the dangerous ones.

Another issue I had with The Germ Code was I often felt like Tetro got 3/4 of the way towards sharing something cool and then didn't actually go into it further. At times, some of the historical information feels more like a list of names. That said, I do think The Germ Code is probably a good starting place for a reader looking to learn a little more about microbes in an easy and accessible way, unfortunately it just doesn't quite deliver on what it promises.

Release Date: November 5th 2013 Pages: 272  Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Doubleday Canada  Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

A novel in verse is an auto-read for me, but add in some less conventional elements such as a multicultural setting, and it gets immediately moved to the top of the reading pile. Such was the case with A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, the story of Veda, a teenage girl whose entire life revolves around dance, against her parents wishes, until an accident leaves her with a below-the-knee amputation. As Veda adjusts to life with a prosthetic leg, she decides not to give up on her dream, taking dance classes again and trying to discover who she is now, and what it is she really wants.

A Time to Dance is definitely a novel that is heavier on the emotion than it is on the plot and action, although there is enough to keep the story going. Veda goes through something really tragic, and Venkatraman's description of how she deals with it and what happens afterwards is well done. Without considering the fact that it took place in India and dealt with a different culture, the story of A Time to Dance wasn't that unique and reminded me a lot of The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, where a girl who loves running loses a leg and starts over again. I probably would have been more impressed if I hadn't already read Van Draanen's novel, but I still enjoyed reading this one.

I think the character development in A Time to Dance is really well done and although the story was a bit expected, it was a quiet book and I really appreciated the setting, making it a worthwhile and quick read. 

Release Date: May 1st 2014 Pages: 320  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, June 06, 2014

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Dare Me by Megan Abbott is an example of a book I'd been meaning to read forever (or at least since July 2012 when it was released) and finally when I was home in December I picked it up and devoured it in 24 hours. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Dare Me is the dark and devious story of Addy, a girl who has always been second-in-command to Beth, both cheerleaders and seniors, it's their year to rule the squad. That is until the new coach Colette shows up, threatening Beth's position as head, she even wins over Addy. After a suicide causes the police to take a closer look at both Coach and the squad, Addy tries to uncover the truth.

There is a jaded darkness to everything that happens in Dare Me that combines with careful but vivid writing to absolutely captivate me. That's not to say the novel is perfect, there were times when elements felt a bit overdone or expected but the end result was something violent and delicious that definitely let me interested in reading more by Abbott in the future. And hopefully reviewing it a bit sooner than 6 months after I read it next time as well, so I can be a bit more detailed in my thoughts!

Release Date: July 1 2012 Pages: 290 Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Boys Like You by Juliana Stone

Boys Like You by Juliana Stone is a cute summer read with a lot of predictable and cliche elements, but still engaging enough to keep me reading. It's the story of "two broken souls... one hot summer" where two teens, Monroe and Nathan, both struggling with guilt over past tragedy, find each other in the way that pretty much only happens in YA novels.

Although romance is expected as soon as I picked up Boys Like You, I still felt like it was too sudden with the love and quite predictable and didn't have enough intensity and build it. It also felt like it was based only on physical attraction (at least at first), but the author wanted you to think it was deeper. But other than the fact that they both had dark secrets, they really didn't seem to have that much in common. That said, I really did enjoy reading Nate's perspective, while I had more difficulty connecting to Monroe, possibly because her secret was a mystery even to the reader. I think knowing what Monroe was hiding earlier would have made her more sympathetic and would have allowed for more development of what she had gone through and her recovery, as happened with Nate. Still, Monroe's secret was a bit different for a YA novel, while Nate's was more expected.

I also had an issue with the ending which was just too perfect and not at all realistic. However I ultimately did believe Nate and Monroe had a genuine connection, so even though there were a lot of difficulties with the story, there was enough there that made Boys Like You a cute and fun read overall. 

Release Date: May 6th 2014 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Sourcebooks  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I enjoy fairy tale retellings, but when it comes to Beauty and the Beast, there has just been a ton that at this point something has to be pretty cool to catch my attention. Well, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is pretty cool, and I am so glad it caught my attention as my friend Ambur and I decided to buddy read this book together.

How much did I love this book? Well, after finishing Cruel Beauty I posted this to my Goodreads account: UGH SO GOOD. I don't usually give books stars, but this needs five.

Cruel Beauty is the story of Nyx, a girl promised to marry the Gentle Lord, basically the Demon King, and since birth she has known she will marry him, and that it is her job to kill him and break the curse he has put on her people. But when she turns seventeen and enters his castle, she finds that the Gentle Lord, Ignifex, is not what she expected. And he has secrets. Secrets that may be the key to doing what she promised to do-- but doing so may also destroy the one she loves. 

I love a lot of things about this novel, including, most importantly, the writing. Hodge brings magical rooms to life, and creates realistic and flawed characters. Nyx isn't perfect, but she's strong, sometimes to the point of being stubborn. There's also some complex mystery involved, although I did see the final twist coming, I really enjoyed getting there. There were also enough secrets that I didn't know to keep me satisfied overall.  

All of Hodge's worldbuilding and history just felt natural, it flowed easily and it never felt like an info-dump or unnecessary detail. Overall, Cruel Beauty was a smashing success for me and I am definitely going to pick up whatever Hodge writes next.  

Release Date: January 28th 2014 Pages: 342  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Blazer + Bray  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Pawn by Aimee Carter

In Pawn by Aimee Carter Kitty Doe lives in a world where people are ranked, and being given a III means a short life of misery. When she has the chance to become a VII, the highest rank possible, she takes it. What she doesn't realize is that agreeing means becoming Masked-- surgically transformed into the Lila Hart, a member of the royal family who died and whose family doesn't want the public to know. It turns out the reason she died was that she was helping start a rebellion, and it's up to Kitty to stop it. But what happens if it's a rebellion she believes in as well?

Unfortunately, even though it had a really cool concept I had a lot of issues with Pawn. Kitty is a pretty weak character a lot of the times (or she is randomly strong in a way that doesn't seem consistent) and she just does things like going with the government to become a VII without knowing at all what that entails. It's also one of those books where the whole point is that everyone has secrets and Kitty doesn't know them and has to find things out. So basically at the end of the book, not much has actually happened, but Kitty knows a lot more, setting it up for book 2. That said, there was enough intensity and intrigue in Pawn to keep my attention and keep me reading.

I expected Pawn to really be about a rebellion, but it was mainly about a royal family and dynamics, set in a dystopian world. The dystopia itself was pretty predictable, borrowing lots of elements like the caste system from many other books. I also felt like most of the characters didn't have a lot of depth, and I didn't really believe or enjoy the romance element and am glad it wasn't bigger in the book. I never really got the connection between Kitty and Benjy, except that they were together because they lived in the same house.  

Pawn by Aimee Carter is a book with a great concept that it unfortunately doesn't really deliver on and instead works mainly to set up for a sequel instead of having much content on its own. However, there was enough interesting aspects that I will be picking up the sequel when it is released.

Release Date: November 26th 2013 Pages: 346  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Harlequin TEEN  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, June 02, 2014

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

I just love my novels in verse, so when I had a chance to pick one free book out of any, I instantly went for You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz. I'm not sure why I waited until that moment to pick up a copy, but it was an easy choice. You Are Not Here is the story of Annaleah, after the death of Brian, the boy she loved but who never quite made their relationship official. As a result, Annaleah ended up ditching her friends, and when Brian dies she finds herself alone.

Even though he is already dead by the time You Are Not Here starts, I definitely wasn't a fan of Brian and the way that he treated Annaleah, but at the same time, it felt like she should almost no better. Of course, she is a teenager and it is much easier to judge from the outside than inside that feeling of first love. In terms of emotion and grieving, Schutz captures it very well with her verse, the complicated balance between mourning and moving on, and the feelings that Annaleah has for Brian. Perhaps as a result, You Are Not Here feels like a very personal book, and the other characters do not have much dimension to them, and their relationship with Annaleah is less strong.

Overall, I thought Schutz did an excellent job with the verse in You Are Not Here as well as capturing emotion in a vivid way, so that even though the other characters and storyline could have been stronger, I would still be interested in reading more from Schutz in the future.

Release Date: October 1st 2010 Pages: 292  Format: Ebook
Source: Personal  Publisher: Push  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Ocean by Sue Goyette

One of my absolute favourite books of 2013 was one that managed not to get a review (although I did include it in my top 10 books list) so I am back to say a few words about Ocean by Sue Goyette, a book of poetry that you absolutely must pick up! 

This book feels like a complete summary of the ocean and its impact. It’s a story, a community, one breathing tidal wave. There’s a certain humour to some of the poems, “One” plays on water-related words, mentioning a ‘tidal wave of disruption’ or ‘being out of our depths’. The playfulness of the words is mimicked by the oblivion of the house-searching individuals contained within the poem. Other poems have similar puns, such as "Thirty", where 'joy was tidal and anger came in waves'.

Sometimes the ocean is something to feared, other times it is joyous or even, in “Two”, it is a 'fashionable accessory for our vacation wardrobe' that isn’t quite as flawless as it appears. In “Eight” the ocean is something that must be fed, and that “the trick to building houses was making sure/ they didn’t taste good.” There are a few poems without oceans or water, like “Eleven” a poem about bees, but most of the rest tell a story using ocean, which is understandably that is the major focus of the collection. Trees also become beings, alive in Goyette's words. Flickering imagery. Old men beneath the ocean and 'the ocean is the original mood ring' in "Seventeen". Even as we fear the ocean, we are drawn towards it, and the same could be said of Goyette's captivating words.

Release Date: April 2013 Pages: 80  Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Gaspereau Press   Buy It: Book Depository 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

There's something about a book that has a lot of hype that makes me want to take a step back from it until things cool down and I can read it without a billion voices telling me how amazing and life-changing it is. It's for exactly that reason that it took me awhile to pick up Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I'm definitely glad I eventually did.

If you somehow managed to stumble upon this review and you haven't already read Eleanor & Park you can consider me shocked, but here is what it is about: two teenagers that seem to have nothing in common, but find each other anyway and have to deal with all the messy ramifications of first love between two people that don't seem to belong together except that they do. It takes place during the 80s, was a bit unexpected and also maybe a bit unnecessary except that it means no cell phones and internet so communication was a lot harder.

That said, what made Eleanor & Park one of my favourite 2013 releases I read last year was the writing and the characters. It was impossible not to fall in love with Eleanor and Park as they fall in love with each other, and to want things to work out, especially for Eleanor who has a horrible family situation going on at home. Park experiences a lot of pressure from his dad and feels like he doesn't really fit in with his family and isn't masculine enough, and I really appreciated that voice and perspective, as it felt different from a lot of the love interests in young adult fiction, but still authentic.

What makes Eleanor & Park special is how real the characters and their relationship feels, this sort of star-crossed love has been done before and will be done again, but Rowell captures raw emotion in a way that makes it feel new. After finishing this book, I am definitely hungry to read more by her soon.

Release Date: February 26th 2013 Pages: 325 
Source: Personal  Publisher: St Martins Press  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

At the end of last year I read Tease by Amanda Maciel, which I reviewed recently, and I was pretty disappointed by it. I was really interested in the idea however, which is a book told from the perspective of a bully. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu tackles a similar issue, but this time I am a huge fan of the results.

The Truth About Alice is told from four perspective, but none of them (until a brief chapter at the end) are Alice. This is the story of Alice Franklin, who may or may not have had sex with two guys in one night, and then one of those guys, the much-loved, popular Brandon, dies in a car crash which is rumoured to have been Alice's fault. It doesn't matter anymore if the rumours are true, because everyone believes them. The book alternates between the popular Elaine, former outcast and Alice's best friend, Kelsie, Brandon's best friend, Josh and the loner, Kurt. Each of these people plays their own role in what happens to Alice, and just like when people are bullied, Alice's own voice is silenced.

The Truth About Alice is a very quick read, both in page number and in pacing. It alternates between four perspectives but I was never confused about who was who. Each character has their own bit of defining back story although it can be a bit predictable as there isn't a ton of depth on top of that. However, the setting itself is also a bit of a character, as it takes place in a small town where everyone knows what is going on with other people, which I thought added an interesting element to the story. Mathieu's writing is clear and easy to read although not especially gorgeous, it did a good job crafting a novel I basically devoured in one sitting.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed reading The Truth About Alice and I thought it tackled a lot of important issues well and I would definitely pick up future books by Mathieu.

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014 Pages: 208  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Roaring Brook Press   Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carre

After my first experience with Hearts I knew what to expect with Toon Books, which are easy-to-read comics designed for new readers, in these cases, Level 1 which is kindergarten to grade 1. Although the level a book is unites it in terms of how easy it is to read, the amount of detail and images as well as characters, each book is totally unique in terms of images and story. Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carre is about Tippy, a girl whose mom gets upset every morning when she finds her room a disaster. But Tippy doesn't know how it happened, all she remembers is falling asleep!

I much preferred Tippy to the previous Toon Book I tried. The illustrations for this are so cute and so is the story, which is easy to follow and full of adventure and animals. The blue of the illustrations that take place at night add to the mood, and there is so many little details to see on each page. It's a funny story and there is lots of excitement. My favourite part? Searching for all the animals Tippy found on her walk the next morning in her room! Such a cute book, I highly recommend Tippy and the Night Parade.

Release Date: February 11th 2014 Pages: 32  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Toon Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I'm a huge Jenny Han fan and I've read nearly all of her books (there's a middle grade still out there I need to grab) so of course I had to pick up her latest release, To All the Boys I've Loved Before. This is a contemporary YA novel about Lara Jean, a girl who never confronts her crushes but instead writes each boy a letter about how she feels, hides it away, and moves on. Then one day all her letters are stolen and mailed off, including one to her sister's ex-boyfriend Josh. Not wanting Josh to know she still has feelings, Lara Jean instead fakes a relationship with another letter recipient, Peter.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a really cute, well-written novel. The romantic storyline is sweet, but what really makes the book stand out is the relationships between Lara Jean and her sisters. Han really captures the dynamic between the three girls, and even though the oldest one moves away at the beginning of the book, there are still plenty of heartwarming moments and memories explored. Also Lara Jean's younger sister Kitty is just so cute!

Han's writing is authentic and eloquent, she always gets just the right amount of details and although this was a fun, light read, the family elements help make the story just a bit deeper. I wasn't super happy with the ending of the book, but it turns out there is a sequel coming out next year, which helps. I did like seeing Lara Jean grow and change throughout the novel. Overall, I was charmed by To All The Boys I've Loved Before and if you're looking for a sweet book with some great romantic and sisterly moments, it's definitely worth checking out.

Release Date: April 15th, 2014 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Simon and Schuster   Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Time to Say Good Night by Harriet Ziefeat illustrated by Barroux

It's Time to Say Good Night written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux is a cute children's book where a little boy says good morning to everything--the cow, the piggies in the pen, the garbage and the cans--only to find out by the time he's done, it's time to say good night to everything again.
The illustrations are cute and vintage looking and match the story well. The text is also well-placed, and moves along with whatever the boy is saying good morning/ good night to, as well as having the emphasis be on the good morning or good night part by having it in larger text of a different colour. However while the story is a fun, cute, list of things, it is a bit weird that the boy goes from saying good morning straight to saying good night. However the bright illustrations and adventures of the main character in It's Time to Say Good Night would still make it a fun read for a young child, especially as a bedtime story.

Release Date: October 22nd 2013 Pages: 36  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Blue Apple Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder

I Haiku You is a picture book written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder. I really love haikus and think it's a perfect form of poetry for a picture book, so I was really excited to pick this up. Snyder's drawings are really adorable and really make the cute, sweet haikus that accompany them. There are lots of little details and I really love the illustrations overall.

In terms of the writing, I am just okay about I Haiku You. Some of the haikus are nice, but there is a little too much reliance on things that expected and feel a bit cliche and boring to me, such as "you be my jelly, / i'll be your peanut butter--/let's stick together!" and even though it is a children's book I though that they could be a touch more original with the metaphors, something like peanut butter and jelly is quite expected.

I Haiku You would be an adorable bedtime book for a young child who is unlikely to have the same complaints I do regarding the writing and would instead just appreciate the sweet, simple words and the adorable drawings that match.

Release Date: December 26th 2012 Pages: 28  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Random House   Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Forever by Emma Dodd

I am just so in love with Forever by Emma Dodd. This is absolutely the perfect children's book, and when I someday have children, I definitely hope that I remember to grab a copy because it is flawless. The words are simple, and tell a sweet, easy to read rhyme for a parent to read to a child.

Along with the text are gorgeous illustrations of a polar bear and parent, doing things together. There are only a few colours on each page, mainly blues, but there is also a touch of metallic silver, sometimes just tiny spots, sometimes the entire water in an ocean scene. The silver element adds something extra special to the book and will likely help keep the child's attention. Overall, Forever is a sweet, endearing, book from both a text and illustration perspective, with a universal message of love that would be perfect for any parent. Dodd's book definitely deserves to be a childhood classic for those who experience it.

Release Date: October 22nd 2013 Pages: 24  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Templar  Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, May 23, 2014

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

 I was trying to write my reviews in order of when I read books to somehow manage to get back on track with them, and I was doing an okay job at it, but then I read (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn and I instantly had to skip ahead. I needed to share my thoughts on this book right away, because honestly, I absolutely adored it. And sometimes it's just really nice to write a gush fest about a book that you love, and for me, this is one of those books.

(Don't You) Forget About Me is a gorgeously written, eerie novel about Gardnerville, a place where nobody gets sick and nobody dies. Of course, there is a cost for that and every four years strange urges come over the teens in the town and it doesn't stop until people end up dead. Those who caused the damage are sent to the reformatory, a strange building where nobody comes out the same. Four years ago, Skyler's sister Piper lead 16 of her peers into the river, and she's been missing ever since.

Skyler is not a narrator you can trust. She keeps forgetting things, which isn't helped by the pills she's started taking ever since Piper disappeared. There are a lot of unreliable characters and weird things going on in this book, but somehow they all fit perfectly into place. Quinn's storytelling reminds me a little of Nova Ren Suma in Imaginary Girls but this is an even more magical story, where it is clear from the beginning that things are different in Gardnerville. The writing itself is gorgeous and there are tiny perfect details that just made me fall more in love with the words with each page. If I had one small complaint, it's that it is a bit predictable at times, but there are enough twists and turns that there were still a few small surprises in there as well.

(Don't You) Forget About Me is filled with creepy moments and surreal images. Past memories that Skylar has with Piper are told through short chapters about the past between each present tense chapter. This kind of technique can be annoying, but Quinn uses it so well, and the chapters themselves are short enough, that I really felt like it added to the story and helped to reveal all the pieces rather than being distracting. As a result, I really felt like the book flourished in the second half as things started to come together. There is a hint of romance, but to me it was not very important to the book.

Overall, (Don't You) Forget About Me is an amazing book and one of my favourites I've read so far in 2014. I am so excited that Quinn has an earlier novel which I will definitely be picking up, as well as whatever she writes next. Highly recommend this book!

Release Date: June 10th 2014 Pages: 336  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: HarperTeen  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hearts by Thereza Rowe

Hearts by Thereza Rowe is designed as a first comic for brand new readers, so it's actually a bit different than the picture book I expected when I picked it up, because it's meant to be read by the child, not to them. As a result, there are very few words in Hearts, and the story is mainly told through the illustrations, with words here but mainly ones that add description about what is happening on the page. For example, as Penelope the Fox struggles to catch up to the dolphin holding her heart, she says "Wait!" and the dolphin goes "Whoosh!"

I think the biggest issue with Hearts is when I spent too much time trying to make sense of the story instead of just enjoying the dream-like journey Penelope takes. Sometimes the illustrations are difficult to follow, but they are all very beautiful and detailed so there is a lot for a younger reader to look at. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for a child to discuss what could be happening in each scenario, so I think Rowe's book makes a fun learning tool rather than a standalone book, but that's exactly what it's intended for. That said, I would worry that younger children might have the same difficulty following that I did and might become confused or frustrated, so that will depend on the child.

Release Date: January 7th 2014 Pages: 32  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Toon Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I am huge, unabashed Lauren Oliver fangirl, and the first book I read by her was Delirium so I was a little sad when the trilogy came to an end with Requiem. Both of the first two books in the series left on massive cliffhangovers, and when it turned out Alex was alive at the end of Pandemonium? Yeah. I was definitely shocked, and maybe disappointed. I really loved Alex, but I didn't want these books to turn into the typical love triangle situation. I still wasn't a huge fan of that element in this book and there were quite a few points when Lena was annoying to me. Alex was also pretty disappointing considering I loved him in Delirium.

One thing that makes Requiem different than the first two books is that it's actually told from two perspectives-- half from Lena's, and half from Hanna's. It's interesting because it lets the reader inside the mind of somebody who has had the procedure done, and reminds me of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld for that reason. Regardless of who is narrating, Oliver does an excellent job with the writing, which is always the strongest element of her books.

Unfortunately, I am just not as obsessed with Requiem as I felt about the other two books in the trilogy. This isn't bad, and it's definitely still a trilogy worth finishing, but I was a little disappointed. I am still trying to catch up on 2013 reviews, so this is nearly a year late, but in retrospect my feelings are a bit meh over this one. This is a trilogy I started off loving but the ending got a little bogged in love triangle stuff, and although the story was still lovely to read because of Oliver's amazing prose, it totally win me over like the first two books. Ah well. Can't win them all I guess?

Release Date: March 5th 2013 Pages: 391 Source: Personal  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sick by Tom Leveen

I was a surprisingly big fan of the last book I read by Tom Leveen, Zero, which was a contemporary read I wasn't really sure about before I picked it up, so when I saw that he'd written a zombie book, I was very curious to see what he would do with the genre. Sick is the story of a group of teenage outsiders, including the main character, Brian as well as his friends, sister, and ex-girlfriend. When their high school is overcome with a virus that turns people into mindless bloodthirsty beings, Brian and his best friend are stuck safe in the theater department. Unfortunately, his sister and ex are not, and Brian makes it his goal to bring them to safety, even if it may end up costing him his own life.

Sick reminded me a lot of the "stuck in a high school edgy YA zombie novel" This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers, but unfortunately I preferred her variation. This book was just a bit forgettable for me, but it is an easy read and in combination with the male narrator, might appeal more to a younger audience. Leveen's zombies are kinda cool, and the story has lots of action, but in terms the actual storyline it got a bit ridiculous with coincidences. I was most disappointed with the lack of explanation of about how the zombies started. I really wanted more background and science behind the storyline, instead of just feeling like something the reader had to accept. Brian is an okay narrator, but he's again, nothing memorable, and I just really preferred the title character in Zero.

Overall, I'm glad I gave Sick a shot as it was a quick read I devoured on an airplane ride, but I will be sticking to Leveen's contemporary in the future. There could be a sequel to this, but if there is, it's not for me.

Release Date: October 1st 2013 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Amulet  Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Books catch my interest for various reasons, and when it comes to Tease by Amanda Maciel, that reason was definitely the premise. This tells the story of Sara, a girl who, along with three of her classmates, has been charged with the bullying that lead to another girl's death. In the summer before her senior year, Sara spends her time in meetings with lawyers and a therapist, going over what brought her to this moment, and whether or not she believes she had a role in Emma's suicide like everyone else seems to think.

I can't think of many books told from the point of view of the person who was the bully, and that was definitely what interested me in reading Tease. Unfortunately, I just didn't like Sara at all. She judges everyone, including the other bullies, but not herself. She is so incredibly selfish and all she feels is pity for herself and the fact that her life is ruined because of these events. She basically believes that Emma had it coming, and takes no responsibility in what happened. She is incredibly frustrating as a narrator, and when she has good things happen to her it's just hard to feel happy about them.

However, I am willing to accept a difficult to like narrator, and I'm sure that her feelings are believable or else it is hard to imagine how people could do such horrible things. However, I just felt like there was too much of an attempt to redeem the character in a way that didn't feel authentic, especially the ending of the book which seems to happen quite sudden and out of nowhere. I had spent all these pages reading Sara act a certain way, and her change just didn't come across as real to me. So while I ultimately do find the unusual perspective in Tease really interesting, the final execution of it left me wanting more.

Release Date: April 29th 2014 Pages: 336  Format: EgalleySource: Edelweiss  Publisher: Blazer + Bray  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

In Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor, Zoe and her best friend Olivia are both ballet dancers, and that's what they plan to do with the rest of their lives, until they are both let go from the prestigious ballet school they go to. As they adjust to life outside of competitive dance, Olivia learns devastating news: she has cancer. The novel is told from Zoe's perspective, as she waits to see what happens to Olivia, as she starts to develop feelings for the boy Olivia has a crush on, and as she tries to figure out what she wants out of her own life.

Unfortunately, although this was an easy read, it is a melodramatic one where events are played for maximum intensity even when it doesn't make sense, like Zoe and Olivia both being told they are leaving the dance school at the same time (in the same room) or Olivia's daylong journey from hospital visit to cancer diagnosis. Kantor admits she went for story over medical truth, but when it seems like the illness is just being exploited for tears, it is a bit frustrating.

That said, the characters themselves were what redeemed Maybe One Day and what kept me reading it. Zoe feels like an outsider, especially now that she's no longer a dancer, and I was really rooting for her and wanting her to find her place and something she loved. Olivia is just a genuine good person, so it is impossible not to want good things for her, and exploitation of illness or not, Kantor had me feeling real sadness for the character. I also really liked the element of dance and the idea of finding your place after the thing you love is no longer enough, which is a theme I really appreciate in YA. So overall, there was enough in Maybe One Day to keep me reading, but not enough to make me fall in love with it, and if you are looking for an emotional read it is worth considering.

Release Date: February 18th, 2014 Pages: 384  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Harper Teen  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

Smoke is the sequel to Ellen Hopkins' book, Burned, which was okay but not my favourite from her. Hopkins writes in verse which is a format I adore, and her books are the kind that deal with dark issues in a raw and honest way. As a result, I would easily pick up anything she wrote ever, so when I had the opportunity to read Smoke, of course I did. Unfortunately, it reconfirmed that this is just not my favourite Hopkins series. It's not bad, but it's just not to the standards of some of Hopkins other books for me.

In Smoke, Pattyn is on the run after Ethan's death and the loss of her baby, while her sister Jackie is left at home trying to tend to their large, shattered family. Both Pattyn and Jackie have secrets, and unlike Burned the book is told from both their perspectives. I thought that added in a unique element and I am always blown away at how different Hopkins makes her narrators sound even when they are both using the verse format.

I'm not convinced that Burned needed a sequel, and although it did end on a cliffhanger asides from tying that up Smoke feels a bit unnecessary. Although it's a very dark novel, it also manages to tie things up a bit too perfectly, *spoiler* and is too reliant on finding magical love interests who can solve everything, *spoiler* something that just doesn't feel authentic, or empowering, in the context of the book. I will definitely continue to recommend many novels by Ellen Hopkins in the future, as well as pick them up myself, but unfortunately Smoke will not be on the short list.

Release Date: September 10th 2013 Pages: 543  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Bear by Claire Cameron

Adult books told from the perspective of a young child aren't generally my thing, I've read a couple including the renowned Room, but The Bear by Claire Cameron is actually the first one I've loved. Even better? It's Canadian.

The Bear is told form the perspective of 5-year-old Anna, who is camping in the Canadian wilderness with her parents and younger brother, when a bear attacks. Thanks to some quick-thinking by her parents, Anna and her brother survive, but both of her parents are killed. Alone, confused, and responsible for her brother, Anna must survive the wilderness and get her brother and her to safety.

It's obvious from the story description, but this is a heartbreaking book. From the first page I was holding my breath, anxious about what would happen left. As soon as Anna let her brother out of her sight for a second, I was so nervous. That said, this isn't a story with much plot-- it's really a stream-of-consciousness type experience that's not linear, as Anna wanders the woods and thinks about things that have happened before. Despite the lack of "excitement" after the initial bear attack, Cameron had no issues at all keeping my attention with The Bear. I was just totally taken in by Anna's voice and turning the pages hoping that things worked out for her. I also appreciate that this book wasn't incredibly long, because as much as I enjoyed the narrative voice, I don't really want to read 500+ pages that way either. However, The Bear is just long enough to tell the story, and tell it well, without losing my attention.

Overall, I was a huge fan of The Bear and I think Cameron did an amazing job realistically capturing both the Ontario wilderness and the voice of a 5-year-old while still having enough depth to the story to keep an adult reader interested. If you can handle the storyline, this is a book I highly recommend.

Release Date: February 11th, 2014  Pages: 240  Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Doubleday Canada   Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, May 09, 2014

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Teeth is the first book I've read by Hannah Moskowitz, a prolific young adult author I had always been curious about but never managed to pick up a book by. Teeth is a story about a teenage boy whose family moves to a remote magical island to save his sick younger brother--the cure? Fish.
However when Rudy meets Teeth, a half-fish half-boy determined to save his half-siblings from being eaten, he learns that things aren't as simple as they appear.

Like all the characters in Teeth, Rudy and Teeth are complicated and messed up. This is a surprisingly dark book and as the story progresses, it only gets darker. At times, I was definitely searching for a little bit more light in the darkness, but there's something very raw and emotional about the storytelling, and the mix of metaphors and fins brought to life into something that feels real and true despite the fantastical elements. Ultimately, that authenticity in the characters and in the writing are what make Teeth memorable, even when the story itself lost me on occasion, and it has definitely left me inspired to pick up another work by Moskowitz in the future

Release Date: January 1st 2013 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Simon Pulse  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen

I actually read a ton of books recently and so I have a lot of reviews to write (plus the ones I never wrote in 2013...) but I have decided to review Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen next, for a very important reason. Basically, I want to review this so it is out of my head and I don't have to think about it and get annoyed anymore.

Shipwreck Island is the story of a girl who goes on an unwanted family vacation with her dad, new stepmom and stepbrothers, and gets shipwrecked. In order for this to happen, they board a really sketchy ship that doesn't seem safe at all, and just when things start to get interesting, the book ends. I think this is probably a trilogy, and if so, it makes sense because this feels exactly like the first third of a book instead of a full book. The characters were cute and had some charming moments, but I was just really annoyed by the time I got halfway through and realized I was going to be strung along for a big cliffhanger at the end and not resolved storylines. Even the bits that were supposed to be creative on the island just felt more like sketches than full creations.

That said, I don't read much middle grade and for the appropriately aged reader, this could be a fun but predictable series, but as an adult looking for a brief escape into fantasy, it didn't work. I won't be picking up book 2, but I have heard good things about other books by Bodeen including a shipwrecked YA novel called The Raft that I do want to try out in the future. 

Release Date: July 29th, 2014 Pages: 192  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Feiwel & Friends   Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 05, 2014

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

 Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann is a really short book--like a hundred pages of poetry including plenty of pictures--which is kinda fun to read once in awhile because it makes me feel like a super fast reader even though I'm not at all because I can finish it so fast. But I actually didn't rush through Heppermann's debut, because I really loved it. These are retold fairytales, modern and sharp, with twisted fantastical photos to go along with them. The poems themselves reminded me a bit of Anne Sexton Transformations as any well-done, realistic fairytale poem retelling is liable to. However, Poisoned Apples is definitely an original collection.

Heppermann's writing is sharp and full of metaphors. The poems may be short but her turns of phrases leave an impact, and this book is bigger than its page count. I feel like there are so few poetry books for teens and I really loved all the important issues that Poisoned Apples tackles, while not dumbing down the imagery either. These may be fairytales, but they are real. I think Hepperman's writing will also be appealing to people who don't like poetry because of how well it dissects life and emotion. Her words slice things apart and then put them back together again. Poisoned Apples was gorgeous and the photographs included (although some were missing in my advance copy) all matched perfectly and added to the impact. I will easily be reaching for anything Heppermann writes next, and encourage everyone to pick this up when it publishes in September!

Release Date: September 23rd 2014 Pages: 128  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Greenwillow Books  Buy It: Book Depository