Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My true Love Gave to Me - Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me
By: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Forman, Janny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: October 14th 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250059305

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays. (Goodreads)
 How cute was this book? Like seriously, so adorable! 

Over all I think this book is really a fantastic Holiday read, I'm a huge fan of how it incorporated different Holidays and traditions, not just focusing solely on Christmas. I generally really enjoyed the stories, I found the contemporaries to be more enjoyable than any of the fantastical stories. With each story being only around 30 pages it was difficult to understand and get into any of the concepts that weren't straight contemporary. I had some I liked more than others and I've rated each story individually.

Midnights - Rainbow Rowell : 5/5 - This started off the book with a bang, Rainbow Rowell does it again! I did not want this story to end, it was only 30 pages and I was so invested in the story and loved the characters, this was by far my favourite part of the book!

The Lady and the Fox - Kelly Link : 2/5 - This was not a good follow up to the first story, I was really quite disappointed in this one. I found it kind of boring and a bit confusing. there was a magical aspect that was pretty cool, but at the same time it wasn't explained very well and I couldn't connect with the characters at all.

Angels in the Snow - Matt De La Pena : 3/5 - This was a pretty cute story, I liked the characters and found an easy connection with Haley. That being said the story was a little slow and not my favourite, but still pretty cute!

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me - Jenny Han : 4/5 - Now this was a Christmasy read! Full of elves and love and Christmas magic, I thought this was very enjoyable! Even though it was set in a different type world, it worked and it didn't need much explanation, so adorable! 

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown - Stephanie Perkins : 5/5 - I loved this story! The characters were too cute and their little romance warmed my heart! I loved North, he was one of my favourite guys from all the stories, such a sweetheart! 

Your Temporary Santa - David Levithan : 3/5 - This story was pretty meh for me, I felt no connection with the characters. I thought it was a cute concept but nothing was really explained. The two main characters were so separated throughout most of the story that I couldn't feel a connection between them. The story was cute, but I wanted more.

Krampuslauf - Holly Black : 3/5 - This was a fun story that started off promising but kind of slacked nearing the end. I thought the traditions were really interesting and I loved reading about them, and even the party planning aspect as neat. However, I wasn't a fan of the magical elements because I just felt like it wasn't explained very well and the characters were kind of annoying. Still, not a bad read.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? - Gayle Forman : 5/5 - Oh I loved this story, I loved loved loved it!! The characters were just so adorable and their relationship and interactions were really fun to read! This one left me wanting more and I wish this was a whole book by itself!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus - Myra McEntire : 3/5 - This was a fun story, I think it wasn't my overall favourite because I'm really not into the "bad boy" type characters. But Vaughn grew on me by the end and I thought this was a nice fast paced save the day type of story.

Welcome to Christmas, CA - Kiersten White : 4/5 - I really enjoyed this story! I wish there was a bit more connection between the characters but overall I thought it was super cute and fun to read. I also feel like this would make the cutest Christmas movie! I'd watch that!!

Star of Bethlehem - Ally Carter : 5/5 - SO CUTE. I loved this story start to finish. I even found the twist/secret reveal at the end to be really surprising. Another favourite, how cute was Ethan's family? Loved them!

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer - Laini Taylor : 2/5 - This one was another disappointment for me. I think I just need more time and detail to get into stories like this with more magical elements, etc. 

Overall, I definitely recommend this book for a nice holiday read! I like how the stories don't intertwine so really you can just pick this up and read one or two stories a year if you wanted! LOVED IT!

This Book!!!!
Also... This is the UK cover and its AMAZING and I want it!!!
4/5 Albi Cats

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (King Killer Chronicles #1)
By Patrick Rothfuss
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: March 27th 2007
Publisher: Penguin Group DAW
Pages: 662
ISBN: 075640407X

Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. (Goodreads)
 *slow clap* 

I'm not gonna lie it took me a long time to read this book and I was very confused by a lot things that happened, fantasy just isn't my forte. That being said, once I got into this book and started knowing Kvothe better and understanding the world, I really loved this book. Even though I found there wasn't a ton of action, it was the writing style that hooked me, it was wonderful! This is a mammoth of a book with intricate details and a whole new world to learn, I highly recommend this book, just make sure you're ready to take it on!

Everything that happens in this book, Kvothe is just like... Deal with it.
5/5 Albi Cats

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Allegiant - Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent #3)
By Veronica Roth
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: October 22nd 2013 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 526
ISBN: 006202406X 

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered--fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. 

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature--and of herself--while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. 

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. (Goodreads)
 Hmm where to start.....well first things first I did not enjoy this book, for a few different reasons. BUT I will admit that I thought the ending was very meaningful in the broader scope of humanity and love and blah blah you know where I'm going here. ANYWAY, I did not however, enjoy the sudden change in how it was written. (aka: tris / Tobias alternate chapter views) It took me awhile to adjust so before I could adapt to the change there were sections where I defaulted back to the tris perception when it was Tobias talking. Just seemed nonsensical BUT makes sense for how everything sums up at the end I guess. But listen here is the real kicker....I can't stand the romance. Dear god save me from this book of romance and relationship squabbles. I felt like I was reading a soap opera. AND NOTHING EVEN HAPPENED. The whole book just seemed to drag on and this person was fighting with this person, and this guy was mad at that girl, and then they all love each other again. Killing me bro. Anyway, it is what it is, it is an ok book but just wasn't for me. I thought the other two in the series were far superior.
3/5 Carls

Can You Keep a Secret - Sophie Kinsella

Can You Keep a Secret
By Sophie Kinsella
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: March 23rd 2004
Publisher: The Dial Press
Pages: 357
ISBN: 0385336810

With the same wicked humor, buoyant charm, and optimism that have made her Shopaholic novels beloved international bestsellers, Sophie Kinsella delivers a hilarious new novel and an unforgettable new character. Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her mother:
I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur.
Sammy the goldfish in my parents’ kitchen is not the same goldfish that Mum gave me to look after when she and Dad were in Egypt.

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I weigh one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. Not one eighteen, like Connor thinks.
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

From her colleagues:
When Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice. (Which is pretty much every day.) It was me who jammed the copier that time. In fact, all the times.

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world:
My G-string is hurting me.
I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.

But come Monday morning, Emma’s office is abuzz about the arrival of Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO. Suddenly Emma is face-to-face with the stranger from 
the plane, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her. Things couldn’t possibly get worse—Until they do. (Goodreads)
 Another fun book from Sophie Kinsella! 

I always have such a great time with her books, they always put a smile on my face and make me chuckle, and this book is no exception!

I loved the premise of this story, telling a complete stranger all your secrets in a moment of panic, thinking your secrets are safe then BOOM that stranger isn't a stranger anymore! I think it such a fun idea and as always I really enjoyed the characters. I found I could relate with Emma and I enjoyed hearing her story and thinking about all the little secrets I have as well!

If your looking for a cute funny book, I recommend this one for sure!
4/5 Albi Cats

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) 
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: April 1st 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 342
ISBN: 0545284139

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats. (Goodreads)
 Shut the front door that ending was fantastic.....I did not see any of that coming. The last 1/4 of that book was just simply unreal. I also was impressed how the author was able to stuff so much material into a relatively short novel. (Mind you it is part one of a trilogy) I simply cannot say enough about this book. I loved the characters, the plot was fantastic and the twists and turns at the end just blew my mind. Well done! One of the best books I've read in awhile!
5/5 Carls

Girl Of Nightmares - Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) 
By Kendare Blake
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: August 7th 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 332
ISBN: 0765328666 

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favour. (Goodreads)
 Despite this book taking me forever to read (due to slumpage) , I really quite enjoyed it! 

The story picks up where it left of in Anna Dressed in Blood, but it takes a drastic turn! I loved how we got to follow the same characters but in such different ways. There was still some ghost hunting but the story mainly focused on solving the problem on how to get Anna back! I really do like these characters although I could have used some more Anna, I missed her! Thomas was really the shining star to me this time around. This book had a nice creepy vibe but was also full of love and adventure. I have to say at first I thought I was disappointed with the ending but looking back to it I think it was actually kind of perfect.

My only issues with this book were that I thought that it dragged on a bit during some parts and I also found that there was too much build up to the end and the final scenes went by far too quickly. I wanted more detail and more ghost hunting!

I definitely recommend this duology if your looking for something a little different with a creepy vibe! Great as a Halloween/Fall time read!

Cas forever protecting Anna
4/5 Albi Cats

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Tree of Water - Elizabeth Haydon - GIVEAWAY!

The Tree of Water (The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, #4)
By Elizabeth Haydon
Posted by Jamie
Published: October 28th 2014
Publisher: Starscape
Pages: 400
ISBN: 0765320592

The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…

“A delightful epic fantasy that will attract a readership both older and younger than the target audience.” —Booklist (starred review) on The Floating Island. (Goodreads)
Interview with Elizabeth Haydon,
documentarian, archanologist and translator of Ven’s
journals, including The Tree of Water

Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth Haydon.

She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.

Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what an archanologist is.

Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and pine cones.

She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the longest braid of dental floss.

We had the chance to ask her some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.

     1.         Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?

Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds, because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the world today.

In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.

Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic, and that place, can be deadly.

The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom of the sea.

     2.         The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.

Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in the mountains.

Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel, could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends, including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic. The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

     3.         What kind of research do you do for the series?

I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.

     4.         What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost Journals?

Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been found:

1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water, we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for “diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

     5.         What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books?

Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just silly.

     6.         What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.

Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how embarrassing that could be.

     7.         Are there more books coming in this series?

Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology, but we are working hard to restore it.

As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from the journals we have found so far.

     8.         You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What made you want to write books for young readers?

I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults, who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts of non-magical things in the course of their days.

Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.

I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

     9.         Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you are these days.

You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like his name.

At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,
Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc