Monday, January 26, 2015

Mark This Book Monday: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson!!

Hello there!

A new week starts and this one is a very relaxed one for me, because after working the weekend, I'm only working today and tomorrow and then I'll have the rest of the week off! *dances*

I'm starting the week with a new Mark This Book Monday entry and this one is special, because it's the first book chosen for my new book club, The Readers Lounge, organized by the lovely Emma from Never Judge a Book by Its Cover!

I was concerned that the book wouldn't arrive in time to read it before the end of the month, because the post over here has been insanely slow and it's still recovering from a massive backlog over Xmas, but it arrived in time and then I read it at night in one sitting, so problem solved! ;)

Since You've Been GoneSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since You've Been Gone was chosen as the first book of the book club I'm part of, the Reading Lounge and even if I wasn't entirely too sure if I'd like it. But luckily it was exactly what I needed to fight my blue mood & distract me of my insomnia! I didn't stop reading till nearly 6 am and I was finished with the book!

Emily is our main character and she's a very shy girl, used to having her best friend Sloane taking the lead in everything and dragging her out of her shell. Once Sloane seems to simply up and disappear without a trace, Emily is lost and a bit paralized without her. And then a list sent by Sloane appears and pushes Emily to get out of her shell, her comfort zone and to make friends and rely on herself.

I really enjoyed seeing Emily grow during the summer, finding herself in situations she wouldn't have been before (even less without Sloane next to her) and sometimes losing her nerve before compliting a task but always trying and finding that she's capable of more than she thought she would.

I loved that Emily's family is around, even if they're peculiar and are quite distracted for most of the summer, her parents are there and I simply loved their theater tradition and laid back but not lax attitude. Emily's brother was a riot with his daredevil ways!

I also really liked that we got the flashback moments to when Emily and Sloane met and their interactions and going out, because that way we could really get a sense of their friendship and how much it meant for Emily. I feel the book would have been incomplete without them, not as easy to relate to Emily's sense of loss.

This book managed to make me smile, laugh and giggle loads of times, not only there were fun and witty dialogs but some of the situations were simply hilarious! And the most fun were always those that involved Emily completing a task from the list.

Emily grows, find new friends, makes mistakes, learns from them and by the end of the summer she can stand on her own two feet, doesn't need Sloane to go out and interact with people and discover what she likes or not, but she still wants to find her friend. And once she does, that friendship is stronger for that.

I loved that friendship was such a central theme to this book and that the message for the most part about friendships and interactions was positive, without name calling or slut-shaming or any other pitfalls about female friendships that I abhor in books (and in society in general).

One of those contemporaries that makes me want to read more of them and well deserving of 4 stars!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Pages: ARC Review of Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton!!

Hello guys!

Happy Saturday! Today I'm reviewing yet another ARC as this week's Saturday Pages because I'm trying really hard to finally catch up with my NetGalley ratio, but seems that everytime I approach 80% I get approved for something else! Must resist requesting!

As an ARC this one is also part of my 105 Challenge and the review category!

Seeker (Seeker, #1)Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn't entirely sure when I requested Seeker if I was going to like it, since it was clear there was gonna be a love triangle, but it sounded like a very interesting fantasy so I decided to give it a try!

When I started reading I got rather confused at first because the world seemed to be a mix of fantasy and science fiction and it was a bit disconcerting at first. The change of POVs at first also didn't work too well for me, because I had no idea what kind of world this was, what the heck was going on or why we kept on changing POVs. When I thought I was getting the hang of Quin's voice, then we'd switch to John and his jaded attitude and secrets will confuse me yet again.

That kept on going on during the first half of the book when I kept on reading because I was intrigued but felt that the pacing was rather slow and we were getting too many pieces without a clue of how to put them together, but then the second half picked up speed in a BIG way!

Things change quite a lot, John seems to turn against his previous friends, Quin loses her memory and Shinobu turns to drugs to avoid is memories and his guilt. Then as Quin starts recovering her memories we start getting much more informationa and all the pieces we had for the puzzle start getting together and we seem to understand what is going on with the Seekers, really, learn more about their history, even if there are still many holes.

I was glad when the POV of the Young Dread was included because through her we got more background history for the Seekers and the Dreads, and it was really interesting. And adds quite a lot to the grey areas of the book, because in this one you are never sure who is in the right. John might be the bad guy, but if you think of his past and what's going on, his behaviour is more understandable.

The love triangle was something that bothered me a bit, but strangely enough not as much as I would have expected, but I'm not entirely sure of what will happen in the next book. I'm not particularly pro or against any of the two guys, but maybe I might be a bit more pro Shinobu than John.

Disconcerting at first but then quite fascinating, I am looking forward to more answers in the next book! 3.5 stars to this one!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

One Year Celebration: Happy 1st birthday to A Mad Wicked Folly!!

Welcome, welcome!

Come on over and have a cup of tea, grab a cupcake and make yourself comfy! Today I'm doing a small celebration in honour of the one year anniversary of one of my absolute favourite books from last year, the impressive debut YA novel of Sharon Biggs Waller, A Mad Wicked Folly!

I saw quite a few raging reviews for A Mad Wicked Folly from some trusted bloggers and when I decided to give it a try myself I was blown away and fell head over heels in love with the book! So much that whenever I've been asked about a book to recommend or to include in any sort of Top 10 list, it's quite probably the first one to pop into my mind, even if I read it in the first months of the year. You can check my review HERE.

I got to talk to the author, Sharon via Twitter and she was amazing and friendly and an absolute joy to talk to, and when I went on my "find myself alone" trip to the US, I met with her (and my dear Sarah!) for lunch and some historical sites visit in Chicago!

So when the idea of making a lil celebration for the book's first anniverasy of release day popped into my head, I asked her for an interview, and we had a wonderful Skype chat, with plenty of time rambling and talking not only about Folly, but about her upcoming book for 2016 and for the one that's asking to be written right after (which I'm DYING for now!!).

No celebration is complete without some sweet confections, and so I want to share again my Ink & Batter cupcakes inspired by A Mad Wicked Folly!

And now let's welcome Sharon Biggs Waller so she can tell us a bit more about her writing journey and her inspiration for A Mad Wicked Folly!

 A Mad Wicked Folly was your debut as a fiction writer, but you had written non-fiction before. How different is writing fiction vs non-fiction for you? 

Writing non-fiction is easier in a way, since you don't depend so much on inspiration to strike. You’re given someone to interview or a topic to write about, and you can jump right it. It’s important to find a good hook in order to draw people in—very much like you'd do with fiction. With non-fiction you can hit a deadline more easily as long as you have your information, but with fiction it depends on how well you know your characters and your story. That can take a lot of time.

When you moved into writing fiction, what made you choose historical fiction over other genres? 

When I was a park ranger I started out working at historical sites in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and I was responsible for writing and giving programs to the public and area schools. My specialty was the Voyageurs who had traveled through the area, trading with the Indians and settlers. I absolutely loved this part of my job. I was fascinated with the Voyageurs’ history and their personal stories.

So later when I started writing fiction, I wrote contemporary Judy Blume type stories and horse stories, which were popular and more marketable. But my imagination never really sparked to life until I returned to those stories from the past.

How did you choose the Edwardian era to start writing your first
story? What's your writing process like? 

I’d written two contemporary middle graders that didn't go anywhere. I had so much to learn so I started going to conferences, joining critique groups, reading lots of books on writing, and just learning the craft of writing fiction. When I moved to England my husband and I bought a beautiful Edwardian armoire and dressing table. I became fascinated by that era, and I started learning more about it.

As far as my writing process goes, once a story gets in my head it keeps on poking at me like "write me, write me now!" I start writing down ideas in notebooks—I usually end up with about three notebooks for each book. All the ideas, research, details, everything is in there. Every notebook has a key list for reference and also many colourful post-its! I'm not a “pantser” at all, but I don't write a formal outline either. Instead I write a list of short descriptions for important scenes that will tell the story. And then I imagine the entire story in my head before I start writing so I have a general idea of where it’s going to go. Until the story is at that point I don’t start writing, aside from bits of dialogue or description that I’m playing with, sort of how artists make informal sketches. It’s too easy for me to get sidetracked and I end up tearing out loads of stuff that doesn’t serve the story. (One time I dumped one hundred pages!) That kind of writing takes too much energy and it’s too painful to delete work.

Did Vicky as an artist arrive first or was the pledge & fight of the Suffragettes what solidify first in you mind once you chose the Edwardian era story? 

While I was living in England I’d often pass this statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and it inspired me to write about the suffragettes. At first Vicky came from a collection of stories I’d written that wasn’t really gelling as a book so I decided to work on her story only. I went through so many revisions with FOLLY. At first Vicky felt too sheltered and she lacked drive, so I thought I would give her a passion for something. I made her a jewelry maker but that wasn’t a good fit for her, so I passed to on to her friend Lucy. When I got to know her character better I realized she would make the perfect artist, especially one that refused to paint in the approved standards for women. Going for the forbidden art gave her the drive and motivation to fight for what she wanted out of life.

Given her fight, what do you think Vicky's opinion would be about all the girls that have been saying in social media that they're not feminists because those problems aren't theirs and don't concern them? 

First of all, Vicky would be fascinated by what's been achieved, and she'd want to wear jeans all the time! But she'd also be shocked about how sheltered some women can be given the fact that even if we've made a lot of progress, there's still a long way to go. In a place like the US there's problems with equal pay for equal work, no equality on political representation, and there’s still a limitation of reproductive rights for many women.

You posted a song on Facebook called Brave by Sara Bareilles and said that Vicky would have loved it. What part of the lyrics would have resonated the most with her? 

The song as a whole has a fantastic message to let yourself be heard and not to let other push you down, but these are the ones I'm sure Vicky will find most relatable to her situation:

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is 

Vicky lives in a golden cage, and she tries to find her voice but she keeps getting pushed down. She finally discovers that the way to make herself be heard is through her art.

And here's the video for the song that Sharon shared, and I have to agree with her that it's a great song, and one that reminds us to be brave and not be afraid to speak up for ourselves!

Thank you so much Sharon for a wonderful chat and so much information on your process and the world of Vicky!

And guys, you need to check this book out if you haven't yet! A must if you love historical fiction and if you don't think it's your genre, it might even change your mind!!

Friday Reads: Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens!!

Hello there guys!

Friday has arrived here and with it another going-back-to-work-for-the-weekend for me, but it's still a pretty good day because I have a quite delightful book with you all as this week's Friday Reads. It might seem odd to some of you calling a murder mystery delightful, but that's the very first word that comes to mind when I think of this book!

As a middle grade book it is part of my 105 Challenge, as one of my categories includes reading more MG this year! And with a third book from this series coming out later this year, I think it won't be as hard reaching my goal! I also got this as an ARC from Netgalley but I decided to add it as MG and not review copy. I cannot wait for my preordered copy to arrive because I feel like I'll end up re-reading it!

Arsenic For Tea: A Wells and Wong MysteryArsenic For Tea: A Wells and Wong Mystery by Robin  Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a big Agatha Christie fan and so when I discovered this series, I was elated to have something in her style but MG and with diverse characters. I loved the first book in the series, and although I guessed who the murderer was (did I mention I've read A LOT of Agatha Christie?) it was close to the final reveal so it didn't bother me, and the same thing happened here, I guessed before the reveal (that makes me feel clever) but not too early (which ends up being annoying).

In book 2 we have a change of scenery, Daisy & Hazel aren't at school but at Daisy's house to celebrate her birthday during the holidays. Hazel meets some odd members of the Wells family, a suspicious character wrecks some havoc on the family and then all of a sudden there's a murder, and everyone's a suspect!

I loved how the author managed to make us suspect everyone in turn, with a few red herrings here and there, some suspicious activity and incriminating conversations between different characters. Everyone seems to have a motive and opportunity and it's quite a tough investigation for Daisy to handle, so Hazel has to step up from her role of vice president to call on Daisy when she refuses to accept what seems to be the reality of it.

It's great how the friendship between Hazel and Daisy continues to develop, how they trust each other even when they're being pushed into something they don't like, even if it's more often than not Daisy pushing Hazel. They balance each other very well and they have loads to learn from each other, even if they don't seem to change much at first.

Hazel herself is a fantastic character and I love reading from her POV, she can sometimes be biased on her opinions, but with her think first and run later (unlike Daisy) she usually manages to reflect on clues and come up with the truth, even if she doesn't always have to like it. I loved how she was trying to put a brave face even when she was treated different, when she was feeling homesick and scared, and how she was always there for Daisy.

My hope is that Robin will continue to write many more books in this series, hopefully as many as Agatha Christie wrote, because I plan to read them all! Enchanting, thrilling and with plenty of food for thought. A delightful murder mystery, if you can call it that! Well deserved 4 stars!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #78!!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted at Breaking The Spine  that spotlights those can't-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-them books that we are eagerly awaiting!

What book am I eagerly awaiting and bitting my nails while I await its arrival? The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson!

Goodreads Summary:

"The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret."


Why am I eagerly awaiting The Shadow Cabinet? Well, I read and loved the two first books in the series last year and the ending of book two was rather cruel, so I cannot wait to read this one! I'm not sure if it's the final book in a trilogy or the third book in a longer series though!

What are you all (im)patiently awaiting this week?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tell Me Tuesdays #25!!

Tell Me Tuesdays is a meme/feature created by the awesome ladies of Please Feed The Bookworm and La La In The Library, where we can share how we choose the book we are currently reading from our TBR pile!

I'm always curious about that, cause as much as I tend to make myself a rough schedule for books to read and the like, I'm quite a mood reader and sometimes I just HAVE to ignore my schedule and read something else!

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.

But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.

Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

Combining thrilling adventure and action, dark magic, mystery and romance, The Queen of the Tearling is the debut of a born storyteller blessed with a startling imagination.

 Ensnared by A.G. Howard

 After surviving a disastrous battle at prom, Alyssa has embraced her madness and gained perspective. She’s determined to rescue her two worlds and the people and netherlings she loves. Even if it means challenging Queen Red to a final battle of wills and wiles . . . and even if the only way to Wonderland, now that the rabbit hole is closed, is through the looking-glass world—-a parallel dimension filled with mutated and sadistic netherling outcasts.

In the final installment of the Splintered trilogy, Alyssa and her dad journey into the heart of magic and mayhem in search of her mom and to set right all that’s gone wrong. Together with Jeb and Morpheus, they must salvage Wonderland from the decay and destruction that has ensnared it. But even if everyone succeeds and comes out alive, can they all truly have their happily ever after?

This week I'm taking a lil breather from reading ARCs and enjoying the feel of reading some physical books! I'm finally reading Ensnared, the highly awaited finaly book in the Splintered trilogy, and I'm doing a buddy read with Britt from Please Feed the Bookworm! And I'm also finally reading my Alyssa Recommends book for January: The Queen of the Tearling! After not only having Alyssa recommend it, but also Wendy and Layla from The Midnight Garden highly recommend it, I had to read it already!

 So what are you all guys reading and how and why did you decide to pick up that book? Shiny new ARC? Comfort read? Scheduled for review? Must have new release? Tell me!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cover Reveal: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L Jensen!!

Hello guys!!

Today I'm lucky enough to be part of the cover reveal for one of my most awaited sequels of the year, book two of The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L Jensen!

Since the cover of Stolen Songbird was a stunner, I was so very excited to finally get to see the one for Hidden Huntress, and OH BOY! It IS brilliant and gorgeous!!

Wanna see it? Then scroll down!!

*scroll, scroll*

*scroll, scroll*

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L Jensen
(The Malediction Trilogy #2)
Plublishing date: June 2nd 2015

Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.
Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.
Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.
To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication.

Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

And if you haven't read the first book of the trilogy, go read it now!

Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven!!

Hello there guys!

Welcome to a new week, starting with a new Monday! And what better way to start the new week than with a new book review for Mark This Book Monday!

I was approved for this book via NetGalley and I have to give a big thanks to Penguin Random House UK for the approval! This is one book that I MUST recommend for everyone, even if I have to recommend that you stock up on tissues, comfort food and a strong cuppa tea!

This one is part of my 105 Challenge but not as part of my review shelf part of the challenge, but the one for Diversity, because there's still plenty of conspiracy of silence and stigma about mental health issues, and this book talks about them in a very raw and real and rather well done way.

All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had read plenty of reviews from my fellow bloggers warning me about the crying with this book, but I was not prepared to spend the last 10% of the book bawling my eyes out, connecting so much with the characters and feeling so much for them... It took me a good half hour to stop sobbing and then I was still feeling pretty gutted for the rest of the night.

All The Bright Places is told in dual point of view for the most part, following both Theodore Finch and Violet Markey who meet at the top of their school's bell tower, both thinking about jumping and both saving each other in a way at the time.

I was both fascinated by Theodore as well as worried sick after the first few chapters. My mental health knowledge is pretty basic since that's not my work speciality, but with what little I know, I could see so very clearly what was going on and what was likely to happen in the end, but seeing it coming didn't prepare me well enough for the emotional punch that I'd be getting. Theodore helps Violet through her loss and her insecurities, but he never feels like he can get help or accept other people's help.

There's such a stigma on mental health illnesses that people are afraid to speak up, to search for help, to ask for help that they end up fighting entirely on their own, and that's not always a battle you can win without help. But society as a whole still tends to ridicule or hide or ignore or a combination of all three when it comes to mental health, and books like this one are so important for all of us, but even more for young adults that might be dealing with something similar and don't even know what it is that they are fighting, and only get the "freak" treatment.

Be ready to be changed somehow by this book, Theodore Finch won't pass through your life and leave you as you were. We can all learn a few things from this boy that burns like the brightest star.

A wonderful and poignant book that is both relevant and intimate. More than well deserved 4 to 4.5 stars. Read it now, but buy some tissues first.

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