Wednesday 28 December 2016

Cover Catch-Up (35): Now I Rise & Empress of a Thousand Skies!

In "Cover Catch-Up" I share some covers that have either been recently revealed, or that I've just found and really wanted to share. 

Today I have two covers for books that I'm excited for!

The first cover I have to share today is for NOW I RISE by Kiersten White!

NOW I RISE (Conquerer's Saga #2) by Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 27, 2017


Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
I absolutely LOVED AND I DARKEN, and I can't wait to read this sequel! I'm sure NOW I RISE will be just as intense and fantastic as the first, and I love this cover! It's simple, and matches perfectly with the first book! I can't wait to get a copy of this stunning book in my hands! :)

The second cover that I have to share is for EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES!

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 7, 2017

Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation—and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.
I always love covers that feature space on them, so I think this cover is stunning! And the story itself sounds amazing, too!

What do you think?
Do you like these covers, too?
Who else can't to read these two books?

Thursday 22 December 2016

Review: His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Source: Sample copy through Thomas Allen & Son Ltd. All opinions are my own.
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Number of Pages: 300 (Hardcover)

Description from Goodreads:
A triple murder in a remote northwestern farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. There’s no question that Macrae is guilty, but the police and courts must uncover what drove him to murder the local village constable and his two children. The book starts with the account of the accused killer who gives us the events leading up to the murders from his jail cell. The book then offers the fictional opinion of a medical doctor and psychologist on the questionable sanity of Roderick Macrae. The last third of the book is a courtroom transcript that reveals the full truth of the events that left three dead. Burnet has created a fascinating unreliable narrator in this historical revenge tragedy and courtroom drama.

I don't usually read thrillers or any kind of crimes novels, so HIS BLOODY PROJECT isn't my typical genre, but we'd been getting seriously excited about it at work because it was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker Prize (it ended up being a finalist, but didn't win), and my company distributed it for the first time in Canada. The description had me seriously intrigued, so I gave it a shot, and I'm so glad that I did!

I decided to snag a sample copy for myself to read when I flew home to Alberta in September, and I'm so glad that I did! The story was extremely intriguing, complicated and I didn't want to put it down!

HIS BLOODY PROJECT is complex, and it'll leave you feeling more conflicted than you can possibly imagine. It'll keep you up at night reading, and when you're not reading, it'll still be on your mind. It's the kind of story that sticks with you and I'm extremely glad that I decided to go outside of my regular reading habits and give it a shot because it turned out to be one of my favourite books this year!

If you're already a thriller fan, definitely read this, and if it's not your typical genre either, but you find the story compelling, I wholeheartedly recommend it because I thought it was remarkable! I had a total book hangover after finishing this one, and it's continued to be on my mind for the past few months!

What do you think?
Does HIS BLOODY PROJECT sound like something you'd like to read?

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Cover Catch-Up (34): Valiant & Shadow Run

In "Cover Catch-Up" I share some covers that have either been recently revealed, or that I've just found and really wanted to share. 

Today I have two covers for books that I can't wait to read!

The first book that I'm sharing today is THE VALIANT by Lesley Livingston!

THE VALIANT by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Release Date: February 14, 2017


The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.

I can't wait to read this book! It sounds amazing, and I absolutely love that this cover features the main character looking tough and all gladiator like!

The second cover I have today is for SHADOW RUN! :)

SHADOW RUN (Kaitan Chronicles #1) by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 21, 2017


"Firefly" meets DUNE in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

This cover immediately makes me think of X-men and Firefly, and it makes me sooooo excited! And the description of this one sounds FANTASTIC!!!! I can just imagine this cover all shiny and I bet it'll be gorgeous!

What do you think?
Do you like these covers, too?

Monday 19 December 2016

Review: Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks #7) by Miranda Kenneally

Source: Received an egalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date:July 5, 2016
Number of Pages: 304 (Paperback)

Description from Goodreads:
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
I consider myself an avid Miranda Kenneally fangirl, so I really wasn't surprised when I started DEFENDING TAYLOR, got immediately hooked, and ended up absolutely loving it. :P

While it wasn't my favourite of the Hundred Oaks books (I think RACING SAVANNAH is still my favourite...with BREATHE ANNIE BREATHE very close behind--and that's if I absolutely have to choose :P), I absolutely adored the story.

I also loved the characters! Taylor was a wonderful main character. She was a tad moody, and did make some poor choices, but I loved that she was determined to stick by her choices, and that she was willing to take responsibility and face any and all consequences that came her way. And Ezra...*sigh* I loved Ezra! I also really loved that Taylor and Ezra had a past. It made the dynamics of their relationship really interesting! I also really loved Taylor's relationship with her brother, Oliver! :) As always, I thought it was fantastic getting to see some of the characters from the other books like Annie and Jeremiah, and Savannah and Jack!!!! :D

I really loved DEFENDING TAYLOR, and I think that it's an excellent addition to the Hundred Oaks series! If you're just starting the series now, I think it wouldn't hurt to start here, but I do think that you'd appreciate the cameos from the other characters more if you started earlier on in the series--probably at least with Racing Savannah so that you'll be familiar with the characters that make appearances in this one. :) Overall, I would definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR though because it was fantastic! 

What do you think?
Have you read DEFENDING TAYLOR already?
Who else loves the HUNDRED OAK series?

Monday 5 December 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 2 December 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 1 December 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?