Review | Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Format: Paperback, 390 pages
Published: Aug 1st 2009
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9780545123266
Rating:4/5
I must say I was really impressed with this novel. It brought me back to my days of reading Twilight but with better writing and classier situations.
When a teen boy goes missing, all of the evidence points to the wolves. Grace knows they are all about to die but how can she save HER wolf?
You really get a sense for Grace, her humble spirit and gentle curiosity of the nature around her. One wolf in particular really piqued her interest – her wolf – the wolf with the amazing yellow eyes. She wants to know what he is thinking and why, in that terrifying situation years ago, did he save her life? Despite the towns wishes, Grace is dedicated to finding out what really happened in an effort to save the wolf like he did for her.
Sam’s life gets twisted every year as the temperatures change. When the winter’s chill sweeps in he prepares to spend the next months hunting in the forest behind Grace’s house. Catching his own food and protecting his pack from the hunters that are always out to get them. You start to feel his soul, or wolf spirit I guess. You see how he wouldn’t have chosen this, but at the same time he wouldn’t want to have it any other way. The love and dedication in this wolf pack is something most of us thrive for in our lives.
This is one of the few books I will read again. I know that I should read the rest of the series but let’s be honest, it likely won’t happen. I do, however, want to check out more of Maggie Stiefvater’s books now that I know how much I enjoy her writing style! So much love for this book!

Taste of Tuesday: Dark Horses by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Book Dark Horses by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Okay, I don’t know if I am more excited that Cecily Von Ziegesar has started writing books again or that this is a twist of Black Beauty. I feel like this book is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to go and get it. So, WHEN DOES IT COME OUT? I can hear you all screaming at me .. I’m sad to say that it is already out! I missed this gems release two weeks ago. That isn’t going to stop me from going and picking it up this week though!

A psychological thriller is a little different than her previous books but I think she is very capable, the Gossip Girl plots weren’t exactly innocent! I am also hoping for some of the Gossip Girl feel to edge into this. Maybe we will get a new version of Pretty Little Liars! EEEK I am rolling with excitement for this.

Did you beat me to this bandwagon? Let me know what you thought of this book in the comments, on twitter (aurora buzz) or by email! I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

ScarletCinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and introduces us to Scarlet Benoit, a young girl living with her grandmother in Rieux, France. When her grandmother suddenly disappears without a trace, Scarlet embarks on a dangerous mission to find her, no matter what the cost. The book is based on the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ fairy tale.

When I finished Cinder and moved onto Scarlet, I have to admit that the beginning initially threw me, as I wasn’t expecting the book to be primarily about Scarlet and her adventure through the French countryside. I knew that Meyer was going to be introducing new characters along the way, but I’d expected Cinder’s tale to continue, with small portions from other characters.

Once I realized that each book would focus on new characters, with appearances from characters introduced in previous books, I fell into the book. Along the way, we meet Wolf, a shy street fighter whom saves Scarlet from herself a few times throughout the book. We follow the duo as they make their way to Paris to find her grandmother, who is believed to have important information regarding Princess Selene.

Scattered through the novel, we also catch up with Cinder, and eventually Carswell Thorne and Dr. Erland (both of which help her escape from her prison in New Beijing), as they make their way to Africa with the authorities hot on their trails, so Cinder can discover more regarding her Lunar heritage.

Throughout this book in particular, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop in a few instances – Wolf’s background, Cinder’s escape, the true loyalty of D. Erland and Thorne just to name a few – In some cases, the answers are provided, in others you have to wait until the next book to figure things out.

I found the book to be well-paced, but towards the end I almost found it too long in spots. I was anticipating things to happen earlier than they did, and in some cases I found that there was just too much going on, with no real progress – The book felt like it slowed down drastically about 3/4 of the way through, and never really found it’s footing again after that. There were a few key reveals near the end that lacked the build-up, because of the slow down.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but perhaps not as much as I did Cinder. Scarlet is a fiery, strong female lead, who carries the book. She has a tendency to fly off the handle and react to things without fully thinking them through. Overall, a solid 3 out of 5 stars. This was probably my least favourite book in the series.

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I’ve known about the popularity of The Lunar Chronicles series for a long time. Frankly, I’d have to live under a rock not to know at least something about it. To my surprise, I actually had no idea that Marissa Meyer used to write Sailor Moon fanfiction, and that the entire premise behind The Lunar Chronicles, was a similar storyline to that of Sailor Moon. It was a good friend of mine who was exchanging book recommendations with me – She needed something to read when she went on mat leave, and when The Lunar Chronicles was mentioned (by her, her husband owns them as they’re both huge Sailor Moon fans), my interest was piqued.

Honestly I’m glad I picked this series up. Cinder started a bit slow for my liking, and it took a while to fully submerge myself into the world. The biggest issue I’m finding with series style books currently, is that there is a lot of world building in the first book. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to detract a lot of people from wanting to read a series – Especially when you have to toss “you just need to get past the first 100 pages” into a conversation.

With that in mind, the book finds an easy pace as you do crest that 100 page mark. Cinder is a cyborg (half human, half robot/android) who was adopted by Linh Garan and brought back to New Beijing. She has an android partner named Iko who works with in the marketplace, where Cinder is known for being the best mechanic in New Beijing. When Prince Kai comes searching for help to have his personal android fixed, it thrusts Cinder on a strange path where she must contend with the fact that she is a second class citizen, due to her being part cyborg.

While Cinder tries to help to find a cure for the plague to give to her dying sister, Prince Kai must deal with the fallout of his father’s untimely death, and unyielding threats from Queen Levana of Luna, the moon colony. Cinder stumbles upon strange messages embedded in Prince Kai’s android, talking about the Lunar Princess – Princess Selene, who is believed to have died in a tragic fire when she was a child. The messages imply that the fire was a ruse, and Selene has been hiding on earth, waiting for the right moment to claim what is her birthright – the title of Queen of Luna.

Along the way, Cinder encounters Dr. Erland who opens her eyes to the lies that Levana has been feeding to not only the people of Luna, but to the people of Earth as well. His presence stirs strange feelings for Cinder as she comes to grip with the idea that her half-cyborg status, might not be the strangest thing she’s faced with.

The novel presents interesting discussion points on race and status, while weaving a complex world of intrigue and distrust. The characters are flawed, and you often find yourself questioning on which side of the impending war would they find themselves on. The writing is spectacular and you fall into the book quickly, demanding more once you turn the last page. A solid 4 out of 5 star rating.

Review | Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Published: June 26th 1997
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9780747573609
Rating: still unsure
I don’t know why I am having such a hard time deciding how I feel about this book. I think it might be because I built it up so much that it was impossible to live up to what I was hoping it would be. I know that I am going to be torn apart for this review but I have vowed to be honest!
Here are a few feelings that I have:
Good:
-I love the world building. You can really picture the scenes and the world.
-The characters – quirky, fun and memorable
-My version is very British – I was told that some of the newer editions have been edited with more American vocab/word choices but I am enjoying the original.
Bad:
– I can’t help but feel as though I’ve seen this all before. I’m being reminded of books and movies that I have seen that are similar to this in plot line, characters and even in the world descriptions. I realize that this book came out 19 years ago and my opinion here may have been different if I would have read it when it was first released.
– The majority of the book IS world building. I luckily found it interesting but I know that a lot of readers get too impatient for world building that takes 200+ pages. It takes a very long time for anything truly eventful to occur, unless you count Harry going to Hogwarts as eventful but I don’t count that as a big plot event.
– Other than his life with the Dursleys he is handed everything on a silver platter. He didn’t have to work to get into Hogwarts, he is famous for something he doesn’t know he did, he doesn’t get punished for breaking any rules, he is instantly rich and without Hermoine I think he would have failed epically.
– Editing! This is always one of my biggest pet peeves. Some of the sentences are really awkward. Some of the characters that are randomly thrown in there seem so pointless (I’m hoping they make more sense later on in the series), and again, take out some of the world building. Do I really need 4 pages about candy and chocolate frogs?
I believe this book should be called Hermoine Granger and the Philosopher’s Stone. She came from a muggle family, has to work hard and study to succeed, has to face stereotypes and struggles because of her family history (or lack of). If not Hermoine than give credit to the group of them.
Overall, I did enjoy it and because of this challenge I will continue to read the series. My husband keeps saying “You’ll like the second book better because it was MY favourite”, So I am going to trust his judgment and cross my fingers. I have decided that we are going out for Halloween as Harry Potter and his parents. My little dude can be Harry as a baby 🙂
I am open to hearing your defences to my negative Nellyness. I’ve been in a bad mood lately so maybe I am judging too harshly. Let me know what you think!

Review | Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything everythingIt’s a very rare thing to find a YA book that you devour in a night. Usually, for me anyway, its an author I’ve read and enjoyed before, and it’s a book I’ve eagerly been anticipating for a while.

Until now.

I had the chance to listen to Nicola Yoon speak at a book event back in mid-September, shortly after the release of Everything, Everything. I had seen reviews on it, and listened as people described the book as being like John Green’s ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. To me, that was the ultimate turn off. While I read and appreciated the book, I’m nowhere near ready to go through the emotional turmoil of that book again. Perhaps it was the timing of reading it, perhaps it was something else. I have cried at books since that one, but I’ve been able to read in the same genre.

I haven’t been able to read Sick-Lit since John Green decided to collectively tear our hearts out, and stomp on them.

Until Everything, Everything.

When Nicola Yoon spoke about the book, she started it off by taking about her daughter. Penny is 3 now, and for a while, Nicola was terrified of anything happening to her. What happens if she eats dirt? What happens if she gets stung by a bee? The possibilities were endless of what might happen, and how could she deal with them? It’s a statement I’ve heard from many new parents. How do you cope with your child when they get sick or injured?

In this instance, Nicola Yoon wrote a book about it.

We meet Madeline when she is 17-years-old and she suffers from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), and the only people she’s ever been able to have contact with, are her mother, and her personal nurse Carla. Madeline has been content with her life, taking classes online and having tutors Skype with her to get the best education possible.

Until a new family moves in next door.

Olly becomes a beacon of light in Madeline’s life, pushing her to evaluate how complacent she has become, and how she has let her illness define her limits. The story unfolds much how you would expect, until 3/4 of the way through when the author drops a plot twist so unexpected, you can’t help but be completely floored.

4/5 stars.

Review | Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

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Format: Hardcover, 343 pages
Published: June 23rd 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age
ISBN: 9780062330598
Rating: 5/5
Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

So, I’m going to start this review by asking for your patience with me as I am typing on a new laptop and am getting used to this keyboard. I will do my best to watch for spelling errors, but when I get passionate I tend to lose track because my thoughts move faster than my fingers.
Now, this book got me out of my book funk. I was having such a hard time finding a book that could keep my attention. Having a two month old doesn’t help, lack of sleep makes it harder to focus on things but with Emmy and Oliver it didn’t seem to matter. This book pulled at my heart strings, and not always in a sad way. Benway mixed the perfect concoction of happiness and sadness while throwing in piles of humour, a little love and topping it off with a lot of friendship. It was like a banana split covered in sprinkles and whip cream!
Emmy, Oliver, Drew and Caro are a group of friends that were inseparable. That is, until Oliver was kidnapped by his father. Not knowing if they would ever see Oliver again, the three friends have to continue on with their lives as normally as possible. This is made hard for Emmy in particular. Her family lives beside his and when he went missing her parents became more protective themselves, always with the thought in their heads that she could be taken from them at any moment.
Now, fast forward, the trio are in high school. Emmy is finally trying to get a feel of her identity, finding a passion for something that she knows her parents won’t agree with. Having to hide her passion is difficult but life is made a lot more complicated when Oliver is found and returned to his mother in their small town. Will Oliver remember her? Could they still be friends even though so much time has passed? Emmy’s struggle is real, the position she is faced with is easily relatable. Have you ever had a friend or family member deal with something that you’ve never faced yourself? Sometimes you need to try to support them without truly knowing or understanding what they are going through. Benway writes these heartfelt conversations well, they are deep and real with a lot of insight to the emotions and struggles.
This book was exactly what I needed to get myself back into the swing of reading and I can’t express my love for this novel enough. The characters were diverse, each facing their own personal realistic struggles. The friendships were true – conversations, fights and relationships that I could picture having in my own life. The plot was busy enough to keep you interested without overwheling you by the number of characters and events that were occuring simultaneously. I whole heartedly recommend this novel, a perfect summer read that will make you fall in love with books all over again.