Waiting on Wednesday {45}

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts this weekly meme where we can share a book that we are so excited for and are anxiously awaiting their upcoming release!

This week my WoW pick is...

The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
Release Date ~ October 7, 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

First of all, I love Marie Lu's Legend trilogy. She showed how great of a writer she is, with an ability to create strong stories and exciting characters. The Young Elites really grabs me with its description because it sounds so fantastically creative! It sounds like a story that is all her own. Plus, I've been stalking Marie's Pinterest board and I'm just in love with it.

Have you read Marie Lu's Legend books? Did you love them as much as I did? Are you looking forward to The Young Elites?


Review: Of Metal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) by Sarah Fine
Release Date ~ August 5, 2014
Margaret K McElderry Books ~ Simon & Schuster 
ISBN13: 9781442483583
ARC received from S&S Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

Of Metal and Wishes is an impressive re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera with an imaginative take on the story with characters and a plot that truly stand out.

  1. A setting unlike any other:

    The fact that Of Metal and Wishes takes place in a slaughterhouse already sets it apart from nearly every book I've ever read. But I also liked how Sarah Fine included some elements with a steampunk and gothic feel to create an eerie, isolated world within the slaughterhouse. She doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of Wen's daily life and what she sees around her. There is racial tension (which plays a fairly significant part of the story) as well as issues relating to gender and social status. It's particularly interesting to see how those go hand-in-hand at times and overlap. The Industrial setting is also important for the plot, and hints at more to come.
  2. Life-like characters:

    Wen isn't a stereotypical character. She has a strong personality and that's consistent in the book (which is important to me - it bothers me when characters act in a way that is seemingly out of character because it feels forced.) Likewise, the Ghost is an incredibly sympathetic character and one who shows remarkable development despite his situation. I'll admit that some of the secondary characters had fairly minor roles to play, and as a result they felt a tad underdeveloped. But they also struck me as realistic. I adored the romance in this book, because it builds achingly slow but that's PERFECT for the characters. It's the kind that never stopped playing with my heartstrings!
  3. The Phantom of the Opera inspirations:

    There are a couple aspects of Phantom that are harder for me to understand and accept because they never really felt developed. Of Metal and Wishes doesn't suffer from this problem, and it's one thing I really loved about the book. The relationship between Wen and Melik felt so authentic, as did the unusual relationship between Wen and the Ghost. 
But for those of you who may not love Phantom as much as I do, or readers who may not be as familiar with it, this is still a perfectly enjoyable story. No background knowledge of Phantom is needed to appreciate this remarkable book. It's beautifully written in such a way that is clear to follow and descriptive. It's a story that stands on its own merits as opposed to relying on the original story by which it was inspired. 

Until I finished this book, I expected Of Metal and Wishes to be a standalone but I was very pleased to discover that it has a sequel set to release in 2015! I'm very pleased with that news. Yet at the same time, I loved that this book contains its own story. It felt finished by the end, but left a few loose threads hanging. And I'm so excited to see what happens next!


Waiting on Wednesday {44}

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts this weekly meme where we can share a book that we are so excited for and are anxiously awaiting their upcoming release!

This week my WoW pick is...

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Featuring stories by: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Leviathan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Matt de la Pena, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White
Release Date ~ October 14, 2014

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I need this book. First of all, the cover is adorable and perfectly festive! Second of all, I'm a little bit obsessed with Christmas and the holiday season and everything comes with it (I mean it when I say "everything" - even busy malls! I blame the fact that I'm a Christmas baby). Third, can we take a second look at the list of included authors? How. Amazing. Plus it's edited by Stephanie Perkins (!!!)

Basically, this book is going to be amazing. We all know it, and now it just needs to be October so I can get my hands on it!


Waiting on Wednesday {43}

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts this weekly meme where we can share a book that we are so excited for and are anxiously awaiting their upcoming release!

This week my WoW pick is...

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Release Date ~ September 9, 2014

Goodreads Description:
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

I've had my eye on Rites of Passage for a little while now, because while I'm picky about contemporary books this one sounds ahhhhh-mazing! Military academies are fairly uncommon settings in YA contemporary these days. Plus I love, love, love secret societies!

I've heard from other bloggers that Rites of Passage is a really great read, too, so now I'm even more excited! I know it doesn't come out until September, so let's just say that we all know I'm going to be skipping some of my class readings to read this book instead....

What are you waiting on this week? Let me know in the comments! I love seeing what other people are looking forward to so I can discover new books :)


Review: The Falconer

The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May
Release Date ~ May 6, 2014
Chronicle Books
ISBN13: 9781452114231
Review copy received from Raincoast Books for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

The Falconer is a rare type of fantasy book, one that carefully blends a number of different characteristics to create a one-of-a-kind story. This is a fantasy with powerful fae and a hint of steampunk which is sure to please readers looking for a thrilling adventure.

  1. Plenty of action:

    The Falconer starts with a bang and ends with one. The action in this story just never ends! I loved how fast-paced it was, but the fight scenes and action was also purposeful. I think this is a feature that will appeal to many readers who enjoy plenty of excitement in their books, but with a reason and explanation for all of it.
  2. An intelligent main character:

    I really like protagonists to be smart and Aileana is a perfect model of an intelligent lead character. She's not only brave and headstrong, but her cleverness is biggest strength. It saves her in many tough situations. She spends much of her time trying to balance her "real life" as the daughter of a Marquess and her hobby of hunting down the fae in Scotland. Needless to say, the two don't complement each other.
  3. An intriguing setting:

    I loved the Scottish setting in The Falconer - I haven't read nearly enough books set in Scotland so I thought that was neat. I also liked how Elizabeth borrowed much of the mythology in her book from Scottish mythology, staying true to the setting. There's a bit of steampunk twisted in but it isn't overpowering and I wouldn't exactly call this a steampunk book, either. It's minimal and just a taste to add to the fantasy atmosphere. 
I was underwhelmed by the love story, unfortunately. I didn't feel strongly about her love interest or the chemistry between them at all. There was definitely something there and I liked that it had a nice, slow build but towards the end of the book it started to feel more rushed. This is the kind of romance I would have preferred to have seen gradually build over an entire series - it felt too sudden for one book.

The Falconer is a fast-paced read that has me excited for the sequel - I can't wait to see where the story goes and what happens next since there was so much left unfinished in the first book.


Review: Etiquette & Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
Release Date ~ February 5, 2013
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ~ Hachette Book Group
ISBN13: 9780316190084
ARC received from HBG Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

I have yet to read Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series but I was very curious to see what her spin-off series for teens would be like. Etiquette & Espionage ended up being an intriguing read by the end, although I wasn't too sure about it for the first half.

  1. An endearing adventure:

    By the end of the book, I was quite taken in with this fun little story. The characters and world charmed me, with their quirks and fascinating little details. I liked Sophronia's spunky, tomboy personality and how she finds a way to apply herself to her learning... in her own unique way. I love that the characters in this story are a little bit different and very normal - perfect for readers to relate to.
While the book ended up being a lot of fun for me, it took me a while to come around and appreciate it. I don't think this spin-off series is the best place to start for those who haven't read The Parasol Protectorate series. I felt very lost and confused at first, because the world was so unfamiliar as was the language used. I needed more explanation and it just wasn't there, so the world felt disappointingly underdeveloped to me.

But at the same time, for much of the book Etiquette & Espionage felt more like a middle grade read as opposed to a young adult book. Sophronia is 14 in the book, and while I think this would be a great book for many middle grade readers I'm not sure it has much crossover appeal for those who liked Gail's adult series. The book felt very young at first, although by the end it seemed to venture closer to standard YA territory. 

That being said, I enjoyed Etiquette & Espionage even if it wasn't quite what I was expecting. By the end I felt like I had found my rhythm with this book so that I had a better sense of the world structure. 


Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Release Date ~ December 10, 2013
Disney Hyperion ~ Hachette Book Group Canada
ISBN13: 9781423171027
Hardcover personally purchased

Goodreads Synopsis:
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

These Broken Stars is a gorgeously written epic love story. In space. It's the kind of story that stays with you long after you've read it, and it's masterfully written. This is a brilliant introduction to the Starbound trilogy, and it left me eagerly anticipating This Shattered World!

  1. A survival story... IN SPACE:

    The space setting is important because it raises the stakes for Lilac and Tarver. They aren't just trying to live through a crash landing - they have to survive on an unknown, abandoned planet. And Lilac has to keep up with Tarver (a soldier) in a ballgown and heels (let's be real, I can barely survive attending a wedding for one evening in high heels. Let alone trekking across a strange and wild PLANET).
  2. A strange and mysterious world:

    I was entranced by the world Amie and Meagan created in These Broken Stars. The planet on which Lilac and Tarver crash-land is similar to Earth, yet very different in certain ways. It was a haunting portrayal of a planet, and I am so curious about the rest of the world in this science fiction series. It seems so big and vast, and there are all these secrets. I'm dying to learn more in the next book!
  3. A gripping end to the book:

    I could not turn the pages fast enough as this book was ending. And while there are certainly a number of questions the reader is left with at the end, it seems to be hinted at that the consequences may come up in later books. These Broken Stars as a book is wrapped up nicely and ends, but I can readily see how the world is much bigger than this one book. It's a great way to write a book because it's as if this book is just one window into this world, rather than the world only existing within one book.
These characters are amazing, as well. Completely flawed, but still great characters to read about with strong development over the course of a life-changing event.

Keep in mind going into this that These Broken Stars has slower pacing than some readers may be used to - the characters experience significant internal struggle, and that's a very important aspect of the book. I don't believe in any way that detracts from the story, just a heads up.

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