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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead

Publisher: Razorbill
Published: August 16, 2007
Pages: 332
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 Stars

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

In short: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead ain't nothing special.
Vampire Academy is the kind of book that, had I read it as a young teen, I would have loved it. Unfortunately, I feel like my tastes have changed greatly and have perhaps matured beyond what Vampire Academy had to offer me. It doesn't help that at this point, the market has become way over-saturated with teen paranormal romance and - even if Vampire Academy was actually at the beginning of that trend - me reading it so late in the game didn't do it any favours, as it came across as incredibly cliched and overdone.

I will say though that I was quite impressed with Richelle Mead's take on vampires and the guardian system, as it was completely new to me. I always say that I am burnt out on vampires and am entirely bored by how repetitive vampire mythology seems to be these days, but Richelle Mead has created an entirely original concept and a very intriguing one, at that. That's not to say that the set-up of the concept was executed well though: the first section of Vampire Academy was info-dump-central and not at all subtle.

Actually, I was all around disappointed with the amateurish writing and execution of the plot. The exposition was clumsy and the plot was largely fruitless. Here we have a really cool concept and the introduction to these intriguing Strigoi beings. And for what? Almost the entirety of the story was spent on high school drama with characters I could not care less about. I can only assume the sequels will introduce story lines that are more directed and less trivial, but Vampire Academy left much to be desired, with only the very ending piquing my interest.

And I'm afraid I wasn't entirely taken with Rose's character. I found her a bit too obnoxious to be likeable. I do at least appreciate that she wasn't your typical clumsy and modest paranormal romance heroine though. And I have a feeling Rose will grow on me more and more as the books progress. And the romance: now THAT is the one thing in which I can totally understand the squeals and swoons of readers. It excites me to think about how that enticing chemistry between Rose and Dimitry is going to play out.

So overall, Vampire Academy ain't nothing special. But I had been warned by several people that that would be the case, so I wasn't disappointed. As I understand it, it is the sequels to Vampire Academy that really shine, so never fear: I will be reading them all! If nothing else, Vampire Academy was a somewhat entertaining read, despite its amateurish writing, poor execution, and trivial plot.

The trailer was released recently! What do you think?

Other Reviews:
Alison Can Read
The Perpetual Page-Turner
Vamps, Weres, and Cassay

Author Links:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Published: June 18, 2013
Pages: 330
Source: For Review from Strange Chemistry/NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 Stars

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword and their wits. But Naji has unseen enemies, and Ananna must face the wrath of the Pirate Confederation.
Together, they must travel afar, defeat their foes and break the mother of all curses. With all this going on, falling in love would be such a bad idea... All of this and much, much more await, in the swashbuckling sequel to The Assassin's Curse.

In short: While The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke wasn't quite as engaging as The Assassin's Curse, it's still a worthwhile story with charming characters.
I am a total mood reader and sometimes I wonder if the reason I loved The Assassin's Curse so much is because I was just in the absolute perfect mood for it when I read it. I completely devoured that book and I just loved the characters and the engaging romance. It was absolutely engrossing. The Pirate's Wish, however? Not so much engrossing. But then, at the moment I am incredibly stressed with a lot going on in my life, so I have to imagine I would have like it better if I had read it at another time. However, I did definitely have some issues with The Pirate's Wish that I think I would have had regardless of my mood.

In The Assassin's Curse, I was OBSESSED with Ananna and Naji's burgeoning romance. It was just oh-so-swoony, but also entirely frustrating in a good, addicting way. But I found that the spark had faded in The Pirate's Wish and that their frustrating-but-fun romantic tension had become more frustrating and annoying. There was just a ridiculous amount of tired romantic drama that seemed so silly and unnecessary to me. The romantic tension and drama in The Assassin's Curse was delicious; the romantic drama in The Pirate's Wish was overwrought.

The conclusion to the story was definitely anti-climactic, as well. Things seemed to have been set up so well at the end of The Assassin's Curse to make way for a truly exciting and epic sequel. But what we got in The Pirate's Wish was a meandering plot and way too easy answers. My expectations of finales is that they should go out with a bang, but the conclusion of The Pirate's Wish was resolved way too easily. And not only was it too easy, but the final resolution was just plain absurd to me, and completely illogical to my left-brained mind.

Okay, okay, I should talk about all the good stuff now, lest anyone think I disliked The Pirate's Wish. I did enjoy it on the whole, after all. It's hard not to enjoy Cassandra Rose Clarke's incredibly easy-to-read writing style and lovable characters. I still love head-strong and sometimes vulnerable Ananna. And of course I loved the manticore - who really ought to get her own story, I think. There were also some pretty noteworthy pirate ship battle scenes that were amazingly well done and exciting. Overall, The Pirate's Wish wasn't as good as its predecessor due to the overwrought romantic drama and the anti-climactic conclusion, but it was still a fairly worthwhile story helped along by Cassandra Rose Clarke's charming characters.

Previously, my review of The Assassin's Curse.

Other Reviews:
The Daily Prophecy
My Precious
Small Review

Author Links:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Hachette Fall 2013 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Hachette Fall 2013 Catalog:

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
Date: October 1, 2013
Add to Goodreads

I never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.
When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.
Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Unbreakable is described as "Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code" and that sounds like a really interesting combination to me. I am also eager to see how Kami Garcia does writing on her own after writing with her coauthor, Margaret Stohl, for so many years.

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Date: October 22, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.
In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

I have never read a book with a premise like Reality Boy, so that's a major draw. I am also well aware that A.S. King has a ton of fans who rave about her books and writing; someday I will have to see what all the fuss is about!

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Date: November 5, 2013
Add to Goodreads

Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests?
Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy (won't Mumsy be surprised?). Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.
Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

I had so much fun with the first book in the Finishing School series, Etiquette & Espionage. Gail Carriger's humour and whimsical tone were just perfect and it was an absolute delight to read, so I'm very excited to read Curtsies & Conspiracies!

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Date: December 10, 2013
Add to Goodreads

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.
Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

DAT COVER. But also, sci fi - YAY! I'm happy that it seems as though sci fi is becoming more and more accessible to a majority of readers who used to think it was uninteresting and complicated. I really hope These Broken Stars lives up to my high expectations!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Hachette Fall 2013 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Hachette Fall 2013 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Blog Design!

So, my life isn't the only thing undergoing a major change - my blog design has had a makeover, too, thanks to KD Designs!

I decided to go with Katie partly because she was one of the most affordable designers that I could find, but mainly because I really liked the bright, whimsical designs and graphics I saw in her portfolio. I was a bit nervous about letting someone else take over my baby as I can sometimes be quite particular, but Katie made it as stress-free as possible. I am honestly so impressed that she managed to take my very vague directions and somehow create something that is even more perfect than I could have imagined! I feel like it suits my blog's concept and myself, completely.

I do still like my old blog design. I mean, I slaved over that thing with the VERY limited design skills I have and I actually kind of liked how amateurish and juvenile it looked because I felt that suited me and the fact that I don't take my blogging too seriously. But I really just needed a change. I was bored with it and did not have the time or creativity to come up with something new myself, so I decided to hire someone. And with how easy and cheap the process was, it was SO worth it!

So let me know what you think, please! I would love to know. I still have a few tidbits to work out in the sidebar, but it's mostly done. Also let me know if everything is loading properly and quickly on your monitors and such. Thank you!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: August 13, 2013
Pages: 288
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 4 Stars

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.
Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.
But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In short: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick may not be an easy or pleasant read, but it’s an important one with a vital message.
Look, I read another contemporary book! Like, the fifth one I’ve read so far this year, which may not sound so impressive, but I’m at least pleased with myself because this genre isn’t my forte. It’s also of a subject matter that is much darker than I’m used to. Leonard Peacock is tired of feeling so helpless and irrelevant and so ready to be done with life that he plans to kill himself - and his ex-best friend who ruined his life - on his birthday. For him, it is the best birthday present ever.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was not an easy read, nor was it very pleasant to read at all. I found it at times to be disturbingly relatable, which made me a bit uncomfortable (not that I ever have or would consider the steps Leonard plans to take to off himself and his ex-best friend). But even though it wasn’t a pleasant read, I can fully acknowledge that it is absolutely an important one with a vital message.

I alternated between feeling frustrated with Leonard that he feels this is the only way out for him and feeling truly empathetic for his feelings of loneliness and alienation as a result of bullying. I’ve been there and it’s the worst, but a murder-suicide is not the way to go obviously and it was frustrating to me that he couldn’t understand that, despite having an amazing mentor. Overall though, I honestly liked him; I thought he was an interesting, intelligent, and thoughtful person and I would love to be his friend.

The only thing that I wasn’t too keen on was the lack of closure in the ending. I’m someone who likes very complete and exact endings, so I really wanted to see how the stories for each of the characters ended, but found it lacking. This shouldn’t bother people who are okay with more open endings though. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was my first book by Matthew Quick and I was incredibly impressed with his intelligent and unique writing style, as well as his genuine characterization.

Other Reviews:
i swim for oceans
More Than Just Magic
My Precious

Author Links:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two Major Life Changes... And What It Means For The Blog

Two major life changes are coming my way and so I thought I would talk a bit about what this means for my blog as it will likely affect my blogging and reading quite a bit.

Firstly, I'm moving 3,000 km across the country to Toronto. I'll be basically starting over because there are a lot of things (both person- and object-wise) that I need to leave behind. I'm really nervous about it because I've only ever lived in one city my entire life and I don't really know anyone in Toronto. But hey, it'll be an adventure, right? And maybe it'll be good for me to break outside my comfort zone a bit, discover myself or whatever. But that doesn't mean I'm not terrified.

Sadly, this means that I will be leaving behind the Edmonton Book Bloggers. The year that I've known them has been really great as I've never before had really bookish friends - people you can chat with about books for hours on end and they never tell you to shut it. Those are my kind of people! I will miss them greatly. On the bright side, moving to Ontario will afford me the opportunity to meet new book bloggers from the Ontario Blog Squad. I'm really excited to hopefully meet Ontario bloggers I have been chatting to online for years - Zahida, Christa, Andrea, Avery, Liz. Any other Ontario bloggers? Give me a shout!

Study specimen Captorhinus aguti - an early terrestrial amniote from about 280 Million Years Ago
The second major life change is the reason I'm moving to Toronto: I'm going back to school to get my master's degree in palaeontology. I've really enjoyed these past two years I've taken off from school after completing my undergraduate degree as it has meant much more time to read and blog and relax, but I'm ready now to take on the next chapter in my life.

Now, this is where things get tricky for the blog. I don't know exactly what to expect from grad school, but I do know that I will somehow have to balance attending classes, studying for classes, researching my thesis, writing my thesis, teaching classes, marking papers, and somehow make time to read and blog in all that. So. Yeah. Did I mention how terrified I am??

My goal is to maintain at least two blog posts a week and I'm really hoping that's not overly optimistic, but I really can't say. All I can say for sure is that this is NOT the end of blogging for me. I still love it a lot and I really can't even imagine my life without it. (Same goes for reading, obviously). I'll still be around, even if it might mean blogging and commenting less, unfortunately. But you can always find me on one of the various social networking sites I take part in (see sidebar) - hit me up anytime!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Muggle Monday: The Last of the Newly Redesigned Harry Potter Covers (Plus Artwork for Back Covers and Box Set)!

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

There have been a few more photos released for the new US Editions of the Harry Potter series - as illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi - since I last posted about them. And of course, I NEED to share even if you all have probably already seen them by now!:

New 15th Anniversary US Editions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
I think I've run out of ways to say how much I adore these new covers illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi. But yeah, you get the drift - I FREAKING LOVE THEM! (Again, not that I think anything could replace the nostalgia I feel for my old covers). I honestly don't even have a favourite; does anyone? Let me know in the comments!

But that's not all - NOPE, that's not all! Scholastic also recently released the back cover art for all of the new covers, as well as the art for the new box set:

New Back Cover and Box Set Artwork from the 15th Anniversary US Editions:
(Side note: Lupin's moustache amuses me GREATLY)
(Side note: I find the Hogwarts as seen in the movies has completely taken over my image of what Hogwarts looks like in my head, and therefore looks nothing like the Hogwarts seen above, which looks sort of Asian inspired)
So I know I swore that I would not buy another edition of the books to have on my shelves, but I mean REALLY. How am I supposed to resist such pretteh-ness?? My practiced restraint is slipping FAST. QUOTES. Truly iconic ones from each of the books on the back covers. Perfection. And SO tempting. Darn you, Scholastic! As if I have the money and space to spare. Sigh...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stacking The Shelves (13): Three Months In The Making

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase any books that I have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won to read.

Soooo, it's been three months since I've done a book haul post! So there's quite a lot to share. But unfortunately no vlog. I've been so busy with packing and moving and studying that I never found the time to do another vlog in the past three months and that makes me sad. Hopefully I'll be able to do one again at some point, but maybe not anytime soon, sadly.

So, without further ado, my book haul for the past THREE MONTHS!:

For Review

Vortex by S.J. Kincaid (Thanks to HarperCollins Canada! | My Review)
Asylum by Madeleine Roux (Thanks to HarperCollins Canada!)
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada! | My Review)
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Thanks to HBG Canada!)
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
This Wicked Game by Michelle Zink (Thanks to Penguin Canada!)
Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron (Thanks to Penguin Canada!)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Thanks to Candlewick Press and NetGalley! | My Review)
More Than This by Patrick Ness (Thanks to Candlewick Press and NetGalley!)
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Thanks to Bloomsbury and NetGalley! | My Review)
Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson (Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss!)
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss!)
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss!)


The Iron Fey Trilogy by Julie Kagawa
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (My Review)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (My Review)
Blood Red Road by Moira Young (My Review)
The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling (My Review)


Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Thanks to Liz of Planet Print! | My Review)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Thanks to Lisa of Little Miss Trainwreck!)
Arclight by Josin McQuein (Thanks to Lisa of Little Miss Trainwreck!)