3/30/13

Delusion


Author: Laura L. Sullivan 
Pages: 352 
Publisher: Harcourt 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When two beautiful teenage stage magicians in World War II England meet a pair of handsome men who can do real magic, sparks fly. But is it illusion, or delusion? 

Opening-night jitters are nothing new for Phil and Fee Albion, who come from a long line of stage illusionists. The girls love to dazzle London audiences, but in the aftermath of the Blitz they're bundled off to the countryside, where they're safe from bombs and Nazis--and bored to pieces. Phil, always the passionate one, discovers a hidden college of real magicians led by the devastatingly handsome Arden. If only Phil can persuade these unworldly magicians to help England win the war! Daredevil that she is, she'll risk anything to give her country a fighting chance, even if it means losing her heart . . . or her life.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

My Summary: Phil and Fee are stage magicians in the time of bombings and the London Blitz. World War II has rocked the world, but the girls are safe in the countryside, practicing their craft: magic. Or at least what looks like magic. The girls are stage performers, and they long to dazzle the world with their skills....

When Phil accidentally stumbles upon a gathering of actual magicians, there's no going back for the girls. They soon discover that they are descended from a real magician, and that they may even be able to tap into their gifts. As the girls fall for the magicians, they realize that they must do everything they can to protect their country - as well as their loves - from the enemy.

My Thoughts: You guys know I love anything and anything historical fiction, so you can imagine how excited I was when I read the synopsis of Delusion. Magic plus historical fiction? Yes please!

Phil and Fee were completely opposite from one another, which I found to be really refreshing. I loved that the girls wanted to help their country in any way they could, even from their small-town prison. Phil and Fee's magical talents made me reminisce about the days when I was convinced that I would become the world's greatest magician... let's just say I'll be leaving the magic to other people. 

The writing really flowed in this novel. I found myself laughing and enjoying the progression of the plot, even if it wasn't always believable. The dynamic between the two sisters was awesome as well - it added an extra layer to the story and kept me reading.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction mixed with a little bit of fantasy and romance.

Paper Valentine


Author: Brenna Yovanoff 
Pages: 304 
Publisher: Razorbill 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. 

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.



My Summary: Hannah had barely begun to put her life back together when the murders started. 

After the death of her best friend, Hannah is haunted by the ghost of the girl who shared her childhood.  She can't escape the voice of her sick friend, reminding her over and over again that she must be perfect. But as summer passes and the bodies of girls keep turning up - all with the same signature paper heart placed nearby -  Hannah's focus shifts from the ghost haunting her to the killer haunting her tiny town. 

Begged by the ghosts of the dead girls to find their killer, Hannah begins searching for clues. and just as she begins to figure things out, Finny Boone - a delinquent with a big heart - is wrongly accused. 

The ghosts aren't happy in Ludlow, and it's up to Hannah to find out why.

My Thoughts: I adored every second of this book. It was creepy and amazing and appealed to the forensic scientist in me; I felt like I was reading the lovechild of episodes of CSI and Supernatural. Every aspect was spot on and kept me reading well into the wee hours of the night. Brenna Yovanoff has earned a spot of my list of favourite authors, and those aren't easily won. Trust me on this one. 

I loved the complexity and the atmosphere of this novel. You could feel the fear of the town seeping through the pages as you held your breath and hoped it would all work out for the characters. Having lived in a place where kidnappings have occurred, I can say with certainty that the author channeled the feelings of a terrified town perfectly. 

Finny and Hannah were awesome; they carved out their own little niche in my heart. I was rooting so hard for them, guys. They rocked my socks. The character development was great - especially Lillian's. They were extremely dynamic, and it really added to the story.

Final Thoughts: It was amazing and I loved every second. Go out and get yourself a copy if you haven't already! And if you have, I definitely recommend you check out some of Brenna Yovanoff's other novels.  


Perfect Chemistry


Author: Simone Elkeles
Pages: 359 
Publisher: Walker Books 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.



My Summary: Alex and Brittany live completely opposite lives. Alex lives on the south side of town - a place where gangs and violence rule - while Brittany lives on the north side, where the most heated argument is over who wore it best. But when the two are forced to be chemistry partners, they're both equally shocked to find they have... well, chemistry.

As the two get to know one another, they realize that even though they might come from completely different worlds, they may be playing the same parts in their own respective lives. 

My Thoughts: It's so strange to think that I didn't even consider reading this book until a few weeks ago. I'd seen so many reviews raving about how great it was, and my automatic reaction was to be a little suspicious. I mean, it couldn't possibly be as great as everyone makes it out to be, right?

Wrong. I seriously can't believe it took my friend so long to convince me. Alex and Brittany were awesome characters, and I was pulled into their world (and hooked) almost immediately. I really enjoyed the banter between the characters, and the way the relationship developed realistically. And the ending... it was perfect! 

Final Thoughts: I'm really happy I finally got around to reading this novel! I definitely recommend this to anyone who's a fan of contemporary lit and romance that's a little off the beaten path. I'm debating reading the sequels, so if anyone has already, I'll love to hear your thoughts!

3/24/13

Meant to Be


Author: Lauren Morrill 
Pages: 304 
Publisher: Delacorte 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be"). 

 But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. 

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.



My Summary: Julia has always known what she wanted out of life, and she thought she knew exactly how she was going to get it - a straight-A student and swim-team champ, some would call her an overachiever. However, there's one thing Julia can't add to her list of accomplishments: her lifelong crush on Mark Bixford (aka her MTB) hasn't amounted to much of anything yet. 

But she's determined. And when her class trip to London gets her stuck with Jason - a typical class clown and someone whose greatest goal in life is to make it into the mile high club - she knows she's going to come out of the experience with a thousand more reasons why Mark is her perfect guy. 

Or not. After being dragged to a party and giving her number to a few British hotties, Julia's prospects have suddenly opened up. Mark may be her MTB, but would it hurt to have a little fun in the meantime?

My Thoughts: Those of you who read my reviews regularly (and I really hope it's not just you out there, mom) know that I love anything and everything that has to do with travel. Travel books are my reading guilty pleasure, and Meant to Be was no exception. Getting to see London through Julia's eyes was great - especially because the way she planned every second of her trip and then ended up ditching the plan was exactly what I did on my last vacation. Seriously, plans are overrated.

Jason and Julia were great characters. I loved the banter between the two - and the chemistry in general. Adorable all around, you know? I was sad to finish because I felt like I was saying goodbye to some awesome people. They had so much depth that at times you forgot they weren't real.

The writing flowed beautifully, and the descriptions of London and surrounding cities made me want to jump on the next flight there. 

Final Thoughts: If you haven't already, please check out Meant to Be! I definitely recommend it for fans of contemporary lit, romance, YA, and travel.

Clockwork Princess


Author: Cassandra Clare 
Pages: 568 
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.



Wow. Just... wow. I haven't been so impressed with an author (or a book) in a long time. Cassandra Clare managed to grab me from the first page and kept me hooked throughout. There were absolutely no dull points or times the story dragged. I couldn't put it down for the life of me. 

I was so afraid that this was going to be the one book in the trilogy I didn't like as much - isn't that usually the case when it comes to the conclusion of an amazing series? - but I found myself  more in love with this one than I'd been with the first two. Cassie's ability to show the strength of relationships made this book shine: scenes with Jem and Will brought me to tears. Lots and lots and lots of tears (and no, Google, I don't care that this wasn't a proper sentence. Take your green squiggles and go).

If you're a fan of Cassandra Clare's writing, I definitely recommend you go out and get yourself a copy of Clockwork Princess (that is if you haven't already). If you've never encountered Cassie's writing before, I recommend you pick up both Clockwork Angel and City of Bones and see where it takes you. 

3/18/13

Requiem

Author: Lauren Oliver 
Pages: 391 
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past. But we are still here. And there are more of us every day. 

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. 

 After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor. 

 Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings. Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it. But we have chosen a different road. And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose. We are even free to choose the wrong thing.



In order to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, I'm just gonna cut to the chase: Requiem was a great read, and although I didn't it as much as I did the first two installments, it was still a great addition to the series and tied up a lot of loose ends. I've read some reviews saying that people were unhappy with the lack of romance, but I think the whole point was that heartbreak comes with love and vice versa. One can't exist without the other. 

All in all, an awesome read. Go out and get yourself a copy if you haven't already!   

Torched


Author: Andrea Lynn Colt
Pages: 370
Publisher: Independent 
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Cheerleader Rose Whitfield's senior year goes up in smoke when she's framed for arson. Sure that the culprit is her neighbor Paxton, with whom she's been feuding since middle school, she sets out to clear her name and take Paxton down hard--not necessarily in that order.








My Summary:  Rose has never lived up to the typical cheerleader cliche: she's not ditzy or mean, and she definitely doesn't throw out guys like last spring's Prada - she's a good girl who loves her boyfriend and does everything she can to make her absentee parents proud.

Until she's framed for an arson - setting fire to her boyfriends family's boat - and has no choice but to sign a confession admitting her guilt. But Rose isn't going to take it lying down. She has a few suspects on her list - the first of whom her best-friend-turned-enemy / neighbour Paxton, and she's determined to clear her name.

My Thoughts: I really wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did! The characters were extremely genuine and likable  and there were definitely some moments where I was laughing out loud. I was expecting it to be a little on the fluffy side, but Torched actually had a whole lot of depth and character development. 

I really liked the fact that the characters were as dynamic as they were. Rose was a great MC, and Paxton was a sweetheart. The romance was present in the right quantities, along with the mystery aspect. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this to anyone who enjoys their contemporary lit with a bit of depth, and also to anyone who enjoys romance or YA.

3/16/13

The Wrap-Up List


Author: Steven Arntson 
Pages: 240 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Gabby has always been a good girl. She loves her parents and her friends and she never gets into trouble, spending most of her free time at church or at home doing schoolwork. She is barely sixteen and she knows she has her entire life ahead of her.

Until she receives the letter: a bright red envelope with nothing on it but her name, Gabby knows what this means - she's been chosen for departure.

Now, with only a week left to cross off everything on her 'wrap-up list', Gabby must get herself ready for the end - all while trying to figure out how to stop it from happening.

My Thoughts: This was definitely a unique, original read. At 240 pages, it still felt like  a really quick read (I finished in just under four hours). I enjoyed the way the author incorporated religion into the novel, and the way Gabby didn't just follow blindly. The people in her town are used to hearing about the departure letters, but even this little dash of paranormal hasn't altered their lives too much - they still have to deal with the same issues: crumbling marriages, civil responsibilities, and unrequited crushes. I was really impressed with how genuine Gabby's voice was, and how she seemed like your average teenager. Props to Steven Arntson for not making her sound like a walking, talking cliche.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a quick, original read that doesn't shy away from the issues that teens have to deal with nowadays. 

3/6/13

Quotes & Quarries

Hey guys! It's been a while since I did one of these, but I thought I'd get back into the swing of things with a great quote. Surprisingly, our quote this week isn't from a book at all - it's from a great poet I've recently become a fan of: Sarah Kay!


"Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air."

She's amazing, and you can check out her videos on youtube! Below is one of my favourites - check it out!




Let me know what you think! And if you're a fan of poets like Sarah, please feel free to recommend them :P

3/1/13

The Darkest Minds


Author: Alexandra Bracken 
Pages: 488 
Publisher: Disney Hyperion 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. 

 Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. 

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.



My Summary: Ruby was taken from her family at the age of ten and placed in a government-run 'rehabilitation camp' for kids like her - kids who, for whatever reason, began to show signs of extraordinary abilities. Trapped at camp for six years, Ruby believes she is exactly where she belongs after what she did to her parents.

But when a group of rebel agents takes a risk and breaks Ruby out of camp, the only thing she can think to do is run - as far and as fast as she can. Because these agents want her to become something she promised herself she'd never be: a weapon. 

My Thoughts: I adored every second of this book. I know I've said this before, but it needs repeating: I am seriously jealous of Alex Bracken's world-building skills. And they are skills, my friends: mad skillz. She weaves together a believable world complete with its own set of issues and dangers, and the reader barely notices that this idea of a world has been built in their heads until the story is over. 

The characters are amazing. I loved every single one, but I have to say, Chubs was my favourite. Poor guy just couldn't catch a break! Ruby was a great main character - she had that perfect mix of badass and good person, and even though she didn't always make the right choices, her slip-ups were forgivable. I really liked the premise of the book: I can't really describe the atmosphere in any other way than it reminded me a little of WW2. The idea of colours corresponding to powers was great as well.

But that ending. My heart, seriously. They were just -- and then -- gah, I can't talk about it yet. And I won't ruin it for the rest of you. Go have your hearts broken in your own terms!

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels, as well as a little romance and paranormal YA. 

The Madness Underneath


Author: Maureen Johnson 
Pages: 290 
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.




Guys, I'm gonna get right to the point with this one: if you haven't already, go out and get yourself a copy of this book. If you're a fan of the series, I definitely recommend picking up a copy (and possible taking a  day off to recuperate after reading... I know I am). I've been a huge, ginormous fan of Maureen Johnson for years, and if you enjoyed her other work but haven't checked out the Shades of London series, you really should. Trust me, you will not regret it.

Now, if you don't mind... *grabs kleenex box and has breakdown*.