Waiting on Wednesday {40}

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...

Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
Release Date ~ October 7, 2014

Goodreads Description:
Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself. 

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

Um, after reading that description I feel like no explanation is required to show why I NEED this book.

But if you will:
1) JINNI: I've been waiting for this to come around in YA and I think it finally has!
2) Arabian Nights: yep, this inspired Exquisite Captive which means this will hopefully be a different type of fantasy book than I'm used to reading!
3) Epic romance: more swoons in my life, please!
4) Revolution: How much do I love a story with a revolution taking place? A LOT.

Sign me up, folks.


Review: Bird Box

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Release Date ~ May 13, 2014
Ecco ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062259653
Hardcover personally purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:
Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn't look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.

Bird Box was highly recommended to me by a number of other readers/fellow book lovers, so I picked it up thanks to their influence despite my aversion to adult books. It was fortunate for me that I gave Bird Box a chance because otherwise I would have missed out on one of the scariest books I've ever read!

  1. Fear of the unknown:

    Josh Malerman masters this concept with Bird Box, because the idea here is that there is something (unknown) in the world causing people to go mad and kill themselves (and, sometimes, others). The world as we know it shuts down. Survivors are left in a world of darkness with no idea as it what's happening or what's out there. To me, it's that unknown mystery that's the scariest. When I watch horror movies, it's never the moment when the monster/evil is revealed that I'm most afraid - it's the moments when fear grips me because there is something dark and shadowy behind me.
  2. Intense writing:

    I'm a firm believer that a horror book needs suspenseful writing to be successful (at scaring me). Josh absolutely nails this style of writing in Bird Box, with just the right amount of description for a story where the characters spend a significant amount of time blindfolded. Sound and touch are extremely important senses, and attention is paid to them in a way that made me feel as if I was experiencing the events in the book as the characters were.
  3. Malorie as the protagonist:

    This relates to why I primarily stay away from adult books, but I didn't believe I would appreciate Malorie as a main character. As a pregnant woman for much of the book (and a mother), I thought I'd simply fail to relate or empathize with her character. I was completely surprised when I connected with her almost instantly. Malorie is still fairly young (and likely not much older than I am) and we share many of the same fears and anxieties pre-Bird Box world events. But most importantly, the fact that Malorie is a mother provided a strong sense of internal motivation as to why she fought so hard to survive in the book. 
I should add that I don't think you should read this book for the plot. If you're looking for answers and explanations about the events in Bird Box - you're not going to find the ending neatly tied up for you. Bird Box is not that kind of book. Rather, it is more about the journey and experience of this story which is a point in time of Malorie's life and having the same fears as she does. 

In fact, I think this lack of explanation is precisely what makes this book so good - the unknown story is what scares me the most. I also found the ending to be fairly shocking - it wasn't what I expected and it left me with a lot of questions. While I'm not sure I loved the ending, it left me thinking and I feel like Bird Box is a book I'm going to need to read a few times to truly appreciate.

For those of you interested in Bird Box, you can read an excerpt from the beginning of the book over at Chatelaine.


Review: The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date ~ September 17, 2013
ISBN13: 9780545424943
Hardcover personally purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. 

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. 

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

The first thing I did after finishing The Raven Boys? I made a trip to the nearest bookstore to pick up The Dream Thieves, of course! The Raven Cycle is a very special series, one that I'm still kicking myself for waiting so long to read. And importantly, The Dream Thieves lived up to my (very high) expectations for a sequel to that fantastic read.

  1. A seamless sequel:

    The Dream Thieves is a great example of a perfect transition from the first book to its sequel. The transition here was so fluid, it truly felt like a continuation of the same story. The Raven Boys was a very strong start to a series and The Dream Thieves simply builds on that foundation. The plot, world, and the characters are further developed and as a result, the reader is completely immersed in the story.
  2. Particular attention is paid to Ronan:

    Ronan Lynch was introduced as one of the Raven Boys in the first book, but he was more of a background character. The Dream Thieves pays a significant amount of attention to both Ronan's back story and his present struggles. I appreciated the fact that characters aside from Blue and Gansey are given the attention they deserve and treated like people rather than plot devices and Ronan is a perfect example of this in The Dream Thieves.
  3. One of the most romantic scenes ever:

    Romance isn't a must-have for me in a book, but I appreciate a great love story as much as any other reader! The love story in The Raven Cycle hasn't been at all what I expected prior to starting the series, but I'm so pleased with it. For readers who love gradual, swoon-worthy love stories with ever-mounting tension The Dream Thieves captures this story flawlessly. 
Admittedly, there were a couple subplots which I had a harder time trying to fit into the overall story (such as The Gray Man and Kavinsky) which felt somewhat out of place and forced compared to the remainder of the book. That being said, this was fairly minor for me and didn't detract from my overall reading experience.

I love the magic in this series, and I was absolutely blown away by how great of a sequel The Dream Thieves is compared to The Raven Boys as an introduction to The Raven Cycle. Maggie Stiefvater's writing is magical in and of itself, but the world she created here is incredibly intoxicating!


Review: The Oathbreaker's Shadow

The Oathbreaker's Shadow (The Knots Sequence #1) by Amy McCulloch
Release Date ~ June 6, 2013
Doubleday Canada ~ Random House Canada
ISBN13: 9780385678247
Review copy received from publisher for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Fans of Philip Pullman, Jonathan Stroud, and George R.R. Martin are going to love this action-filled fantasy novel by an exciting and extremely promotable debut voice in the genre.

In the world of fifteen-year-old Raim, you tie a knot for every promise you make. Break that promise and the knot will burst into flames, scarring your skin and forever marking you as an oathbreaker. Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one seems to know where it came from or which promise it symbolizes, and Raim barely thinks about it at all--especially not since he became the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the day that he binds his life to that of his best friend (and the future king), Khareh, the rope ignites and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oathbreaker, Raim has two options: run or be killed. He chooses to run, taking refuge in the vast desert among a colony of exiled oathbreakers. Will he be able to learn the skills he needs to clear his name? And even if he can, how can he keep a promise he never knew he made in the first place?

The Oathbreaker's Shadow is an imaginative fantasy, the story of a boy's adventure through the desert to uncover the secrets from his past. This is precisely the type of book I'd like to see more of (a less prevalent setting, particularly the Middle Eastern-inspired desert and a very creative system of magic).

  1. A very unique plot:

    I loved the whole idea Amy put together with the consequences of having a shadow follow you for your life if you broke an oath, and the effects of being ostracized along with it. This is the book's greatest strength and it isn't like other stories I've read. It's so interesting to think about what this experience would be like, particularly for a teenage boy having to lose his family, friends, community, and even his future aspirations. That's an absolutely devastating loss and I liked the focus and attention paid to it.
The problem for me was that I ultimately failed to connect with The Oathbreaker's Shadow. So while there were a handful of aspects I found interesting, overall the story was one that did not resonate with me. By the end of the book, I didn't feel like I had been on the journey with Raim. It's also a far slower adventure story than I'm used to, and it seemed like I spent a fair amount of time waiting for something exciting to happen. The characters lacked any strong development so that they felt more like caricatures than real people.

But I think this book was more of a case where it didn't work for me and my own personal tastes. Readers who don't mind a fantasy book with a slower pace would likely enjoy it, particularly with the creative plot. There isn't much resolution at the end of this first book, clearly setting it up for a sequel where I anticipate there will be many more revelations regarding Raim's situation.

For those of you are curious about this book and think it sounds like something you'd enjoy, I encourage you to check out my friend Christa's review of The Oathbreaker's Shadow on her blog More Than Just Magic for a different take on the book from what I shared here.


Waiting on Wednesday {39}

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...

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date ~ September 2, 2014

I feel like the LAST person to have finally read the first few books in this series but I'm all caught up now after binging on Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and the Assassin's Blade and I'm desperate for more! Throne of Glass is an incredible fantasy, and it's been a long time since I've completely fallen in love with a series before like this one. These books are so good: plenty of great action and swoons, and a very intriguing plot!

Sarah J. Maas is a fantastic writer and I'm so glad that this series is a long one (with SIX books planned!!!) and I can't wait to read some of her other non-ToG related books soon, too! She's on my list of authors I MUST meet at some point in the future.

The extra sucky part? September 2nd (the release date for Heir of Fire) is my first day back at school so I'm going to have to read this one QUICKLY as soon as it's out because I want to read it before school takes over my free time!

Are any of you as anxious as I am for the third book in this series?! I honestly don't know how to recover after that ending in The Assassin's Blade - and you know it's coming the whole time! 


Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Release Date ~May 13, 2014
Delacorte Press ~ Random House
ISBN13: 9780385741262
Review copy received from Random House Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

I have heard so much about We Were Liars from other bloggers, such that I was dying of curiousity! People were raving about the twist, and so I began hunting for this book in bookstores... only to realize that it hadn't even been released yet.

Having now read We Were Liars, I can readily confirm that it is a thrilling read, a story absolutely brimming with secrets.

  1. An emotional narrative:

    E Lockhart tells a brilliant story, although while not quite as shocking as I anticipated, of the tragic events to befall the main character's family (Cady). The writing style is poignant, and every mixed emotion felt by Cady is likewise experienced by the reader. As a reader, you are
  2. A Shakespearean-esque tragedy:

    The day after having finished We Were Liars I saw a performance of King Lear, and it struck me how similar the two were in some ways. Let me emphasize that they are not the same story; but there are some characteristics the two share, such as the family dynamics. We Were Liars clearly evokes some of the feelings and themes from classical literature.
  3. An unreliable narrator:

    I absolutely love reading books with an unreliable narrator, because I'm left guessing and gradually putting together all the clues and hints as to what actually happened. Cady is particularly effective as an unreliable narrator because even she isn't sure about the truth of what happened.
After hearing so much about how the ending was truly shocking and surprising, I was a tad disappointed when I finished and discovered that my initial prediction was mostly correct (but not entirely). Then again, I think this was the ideal ending for the book and I don't think there could have been an ending that worked better with the story than this one. I won't say anything else because this is a story that must not be spoiled!

This is the kind of book that stays with you long after you finish reading it. I'll have to find time to reread it, because I feel like I have more questions after having read it than I did before I started!


Waiting on Wednesday {38} Lailah

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...

Lailah (The Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly
Release Date ~ October 7, 2014

I've heard so many good things about Lailah and I can't wait to read it for myself! The promise of a fresh take on vampire and angel mythology sounds amazing, and I'm really looking forward to that aspect of the book. Plus, I actually really love this cover!

Have any of you already read Lailah? What did you think of it?


Top Ten Tuesday {2} Books I ALMOST Put Down

Meme image from The Broke and The Bookish, host of Top Ten Tuesday
I've been meaning to do a TTT post for a few weeks now, and when I saw the topic for today I knew it was a perfect chance for me to participate!

Today I'm sharing the top ten books I almost put down... but didn't!
  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein:

    I had the HARDEST time with the first half of this book! I was so bored with all the airplane talk, and my blogger friends INSISTED that I stick with it. And I'm so glad I did because this ended up being my favourite 2012 release!
  2. Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally:

    Some of my experiences growing up were similar to Kate's (the main character) and I wasn't sure how I felt about that. It seemed like a book that might hit a little TOO close to home. But I ended up appreciating the story, and I think this is a particularly relevant contemporary.
  3. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood:

    As much as I love the idea of merpeople, I have a harder time with modern stories about them. But Lies Beneath was such a pleasant surprise for me!
  4. Venom by Fiona Paul:

    I wasn't sure about Venom because of the cover, and even the description didn't sound that different from other books- but I ended up loving Venom and found it to be very well done!
  5. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski:

    Similar to my hesitate with Venom, The Winner's Curse wasn't a book I had planned on reading until I received a surprise copy. I decided to give it a shot and ended up LOVING it! It was much edgier than I anticipated and I loved that.
  6. Losing It by Cora Carmack:

    This was my first "real" New Adult read and another one that I had no plans to read at first. I'm not a big fan of romance books in general, so I didn't think I'd like Losing It but it was actually a lot of fun and really sucked me in.
  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:

    Even though it's one of my favourite books now, I read the first book and almost didn't finish it because the first couple of chapters just seemed so silly to me - I honestly couldn't get past the name "Katniss"! 
And I can only think of 7 books - I rarely walk away from a book so there aren't too many like this for me! 


Review: The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Release Date ~ September 10, 2013
HarperTeen ~ HarperCollins
ISBN13: 9780062135926
ARC received from HarperCollins Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy, is back with The Chaos of Stars—an enchanting novel set in Egypt and San Diego that captures the magic of first love and the eternally complicated truth about family.

Isadora's family is seriously screwed up—which comes with the territory when you're the human daughter of the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. Isadora is tired of living with crazy relatives who think she's only worthy of a passing glance—so when she gets the chance to move to California with her brother, she jumps on it. But her new life comes with plenty of its own dramatic—and dangerous—complications . . . and Isadora quickly learns there's no such thing as a clean break from family.

Blending Ally Carter's humor and the romance of Cynthia Hand's Unearthly, The Chaos of Stars takes readers on an unforgettable journey halfway across the world and back, and proves there's no place like home.

I am such a sucker for all books mythology related - I just HAVE to read them to see what sort of spin the author has put on old myths. The Chaos of Stars was an interesting blend of old stories in a contemporary setting, but unfortunately it just didn't stand out enough to me.

  1. A short, fast-paced read:

    The story moves along very quickly, and it never felt like it got bogged down in mundane details. I easily breezed through The Chaos of Stars, and it was interesting enough to hold my attention until the end. 
The problem? For me, it was simply that there was nothing different or unique about The Chaos of Stars. It felt like so many other similar books I've read before - so even if I liked some of the characters, they merely felt like caricatures of others I like better than these ones. I had the exact same problem with the overall story (just too predictable), the relationship difficulties (whether it's between Isadora and her family or Isadora and her romantic interest), and even the romance. 

So yes, I chuckled at a couple parts. And I flew through this book. But when I finished it, I could tell this wasn't a story that would stand out in my memory. The characters and story were just too shallow for my liking, and they didn't feel nearly well-developed enough. There was so much potential here with the Egyptian gods, goddesses, and mythology but it just wasn't used. 


Review: The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington
Release Date ~ January 1, 2013
Point ~ Scholastic Press
ISBN13: 9780545333023
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

I have only recently begun reading more ghost stories, looking for some creepier fiction to enjoy lately. The Dead and Buried is a good ghost story, some chills and thrills included, although it's also very much standard-fare as far as ghost stories go.

  1. A fast-paced story:

    I easily flew through this book, reading it in an evening. The plot moves along quite nicely and I was engaged with the story from the very beginning. The pacing is just about perfect as the plot continued to develop from chapter to chapter and it never seemed to slow down or drag along.
  2. A touching brother-sister relationship:

    I loved reading about Jade's devotion to her little brother, Colby. It gave me a better sense of Jade's motivation in becoming involved with the mystery in her house and the death of Kayla Sloan. Strong relationships like this are so important, and I absolutely adored the dynamic between these two characters. 

The main problem for me with The Dead and Buried is that it was far too predictable. There really wasn't anything unique or different to make it stand out to me from other stories about hauntings I've ever read about or seen in a movie.

I also had a harder time relating to the characters, and I think that's because they were simply underdeveloped. It's a fairly short book, so this is somewhat understandable, but it also made it harder for me to connect with the book.

The romance detracted from my reading experience because I found it distracted from the overall (more interesting) plot. It seemed fairly rushed and predictable, and didn't have much of a buildup to convince me that it enhanced the story in any way. It was all just a little too convenient for me, much like the rest of the story.


Review: Dangerous

Dangerous by Shannon Hale
Release Date ~ March 4, 2014
ISBN13: 9781599901688
ARC received from Penguin Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else?

Dangerous is a book with incredible potential, and there were a number of elements I really enjoyed. But this book as a whole ended up being a hard sell for me, and I was left unconvinced by the story and its characters.

  1. Plenty of space, science, and superpowers:

    As soon as there is a book that has a description which mentions space, I jump all over that - it's almost a guaranteed way to get me to read a book. I loved that Dangerous had a space story heavily influenced by science, because that made Maisie stand out to me as a character I could readily envision as a real person. The fact that Maisie is also missing a hand made her a really great character, too - we don't see this very often in YA, and I think it's so important to read about different characters with their own life hurdles (although I wasn't a fan of how this was shown).
The problem is that this sounds like a dream, right? The problem was that the story just didn't deliver for me. I had the absolute hardest time with the romance, and it seemed to completely take over the book. It was present on every page, and it felt too forced me to buy into it and care. 

But most importantly, the story was far too convoluted. I felt like I had whiplash trying to keep up with the fast pace and how quickly the story would change. It jumps around from one idea to another, and some characters seem to be stuck in the story for no apparent reason. 

I actually found some of the jokes to be funny (or "punny" hehe) because I sometimes share that cheesy sense of humour. It was quirky, rather than annoying to me, but it wasn't enough to save the book. And I found Maisie's relationship with her parents to be remarkably touching. 

Overall, Dangerous was a disappointing read for me because it felt like too much story in one little book, and I was completely unable to relate with the book or enjoy some of its most important plot points. 

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