Announcement: Subscription Changes

Hello, friends!

As some of you are aware, big changes are coming into force in Canada with respect to e-mail subscriptions. Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation is coming into force on July 1, 2014 (which is tomorrow).

There are a lot of questions floating around about exactly what this means for people, and my concern was of course coming from the perspective of a book blogger.

I'm not going to attempt to answer these questions nor am I making any recommendation or suggestion about what bloggers (or any others) should do in response to this law. Nothing here is legal advice.

This is important for me to clarify because I cannot give legal advice, and I don't want anyone to think for a second that that's what I'm doing here. I'm refraining from including any opinion or advice because I am not in a position to give any (as a law student, I cannot and even lawyers should only give legal advice to their clients).

With all of that being said, I am making a change here at Esther's Ever After. As of today (after this post has been published), if you are an email subscriber, I'm deleting your e-mail subscription. Subscriptions through feed readers aren't changing (yet). This is actually good timing because I'm going to have some other big changes made over the summer - including a move from Blogger to Wordpress! I'm considering this a bit of a fresh start.

Of course I don't want to lose any of you as readers! If you are still interested in staying in touch with Esther's Ever After, there are a few ways you can do so:

  • Follow me on Twitter! I like chatting about all kinds of topics, and all of my posts are shared on Twitter as well.
  • Like my Facebook page - this is pretty much just if you want to get updates when I make new posts.
  • Follow or add me on Goodreads. I don't share my posts on Goodreads, but you can still follow my reviews and other comments.
  • Follow via Networked Blogs to receive new posts.
In the future, there will be new ways to stay in touch but for now we're going to work with this!


Review: Dark Metropolis

Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn Dolamore
Release Date ~ June 17, 2014
Disney-Hyperion ~ Hachette Book Group Canada
ISBN13: 9781423163329
ARC received from HBG Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

Dark Metropolis is in many ways unlike any kind of story I've read before: it's set in a very distinct world and even the plot is unique. Unfortunately while I appreciated Dark Metropolis as an innovative read, the characters and story fell flat for me.

  1. A curious setting:

    Jaclyn borrows from history (think "1927 Berlin") and blends it with her own imagination for a world that is both familiar and strange compared to ours. It's so unusual and creative that I was utterly fascinated by it; I wanted to learn as much about the world in Dark Metropolis as I could. The magic and its system is unlike any type I have ever read about, and Jaclyn is clearly a very innovative writer with plenty of new ideas. Some parts are so dark and disturbing which lend a very eerie sense to the whole book and I particularly enjoyed that.

It seems to be hinted at that there is a strong class struggle happening, but that aspect of the plot felt rather undeveloped to me. The brief mentions and allusions to this conflict weren't enough to satisfy my own curiousity or provide much background information which I felt was crucial to establish the story. The rules and politics in Dark Metropolis were completely unfamiliar to me, so I failed to recognize the importance of certain actions and ideas.

But most importantly, I felt completely disconnected from the characters. It's written in a third person narrative, and jumps around from focusing on a few different characters. This failed to ground me with any one of the characters and because I felt like I had landed in the middle of a story already taking place, their concerns failed to resonate with me. For example, there was very little attention paid to the development of Thea and Nan's relationship and Nan goes missing so quickly in the book that they're separated nearly from the very start. As a result it was difficult for me to identify with Thea's determination and struggle to find Nan.

While yes, this is a deeply imaginative story with some very thoughtful ideas and inspirations it never really felt complete to me. My relationship with characters is paramount to how much I enjoy a book and my failure to identify with the characters in Dark Metropolis means that this story just didn't work for me.


Waiting on Wednesday {42}

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...

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
Release Date ~ September 9, 2014

Goodreads Description:
Emmeline knows the woods outside her settlement are forbidden. The mysterious enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. 

Living with the shame of her grandmother's insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it's a rare opportunity to wash the family stain clean--even if she has eyes for another. But before she is forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her out to the woods, where she finds a path she can't help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the settlement will kill to protect. Her grandmother went down that path and paid the price.

If Emmeline isn't careful, she will be next.

YES, this description sounds amazing. The rather mysterious setting reminds me of The Village (which is a good thing) although it really doesn't sound like it's going to be the same either.

Julie Berry, author of All the Truth That's in Me, has given Winterkill some very high praise and AtTTiM was my absolute favourite book of 2013. I love a good mystery, and the setting for this book sounds just perfect. I really like a community-focus because it's interesting to see how characters engage with their community particularly when it seems to be fairly small and isolated.


Top Ten Tuesday {3} My Summer TBR List

Meme image from The Broke and The Bookish, host of Top Ten Tuesday
Today I'm sharing the top ten books on my reading list this summer!

One of my favourite things about summer is simply having more free time to read books. I end up with so many readings for school during the school year, that it's harder for me to read for fun. So I use the summer as an opportunity get caught up!

  1. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas
    So this one doesn't come out until September 2nd BUT that's right before school stars for me so I have approximately one day to read it during my summer vacation and the last day of summer isn't until the end of September so this one TOTALLY COUNTS. I also feel like I don't need to explain this one, because duh, it's ToG.
  2. Tomorrow's Kingdom (The Gypsy King #3) by Maureen Fergus
    I love this series (to the moon and back) and while I'm sad it's almost over, I'm thrilled to read the last book! I highly recommend The Gypsy King to those of you who like fantasy books with great (funny, brave) characters and bonus: Maureen is a Canadian author!
  3. Midnight Thief (Midnight Thief #1) by Livia Blackburne
    I've been excited for this book ever since I read that Livia loves Tamora Pierce (who is, in my opinion, the great queen of YA fantasy). Then I read her prequel novella, Poison Dance, and fell in love with the world she had created. I have an ARC of this one that I'll be reading shortly. I know some people might say there are too many assassin fantasy books, but they're wrong. You can't have too many.
  4. Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5) by Miranda Kenneally
    Miranda has written some really great books in the Hundred Oaks series, and I always enjoy them. But Breathe, Annie, Breathe stands out to me with the focus on running - I started running a little while ago myself and I'm not a naturally-gifted runner AT ALL. So I think this one will be very interesting.
  5. The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
    I have an ARC of this one that I've been meaning to get to, and I've heard great things about this book so I'm just hoping it will be as creepy and amazing as I've heard!
  6. Conversion by Katherine Howe
    Conversion has been highly recommended to me, and I've heard that it's a very thought-provoking book - perfect for me!
  7. Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) by Sarah Fine
    This one has been on my wishlist for a long time (how amazing does it sound?! A ghost in a SLAUGHTERHOUSE). I have an ARC of this one so it'll be read VERY soon.
  8. Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett
    I've really been enjoying sci-fi lately, and I picked up Avalon a little while ago but haven't had a chance to read it yet. But I know I'll read it over the summer for sure. I love adventure, and even better if it's set in space!
  9. Lailah (The Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly
    Lailah is very popular already, and although paranormal can be somewhat hit or miss for me this sounds like one I'm really going to love! I like the vampire/angel concept and I'm curious to see where it goes.
  10. The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead
    I need to get caught up with this series because as much as I love it, I'm a couple books behind and I'd like to get caught up before the fifth book comes out!

Are there any other books I need to add to my summer TBR list? There are so many great books, it was hard to choose only 10!


Review: Hexed

Hexed (The Witch Hunter #1) by Michelle Krys
Release Date ~ June 10, 2014
Delacorte Press ~ Random House (Doubleday in Canada)
ISBN13: 9780385743372
ARC received from Random House Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

Hexed is such a fun paranormal book that I absolutely devoured! Indigo is a strong character with a fantastic sense of humour, making her a great protagonist to read about. Hexed is a great debut from Michelle Krys, which is a satisfying story in and of itself while still leaving enough details to be handled in the sequel (Hexed is the first in a duology).

  1. An authentic heroine:

    Indigo (a.k.a. Indie) is not the typical heroine you read about in YA books, which is precisely why I liked her so much. She has a strong personality, and a very sarcastic sense of humour so she's fairly snarky as well. She's snobby and extremely self-centred at first, too, so she isn't the type of character I'm immediately drawn towards. But this is exactly why reading Hexed was so refreshing for me, because Indie is not a perfect character. She has flaws, and the character development and changes she goes through during the book are striking as a result of this. She may be the type of character who takes a little bit longer to grow on you but she gets there, trust me! (I love characters like this, for example I'm reminded of Lady Mary in Downton Abbey. I also like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comparison with Hexed, because there definitely is a Buffy/Cordelia vibe to Indie.)
  2. Gradual romance:

    I appreciate a good love story as much as the next person, but I'm not a fan of insta!-love so the romance in Hexed worked perfectly for me. It's develops over time, although there seems to be an attraction element fairly early on which is nice since it adds just a bit of tension to keep the story completely absorbing. I also liked that it didn't feel super cheesy to me, and it didn't overpower the rest of the plot but instead the romance enhanced it. Bishop is a really great character, who's fun and hilarious along with being straightforward with Indie and complex. He's precisely the type of guy you want to root for!
  3. A thrilling plot:

    There is a lot of action and excitement that happens in Hexed, and it's pretty much non-stop from the start. While Indie is still trying to accept some significant revelations, she's forced to deal with problems (both big and small) and figure out a way to get through them. And for the most part? She's doing most of the work all on her own. She's tough and a fighter, but you can also see some of these changes taking their toll on her (as they would). There are secrets and twists galore, which kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.
There were a couple points in the story when I felt that I could have benefited from a bit more world building, simply because the magic and conflict featured in Hexed were very interesting and I would love to read more about how this world works and how it came to be. But I also never felt like I didn't have enough information to understand what's going on, and I'm fairly certain that most of my questions will be answered in the sequel.


Sunday Runday {2}

Last week I ran my #RunningLikeAGirl race! So I have plenty of pictures and updates to share with you :)

I chose the Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women race, for a couple of reasons.

First, it looked like an absolute blast of a race. So much fun and all the pretty details added to make it feel extra special!

Second, this running series sponsors women's mental heath initiatives across the country. This is a very important cause for me, as there is someone close to me who has struggled with mental health issues for most of her life.

To make this race even MORE fun, my best friend decided to sign up with me making this her FIRST 5K RACE EVER!!

If you're thinking about or preparing for your first race, I highly recommend you pick up Running Like a Girl to read about Alexandra's experience, keep yourself motivated, and for a few helpful tips.

The night before I race, I pack up my bag and lay out my clothes. I tend to over pack, in case I change my mind at the last minute or in case I have a friend who forgets something! In the above picture, you can see what I packed:

  • Extra pair of dry, clean socks (I use compression socks) - I love compression socks because they're great for circulation and keep my legs from getting too tired too soon. I started wearing them when I started racing because I had the worst shin splints. I have zero proof that compression actually works to help with shin splints, but it seemed to do the trick for me! Plus, I'm prone to some swelling in my feet/ankles at times and these really help. They're great for recovery. I wear compression socks while running too, but I like a dry (non-smelly pair) for after the run.
  • Running shoes - well, duh. I better have these. My Mizunos are amazing, I'm completely in love. I also use Superfeet insoles in my shoes since they seemed to help with pain as well.
  • Heart rate monitor - completely unnecessary, but I like to use one to track my fitness. I always use a chest strap that connects to my phone.
  • Sunscreen - it was a GORGEOUS day for a run, hot and sunny. So SPF is a must for me.
  • Lip balm with SPF - Again, it was sunny. But I also hate having dry lips while running so I need something super moisturizing.
  • Rub A535 & an ice pack - because these are miraculous for any aches and pains. Thankfully, I didn't need to use either but I always carry some in case.
  • Hand sanitizer & wipes - these are nice post-run for the drive home so I feel less sticky and sweaty.
  • Snacks - I always keep a few gels/bars in my bag in case I need something. A variety of options too, in case my stomach doesn't feel like it can handle a gel or a bar or a certain flavour.

See these legs? They are ready to GO!

Pink hair is so. much. fun! They had this available at the run for free

Pre-run selfie excitement!

A great turnout for the race, and I loved that we had a neat little warm-up beforehand!

Amazing little tables to have our post-run snacks. They had a bunch of Balance 


 SWAG! I've never before received so much stuff in a racing bag before.

Our running shirt and finisher's bracelet - you can't see it here, but the bracelet says "RUN INSPIRED" which I love.

I love that middle paragraph from Running Like a Girl. There are so many great thoughts in this book, and one thing I really love is that she talks about what happened AFTER she completed her race. I always find that to be the biggest struggle for me! I love running, but after a race it's so difficult to stay committed and stick with it right now.

The race itself was so much fun - if it's your first time ever racing and you're a bit nervous, I think it's a good idea to pick a FUN race as opposed to one that's more competitive. The atmosphere makes a big difference! There were spectators with signs to cheer us along the course, and all the other runners are so supportive of each other.

I'm going to continue blogging for at least a little while about my running experiences post-race.


Review: Panic

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Release Date ~ March 4, 2014
ISBN13: 9780062014559
Hardcover personally purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

I've declared my undying love for Lauren Oliver before (and her books), so here's your fair warning that I'm predisposed to like her new books. Her writing style is magical (even if her book doesn't have any magic), her stories are intoxicating, and Panic is no exception.

Panic is eerie in the way that it depicts a story I can't imagine, yet makes it believable. That's a tricky thing to accomplish, but it's important because I felt invested in the outcomes of these characters which made Panic an exciting read that I couldn't put down.

  1. Convincing characters:

    I remember reading the description for Panic when it first came out a while ago, and I wasn't too sure what to think of it. The description itself doesn't really grab me, and I was curious about what kind of world-building I'd find. The answer is that there isn't too much - the world in Panic seems to be the same one I live in. And I was a bit skeptical that Panic wouldn't convince me that these teens, these characters would risk their lives and do something so crazy - I wasn't too sure I'd buy into the idea of the Panic game existing in a town for such a long time. But Lauren Oliver brilliantly tells the story of a handful of teenagers who have their own purpose for participating in Panic. She convinced me that their participation was a plausible course of action, and then she convinced me to care about these characters and what happens to them (as she so often does in her books).
  2. Fast-paced, non-stop action:

    The story in Panic is told around this breathless hysteria and because there are so many secrets about Panic and my need for resolution for these characters, I found it difficult to put Panic down and take a break from reading. It captured my attention from the very beginning and held it until I read the last page. But I also appreciated that there was a clear resolution and end to the story. It isn't perfect, but ti's there which felt very important to me when reading a standalone book.
  3. Some truly surprising twists:

    Panic easily has some of my favourite plot twists that I have ever read. They're slowly hinted at so that the reader can figure things out before Dodge or Heather, but I like that slow, controlled type of reveal. It was just so well-orchestrated and it really enhanced the story, in my opinion. 
And as much as I liked this overall, there were a few events which were far too coincidental for my taste. And when they occurred at the end of the big, there wasn't nearly enough of an explanation which left me with a few too many questions. While I don't mind an open-ended resolution which leaves me with plenty to ponder, this just seemed to be too rushed as opposed to entirely thoughtful.

But this story is such a rush and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure Panic gave me!


Waiting on Wednesday {41}

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...

Tomorrow's Kingdom (The Gypsy King #3) by Maureen Fergus
Release Date ~ July 8, 2014

I love this series so much! Maureen Fergus is hilarious (and it translates onto paper so well) and I immediately fell in love with this fantasy story in the first book, The Gypsy King. A Fool's Errand was a great sequel, and as sad as I am to see this series come to an end, I can't wait for the third book! These books are just so much fun, with plenty of action and kissing to make it a great reading experience!

Have any of you read these books? If you haven't, do they sound like something you'd like?


Review: The List

The List by Siobhan Vivian
Release Date ~ April 1, 2012
Push ~ Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780545169172
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

The List is an intimate look into the lives and minds of a group of teenage girls - each of them brings their own unique story and each have a different ending. To me, this book felt less like a journey (with a plot and clear story to tell) and more like an experience of juxtaposing these 8 stories.

This is a particularly effective method to accomplish what I believe Siobhan Vivian is trying to do with the List, which is to highlight the struggles of a group of characters who are very different from each other. This is a book with a strong message, and I would highly recommend for readers who appreciate that type of story.

  1. Effective multiple narrators:

    Narration with multiple perspectives can be pretty hit or miss for me, but I found it to be a particularly effective tool in The List. The multiple perspectives works well here because the reader is given a broader understanding of the 8 girls and their relationships with each other. The similarities and differences between the characters were striking. It was fascinating to discover this, especially while the girls themselves had yet to recognize their similarities.
  2. A hard topic handled perfectly:

    To me, The List is definitely an "issue book" because there is a strong message within the story. However, the message didn't come across as preachy or pushy, which is a delicate balance to strike. It's very much present, and the ending leaves the reader with a few questions to ponder. Each of the girls has her own personal, unique ending - one that is suited to her character. This is important because it made the story feel very real - both endearing and heartbreaking, and even optimistic for some of the girls. But not all. 
A drawback from these two positive features is that the story largely feels unfinished. The book is simply too short to adequately wrap up the story of all 8 girls, and because of the sheer number of characters they don't get much page-time or development. Which is why I said that this didn't feel like a story as much as it felt like an experience or a portion of a journey.

The List is a book that I think would make a great starting point for discussions with younger girls - perhaps pre-teens or teenagers. It could be a really great book club pick because there's so much to talk about here (or even for a mother/daughter read). And it works really well for that - as for enjoyment purposes, the story lacked the development I prefer to read about in books.

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