Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...But for Cath, being a fan is her life - and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. 
     Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. 
     Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let it go. She doesn't want to. Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
     For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

This book is for every fangirl (and boy) who has ever walked the earth. It is for everyone who has read or written fanfiction and one point in their life. It is for the people who ship their favorite characters together in a book or on a TV show. (Sherlock/John all the way). It is for anyone who has had to explain what shipping is to their less nerdy peers. I am guilty of all of the above. 

I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me swoon at certain points. I can really relate with Cath; she's bookish and shy and terrified of the future. But what really makes her standout is her love of Simon Snow. (The Simon Snow series is fictional and a reference to the Harry Potter series.) Cath's enthusiasm is so infectious that you almost wish the Simon Snow series was real. There are little snippets of the books and Cath's fanfiction throughout the book and Rainbow Rowell just makes it seem so real. 

Fangirls are often a derided group. We are portrayed as hysterical, obsessive, screaming nutcases with no life outside of our particular fandom. In some cases I suppose that's true. I, personally, would never want one fandom to completely take over my life. Besides I belong to too many fandoms to completely immerse myself in just one: I'm a Potterhead, a Fannibal, a Sherlockian (and a Cumberbitch), as well as a fan of the Hunger Games. (Do Hunger Games fans have a name for themselves? Tributes? That doesn't seem right...)
The point is that enthusiasm for something, especially a girl's enthusiasm for something is regarded as trivial. Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl says the opposite. Fangirls should be proud of what they enjoy in whatever form they enjoy it in whether that's reading or writing fanfiction, cosplaying, making fan art, etc. But it also carries the important message that there is life outside of the fandom and we fangirls should try to enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah

Radiance of Tomorrow

Synopsis: At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after a devastating civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones and drenched in deep despair. The war may be over, but the denizens of Imperi are not spared the dangers that hover over them, menacing as vengeful ghosts. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to form a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they're beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food, a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town's water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they're forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.

I've read Ishmael Beah's haunting memoir A Long Way Gone, about his years as a child soldier and how he escaped from that life. Now Beah's first novel deals with the aftermath of war and how, even though the gunfire has long since ceased, people must still must struggle to go back to their old way of life and how that is never really possible. 

The book is told in an incredibly unique and poetic style. Beah writes in his author's note that he was trying to capture the rhythm and style of the oral tradition of Mende, his native language. The language is very figurative and expressive. Everything is personified - the wind, the sky, the trees, even hope.

And that's what this novel is largely about - hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today, hope that people will be kind and forgiving, hope that every child will be safe. But while reading it, it's hard to feel very hopeful. Misfortunes and miseries abound for the people of Imperi - injustice by greedy mining companies, abuse by hopeless men, and scarcity of food, water and money. I kept reading, hoping (there's that word again) that one of these characters would catch a break, but any reason for optimism does not come until the very end of the book - and even then it is not your traditional happy ending. It is incredibly hopeful, though.

I leave you with an incredibly beautiful and poignant passage about the novel's main theme-hope:

'The young man sits on the ground in a crowded city where he has come to look for hope. So many like him are searching for hope that it has become afraid here and is on the run. Whenever it shows itself - hope, that is - hands from the crowded streets reach for it with such violent urgency because of the fear that they may never see it again. They do so without knowing that their desperation frightens hope away. Hope also doesn't know that it is its scarcity that causes the crowd to lunge at it, shredding its robe. And as it struggles to escape, the fabric scraps land in the hands of some but last only for hours, a day, days, a week, weeks, depending on how much fabric each hand is able to catch.'

Radiance of Tomorrow, p.204

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark #2) by Shana Abe

 The Deepest Night (The Sweetest Dark, #2)

Synopsis: It's 1915, and sixteen-year-old Lora Jones is finishing up her first year as a charity student at Iverson, a prestigious, gothic boarding school on England's southern coast. While she's always felt different from everyone around her, now she finally knows why: She is a drakon, a rare, enchanted being with astonishing magical abilities. 
    As war hits Britain's shores, and Lora reels from an unimaginable loss, she finds that her powers come with grave and dangerous responsibilities. At the request of Armand Louis, the darkly mysterious boy whose father owns Iverson, Lora will spend her summer at his lavish estate. To help the war effort - and to keep Lora near - Armand turns his home into a military hospital, where Lora will serve as a nurse. For Armand is inescapably drawn to her - bound to her by heart-deep secrets and a supernatural connection that runs thicker than blood.
     Yet while Lora tries to sort out her own feelings toward Armand, fate offers an unexpected surprise. Lora discovers there is another drakon, a prisoner of war being held in Germany. And that only she, with her newly honed Gifts, will be able to rescue him.
     With Armand at her side, Lora will cross enemy lines on an incredible mission - one that could bond her to Armand forever, or irrevocably tear them apart.

Shana Abe delivers another enchanting romance without sacrificing plot. I loved the previous book but The Deepest Night is better in almost every way - there is breathtaking romance, thrilling adventure, and gorgeous, lush prose that I practically salivate over.

I love the whole 'quest' aspect to this story - Lora and Armand must set out on a journey to rescue Armand's brother, Aubrey, a fighter pilot now captive in a German prison camp. The last hundred pages or so are chock-full of exciting, dangerous moments - Lora and Armand fight German soldiers on the ground, get chased by German fighter planes, and almost get captured (by Germans.) 

I love that there are so many more 'dragon scenes' in this book: Lora flies with Armand across the English channel, and Turns to dragon to fight the soldiers, etc. The transition between Lora's human form and her dragon form never feels jarring or unnatural - it all flows so well that it never feels weird to read parts where Lora refers to 'my wings' or 'my tail.' This is due to Shana Abe's impeccable world-building. She makes the fantasy of the Drakon come to life. 

The romance is so much better than the one in the last book. Without spoiling the previous book, it just feels like Lora is paired with the right guy - while at the same time never forgetting the one she lost - and that's one of the interesting struggles she faces. 

Lora is so badass in this book, it's almost frightening. Armand, too, grows as a character in leaps and bounds. I love how it's never just Armand saving Lora or Lora rescuing Armand - they save each other throughout the whole book.

I cannot recommend The Sweetest Dark series enough. READ THEM!

(The third book has not been published yet. It's listed on Goodreads as 'expected 2014' but it still doesn't have a title or a fixed release date. Hopefully late 2014/early 2015? I need to read the third book now!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) by Shana Abe

 The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark, #1)

Synopsis: Lora Jones has always known she's different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora's been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she's far more that what she seems.
     England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England's southern coast. Iverson's eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets will open her eyes and forever change her destiny. 
     Jesse is the school's groundskeeper - a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she's only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves. 

The Sweetest Dark is a sort of companion/sequel YA series to Shana Abe's Drakon series. You don't have to read the Drakon series to enjoy The Sweetest Dark but you'll pick up on all of the hints of the previous series that Abe has scattered throughout. 

I loved this book just as much as I loved the previous series. It's full of adventure and romance and magic and is written in such gorgeous prose that you will want to slow down and savor every single word. You will also want to tear through it to find out how it ends.

Lora is one of my favorite YA heroines of all time and it's a shame that more people don't know about these books. It is so refreshing to read about a powerful female heroine that is strong and tough and doesn't let people walk all over her. She knows how to hold her own. Something else I love about her is that she's kind of a bitch, when she needs to be. She's always got a cutting remark on hand for the snobby, bullying girls she's forced to mingle with at Iverson. But she can also be vulnerable; she's hiding a lot of pain and trauma behind that tough exterior. She is just so well-rounded and real. 

Being a YA novel, this book suffers from the familiar love-triangle trope that, in my opinion, is getting a little tired. But I'm glad to say that Abe pulls it off in this book by making it a little bit more complicated than 'two boys drool over one girl and she can't decide between them.' Lora is sure whom she wants to be with - or at least she thinks she is. Without giving too much away, Shana Abe shows in her book that love is messy and complicated and, sometimes, we don't get the happy ending we want. 

I will say that my favorite of the two love interests is Armand. He definitely plays the part of the bad boy at first - drinking, reckless driving, a ladies' man. But it is slowly revealed that there is more to him and I love the relationship that evolves between Armand and Lora.

If you love romance mingled with magic and dragons, you will love this series. I think any YA fan will love this series. If you've read this book or the preceding Drakon series, let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: The Time Weaver (Drakon #5) by Shana Abe

The Time Weaver (Drakon, #5) 

Synopsis: Honor Carlisle may have been born into the drakon clan, but she's always felt like a stranger to her kin - an intuition that proves true when she discovers that she is a Time Weaver: a creature with the extraordinary ability to transport herself into the past of future.
     On one of her Weaves into the future, Honor encounters the very man she should most avoid: Alexandru of the Zaharen, prince of a rival tribe of drakon. As the two surrender to a desire that brings the present and future ever closer, they also risk fulfilling a terrible prophecy. Now Honor and Sandu must place their trust - and their lives - in each other's hands, and their faith in a magical love that could restore order to the drakon universe - or destroy it forever.

The fifth and final book in the Drakon series is a masterful work of fantasy that involves dragons, danger, and time travel. By far, this is the most complex book in the series.

Even though this is technically a romance novel, I didn't find either of the two main characters very compelling. I found Honor to be kind of bitchy and whiny and actually kind of boring. Her story is interesting but not her character. Same goes for Sandu. Not really that interesting, just kind of there. Also, the romance between them is kind of a snoozefest. Honestly, I didn't care whether they ended up together or not, which is something a reader should be emotionally invested in when reading a romance novel.

This sounds like it's heading for a bad review but I actually really liked this book and I'll tell you why.


Yes, Lia and Zane, my absolute favorite couple in the Drakon series, are featured in The Time Weaver. And I'm not talking cameo appearances here. They both are an integral part of the plot and I would even argue are the actual heroes of the book. It was so wonderful to see how their relationship has developed since The Dream Thief. The chemistry between them is just as hot as ever and I got so excited when they had a love scene. There were also some incredibly touching moments between them that gave me some pretty heavy feels. LIA AND ZANE FOREVER!

I thought the ending was perfect for both the book and the entire series. It even hinted at things to come: Shana Abe has written a companion/sequel YA series to the Drakon books, which I will be reading and reviewing next. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Review: The Treasure Keeper (Drakon #4) by Shana Abe

The Treasure Keeper (Drakon, #4) 

Synopsis: She is a young drakon of untried powers. He is the powerful second son of the Alpha male from their clan of shapeshifting, supersensual beings. And what she is about to attempt will violate every taboo and break every law that bind the drakon together - and just may save them from destruction.
     A mere seamstress's daughter, Zoe Cyprienne Lane isn't even in the same league as Lord Rhys Langford. Nothing could be more shocking than the notion that she'd set out to find her childhood friend and first true love. But when news arrives in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania that Rhys is being held captive, that's just what she does. Guided by her own hidden gifts and her psychic link to Rhys - his presence and touch as electric as if he were beside her in the flesh - Zoe is his last lifeline to a world and a passion he thought he'd never regain. Only reunited, hunter and huntress, can they save the drakon from those who would destroy them all.

This is definitely the darkest and most complex novel in the Drakon series so far. There is an overwhelming sense of dread and heaviness while you read it and while Lord Rhys offers some comic relief with his dry wit and acerbic observations, this is not really a fun read. 

I shouldn't say it's not fun to read. It's a romance novel featuring shape-shifting dragons - of course it's fun to read. I suppose what I should say is that it is not as fun to read as the last three books. There seems to be a lot of death in this book along with pain and sorrow - and the twist at the ending is a little depressing and disturbing. Maybe other readers won't have such a problem with it - maybe it's just because I become so engrossed in these novels that the problems the characters face seem real to me and it affects my mood as I'm reading.

Lord Rhys Langford is definitely my favorite character. He's rebellious and sarcastic and doesn't apologize for his roguish nature - one of his sisters even describes him as 'piratical'. It's a shame he spends about half the novel as a sort of spirit/ghost thing that only Zoe, his love interest, can see, thanks to her psychic Gifts. Like the last novel, I was not left swooning over the romance between Rhys and Zoe. I thought there were some romantic moments between them but I don't think any other couple in the Drakon series will compare to the couples in The Smoke Thief (Rue/Kit) and The Dream Theif (Zane/Lia.)

The ending has a shocking twist and sets up for the next book, which is the final one in the series. If you like neat, tidy endings you might not like this book. Overall, I thought it was an exciting installment in the Drakon series even though it is definitely not my favorite. I'm excited to see how the story unfolds in the final book.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reading Wish List: August 2014

August 5

1. Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre
Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
What It's About: Edie Kramer, who attends an elite academy, seeks vengeance on her cruel classmates. To do that, she seeks the help of the powerful and mysterious Kian.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. The possibility of a horror/romance novel is definitely intriguing. And I just love the creepily beautiful cover.

2. Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) by Sarah Fine
Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes, #1)

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
What It's About: Wen seeks vengeance on the men who torment her by turning to a ghost for help. But being protected by a supernatural spirit may have been more than she bargained for.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10. I feel like this book has a really cool premise but I am not dying to read it. Maybe it can wait until Halloween?

3. The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman
The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: This is the final book in Grossman's Magicians trilogy, which has been described as Harry Potter/Chronicles of Narnia for adults.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I have not yet read the first two books but I am really excited to delve into this series now that all the books are published.

4. The Widow's House (The Dagger and the Coin #4) by Daniel Abraham
The Widow's House (The Dagger and the Coin, #4)

Genre: Fantasy
What It's About: Wars are waged in this fourth installment in Daniel Abraham's critically acclaimed fantasy series.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. Another series I have not yet had a chance to read but am planning to in the next few months or so.

5. The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
The Girl from the Well

Genre: Young Adult Horror
What It's About: A ghost girl avenges her brutal death at the hands of a murderer by hunting down and killing other child killers. But when a mysterious boy moves into town, her death will never be the same.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. August seems to be a good month for YA horror fiction, a genre I am always on the lookout for. I love the creepy cover and the fact that the book is based on a Japanese ghost story.

6. What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund
What We See When We Read

Genre: Non Fiction
What It's About: A book that details the psychology of what goes on in our heads when we read. Fully illustrated.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. What bookworm doesn't love to read books about books and reading?

7. The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture by Euny Hong
The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture

Genre: Non Fiction
What It's About: Documents the global takeover of Korean pop culture. Did someone say 'Gangnam Style?'
Anticipation Factor: 3/10. It sounds like an interesting read but I can wait for it.

8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist: Essays

Genre: Non Fiction/Essays
What It's About: Roxane Gay shares her views on politics, pop culture, and what it means to be a feminist in today's world.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I'm always looking to expand my feminist horizons and am ashamed to say that I have not yet read any of Roxane Gay's work. This book should be a good introduction.

9. Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks
Painted Horses

Genre: Historical Fiction
What It's About: Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist heading to Montana to hopefully rescue some historical artifacts from a predicted flood. There she meets John H, one of the West's last true cowboys - and living a fugitive life in a canyon.
Anticipation Factor: 3/10. Honestly, I put this book on my list because of that gorgeous cover. I'm sure I'll read it one day. 

10. The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris
The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection

Genre: Non Fiction
What It's About: An exploration into our increasingly digitally-centered lives - and what we're missing out on when we're constantly staring at our iPhones.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I think a book like this is very important in our world right now. We crave constant distraction and because of this we are losing the ability to be present, to be content by ourselves, to be silent. This book could be the wake-up call that people need - including me.

11. Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe
Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War

Genre: Non Fiction
What It's About: Follows three female soldiers over twelve years as they face devastating struggles - both at war and at home.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. We need more stories about female soldiers in our culture, both fiction and non fiction. I'm hoping this book starts a new trend of telling the stories of those who are too often ignored and unacknowledged.

12. Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee
Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: Kai has the ability to manipulate the threads of time. She must keep her ability a secret to stay alive. But when her beloved brother Reev goes missing, she will risk discovery to find the only family she's ever known.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. This sounds like the start to a fun new fantasy series and it's already got a 4.5/5 rating on Goodreads.

13. I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin, Benjamin Dewey
I Was the Cat

Genre: Graphic Novel
What It's About: A cat tells his fascinating (and disturbing) story about how he's manipulated the state of the world over several lifetimes to Allison, a young journalist.
Anticipation Factor: 8/10. I love cats! Especially talking, morally ambiguous cats!

August 12

14. Sisters' Fate (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #3) by Jessica Spotswood
Sisters' Fate (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #3)

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
What It's About: A trio of young witch sisters is battling the evil, murderous Brotherhood - all the while facing a chilling prophecy that says one Sister will take the life of another.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10. I've heard good things about this paranormal trilogy but have yet to pick up the first book.

15. Between the Spark and the Burn (Between #2) by April Genevieve Tucholke
Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2)

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
What It's About: The conclusion to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea where Violet searches for the missing River West Redding.
Anticipation Factor: 3/10. Again, another series that I have not started. My TBR list is now in the thousands and I'm not even exaggerating. 

16. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Genre: Literary Fiction
What It's About: Tsukuru Tazaki doesn't know what happened when his four best friends from school suddenly all announced to him that they no longer wanted to see him. Years later, a woman named Sara helps him to find out what really happened.
Anticipation Factor: 10/10. NEW MURAKAMI! I CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK!!!

17. The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
The Supernatural Enhancements

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy/Mystery
What It's About: A young man named A. inherits Axton House from an previously unknown relative. With his mute companion, Niamh, he explores the spooky secrets of the estate.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. This book is being compared to the works of Neil Gaiman.

18. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
What It's About: Street artist Addison Stone's violent death sends shock waves through her community. Interviews with her friends and family shed light on what really happened to her.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10.

19. Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof 
Small Blessings

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What It's About: An unfulfilled English professor living a quiet life is shocked to find out that a son he never knew about is on his way to meet him.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. Judging by the cover, this promises to be one of those delightful bookish novels.

20. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Genre: Historical Fiction
What It's About: Tells the incredible story of Dorrigo Evans, a man who has traveled to some of the grimmest places on earth - and who is haunted by a past love affair.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I love sinking my teeth into a sweeping historical novel and this one has been getting fantastic reviews.

August 19

21. Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Dear Committee Members: A novel

Genre: Literary Fiction/Humor
What It's About: An epistolary novel that tells the tale of one frustrated Creative Writing Professor whose belief in one of his talented students is not shared by those around him.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. Reading this novel is bound to make me nostalgic for my old Creative Writing class and all the wonderful people I met there.

22. One Kick (Kick Lanagan #1) by Chelsea Cain
One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1)

Genre: Thriller/Mystery
What It's About: Kick Lannigan was abducted at the age of six and disappeared with her kidnapper for six years. Now 21, Kick has worked hard to make sure she is no one's victim ever again.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. 

23. We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
We Are Not Ourselves

Genre: Historical Fiction
What It's About: A family saga spanning generations about an American family struggling throughout the tumultuous 20th century.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. 

24. Blackout by Tim Curran

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: Aliens with long black tentacles descend upon the earth and snatch people into the sky.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I love that cover depicting the alien's tentacles. I can't wait to add this to my collection.

August 26

25. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
A Little Something Different

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
What It's About: A possible romance is budding between two creative writing students - and the entire story is told from fourteen different perspectives, including a squirrel's.
Anticipation Factor: 10/10. If I buy just one book in the month of August, it will be this one. The premise of this novel particularly appeals to me because I met my current boyfriend in my Creative Writing class.

26. Feral by Holly Schindler 

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
What It's About: Claire Cain must unravel a disturbing mystery when she discovers the body of a fellow student surrounded by feral cats.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. Because cats!

27. Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
What It's About: A horrific accident leaves eighteen-year old Matt Turner questioning everything about his life and what he believes - or doesn't believe - in.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. I've heard wonderful things about Ellen Hopkins' books.

28. Deliverance (Defiance #3) by C.J. Redwine
Deliverance (Defiance, #3)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
What It's About: The final novel in this dystopian fantasy series.
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. Add this to the growing list of series that I have not read yet. I've heard this series being compared to Graceling, which I love.

29. Amity by Micol Ostow

Genre: Young Adult Horror
What It's About: A YA retelling of The Amityville Horror
Anticipation Factor: 6/10. I love that so many horror novels are coming out this month and Amity has been compared to the works of Stephen King.

30. Lock In by John Scalzi
Lock In

Genre: Science Fiction
What It's About: In the near future, a new virus leaves 1% of those infected 'locked in' - awake and aware but completely paralyzed.
Anticipation Factor: 7/10. Looking forward to reading this original sci-fi story. 

31. Last of the Independents (A Michael Drayton Mystery #1) by Sam Wiebe
Last of the Independents: Vancouver Noir

Genre: Mystery/Crime Fiction
What It's About: A private investigator based in Vancouver is hired to find the missing son of a merchant.
Anticipation Factor: 5/10. Had to include this book, as it's based in Vancouver, Canada, my hometown. But it's also supposed to be a gripping read.

Release dates are subject to change.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Review: Queen of Dragons (Drakon #3) by Shana Abe

 Queen of Dragons (Drakon, #3) 

Synopsis: It's a stunning claim: the existence of a lost drakon tribe. And it comes from an intriguing source: a woman calling herself Princess Maricara of Transylvania. Alpha lord Kimber Langford, Earl of Chasen, can't ignore the possibility. For whoever this unknown princess may be, she's dangerous enough to know about his existence - and where to find him. And indeed, it isn't long before Maricara breaches the defenses of Darkfrith and the walls around Kimber's heart. Yet the princess arrives with urgent news: a mysterious serial killer is targeting the entire drakon race. To save their kind, Kimber and Mari must ally themselves body and soul in a battle that can spell their salvation, their extinction...or both.

It was such a treat to immerse myself back in the world of the Drakon with this third installment in the series. Queen of Dragons essentially picks up where The Dream Thief left off: Princess Maricara, only eleven in the previous book, is now nineteen and is (unknowingly) engaged to Kimber, the Alpha of the English Drakon. Kimber is the eldest son of Rue and Christoff, the couple from the first book. Kimber is a lot like his father: blonde, bold, and a little bit too domineering. Thankfully, Maricara is not one to be dominated easily.

Princess Maricara is my favorite character in this book. She is smart, powerful, and unwilling to compromise her freedom - even when she is in danger of falling in love with the man she swore she would never marry. The cat-and-mouse game between Kim and Mari is fun to read and while the romance is intriguing, I can't help feel like something is missing. 

I absolutely loved the first two books so anything after is destined to pale in comparison. Queen of Dragons is still a good read but I can't help but think it would work better if it were written as a strict fantasy and not a romance. I felt like if this were not marketed as a romance novel, there is no way Mari would have ended up with Kimber. There, I said it. I just didn't root for them the way I did for the previous two couples - Rue/Kit and Amalia/Zane. (Speaking of Zane, he makes a very surprising, and very welcome, guest appearance in this book. Really hoping we get more glimpses of Zane with Amalia in future books.)

My only complaint with this book is the romance. Everything else is spectacular - there is tons of drama, and action, and there seem to be a lot more dragon moments in this book, always a plus in my opinion. Shana Abe writes such vivid, beautiful sentences that I sometimes get goosebumps reading her books. There was one scene in particular that stands out in my mind. Basically, Mari is being accused by Kimber's councilmen that she is deliberately putting the tribe in danger - the tension builds and builds until it explodes and I actually could feel the emotions that Mari was feeling during that scene. I just get so sucked into these stories and into the world that Shana Abe has created that it starts to feel real. If that's not a mark of a talented writer, I don't know what is.

I have said it a thousand times before and I'll say it again: if you are not reading the Drakon series, you are missing out! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book News: New Harry Potter Covers!

I was so excited to hear that Bloomsbury is releasing new Harry Potter covers on September 1, 2014. I already bought the new paperbacks released last year by Scholastic, the series' U.S. publisher. I cannot wait to add another complete set of Harry Potter books to my collection! This new set will bring my grand total to three. Here's a look at the new covers. Tell me what you think in the comments!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

These covers will be published in both Harcover and Paperback formats. So far, they seem to only be available for pre-order from the U.K. and anywhere else that had the original U.K. covers, such as Canada, where I live! For all you American Potterheads, you might have to order these online from or from