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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.

Fire with Fire

 Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn, #2)
by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.

Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.

And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn.

It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn… (goodreads.com)

Release date: August 13, 2013

I received the first book in this series at a SimonTeen event prior to BEA last summer. I was very surprised at how much I liked Burn for Burn and I eagerly awaited this sequel.

I read Fire with Fire almost as soon as it showed up at my door. I knew it wasn’t out for a couple of months, but I didn’t care. I was SO EXCITED to have the book in my hands and I had been struggling big time with trying to find a book to read after I’d finished The Virgin CureThankfully this book held my attention and it didn’t make me want to smack anyone. Go, book!

I think the story started rather slow for my liking even though it continues from where the first book ends. It did take me a little while to get into the flow of things and start caring about what each of these three girls were doing. I rather liked their odd-friendship even though they were drawn together by their needs for revenge.

Reeve is… a strange one. I think I’d like a story about him because he seems so conflicted between being a nice guy and the cool, jock guy who doesn’t give a crap about anyone else. I found him the most compelling of the characters this time around and even though the story wasn’t ABOUT him, I sort of felt like there was a lot more depth to his character than the book makes out. It was almost like the authors snuck all these layers into the novel for Reeve. Maybe I was just reading way too much into it, but I swear this guy has a major internal conflict going on and has issues that are making him be the bully, jerk that he is. He needs therapy or someone non-superficial to actually take care of him.

Because of this, my favourite parts of the book were in the swimming pool between Reeve and Lillia – even though she was there for nefarious reasons. I sort of liked seeing the other side of this jerky character.

Whereas I thought Mary was the dull part of the first book, she becomes a lot more interesting and much more of a curiosity in this one. The character I couldn’t connect with this time was Kat (and yet I loved her in the first book!)

But… Mary. Mary! Whoa!

That’s all I’m saying about that.

And the ending of this book pretty much blew my mind. I wasn’t expecting that at all (ok, well until just about the last second when I had the, “What I’m thinking can’t be right…right?” and then lo! It was! What a surprising ending. I am even more excited about the final book now because I want to know WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON, YO!

Lastly, this book post needs to have a shout out to Simon & Schuster Canada because they are awesome. As many of you know (because I mention it all the time) I am not reading much anymore and since I went back to school last September, I have no time to read and stopped accepting review books (although I didn’t really receive that many normally). I happened to comment on an instagram photo that S&S Canada posted about how I was super excited for this book to come out so I could buy it and – wow! – it appeared in my mailbox a day later. What sneaky and surprising folks are there. It just about made my week when this happened. Out of the blue and a total surprise, so thank you to S&S Canada SO VERY MUCH. Such a lovely random act of kindness on their part – and of course I would be reading and blogging about it as soon as possible. This might seem like bragging, but I swear to you I am just voicing my total appreciation for this surprise book in the mail because it really made me happy.

I’m a sap, ok. Just let me have this moment. *GROUP HUG* *sniff*

Burn for Burn Trilogy

  1. Burn for Burn
  2. Fire With Fire 
  3. Ashes to Ashes – 2014

Letting Ana Go

Letting Ana Go
by Anonymous

In the tradition of Go Ask Alice and Lucy in the Sky, a harrowing account of anorexia and addiction. She was a good girl from a good family, with everything she could want or need. But below the surface, she felt like she could never be good enough. Like she could never live up to the expectations that surrounded her. Like she couldn’t do anything to make a change.

But there was one thing she could control completely: how much she ate. The less she ate, the better—stronger—she felt.

But it’s a dangerous game, and there is such a thing as going too far…

Her innermost thoughts and feelings are chronicled in the diary she left behind. (goodreads.com)

Release date: June 4, 2013

I have never read Go Ask Alice but I keep meaning to. When I got an email about the possibility of reviewing this book, I said yes. I had just finished my course and, well, it’s a disorder book. I have an addition to disorder books. This one is about anorexia, but it could be about mental illness, depression, cutting, suicide, and I will gobble it up. My soul likes to purge its own demons through literature now rather than act out in real life.

I will tell you, I read this book 2 weeks ago and I am STILL thinking about it. Not because I knew I wanted to write up this post, but because it just stayed with me. I don’t know what the another “Anonymous” books are like, but this one felt like I was reading a real journal. It was written in a way that reminded me of my own diaries when I was a young teen. The narrator’s voice was real and loud in my ears.

Parts of it reminded me of my own summers on the lake, even though this was really nothing like my own life. There was just a feeling…a sense, if you will that brought up so many flashbacks to when I was 13-16 years old. Maybe it’s also because the weather finally warmed up and I always feel nostalgic for my summers on the lake that I no longer have. Don’t know.

All I know is that this novel had a voice that resonated with me and felt so raw and real. I didn’t cry but I just felt everything in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t feel trapped as I normally do with emotionally heavy books, rather I felt…ok. I felt ok while I read this story and felt like I was reading a real girl’s journal and spiral into the unhealthy habits she picked up. I think because I knew what the outcome was going to be – even though I continuously hoped I’d be wrong – I didn’t feel the same sense of panic I normally feel, as I wonder if this kid will make it out alive?

I’m not sure how to explain how this story made me fee, other than it’s still fresh in my mind 2 weeks after reading it. Almost like I’d lived it myself. Like these were my own memories. They are nothing like my memories, but they still felt so real.

I was especially affected by the boyfriend relationship. It’s so rare to see a story where the boyfriend tries so hard to convince his girl that she’s beautiful the way she is and he doesn’t want her hurting herself. It was just such a beautiful and painful part of the book.

This is a book I will keep forever. I think I’d even re-read it, as difficult as it was. There was something about it that just connected with me. It’s heartbreaking that a girl can go from healthy and happy to thinking that she has to be skeletal to be pretty. This book is just so wonderfully written and painful to read, but it’s worth it.

Picture the Dead

Picture the Dead
by Adele Griffin & Lisa Brown

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell’s life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past. (goodreads.com)

Due to my personal life having been invaded by my silly notion to go back to school and learn something new, I became very behind on reading books that were sent to me for review. (Which is why I stopped accepting books late last year.) I received Picture the Dead from Sourcebooks last fall as part of the Halloween give-away I held for them. It was an awesome-looking book that I was VERY eager to read, but just couldn’t find the time or headspace to devote to it.

Well, after months of sitting on my dresser, taunting me with it’s potential awesomeness, I finally picked up this book and…

holy wow!

Not only is the writing wonderful, this whole book is like a piece of art that has come to life. Between each chapter you get a glimpse into Jennie’s scrapbook and journal. All the photos, letters, paper she mentions in the story come to life in these little scrap booky pages and I absolutely adored this about the book!

There’s a supernatural feel to the story, although I can’t say for sure that the ghosts and spirits were real or just tricks of the imagination. Just the whole historical, ghost story, love story feel to the book made me so happy. This book is simple and complex at the same time. The entire book is part of the experience from the book binding, to the words, to the artwork and even most especially – the SMELL. I don’t know if all copies of Picture the Dead smelled as great as mine did, but my copy had the BEST book smell! It made me think I was reading an old, historical book that I’d perhaps found in my grandparents’ basement. It wasn’t mildew or gross-smelling, it just had the best BOOK smell. Even my husband agreed. (And yes, I did make him smell the book while I was reading it. Ours is a true love. He GETS me.)

There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like with this book. Perhaps I’d have liked the other cover I have seen on Goodreads than the one I had (which is included in this post). The other cover I have seen has scrapbook-type photo art and I think that makes the book look even more like it does inside.

I am so happy I got a chance to discover this story because it was fabulous and imaginative and haunting and so wonderful. This is a book I will be keeping in my house no matter how many times I (attempt to) trim down my book collection. 😉

Prophecy Girl

Prophecy Girl (Angel Academy, #1)
by Cecily White

Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.

I was born to slay Crossworld demons.
Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom.
Then he shows up.
Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?
Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle. (goodreads.com)

Prophecy Girl was the first book I read as soon as I was done with my course this semester. I was both excited and wary about starting the book, though. On one hand, it sounded like a fun novel that I would enjoy reading. On the other, I am always worried about accepting review copies of books from new authors, BUT the awesometastic Pam of Bookalicious fame was praising this book’s worth as it was the first book she sold as an agent. I know Pam well enough to know that she doesn’t profess love of books lightly. And she certainly would not have shopped this book around without being crazy about it 100-billionty percent. I trust Pam and her bookish opinions – even if I might not always agree with them. So of course I jumped at the chance to read a copy of this novel in ebook format.

Almost as instantly as I fell in love with Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unpoken, I felt the same connection within the first few pages of Prophecy Girl. Here was yet another female protagonist that I knew I was going to love. Also, humour, sarcasm and wit galore in this novel. Yippee!

It was such a refreshing feeling to be reading something that I had time to actually read AND it was enjoyable. I finished this book in a day (even though it took me 2 weeks to figure out why it wasn’t showing up on my Kobo. Turns out I had to rename the file. Jeez.) I felt so accomplished, since I haven’t been reading anything fun for weeks.

Prophecy Girl is action-packed and fun. The story itself was interesting to me and cleverly written. I enjoyed the characters, the pacing and the narration. This was just the kind of book that is completely my cup of tea. There were so many things about it that just made me happy.

The one thing I didn’t like – and before you make your own judgement and write off the book, please hear me out! – was the sort of, but not really, but kinda yes, insta-love between Ami and Jack. Now, it wasn’t exactly done in the way this is normally seen in YA novels, and the connection between the two characters is explained in a very clear and un-insta-lovey manner, but to me it set off too many insta-love flags and I had a little bit of trouble getting past it. I’m sort of torn about how I feel about it because on one hand – UGH! I hate insta-love! On the other, it’s done written like every other instant attraction I have read in books and I might not have thought twice about it HAD I not read so many stupid YA insta-love stories in the last few years. And although the connection is referenced throughout the story, it doesn’t hit you over the head repeatedly like other books do. I *personally* would have been happier if that part of the story wasn’t there, but it didn’t distract me too much from the rest of the book. Ami doesn’t spend ALL of her time swooning and pining over Jack, but in the few moments she does, I found myself cringing. And I was cringing because I personally dislike this sort of thing in the books I read.

BUT this book isn’t all about romance and soul-mates and lovey-dovey crap. This book is way more action-oriented and a lot more fun. The romance hoo-hah is just a side-line really, but it was enough to pop out at me. I guess I’m just too old and cynical to believe in instant connections with someone you just meet and then follow them around like a crazy person despite the age difference. Call me a sour puss, but that’s me. =P

Bottom line, despite the above issue, is that I enjoyed this book very much and want to read More! Now! and yet the author is apparently only just writing the second book. What the heck!? That is just not fair because I’m impatient and a sour puss and I know that the insta-love business will be out of the way in the second book and I just want more action and adventure and fun and demon hunting and magic and… just hurry the heck up, already, author. Ok? Thanks.

Oh! And in case you were wondering, the Angel part of the Angel Academy series isn’t a big focus. Nothing like any of the angel-themed books I have read in the past where the Angelness is stressed throughout. I thought of Ami and her friends more as slayer-types à la Buffy than angels. I keep forgetting that Angel is in the title of the series, so I should probably let those of you who might not go for Angel-themed books that it’s not really an angel-themed book!

And super thanks big time to Pam for the hook up with this novel. I think you chose wonderfully for the first book you ever sold as an agent, m’dear. Feel free to send me copies of all the other books you have sold now, too. 😉

Angel Academy

  1. Prophecy Girl