April 30, 2012

Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Release Date: November 21, 2011
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 290
Series: Clockwise
Review Source: eBook from author for review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she’s accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward.

Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just “brotherly” protectiveness?

When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.

Which of course, she does.

My Thoughts:
Clockwise was a really cute book that I definitely enjoyed. I'm a sucker for time travel novels, and it was interesting to read about time travel happening with no warning and always going back to the same time period. I didn't quite get all the specifics about it, such as why when you ended up in the past you still had your regular clothes on, but when you went back to the future (ha, I couldn't help the reference, especially with Back to the Future being references in the text) you always ended up back in those normal clothes no matter what else you were wearing. I also would've thought that injuries might heal when you went back to the future because of that change of state with clothing, but apparently not.

Time travel specifics aside, I did enjoy the main character. I thought Casey was sweet and a little awkward, but with great inner strength and intelligence. Nate was kind of a dud as a love interest, though. He was that cute popular boy character, and I suppose he's more true to life than most YA love interests in that his friends were jerks and he gets dared into doing things, but I just didn't feel like his character got developed as much as he could have.

While this isn't an instant favourite I definitely liked it well enough. It's an enjoyable first instalment to a series, and with some stronger editing it could be really good. I loved the concept of the book, and I found myself really enjoying the scenes that took place in the past, as well as all the developments with characters there.

The Cover:
Cute! =)


Find Clockwise by Elle Strauss on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon. (99 cents on Kindle & Smashwords)

April 29, 2012

In My Mailbox (41)

Here's what I received over the past week:


- Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (Review)
- The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (Review)

For Review:

From Raincoast Books:
- While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
- The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond

From Hacette Book Group Canada:
- Return to Me by Justina Chen
- Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
- The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

From Netgalley/Galleygrab:
- When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
- Timepiece (Hourglass #2) by Myra McIntyre
- Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

April 27, 2012

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 320
Series: Masque
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

My Thoughts:
I liked this one well enough, I suppose, but I just didn't feel that connected to it like a lot of other people seem to be. See, a self-medicated heroine isn't really my cup of tea. I really hated how Araby refused to experience things her brother wouldn't experience. It just felt so weak, and I hated her lack of will. I understand that this was part of her character progression, but I also hated that it took a boy for her to see her worth.

Another thing that was a bit difficult with this book is that so much was going on. There was the old plague, the new plague, the clubs, political conspiracy, etc... there was so much all at once and it all kind of flowed together. I also felt like the characters were poorly defined. They also flowed together, in that it felt like they had different personalities at different times. There was also a lack of motivation going on with the prince. He was psycho and power hungry, wanting to control everything, even treating his family in a terrible way, but why? I didn't see any reason beyond the fact that he's the big bad.

Despite these complaints I didn't mind this book for the most part. It had a great visceral setting that I thought was one of the main strong points. In the end, though, I found it a bit forgettable, and not really for me. I'd definitely recommend you check out some other reviews, though, because a lot of people seem to be in love with this one.

The Cover:
Um yes, it's pretty awesome!


Find Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

April 25, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 294
Series: Gallagher Girls
Review Source: For review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home.

Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer.

My Thoughts:
I was worried that I had outgrown the Gallagher Girls a bit. I've been reading the books since they first came out 6 years ago, and I've changed a lot in my reading habits and tastes since then. Thankfully Ally Carter knows how to keep a series fresh and interesting, and how to grow her characters along with the reader. The Gallagher Girls are amazing characters who are intelligent, strong, and likeable, and as always this book is chock full of puzzles, mysteries, and tons of spy fun.

I also wasn't sure about this volume initially because it's about Cammie losing time and memories. So often I feel like this plot device tears apart a series and makes a character unlikeable. Well I don't know why I had so many worries, because this wasn't the case at all. Cammie's missing time only made her more strong and determined. She worries about what might have happened during the summer she can't remember, but she never whines or feels too sorry for herself. I loved how Cammie tried to piece it all together. There was just enough mystery about it and some sadness to it all, but Cammie was just her brave and determined self through it all.

'Out of Sight, Out of Time' is filled with crazy action that will have you wondering who to trust as you try and figure out what happened to Cammie. It's such agonizing fun to try and unravel it all alongside the Gallagher Girls and the lovely Zach. This is an awesome installment that is just as good as the previous novels, and the only negative I can see is that you'll be dying for the next (and final!) Gallagher Girls book when you finish with it.

The Cover:
You know, I like the pose and I love the concept of these covers in general (the random note type of letters, the plaid), but I really hate the colour combination on this one.

[Strong 4/5]

Find Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

April 23, 2012

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 598
Series: Lumatere Chronicles
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

My Thoughts:
Melina Marchetta is clearly a genius, and she wrote my most favourite book on this entire planet. So it really does hurt my heart to say that this one was just "okay" for me. I liked it alright for most of the book, but I wanted to love it so much more. The good? Froi is an interesting character, and I liked seeing different sides of him. I liked how he was cheeky and sarcastic but deeply serious as well. My favourite part of the novel was what you can get out of it regarding present day struggles between nations. It's a fantasy novel, yet you can make those comparisons to today and our world when it comes to identity, homeland, and how war torn countries treat their own people.

However the great parts of this book can't compare with the not-so-great parts, in my opinion. Guys, this book is LONGGGGG. Serious long. And not the kind of long where you're so excited you get to spend more time with the characters and in the world. No, it had a few of those moments, but mostly it was just the really drawn out type of long. There were still moments of Melina Marchetta magic with making you feel such deep emotions, but nowhere near as usual. I'm afraid that has to do with Quintana, who was interesting, but not necessarily in a good way. Quintana is really only bearable when seen through Froi's eyes, but I never liked her or got behind her as a character. I definitely felt bad for her, but she is just too much. Too rude, too schizophrenic, too wild (as in a wild animal; the girl growls) for me to understand her or like her. I also felt like the curses and blood oaths and souls of the dead inhabiting the living became a bit much for me in this volume.

When it comes to character relationships and emotion Melina Marchetta is still queen, but I am much more of a fan of her contemporary work. I enjoyed 'Finnikin of the Rock' well enough, but 'Froi of the Exiles' failed to win my heart, mostly because of the character of Quintana.

The Cover:
Mehhh... I don't like that guy as Froi at all. The Australian one is definitely better.


Find Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox (40)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It is designed to put new books on people's radars, and encourage blogger interaction.

You may have noticed I've been a *bit* slack on the blog. Since I've been working it's been a lot more difficult to maintain posts regularly. Major props to those of you who have always been doing it! For some reason when I was in school I had no issues, but after working all day? Totally hard to find the time/energy. But I want to try and change that a bit because I love this blog and it's definitely worth the effort.

With that being said, here are some books from the past month or so:


- Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
- The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
- The Calling (Darkness Rising #2) by Kelley Armstrong

- Last Breath (Morganville Vampires #11) by Rachel Caine
- The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

- Darkride by Laura Bradley Rede
- The List by Siobhan Vivian
- A Breath of Eyre by Eva Marie Mont
- Starcrossed (Thief Errant #1) by Elizabeth C. Bunce
- Liar's Moon (Thief Errant #2) by Elizabeth C. Bunce

(Note to Kobo owners: there are coupon codes out right now for 90% off -- welcome90ca & welcome90us. I used them both and they both worked for me, but they have to be on non-agency books (usually smaller publishers). I was also able to use welcome75ca & welcome75us (both for 75% off). One time use only, but they make for REALLY good deals.)

For Review:

From Simon & Schuster Canada:
- Changeling by Philippa Gregory
- Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

From Razorbill/Penguin Canada:
- Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

From Hachette Book Group Canada:
- Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls #5) by Ally Carter

From Author:
- Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
- Clockwise by Elle Strauss

From Macmillan:
- Sapphire Blue (Ruby Red #2) by Kerstin Gier
- Promised (Birthmarked #3) by Caragh M. O'Brien

From St. Martin's Griffin:
- Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

April 21, 2012

Kelley Armstrong Signing

Today I had the pleasure of going to see Kelley Armstrong at a local Chapters. Kelley is touring for her latest YA release, The Calling, which was just released from Doubleday Canada (HarperTeen in the States). It's always nice when she does events around here because she's a local author, and she went to high school here in London (Chloe from her Darkest Powers trilogy has the last name Saunders, which is the high school she attended here).

Because 'The Calling' is a 2nd book in a trilogy Kelley wasn't able to read from it without giving spoilers from 'The Gathering', but she did do a Q&A session. Kelley ended up talking a lot about character development, and mentioned one thing that I thought was really cool. She said that you really need to know your character completely even though you only end up putting about 10% of that information into a book. She takes online personality quizzes from the POV of her character and if she can't answer all those questions easily then she doesn't know the character well enough.

I went to the signing with my Mom who totally scoped us out some front row seats, which meant we were the 2nd people to go up and get our books signed. As always Kelley had some great swag available for people to take, so I grabbed some buttons and bookmarks, and got my Darkness Rising books signed.

I also grabbed a picture with Kelley (in which I look mildly awkward, but whatever, I figured I would share anyway, since I kind of forgot to take any other pics).

All in all a very awesome time! Kelley is so nice and down to earth, and I definitely recommend you go to see her if she does an event near you.

April 17, 2012

Books 2 Eat 2012

On Friday night I went to a very cool fundraising event at my local library called Books 2 Eat. It celebrates "International Edible Book Day" (who knew there was such a thing, right?), and all the proceeds from the tickets went toward children's literacy programs at the library. Sound awesome? It totally was.

The evening started off with all kinds of Hunger Games inspired appetizers (including the Mockingjay cookie below) which were made by a local high school class who are part of a culinary program. They had all kinds of really cool names for the appetizers that went along with the books, and they did a really good job on them.

There was so much delicious book-inspired food, but what I was most excited about were the cakes, both for their delicious-ness and their very cool designs. Of course I loved the Beauty and the Beast one, and the cake underneath was so good as well (1/2 chocolate fudge, 1/2 red velvet).

The cake which ended up winning the 'Sweet' category is the one seen below, inspired by 'Water for Elephants'.

I was also really impressed with the book art centrepieces at each of the bistro-style tables. Here are a few of my favourites:

Overall it was a really fun evening, and tons of great food. I think there were close to 15 different restaurants there, and each place had a different entrée sample or dessert.

Of course since the event 1/2 took place in the large teen annex I couldn't help but take a pic of the super cool Divergent poster they have hanging up:

So yes, a very cool evening and an awesome way to support the library!

You can find a little article with some more pictures from the event here.


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