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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Zoe Letting Go

Zoe Letting Go
by Nora Price

A girl’s letters to her best friend reveal two lives derailed by anorexia in this haunting debut that’s Wintergirls meets The Sixth Sense

It’s not a hospital, a spa, or an institution. That’s what they told me–that’s what the brochures promised.

But no matter what the brochures promised, Zoe finds that Twin Birch is a place for girls with a penchant for harming themselves. Through journal entries and letters to her best friend, Elise, she tries to understand why she was brought there, and how she could possibly belong in a place like this. But Zoe’s letters to Elise remain unanswered. She wonders why her best friend would cut her off without a word, reliving memory after memory of their beautiful, rocky, inescapable friendship. But everyone has secrets–including Zoe–and as her own fragile mental state hangs in the balance, she must finally learn to come to terms with what happened to Elise before she’s able to let go. (goodreads.com)

Release date: June 28, 2012

I broke my self-imposed rule on accepting review books for this one. When I received an email from Penguin Canada and saw the summary for Zoe Letting Go I knew in my very soul I had to get this book. I have need articles comparing it to Thirteen Reasons Why and Wintergirls and I knew I loved the former, and I still want to read the latter. Oh! It was also compared to Girl, Interrupted a book (and movie) I completely adore.

When the book arrived last week I had just finished with The False Prince, and I debated for about five minutes whether or not I should start this one. It’s only coming out at the end of June, but then I realized that it was only a day away from June at the time and by the time I got this post written it would BE June, so I made an executive decision to read the book right away.

Sometimes I have the best conversations with myself.

I found this book mesmerizing. I was emotionally attached to Zoe almost from the start. Reading about Zoe’s struggle to figure out why she was there and what happened in her life that could possible give you a clue, was chilling and emotional. I pretty much guessed the reason from the beginning of the book but the journey to the answers was so compelling and the end result was actually still rather a big impact on me.

Eating disorders are not my mental illness of choice; and because that phrase sounds really wrong once I type it on the screen, I will elaborate! I am always drawn to books about depression, suicide, self-mutilation because I have been down similar roads in my life. In all the crazy of my formative years, I never did battle an eating disorder and until I started reading more about cutting and stuff as I got older, I didn’t realize a lot of the things I went through were often interwoven with eating disorders. What I love about mental illness stories can be summed up with: emotional cleansing. Reading about someone else struggling and feeling alone and often coming out the other end of that tunnel a scarred, but ultimately stronger person, always fills me with hope. I wish there were more books about subjects like these when I was younger. I am exorcising demons years later through these emotionally hard-hitting novels.

It’s like therapy in a book.

So I devoured Zoe Letting Go in a day. It took me a week to write about it and I’m back dating this post so it falls in my May archives because I’m OCD about stuff like that (ooo, I need to find more books about OCD!).

I am eternally grateful to Penguin Group Canada for emailing me about this even though I wasn’t going to accept anything. I am extra glad I chose to say yes.

My ONE issue with the book is how the back cover mentions, Thirteen Reasons Why and both cover photos seem awfully similar. Both have a girl in a crochet’d hat, sweater and dress sitting down. The covers are too similar for my liking. I don’t like when books try to look the same just to pick up the same readers. It’s a part of marketing that annoys me. It’s a trivial irritation though because other than that I love the cover and how it should look like it’s damaged (but it’s not!). Again, this is from the ARC so it could change, but I hope the crackling art doesn’t!

PS – If you see this book at BEA the first week of June, be sure to pick it up!!

PPS – Nora Price is apparently a pseudonym and I am dying to know if it’s an another we know about! I’m so nosy!

Shhhh, don’t speak. You’ll ruin the moment.

Poor Sophie wasn’t very happy to be let out of her crate when we got home from work only to be put back in 20 minutes later when we had to go back out. (Side note – if she stopped eating our furniture and shoes when we were out, she’d not have to be crated all the time!)

Shawn was holding her up, ready to put her in her crate, I took the opportunity to kiss her snout because she was so cute. I also started to say, “Don’t worry, Sophie, we’ll be back soon.” but I only got to “we’ll” when she slowly moved her paw and placed it over my mouth, totally closing it.

She did this so slowly and gently it was almost as though she was saying “No. Don’t say another word. You’ll just make it worse. Shhhhh, Mummy. Shhhhh. Just go. Go and don’t look back.”

We just stood there for a minute laughing and she kept her paw on my mouth. If only we had a camera around and a photographer or something to have captured that. It was hilarious!

The False Prince

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)
by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well. (goodreads.com)

Well, drat. I was all set to start off this post with “Finally, a stand-alone fantasy novel for middle grade readers!” when I noticed on Goodreads (when I was collecting my links) that it’s the first book in a TRILOGY! Gah! Phooey!

On the other hand, this book was so good, I will definitely check out the sequel to see what happens next, since I haven’t the foggiest!

The False Prince is a book that I received in a goodie bag from last Fall’s brunch with Cecil Castelucci and Scholastic Canada. Because of my stupid reading decline this year, I hadn’t actually gotten to this book before it came out. I picked it up this week because I wanted something magical and enchanting to read. Boy did I get that.

Well, not so much magical. More like plotting and murder and intrigue and really, really great characters and dialogue.

Now, if you have read this book yourself, you might be wondering why, a story about an almost-15 year old would be middle grade and not YA, I’ll tell you. This book is fun and I’d say almost completely G-rated – with the exception of some death and fighting. But the book is not dark in any way. Sage is a delightfully snarky and intelligent protagonist who will charm the pants off you, the reader.

The other boys in this story are interesting characters, each with their own very different strengths and weaknesses. Connor’s “henchmen” are also compelling characters.

There was something just so fantastical and adventurous about this story. It made me think of the excitment that is Peter Pan or some sort of Pirate-y High Seas adventure.

Ooooh! I’d even compare it to my favourite of last year – Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes! Only a lot less magical. There’s no magic here, folks. The story, however, FEELS magical because of how awesome it is.

I read this book in just a few hours. It was so good I didn’t do anything else and even carried it with me around the house if I had to get up to pee or find something to eat. I did not want to put this down because the story just kept getting better and better.

I was just on the author’s Goodreads page trying to find out the information about book 2 and I see there was supposed to be an announcement today (May 31st, though I’m back dating this to get my reviews all in the May month =P), alas, there’s not been an announcement or cover reveal as of yet. Perhaps by the time I hit publish on this in the morning there will be and I will make sure to include that information with this post.

Either way, despite my exhaustion over Series, I am looking forward to spending more time with Sage and the world that he lives in.

The Ascendance Trilogy

  1. The False Prince
  2. The Runaway King
  3. Untitled – 2014

Explosive Eighteen

Explosive Eighteen (A Stephanie Plum Novel)
by Janet Evanovich

Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead—and a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph he was supposed to be carrying. (snipped for length and spoilers from goodreads.com)

I can make this review short and simple: I would have much rather have read the story of what happened in Hawaii than the one that took place in New Jersey.


They can’t all be winners, right?

I was beyond excited to find this on the rack next to the candy counter at the train station in Kingston, ON when I was coming home from visiting my parents over our long weekend (the weekend before the US long weekend in May). I didn’t think this paperback was going to come out until November, so delight was mine!

Sadly, this isn’t going down as one of my favourite installments of the series. I don’t even think I laughed out loud more than once – if that. It wasn’t horrible, but I found it dull and lacklustre.

I don’t want to think that the Stephanie Plum series has jumped the shark just yet. I have often liked one numbered book over the other in this journey. I stick by the above cliche – they can’t all be winners. I’m certain some people out there like this one more than ones I found amazing. It happens. I wasn’t overly disappointed by not liking it, I was due to find one a little less fantastic than the last couple.

What I am worried about is the possibility that because Ms. Evanovich is writing a spin-off series and I think still has some chick-lit happening, that she’s going to be stretched too thin. I don’t care for the Wicked series with Diesel. I didn’t like him as a character in the Plum books, so I’m not going to read that spin-off.

I shall content myself with waiting for the 19th Plum book to come out and I am still determined to re-read these all one month. Maybe over the summer. Or over Christmas. They certainly deserve a reread because this series is so much fun!

That’s all I’m going to say about that. Really, this is the 18th book in a series so if you don’t know what’s going on, I’m not going to ruin 17 other books for you and if you’re behind in the series, I won’t ruin that either! As always, the Plum mysteries are comfort reading and an easy, fun read when you need to just turn off your brain for a while and chill.

Stephanie Plum series

  1. One for the Money
  2. Two for the Dough
  3. Three to Get Deadly
  4. Four to Score
  5. High Five
  6. Hot Six
  7. Seven Up
  8. Hard Eight
  9. To the Nines
  10. Ten Big Ones
  11. Eleven on Top
  12. Twelve Sharp
  13. Lean Mean Thirteen
  14. Fearless Fourteen
  15. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
  16. Sizzling Sixteen
  17. Smokin’ Seventeen
  18. Explosive Eighteen 

Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novellas

  1. Visions of Sugar Plums (between 8 & 9)
  2. Plum Lovin’ (between 12 & 13)
  3. Plum Lucky (between 13 & 14)
  4. Plum Spooky (between 14 & 15)

The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Book of Blood and Shadow
by Robin Wasserman

It was like a nightmare, but there was no waking up.

When the night began, Nora had two best friends and a boyfriend she adored. When it ended, she had nothing but blood on her hands. Chris was dead. Adriane couldn’t speak. And Max, Nora’s sweet, smart, soft-spoken Prince Charming, was gone. He was also—according to the police, according to her parents, according to everyone—a murderer.

Desperate to prove his innocence, Nora’s determined to follow the trail of blood, no matter where it leads. But Chris’s murder is just one piece in a puzzle that spans continents and centuries. Solving it may be the only way she can save her own life. (goodreads.com)

In a sea of seemingly similar YA books these days, The Book of Blood and Shadow stands out with it’s Outside of the Paranormal Box-ness. I imagine this is what The Da Vinci Code would be like if it was written for teens. I say this never having read The Da Vinci Code but knowing it has something to do with secret societies, conspiracies, codes and, I think, religion?

This here is a conspiracy-oriented mystery that has latin and religious ties and a trip to Prague (why are all the books I have been reading this year set in Prague?) and murder and more! It’s a pretty meaty book, too. Not something you can read in just a handful of hours. At least I couldn’t.

The one thing that I didn’t like was how slow the book felt at the beginning. By the second part of the book the adventure/mystery had picked up and things went a little faster. It was really the third and final part of the book that kept me gripped to my seat and turning the pages though. Each section of the book got just that much better. It truly irked me that I had about 20 pages to go before I went away for the weekend and didn’t want to pack this book since I was already taking two others AND was out of space in my backpack. I would have finished this book way before I did Poison Heart and Forgotten but, sadly, I left it behind.

I’m happy that Robin Wasserman stepped outside of the box to write a teen novel that didn’t have vampires, werewolves or any other of the normal supernatural creatures. Although some of the plot was slightly cliché and I’d pretty much guessed the ending before the middle of the book, I still enjoyed the story immensely.

Often a lot of what would normally bug me in other books can be easily overlooked if you just write well enough to keep me entertained. This is what happened with The Book of Blood and Shadow. I truly enjoyed the reading experience (even the slow start) and was having a lot of fun rushing through the streets of Prague with Nora, Adriane and Eli. I really liked Eli in fact. He made me laugh and was a much more likable male character than either Chris or Max. I never liked Max.

And of course, I have to mention the cover (shown above) because I am obsessed with UK editions of books like there’s no tomorrow. I positively LOVE this cover. The colours and beautiful (and go nicely with my new hair do*) and there’s just something eerie and mysterious about the whole thing. It is so much better than the US cover which is just a close-up of some girl’s face with the text all over it. I do not like that cover at all nor do I think it represents the story one bit.
* Oh! And since I don’t know if I am going to have time to do a BEA post (because it’s in ONE WEEK and I am SO EXCITED!) I thought I’d post a photo of my lovely hair for you all so you’ll know what to look for if you want to say hi! I’ll be the short and stout teapot of a girl with the bright purple & pink hair! Holla!
If it’s humid, just look for the giant frizz-ball purple and pink hair because I won’t be able to keep it straight without a fight. =P