Stacking the Shelves {8}

Welcome to another week of Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga!

As Tynga explains, all you have to do is:
  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!
  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!
  • Visit other participants link to find out what they added to their shelves!
This week ended up being a little bit quiet, but still a great one nonetheless! We have our long weekend for Canada Day, so it'll be nice to have the Monday off :)

I was super excited to find these in my mailbox, and the books and card/swag really made my day :)
Please leave a link to your mailbox post so I can stop by and visit! :)
And have a great weekend, everyone!


Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date ~ June 14, 2012
Dial Books for Young Readers ~ Penguin
ISBN13: 9780803736993
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley
Goodreads Synopsis:
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

I've already mentioned this to a few people, but My Life Next Door is TOTALLY reminiscent of Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever - which is not only my favourite Sarah Dessen book (seriously, I'm such a fangirl) but one of my favourite books of ALL TIME.

So just picture my epic excitement when I pick up this highly anticipated new contemporary YA release only to discover that it completely reminds me of one of my FAVOURITE books. But yet still different enough to stand all on its own. My Life Next Door is one of those perfect summer reads that will leave you itching for a reread as soon you've finished it.

  1. One of the best, most realistic romances I've ever read:

    Huntley Fitzpatrick seriously blew me out of the water with her portrayal of Jase and Sam's relationship; I LOVE that we don't spend hundreds of pages agonizing over whether they'll get together or not. I adore how strong and trusting and open they are with each other; they really want to build on a strong foundation for their relationship, and they put effort into figuring things out and trying to work together. It's beautiful and flawed but so real, and something that many people could actually aspire to. And Jase is just such a sweetheart- so reasonable and thoughtful, and Sam is so quietly strong and brave in her own way. They just MESH and I love them. And I think you will too!
  2. Plus, that romance? SA-WOON:

    (If you don't get that reference, you really need to read The Truth About Forever ASAP.) I hesitated making TWO of the reasons worth reading this about the romance, but Huntley does steamy well - yet still kind of awkward and sweet, all rolled into one.
  3. A gorgeous story about growing up:

    Here's what's really key about the book though, is how much Sam changes and develops over the course of the novel. Much like Macy (in Truth About Forever), Sam is perfectly put together, organized, driven, and lives directly under her mother's thumb. But of course this isn't enough and she's longing for something more. So something has to change, something eventually has to give and conveniently enough, the Garrets next door are complete opposite from her own family. Sam learns so much about growing up and what happiness and love means - and not easily, either, mind you. They're hard lessons for her and those around her to learn but it's incredibly touching & ultimately, unforgettable.
Most importantly though, is this idea of acceptance and appreciating or tolerating something different from your own norms. And how poignant that theme is - and at such the right time as well. The Garretts and the Reeds are completely different - but as Sam learns, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

My Life Next Door doesn't QUITE hold the same charm that The Truth About Forever does, perhaps partially because of nostalgia on my part and partially because I think some of the secondary characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. And I wasn't entirely sure about how I felt with the conclusion; in some areas, I thought it was just right and ideal, but in others it didn't feel quite whole and rather unresolved.

But this is a remarkable contemporary, a perfect summer read of change and transition that is sure to be loved by many readers for a very long time. <3 Sam and Jase's feelings are utterly contagious, much like the rest of this book!

Purchase Links
United States


Canada Day Giveaway Hop!

So some of you who aren't from Canada may not be aware of this but July 1st is Canada Day - OUR own celebration of our nation :)

A few Canadian bloggers have put together a Canada Day blog hop to celebrate! All the giveaways are Canadian themed and all the giveaways are open to Canadian residents - but I'm opening up my giveaway to all international entrants because I want to spread the Canadian love. IF I COULD, I WOULD SEND YOU ALL MAPLE SYRUP. But it's pretty crazy expensive, even here.

So instead I'll send one of you one book. A BOOK BY A CANADIAN AUTHOR/author living in Canada. You get to choose. We have some pretty awesome authors here, by the way. And I've been lucky to meet a few!
Rules are the same as always - you can find them on the policy page and at the bottom of the Rafflecopter form.
Here's the books you can choose from:
  • Any book by Kelley Armstrong (The Gathering, The Summoning, Bitten, etc.)
  • Any book by Lesley Livingston (Wonderous Strange, Once Every Never, Starling preorder)
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kess (preorder - to be released in December)
  • Any book by R.J. Anderson (Ultraviolet, Knife, etc.)
  • Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (new release ~ debut author)
  • This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel
  • Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
  • The Broken Thread by Linda Smith
  • Greta and the Gobling King by Chloe Jacobs
...or really, any other YA/MG book by a CANADIAN author that you'd like. I only listed the ones off the top of my head. There are way more.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HAPPY CANADA DAY! Sending you lots of love from Canada <3 (where it actually isn't cold at all right now, at least in Southern Ontario where I am).

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Release Date ~ June 12, 2012
Balzer + Brazy ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062006141
ARC received from HarperCollins Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's "Persuasion", "For Darkness Shows the Stars" is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

This is one book that definitely hasn't received nearly enough attention for how amazing it is- seriously underhyped! It's a fantastic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion (which I actually have yet to read- but I know I will after loving this one so much) set in the future with a definite science fiction feel to it.
A story just bursting with creativity and a truly epic romance, this is one book that will definitely have widespread appeal and is a must read for 2012.
P.S. If you're interested, you can read the FREE prequel right here - Among the Nameless Stars!

  1. Gorgeous writing:

    I haven't read any of Diana Peterfreund other books, but I have to say that I feel like she was the ideal author to pen this particular book. The style of writing is perfectly suited to the story- it stands on its own, but is still reminiscent of classical stories but with its own futuristic slang subtley woven in.
  2. Fantastic blend of diverse genres:

    It's hard enough to write a new story inspired by a famous, classical one and somehow retain that same feel of the story while placing it in a new setting with new characters and somehow making it your own. Diana proves that Persuasion is a timeless tale, one that we can still identify with in our own ways, even if the world she imagines is vastly different from our own in many ways. Yet she instills her own thoughts and questions to it, to make the story even more applicable to contemporary times (and questions which will still be around for a while, because of the relevance of technology). I've only seen a handful of authors do this well, but For Darkness Shows the Stars proves that books including historical, "classic" themes along with science fiction actually can be combined and work WELL together.
  3. Truly epic romance:

    I hesitate to call this an epic romance, but it's the romantic plot that stays closest to the idea of Persuasion. Childhood best friends who've grown apart because of their class differences within society - not quite by choice, yet not entirely starcrossed either. You have to keep in mind that the plot really does centre around the romance a fair amount. And I loved that this one was different - no love at first sight here! It's a gradual build up of trust and friendship all over again for Kai and Elliot.
That being said, I still felt like the romance could have been set up a bit better- there was so much angst there (understandable) but it felt like it switched over too quickly so it felt a tad jarring. I think it really could have been milked for all its worth to make it far more effective- something that I find Jane Austen to be excellent at doing! And considering that the plot was very driven by the romance, I was expecting a bit more power from it at the end.

I also wasn't particularly pleased with some of the secondary characters, like Elliot's father and sister who felt far too flat for me. A little too simple, and not enough depth for my liking personally.

But other than those two small areas, this book is completely brilliant. It's tragic and moving and emotional, and completely nostalgic of some old favourites. But still shiny and new!

Purchase Links
United States


Waiting on Wednesday {32}

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts this weekly meme where we can share a book that we are so excited for and are anxiously awaiting their upcoming release!
This week my WoW pick is...
Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard
Release Date ~ October 23, 2012 from Strange Chemistry

Goodreads Synopsis:
The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn't care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world's future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.

Another book that sounds super awesome! I love the cover for this - definitely seems to have been inspired by some political symbols, which ties in nicely with the description. I'm hoping for a rich political world/history for the setting in this one and a VERY exciting fantasy world! I can't WAIT to get my hands on this one.

What are you waiting on this weekend? Feel free to leave a link so I can visit your WoW post :)

Teen Review: The Awakening

The Awakening (Darkest Powers #2) by Kelley Armstrong
Release Date ~ April 28, 2009
Doubleday Canada ~ Random House Canada
ISBN13: 9780385665346
Book borrowed from library
Goodreads Synopsis
If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. I’m a living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I can raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever. I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

After I finished reading the summoning, I went right away to my school's library to read the sequel.  I was able to read it within the span of 3 days.  I enjoyed it so much that I could hardly put it down.  I had a lot of high hopes from the first book, and this book didn't fail to deliver a great novel with amazing suspense, romance, and general creepiness.

  1. The Mysterious Edison Group:

     In the first novel, we heard about the Edison Group, but not a lot was revealed about them. Don't get me wrong, they're still very mysterious, and again only a bit is revealed about them, but the whole thing is just so fascinating that you have to keep reading, because you just can't wait to piece together everything.  While this is not a particularly new idea, I think that the group is still really interesting nonetheless.
  2. More action:

    There wasn't a lot of action in the summoning, except for around the second half of the book. There were a lot more action and fight scenes, which I enjoyed. While many of them are against the Edison Group, a fair number of them are also against other groups of people. It was nice to see other types of foes in the novel, besides just the main villains.
  3. The Non-Frustrating Love Triangle:

    Like I've said before, I'm not a huge fan of love triangles. I'm constantly cheering for the guy who will inevitably lose, and I end up hating the other for it. I genuinely liked the two guys in this love triangle: Derek and Simon. They are both very, very different. Derek is the typical tall, dark, and handsome guy, while Simon is the classic boy-next-door. They both have a lot of chemistry with the protaganist, which I think is why I like this triangle so much.
In some areas of the book Chloe bugged me a little bit because she refused to use her powers to protect herself, so she wound up being the damsel in distress a lot of the time. She did get a bit better by the end of the book, though, which I was glad of. While I didn't like this book quite as much as the previous, I think that it continues the story very well from where it leaves off, and makes a great addition to the Darkest Powers series. 

Purchase Links
United States


Review: Dark Frost

Dark Frost (Mythos Academy #3) by Jennifer Estep
Release Date ~ May 29, 2012
Kensington Teen
ISBN13: 9780758266965
ARC received from publisher for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
I've seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I'm supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I'm just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me again. Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I'm also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me? It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can't use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me and I'm in for the fight of my life.
Dark Frost is the book in the Mythos Academy where things really begin to change; the stakes are raised, true losses are felt, and some huge events are fully set in motion. New characters are introduced, both good and bad, and some loose ends are finally tied up (well- sort of).
And it was while reading this third book in the series that I realized how many similarities it bears to Harry Potter - in this case, Dark Frost would be like Harry Potter 4 & 5 which are notably the books where significant deaths occur and everyone starts to realize they're growing up. Teen angst overload included. The difference is that Mythos Academy definitely has a slightly older feel to it, and more modern (and I have to say that it does lack a certain wizarding charm- but that's extremely hard to come by)!
  1. Everything gets taken up a notch:

    Seriously, EVERYTHING is just that much better and amped up in this one. The fight scenes, the mystery, the villains, and yes, even the kissing! Dark Frost is the book where we really get to see Gwen & company begin to grow up and mature into older teens/young adults. They have important decisions to make that will ultimately affect many future events.
  2. There's real, genuine loss:

    It may sound kind of twisted to make this a reason to read, but I appreciate books when things don't turn out perfectly happy and everything's left risk-free. The death of characters is always a hard thing to deal with, but it's handled expertly here. A few meaningful, powerful deaths make this book an unforgettable one that quickly change the direction of the series, and make it far more impressive than it was at first. There's just something terribly haunting about it, that makes it all the more lovely in a bittersweet sort of way.
  3. We finally get to see some of the REAL Gwen- and boy, is she something!:

    Gwen's been hiding away for the first couple of books- not entirely reaching her full potential, and rather content to remain in the shadows within the background. But she's finally forced to step out, and we begin to see just hints of what she might be capable of... it's terrifying for her, understandably, and we definitely get to see more of her character (oh, and along with learning more about Logan FINALLY).
I also realize that I need to back up my Harry Potter claims - and this is the one thing where I found it kind of took away from the story overall. It's a bit of a complaint I have with Harry Potter as well, but I found it to be a tad too formulaic. You have your super special snowflake teen, with dead parents (who kept a number of secrets, including that their kid is super special). You have the angry, bitter teacher (who used to have a certain crush...) and the older wise and kindly mentor. A weakened villain trying to take over and kill everyone, and a super secret league of bad guys (a.k.a. thugs). And a lovable pet. It just feels TOO overdone for me, and far too predictable by now since these concepts are found in so many other books. Yet it only barely took away from my enjoyment.

Because it's still a formula that works, and works very well. These types of books are an easy buy, just because it's pretty much a guarantee that you'll love them and there's something to be said for that.

Purchase Links
United States


Review: Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
Release Date ~ May 1, 2012
HarperTeen ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780007442911
Hardcover purchased personally
Goodreads Synopsis:
One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

"New York Times" bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian "Divergent" series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Seeing as Divergent was one of the most popular books of 2011 (and one of the most popular YA books out right now), there was a huge amount of anticipation surrounding the release of its sequel; it can be tricky to write a sequel for an incredibly popular book with a large fan base, and a reader can never be sure whether a new author can pull it off.

But like so many other readers soon realized after reading Insurgent, Veronica Roth absolutely accomplished all of this with her sophomore release. As much as I love Divergent, I have to admit that I don't love it as much as many other fans do- it isn't one of my personal favourites, so I was somewhat hesitant when it came to Insurgent. However, I quickly picked it up, dying to know what would happen next and was utterly impressed with this sequel that easily surpasses Divergent.

  1. Great character development:

    One of my main complaints about Divergent was that I wasn't the biggest fan of Tris - but I was quickly won over with her in Insurgent, and I could easily relate to her now and have a better idea of the difficulties she was struggling to overcome. You can really see how much she's changed from Divergent, and the way she's questioned her ideas to formulate new ones. It's a fantastic progression, and one of the best I've read about in YA. Similarily, we definitely get to learn a lot more about Four and his motives, which not only makes us love him MORE, but makes him feel more real (and that's not a bad thing in his case).
  2. A different, yet realistic relationship:

    I LOVED that Tris and Four portrayed a rather atypical YA romance; they have real problems to overcome, and they don't always get along but they also don't spend the whole time whining about how they can't be together for some melodramatic reason. And they actually try to work together for their relationship; it doesn't overpower the story, but it's there and they do focus some of their efforts on making things work (and kissing).
  3. Some of the best world building YA has to offer:

    Veronica stunned us with this curious and exciting world created in Divergent and she continues that tradition by introducing us to some of the other factions, like Amity, Candor and Erudite. We're introduced to more character from these factions and the ways they live which is completely fascinating. But none of this compares to some of the mysterious secrets we finally get a taste of in Insurgent - which sets us up for what will hopefully be one of the most thrilling finales to a book series we've seen yet! For real though, this revelation makes Divergent unlike any other dystopian book I've EVER read (yet).
Seriously, this book completely redeemed all the little things I didn't love about Divergent - it simply improves on what was already a very strong foundation. It was again filled with so much action and excitement (which Veronica writes very well, I should add) in a thrilling and rich world.

My one tiny complaint was that I found Tris and Four to be a little TOO back-and-forth at times, for my taste. They weren't nearly as frustrating as some couples you read about in YA books, but I found the lack of trust they exhibited towards each other to be fairly surprising after the relationship they developed in Divergent.

Purchase Links
United States


Stacking the Shelves {7}

Welcome to another week of Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga!
As Tynga explains, all you have to do is:
  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!
  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!
  • Visit other participants link to find out what they added to their shelves!
 This week was another great week mostly because of the fabulous Frenzy Presents event put on by the team over at HarperCollins Canada; you can check out my full recap post of the event here. It was basically an evening for them to highlight their top picks for their new fall books! And the super cool Tahereh Mafi stopped by for that event as well! (Plus, there was pie. I mean, what else do we need? Besides books. But there were those too!)

Find the Frenzy Presents recap post here.

  • ARC Someday Dancer by Sarah Rubin (TBR ~ August 1, 2012) from Scholastic Canada
  • ARC Altered by Jennifer Rush (TBR ~ January 2, 2013) from HBG Canada
  • ARC Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger (TBR ~ February 5, 2013) from HBG Canada
  • SIGNED Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) by Jessica Spotswood (Can you believe I haven't picked up a finished copy of this one? I LOVED the ARC and I'm so glad my signed copy from Books of Wonder finally came in!)
  • Grim by Anna Waggener (received from Scholastic Canada)
  • Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough (received from Scholastic Canada)
  • Glamorous Illusions by Lisa t. Bergren (purchased from Christianbook.com - I haven't actually read any of Lisa's books yet, but I have a bit of a cover crush on this one and had heard really good things about it!)
  • ARC Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon (received from HarperCollins Canada)
  • SIGNED Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (this is technically my third signed copy of Shatter Me - I have one galley, one personalized hardcover, and this signed paperback will be part of a giveaway very soon!)
  • Frenzy swag including: Delirium/Divergent temporary tattoos, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver signed bookplate, Pretty Little Liars lip chap (not pictured)
Also, my friend Christa from Hooked on Books passed her copy of Angelina's Secret by Lisa J. Rogers to me (also not pictured).
    Did you get any books you're really excited about this week? :) There are so many I can't wait to read!
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