Raindropreflections: November 2011

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine =)

This Wednesday, I’m waiting on Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne, releasing February 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

Girl, Interrupted meets Beautiful Creatures in this fast-paced thriller.

When sixteen-year-old Faye arrives at Holbrook Academy, she doesn’t expect to find herself exactly where she needs to be. After years of strange waking visions and nightmares, her only comfort the bones of dead animals, Faye is afraid she’s going crazy. Fast.

But her first night at Holbrook, she feels strangely connected to the school and the island it sits on, like she’s come home. She’s even made her first real friends, but odd things keep happening to them. Every morning they wake on the floors of their dorm rooms with their hands stained red.

Faye knows she’s the reason, but what does it all mean? The handsome Kel tries to help her unravel the mystery, but Faye is certain she can’t trust him; in fact, he may be trying to kill her—and the rest of the world too.

Rich, compelling writing will keep the pages turning in this riveting and tautly told psychological thriller.

And that cover. I LOVE it. Also, from the summary, it looks like there’s a boarding school involved. And I love books about people in boarding schools. The summary is pretty intriguing, and for once, it looks like the boy is actually a bad boy- he might be trying to kill the main character and the rest of the world. What’s not to like about this one?

What are YOU waiting on this Wednesday, peeps? Drop a link; I’ll stop by and visit!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This Wednesday, I’m waiting on Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John, releasing April 12th, 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

When sixteen-year-old Luke’s book, Hallelujah, becomes a national best seller, his publisher sends him on a cross-country tour with his unpredictable older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when Matt offers to drive Luke’s ex-crush, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. Luke thinks he’s enlightened, but he really needs to loosen up if he’s going to discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

COME ON, GUYS, this is Antony John we’re talking about. I just finished his Five Flavors of Dumb and I can tell you right now that I will read ANYTHING by Antony John. Including this one.

What are YOU waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summary (book jacket):

In the ruins of a place called North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before- and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Before Reading: Everyone’s been raving about this series and of course the upcoming movie, so of course I was going to see what all the talk was about. At the time of this review, I’ve read Catching Fire (and loved it) and have Mockingjay in my TBR pile right now. (Sorry, Eden, but I think I’ll like it. I can’t share your non-fangirling!) 

My Thoughts

First of all, WHAT PACING! I couldn’t stop reading the book late into the night, and I picked it back up as soon as I woke up the next morning, because I couldn’t put the darn book down. This is true action, peeps. Not constant fighting: it’s this itching to know what the heckers is going to happen next.

The world-building was amazingly smooth. I never felt like I was getting an information overload, and ZOMG, the futuristic world actually made sense! I was surprised and pleased until I remembered that it was The Hunger Games that sparked this rise in popularity of dystopian fiction.

After Uglies, The Hunger Games is the best dystopian I’ve ever read. Actually, it’s kind of half-dystopian, since it only seems to be the residents of the Capitol who think their world is perfect… or do they?

I was both repelled and fascinated by this new world where people watched others die like lambs to the slaughter and never do anything to stop it, where cannibalism was an actual possibility in the Hunger Games. Cruel and unusual punishment or what? I mean, this is an evil, angry-making government at its best.

I can’t wait for the movie, because there was just so much action that when it translates onto the big screen, I’m hoping it’ll be magical.

But I have this persisting thought in the back of my mind: did anyone else notice the abundance of run-on sentences, or is it just a less-explored style of writing? I hate to even mention it, because it didn’t take away from my reading experience at all, but I couldn’t help but notice the errors, if they were unintentional at all.

And the CHARACTERS. They made the story. Katniss, I wish I had your guts. Also, your stylist. Also, I wish I had my pick between two boys as awesome as Peeta and Gale. I wouldn’t be able to choose, either. But it’d be nice having a choice nevertheless.

Every supporting character, from Cato to Haymitch to President Snow (who was barely there but made an impact nevertheless), was filled with personality and formed so completely in my head that I had to shake my head in wonder at Collins’ gift.

Peeta or Gale? Gale or Peeta? I can tell there is going to be a HUGE love triangle, and it looks like this one will be done right, because Katniss actually IS in a dither about who to choose- or, well, she will be. Finally there isn’t this obvious pair and then a hanger-on, because why have a triangle in the first place then?

Anyways, I love Gale already, and I fell head over heels for Peeta, too. So I know how you feel, Katniss, although I still envy you for being able to choose between THOSE two.

Parting Thoughts: I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that in this world, even after North America was like totally eradicated and then put back up, the concept of reality TV survived. I prefer scripted shows myself, because then at least you know it’s fake. *shrugs* I’ll have to be granted immortality (or a really good pair of binoculars up there like that girl from Elsewhere) to see WHICH made-up future is going to turn out to be real.

Rating: 4.5/5. This book was a thrill ride through and through, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two books in the series.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

That One Book

Everyone has that book. The book that pulled them through a bad day, a bad time, or heck, a boring time. Everyone has that book they read in their childhood… and maybe forgot.

For me, that book was Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan. It’s this amazing middle grade book I read back in seventh grade, and even though I’m still only in high school, I forgot the name of the book. But did it haunt me for all these years. It’s not exactly, you know, a scary book or anything- it’s a book that deeply affected me back when I was young and impressionable.

(In fact, after reading it, I wanted to be a doctor in Africa. But we’re not going to talk about that.)

So, well, the other day I was throwing out stuff from my old school years, and I found a list of books I’d read in seventh grade. And I thought, hey, I might just find that book about the girl who grew up to become a doctor in Africa in this list! And guess what? I found the book. I can’t describe the happiness I felt. It was this amazing eureka moment, only I hadn’t had an idea… I’d found a book that I’d loved immensely in my childhood.

Books are our friends. And rediscovering someone- or some book- you haven’t seen for so long but often think about- is truly a gift.

Do you have that one book that you just can’t forget? That book which haunts you with its ideas? Have you ever rediscovered a beloved book? Tell me how it felt!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine =)

This Wednesday, I’m waiting on The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi, releasing May 1, 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

In this exhilarating companion to Printz Award winner and National Book Award finalist Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi brilliantly captures a dark future America that has devolved into unending civil wars, driven by demagogues who recruit children to become soulless killing machines. Two refugees of these wars, Mahlia and Mouse, are known as “war maggots”: survivors who have barely managed to escape the unspeakable violence plaguing the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities. But their fragile safety is threatened when they discover a wounded half-man–a bioengineered war beast named Tool, who is hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers. When tragedy strikes, Mahlia is faced with an impossible decision: risk everything to save the boy who once saved her, or flee to her own safety.

Drawing upon the brutal truths of current events, The Drowned Cities is a powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

Uh, amazing much? I loved Ship Breaker, so I’m hoping this one will be just as good. Plus, Tool shows up in it! The cover font isn’t too awesome, but I do like the background picture.

What are YOU guys waiting on this Wednesday? Drop a link; I’d love to stop by!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review- Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Summary (goodreads):

In a world where people born with an extreme skill- called a Grace- are feared and exploited, Katsa carries with her the burden of a skill even she despises- the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace- or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

Cover: I absolutely love it. Whoever designs Cashore’s beautiful covers is a genius.

Before Reading: this was one of those books I picked up on a whim because it looked like a good fighting type of novel. I didn’t really expect much, but I was totally engrossed by the time I finished the first few pages.

My Thoughts

I could NOT stop reading Graceling. I just had to know what happened next. Seeing the characters grow and change was like watching the speeded-up version of a budding flower- it was breathtaking.

Kristin Cashore has a way with words that makes them shimmer and come together to form truly beautiful prose. I could practically see the story burst to life. For a debut author- astounding. Where did she learn to write like this?

Watching the MC  Katsa grow from a mere tool of King Randa’s to an independent, strong young adult was the best thing of all. She was exactly the kind of MC I like to read about- strong and able to stand on her own and make decisions, however hard they might be. Po, the male lead, was just as good. He had this magnetic quality to him that showed me why Katsa liked him as much as she did.

And yes, there was a bit of a love triangle, but just barely. It was obvious that Katsa couldn’t care less for Giddon, the guy who’s in love with her. That made me kind of sad, because Giddon seemed perfectly fine to me. *sighs* oh well, I guess Po had more of a history. And a Grace you’ll be shocked to find out.

Bitterblue, the little princess Katsa and Po go out to rescue, had the beginnings of a real heroine. I was a little sceptical of the way she talked, though- no ten year old, however smart, is as dignified and perceptive. I guess Bitterblue is really special…?

Parting Thoughts: this is a world that’s so well-constructed you almost start thinking this really was how things used to be. Add that to a great MC, lots of action, and an amazing adventure- voila! You get a great novel.

Rating: 5/5. I liked this book a LOT. I don’t think this is a book for certain types of people- I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did. Graceling is full of surprises. And badassery.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

How Did YOU Discover Harry Potter?

home.

When I first came to Canada, I was a puny, quiet kid who loved reading… but didn’t actually read much past comic books. And my very Canadian, very much taller cousins (who’re actually about the same age as me) always did things better, had a real live American Canadian accent were really into this story about a boy with a lightning-shaped scar who flew on broomsticks and did other magical stuff.

It sounded cool to me, so I, being the puny immigrant kid without the cool American Canadian accent, picked up one of the thickest books I’d ever seen- called Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– and started reading. I put it down after reading the weirdest chapter EVER. After that, I didn’t attempt to be like my cool Canadian cousins.

The thing was, I was eight when I first discovered Harry Potter. I also picked up the fourth book in the series, so of course I’d be like HUH every two seconds. I did know this: the Harry Potter books involved somebody called Wormtail, a scary snake, and dead people.

A year later, an older girl I knew told me to read Harry Potter when she saw that in three days, I read the sixteen detective books she got me. And this time, I started with the first book.

And I am so glad that all these things came together for me.

MAN OH MAN it was an adventure. I’ve read every book in the series a minimum of ten times, and I still love Harry Potter enough to cry EVERY time I read that one chapter in which Snape reveals his true character. I’ve grown up with the Harry Potter books. I read them while I adjusted to a new country, while I got my American Canadian accent, and of course, navigated my awkward elementary (that’s middle school for Americans) years.

I love the magical world JK Rowling wove for us all, and I love it enough to still hope for a Hogwarts letter every year. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who did this.) As a reader and as a writer, JK Rowling has given me and everyone else out there an amazing gift: she told us that nothing is impossible. Ever. I thank her for that.

Well, that’s my story. How did YOU discover Harry Potter? 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (20)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This Wednesday, I’m waiting on The Selection by Kiera Cass, releasing in April 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The summary sounds like this is the futuristic version of Princess Academy. And since I loved Princess Academy, I hope I’m going to end up loving this book, too. AND THAT COVER! I thought I was tired of seeing girls in pretty dresses on covers, but this is one weird (and cool) dress, and that lovely blue screams READ ME I’M AWESOME.

And I never turn down a book like that.

What are YOU guys waiting on this Wednesday? Drop a link; I’d love to stop by!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Review- Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Summary (goodreads):

When Wayland North brings rain to a region that’s been dry for over ten years, he’s promised anything he’d like as a reward. He chooses the village elder’s daughter, sixteen-year-old Sydelle Mirabel, who is a skilled weaver and has an unusual knack for repairing his magical cloaks. Though Sydelle has dreamt of escaping her home, she’s hurt that her parents relinquish her so freely and finds herself awed and afraid of the slightly ragtag wizard who is unlike any of the men of magic in the tales she’s heard. Still, she is drawn to this mysterious man who is fiercely protective of her and so reluctant to share his own past.

The pair rushes toward the capital, intent to stop an imminent war, pursued by Reuel Dorwan (a dark wizard who has taken a keen interest in Sydelle) and plagued by unusually wild weather. But the sudden earthquakes and freak snowstorms may not be a coincidence. As Sydelle discovers North’s dark secret and the reason for his interest in her and learns to master her own mysterious power, it becomes increasingly clear that the fate of the kingdom rests in her fingertips. She will either be a savior, weaving together the frayed bonds between Saldorra and Auster, or the disastrous force that destroys both kingdoms forever.

Before Reading: why hasn’t there been more buzz about this book? Because, I’d have read it so much earlier if I’d known about it; I only decided to read this book when I saw a review of this book on The Crooked Shelf. 

My Thoughts

I love fantasy. Harry Potter is my favourite book series ever, and Percy Jackson is pretty darn awesome, too, but they contain elements of the real world and always have a tie to the world we know.

But in high fantasy, there is no world as we know it. Depending on the skill level of the author, high fantasy can be amazing (Kristin Cashore’s medieval-type world of Graceling and Fire) or a bit of a flop if the reader can’t conjure the world vividly enough [insert title of such a book here].

Brightly Woven surpassed all my expectations, especially because it was written by Alexandra Bracken when she was in college. The writing was fluid, beautiful. The world was vivid and quite different from any I’d encountered before. The whole wizard/Sorceress Imperial stuff reminded me a bit of Angie Sage’s Magyk series, but WHATEVS, because this world was very different, too.

WAYLAND NORTH, I LOVE YOU. I don’t exactly know why; I just know that he isn’t perfect and that is exactly what made him stand out in a huge crowd of amazingly perfect YA male leads.

The truth is, I’m tired of the six-pack-perfect-face-body-lovely-amazing-always-right kind of guy YA fiction is overflowing with. I mean, for a long, long time, I always fell for those sort of amazingly perfect guys, until I realized that HEY, look, there’s a guy named Hale (Heist Society) who may be good-looking, but he’s NOT perfect- he doesn’t always do the right thing. He doesn’t always say the right thing. And that opened my eyes.

Anyways, back to the book. I loved Wayland North, and although I feel a little miffed thinking about it, he made a perfect match for the protagonist, Sydelle.

Sydelle herself was unique. She wasn’t the usual pretty-with-low-self-esteem type of girl ALSO always featured in books with amazingly hot dangerous guys. I really liked her no-nonsense, practical nature. Her voice flowed very naturally, and she was a perfect fit for the story.

The world itself: I found that the part of the story that took place in Provincia was a lot more vivid (I’m using this word a lot here, I know) than the desert/travelling thing. It’s probably my own view, because I do so like castles in a medieval-type setting, since I don’t know if anyone else felt the same way.

Parting Thoughts: I loved this book. I definitely recommend it to fans of fantasy as well as those who want to give this amazing genre (underappreciated in YA, sadly) a try.

Rating: 4/5.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

How Do YOU See Canada?

niagara falls! clicky image for source.

I’m Canadian. I mean, if you’ve read my About Me page or maybe even some of my reviews, you know that. I also love books. But when you put the two together, something weird comes to mind: there aren’t actually very many YA books set in Canada.

Sure, there’s Anne of Green Gables and that book with the dog named Sirius that was set in Newfoundland (I can’t remember the title for the life of me) but the truth is, in YA fiction, which is what I read about 99 percent of the time, there just aren’t very many books set in Canada.

The truth is, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like reading or writing about places I actually live in. So, uh, I’m fine with there not being many books set in Canada. *gasp* It’s true. So, well, what I wanted to know is this: how do YOU see Canada, whether or not you’re a Canadian?

Do you imagine us all buried under fifty feet of snow? (As someone who lives near the West Coast, I find this laughable. It rarely snows here, guys. I know. We’re SO lucky.) Do you see a land of mysteries, maple leaves, and of course, pancakes?

And more importantly, have you read a YA book set in Canada? I’m genuinely curious. I don’t think those books would hold my attention, because of my wanderlust issues, but what images does Canada bring to mind for Americans? Brits? Indians?

 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (18)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This Wednesday, I came across The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze, releasing May 8, 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

Happily ever after is a thing of the past.

The year is 2090.

England is a barren land. Food is rationed. Oil has decimated the oceans. The people are restless.

A ruthless revolutionary enacts a plan to destroy the royal family, and in a moment, the king is dead. His heiress, Princess Mary, and her brother, Jamie, have been abducted, and no one knows their fate. Princess Eliza Windsor barely escapes, and finds herself scared and lost in London’s dangerous streets.

With a mind for revenge and the safe recovery of her siblings, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. There she is tempted by her first taste of independence — and true love. Ultimately she must summon her courage and fight to ensure that she does not become… The Last Princess.

It SOUNDS pretty awesome, IMO. I’m a big fan of dystopia/post-apocalyptic stuff, so this book sounds like something I’d love. And the author’s name (whether it be real or a pseudonym) is so, I don’t know, different and unique. I read her bio and she’s an actress, so hmm, that might explain her name.

ANYWHO, I’m totally looking forward to The Last Princess. What are YOU looking forward to this Wednesday? Feel free to drop a link!

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