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!

Movie Casting | The Darkest Minds (by Alexandra Bracken)

asIt was announced yesterday that Amandla Stenberg has been cast as 16-year-old Ruby Daly – the female protagonist in The Darkest Minds trilogy. Best known as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla has been gaining quite the collection of YA roles! She is set to play Maddy in ‘Everyting, Everything’ (based on the book of the same name by Nicola Yoon; Check out my review here), as well as the lead character in the movie adaptation of A.C Thomas’ ‘The Hate U Give’*, a book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Both movies are due out within the next 12-18 months.

Want more information on The Darkest Minds? Check out my review here! I’ll be doing a re-read later this year (or early 2017, depends on my availability) and continuing on with ‘Never Fade’ & ‘In The Afterlight’ (books 2 & 3). TDM is a 5 out of 5 star rating on Buzz On Books!

** The Hate U Give by A.C Thomas is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and is due for release in June.

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.

Social Media & You

omgWhen something is released on the internet, no matter how hard you try to delete or hide it, it is there forever. Scary thought, that something you said two hours or two years ago could suddenly resurface and cause ripples in your life; you career; your friendships. But it happens. Sometimes its seemingly minor things, other times it’s something that created a lasting impact (or could if/when it resurfaces) – But chances are, if you’ve put it out on social media, someone has seen it or taken a screen-shot of the offence.

The average person can live their lives using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with little to no interaction with the larger world, and rarely run into any backlash. Authors, movie stars, reality TV stars – do not have that luxury in life.

Last May I posted about the issue regarding a 1-star review on Goodreads and how the author took it upon herself to track the reviewer down, and harass them. Even now, 14 months later, this particular incident is still making waves, and dividing authors, readers, and the publishing world.

Earlier this week, one of my favourites authors posted on Twitter about a YA author who was verbally attacking, harassing and belittling the 16-year-old author of this post. You might recognize the name of the writer, as she is the one who penned the ‘John Green, YA Authors & Rape Culture’ piece for the Huffington Post in 2015. I started reading the threads – it spawned many – with the hope that perhaps the author would see the error of her ways and apologize to the young woman for the multiple statements.

Instead, I witnessed what I can only describe as a dumpster fire of racist commentary, excuses, and an exorbitant amount of self-victimization (on the part of the YA author).

In short, I watched as this author ruined her career.

It’s a bold statement to say that she ruined her career by doing what she did, but I am not the first. Many other authors, editors, publishers, readers and reviews lashed out on Twitter for the commentary she made. What started out as commentary by the above people to defend Camryn Garrett, and the necessity of her article, turned into begging and pleading with the YA author to stop her commentary, and listen to what was being said. At one point, the author cried foul, saying her Twitter account had been hacked. At another point, she apologized to Camryn for her actions and to those following the unfolding saga, and that she would reflect on her actions.

That lasted at most, 14 hours.

The next day, the conversation continued, as people were waking up to see what had transpired overnight. I went about my life, preparing for work and accomplishing my tasks for the day. And then it all went downhill. I would assume the author got fed up with people constantly flooding her mentions about the incident, and she lashed out for a second time – crying foul that people hadn’t gotten over it; re-stating her opinions from the previous evening and generally, making things worse than they already were. The backlash, not surprisingly, was swift & harsh – to the point that the author deleted her Twitter and disappeared.

But the damage was done.

I lost count at the amount of people who were involved that also work in the writing world – publishers, editors, bloggers, other authors – who dragged and mocked the author for her behaviour, and promised her that she had made an impression on them – But not the impression she wanted. A few even went as far as to say that they would never work with her. While the threat was never outwardly stated (at least from what I saw), I’d make the assumption that this (like the author stalking the blogger incident) has made its way around the YA world, and the author will never be published.

Sometimes, especially living in an instant gratification world, we forget that our actions have consequences. Everyone says things they regret at some points in their lives – We’ve all done terrible things. It’s our responses to those terrible things that show how we learn from our mistakes. This is obviously a drastic case of how things can go terribly wrong for you, in 140 characters or less. Be conscious that there could be someone watching – especially if you have plans to delve into the publishing world.

For a further summary on the events, check out Jenny Trout’s website for more information.

Books You Surprisingly Enjoyed

I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to my books:

  • I read (almost) anything a favourite author will publish
  • I usually scout out both positive and negative reviews to see what the general thoughts are on the book (and if the negative reviews touch on things I don’t like about particular books)
  • If an author recommends another author’s work, I will usually check their work out (this one hasn’t worked out so well for me in the past, but I still continue to do it)
  • Occasionally (aka rarely) do I rely on the recommendations of friends, unless our tastes match up to one another, and I know without a doubt that I will enjoy the book they’ve suggested.

Sometimes I’ll seek out new authors while I’m browsing in my local bookstore, and sometimes I take a chance on new novels, which turn out be better than expected! Here’s a list of a few that I honestly hadn’t been expecting to enjoy, and surprisingly ended up loving.

lunar chroniclesThe Lunar Chronicle Series by Marissa Meyer.
I’d seen Cinder sitting on the shelf at the first bookstore I worked in, and considered picking it up. I eventually did, but struggled to get into it. I later went back, and blew through the entire series in a few short weeks. I was pleasantly surprised at likeable the characters were, and how I was able to (after being advised of it) draw parallels to the Sailor Moon manga/anime. *Reviews to come*

selectionThe Selection Series by Keira Cass
A friend of mine had been collective the books over a span on time, and she mentioned how she hated that the second bookstore I worked in, never carried these titles in Hardcover. I’d purchased the 4-book set (The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir) on my Kobo probably a year prior (I got it for a steal of $4.99) but had yet to drum up enough interest to actually read it. A few weeks ago, while waiting for my ride at work, I opened it up and blew through the first 3 books in less than 3 days. Every waking moment, I was reading about America and Maxon. The 4th book has proven to be a struggle for me, as I miss the intrigue that made The Selection so special.*Review to come*

ACoTaRA Court of Thorns & Roses Series by Sarah J Maas
I love fantasy books, and I consider fantasy books that include Fae, to be the cream of the crop. Like most other books, I’d heard high praise for Maas’ work but it took a bit of convincing for me to actually start into the new book. A close friend of mine all but threw the book at me the night we went to a Carrie Underwood concert, and I decided to start the book the next day – with the heavy threat to said friend that if the book turned out to be garbage, I’d never accept another recommendation from her again (this is more common than you’d think, I have about 3 friends who get recommending privileges). I was not disappointed! Feyre is a strong lead who finds herself living in a strange land, under strange circumstances. The series is based off the Beauty & The Beast fairytale, which gives it a strong background to work into Fae mythos. *Review to come*

the 5th waveThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
This book (I have yet to finish the series, whoops!) somewhat begrudgingly gets to be on this list. Not because I didn’t like it (I throughly enjoyed it), but because of the manner in which it was initially presented. Years ago, when I worked at a bookstore in a mall, I often had to travel to the sister store to purchase my books, because it was much larger and offered a wider variety of books. While looking for the latest Rachel Caine release at the time, I encountered a sales person who mentioned that I should read the 5th wave. I said I’d take it under advisement and research it a bit more – That was apparently not good enough. Subsequent trips to that store often resulted in the same ending, and it also happened just as many times to my coworker. Needless to say, it turned me off the book. When I did eventually pick it up, nearly 2 years later, I was happily surprised that the sales person was right. The storyline is fast-paced and action packed, but also enjoyable enough that you didn’t feel like everything was rushed.

What about you? What books did you enjoy that surprised you? Hit the comments and give us some of your favourite recommendations!

 

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.