Monday, December 5, 2016

Audiobook Review: A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness & Read by Jason Isaacs

Source: Received a sample copy through my work, Thomas Allen & Son, the Canadian Distributor for Brilliance Audio. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Candlewick on Brilliance Audio
Release Date: September 27, 2016

Description from Goodreads:
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming....

This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

“Compelling...powerful and impressive.” —Philip Pullman, author of the award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy

“Exceptional...this is storytelling as it should be—harrowing, lyrical, and transcendent.” —Meg Rosoff, author of the Printz Award–winning novel How I Live Now

“Brilliant and elegant, with all the thrills and ambition you would expect from the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy.” —Frank Cottrell Boyce, award-winning author of Millions and Cosmic

“Haunting, lyrical, powerful, and true. Patrick Ness has crafted a masterful story about grief and loss, love and hope that lingers in the heart like a ghost.” —Libba Bray, author of the Printz Award-winning novel Going Bovine

I have to preface this by saying that I've already read A MONSTER CALLS, and absolutely adored it. It's an extremely emotion read, and while it absolutely guts you, it's also breathtakingly beautiful and real. I consider A MONSTER CALLS to be one of the most profound stories I've ever read, and I know that it's one that I'll return to year after year, and no matter how many times I read it, it'll never ever get old.

Now that you know I already love this story, I have to let you know that I like to go back and listen to audio versions of books that I love so that I can get to experience them in a whole new way. When it comes to listening to an audiobook of a book you've already enjoyed, there's always the risk that the reader won't manage to convey the story as effectively as it comes across on paper, but that definitely wasn't an issue here at all. Jason Isaacs did an absolutely AMAZING job reading A MONSTER CALLS! He managed to flawlessly capture each and every one of the characters. His intonation was amazing, and I thought that this recording was perfection. Absolute perfection!

For new readers to A MONSTER CALLS who enjoy audiobooks, I wholeheartedly recommend this recording, and for readers who've already read and loved the book, you should definitely give this audiobook a shot the next time you decide to do a reread. You really won't regret it!

Not only is A MONSTER CALLS an amazing story (seriously, even if you don't listen to the audio...go read the book!), but this audio is a fantastic adaptation of the story, and it's made me love it all over again!

Who else loves A MONSTER CALLS?
And is anyone else a fan of going back and listening to an audiobook version of their favourite stories? If you are, which one has been your favourite to do that with?

I think A MONSTER CALLS or THE SCORPIO RACES are currently tied as my favourites to do this with...both are AMAZING!!!

Friday, December 2, 2016

REVIEW: FATE OF FLAMES (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Source: Received an ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Number of Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
Years ago, everything changed. Phantoms, massive beasts of nightmare, began terrorizing the world. At the same time four girls, the Effigies, appeared, each with the unique power to control a classical element. Since then, they have protected the world from the Phantoms. At the death of one Effigy, another is chosen, pulled from her normal life into the never-ending battle.

When Maia unexpectedly becomes the next Fire Effigy, she resists her new calling. A quiet girl with few friends and almost no family, she was much happier to admire the Effigies from afar. Never did she imagine having to master her ability to control fire, to protect innocent citizens from the Phantoms, or to try bringing together the other three Effigies.

But with the arrival of the mysterious Saul—a man who seems to be able to control the Phantoms using the same cosmic power previously only granted to four girls at a time—Maia and the other Effigies must learn to work together in a world where their celebrity is more important than their heroism.

But the secrets Saul has, and the power he possesses, might be more than even they can handle…
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood involve watching cartoons on YTV (it's a Canadian children's network for anyone not from Canada); YTV introduced me to some AMAZING shows, including Sailor Moon, so as soon as I saw the description of FATE OF FLAMES, I was pretty much jumping up and down with excitement! It's been pitched as a mix of Buffy, Pacific Rim, and Sailor Moon, and I think that description is perfect!

FATE OF FLAMES starts off with a bang. We meet the main character, Maia, and quickly see our first Phantom. Then we see one of the famous Effigies, Belle, fighting the Phantom, and we're thrust into a world eerily similar to our own. The big difference between our world and Maia's is that monsters called Phantoms exist and the only things keeping us from all being destroyed are anti-phantom technology and young women imbued with the power to control the elements, called Effigies!

Since I loved Sailor Moon and Buffy, I definitely enjoyed seeing the Effigies and their various powers! I really liked Maia as a narrator because I loved her snarky sense of humour, but I was a little disappointed that she didn't push herself to try her powers more. She did have reasons for holding back, but I still wish she'd pushed herself more when she actually was trying to train...if I had the kind of power that she had, I'd be all over it! I really loved seeing Belle, Lake, and Chae Rin use their elemental powers though, and I absolutely loved seeing all of the dynamics develop between the four girls!! I also really loved Rhys...I'm always a sucker for a good romance subplot, and I was definitely rooting for Maia and Rhys!

Other than the amazing elemental powers that the Effigies had, my favourite part of FATE OF FLAMES was the world-building. I thought it was extremely interesting, and all of the technology that they'd created to combat the Phantoms fascinated me! I also loved seeing how Maia's world differed from our own. FATE OF FLAMES seemed to take place during our time now, but it was as if their history had been rewritten to include Phantoms and Effigies⎯like an alternate universe dystopia!

Overall, I really enjoyed FATE OF FLAMES. I absolutely loved the world-building, the powers of the Effigies and all of the character dynamics, but I was a little disappointed with how Maia handled her powers. I'll cut her some slack though because she was already starting to gain confidence in herself and in her abilities by the end of FATE OF FLAMES. Needless to say, I'm extremely excited for book 2, and I CANNOT wait to see more of Maia, Lake, Chae Rin, Belle, Rhys...and even Saul, in the sequel!! I'd recommend FATE OF FLAMES to anyone who loved Sailor Moon, or to anyone who enjoys elemental magic!

What do you think?
Does FATE OF FLAMES sound like a book you'd like?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Number of Pages: 416 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. Nothing else.

For Nemesis, that person is Sidonia, heir to the galactic Senate. The two grew up side by side, and there’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the Imperial Court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced Senators’ children, and Nemesis must find within herself the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have—humanity. With the Empire beginning to fracture and rebellion looming, that could be the one thing that saves her and the Empire itself.
I'm a real sucker for any kind of epic story that takes place in space, so as soon as I heard about THE DIABOLIC, I was intrigued! Once I read the description about the Diabolics, Nemesis and Sidonia, I was even more interested!

It took me a few chapters to get into THE DIABOLIC because Nemesis is a fairly detached narrator, but once I got into the narrative, then I couldn't put it down! I thought that Nemesis was really intriguing, and I loved learning about the world that S.J. Kindcaid created! From the technology, to the ships, to the intricate religious and class systems, I loved getting to know more about the world within THE DIABOLIC, and I found it all extremely fascinating to read about!

While Nemesis wasn't the most affectionate of characters, she really grew on me. She was fierce, and her devotion to Sidonia was compelling, especially because of the way that the Diabolics were "designed." Most of all, I really loved seeing Nemesis's character change as she grew into herself and was able to expand beyond her dedication to protect Sidonia. I really, really loved seeing her develop relationships...especially when a certain member of the Emperor's family comes into the picture. ;)

With so much going on, I wasn't sure how everything could be wrapped up in one book, but S.J. managed it! THE DIABOLIC was an interesting mix of dystopia, sci-fi adventure, and dark roman empire with political intrigue all mixed together, and I absolutely loved it! 

After talking to some of my friends who've also read this one, I do think THE DIABOLIC is geared more towards readers who already enjoy sci-fi because it really isn't the type of story where you connect closely with the heroine. Nemesis struggles to accept the fact that she actually has feelings, so that does create some detachment within the narrative, but personally, I really loved Nemesis's confusion as she began to feel more and more, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her push herself when it came to her humanity! 

If you're a fan of sweeping stories with characters who are fierce without any kind of sugar-coating, then I think you'll love THE DIABOLIC...and if you already love sci-fi, then you're going to love this even more!

What do you think?
Does THE DIABOLIC sound like something you'd enjoy?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cover Reveal: GUARDIAN OF SECRETS (Library Jumpers #2) by Brenda Drake

I read the first book of the Library Jumpers series, Thief of Lies, back when it first released, and I absolutely LOVED it! I've been eagerly waiting for the sequel, Guardian of Secrets, ever since...and today I have the gorgeous cover to share with you all!

Let us know what you think of the cover for Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake which releases February 7, 2017!

This cover reveal is brought to you by Entangled TEEN & YA Interrobang!
Brenda Drake's thoughts on the cover:

I had an idea of what I wanted the cover of Guardian of Secrets to look like the entire time I was writing the story. I was delighted (I might have screamed) when the cover showed up in my email and it was EXACTLY what I’d imagined. I love that it’s blue since part of the setting of the book takes place in a cold climate. I’m thrilled the couple is on it, too. They resemble the characters I’ve created in my mind perfectly. The cover is so beautiful, and I’m beyond excited to share it with everyone!

 About Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2):

Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens.

Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

Maybe. If she survives.
Want to read more? Pre-order your copy of Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2) by Brenda Drake today!

 About the Author
Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Connect with Brenda: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Instagram

I absolutely LOVE this cover! It matches PERFECTLY with the cover for Thief of Lies, and it's stunning on its own, too. It still has the library, and now it has both Gia and Arik on it, and I'm absolutely swooning!

What do you think of the cover of Guardian of Secrets?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Review: And I Darken (The Conquerer's Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Source: Received a copy through a coworker from OLA, and purchased a hardcover once the book released.
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Number of Pages: 475 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
As soon as I heard about AND I DARKEN, I knew that I absolutely HAD to read it! The book sounded absolutely fantastic, and I was pretty sure that I wouldn't want to put it down...and as soon as I started it, I knew I was right!

I loved EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of this book, and I really loved Lada!! She was so fierce and strong, and I loved seeing her exert her control in a time when women didn't have much control at all! I definitely couldn't be as fierce as her, but I really admired her strength, and I sympathized with her when she was insecure about things. I especially loved seeing her relationships evolve and I enjoyed the dynamics that she had with the other characters, including Mehmed, Radu, and all of the Wallachian soldiers. I liked Radu too, but I really loved this book for Lada. :D

I'm not super familiar with Dracula's story, so I wasn't critical with how Lada's story fits in with the historical side while reading, but I still really liked how it was clear that Lada = was so neat!! After finishing AND I DARKEN, I did look into Vlad the Impaler a little bit though, and I thought it was super interesting to see the narrative of his history, and to see how Lada's story overlapped with Vlad's history. Vlad's history is pretty dark, and it doesn't have the happiest of endings, so I'll be very interested to see how Kiersten White continues to explore Lada's story! I'm crossing my fingers that it isn't quite as bleak...but even if it is, I know that she won't go down without one hell of a fight!

Overall, I absolutely LOVED AND I DARKEN! Lada is un-apologetically fierce, and I loved seeing such a strong female character who wasn't afraid to show just how dangerous and deadly she could be. I also loved seeing her take charge! I can't wait to read the next book, NOW I RISE, and I'd recommend AND I DARKEN to anyone who loves fierce heroines, especially if you have a soft spot for historical fiction! 

What do you think?
Does the idea of a female Vlad the Impaler intrigue you?
And if you've read AND I DARKEN already, what did you think?