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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

The Bone Season

The Bone Season (book 1)
by Samantha Shannon

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives. (goodreads.com)

DISCLAIMER: You are about to see this book pop up everywhere. On every blog. On morning TV programs. On late night TV programs. In the news. In the paper. In magazines. It will be EVERYWHERE. And you will probably find yourself in one of two camps. Camp One: OMG! It looks AMAZEBALLS! I NEED to get this! Camp Two: OMG! *eye roll* I hate hyped books. It will suck. I refuse to even acknowledge it exists! So I will tell you right now that while I am about to write a post on how much I enjoyed this book and that it was sent to me unsolicited by the publisher, my post is 100% honest. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I don’t say I like something if I don’t. If I didn’t like it I would tell you.

So while you might get sick of seeing this book show up everywhere, all over the internet and other media, I urge to you not roll your eyes and pass it by because this is, in fact, a very solid and entertaining book. Give it a chance. 😉

Also, this will be rather long.

And now on to the meat of the post. No spoilers, at least not intentionally. Read at your own rick.

This book showed up completely out of the blue (and I had to drive to the middle of nowhere to pick it up due to not being home when it was first delivered). I had no idea what it was or what it was about. I read the publicity insert and the inside flap of the book and thought, “Huh. This sounds interesting.” But as you know from the lack of posts on this blog lately and the content of the posts that have gone up, I haven’t been reading much. Nothing is holding my attention. It’s a bloody miracle when something does.

And this book seems to be really hyped right now and I am so, so, so very wary about Over-hyped books. (I’m in Camp Two above.) But I had just finished Lauren DeStefano’s Perfect Ruin and I thought, why not try this book out. So I did.

First thing that hooked me was – A MAP! Oh, how I love when fantasy, dystopian, or sci-fi books have MAPS! I can continuously refer back to the map as details come out in the story and I can have a better time visualizing the scene. There is also a very complicated org chart of all the different types of Clairvoyants. There are many. It was overwhelming at first and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the story. And yes, it took me a little while to get a feel for this alternate reality in 2059 England. Not too long, mind you, I just had to adjust my way of thinking to what I was seeing on the page.

I was worried about a lack of originality, because that’s my current mood phase, and I was happy to discover that The Bone Season wasn’t just a rehash of some other YA or fantasy novel I’d read. I wouldn’t even say this was YA, to be honest. But I’ll get into the categorization issue later on in this post. I was blown away by the world that Samantha Shannon had created. It was solid and deep, certainly very well-thought out. The flow of the story is wonderfully honed so that present actions and flash-backs/memories are woven together in a fluid, easy to follow manner. You learn a lot about Paige and the world of 2059 England as you read and it doesn’t feel at all like you’re being TOLD what is going on. The progression of the story and all the information between those pages feels natural. Almost like real life or watching a movie unfold.

Once Paige is sent to Oxford the action really starts and one thing stuck out at me. I have read books before where the details and backstory are attempted to be told through dialogue between characters. I often find that method clunky and obvious. It sort of seems like a Q&A added into the story to tell the reader what they need to know in a very obvious manner. Sometimes the explanations and details are told in a subtle manner, through very normal, interesting dialogue. The Bone Season presents the plot and details in this manner. Sure there are many question and answer periods between Paige and the Warden, but I realized as I’d read through a few conversations that I was just presented with a ton of information and backstory and I didn’t even feel like it. I wasn’t lectured, it wasn’t told in a manner that made me say “Ugh, stop trying to tell us things like we’re simpletons!”. I’m probably not explaining this well, but I’m trying to say that the amount of information and story told through dialogue in this book is well-crafted and seamless. Very well done. Kudos. Thank you for not making me cranky and want throw my book across the room in frustration!

So, we have epic world and character building in The Bone Season. We have a MAP (yay!) We have likeable characters and enjoyable dialogue. There is action and plotting and snarking and emotion. It’s a pretty meaty novel and it managed to capture my attention for an entire day. This is a pretty Big Deal these days with my reading apathy. Also for coming down from an amazing story in Perfect Ruin, I wasn’t sure how easily I’d slip into another world. This is one majorly enjoyable novel.

Now, the press is trumpeting that Samantha Shannon is the next J.K. Rowling. She has a 6-figure book deal for three books (with a possible 7 in total) and the promotion is pretty intense for this debut novel. Do I think she’s a new J.K. Rowling? Not really. I don’t really see a connection there. Is the book excellent for a debut novel? Yes, it pretty much is. But I’d say it’s no more epic that Veronica Roth’s debut of Divergent a few years backI don’t get the same sense of wonder and whimsy that I had with the Harry Potter books. Although, Shannon’s world is pretty well crafted. It doesn’t seem to be as deep as Rowling’s Potter Universe. And by making the Rowling comparison, my mind (at least) goes right to “a book for kids” whereas this book has a weird cross-over vibe between Young Adult and Adult in the fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian ranges. I can’t quite put my finger on how I want to categorize it because there are elements of all three in this book. It’s like Alternate Reality Fantastical Science Fiction in a Dystopian world. Yes?

So whether you want to think of it as YA or want to think of it as an adult novel (Paige is 19 in the story and many of the characters are a lot older. Some younger.) I highly recommend you give this a try if you like this genre of novel. It is very well written. It is not fluff. It is amazingly imaginative and action-packed. It had already had rights optioned for a movie (and  I will admit this story would be pretty great to see on screen, assuming they don’t change it completely for the movie version) and is being published in 21 countries right off the bat. You don’t put that much effort into a debut novel that is poorly written and crafted. The publishers know what they are doing here, The Bone Season is something special. I am exceptionally happy that this showed up out of the blue one day because I might have passed it by otherwise. Give it a try! It should be out in a bookstore or library near you RIGHT NOW!

I am pretty sure you won’t regret it. 😉

 

PS – this book actually happens to be AMAZEBALLS!. Just so you know.

The Vindico

The Vindico
by Wesley King

X-Men meets The Breakfast Club in this darkly humorous adventure

The Vindico are a group of supervillains who have been fighting the League of Heroes for as long as anyone can remember. Realizing they’re not as young as they used to be, they devise a plan to kidnap a group of teenagers to take over for them when they retire–after all, how hard can it be to teach a bunch of angsty teens to be evil?

Held captive in a remote mansion, five teens train with their mentors and receive superpowers beyond their wildest dreams. Struggling to uncover the motives of the Vindico, the teens have to trust each other to plot their escape. But they quickly learn that the differences between good and evil are not as black and white as they seem, and they are left wondering whose side they should be fighting on after all . . . (goodreads.com)

The Vindico is one of those novels that spans the Middle Grade/Young Adult range. The back of my ARC reads “For ages 12 and up” and I think that’s right on the nose. I think even a 10 or 11-year old would be able to read this book. There is violence and there is the subject of death, but really, it’s such a fun story that all ages should love it.

I knew I was in for a fun ride when I was laughing from the first chapter. When I finally finished the book I said to my husband “I am so sick and tired of every book being a series, but I hope to God that this is going to be one! I want to read more about these super villain/hero teens!”

I was obsessed with X-Men when I was a kid. I watched the early 90’s cartoon, I bought secondhand comics for $0.50. I loved the idea of superheros and their costumes. I even drew my own superheros when I was younger. (I made sure my females were properly covered up though!) They had names and secret identities and everything!

This is what I was doing in 1994 when other 18-year olds were likely out partying.

Needless to say when Penguin Canada sent me a list of book they had copies of for review, I had to request The Vindico. A book about super powered teens! Woohoo! A book that’s not paranormal and doesn’t have vampires or other creatures. Just a bunch of people with powers and heroes and villains. LOVE THAT IDEA!

This book is fully of sarcasm and wit and good versus evil. I love me some snark. I love me some witty dialogue and characters. I love incompetent super heroes and/or villains. I especially loved the blurred line between whether or not the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad.

The Vindico is a great summer read. I’d take it to the beach, if I had a beach to go to and if I liked going to beaches. I’d take it on holiday with me. I did take it onto my deck, in the back yard on a nice summer evening and enjoyed it with a bottle of beer. (If you know me, you know how rare it is that I drink anything. I actually had 3 beer in 2 days. I’m considering having my friends stage an intervention…)

Beer & middle grade fiction. You all wish you were as classy as I am.

If this was made into a TV show, I’d watch it. The book is just… original. I mean, it’s not a totally original story idea, but in a sea of Things That Go Bump In The Night and Often Get Caught Up In Love Triangles, this is a story that breaks out of that box completely. The captured kids learn things about themselves and each other. It’s nice to know you can have character growth but not always be overly obvious about it.

Good news for you guys – The Vindico came out on June 14th, so you can head on over to your local bookstore and pick this one up. It’ll be great for boys and girls and I think many ages will enjoy this.

I do hope there will be another book  though. I want to read more about all of these characters because they were so much fun!

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!

419

419
by Will Ferguson

A startlingly original tale of heartbreak and suspense.

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever … (goodreads.com)

DISCLAIMER: I promise you that this is not a biased review in any way. Not because I agreed to review it and certainly not because the author’s brother happens to be my boss. In fact, if I were to base my review on the fact that the author’s brother is my boss, then this would not be a favourable review at all since I am currently unhappy with my boss because HE FORGOT ABOUT ME when I was skipping my lunch to meet with him and he never came back from getting his coffee. Yes. This is a true story and one that I shall hold over my boss for the duration of his tenure in his current position. And don’t think I don’t know you’re reading this, Boss Man. Now the Internet is witness to your fault and will take my side in this matter because I AM AWESOME and the internet loves me. =P

With that disclaimer out of the way (don’t want you all to think I am lying to you in my review!) I will admit that I said yes to reviewing this book from Penguin during a time that I am not actually accepting books for review BECAUSE it amused me greatly that Will Ferguson is my boss’ brother. That, and the summary sounded totally interesting and original.

Super cool points to this book for having half of its setting in Canada. Yay, Canada!

I have never read a Will Ferguson book before and now that I have read 419 I know I have to read more. Ferguson writes compelling prose and intricate personal relationships. I loved reading the story this man was telling. I was hooked on the suspense of the email scam gone wrong and I ended up having nightmares the night I finished the book.

However, this book took me way longer to read than it should of. In fact, I should have had it read and reviewed by the 27th of March when it came out (sorry, Penguin!) but as you all know from my whining on this here blog, I am having a heck of a time reading anything. Even though I did finish this book last weekend, it’s taken me yet another week to sit down and write about it. (Sorry, Penguin!)

While I did love the suspense and mystery surrounding the death of Laura’s father, the pacing was a teeny bit slow for my own liking. I like a mystery like this to take my breath away from its fast and thrilling pace. Part of me was ok with that though because I find a rare beauty in the way Will Ferguson writes. He notices the small things – in fact Laura even comments on that aspect of writing at one point – and I really like when authors notice the small things. It makes the story a lot more real and believable. I like when simple things are described. You truly feel like you’re in the moment with the protagonist.

The only negative comment I have about the story was in the third part. We’re suddenly whisked away from the back-and-forth of Alberta and Nigeria and immersed fully in another part of Africa with a completely different set of characters. It didn’t bother me too much at first because a) I knew it would eventually tie in with the rest of the story b) I thought we’d flip back to Alberta and Laura sooner than we did and c) I rather liked the characters… BUT… and there’s always a but. I felt as though I was suddenly in a completely different story. This section of the book went on just a little bit too long for my ADD brain to keep interested in. As I described it to my bosses one afternoon “It’s like one of those scenes in Family Guy that starts off funny, but just keeps going until it’s not funny anymore and it becomes awkward and annoying? You know that kind of thing?” As beautiful as the storytelling was in the third part of the book, I had a hard time wanting to keep reading the book itself. Part of it was my currently difficulty with reading anything and part of it was a reaction I still would have had even without my reading ruttness.

I will say that once I began reading the fourth and final part of the story, I was even more wrapped up in the suspense than I was at the start. I didn’t put down the book for the longest stretch of time (that I have had in recent months) and I NEEDED to know how this was all going to come together. I was actually even slightly surprised by the ending, I had thought it would go a similar way but I didn’t think it would happen exactly the way it did.

I think my favourite part of the entire book was that final section and the dialogue and relationship between Laura and Winston (oh, crap, I don’t think I have his name right! Argh! And I can’t double check because I gave the book to my boss on Monday! Well, this makes for a horrible post on my part. Oops.) (Sorry, Penguin!) I actually really liked those two together even though it was all tense and suspenseful. I loved Laura’s visit with his parents. LOVED IT!

So, yeah… I read this book for many reasons, gloated that I received the book before the author’s own brother did (neener neener!) and ended up finding a new (to me) author that I want to read more of. As long as Will Ferguson doesn’t forget about me while I’m skipping lunch to try and help him out, I think this is the start of a wonderful relationship!

The Future of Us

The Future of Us
by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

It’s 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on–and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out. (goodreads.com)

This book depressed me. Not because of the subject or the writing, but because of this:

HOW CAN 1996 BE FIFTEEN YEARS AGO?

How was I not even in my TEENS 15 years ago?

In 1996 I was 20. Yet, when I think of the 1990s I always think I was a teen. Turns out at least four of those 90s years were in my 20s. How has it been so bloody long since I was in my 20s? Ugh.

The other thing that happened while reading this book was this:

OMG AOL
Did Crash really come out in 1996?
Diskman!!!
Last episode of Fresh Prince? Really?

God, I’m old.

VCRs!
I feel like Ellen has always been gay. Right? I mean, didn’t this happen a lot longer ago?

WAYNE’S WORLD? Shwing! I don’t think I’d find it funny now.

I feel old.

These are random exclamations I made while I turned the pages of The Future of Us.

Try as I might to focus on the story, I was stuck in the Land of Nostalgia for the 1990s. Oh, me. Although I have to say I rather liked the book. It might have tried just a little too hard to prove it was set in the late 90s, but the characters and the actual plot were enjoyable.

This is one of those books that has really great secondary characters, too. Tyler and Kellen were so fun to read. (Also, how cool is the name Kellen?) (Just realized I might be spelling it wrong, but my book is upstairs and I am feeling too lazy to go get it and double check. Oh, well.)

My one qualm about the book (other than the fact that it made me feel old) was that I found it too short. I kind of wish there had been more of a glimpse into the Facebook Future they found. A little more experimentation with changing the future. Not just Emma’s, but Josh’s too. Since the story was told from both perspectives, I would have enjoyed more Josh Future and not just all about Emma. I know it’s not right to play with your future, but, still. The curiosity would have killed me (my name IS Cat, afterall) and I’d have been testing the boundaries of what I could change or not.

I think the concept behind this story is interesting and clever. I have told a few other people of this book in the last week and though they aren’t all YA readers, even they expressed interest in it. Of course, I think for us it’s more of a curiosity about reliving our past and seeing those familiar pop culture references and reminiscing.

Seriously. How has is been 15 years since I was 20? How was I not a teen in 1996? Gah!

If all you Young People out there want to see how us dinosaurs discovered the beginning of the internet, pick up this book and learn a little about your elders. heh