February 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fire Wish, Conversion, and Kiss Kill Vanish

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

"A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

Stories involving wishes always have the potential to be plenty of fun...as is a Freaky Friday–style switcheroo!

Conversion by Katherine Howe

"From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Not too many YA books involve conversion disorder, so that's a neat idea. Add in the Salem witch trials and the fact that it's "inspired by true events" and this book sounds like it has the potential to be fascinating (if bizarre!) Plus that cover is both striking and kind of unsettling...

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

"Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth."

I've read two of Jessica Martinez's other books and enjoyed both of them. This one sounds like it's in a bit of a different vein from her previous books — a thriller rather than a straight-up contemporary. Love that powerful pop of colour in the cover!

What books are you waiting for?

January 12, 2014

The Woman in Black: A Snapshot (Adult)

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

"Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a pale young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose." (from Goodreads)

The subject:
a house shrouded in mystery and whispers, and a town scared to death of its secrets.

The setting: England, more specifically Crythin Gifford, most specifically Eel Marsh House. Not sure of the exact year but it had an early 1900s feel to it. (They were using both pony-and-traps and motor cars, after all.) The atmosphere the author instills in her descriptions, particularly those of the marsh and the foreboding house, was by far one of my favourite aspects of this book.
Ghost stories thrive on cultivating the right mood, and Susan Hill excels at that. I could see the desolate scene she paints clearly in my mind's-eye.
Shutter speed: slow, but that suits the nature of the story. (And it's a short book, anyway.)

What's in the background?
A whole lot of unanswered questions relating to the backstory of some of the characters. The narrator Arthur Kipps is telling his own ghost story, so we get it entirely from his perspective...and we don't ever really find out what the ghost has to say on the matter.

Zoom in on: Spider, the adorable little dog that Arthur befriends. I hate most spiders, but I loved this one.

Anything out of focus?
While there's certainly an unsettling element to the situation Arthur finds himself in, the whole supernatural side of things isn't all that scary, really. And the mystery behind the haunted house is hardly surprising; I'm not sure if it was intended to be. Given all the clues leading up to it, the "reveal" is not really a reveal as much as it is a straightforward and more thorough explanation. The ending, though – now that gives the reader more of a sickening jolt.

I did find the end rather abrupt; I thought it would spend more time wrapping up, coming full-circle back to Arthur and his family in the present day.

Ready? Say... "Shhhh...did you hear that?"

4 shooting stars. For readers who like their ghost stories free from violence and gore, but not free from a spooky setting, some supernatural creepiness, and a fantastically spot-on early-1900's-British tone and writing style (even though this book was actually published in 1983).

January 5, 2014

The Book Lode (19) – Books I Got For Christmas!


Outpost by Ann Aguirre
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Thanks very much to my parents for these!

Reviews of books mentioned in the vlog: Enclave by Ann Aguirre and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty


December 30, 2013

2013 End-of-the-Year Book Survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist) - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.EjAQF2gN.dpuf
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist) - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.EjAQF2gN.dpuf
1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist) - See more at: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/category/end-of-year-book-survey#sthash.EjAQF2gN.dpuf

I read a pathetic number of books this year — grad school pretty much took over my life when September rolled around — so I'm not doing the entire end-of-the-year bookish survey that Jamie at The Perpetual Page-turner hosts each year (my responses would probably get really repetitive). But I did want to give a bit of a summary of my reading this year, so I've answered some of the questions!

1.) Best book you read in 2013? (if you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

YA — The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron for pure entertainment value and The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna for thought-provoking goodness

Adult — The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton for excellent historical atmosphere and an unsettling main character

Non-fiction — Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for a horrifying but unputdownable true story

2.) Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This one got so many glowing reviews and while it wasn't a bad read, I expected more from it than I actually got. It used some common tropes of the genre and the writing was not as amazing as I thought it would be. I think I'll still continue on with the series but I'll know better now what to expect. (To be fair to the book, I was trying to read it during my first term in my Master's program and I didn't really have the time or energy to devote to reading for pleasure, unfortunately, so it was very slow going.)

3.) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron — this one was labelled as "steampunk", and I haven't yet read any steampunk books that I'm wild about. But really this one was way more Gothic than steampunk and I ended up enjoying it more than I anticipated.

4.) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Hmmm...well, hands-down the series I recommended most was the Hunger Games (especially Catching Fire, of course) but I didn't read those this year. So I guess I'll go with Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.

5.) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness.

6.) Most memorable character in 2013?

Dolly from The Secret Keeper — she was pretty darn twisted — and Matthew from The Lost Girl for sheer swagger. Minka from The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult for her perseverance. Also, winning the award for Most Irritating Fictional Sibling of the Year: Bird from Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull. I could not stand that girl.

7.) Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to someone about it? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and, if non-fiction counts, then Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments by Gina Perry.

8.) Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?

Romance: Samuel and Gretchen from Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, Gwen and Gideon from Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier, Eva and Sean from The Lost Girl

Friendship-with-a-spark: Vivien and Jimmy from The Secret Keeper

Stepdad-stepdaughter relationship: Frank and Rinn from The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

9.) Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you've read previously?

Probably either Insurgent, Emerald Green, or The Secret Keeper.

10.) Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on the recommendation of somebody else?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I put this one on my Christmas wishlist last year at least in part because of the reviews/ratings I'd seen by bloggers I follow.

11.) Genre you read most from in 2013?

Probably fantasy/paranormal YA, although there was also a healthy dose of dystopian reads.

12.) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

This choice might seem a bit strange, but...Matthew from The Lost Girl. Yes, he's sort of a villain, but he just had so much personality and sass.


13.) Most vivid world/imagery you read in a book in 2013?

The WWII setting in The Secret Keeper, the Gothic feel of The Dark Unwinding, and the bizarre, fantastical world of Summer and Bird. Also, the creepy atmosphere in Laura Bickle's The Hallowed Ones. 

14.) Book that was the most fun to read in 2013? 

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell — this book is hilarious.

Looking Ahead...

1.) One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?

Um, there are a ton of these, can't single out just one...

- A Fault in Our Stars by John Green (no, I have not read it yet; yes, I am aware of its awe-inspiring amazingness; hopefully I will get to it next year, especially since the movie's coming out)
- Reached by Ally Condie (yeah, I know I'm way behind on dystopian series)
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth (ditto)
- Nightspell by Leah Cypess (sooner or later it will get read, I swear)
- A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty (a new Jaclyn Moriarty and I haven't read it yet?! I know, I know...)
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy fans, is this spin-off series equally good? Let me know!)

2.) Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess looks and sounds awesome — I really enjoyed her book Mistwood. Also, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski has been generating a lot of buzz already, hopefully it lives up to all the hype!

3.) 2014 debut you are most anticipating?

Well, I'm on the Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge train just like everyone else. But aside from that one... I'm definitely looking forward to The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno. Dissociative identity disorder in a YA mystery? Sign me up.

What books were your favourites of 2013, and which are you looking forward to reading next year? And if you'd like to do this survey, you can link up your post at Jamie's blog here!

December 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: A Girl Called Fearless, A Mad, Wicked Folly, and The Half Life of Molly Pierce

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

I haven't done a Waiting on Wednesday post since... June! It has been far too long. Which is why I am joining in today and bringing you THREE books I'm looking forward to.

A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

"Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl's life is these days.  After a synthetic hormone in beef killed 50 million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, which was begun to “protect” young women, is taking over all the choices they make.

Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she's also dreaming about college and love and what she'll make of her life.  But when her dad contracts her to marry a rich, older man to raise the money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices:  be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run.  Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom over the border to Canada.  He's always believed she's fearless and will help her escape if she's willing.  As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder.  Running away is incredibly dangerous and it's possible she'll never see Yates again.  But staying could mean death.

Romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS is a speculative thriller about fighting for the most important things in life--freedom and love.

Not sure how scientifically viable this world is — I hope the author's done her research — but it sounds different from most of the dystopian YA offerings out there! Also, props to the author for bringing Canada into it. Apparently we are the country everyone wants to flee to :D

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

"Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I'm still waiting for a Downton Abbey-esque YA read to wow me (I didn't manage to get through Wentworth Hall — the writing really needed some more work, and at least another round of editing would have been helpful). Maybe this'll be the one!

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno

"A mysterious and visceral page-turner about a seventeen-year-old girl who unravels the secrets of her alternate personality, reminiscent of the film Memento.

You live and you remember.
Me, I live and I forget.
But now-now I am remembering.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she's missed bits and pieces of her life. Molly suffers from dissociative identity disorder, and since she was a little girl, she's played host to Mabel, a completely separate and individual personality. When Mabel is in control, Molly experiences the blackouts she's been so scared of. But now Mabel is letting Molly in on her secrets; she's letting Molly remember. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led...and the love that she can't let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.

I have high hopes for this one — dissociative identity disorder isn't touched upon all that much in YA (at least in comparison with other mental health issues like depression). DID is quite rare but it's also one of the most fascinating psychological disorders, at least in my opinion. I'm interested to see how the author presents it here. *crosses fingers that the psychological information is accurate*

What books are you waiting for?

Also, if you have a chance, please stop by my Help Me Get Back in the Loop post and share with me your bookish recommendations! :)

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