Drop by Katie Everson

Drop by Katie Everson

Release Date: August 6, 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
Goodreads Website

I wasn’t always like this. I know what you’re thinking: druggie, junkie, wreckhead, trashbag. But I’m not sticking needles in my arm or sleeping on the streets, or stealing to feed the habit. I’m not one of those.

Carla has just moved to London and starts at yet another new school; she is desperate to fit in. Though she makes a couple of friends, she soon meets the charismatic, good-looking Finn and their whirlwind romance begins. Carla, an A student and gifted artist, lets her schoolwork slip as she enters Finn's world – a world of partying and drugs. Friends tells her that Finn is no good – even his brother, Isaac. But Isaac has an ulterior motive, doesn't he? Is either brother right for Carla?

I didn’t really know what I was about to read when I started Drop. I think only recently the second part of the synopsis was added, but all I had to go on was a vague paragraph that talked about drug usage. So yeah, that’s pretty much all I knew: that this was a book about drugs. I could obviously infer that the main character had made some bad decisions but was somewhat in denial. And that is literally IT. I went into this one pretty blind.

And I came out loving it.

Drop is one of those books that completely took me by surprise. I found myself not wanting to put this one down, and immediately picking it back up again, despite the recent decline in the amount of books I’ve been reading.

This is probably one of the only books I’ve read where I hated the main character and I was completely fine with it. Okay, “hate” is a strong word, but I definitely didn’t like Carla’s character very much. But that’s what made her story so much more powerful. I found myself rolling my eyes at the labels she gives herself and others. I’ve moved schools just as many times as she has–which is around 8 or 9 times–but I don’t feel the same way as she does. I do understand though the desire to change who you are with every move. But of course, you always tend to land up as you’ve always been with the same kind of people. Despite how much I disliked her attitude in the beginning and middle of the story, what I thought totally redeemed this was her growth. Her flaws were completely realistic, and I thought the author is a fabulous job with portraying them. She actually learns from her mistakes and moves on.

I haven’t read too many books on drug use, but this book was very scary. Honestly, I would have backed the eff away from the situation. Of course, though, it’s a very realistic possibility. I thought Everson’s take on it was very well done, and conveyed the consequences of using such substances, as well as the problems that can arise after taking these drugs, powerfully.

I absolutely MUST praise Katie Everson on her writing. It was probably the best thing about this book, on top of all the other amazing parts of this novel–the beautiful imagery (especially concerning butterflies) and the unique writing style really made reading this book a more profound and enthralling experience. Drop was raw, compelling, and sharp. Katie Everson’s debut is beyond impressive, and there’s no doubt that I’m eagerly waiting for her next book.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 154

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It’s to spotlight upcoming books that I’m DYING to get my hands on!

This week’s WoW is:
The Word for Yes by Claire Needell

After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.

Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

At once touching and raw, Claire Needell’s first novel is an honest look at the love and conflicts among sisters and friends, and how these relationships can hold us together—and tear us apart.

February 16, 2016 ● Goodreads

Upon seeing the cover with the huge YES and the shadow of a NO, I immediately wanted to find out what this book was about. I love books about sisters and the relationship between them, and it also seems like it’s a book about a night gone wrong, so there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a powerful read.

What are you waiting on?

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Before This Monstrous Thing became available on Edelweiss, I was really, REALLY looking forward to it. In high school I read Frankenstein for a paper on gothic literature, and while I really loved Mary Shelley’s classic, I haven’t read any retellings other than A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd. I thought I would have read the book closer to its publication date, but something amazing happened and I ended up reading This Monstrous Thing way back in April. Why, you ask? 


Okay here’s the whole story: For one of my university courses, Introduction to Communication Writing, I had to write a profile on someone local. I knew it was going to be an author because, hello? BOOKS. ARE. MY. LIFE. So I did a little digging around and I found out that Mackenzi actually lives in Boston. I’d heard about her book so obviously I asked her if I could write a profile on her and interview her (assignment requirement), and she was SUPER sweet and we met up and talked for TWO HOURS about her and her book. It was all kinds of awesome-sauce.

Anyway, so that’s why I had to read the book early. This Monstrous Thing was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the book in one sitting. As Mackenzi mentioned during the interview, it’s more of a reimagining than a retelling and I totally agree. The events that happen prior to where the book starts is what actually influences the publication of Frankenstein in the book–so as you can see, there’s a whole topsy-turvy sort of way about this book that makes it so much more complicated than a retelling.

Alasdair was such a great character, and I’m so happy because there aren’t many male voices in YA compared to the amount of female ones. Obviously, there are many, but not enough. One of the elements of gothic stories is the tragic hero, or events or traits that flaw the hero, and it’s a pretty big part of the story. I don’t want to give too much away here, but it definitely has to do with his past and the events of that one night that changed everything. The rest of the cast was great. Mary Shelley is an actual character in this book, which was pretty strange for me, considering not many actual authors really make appearances in works of YA fiction...unless it's Here, There Be Dragons, of course. But yeah, you’ll be a bit surprised at Mary’s character though, because she isn’t exactly *the best person ever*.

One part of the story I didn’t really like though was the mystery of who writes Frankenstein. Obviously, we all know because Mary Shelley actually did write it real life (duh). But it’s quite a big shock to the other characters, which absolutely makes sense. HOWEVER...it felt a little anti-climatic because it seemed like this whole big build-up to something that the readers most likely already know. Too much time spent on a mystery that just fell a little flat. Other than this though, I definitely enjoyed the build-up to the end. I’m sad that there won’t be more books (ones that would explore more gothic books!), but I’m happy where it ends as well.

A historical steampunk reimagining of a dark classic, This Monstrous Thing was a fabulous read. Filled with beautiful descriptions of Europe’s gorgeous scenery interlaced with sharp grim and gory details, Mackenzi Lee is a wonderful writer that has put a lot of heart into her debut. I can’t wait to find out what she comes up with next–I’m sure it’ll be as imaginative and as exceptional as this one.

If you like this, try...

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A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

Release Date: April 15, 2014
Illustrated by: Iacopo Bruno
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: The School for Good and Evil, Book 2
Rated: MG/YA 12+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website (Series) Website (Author)

Read my review of The School for Good and Evil HERE.

In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected. 

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.

I’m so glad that I decided to pick up this series this summer–both have been my best reads this year so far! After finishing The School for Good and Evil, I was desperate to start reading the second one immediately. But I thought it would be best to put it off a little bit, because too much time in one world usually makes me get tired of it, and I didn’t want to get sick of this world. So finally, after agonisingly pushing it back on the TBR pile, I’ve finally read A World Without Princes. What a fantastic follow-up! While I did enjoy the first book more, because as readers we were introduced to the world and there was that huge twist at the end, but this one DEFINITELY met my expectations.

In this book, I liked Sophie a lot better than I did in the previous book. She was absolutely awful in The School for Good and Evil, and while she still is kind of selfish and thinks mainly about herself, she’s a lot better. Agatha is still my favourite character out of the two, for sure. There are quite a lot of returning characters, as well as a few new ones–who are deliciously evil–and it all makes for a wonderful twist on the conventional fairy tales. I do love how satirical it all is at times, and the humour is very well done.

The world has changed since we left The School for Good and Evil, and so when Sophie and Agatha return to the school it’s no longer a fight between Good and Evil, but instead Girls and Boys. I couldn’t help but feel that this fits so much with the whole feminist movement and the misconception that feminists don’t need men or that they hate on men. I don’t know whether or not it was the inspiration for the story, but I couldn’t help but feel that sort of message coming through in this book.

Blast this book’s conclusion! Now I desperately need The Last Ever After in my hands–I HAVE TO KNOW HOW IT ALL ENDS. A World Without Princes was even darker than the first book, and it sucked me from the first page–I’m obsessed with this remarkable series. Soman Chainani is a marvellous storyteller and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

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Illuminae Bonus Content: Ezra’s Court Martial + Tour Dates

Hey guys! I’m so excited to share some more amazing bonus content from the upcoming release Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the first in a trilogy–THE ILLUMINAE FILES.

October 20, 2015 ● Goodreads

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Every month there’ll be new bonus content–in case you missed it, check out the previous months’ content HERE and HERE. This month, Ezra’s court martial video interview is available:

Check out THE ILLUMINAE FILES website for more information on Ezra’s character and other amazing content, as well as a sneak peek of Illuminae.

Tor.com also just announced the dates for Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae tour in November:

Monday, November 2
University Bookstore @ 7 p.m.
Seattle, WA

Tuesday, November 3
Barnes & Noble @ 7 p.m.
Lynnwood, WA

Friday, November 6
Hicklebee’s @ 7 p.m.
San Jose, CA

Saturday, November 7
Towne Center Books @ 4 p.m.
Pleasanton, CA

Sunday, November 8
Barnes & Noble @ 2 p.m.
Huntington Beach, CA

Monday, November 9
Once Upon A Time @ 7 p.m.
Montrose, CA

Tuesday, November 10
Mysterious Galaxy @ 7:30 p.m.
San Diego, CA
Note: This is a joint event with Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows)

Wednesday, November 11
Barnes & Noble @ 7 p.m.
Phoenix, AZ

Thursday, November 12
King’s English Bookshop @ 7 p.m.
Salt Lake City, UT

Friday, November 13
Barnes & Noble @ 7 p.m.
Princeton, NJ

Saturday, November 14
Books of Wonder @ 4-6 p.m.
New York, NY

Check out the post HERE for more details.

I’m sad they won’t be coming to Boston, but nonetheless I’m still VERY excited about this book’s release. Check back around the same time next month for even more content!

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo

Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars by Constance Lombardo

Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Mr. Puffball, Book 1
Rated: MG 10+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

In this hilarious illustrated adventure meet Mr. Puffball, a medium-size feline with a big dream! With amazing humor that appeals to both kids and adults as well as funny illustrations throughout the story, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars is perfect for dreamers, movie buffs, and fans of Timmy Failure and Stick Dog.

He's a hero for today. Or possibly tomorrow. He's a cat. He's awesome. And . . . wait for it . . . he's going to Hollywood to become a famous movie star! Follow Mr. Puffball on his trip cross-country. (Look at all the postcards to Mom!) See him stumble upon Hobowood! (Not as glamorous as Hollywood, but full of beans.) Watch him land at last in Hollywood, where he meets a cast of thousands (or at least half a dozen) and catapults himself into the next best thing to being a famous movie star: working as a stunt cat to his movie star hero, El Gato!

When I saw this title was available on Edelweiss, I couldn’t help but download it. Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars sounded like such a cute read–and it was! The adorable story was complimented by illustrations, which helped to make the book even more hilarious than it already was. I’m not joking when I say that every other page I was either smiling or chuckling about cat-related humour. I devoured Lombardo’s book in one sitting because it was both short and a delight to read.

THE PUNS, you guys, THE PUNS. The Sound of Meowsic, The Great Catsby–this book was filled with ‘em. Movie titles, star names, film production companies...you name it I was a little confused to start with because I thought this was set in the human world, but nope, it’s Hollywood for cats. Well, there are some dogs present, but they don’t make too much of an appearance. I will say that even though I’m a dog person, I definitely enjoyed this one immensely.

The illustrations were a bit tricky to look at, because I was reading this one on my Kindle and some of them had little speech bubbles so I had to squint to read some of the little funny comments or to see what on earth was going on with these cats. It was super cute, but when you have to read this book interlaced with illustrations that describe the action that happens (replacing words), it can be a bit tedious. Obviously, I doubt this will be a problem with a physical book, but for an ebook on a Kindle, this made reading a bit tedious. Nonetheless, the illustrations were super cute!

A fantastic book for kids that is guaranteed to make readers of all ages laugh, Mr. Puffball: Stunt Cat to the Stars is the perfect story for cat-lovers, aspiring film stars and film buffs, and anyone in need of a good laugh. I can’t wait to read more adventures of Mr. Puffball in Hollywood!

If you like this, try...

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Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

My knowledge of Westerns is limited to bits and pieces of The Quick and the Dead, the animated movie Home on the Range, and middle grade books such as Little House on the Prairie and May B.. I’ve never seen any of the older Westerns, but definitely want to now because this book was AMAZING. Like, one-of-my-favorites-this-year amazing. I couldn’t stop reading it! I really loved Erin Bowman’s Taken trilogy (although I still have yet to read the final book Forged) and so when I knew that she had a new book coming out AND it was available on NetGalley, nothing could stop me from hitting that request button. I will admit: I’m usually absolutely terrible at reading books before they’re published, but with Vengeance Road I just couldn’t hold off any longer. So glad I plunged in because I got a fabulous read out of it.

Man, Kate is a total B-A-D-A-S-S. I love her character so much! Although I don’t think revenge is the best option, I loved her quest to avenge her father by hunting down the villainous (and extremely dangerous) Rose Riders. I wish I had guts like her! Will and Jesse were such great characters as well. I was afraid that there was going to be some sort of love triangle where Kate would have to pick between the two brothers, but luckily it didn’t turn out to be that way. I did enjoy the fact that romance takes a step back from the action in this book. Kate, although she does start to have feelings for Jesse on their journey, she totally dismisses it and puts her mission first. Tons of great characters pop up along the way–some even based on real people. It was great learning about some of the legends (and people from those legends) that inspired this book, as explained in Erin Bowman in the author’s note at the end.

I love stories of revenge, and this one is historical fiction, so that combines two of my loves! The book takes place Arizona during the 19th century, which is a time and place that not many YA novels are set, unfortunately. Hopefully Vengeance Road will spark a flurry of Westerns! There was also the vernacular or particular way that these characters speak that’s characteristic to the time and place. It’s pretty easy to understand and get to, thankfully, but as I was reading I was really amazed thinking about how much Bowman would have had to check her language, whether it was the proper terms or not, as well as facts regarding the setting and atmosphere.

The descriptions are absolutely gorgeous! You really get to “feel” the setting–the heat, the endless stretch of desert, the tense build-up during shoot-outs, the sweat running down your back, the never-ending and tiring sway of riding horseback for ages and ages. Same as the Taken trilogy, Erin Bowman puts a lot of heart and effort into making sure details are effective in creating this historical world and sweeping readers into a wonderful journey.

Damn it...I wish that I’d taken my time with this one! Filled with shocking twists and heart-thumping action, Vengeance Road is most definitely a favourite of mine this year. Dangerously addictive and enthralling, heed my advice: READ THIS BOOK. Erin Bowman has struck gold again by creating yet ANOTHER book I couldn’t stop reading from start to finish–I’m looking forward to (and afraid of) what she’ll come up with next.

If you like this, try...

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 153

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It’s to spotlight upcoming reads that I’m DYING to get my hands on!

This week’s WoW is:
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

**WARNING: Contains spoilers from Book 1, Red Queen**
The thrilling second book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen trilogy follows Mare Barrow on her mission to defeat the traitorous Maven.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control. 

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors. 

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. 

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever? 

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness of her own heart.

February 9, 2015 ● Goodreads

MY EXCITEMENT FOR THIS BOOK HAS NO BOUNDS. After the gorgeousness that was Red Queen (read my review HERE), I can’t wait for this one! And I love how close it’s release date is to my birthday...maybe an early birthday present for moi? I shall have to see. If you haven’t picked up the first one, I highly suggest you do.

What are you waiting on?

Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking

Ice Kissed by Amanda Hocking

Release Date: May 7, 2015
Publisher: Tor UK
Series: The Kanin Chronicles, Book 2
Rated: YA/NA 15+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Check out my review of Frostfire HERE.

Could a secret destroy a kingdom?

Bryn Aven refuses to abandon her dream of serving her kind as part of his elite guard. It’s a dream that takes her to a whole new realm – the glittering palace of the Skojare tribe.

The Skojare are threatened by a hidden enemy, who also targeted her own Kanin community. So in a spirit of cooperation, Bryn is assigned to help protect them. Being half Skojare herself, she also hopes to discover her lost heritage. He boss Ridley Dresden is overseeing the mission – but as their attraction heats up, their relationship is about to reach a whole new level.

Then as Bryn learns more about the Skojare, she stumbles upon a web of conspiracy. And the dark truths she uncovers will change her and both kingdoms forever, threatening everyone she loves.

Wow, talk about major improvement–I ACTUALLY ENJOYED THIS ONE. After disliking Frostfire so much I wasn’t even sure I would continue this series, except that ending had me a bit curious. After I was offered a copy of the second book for review, I was definitely hesitant to go into this one and prepared for the worst. It was like (almost) everything that I found wrong with the first book became so much better in this one! I found myself flipping pages like mad, eagerly wanting to know what happens next.

Bryn’s character? Oh my god, SO MUCH BETTER. I actually like this chick now. In the first book I thought she was really whiny and pushy, constantly screaming and too hot-headed. Seems like she got her anger in check and basically was a whole new person. She’s now a whole new BEARABLE person, I’m happy to say. Ridley was an okay character this time round. He was pretty much the same way in Frostfire, but doesn’t actually appear too much in this book as he did in the last one. Their relationship does go to a whole new level though, which makes this one definitely a lot more NA than YA compared to the start of the trilogy.

What I still can’t get over though is the writing. It’s awful to say so, and I’m really sorry about it, but despite the interesting story, the writing made me cringe or roll my eyes every now and then. Too much unnecessary description in places, for instance. Having some is nice and definitely needed in a story, but do I really want to know what the Queen’s wearing every single bloody time Bryn has to meet with her? Or what shade of lipstick Linnea was wearing? No thank you! Or all the name dropping–which was also a big problem for me with the first book. Or how everyone in the Skojare tribe had brilliantly blue sapphire-colored sparkling (or cold) eyes. Yeesh. Try reading that every time one of the Skojarians (I honestly don’t know if they’re called that–I’m making a guess) are described.

While the ending of the Frostfire was pretty big, get ready for an even bigger shocker. It’s super sad, it’s super confusing (at points), and I really need the next book soon. I’m so glad that Ice Kissed has changed my feelings regarding the Kanin Chronicles for the most part, and I hope Crystal Kingdom keeps that up. I’m looking forward to see how it all ends!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

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Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

Release Date: August 6, 2015
Illustrated by: Helen Crawford-White
Publisher: Chicken House
Rated: MG 11+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Eleven-year-old Dara is a born actress, or so she thinks, but when she doesn't get any role at all in the school production, she begins to think it may be because she doesn't look like the other girls in her class. She was adopted as a baby from Cambodia. So irrepressible Dara comes up with a plan and is determined to change not just the school, but the world too.

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama has got to be one of the cutest books EVER. I’m not just talking about the story either. The actual format and illustrations bordering the writing, and some of the typography as well–this was LITERALLY a bundle of joy. This was another book in the huge stack that Pansing sent for review, and I hadn’t heard of it before I received it. I’m so glad I got the chance to read it because it’s absolutely fabulous, you guys. For an acting geek like me (oh, the theatre! The lights, the dialogue, the stage!), this was a perfect fit. Why? Well why don’t we take a little trip down memory lane... (my memory, that is)

6TH GRADE (the Philippines): On a whim, I decided to audition for a play. I got into not one, but TWO plays that year. One was a musical and the other was a piece that I got to fly to New Delhi in India to perform as part of an international schools theatre program (ISTA). From this point on, theatre was always going to be in my life.

7TH GRADE (Canada): I believe this was the first time the older grades (7-11) got to put on a production. 12 Angry Men, to be exact. I got the role of foreman and got special mention since I was the youngest person to get a “larger” role. Cool, huh?

8TH GRADE (still Canada): Because of the success of the previous year, yet another play was put on: Lord of the Flies–an all-female cast. This time, for me, there was no need to audition. The role of Piggy went to me, straight away. I was thrilled because it was the 3rd biggest role in the play and the only other people with really big roles were in the 11th or 12th grade. Yay me!

9TH GRADE (Singapore): Feeling confident that I would be getting a part, I auditioned with all I got. Or at least, that’s what I thought. End result? Didn’t get in. And I wouldn’t get into another play until grade 11.

So, you see? Dara and I are kindred spirits. Like Dara, I came to realise that just because I was great and got all the parts before didn’t mean I would always. I learned that there was so much more to acting like she does in the book. 

Another reason why this was such an amazing book was that it was about a girl who looks different from the rest of her family. I know quite a few people who have been adopted, and I’m sad that there are not many books out there about adopted children, which needs to change, because it’s important that children can see themselves in the books they read, especially at a young age. This book is such a blessing, because through Dara’s character, many of the questions and emotions that adopted children have about themselves comes up, like how they’re set apart from their family, how they’re curious about their past but may never find out who exactly their real parents are, and so on. It’s quite a challenging topic, but it’s definitely a necessary one to address. 

Featuring a super dramatic (and super adorable) heroine, Dara Palmer’s Major Drama is a wonderful story I’m sure readers of all ages will enjoy. Touching upon adoption, rejection, and taking charge of your life, Emma Shevah’s latest book, complete with cute illustrations by Helen Crawford-White, is both hilarious and moving. Don’t hesitate to pick this one up!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

Save Me by Jenny Elliott

Save Me by Jenny Elliott

Release Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it--let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

But then she learns something about David that changes everything, and Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She's suddenly into witchcraft, and is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend….

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered that her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she's not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?

Save Me was a book that kept on popping up on my Goodreads dashboard, so when I was offered a copy for review, I accepted. I mean, a gorgeous cover and the buzz was all it took. However, I didn’t really read the synopsis until I actually had the book in my hands. Immediately I knew that there was going to be some insta-love, possibly a love triangle, paranormal shenanigans–all which 13-year-old me would have loved. Present day me? Not so much. This book actually took me surprise though, because I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. Sure, there were really, really cheesy and some pretty bad moments, but I can’t deny that I did find this an intriguing book.

What I liked about Save Me was that it was old-school paranormal. I haven’t read a book about witches, angels, demons, and other various supernatural creatures in a LONG time. I mean, sure there have been a few here and there, but not with the typical plot line: girl finds guy (and falls in love super quickly), supernatural events occur, battle with evil, etc. etc. Say what you will, but it really takes me back to my earlier YA days, and now I’m left feeling a little nostalgic. The book’s pace was also pretty good and the writing kept me interested, so in general, this book wasn’t actually all too bad!

However, I did have a few problems here and there. Garren’s identity, for instance. It’s not much of a secret. I mean, it’s on the front cover, so I don’t really get why it was left till the end. While I did like his character, if I was Cara, I would have been a whole lot more suspicious of him. I mean, he gives her apples everyday, won’t tell her where they’re from, and keeps the core in a plastic ziplock bag instead of throwing it away...seems a bit odd right? There was a serious lack of questioning or shock from Cara, which annoyed me sometimes because if abnormal things are happening I would have at least been a bit freaked out. This girl? Accepts it like it is. Also, what was with all the whale-related stuff? It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the book other than how Cara and David get close to each other. If it had been part of the setting or like small mentions of Cara’s job, then sure, yeah, that would have been cool. The whales just seemed to take up an unnecessarily large amount of the plot. Finally, my biggest problem with this book: 

THE INSTA-LOVE *Dun Dun Dunnnn*.

Okay, it wasn’t too bad. But still, INSTA-LOVE. It was really one of those “I looked into his (name exotic eye-color here) eyes and felt my heart beat faster moments.” The only plus side to this whole thing was that the reason why their relationship is challenged has nothing to do with paranormal. No “omg you’re not a human” moments. Funny story actually: my sister and I were looking at this book and we both thought he would turn out to be part whale or that he turns into a whale at night, hehe. It would have totally made sense, considering how much whale-related stuff is in this book.

While I did have some problems with several aspects of this book, there’s no doubt that this was an intriguing book. I definitely recommend this one to those who long for another Twilight-esque book and, like me, want a little trip down memory lane to the days when YA books featured a paranormal love-triangle or supernatural(ly fast) relationship.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 152

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It’s to spotlight upcoming books that I’m DYING to get my hands on!

This week’s WoW is:
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

October 20, 2015 ● Goodreads

The buzz for this book is absolutely INSANE. I’ve seen this book pop up somewhere at least ONCE a day this whole summer so far (and even before it started, I’m sure). It’s crazy! So many bloggers have gotten the opportunity to read this one–and taunt the rest of us with gorgeous snippets of the book and it’s unique format–and I’m just sitting here like, *cough* “GIVE ME A COPY” *cough*. Oh well. My fingers are crossed, but if I don’t get an ARC of this one, I definitely want a copy when it gets published.
(As a side note, you should totally check out the awesome bonus content at IlluminaeFiles.com)

What are you waiting on?