Monday, 30 January 2017

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel


 Series: Gone With the Respiration
Author: Lia Habel
Page Count: 470
Published: October 18th, 2011
Publisher: Del Rey
  4 Stars ★★★★

In 2195, Nora is living in New Victoria, a place that models it's values and social norms from the Victorian era, but is far ahead in terms of technology. When she returns home from school for the break, she finds herself attacked by a group of zombies, and saved by another group of them as well. Within this group is Bram, an undead soldier from the Punks, the enemy of New Victoria.

Amongst political unrest and savage zombies, Nora is surprised to find herself trusting Bram and the others dealing with 'The Laz'; the virus that causes the dead to rise. Along with her determination to get to the bottom of what's really going on in New Victoria, she will face uncomfortable and surprising truths about her family and her homeland. But will they be able to defeat an opposing zombie army before New Victoria is entirely infected?

I've only read a handful of books including zombies so I was unsure what to expect going into this one. I can say that this book really blew my mind and was almost flawless! Despite it's nearly 500 page count, I read it in a matter of a few days and I found myself reading it whenever I possibly could. 

The world-building in this book was absolutely incredible. I feel like everything, from the actual city of New Victoria to the problem of 'The Laz' was perfectly thought out and tied together nice and neatly. I found it very easy to understand the society that Nora lived in and to picture the world that she had to navigate every day of her life. This includes settings other than her hometown, including her location when she is rescued by Bram and the others. 

My favourite character was Bram. He was so full of life, despite technically being dead. I found him funny and sweet and I appreciated his tragic background story. He is one of the best male love interests I have ever come across within the YA genre. Nora was a great heroine and I found her to be strong, loyal, and determined. These two characters, and their romance, stuck out to me from many other YA paranormal romances I have read and this made the novel all the more enjoyable. The other zombies that Nora and Bram worked with made for a great cast of characters as well with their humor, tensions and drama. Much drama amongst the humans, for example Nora's friend and her family's situation, was present as well and made for a captivating read altogether. 

My issue with this book was that I found it hard to follow at times. I'd wonder what was going on as occasionally things would seem a bit rushed or scenes jumped a bit too rapidly for me. For example, this book uses several different points of view, and sometimes I felt like one character's chapter would end too abruptly, or wouldn't end with any kind of explanation, which might be good to keep the reader going but I found that it made it hard to concentrate on the following chapters, told by other characters. It got a bit distracting. If this hadn't been an issue, this book definitely would have gotten five stars!

I absolutely recommend this book. While I found it a bit confusing at times it was worth the read and I am really glad that I bought the sequel while it was on sale! I recommend this for fans of YA dystopian books and romance. If you like futuristic books, romance, and zombies, then this combination of all three of these elements is sure to blow you away. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Easy by Tammara Webber


Series: Contours of the Heart
Author: Tammara Webber
Page Count: 336
Published: November 6th, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Berkley
  4 Stars ★★★★

Jacqueline is a student in university, a musician, and dating her long-time boyfriend, Kennedy. That is, until he breaks up with her. When she is attacked at a party by one of Kennedy's friends, she is rescued by Lucas, a tattooed "bad boy" who happens to be in her economics class.

Her friends push her to use Lucas as a rebound hook-up, which happens to be really easy, because it turns out he has feelings for Jacqueline. But the person who attacked her that night isn't giving up on hurting Jacqueline, and Lucas is not as honest as he seems. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book, and it was almost a five star read for me. It was interesting from the start, as the attack and meeting Lucas happens within the first few chapters, and the rest of the plot continues to develop at a steady pace from there. I was certainly never bored. I found the romance between Lucas and Jacqueline sweet yet complicated, with a great evolution from lust to actual genuine feelings for each other. 

However, a few things prevented this book from getting a five star rating from me. First, I didn't like Jacqueline very much. I didn't hate her or anything, but she definitely doesn't fall into my list of favourite characters. I feel like she was kind of judgemental at times, particularly based on peoples' appearances, and while nothing she thought or said seemed outright rude, I just got a really judgemental vibe from some of the stuff that she said. 

I also think that the author failed to portray Lucas as a "bad boy". I'm pretty sure that this was the image she was going for, considering the way that the characters continually refer to Jacqueline's quest to hook up with Lucas as "Operation Bad Boy Phase".  At one point, Jacqueline actually thinks "he was cocky and self-assured" (pg 65). Self-assured, sure. But cocky? I just didn't see that in him.

I feel like the author used stereotypes, such as tattoos and piercings, to try to frame Lucas as some type of rebel or bad boy, but it really didn't work. His actions, aside from keeping secrets and some deceptive behavior, was respectful, flirty, and implied intelligence and artistic talent. Sure, he certainly wasn't perfect, and had his faults. However, he did not, in my opinion, fall into the "bad boy" category. I think that this was a case of trying to develop characterization through "telling" or thoughts, as opposed to the actual actions of the characters, which I really don't like in a book. As for Lucas himself, and the way I perceived him, I actually really liked him. 

In the end, while this was an enjoyable book, it failed to get five stars from me because I didn't exactly like Jacqueline, and Lucas didn't come across as Jacqueline and her friends claimed they perceived him. 

I recommend this book to those who like contemporary romances. If you're into new adult books and aren't sure what to read next, this would be a great choice. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Happy Birthday to Me + Holiday Book Haul

Sooooo it's my birthday!!!!!!!!! I'm 19 today (but though I may be 19, I will always be 15 inside, to be honest). Because my birthday and Christmas/Yule are so close together, I got a LOT of gift cards to bookstores in these few weeks. This year's holiday book haul was massive, the biggest haul I have ever done! So, I thought that in celebration of my birthday, I'd share it (show it off!) with all of you.

I got....

Book Outlet
Armageddon Outta Here
Desires of the Dead
Symptoms of Being Human
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die
Black Ice
The Creeping
Visions (Crash, Bang, Gasp)

The Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire
Still Waters
The Alchemy of Forever
Demon Road
Red Queen
The Killing Woods
Throne of Glass

Total Items: 21
Total Books (including all books in bound omnibus): 23

So, I bought 21 bound books (or 23 novels including the books in the Visions omnibus) within a few weeks, all from money given to me for Christmas/Yule/my birthday! I had to share this with all you awesome book worms! I also wanted to know if any of you have read any of the books that I got? What did you think of them? Are there any that you want to read as well? What was your biggest book haul? I'm excited to read all your comments :)

Picture found here

Monday, 16 January 2017

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton

A Witch in Winter (Winter Trilogy, #1)

Series: Winter Trilogy
Author: Ruth Warburton
Page Count: 346
Published: January 5th, 2012
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
  2.5 Stars ★★

Anna and her father have just moved to Wicker House in a town called Winter. The house is old and needs work, but things become interesting when Anna finds a spell book. She invites her new friends over for the night and they cast a love spell from the book, not expecting anything to happen. Soon after, Seth, a boy at school, dumps his girlfriend....for Anna. 

The spell has actually worked, and Anna isn't sure what to do next. Little does she know that she is actually a true witch herself, and that she has broken rules and over-stepped the bounds that many other witches, both in and out of the little community of Winter, have agreed upon. A love spell may be the least of her worries. 

Unfortunately, I have to say that I am disappointed with this book. I was excited to read it, (as I am usually excited to read most books) but the cover had drawn me in and the synopsis made it sound like this book would either be some kind of paranormal, romantic comedy, or maybe on the creepier side of things. This was neither.

Instead, I got an unbelievable romance with an impulsive heroine. Sure, impulsive characters can be interesting and even likeable, but I didn't really like Anna, so her impulsiveness just seemed annoying. I feel like she was actually really foolish, and again, not in a funny, or a likeable, way. She never seemed to think things through. Overall, she wasn't really a person I would ever hang out with, if she were real. 

Then there was Seth. I think he wasn't a bad character, but he was way too flat. Just calling him a bad boy and saying that he got into a fight or two doesn't tell me enough about his character. I feel like I didn't know him well enough by the end of the book to care about him, or his romance with Anna, for that matter. 

I really didn't care about Anna and Seth's relationship. While Seth was initially enchanted by Anna, even when he is supposedly free of the charm, he is still head over heels for her, and the author tries to pass this off as true love. While there are certainly ways to convince a reader of this, the author failed miserably and I spent the rest of the book hoping that Seth would snap out of it and run away from Anna. Honestly, he ended up in way too much danger for a girl he just met, and who manipulated him through magic, of all things, to have feelings for her! I could understand an attraction, but the author tried painting it as actual love, and after the ridiculous circumstances it just doesn't fit. 

Fortunately, this book did have an interesting concept. The idea of love spells, trying to fix one's mistake, and possibly inciting the wrath of other witches is one that could make a really, really great story! The author's writing style was pleasant, it flowed very well and I could read for long periods of time without getting tired from overly-wordy sections and unnecessary descriptions, as I have with other authors. Unfortunately, the execution of the plot and the characters nearly made this a did-not-finish for me, and I won't be reading the next book in the series. 

If you like books with lots of romance and magic, this is a book you may enjoy. YA readers who like paranormal stories might want to try this one out, if the concept intrigues you.

Friday, 13 January 2017

50/50 Friday - Least Favorite/Favorite Cover

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is least favorite / favorite cover

Least Favorite Cover

 I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1)

So there are a lot of covers that I really, really don't like, so for the purpose of this post, I'm going to be choosing from books that I have already read, to narrow it down a bit. I Am Number Four was actually a really enjoyable book....but that cover. Ugh, its like I'm looking into some kind of weird light bulb? It kind of hurts if I look at it too long. I don't understand how people looked at this cover and thought "yeah, that's an awesome cover!!! Let's definitely use that for our book!" No. Just, no.

Favorite Cover

 Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)

As with the terrible covers, there are so many beautiful covers that I love! So I am choosing one out of the books I have already read. Hush, Hush has such an amazing cover! Everything from the wings, the feathers, and the color scheme is just perfect. I love how it's mostly black and white, but there's a bit of red as well. I love, love, love it! It's not my only favorite cover, but for the sake of this post, I'm going with this one. Because if I shared all the covers that fall under my favorites.....this post would be wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too long.

What do you think about these covers? Does the cover of I Am Number Four hurt your eyes as much as it hurts mine?

Monday, 9 January 2017

Tides by Betsy Cornwell


Series: N/A
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Page Count: 304
Published: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  4 Stars ★★★★

Noah and Lo head to their grandmother's house on an island for the summer. Noah is excited to start his internship at a center for marine biology, and Lo continues to struggle with an eating disorder. When their grandmother's friend reacts strangely to a story about selkies, Noah brushes it off. And then he meets Mara, who happens to be a real life selkie.

Becoming friends with Mara is unexpected, but a positive addition to his summer. His grandmother's friend turns out to be more than a friend, and he hopes that his mentor at the internship will give him a job other than organizing papers for his work. As the summer goes  on, relationships change, and secrets are revealed. No matter the outcome, Noah and Lo will not leave the island the same as they were before.

I knew that I was going to enjoy this book from the very start, from the prologue. The prologue sets the stage for the story, on the islands, the Isles of Shoals, and of course, in the water. The writing style immediately drew me in, with the beautiful description of the setting, that made me long to walk along a beach or lake, to experience the beauty of the water and of islands and bright summer days. This description did not lose its quality, as throughout the novel, the water and islands were once again discussed with great detail, which provided me with amazing visuals as a reader.

The third person narration was a great choice, with multiple perspectives used throughout the book. I think that the use of multiple perspectives brought a lot to the book because it gave the reader glimpses into what was going on in Mara's head, in Lo's thoughts, and in the minds of other characters. It provided insight on what they were struggling with.

Lo and Noah faced different issues, including an eating disorder and the promise of college in the future. However, it was not only the human characters who faced their own problems, as Mara's hopes to lead her "pod" provided a coming-of-age story-line, and her fears over her brother leaving reflected the fears of real people in every day life. Noah's grandmother and her friend, who turns out to be a little something more than a friend, brought up the societal issues and pressures revolving around love and sexuality, which was further explored when their pasts together were explained in detail, which provided some great back story and a background for their own sweet sub-plot.

There was a bit of romance within the book between Noah and Mara. While it seemed genuine and refrained from the addition of a love triangle, it was very predictable. I think that was one of the short comings of this book for me. It was extremely predictable, as I guessed the majority of the events and reveals correctly, which was a bit disappointing.

Overall this was a great read, with beautiful descriptions and a bittersweet ending. I recommend this to those looking for books which explore real-life issues while including paranormal or fantasy creatures. If you're interested in young adult novels that take place on islands or near beaches, this is a great pick for you.

Find Tides on Goodreads

Friday, 6 January 2017

50/50 Friday - Character Most/Least Like Yourself

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is character most / least like yourself

Character Most Like Myself

Nevermore (Nevermore, #1)

I'm going to have to say, Varen from Nevermore, for a few reasons. Number one, our style. I love Gothic stuff, and although right now I can't afford all the awesome Goth clothing I want, if I could afford it, I'd literally dress exactly like him. Number two, we both seem to have a history of being judged or misunderstood, partially due to our appearances (the whole all black clothes thing). Third, we both have family issues that kind of haunt us. And lastly, I like to think that I may someday be able to achieve being as swoon-worthy as Varen himself *winks* 

Character Least Like Myself

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)

Saba from Blood Red Road is nothing like me at all. She was more of the fighter type, really tough, less emotional. Just the thought of having to do the things that she did and live in the places that she lived makes me cringe. We truly are nothing alike at all. 

What characters are most and least like yourself?


Monday, 2 January 2017

Ward Against Death by Melanie Card

Ward Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer, #1)

 Series: Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer
Author: Melanie Card
Page Count: 306
Published: August 2nd, 2011
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
  4 Stars ★★★★

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. 

Ward is a necromancer and a physician. He also takes part in illegal surgeries, which has left him on the wanted list in many regions. When he is hired to bring a woman back to life for her family's final goodbyes, Celia insists that she has been murdered, and she and a reluctant Ward run away to the sewers. 

This is only the start of their ordeal. Now, they must avoid Celia's father's men, the local authorities, the places where Ward is wanted, and hope that Celia doesn't drop dead again in the streets. While trying to solve the mystery surrounding Celia's murder, neither she nor Ward are sure who they can trust, and they have to be wary of everyone, even each other. 

Necromancy is such an interesting topic. I've always been drawn to stories about necromancy, raising the dead, and magic, but it seems that there are few books that actually specifically feature a necromancer as a main character. One could then imagine my delight as I stumbled across this title featured on NetGalley, and my excitement when my request was approved by the publisher. 

This book had me hooked from the beginning. The action starts almost right away, as soon as Celia wakes up. Throughout the rest of the book, the action never ceased, the characters always had to face an enemy or a threat, and once I got into the story, it took a lot of effort to stop reading. Furthermore, the world that this is set within is captivating. I thought I'd get a fantasy set in the modern, contemporary world. Instead, it was set in a sort of alternative, fantasy world, where things like surgery are illegal and necromancers are a normal part of life. This made for a great world to escape to and lose myself in. The world-building was phenomenal, from the government itself all the way to the world of criminals. 

Ward is such a great character to read about. He's quite funny, often clumsy or partially clueless, and he has his own unique charm. While I don't mind a flawless hero every now and then, to have an imperfect hero like Ward, quirks and all, was very refreshing. I immediately liked Ward and hoped that all would end well for him, which just fueled my need to read and kept me reading until my eyes were tired. 

The other main character is Celia. Technically dead, she is a master manipulator, an assassin, and overall somebody you do not want to mess with. While she may be dead, she doesn't lose herself or sight of her goal: to find out who killed her. She was a complete daredevil, in my opinion. At times, she appeared reckless, but that only added to her character. She and Ward were fairly opposite each other, with Ward more timid and unsure, and Celia courageous and determined. This made for some amusing dialogue and situations, which added much-appreciated humor to this story of death and magic. 

The main issue that I had with this story was the attraction or romance between Celia and Ward. While there isn't a full-blown romance within this book, there are many references to the characters feeling attraction to each other, at the very least. These things certainly can be weaved well into an action-packed fantasy such as this one, but the author didn't balance their attraction to each other with the main issue within the story. I would think, for example, that Ward would not be considering Celia in a romantic or sensual way, as he often did, while they were in such a dire situation. It seemed out of place and somewhat forced. I think that it would have been better if the author had toned down the romantic aspects within this book and saved it for the next in the series. 

All in all, this tale of a charming, somewhat awkward necromancer and the lady that he has brought back from the dead is one that I enjoyed reading. While the romantic bits seemed a bit out of place for the situation at hand, the world-building was amazing and the action kept me turning pages for hours on end. 

I recommend this novel to fans of stories filled with magic and action. If you're interested in a new adult / mature young adult book about necromancy, or a change from the usual vampires and werewolves of the paranormal and fantasy genres, this book is for you.