10/20/13

When Did You See Her Last?

Author: Lemony Snicket 
Pages: 288 
Publisher: Egmont 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): In the fading town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. 

Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business?

These are all the wrong questions.








My Summary: In the dreary town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, Lemony Snicket and his mentor S. Theodora Markson have been hired to investigate another case: the disappearance of Cleo Knight - the daughter of the wealthiest family in Stain'd-by-the-Sea and an aspiring chemist. With no note and no idea where she could have gone, Lemony is surprised to see that the girl's parents seem to have forgotten all about her. He knows her disappearance may very well have to do with Hangfire and his treachery, but with nothing but a few unreliable witness  statements and some honeydew melons to go  on, Lemony must call upon his friends Pip, Squeak, and Moxie to help find the missing girl.

Because "When Did You See Her Last?" is really the wrong question.

My Thoughts: Snicket never seems to disappoint. This is a MG novel, and the author manages to weave together so many intricate plot points that older readers will not be able to put it down and younger readers will not find it hard to follow. I devoured this book in just a little over four hours and immediately flipped to the first page to start again. 

I loved that the author made subtle references to his other books (A Series of Unfortunate Events), and his trademark wit and dictionary definitions were never lacking. I adored this book and I adore this series and just about everything Lemony Snicket has ever written. This was definitely not one of those sequels that doesn't measure up to its predecessor. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this series to anyone looking for a refreshing MG read (and of course, to fans of Lemony Snicket). 

The House of Hades

Author: Rick Riordan 
Pages: 597 
Publisher: Hyperion 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape? 


They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.



I couldn't even formulate a coherent thought after finishing this book. Seriously guys, after reading and loving all of Rick Riordan's books so far, I have nothing else to say but this: go out, get yourself a copy of any one of his books, and prepare to be hooked.

I really can't talk about what happens (hence the lack of summary) but I will tell you this: the little soft spot in my heart for Nico expanded to twenty times its size and I really just wanted to reach into the pages and give him a hug. The kid had to go through so much, and I really hope he gets a happy ending.

I am counting down the seconds days until The Blood of Olympus. Until then I'll probably be re-reading the entire series for the fifth time. If anyone has read it and wants to fangirl with me (or just talk spoilers, I don't mind), let me know in the comments! 

And seriously, if you haven't already: get yourself one of Rick Riordan's books. I promise you will not regret it.

Rogue

Author: Gina Damico 
Pages: 326 
Publisher: Graphia 
Format: Paperback (ARC) 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.  




The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed…but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.



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

My Summary: Lex and her rag-tag group of friends-turned-fugitives are on the run again.

After accidentally Damning the mayor's crazy murderous wife and releasing the ghost of the most powerful Grim ever to walk the Earth, they've got more than their fair share of problems to deal with. The best idea would be to lay low, right? But apparently fate has other plans for the Juniors, and after discovering that the actions of the Grims are causing the shutdown of the Afterlife, Lex and her friends know they can't rest until they close the Portals forever.

Can they do it if it means the end of being a Grim for everyone, or will the Afterlife be lost forever?

My Thoughts: Having read and adored both of the previous installments of Gina Damico's Croak trilogy, I was prepared to be blown away by Rogue -- and I was. Everything I'd loved about Croak and Scorch was present and accounted for: the witty humour, hilarious dialogue, and of course the extremely relatable characters. Lex was just as snarky and clever as ever, and her interactions with Driggs and everyone else brightened up the darker moments of this last installment. I really liked that we got to know Driggs a little better in this one - he's been one of my favourites since the beginning.

I'm trying to refrain from spoilers, but let me just say this: I thought the ending fit perfectly with the story. It wasn't the ending I wanted, but it was - in my opinion, at least - the only ending that could happen and remain faithful to the characters and their motivations. It was perfect and I shed a few tears and just... you guys need to read these books, okay?

Final Thoughts: I recommend this series to anyone looking for a unique paranormal YA read with a ton of humour.

10/18/13

Follow Friday & The Case of the Missing Blogger


Happy Friday, everyone! This week's question:

What are some of your favourite magazines?

I can't even remember the last time I picked up a magazine! It was probably about three or four years ago. I'm really not a magazine-reading kind of person - I prefer more depth when reading. But if anyone has any recommendations I'd be sure to check them out! :)

On another note: where the heck have I been?


It feels like I've been gone for ages! Midterm season hit me hard, and I haven't even had time to read in the past few days (I know!). Thankfully, that's all over now and I will be reading everything and anything I can get my hands on this weekend. I know my copies of
The House of Hades and When Did You See Her Last? have been calling to me from my nightstand.

Anyway, thank you for sticking with me through these turbulent times. I promise I'll be back on Monday with a whole slew of reviews. I'm not accepting any new review request as of this week because I have tons to catch up on, but I'll keep you guys posted!

Have a great weekend! To any new followers: please be sure to follow me through as many platforms as you can, and I'll be sure to return the favour.

10/9/13

Interview With Author Tanya Lloyd Kyi!

Recently, I got the chance to read a copy of Tanya Lloyd Kyi's Anywhere But Here and loved it, so when I was offered the opportunity to ask Tanya a few questions, I jumped at the chance. Anywhere But Here is out in a little less than a week, so be sure to check out the summary below and click through to my review here.

SummaryEver since his mom died, Cole just feels stuck. His dad acts like a stranger, and Lauren, his picture-perfect girlfriend of two years, doesn’t understand him anymore. He can’t ditch his dad, so Cole breaks up with Lauren. She doesn’t take the news very well, and Cole’s best friend won’t get off his case about it.

Now more than ever, Cole wants to graduate and leave his small, suffocating town. And everything is going according to plan—until Cole discovers the one secret that could keep him there…forever.

Do you prefer small towns like Cole's, or would you rather live in a big city? Why?


I grew up in Creston, a small town very much like Cole’s. But soon after I moved to Vancouver, a friend took me to see a writer speak at the Orpheum Theatre. That theatre is stunning inside – like something from a movie set. And the writer was awe-inspiring. I thought, if living in Vancouver meant going to places like that and listening to people like her, I was never leaving. 

There are still many things I miss about my small town – the mountains, the lakes, the people who stop to chat in the grocery store. But I’m not ready to leave the city anytime soon! 


Was it difficult to write from a male point of view? What would you say was the biggest challenge?



Originally, I thought Anywhere But Here would be narrated by two characters, one male and one female. They’d tell the story from their own points of view. But Cole quickly took over. He was so intelligent in some ways and so clueless in others, I fell in love with him. 
 
I showed a draft of the manuscript to several male readers, including my dad. My dad pointed to one scene (in which Cole visits the bandstand with Hannah), and said something along the lines of: “He’s in the bandstand with her, and she’s offering, but they don’t have sex? That would never happen.” 

I rewrote the scene. But that was the first and hopefully the last time I’ve ever talked to my dad about sex. 


 Did you model any aspects of Cole after any characters, fictional or otherwise?


I blatantly stole the conversations Cole and Greg have about aliens coming to Earth. Those two make a deal that they’ll believe each other, no matter what. My husband has made the same agreement with his friend Glenn. If an alien punches one of them on the nose, the other is obligated to believe. 

With the exception of a few conversations, though, Cole is his own person. I’m not sure where he came from, but I do find a lot of truth in Cory Doctorow’s thoughts on how characters come to life. (http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2013/01/cory-doctorow-where-characters-come-from/


 What, in your opinion, is the best way to deal with grief?


I watched a cousin lose a child a few years ago and I can’t even imagine enduring that kind of pain. I don’t know if there’s a “best” way to deal with grief. It’s easier to see, objectively, the less productive ways to cope – and Cole experiments with several. 


 Do you have any writing quirks or habits?

Writing is a quirky habit in general. I try to write each morning. Then my characters spend their afternoons kicking around my brain, seeing what they might next knock loose. There’s plenty of random junk in there from which to choose! 

Thank you for having me, and thanks for the thoughtful questions!

Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions, Tanya! I can't wait to read more from you! 

Check out more from Tanya on her blog, www.tanyalloydkyi.com, and click through the book cover to visit Anywhere But Here's Goodreads page. If you're a fan of contemporary lit, it's definitely not a book you want to miss!

10/3/13

Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell 
Pages: 336
Publisher: Plume 
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives. 

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke. 

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories. By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself. What would he say?




My Summary: Beth and Jennifer have been best friends for years, so they don't hold back anything when they communicate by email. They talk about love, marriage, pregnancy, Beth's boyfriend, and just about everything in between. It's what they've done for years, and they're not about to stop now.

Lincoln was hired by a local newspaper to be in charge of IT -- too bad that means sitting at a desk for eight hours every night and snooping through people's emails. He hates his job... until he begins reading the emails between Beth and Jennifer. Through their emails, Lincoln gets to know these two women ... and starts to fall for Beth. And judging by her emails to Jennifer, Beth's may also be nursing a crush. But how can he explain why he knows so much about someone he's never actually met?

My Thoughts: Having read Rainbow Rowell's other two novels this year, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of Attachments. Rainbow's writing never disappoints, and her stories are always engaging and easy to lose yourself in. I had high expectations when I picked up this novel, and it did not let me down.

Lincoln was a great character. More than a little broken, he comes off as someone who you couldn't help but like. I liked that we got more information about his past as we learned more about Jennifer and Beth - little tidbits were revealed as the story progressed, and you where never overwhelmed with too much characterization. Things flowed naturally, and the characters were very well-developed. It almost felt like a coming-of-age story at times - watching Lincoln pull his life together and getting over something he hadn't been able to let go of for years.

I loved the nineties pop culture references, and especially loved all the geek-isms of Lincoln and his friends. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for a unique, realistic contemporary read with a lot of humour and romance.

10/1/13

The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls

Author: Claire Legrand 
Pages: 343 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster—lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out…different. Or they don’t come out at all. 

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria—even if it means getting a little messy.  



My Summary: Victoria's life is prim and proper and everything has its place. She gets up at exactly half past six every morning, gets ready for school, and marches off to another day of perfection at a school where she's the top of the class. Her life is perfect, and that's the way Victoria likes it.

Until her best friend Lawrence - the only messy part of her life - goes missing, and strange things begin happening all around her. More and more children appear to be disappearing every day - and being forgotten by everyone who ever knew them. Victoria knows that there's something strange going  on, and she's going to get to the bottom of it. She'll bring back Lawrence and the other children... even if she has to 'disappear' as well.

My Thoughts: I absolutely adored this novel, and I can't believe I got it for only five bucks (Canadian readers: look for it in the bargain section of Chapters!). This was one of the best MG novels I've read this year, hands down. 

Legrand's writing pulled me into the story right away and kept me hooked until the last page of the epilogue. The tone of the story itself was almost gothic, and the entire thing was just so creepy... I loved it. Certain elements reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, which is one of my all-time favourites. And you can call this a children's book all you want, but I was more than a little scared while reading. The writing read a lot like prose at times, and the author's descriptions of The Home and Victoria's neighbourhood made me feel like I was right there with her.

Victoria was a great character. She wasn't easy to like, but she was almost so rude and sure of herself that you couldn't help but like her. And her concern for Lawrence was endearing. You could tell she really cared about her friend and was willing to do whatever it took to find him and bring him home safe. 

By the end, I had to turn the lights on. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of creepy MG and YA - fans of Coraline and Neil Gaiman will love it!