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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

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

Clarity & Perception

Clarity (Clarity, #1)
by Kim Harrington

Don’t close your eyes. Except when the truth is too dark to bear.Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift.And a curse.When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case — but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother — who has supernatural gifts of his own — becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most? (goodreads.com)

I don’t normally write about multiple books in one post, but since I finished both Clarity and Perception right after each other, I thought I’d double up!

First things first, I am now having some harsh words with myself about not having picked up Clarity last year when it came out. It was one of the books I put on my 2011 Debut YA Author Challenge list, but for some reason, I was too chicken to pick up the hard cover. I was so worried that I would be disappointed and have spent money on the hard cover for nothing. Yet, I knew that I wanted to read this book. I heard so many great things about it! I was a big ol’ chicken pants and for that, I am mad at myself!

However, when I received Perception from Scholastic Canada in the fall, I made myself put Clarity on pre-order for the paperback. I would read this and then the sequel.

I did that this past weekend. In a day I’d gone through both the first and second books and let me tell you, I am HOOKED.

Eat your heart out, Nancy Drew! This book is high on the mystery and thrill and has some paranormal elements written in, but not in your typical Supernatural Creature of the Week way. Sure, Clare and her family have some sort of fancy mental abilities, but there’s also murder! And kidnapping! And intrigue!

I loved so much about Clarity that I was almost kicking myself for waiting so long as I was patting myself on the back for waiting until I had the second book within reach so I could pick it up as soon as I was done with the first.

Clare Fern is strong, witty and smart. She’s been picked on her entire life, but that’s made her a better person I think. She’s able to verbally spar with her taunters. Witty comebacks and whatnot. It’s awesome. She’s got a complicated relationship with her ex, but wins mega points in my books for dumping someone who cheated on you – even if it was an accident.

There’s a love triangle (yawn) that is only in the early stages in Clarity, it’s much more prominent in Perception, so I tried to ignore it the best I could. I did sort of feel like all of the boys Clare spoke with has some sort of undying torch burning for her – including her brother’s best friend, Nate, but whatever. That’s just the way books are written these days and I have to accept that.

What really, totally rocked for me was the writing and pacing of the story. It’s been ages since I read a good mystery that kept me changing my mind time and time again over who the Big Bad was going to be.  Just when I was sure it was going to be Person A, I’d be suspicious of Person B and then on to Person D and so on.  When I exclaimed “Ah HA! I KNEW IT!” at the end, well, I didn’t really. Not until just before all was revealed. Since I had almost everyone we’d met on my list of suspects, I was pretty sure I’d be yelling “Ah HA!” no matter who it had been. heh

I’d picked up Perception even before I’d updated Goodreads that I’d finished Clarity. You have to understand that I am completely OCD about updating my blog and GR when I am finished a book. I do it in real time. I don’t wait. But this time? I waited. Why? Because I had to read THIS:

Perception (Clarity, #2)
by Kim Harrington

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared. (goodreads.com)

Yes, I was totally suspicious of everyone in this book, too! In fact, I was actually surprised by the ending because I was sure it was going to be one of two other characters and I was WRONG. I was so hoping that I’d be right with one of them, though, because I think that would have been really original and I would have applauded Kim Harrington’s daring! Alas, my suspicion was fruitless though I was completely skeeved out by the actual culprit. I even shuddered at one point. Rare for me while reading.

I’m impressed by how Clare manages to handle the bullying and taunting that she goes through in both books. She’s a pretty strong character and though it obviously bothers her, Clare seems to have a dignity that many of us lack in her response. I hate that she’s picked on and used, but each and every time I think “Wow, I’m impressed” when she turns away rather than hides or lashes out.

The one downfall to this story was the very obvious love-triangle aspect. I tried my best to ignore it but I was becoming rather frustrated each time it popped up. I’d have enjoyed much more focus on Perry and his problems than which boy Clare thought she had feelings for. Oh, well.

Both Clarity and Perception were such exciting reads that I am a little bummed out that I don’t have any more books in this series to read right now. They were exactly what I needed this weekend to get me out of my funk and help me unwind.

I love(d) Nancy Drew books growing up and though I find them a little hokey now that I re-read them, these books by Kim Harrington are filling that void. I LOVED these books and truly appreciated the delightful mysteries that they solved. In fact, for the beginning of Perception, I even felt like the narration sounded similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It made me laugh and the characters voice was just right.

I cannot wait for more books in this series! Completely unrelated, I love that the author’s last name is the same as my best friend’s last name. heh. I support all things Harrington!

Clarity series

  1. Clarity
  2. Perception


In My Mailbox #51

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

First week back on the picket line wasn’t so bad, except for the cold I seem to have caught. Obviously some of the Canadian publishers thought they’d help cheer me up by sending me some surprises! Cannot wait to read all of these books!

For review:

The Scholastic Canada books were gifts from the event I attended last weekend (post here). I swear I feel like Christmas came a month early for me. I can’t wait to read all of these books! Trying very hard to hold off on the spring 2012 ones though. I don’t know if my willpower will be strong enough.

Montreal Book Bloggers Brunch with Cecil Castellucci

Oh, dear. I started this post a week ago but couldn’t finish it and then life got all hectic and I haven’t touched my blog (or a book, really) in a week. Now I have a miserable cold and my eyes are watering as I type this, but come on, Me! Get with the program! This event was a WEEK AGO!

Sunday, November 20 a handful of Montreal Book Bloggers were invited to brunch with two Scholastic Canada reps, Nikole and Catherine (lovely name ;)) and with Montreal author Cecil Castellucci. It was a fun time for all! I have never been to an event like this, so I was super excited and nervous all at the same time. I don’t know why I was nervous, I mean, I had met the other Bloggers before but I hadn’t ever met Nikole or Catherine or Cecil before.

The brunch was a sort of book club/all things book discussion, focused mostly on Cecil’s latest novel, First Day on Earth (linked to review). It was great to talk books with like-minded people and get some inside scoops from the publicist and author perspectives. Cecil explained some of the process of books being optioned for movies, which I found very interesting. We talked review responsibilities, what we liked to see on blogs, what we thought of book trailers and more. Since I blog about books a lot differently than many book blogs it was a great opportunity to hear why others like to have certain things on their blog and that I am not the only one who feels anxious about having deadlines on review copies (of which I received only a few compared to most book bloggers).

Back L-R: Me, Avis @ She Reads and Reads,  Lucy @ Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf, Cecil Castellucci, Tina @ Bookshipper, Melissa @ YA Bookshelf, Catherine from Scholastic Canada
Front L-R: Lisa @ Starmetal Oak Book Blog, Nikole from Scholastic Canada

The small group setting was just perfect, though I was sitting at the opposite end of the table from Melissa and Lisa and would have liked to have talked to them a little more. I’ll be sure to sit near them at our next Book Blogger meet up in December! (Just realized I was sitting next to them at the first meet up, too. I guess we’re kindred spirits!)

I’m not one to go ga-ga over getting books autographed normally. I tend to want them signed if I have gotten to know the author and/or if I absolutely adored a book. I wasn’t sure if this would seem gauche or not, but Cecil was the author of one of my favourite graphic novels, The Plain Janes and I snuck that book along with me for the event in case I could sneak it to her to sign. (I also found out at the time that the first and second books were split from one full one. I suppose that’s why I originally thought that it ended rather abruptly!) Turns out others also brought books to have signed, so I didn’t feel so bad. 😉

Signed Plain Janes

I was surprised by a brown paper Scholastic shopping bag on my chair when I got to the cafe. Those kind Scholastic reps, Nikole and Catherine had prepared goodie bags for us all! I swear it was like Christmas and lottery winning all at the same time! Why do all the surprise books always come at the same time!

 Scholastic swag!

(I now HAVE to get Clarity by Kim Harrington. Good thing I had it on my Christmas list!) I was so happy about all of these books. I kept saying “It’s like you KNOW me!” Since I have never been in contact with anyone from Scholastic until this event, I was very impressed with their selections for me!

The only bad thing I have to say about the entire experience was the creepy art on the wall directly facing me. I told Avis when I was leaving, I wasn’t avoiding looking at her all morning on purpose. I just couldn’t look at her and not see this on the wall behind her:

Gah! What kind of food establishment puts nekked boobs on their wall while people are trying to eat!? Especially me! Prude Extraordinaire! I did not like that one bit. Of course I had to snap a photo to show my husband (and all of you) what I had to deal with all morning. =P

So a HUGE thank you to Scholastic Canada for including me in their little brunch and to Cecil Castellucci for coming home for a visit and taking time to meet us all and share stories and laughs for a few hours on a gloomy, raining, Sunday morning.

In My Mailbox #49 – Sugar Rush edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (link goes to review)

For Review:

Awesome person mention:

Gail @ Ticket to Anywhere (my Revenge BFF!)

Two links go to my reviews, and the Fever one goes to Goodreads, as per the norm!