Tuesday, 10 February 2015

ARC Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Pub. Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Readership: Young adult
Genres: contemporary

There's death all around us. We just don't pay attention. Until we do.  
The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.  
Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.  
As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.  
Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Heartbreaking. Authentic. These worlds immediately sprung to mind the second I finished The Last Time We Say Goodbye. I absolutely loved Cynthia’s Unearthly series so I had a feeling that I would love this book too. And yeah, I did. More than I loved Unearthly, even.

Lex’s brother died. He committed suicide and it turned Lex’s world upside down as it would anyone. Before she had her family together, a boyfriend, and like the synopsis said, friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment. 

First, let me start with the writing. It was beautiful, absolutely. I loved that we were able to see Lex’s present but also what lead up to Ty’s death. We got to know Ty - through Lex’s journal that her therapist told her to write in - to see him and what he went through and what led to his suicide. While I don’t personally know anyone who has committed suicide, I know people with mental health issues and who have attempted. I know what it’s like to have depression and I know how hard it is to get through it sometimes. Cynthia captured it perfectly: the turmoil of the person that committed suicide themselves and the lives of those left behind. 

Lex’s pain and grief jumped out of the page at me, it felt so raw and so real. She blamed herself. She couldn’t cry, she couldn’t let it out, because no one knew just how deep her pain and blame went. She feels like she’s going crazy because she keeps seeing Ty everywhere, what she thinks is his ghost, and she begins to fracture even more. That is such a real thing, such a normal thing, but she can’t believe that and thinks she’s losing it.

I loved seeing Lex’s friends. All of their reactions are so normal to a death by suicide. They see their friend fragile too, like at any moment Lex could break so they treat her with a tender touch but Lex doesn’t see it that way. This is so normal, for anyone who knows someone that died. They don’t know how to react and all of Lex’s friends reactions in the book are so normal.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a book that is going to stay with me. It’s one of those reads that I’ll carry around with me and think about from time to time. It’s as much haunting as it is beautiful. It is about grief and loss and learning to accept it. It is about moving on as much as it is about mental illness and suicide. It was so, so good. 

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


Monday, 2 February 2015

REVIEW: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Pub. Date: January 27th 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 222
Readership: Young adult
Genres: sci-fi

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.  
Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest of them all?  
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Wow. I admit, at first I was a little pressed that Winter wasn’t going to come out until Fall 2015 instead of, well, winter. However, then the news of Fairest was released and I admit, I was intrigued. A Levana origin story… I love me a good villain origin story. I was sure that Fairest would make the wait for winter worth it. 

And it did!

I have always loved Levana in the way that I loved Maleficent and Te Red Queen: they were great, creepy, fantastic villains. They may be bad but damn, they do it so well. 

I love that we got to see Channary. I love that we got to see how Levana was more than just a product of her upbringing. It was chemical. It was both. I loved that we got more of Winter and Cinder’s upbringing and past. 

Marissa was brilliant in that she weaved in what could have potentially been difficult into Levana’s origin: understanding. Not acceptance of the horrible things that Levana was done but an understanding as to why she did what she did and why she is doing what she’s doing. That is not something that is easy to do but Marissa did it perfectly. 

She was also able to make the dislike and resentment of Levana grow more than ever before. Because Evret. Oh, poor sweet Evret the world did you wrong. I loved learning about him and seeing his life unfold, even through the bad. 

Levana became more of a monster than she ever had been and I loved it. It definitely made the wait 
for Winter worth it.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing an copy for review!!! Follow @raincoastbooks on twitter and HarperCollinsCanada on Facebook!* 


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

ARC REVIEW: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Pub. Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 432
Readership: Young adult
Genres: high fantasy

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.  
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.  
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Snow Like Ashes is a lot like the books I've been reading lately: high fantasy, filled with magic and a war beyond the protagonists power. Basically, I had to read this book. I was thrilled when I received an ARC through HCCFrenzy but I put off reading it for just a little bit because I was so inundated with other books.

I picked it up one night after a long day of classes and got through the first 50 pages easily. But I wasn't sure how I liked it just yet. Meira felt a little flat and puppety in the sense that I really wasn't sure why she was doing what she doing. She felt like a two dimensional damsel that's trying to be a soldier but falling short and just kind of flopping around on the pages with no real zeal, doing things that the others wanted her to do. I felt like this for the next 50 pages as well. Usually if I'm not sure about a book one hundred pages in, I call it a day and throw in the towel. However, I was fascinated with the magic of the world and the eight different kingdoms. Eight! Each were unique unto themselves, not just the fact that four of them had the same season all year round. So I kept going and wow, I am glad I did.

I don't know what it was exactly, but after about the first hundred pages, things really turned around. New characters were being introduced that I immediately liked and the ball was really rolling for the band of refugees. I suddenly went from being indifferent to the novel to not being able to put it down, so much so that I... didn't sleep much until I finished the book. Again, this has never happened before. Like, ever.

I think part of what had me initially weary on the book was the "romance" between Mather and Meira. It just felt like nothing. It felt stale and forced and I wanted nothing to do with it but then, since I got through those first hundred pages, everything turned around and it all became clear.

That said, I loved all of the characters. Even evil as all heck Angra was someone I enjoyed reading. Theron though, was by far my favourite. I fell for him the moment he appeared and wished he was in it way more. I wish we got to see the rest of the Winter refugees more and got to know them outside of Meira, Mather and Sir. I hope we get to in the next book.

Overall, I really enjoyed Snow Like Ashes and I am excited to see how the story progresses in the next book!

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


Monday, 6 October 2014

GIVEAWAY! Fall Release Giveaway.

Hey lovelies! It's been a while since I've held a giveaway so I thought I would hold one for fall releases since fall is my favourite time of the year.

Below are some options that you can choose from but should you win, you can pick any book that's been released this fall.

  • The giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as the Book Depository ships to you. 
  • Ends December 2nd 2014 
  • I will contact the winner immediately after I've chosen them and they have 48 hours to reply or I will choose another winner

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!

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


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.

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


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.

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