Monday, February 24, 2014

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: February 5, 2013 (hardcover)
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 464
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner. 

My Thoughts: 
Just like with Cinder, Marissa Meyer reimagines another famous fairy tale – this time Red Riding Hood – in a completely fresh and futuristic way. Scarlet is brave, impulsive, sassy, and not afraid to speak what's on her mind. When nobody believes her reclusive grandmother is missing, it just makes Scarlet all the more determined to find her. Her search leads her to encounter Wolf, a street fighter with secrets and a dark past. Much like Scarlet, I felt an irresistible pull towards Wolf, but I was also wary to trust his intentions, even if he was really the only person who could help her.

Kai feels betrayed by Cinder's unintentional lies, and since discovering she's a Lunar, he's begun to doubt that the moments they shares together were genuine. Even so, he can't help rooting for her to never be caught by the evil Queen Levana. As the new emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth and faced with the threat of war, Kai has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. It will just make you hate Queen Levana even more.

With the help of the arrogant and charming Captain Thorne (loved him right away!), Cinder escapes prison and also begins to search for Scarlet's grandmother. Marrisa Meyer has carefully left clues regarding Cinder's past, and we begin to fully grasp just how much it was a risk and danger it was to smuggle Cinder to Earth when she was such a young girl. Painful memories begin to surface, and while Cinder is not quite ready to accept her royal heritage, she's not trying to deny it anymore.

Marissa Meyer's Scarlet is a brilliant addition to The Lunar Chronicles series. The action and suspense found on every single page will ensure you can't put the book down until you're finished! 

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: February 5, 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 461
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life. 

My Thoughts: 
Tahereh Mafi gives Juliette a distinct style of voice that I cannot even begin to compare to other YA novels because, really, there is no comparison in the first place. The abundance of similes and metaphors, as well as crossed out words, reveal Juliette's heart and soul. The narration is completely unique and original. Juliette has such an imaginative way of viewing the world; she sees the infinite possibilities and describes everything with heightened senses and a rush of emotion.

Don't get me wrong, I like Adam, but Unravel Me further cemented my love for Warner even more. The complexities to Warner's character captivate me in a way that I simply don't feel for Adam. The morality of Warner's actions can be questionable, but I've never doubted that he genuinely cares about Juliette and wants the best for her. We see another side of Warner in Unravel Me, one which shows his vulnerability.

Kenji is too awesome for words. He is such a good friend to Juliette. When her confidence wavers, he doesn't allow her to wallow in self-pity. He calls her out and tells her to toughen up in a way that no one else has ever dared or bothered to try. Everyone has their personal problems, but you can't allow them to stop you.

We learn more about Juliette, Adam, and Warner's special abilities in Unravel Me, and Tahereh Mafi proves she still has quite a few surprises up her sleeve. Adam has always been a pillar of strength for Juliette, but she begins to understand that she can't always depend on him – she has to stand on her own two feet. Time is running out for Juliette and her friends at Omega Point, and the feared leader of The Reestablishment is ready to crush them all. The explosive conclusion will leave you desperate to read Ignite Me, the final novel in the trilogy, immediately.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mark Your Calendars Canadians! February Edition

Are you ready to mark your calendars? Here are some upcoming Canadian YA book events to look forward to attending this month!

Eve Silver, Lesley Livingston and Morgan Rhodes
Canadian authors Eve Silver, Lesley Livingston and Morgan Rhodes (aka. Michelle Rowen) will be promoting their respective novels with a Q&A and book signing!
  • Saturday, February 15 at 2pm ~ Chapters Brampton, Brampton, ON
  • Saturday, February 22 at 2pm ~ Chapters Oshawa, Oshawa, ON
Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer is coming back to Canada to celebrate the release of Cress, the third novel in her bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.
  • Saturday, February 22 at 2pm ~ Chapters Metrotown, Burnaby, BC
  • Monday, February 24 at 2pm ~ North York Public Library, Toronto, ON
  • Monday, February 24 at 7pm ~ Indigo Yorkdale, Toronto, ON 

I will be attending Eve Silver, Lesley Livingston and Morgan Rhodes's book signing at Chapters Oshawa and Marissa Meyer's book signing at Indigo Yorkdale! It looks like 2014 is getting off to a great start for YA book events...

Will you be attending any of these events? If yes, I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dreamspinner by Lynn Kurland

Title: Dreamspinner (Nine Kingdoms #7)
Author: Lynn Kurland
Release Date: December 31, 2012 (paperback)
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 384
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

New York Times bestselling author Lynn Kurland’s enthralling Nine Kingdoms saga brings together a weaver’s apprentice and the son of a mage, both fighting to save the Nine Kingdoms from peril.

Aisling of Bruadair has lived a provincial life, heedless of the evil creeping over her land. That ordinary existence changes forever, though, when she is sent to the opposite end of the world to find a master swordsman. If she fails, her life--and her country's safety--will be forfeit. She just never expected that swordsman to be a wounded elven prince masquerading as a simple soldier.

Powerless and scarred from a long-ago conflict, Rùnach of Ceangail has spent years in obscurity, ignoing battles he can no longer fight. And although he has been drawn back into the world, he fully intends to live an unremarkable life far away from events he knows he cannot change...

Until Rùnach meets Aisling and realizes that she is far more than what she seems, that their alliance has attracted unwelcome notice, and that some battles must be fought.

My Thoughts: 
When I was looking for a new fantasy romance to read, I stumbled upon Lynn Kurland's Nine Kingdoms series and simply could not believe I hadn't heard of Dreamspinner sooner! In a world filled with elves, dwarves, powerful mages and more, how could I possibly not fall in love with the series? Dreamspinner is the first in a trilogy, but the seventh novel to be set within the Nine Kingdoms. You don't need to have read the previous books, but if you're already a fan of the series, then I'm sure you'll be happy to greet the familiar characters who appear.

Aisling has lived her life in the isolated kingdom of Bruadair, where no one can enter and no one can leave unless with a permit. Sold into the harsh Guild to become a weaver when she was a mere child, she suddenly manages to escape when she's thrust on an urgent quest to find an assassin to kill the usurper on her kingdom's throne. Once outside the borders of Bruadair, Aisling begins to discover a world she thought only to be from myth and legend... and that everything she's ever known has all been a lie.

Rùnach of Ceangail has experienced much more loss over the years than many could ever bear. Once a powerful elven prince, he still carries the physical scars after his magic was stolen from him long ago. Resigned and feeling that he no longer fits in with the rest of his illustrious family, Rùnach just wants to live out the rest of his life in obscurity as a simple soldier. 

When Aisling and Rùnach first meet, it is not love at first sight; it's the seemingly inconsequential meeting of two strangers who are determined to follow their own paths. The more time Rùnach spends around Aisling, the more he is oddly captivated by her and finds himself reluctantly joining her quest. Everything about Aisling and her well-guarded secrets are a great mystery to Rùnach, one he just can't help resisting to try and solve.

The camaraderie that develops between Rùnach and Aisling is very sweet and quietly builds. Rùnach may grumble that he's hardly an elegant lord anymore, but he's actually very chivalrous and protective. I absolutely loved how he supported Aisling without feeling the need to control her actions; he gave her the chance to discover the answers she needed on her own. 

If you're a high fantasy fan, I would whole-heartily recommend reading Lynn Kurland's Dreamspinner! The Nine Kingdoms series is technically for an adult audience, but it definitely has cross-over appeal for younger readers. Lynn Kurland has imagined a world that is rich and complex, with histories of its own that completely draw you in. I'm excited to see how Aisling and Rùnach's quest continues in River of Dreams!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Title: Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3)
Author: Samantha Young
Release Date: January 7, 2014 (paperback)
Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 432
Source: Bought

Overall: 5 Stars

The follow-up to the runaway bestsellers ON DUBLIN STREET and DOWN LONDON ROAD

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left brokenhearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever….

My Thoughts:  
After first meeting Olivia and Nate in Down London Road, I couldn't wait to read their love story in Before Jamaica Lane. Olivia and Nate have become the best of friends the past few months, the two single people left in their group of friends who are all happily engaged. Just like the previous novels in the series, Samantha Young finds a ways to balance hot, sexy scenes with a compelling storyline that develops the main characters as individuals too.

Olivia's teenage years were spent caring for her sick mother before she passed away, but now settled in Edinburgh with a new job as a librarian, she's hoping for a fresh start. The problem? Olivia is painfully shy around men and doesn't know how to speak to them. Her lack of success at dating has lowered her self-confidence, making her feel that nobody could possibly be interested in her. She's such a kind, wonderful and fun person, but her insecurities hold her back.

Nate's handsome looks and playboy exterior hide the grief he still feels over losing his first love many years ago. He may give his body to countless women, but he'll never give them his heart. When Nate offers to help Olivia in the art of seduction with all his experience, the dynamics of their friendship are forever changed... and Olivia can't help falling for him. Nate helps Olivia see for herself just how beautiful she truly is, and no one understands her like he does.

But the path to happily ever after is not so easy, and Olivia and Nate had so much to overcome before they could finally be together. It hurt so much to see them struggle with their feelings while still being tormented by the ghosts of their pasts. I was proud to see Olivia put everything on the line and take a risk with her heart, not settling for being anyone's second choice. And when Nate pulled away, you could practically hear Olivia's heart shatter into a million pieces in the terrible silence that seemed to follow. 

Samantha Young's Before Jamaica Lane brought tears to my eyes. It was emotional. It was romantic. It was everything I had hoped it would be.
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