Monday, 15 September 2014

ARC REVIEW: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Pub. Date: September 16th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 256
Readership: Young adult
Genres: mystery, thriller

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.  
On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.  
The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

What an interesting read! When I first heard about Blackbird it was via GoodReads and I was intrigued by the plot immediately. Strange girl? Abandoned on some train tracks? No idea of who she is or how she got there? Ok, I'm in! I love me a good amnesia story and Blackbird flipped the trope on it's head by giving it a suspenseful, action packed ride.

What's most interesting about Blackbird is that it's told in second person, which is something you rarely see in fiction. I like it for a number of reasons. You're in the character's head as much as you would be in second and even maybe first person but you also get a sense that someone else is pulling the strings, that someone else is telling the story and that they're whispering in the character's ear. You do this, you do that. It's an eerie thing and it works perfectly with the story because "Sunny" has absolutely no idea who she is or why she was dropped in the middle of LA on some subway tracks.

The pace was fantastic. It wasn't too fast like some action based books could be but it wasn't slow, either. It kept me reading until well past midnight when I probably should have been sleeping. While turning the page lead to more and more questions than it did answers, I still enjoyed watching "Sunny's" journey into finding out what had happened to her and who she was. Even when it was revealed who she was and what exactly was going on, that only lead to more questions and "oh, shit"s.

I've never been much of a reader of straight up contemporary because we all know I'm a sucker for the sci-fi or the fantasy, but this was a good contemporary thriller. It felt a bit like a sci-fi at some points because I was wondering just who was behind "Sunny"'s amnesia and what exactly was going on with the dreams, the memories and this mysterious island. Blackbird has a little bit of everything.

By the end, I'm still not sure how I feel about "Sunny". I was rooting for her to get all of her answers and to find that mysterious boy from the island and her memories, but it felt like there was a little something missing. But that could be how it's supposed to be due to the eerie second person narration. For all we know, there is some big reveal to come in book 2 that throws us all for even more of a loop. The other characters were very likeable too. There was Ben, the boy from the supermarket who has a bit of a thing with "Sunny" but there might be more to him than what we see on the surface. I quite liked Ben. He was sweet and caring but not in one of those over-bearing, please stop ways.

All in all it was a very enjoyable read, not to mention a fast one. It's perfect if you want a fast but gritty, action packed ride. Blackbird is awesome!

★★★★ 
I REALLY LIKED IT 
*Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing an ARC for review!!! Follow @HCCFrenzy on twitter and HarperCollinsCanada on Facebook!* 

PURCHASE 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

12k Tumblr Followers Giveaway!!

Hi guys -- long time, I know. I've been busy with life and other things... so I've kind of neglected the blogosphere as a whole. BUT! I have lots of things coming up on here and over on the twin Tumblr blog. I even hit 12k followers over there recently! So why not celebrate with a giveaway?

Winners will be able to choose ANY book of their choice (preorder, even.) on TBD.






The giveaway works the same as any other, just follow the rafflecopter! The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as the Book Depository ships to you.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 24 July 2014

BLOG TOUR: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally



Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honour his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more gruelling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

PURCHASE
(amazon) (kindle) (chapters/indigo) (the book depository)



Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR MIRANDA KENNEALLY


Recently, there has been a huge trend with dystopian YA novels. Why do you choose to write realistic fiction? 
To tell you the truth, I would love to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I've never been all that great at world-building. I love reading contemporary fiction, and people say you should write what you love reading.

Your characters often crossover in your novels. Is this your way of giving your characters a sequel or a happy ending?
Yes, I chose to write companion novels rather than sequels, because to write a sequel, you have to create drama. If I've already given my characters a happy ending at the end of a book and they have grown and developed, I don't want to take that away from them by creating unnecessary drama. I also loved the idea of creating a community in which kids influence each other in different ways throughout the books.

Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief. What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?
I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone's healing process is different. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist.

Why do you choose to write YA books? Have you ever considered writing other genres?
I'd love to write adult romance or historical romance. I might try writing adult romance one day, but I'm just too busy with my YA books right now. I also love sci-fi, and would love to try writing another one. I've written 3 sci-fis, but they aren't exactly publishing material! :)

Your books take place in a small town. Is your hometown similar to the one in your books?
Yes, my books take place in Franklin, Tennessee, which is near where I grew up (Manchester, TN). I use real restaurants and landmarks from Franklin, Manchester, and the surrounding towns in my books. Only a couple of the schools I mention are real. Most of them are named after shopping malls in TN.

FOLLOW MIRANDA! (goodreads) (twitter) (website) (facebook)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 9 June 2014

ARC REVIEW: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Pub. Date: June 10th 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 400
Readership: Young adult
Genres: dystopia

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.  
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.  
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?  
Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

It's not often these days that a book has me up into the wee hours turning page after page to find out what happens next and just exactly what the heck is going on. The Murder Complex was one that did. The book had been on my to-read, must have wishlist for a while. It was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014 so I was a little worried it wasn't going to meet up to my expectations. I'm happy to say that I was wrong. From the get-go I was intrigued by Meadow and who this little girl was she was trying to usher out of the water. Why was Meadow so worried? What was going on? Immediately I was hooked.

I'm always a fan of dual POVs but it's especially thrilling when they are done right. The dual POVs really helped shaped the world of The Murder Complex. You had the perspective of Meadow, who grew up in the Shallows with her family and people to take care of and then Zephyr, a Ward, a no one. Or so we think. It helps the reader see the nooks and crannies of the closed in dystopian world that these poor people live in. You see the differences in their lives and the similarities, one of which is how they are all struggling to survive.

Things move fast in this book but not at a ridiculous rate. It is a thriller, so things have to go at a fast pace. Cummings times it all perfectly, weaving rich prose fast action and dialogue. Things get so gripping and fast that I was up till the sun started to shine one night because I had to know what happened next. There are many twists and turns that happen along the way. Some were fairly easy to spot but others were shocking. That is what makes a good thriller: you think the turns and the twists are easy to spot and yes, you spot some, but there are the others that come out of nowhere and hit you like a bus. The ones you never see coming.

I also loved the characters and the way they were developed. There were ones you loved, ones you hated, ones you rooted for and ones you wanted to see fall off of a train. A character doesn't have to be liked to be a good character and there were plenty of those in The Murder Complex. Meadow was such a bad-ass protagonist I wanted more and more of her, even though she was one half of the POVs. It was just great to see such a badass, ruthless character set out to do absolutely anything to protect the ones she loves. Zephyr was great too, even if it took me a few more chapters to warm up to him. By the end I was rooting for him as much as I was rooting for Meadow.

Overall, The Murder Complex is a must-read. It is absolutely gripping from start to finish, with an ending that will leave you pulling your hair out for the next book in the series.

★★★★★ 
I LOVED IT 
*Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing an ARC for review!!! 
Follow @HCCFrenzy on twitter and HarperCollinsCanada on Facebook!*

PURCHASE 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

BLOG TOUR: Branded by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki (Interview!)

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win. The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me. I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.



THE INTERVIEW


1. If you could live in any Dystopian world, which world would you choose and why?
Oh, this is a tough one! I think it’d be hard to live in any dystopian. Maybe Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Series. At least her characters have the chance to fight back. Her main female is pretty kickass too. Abi- None. I would never want to have to endure any of those places.

2. Did you listen to music while writing or do you find the silence helps more? 
Missy- While music can sometimes inspire me, I like it completely quiet while I write.
Abi- I run on my elliptical so I can close my eyes and let my blasting music take my mind where it wants. So when I write I will listen to the song that inspired that scene for me. Now when it’s a chapter Missy wrote, and it’s my turn to add to it. I usually just have noise in the background. Or I’ll read it and find a song that will help inspire me. It’s funny, I have ADD but I can’t write in dead silence.

3. If you could choose three songs to describe the book, which songs would they be? 
Missy- The three songs that come to mind for me are 1) Linkin Park’s Castle of Glass, Third Eye Blind’s Wounded, and Needtobreathe’s Something Beautiful.
Abi- Kelly Clarkson. Dark Side & Honestly. And the ones Missy already talked about.

4. What were some books or stories that inspired you to write? 
Missy- I’ve always been a bookworm, but writing was mostly a private outlet for me. I didn’t want to write a story until Abi & I started meeting to talk about books we were currently reading.
Abi- We always found something with a book that we read that bothered us. We always agreed on the parts that we would change. So totally joking I said to Missy. “You know the only way we will ever be 100% happy with a book, is if we wrote it.” After that talk I went home and started listening to music and wondering what I would want to write about. And when Branded to came to me, of course Missy loved the idea. We click like that! It’s pretty amazing.

5. What authors do you look up to, currently and in the past? 
Missy- for me, it’s Bodie Thoene and Ann Rinaldi. Their books inspired me when I was a young girl and kept me reading! Currently, I respect all writers… because now I really know how much work it is to be one!!!
Abi- Nicholas Sparks, his story telling blows my mind. And the same as Missy, now that we have gone through the process of writing a novel, you have to respect everyone who tries.

FIND ABI & MISSY: (twitter) (website)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

ARC Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Pub. Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 355
Readership: Young adult
Genres: fantasy, historical

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Wow. I had heard about The Winner's Curse a while ago but for whatever reason, it wasn't on my radar until I kept seeing everyone talking about it. And I mean everyone. I couldn't ignore it anymore: I read up on the synopsis and read a couple early reviews. I was intrigued. When I got the chance to have my own ARC of it, I jumped.

From all the great reviews I had read, I was really going in with high expectations. Usually, that's not a very good thing but with The Winner's Curse it didn't matter. The book was every bit of amazing as the reviews said, and then some.

Marie created absolutely wonderful characters in this book. Some were easily loved, easily related to and easily hated. Some I was unsure of their motives but liked them anyway and some I just wanted to fall on their sword. Regardless of the type of character they were, there was no one character in this book that was just there. They all had a reason, a place in the story.

I adored Kestrel to bits. At first I was a little unsure of her but that was easily squashed in the first twenty or so pages. She is a girl who knows who she is and what she wants in life and she is such a badass. SUCH a badass. She is cunning, brilliant, clever and not afraid to do what she feels is right. She is also stubborn which is another thing I adored about her. And a little bit blind of her feelings for Arin until the very and and even then... Oh man, I just really loved Kestrel.

I absolutely adored Arin as well. It was hard not to, to be honest. He, like Kestrel, knows who is is and what he wants and will do anything to obtain it. Even through his feelings for Kestrel, he did what he did because he knew he would lose himself had he not. Arin is courageous and has pin-prick focus but he also has a good heart and doesn't like to hurt people just for the sake of it. He is an amazing leader.

The romance! It was so different from the kind of romances one usually sees in these types of fantasies. It had the whole forbidden, star-crossed feel to it but it wasn't overwhelming. Even though, by the end, Kestrel and Arin loved each other very much, they didn't say to hell with everyone else and ran for the hills. In fact, it is the opposite. While they were still trying to look out for each other and love each other, they knew there were bigger things happening and dealt with those things first and foremost. I have to say, this pair is one of my favourites of the year.

All in all, The Winner's Curse was a brilliantly fantastic awesomesauce read. The ending alone made me want to jump in a little blue box and fly off to next year so I can read book two immediately. The plot was fantastic, the pacing was great and the characters were beyond. Even the minor and secondary characters were great. Ronan! Oh boy, I loved me some Ronan. Cheat was the devil. General Trajan is a good father and a great military man. And those are only a few of the minors that were great. Honestly, if I didn't already have a gigantic to-be-read pile, I would be re-reading The Winner's Curse already. Everyone needs to read this brilliantly woven masterpiece.

★★★★★ 
I LOVED IT 
*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing an ARC for review!!!

PURCHASE 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

(2 GIVEAWAYS!) Marrisa Meyer Signing in Toronto 2.24

Guys! Yesterday I attended the Marssia Meyer event in Toronto and I had a great time. I had planned to get there around 1 or 2 in the afternoon but I was able to snag an early ride and ended up there at 11am instead. So I ended up first in line. Indigo was so impressed Indigo Green Room tweeted a pic of me. Which was pretty cool.

I was pretty bored waiting around for more people to show up so I read a bit and took lots of random pictures.


At around 1 people started showing up, including my girls so I finally had some company! The event was still six hours away but the time honestly flew by. It didn't feel like I had waited for 8 hours at all.

Around 4 o'clock, Marissa showed up! I was chatting with fellow book blogger Siobhan of Coversations of a Reading Addict when she and her husband appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I had a "wait.. what... is it???? IT IS!" moment so for a few seconds I was just gaping. Oops. She brought everyone in line buttons and then she asked who was first in line and I meekly mumbled "me". (Sidenote I get really awkward around people at first. Awkward, quiet and rambly, oh boy.) Then she asked me since when so naturally I said 11 and she was shocked. THEN she handed me an ARC of Cress that had been her husbands! I had no idea what to say so I just meep'd a thanks and then she asked me if I wanted it personalized. At that point I was like "oh boy oh boy, she's talking to me! This author I admire is talking to me!!!" So of course being me I totally rambled and was all "I.. well.. I ... have one?! I do giveaway on blog!?" and she chuckled and was all "aw sweet!". So that's a thing that happened and smh, I need to work on my social skills.

I was really bummed because I was going to show her my Little Red Riding Hood tattoo that I have but I forgot in the moment. (It's not Scarlet based, but it is Grimm original tale based and I thought she would like it.) I said to myself "Ok, I'll do it at the signing!"

When there was about an hour to go before the signing, we were all moved from a line to the seats in front of the stage. Then some cosplayers showed up! I believe the Cress works for Raincoast but I'm not very sure and I didn't see anyone to ask. Anywho! The Cress was fab and the Scarlet was fab.


Right after that, the Indigo peeps played some games with the crowd to get us all warmed up. Like a dumbass, I volunteered to go up there before they told us what we would be volunteering for and I ended up having to dance in front of everyone. God I hope that doesn't end up on YouTube I am like Chandler Bing.

Finally it was time for the event to start!! Marissa was adorable as always. She opened with the story of how she was published and then she talked about fairytales and told us all the Grimm version of Rapunzel. I recorded that and the video should be uploaded to YouTube soon. I'll update the post with the link when it's ready.






As you can see, I took quite a few pictures! I got a new camera and was a bit trigger happy.

Weirdest face ever, I wasn't prepared for the pic yet so my face is half smile, half "oh what??????"




I got even more photos than this but I don't want to spam the post! And here's a cameo by Siobhan getting some books signed.

But now to the good stuff. Giveaways!! Since I do already have an Cress ARC, first up is the ONE OF A KIND ( ;) ) signed copy that was once Marissa's husband's. 

Both giveaways are INTERNATIONAL!



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And now I have signed hardcover copies of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress up for grabs!! I was a part of the wonderful Lunar Chronicles Street Team these past few months thanks to MacTeen and as a thanks, they sent me signed copies! But, as I had attended Marissa's past event in Toronto, I already have copies of each signed. I thought it wouldn't be fair or nice to hold on to and hoard these copies so I want to share them!

a Rafflecopter giveaway