Saturday, 26 December 2015

Review: Remembrance by Meg Cabot

Title: Remembrance (Mediator #7)
Author: Meg Cabot

Release date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Paranormal
Format: eARC
Pages: 315

Source: Edelweiss

In REMEMBRANCE, the seventh installment of the Mediator series, all Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).

But when she stumbles across an ancient murder, old ghosts—and ex-boyfriends—aren’t all that come back to haunt her.

REMEMBRANCE will be the first ever adult installment of the Mediator, published by William Morrow, the adult division of HarperCollins, the company that brought you the YA books in the series.





I was beyond excited when I heard about the existence of this book! The Mediator series was one of the first YA series I ever read, and I did so repeatedly. I love the characters so much. And now I got to see what they're like as adults! It's all very exciting. Remembrance brings us right back into Suze's world, with several things changing as a result of the time that's passed.

So, what have our beolved characters been up to? Well, Suze is working in the administration department of her old high school, Jesse is a doctor, Suze's stepbrothers are doing well (David's in college and Brad has kids!), and Paul is.. well, Paul. Suze has a new ghost kid to take under her wing and mediate, before the angry kid ends up killing her. Meanwhile, Paul is dragging Suze into a blackmail deal that is very reminiscent of high school Paul. And Suze is desperately trying to keep Jesse out of everything, but to no avail. All in all, a book filled with drama and suspense and action. And, of course, romance. After all, Suze and Jesse are engaged. Though they have a lot of obstacles to overcome before they can finally tie the knot.

Surprisingly, Suze is still the same person we met all those years ago. She's witty, hotheaded, funny, and all-around great. But I was expecting a development in her character since she's a proper adult now, so that was a bit weird. Also, there were other things that were pretty much the same. Paul, for example, and basically the dynamic between him, Suze and Jesse. I figured they'd have moved past that stuff by now. Sigh, high school drama never ends.

I wish there was more of Jesse in this book. He only shows up in person about a third into the novel, and even after that there just wasn't enough. And there was also way too much of Suze-Paul drama. But I really liked the ghost case and Suze and Jesse figuring out her murder together. There are also quite a few plot twists - and one huge one I never saw coming! It was great.

It's also cute to see Suze and Jesse together, and how Jesse still retains his 18th century moral values. He's driving Suze mad with frustration, and it's just so amusing! I don't know if we're getting any more of these books, but I sure hope so. Suze and Jesse work so well together despite how different they are, and I can't help but want more. Fans of the Mediator series, grab this one ASAP! I hope you'll all like it as much as I did.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 21 December 2015

Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Title: Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Release date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 295

Source: Edelweiss

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

Assassin's Heart is a wonderfully fast-paced action-packed novel with a fierce protagonist and a great plot. This book is a stand-alone story, so no cliffhangers of any sort, which I loved because I don't really see that in YA fantasy. The characters are complex, and the twists and turns in the plot had me at the edge of my seat for most of the novel.

Lea is a clipper (which is what they call assassins in this world), part of the most respected Family - the Saldanas. She has a secret, though - she's in a forbidden relationship with Val, who is part of the Da Vias, rivals of the Saldanas. The two families have a long and hostile history, so Lea can never let anyone know. But this secrecy might just have led to the massacre of her entire Family, thanks to a possible betrayal by the love of her life. Lea sets out to find her uncle, an estranged clipper, so they can together avenge the deaths of their Family.

Firstly, kudos to the author for the plot originality. I've read so many YA fantasies that have meshed together in my head because they're all so similar. This one really stood out to me. I felt kind of iffy at first because it seemed to be a Romeo and Juliet retelling of sorts, but then the twists began, and things got interesting!

I loved Lea's character - no surprise. Though she seems like the typical tough, strong, badass YA heroine we see a lot of these days, Lea has a few characteristics that set her apart. She's not perfect, obviously, or she wouldn't have unknowingly become the cause of her Family's massacre. She has a certain vulnerability about her, that she doesn't show under any circumstances. I loved how driven she was throughout the novel, and how much she cares about her family as well as the new people she meets later on.

And now we get to those new people. When Lea finds her uncle, Marcello, she also meets Alessio, her uncle's protegee. Alessio is learning how to be a clipper from Marcello - well, as much as he can, anyway. Les brings a spark of light to an otherwise dark novel, and his attitude got to me as much as it did to Lea. He's humourous, kind, strong-willed, and incredibly understanding. Though very different from Lea in many ways, he complements her character really well. I loved seeing the two of them interact.

There's so much more I want to say about this, but I don't want to give anything away. A few other things, though - I liked the role reversal aspect where the girl ends up protecting the guy most of the time. Lea really knows what she's doing, while Les is just learning how to fight like a clipper. Another thing I found interesting was the spiritual aspect. The Families worship a common god, Safraella, and unexplainable things happen that are attested to the presence of gods in this world. I look forward to seeing how this is developed in the companion novel.

So overall, I really enjoyed how different this is from most fantasies. And of course, I need lots of action in the books I read so that was great. I would've liked the other main and supporting characters to be developed a little more, but I guess that's just the downside of having a standalone novel. Though I'm now curious what the companion will be about! In any case, this was a great read and I really recommend this to fantasy and action lovers.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Title: Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy MacMillan
Release date: January 19th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 312

Source: Edelweiss

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

First of all, can we appreciate how awesome that cover is? It's complex and brilliant and probably one of my favourite YA covers. Though the book doesn't have much to do with swords, it's a powerful symbol to place there. Sword and Verse is a standalone YA fantasy, which is great because we get closure at the end of the book - no cruel cliffhangers or anything. The downside is that we don't get enough time to get to know the characters, which is what happened in this case.

Raisa is a slave girl surrounded by elites of the race that ransacked her home. Though she's forgotten much of her home and heritage, she knows what kind of people her parents were, and that's a secret she'll guard with her life. When Raisa is chosen to become the tutor-in-training to the next prince, she learns the higher order language alongside Prince Mati, and her growing feelings for him only serve to confuse her further after the Arnathi Resistance demands her help.

The social hierarchy of this land reminds me of that of Ancient Egypt, with its royals and scribes and slaves, and the emphasis on knowing how to write. Since I've been learning about Ancient Egypt in class, I found this really cool. I liked the world building in this book - it's not an info dump, and also not lacking in background. For a standalone fantasy novel, it was the perfect amount.

I really liked Raisa too - she's so determined to figure out what her heart-verse is and that goal keeps her grounded through all the obstacles she faces. The timeline in this book is different compared to most - we see Raisa at fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen if I'm not wrong. We see the development in her character as well as Mati's. Though I was disappointed that we don't get to know the other characters too well, even Mati, I really enjoyed looking through Raisa's eyes.

What I didn't like was the romance aspect of the novel, between Raisa and Mati. It started way too suddenly and very out of the blue, and then stopped just as suddenly, and then picks back up again after several months or so. It was honestly pretty weird to read about, and I didn't think there was much chemistry between them at all. There was also no room for development, what with the sudden starts and stops. I would have preferred more fluidity in that respect.

The mythology involving the gods is a nice touch, and I felt it brought more validity to the world the author has created. Again, a little similar to Egyptian divine mythology, but I guess several ancient civilizations had similar origin stories regarding their gods. There's an interesting twist involving the gods, so pay attention to the little snippets of mythology at the beginning of each chapter!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this one. It was lighter than most YA fantasies, and though it wrapped up a bit too quickly and nicely, I liked reading about Raisa's journey. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy lovers!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #111: Passenger

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick for this week's WoW is...


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


Title: Passenger (Passenger #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Release date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

Firstly, that cover is so so gorgeous. Secondly, that blurb makes me want this book right now. How amazing does it sound? Thirdly, I love Alexandra's writing and I just know I'll love this.
That is all.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #110: Starflight

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick for this week's WoW is...


Starflight by Melissa Landers


Title: Starflight (Starflight #1)
Author: Melissa Landers

Release date: February 2nd 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world--and each other--the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...

I already know that Melissa Landers writes amazing YA sci-fi (go read Alienated if you haven't already), so of course I know I'll love this book. Also, isn't that cover just beautiful? Simple and stunning at the same time.


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Review: Light of Day by Allison van Diepen

Title: Light of Day
Author: Allison van Diepen
Release date: November 24th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Pages: 309

Source: Publisher

Like any other Saturday night, Gabby Perez and her best friend, Maria, are out dancing. But this isn’t just another night. When a mysterious stranger warns Gabby their drinks have been drugged, she hurries Maria home. Sure enough, the next day, Maria can’t remember a thing. Gabby’s shaken by their close call. And she’s not going to stay quiet about it.

She opens up the airwaves on her radio show and discovers an even worse truth: the guy who drugged them was going to force them into prostitution. Then Gabby’s friend Bree never makes it home from a party, and Gabby fears the worst.

Gabby reaches out to the guy who saved her, the gorgeous stranger she knows only as X. As they dive into the seedy underworld of Miami, searching for Bree, they can’t ignore their undeniable attraction. Until Gabby discovers the truth about who X really is and the danger that surrounds him. Can their love survive the light of day?

Light of Day is a companion novel to On the Edge, as both books are set in the same world and feature similar premises. But this can be read as a standalone, even if you haven't read On the Edge. I've read both, and I think I enjoyed this one a little more.

Gabby is introduced to the seedy side of the city when she takes it upon herself to find her missing friend, who has apparently become part of a prostitution ring - according to the mysterious guy Gabby meets one night at a club. He introduces himself as X, and agrees to help Gabby find Bree. But as Gabby goes deeper into things she has no idea about, she realizes how much danger she's in. And that X isn't exactly who she thought he was.

Gabby struck me as quite naive, similar to the female protagonist of On the Edge. She has a good sense of morals, though, and a lot of courage. Gabby and X work well together, and though we don't get to know much about X, I really liked what we saw. He's not an undercover cop like Gabby assumed he was, and that was pretty obvious from the beginning. X is part of the connection between the two books, and towards the end we even get cameos from the protagonists of On the Edge, which was awesome.

I definitely could have done without the high school drama, though. It took away most of the seriousness of the issue of the plot, which is the sex trafficking of girls in Miami. There was pettiness and bitchiness and other random high school issues. I liked Gabby's high school friend group and the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Club (I think that's what it's called), but that setting would have worked better in a lighter-themed novel.

There were a couple of surprises and twists that were unexpected, so I was glad about that. But like I said in my review for On the Edge, I wish there was more on the trafficking premise and what the Destinos gang is doing to help. Too much of the novel's focus was on Gabby's high school and her romance with X. On the whole, though, I liked reading Light of Day and I hope the author writes more books set in this world.

*Thank you to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #109: Glass Sword

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick for this week's WoW is...


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2)
Author: Victoria Aveyard

Release date: February 9th 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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.

I'm all kinds of excited for this book! Red Queen was one of my favourite YA debuts ever, and I really hope this'll be just as mindblowing as its predecessor.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Immortal Heights Blog Tour: Author Interview + Giveaway


Greetings, book lovers! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas. I have for you an interview with the amazing Sherry Thomas and don't forget to enter the giveaway below! Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for letting me participate. Check out the full tour schedule here :)


In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort....

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Release date: October 13th 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks


Check out my review of The Immortal Heights HERE!

Interview with Sherry Thomas

Firstly, I want to say how excited I am to have you here on City of Books, Sherry! The Elemental Trilogy is one of my all-time YA favourites, and it's a series I would reread over and over again. How does it feel to have finally completed this YA trilogy?


Hi, I’m thrilled to be here! Thank you for having me.

I finish a book multiple times, because that happens to be the inefficient way I write, draft after arduous draft. And I always revise from the beginning, because what takes place at the beginning has impact on everything that follows. As I result I’m always in a desperate time crunch as I reach “The End”—and never quite happy with it.

The draft of The Immortal Heights that went to copyedit actually had a lot of stuff rushed over and only half an epilogue—the copyeditor was like, What’s going on? So when I got my copyedits back, I did another round of substantial revisions. And as usual, when I reached the end, two minutes before I had to turn it in, I was already making notes for further changes needed when printed galleys came back.

When the galleys came back, I wasn’t looking forward to reaching the end, because there the maximum amount of work awaited me. And then the oddest thing happened. I had to stop along the way to fix various things, but those last few chapters I read all the way through. And they were fine. They were better than fine: I had tears running down my face as I turned the final page. 

And I sat stunned for a bit as the emotional impact of the ending, of the entire epic, washed over me.

It really was the most wonderful feeling.

To me, the Crucible is the most intriguing aspect of this series. How did you come up with a concept like that?

Before I took to describing the trilogy as Harry Potter with cross-dressing, I used to say it’s Harry Potter meets The Matrix.

In The Matrix, Neo trains in a virtual reality software program called The Construct. Inside the Construct you can have all different kinds of environments. I always thought that was the coolest thing and wanted an equivalent for my story.

That equivalent had to be a book, cuz I love physical books. And fairy tales were pretty perfect, since they were often dangerous and filled with all kinds of difficult terrains and terrible monsters. What could be better?

Though they have their fair share of disagreements, Titus and Iolanthe always struck me as a great team. How easy or difficult was it to have them work well together despite their equally strong personalities and often clashing opinions?

It might be difficult for them, at times, but for me that’s one of the most rewarding things about writing this trilogy. I didn’t want these books to be boy books or girl books; I wanted them to be stories about a pair of equals. About two young people who were truly partners in every sense.

And the thing is, you don’t become partners without a process of figuring each other out. So I throw all kinds of challenges and setbacks at them, and watch them fall apart, fall out with each other, and then find their way back to working together again.

Bliss.

Did any of the major characters in the series stray significantly from what you'd originally expected them to be like?

I don’t usually know what my characters are going to be like until I’ve written a lot about them.
For example, Kashkari, introduced at the beginning of The Burning Sky, was a bit of a cypher. I didn’t know much more about him than the readers did and that was okay for The Burning Sky, because he didn’t have a major part to play.

But then as I got into The Perilous Sea and The Immortal Heights, his role grew bigger and bigger, until it became pivotal. And he gradually turned into a fully fleshed out person as I learned more and more about him.

And that’s how it works for me. Instead of having characters who turn out differently from how I envisioned them, my characters are like Polaroid pictures that start out blank and take a while for clear, full images to emerge.

Do you have any book or series recommendations for YA fantasy lovers?

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

What are you working on right now, and do you have any plans for writing more YA?

I am working on the first book in a historical mystery series for the adult market. But I definitely plan to write more YA. My editor and I are hashing through a story idea together and I’ll get back to working on it as soon as I turn in a decent first draft of the historical mystery.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Sherry! I can't wait to read more books from you :)

About the author:

Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.

English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

Sherry’s next book, The Immortal Heights volume three of her young adult fantasy trilogy, will be available fall 2015.

Author photo by the lovely and talented Jennifer Sparks Harriman at Sparks Studio.

Find Sherry on:


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