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.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing an ARC for review!!!


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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Sunday, 23 February 2014

In My Mailbox #?

Wowza I haven't done one of these in a while. Partly because I've been so busy with school, partly because everything piles up and is Too Much and partly because I'm a bit forgetful. BUT I recently got a brand new shiny camera that I thought, why the heck not?

Now, I'm not going to gather together all of the books I've gotten since my last showcase sunday/imm because that would be crazy. These are just some recent ones!


Thanks to Raincoast Books and Hachette!



Wheee thank you so much MacTeen Books!!! And Raincoast for the stellar pins.

What did you guys get this week?

Monday, 17 February 2014

REVIEW: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Pub. Date: February 4th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 408
Readership: Young adult
Genres: science-fiction, dystopia

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined the best of dystopian and paranormal and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.

I'm going to be honest: I have absolutely no idea how I feel about this book. For a year I was eagerly anticipating Ignite Me. I was so very thrilled seeing everyone's ecstatic reactions after they finished it. I quickly snatched up a copy when my local bookstore got it a few days after the release and immediately tore into it. After that, I just became confused.

Juliette was the same old Juliette: growing stronger, braver and more sure of herself as the pages turned. Kenji was the same old amazing Kenji: funny, loyal with a heart of gold. But then Warner entered the picture and after that, Adam. Right away, both felt out of character to me. Warner only slightly but Adam felt like a completely different person. He honestly felt like a pod person for a third of the book. This wasn't the character I fell in love with in Shatter Me and it wasn't the character that I adored in Unravel Me. It felt like he had done a complete 180 and I wasn't sure why. I just couldn't figure it out. I still can't. On the one hand, it almost felt like character assassination, a way to make Juliette and Warner more viable. Adam felt too melodramatic, too ridiculous, for me to take any of what was happening seriously with him. He felt too harsh. He felt like a parody with his over the top brattiness and immaturity which was waved off as "he's going through some stuff". With Warner in the beginning, he felt like stranger to me as well. Not the sector leader we met in Shatter Me and not the boy we grew to love in Unravel Me. As the book went on, I understood why and I like why but at first it's a bunch of confusion and just all around bitterness. All of the horrible things he had done in Shatter Me were rectified. He was made to be a saint among sinners which still has left a sour taste in my mouth.

However, despite my irritation at Adam and Warner's characterization, the plot was great as usual. There was just enough action, just enough intrigue and just enough romance to make it all blend wonderfully together in a way that only Tahereh knows how. We got to see Juliette rise up and become this strong, independent woman. She is a far cry from the scared girl we met in Shatter Me and boy, does she know it. It was great to see Juliette kicking ass as much as she did in Ignite Me. As much as a lot of characters were off, Juliette was spot on.

The ending, though... I felt like the ending was a little too rushed, a little too easy for my liking. When I reached the last 30 pages, there was still so much to be done that I had no idea how on earth it was all going to finish up so fast. I thought hey, maybe there's a secret book four on the way because how the heck is this going to all finish?? But it did and I was left with my head spinning. It all wrapped up into a neat little bow with shiny wrapping paper. A lot of the conclusion felt rushed, like Mafi didn't quite have enough time to flesh things out as she wanted to so this ending happened.

When I say I'm confused and unsure on how I feel about this book, I really mean it. I loved it but at the same time, I'm not quite satisfied with what I read. This final book had so much potential to go sky high but really, all it did was was sizzle out. The first two will remain one of my favourite reads but I'm not sure where Ignite Me will land when I have digested everything.



Monday, 10 February 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Troop by Nick Cutter (Q&A)

THE TROOP by Nick Cutter

Once a year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected . . . or one another. - 

Thank you for stopping by Mr. Cutter! I hope you're well.

1. What was your favourite book as a child?

Where The Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. It was a real heartbreaker, and still does a number on me to this day.

2. What inspired you to write The Troop? 

I’d written another novel just before starting The Troop, which dealt with two characters as boys. I liked writing that part of the novel, and wanted to write about boys at that age again.

3. Where were you when the idea of The Troop hit you?

I was at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and they had an exhibit on WATER. How we use it as a species, how it’s used around the world … and the things that live in it. There was a tiny little area set off one side of the sprawling exhibit, a dark little room with a video tape running on a loop. A doctor talking about the little creatures who take the villain role in this book … one of those roles, anyway. I was fascinated. That was the novel in its germination.

4. Other than writing, what do you like to do?

You know, judging by the reaction to this book that some readers have had, you’d think I spent my downtime murdering hobos and tossing old people down rickety flights of stairs! And while I do enjoy doing both those things, primarily I spend time with my family, play basketball a few times a week, and read a lot. And sure, sometimes on a rainy Sunday we might murder a hobo as a family—but that’s a little something called BONDING.

5. What are you currently reading?

SHARP OBJECTS, by Gillian Flynn. I, like a billion-squillion other people, was rocked to the core by GONE GIRL, so I’m going back and reading her earlier books. This one may not be quite the same as GONE GIRL, for my money at least, but it’s a helluva good book regardless.

Thank you Simon&Schuster for having me part of the tour!!!!

Friday, 7 February 2014

ARC REVIEW: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Pub. Date: February 4th 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 560
Readership: Young adult
Genres: science-fiction, dystopia

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.  
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.  
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.  
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Ok guys. Cress. It is finally here. The question I have is how the heck am I going to do this review without a) fangirling my butt off and b) not spoiling. That being said this review is either going to be really short or really long depending on how much I try to NOT spoil and to NOT flail.

I'm going to start off simple: Cress is a thrill ride. Seriously. There was not one moment of down time. There was not one moment where there was something amazeballs happening that had to do with the plot. Everything was fastpaced but not so much so that it was a whirlwind and you couldn't get a grasp at what was going on.

All of the old favorites are back. Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, Throne, Prince Kai, Iko and Queen Levana just to name a handful. The favourites honestly remained favourites for me throughout but I will say, as much as I loved Throne in Scarlet, I think he shot to my number one by the end of Cress. Honestly, I think he's close to number one in my all time favourite YA dudes list. He's smooth, he's charming, he's clever, he's gorgeous and above all, he is fantastically written. The journey he goes on through the book is one that I want to applaud Marissa for. He has his flaws but hell, he is just so damn good. Scarlet's journey is a tough one to sit through. Not because it's so bad it's cringeworthy, but because it's so damn sad. The girl has been through so much already but Marissa really put her through the ringer in this one. Levana remains as evil as ever, Cinder as badass as ever and Wolf as.... well... as Wolfy as ever. I can't even get started on how great Iko is because then I won't stop and that will spoil the whole thing!

Cress as a character is everything I hoped she'd be and more. She is shy, brave, a little awkward but by the end she really finds her ground. I was also overjoyed with the references and easter eggs to the original fairytale. Cress was so well written that she felt real. I saw so many of myself in her and so many bits of people I know. That is the amazing thing about Marissa's writing: even though it's such a futuristing, sci-fi tale, she makes it all seem so possible. She makes it feel as if these are people you know or people you could run into on the street.

Cress is an intricately woven thrill ride that will make the reader want to flip right back to page one and start all over again once they're finished. Fans of the series will be thrilled with the third instalment. Personally, it is my favourite so far. There is just so much that I want to re-read it and then re-read it again to fall in love with everything for second and third times. Cress did not disappoint.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing an ARC for review!!!


Thursday, 16 January 2014

ARC REVIEW: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Pub. Date: January 21st 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 432
Readership: Young adult
Genres: science-fiction

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.  
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.  
Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Sci-fi!! I love the genre but I don't read nearly enough of it. I heard of Avalon a while ago and immediately put it on my wishlist. I was lucky enough to receive and ARC and I tore right through it.

I'm going to start with what I like. Everything!! Okay, that's a bit of a fib. There are a couple of things I was iffy on but I really, thoroughly enjoyed the plot. I loved the beginning where we were getting to know everyone and immediately we see them in a job. It was light, it was fun and it was exactly how I thought things were going to start. The pacing took off after that, weaving wonderfully together. There were twists along the way that made me go "hey, whoa!" which I enjoyed because I love being taken by surprise in books. Most of the time I can guess what a twist will be and that's no fun. I'm glad to say that was not the case with Avalon. 

Then there's the crew. I can honestly say I liked them all. I was a little bit unsure of Jeth in the beginning because I thought he was a bit of an obnoxious ass, but I really grew to like him. I have to say by the end I really felt for Jeth and all that he's been through currently in the book and in his past. The rest of the crew was also fantastic. I loved their dynamic.

Now let's get to the things I wasn't quite sold on. First of all, the world building wasn't on par with what I thought it should be for a sci-fi of its nature. Avalon is a super sci-fi novel set in space on all sorts of planets in all sorts of spacey-goodness. You'd think there'd be all sorts of intricate planets and aliens and very non-humans but I felt that we really didn't get that feel. That's not to say it wasn't good, I just thought it could be done a little better. I'd also would have like to known a little bit more about "First-Earth" and how they came to finally travel in space and colonize even if the book is set hundreds of years in the future.

There was also use of a certain word that really bothered me. I also know a lot of other folks who are bothered by it. Now, I won't say the word is in hopes that it has since edited out since I read an ARC. All I know was that the times it was used I cringed and had to put down the book for a bit. I just can't see why anyone, even if it is fiction, would need to use the word. It's not even used today much anymore due to the obvious stigma and offence.

All in all I really enjoyed Avalon and I would recommend it to any sci-fi fan! Especially if they're a fan of the television show Firefly. All I know is the entire time I was reading Avalon, all I wanted to do was rewatch Firefly for the 10000000th time!

An ARC was provided by HarperCollins Canada for review - thank you!!!