Waiting on Wednesday {43}

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...

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Release Date ~ September 9, 2014

Goodreads Description:
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

I've had my eye on Rites of Passage for a little while now, because while I'm picky about contemporary books this one sounds ahhhhh-mazing! Military academies are fairly uncommon settings in YA contemporary these days. Plus I love, love, love secret societies!

I've heard from other bloggers that Rites of Passage is a really great read, too, so now I'm even more excited! I know it doesn't come out until September, so let's just say that we all know I'm going to be skipping some of my class readings to read this book instead....

What are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments! I love seeing what other people are looking forward to so I can discover new books :)


Review: The Falconer

The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May
Release Date ~ May 6, 2014
Chronicle Books
ISBN13: 9781452114231
Review copy received from Raincoast Books for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

The Falconer is a rare type of fantasy book, one that carefully blends a number of different characteristics to create a one-of-a-kind story. This is a fantasy with powerful fae and a hint of steampunk which is sure to please readers looking for a thrilling adventure.

  1. Plenty of action:

    The Falconer starts with a bang and ends with one. The action in this story just never ends! I loved how fast-paced it was, but the fight scenes and action was also purposeful. I think this is a feature that will appeal to many readers who enjoy plenty of excitement in their books, but with a reason and explanation for all of it.
  2. An intelligent main character:

    I really like protagonists to be smart and Aileana is a perfect model of an intelligent lead character. She's not only brave and headstrong, but her cleverness is biggest strength. It saves her in many tough situations. She spends much of her time trying to balance her "real life" as the daughter of a Marquess and her hobby of hunting down the fae in Scotland. Needless to say, the two don't complement each other.
  3. An intriguing setting:

    I loved the Scottish setting in The Falconer - I haven't read nearly enough books set in Scotland so I thought that was neat. I also liked how Elizabeth borrowed much of the mythology in her book from Scottish mythology, staying true to the setting. There's a bit of steampunk twisted in but it isn't overpowering and I wouldn't exactly call this a steampunk book, either. It's minimal and just a taste to add to the fantasy atmosphere. 
I was underwhelmed by the love story, unfortunately. I didn't feel strongly about her love interest or the chemistry between them at all. There was definitely something there and I liked that it had a nice, slow build but towards the end of the book it started to feel more rushed. This is the kind of romance I would have preferred to have seen gradually build over an entire series - it felt too sudden for one book.

The Falconer is a fast-paced read that has me excited for the sequel - I can't wait to see where the story goes and what happens next since there was so much left unfinished in the first book.


Review: Etiquette & Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
Release Date ~ February 5, 2013
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ~ Hachette Book Group
ISBN13: 9780316190084
ARC received from HBG Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

I have yet to read Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series but I was very curious to see what her spin-off series for teens would be like. Etiquette & Espionage ended up being an intriguing read by the end, although I wasn't too sure about it for the first half.

  1. An endearing adventure:

    By the end of the book, I was quite taken in with this fun little story. The characters and world charmed me, with their quirks and fascinating little details. I liked Sophronia's spunky, tomboy personality and how she finds a way to apply herself to her learning... in her own unique way. I love that the characters in this story are a little bit different and very normal - perfect for readers to relate to.
While the book ended up being a lot of fun for me, it took me a while to come around and appreciate it. I don't think this spin-off series is the best place to start for those who haven't read The Parasol Protectorate series. I felt very lost and confused at first, because the world was so unfamiliar as was the language used. I needed more explanation and it just wasn't there, so the world felt disappointingly underdeveloped to me.

But at the same time, for much of the book Etiquette & Espionage felt more like a middle grade read as opposed to a young adult book. Sophronia is 14 in the book, and while I think this would be a great book for many middle grade readers I'm not sure it has much crossover appeal for those who liked Gail's adult series. The book felt very young at first, although by the end it seemed to venture closer to standard YA territory. 

That being said, I enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage even if it wasn't quite what I was expecting. By the end I felt like I had found my rhythm with this book so that I had a better sense of the world structure. 


Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Release Date ~ December 10, 2013
Disney Hyperion ~ Hachette Book Group Canada
ISBN13: 9781423171027
Hardcover personally purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

These Broken Stars is a gorgeously written epic love story. In space. It's the kind of story that stays with you long after you've read it, and it's masterfully written. This is a brilliant introduction to the Starbound trilogy, and it left me eagerly anticipating This Shattered World!

  1. A survival story... IN SPACE:

    The space setting is important because it raises the stakes for Lilac and Tarver. They aren't just trying to live through a crash landing - they have to survive on an unknown, abandoned planet. And Lilac has to keep up with Tarver (a soldier) in a ballgown and heels (let's be real, I can barely survive attending a wedding for one evening in high heels. Let alone trekking across a strange and wild PLANET).
  2. A strange and mysterious world:

    I was entranced by the world Amie and Meagan created in These Broken Stars. The planet on which Lilac and Tarver crash-land is similar to Earth, yet very different in certain ways. It was a haunting portrayal of a planet, and I am so curious about the rest of the world in this science fiction series. It seems so big and vast, and there are all these secrets. I'm dying to learn more in the next book!
  3. A gripping end to the book:

    I could not turn the pages fast enough as this book was ending. And while there are certainly a number of questions the reader is left with at the end, it seems to be hinted at that the consequences may come up in later books. These Broken Stars as a book is wrapped up nicely and ends, but I can readily see how the world is much bigger than this one book. It's a great way to write a book because it's as if this book is just one window into this world, rather than the world only existing within one book.
These characters are amazing, as well. Completely flawed, but still great characters to read about with strong development over the course of a life-changing event.

Keep in mind going into this that These Broken Stars has slower pacing than some readers may be used to - the characters experience significant internal struggle, and that's a very important aspect of the book. I don't believe in any way that detracts from the story, just a heads up.


Review: Say Her Name

Say Her Name by James Dawson
Release Date ~ June 5, 2014
Hot Key Books ~ Penguin Canada
ISBN13: 9781471402449
ARC received from Penguin Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before... A truly spine-chilling yet witty horror from shortlisted 'Queen of Teen' author James Dawson.

I'm always in the mood for a good horror story, and Say Her Name struck me as having a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the fear factor just wasn't there for me nor was the story particularly compelling.

  1. A new spin on an old legend:

    I really liked how James Dawson used the Bloody Mary legend (which most of us have heard one variant of or another) and then built on it. He used its notoriety to help develop his own story, and he added an explanation and back story to the myth. That's a really great way to use this legend and it was particularly effective because there was a reason for each included detail. 
Now, as much as I liked that there was an explanation for all the creepy events and scenes... it also kind of detracted from the scary factor for me. 

The problem is that when I pick up a horror book, I want to be scared at some point. And I truly didn't experience that with Say Her Name. That was the main reason for my disappointment. This book felt more like a mystery thriller to me than horror, because while parts of it are clearly disturbing it didn't quite reach the level of horror for me. And those scenes are rather brief.

I probably could have enjoyed this book had I enjoyed the plot more than I did. The characters didn't feel fully developed to me, and nearly all of them came across as caricatures. They were stereotypical teenagers, and rather one-dimensional. 


Blog Tour: Breathe, Annie, Breathe

Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5) by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date ~ July 15, 2014
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN13: 9781402284793
e-ARC received from Raincoast Books for blog tour

Goodreads Synopsis:
Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

I was excited to have an opportunity to join this blog tour for Breathe, Annie, Breathe since I've read many of Miranda Kenneally's other books in the Hundred Oaks series and enjoyed them. But Annie was one that stood out to me since it was about a girl learning to run - a hobby I've dabbled in for the past year.

This latest book from Miranda is one of my favourites because it is a sentimental story both in how it shows Annie as she deals with her grief and as she moves forward in her life.

  1. Annie is a complex, engaging main character:

    Annie is engaging because of how real she seemed to me - flaws and all. She's brave for opting to run a marathon in memory of her deceased boyfriend, but her journey isn't a smooth one. Annie has to devote herself to her training, and proves herself to be one of the most hard-working and dedicated characters I have ever read.
  2. Spirited romance:

    I cannot explain in one little review how much I adore Jeremiah! He's a very different type of person from Annie, and from many of the other Hundred Oaks love interests. But he is easily my new favourite! He's a tad reckless, but he's fairly well-balanced with his thoughtful personality and (somewhat reluctant) maturity. He's clearly caught in this young adult phase of his life where he's really starting to grow up and take on more responsibility, yet he still has this more youthful facet with cheesy jokes and impulsive decisions. The two of them, together, have crackling chemistry that lifts right off the pages.
  3. Annie's grueling marathon training:

    I love that Miranda included all the dirty details on marathon training - it definitely isn't pretty at times. As an occasional runner myself, I found myself either readily relating to some of Annie's experiences or reading in fascination of what I could expect should I ever decide to run a marathon (which is unlikely right now). The story is rich for this reason alone, with the added benefit of characters with their own stories to share. 
The only part that I felt could have used a bit more (or perhaps stronger) development was Jeremiah's revelation about his past choices and current situation. It seemed that there were hints of more going on than we were first told, but it was left open-ended. This could have more to do with my interpretation of the dialogue and writing, rather than any writing error.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is a beautiful story of one girl desperately trying to come to terms with the death of someone who was very close to her. Annie has to come to terms with her own guilt and future, and I loved that this took place with her marathon training as a tool.

Miranda kindly took the time to answer some questions for this blog tour (provided through Raincoast Books) and I'm sharing some of my favourites with you today!

  1. Q: Your main character, Annie, is training to run for a marathon.  You also provided a great deal of detail about how hard it is on your body to train for a marathon.  Did you do any background research for this?

    A: Yes! In the past I ran a marathon and a half-marathon, so I used experiences from training for those races to write BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE. I also consulted "Runner's World" magazine and interviewed trainers at my gym. I also spoke to a few former pro-athletes.
  2. Q: When you work out, what music is on your playlist?

    A: Most of the time I forget to charge my iPod before I go to the gym, but when I remember it, I listen to lots of upbeat pop music like David Guetta, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Ke$ha, and Calvin Harris.
  3. Q: Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief.  What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?

    A: I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone's healing process is different. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist. 
  4. Q: You tend to write strong characters who are also athletic. Were you considered a jock in high school?

    A: Not at all! If anything, I was a chorus geek. I played soccer, but I wasn't very good at it. I also managed the boys soccer team, but that was really just an excuse to hang around hot guys after school.

And now, last but not least, I'm also going to recommend some of my favourite things to listen to while I'm running.

First of all, I love listening to audiobooks! They're great because the narration is such that it allows me to run at my own pace - this is particularly important for my longer runs when I have to be careful not to set a pace that's too fast for me to maintain over the entire distance.

As for music, some of my favourite songs for running include:

  • Titanium (feat. Sia) by David Guetta
  • Eye On It by tobyMac
  • Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
  • Bad Reputation by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts 
  • One In a Million by Down With Webster

If you haven't already, stop by Maji Bookshelf for Juhina's post on the Breathe, Annie, Breathe blog tour!

Tomorrow you can visit Mostly YA Lit for Tiff's thoughts.

Blog Design by eedee design studios