Mini Review Round-Up: April-May 2016

I haven’t had time to write full reviews of all the books I’ve read recently…actually, I haven’t had a lot of time to read in general! But here are some mini reviews for the last couple of books I read (and didn’t talk about on Mind the Gap).

The Archived – Victoria “V.E.” Schwab

As you may know, I’m obsessed with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of London trilogy (here are my reviews of ADSOM and AGOS), so now I just want to read ALL THE THINGS she’s ever written. I loved the premise of The Archived, and even liked the characters (any love interest who wears guyliner is fine by me), but it took a while to really get going and there were moments where I felt like I had missed something. There was also a plotline that seemed predictable to me, but I liked how it was handled, and I found myself tearing up during some of Mac’s remembered conversations with her beloved grandpa. Even though her writing in this book is still a million times better than mine on a good day, it’s interesting to see how an author’s command over words can change over the years/books. (Rating: 4 interrobangs)

Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People – Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu

I decided to read this one because Douglas Coupland was going to be at my work and I figured I may as well give his writing a shot in case I ended up becoming his biggest fan. Spoiler alert: I did not become his biggest fan. I’ve always sort of suspected that I wouldn’t be into his style, but it was a quick read so I didn’t dwell on it for too long – just long enough to know that Sandra the babysitter was my favourite story. He’s one of those authors where I get the feeling I’m missing a deeper meaning (heavily veiled satire is not my jam at all). I did like the (occasionally gory) illustrations by Graham Roumieu – they have a Quentin Blakes-meets-Tim Burton vibe which is definitely something I’m into. (Rating: 3 interrobangs)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand – Jonathan Stroud

This was the first Jonathan Stroud book I read (13 years ago!! Literally half my life!!) and I remember being floored by how amazing it was. Thankfully, it lived up to my memories (this is the first time I’ve reread it in ages) and reminded me of why I became a Stroud fangirl in the first place (you may recall that I gush about his Lockwood & Co series all the time). Personally, I love how sarcastic Bartimaeus is, and Nathaniel’s cold detachement makes him an interesting – if not always likeable – protagonist. I’m just about done the second book now, so maybe I’ll do a full series review in a month or so. (Rating: 5 interrobangs)

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This book has won eleven billion awards and is super hyped up in the YA book community, but I was so underwhelmed. It took over 100 pages for anything good to happen…and, in this case, “good” is relative. I didn’t love the style (phonetic spelling in books will always drive me bonkers until it’s being used to denote an accent…and even then it can get old quickly), I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and, while I find a dog talking about poo as funny as the next person, after the seventh time Manchee said “Poo, Todd?” it stopped being entertaining. I know people love this book, but I was so disappointed, possibly because it’s dystopian (aka my least favourite genre). With a series name like “Chaos Walking”, I expected something so much more epic. (Rating: 2.5 interrobangs)

BLOG TOUR: Twisted Sisters – Kimber Leigh Wheaton


Twisted Sisters – Kimber Leigh Wheaton

26126404While playing with a spirit board, two sorority sisters summon the vindictive spirits of three women brutally murdered by a psychopath. Join Logan, Kacie, and the rest of the Orion Circle as they delve into the disturbing events of the past to find the key to freeing the spirits.

But this isn’t any ordinary haunting. These ghosts were banished before, and now they have returned more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Anger breeds hatred and hatred leads to darkness—these phantoms are on the verge of losing their last spark of humanity and becoming completely lost to the shadows.

Can Logan and Kacie convince the tortured souls to embrace the light and move on, or will the spirits succumb to the hypnotic pull of evil, leading to an eternity of torment and suffering?

Release Date: October 25th, 2015

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for hosting this blog tour!

Twisted Sisters is the sequel to Tortured Souls, but can be read as a standalone. I read both books back-to-back to get the full experience, but enough backstory is given that you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

I don’t know what I was expecting going into these books, but I have to say, while they were decent reads, I didn’t love them.

What I liked:

-the plot: who doesn’t love a Ouija board experiment gone wrong? Books like this are the reason I’m both intrigued and terrified of Ouija boards.

-the plot of Tortured Souls reminded me a lot of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, except in a contemporary setting (i.e. not set in the twenties). The Diviners was a lot more grisly when it came to describing the victims, so this felt more like a younger YA version. I compared the way I felt about the ghostly scenes in this book to the way I felt about the ghostly scenes in Asylum – creepy, but not looking-over-my-shoulder-unable-to-sleep-wait-what-was-that-noise creepy.

Twisted Sisters introduces a new character named Blake (who was mentioned at the end of Tortured Souls). He’s a werewolf (this is not a spoiler) so he’s all charming and smooth-talking. I actually wouldn’t have minded at all if the book revolved around Blake and the other new character, Raven.

What I didn’t like:

-the rest of the characters. I’m sorry, but Kacie was so…bland. For someone with her powers, she didn’t jump off the page for me, and it made it hard for me to focus. I also didn’t like Logan (sorry) because he came off as a bit of a tool, especially in Twisted Sisters. I understood that he was frustrated by people messing with paranormal stuff, but he was so aggressive when questioning the sorority sisters. Like, calm down, bro, they haven’t been training for this since they were children, of course they didn’t know what was going to happen!

-I also found Kacie/Logan’s romance to be quite tiresome. It wasn’t quite insta-love, but they spent pages mooning after each other/making out at inappropriate times/cuddling, etc.

-normally I’m a big fan of diverse dialogue tags (it can be boring to just use “said” all the time), but the word “murmur” was used so many times, it felt like the characters were unable to speak at a normal volume.

I’m going to sound old and crabby when I say this, but I think this is the type of book that I would have loved ten years ago (when I was closer to Kacie’s age!). If I had read it at the same time as I read, let’s say, Twilight, heck yeah, I’d have been all over it. But after ten years of reading YA paranormal/supernatural/urban fantasy novels, a book has to be really unique or gorgeously written for me to love it.

That being said, I think a lot of people will enjoy this series, especially if they haven’t read extensively from the paranormal genre.


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Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs this week!

February 15th
Livre It To Me
Amethyst Bookwyrm
Smada’s Book Smack

February 16th
Jasmine Walt
Books Can Take You There
Lore Lush Books
Only True Magic
Us Girls & A Book

February 17th
Crazy Beautiful Reads
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
The Voluptuous Book Diva
bellsiebooks (that’s me!)

February 18th
Hey, It Was Free!
Enjoying life a day at a time
The Rest Is Still Unwritten
Bookworm for Kids
Don’t Judge, Read

February 19th
The Phantom Paragrapher
Cutting Muse Blog Review
100 Pages a Day

February 20th
5 Girls Book Reviews
Intoxicated by Books

ARC Review: A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

21524446Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Release Date: October 6th, 2015

Thank you to Cuddlebuggery and their Little Blogger, Big Ambition project and Shelly at Read.Sleep.Repeat for sending me the arc! Cuddlebuggery is one of my favourite YA book blogs and, having briefly chatted with her on Twitter, Shelly seems like a total sweetheart (I swear they didn’t pay me to say this).

I’ve seen a lot of reviews comparing this book to The Wrath and the Dawn, but, since I haven’t read The Wrath and the Dawn yet (I know, what am I waiting for?), I figured I’d go into it without any preconceived notions.

Unfortunately, I read this book in between Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight which was silly of me, because Laini Taylor left me on such a book-high, very few things could have compared to it. So the timing was poor on my part, but I also just couldn’t get into this story.

What I liked:

-the writing. It had the right tone for the story – nothing modern or jarring, it was poetic and lovely and there were some nice descriptions.

-I LOVE that the strongest relationship in the book was between two sisters. As someone who is exceptionally close to her sisters myself, I could relate to that feeling of wanting to protect your older siblings because you can’t stand to see them hurt.

-there were some chapters from the demon-spirit-thing’s point of view, which was cool and added a touch of darkness, but the typeface killed my eyes and made it hard to focus. But maybe I’m just old, I don’t know.

-I appreciate some good old magical realism every now and then.

What I didn’t like:

-I understood that she was Doing a Thing by having the majority of her characters remain nameless, but it felt awkward, especially when the sisters were talking to each other. It was also quite cumbersome to refer to older relatives as her “father’s father’s father”, but I suppose it’s more traditional?

-I’m still not entirely sure how she saved the day. And since there was no romance, I really didn’t understand her decision at the end.

-my biggest problem: where were the stories? I’m not an expert on the tales of Scheherazade or anything, but I expected some stories. Legends or myths or straight-up nonsense – not brief snippets of conversation, usually revolving around her sister (not that there’s anything wrong with telling stories about your siblings, I do it all the time!). I did like that certain things she said seemed to come true, but since it wasn’t saving her life, it was a little bit of a letdown.

Overall, I just couldn’t get into it. There were a lot of pages, but it didn’t seem like much was happening, and I felt like it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. I’m sure there are people who will appreciate the more meandering pace of the novel. Also, the lack of romance was both refreshing and disappointing, and I’m not sure how I feel yet.

That being said, I’m really interested in E.K. Johnston’s forthcoming novel, Exit, Pursued By a Bear, and I’ll probably give that a chance since I liked her writing style.


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Mini Review Round-Up: September – October 2015

I realized the other day that I read a bunch of books in the past few months that I didn’t write reviews on. I’m not sure why, to be honest, but instead of writing eight (!) extra posts, I’ve condensed them all into one post of mini reviews!

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow – Katherine Woodfine

24463265A charming middle-grade mystery. I can see it appealing to people who’ve read/want to read The Adventures of Miss Petitfour (except a lot less cats). There were certain elements that seemed “older” than middle-grade, but I feel like people in the UK have different standards for children’s books. Also, LOVE the endpapers/spot illustrations by Julia Sarda.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

17978149Mix Artemis Fowl (or really any Eoin Colfer boy protagonist) with a hint of Sherlock Holmes, a dash of Lemony Snicket’s All The Wrong Questions series, and a lot of Spy (the hilarious British show), and you get this. I think I literally laughed out loud a couple of times (or at least snorted). Another fun middle-grade mystery, not to be taken too seriously.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

The Ghosts of Ashbury High – Jaclyn Moriarty

0-545-06973-4I’ve been a big fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield books for many years, and I was so stoked when I realized there was a fourth book (they’re loosely connected so you don’t really need to read them in order). I liked what she was doing with it – ghosts! gothic fiction! exams! – but I found it took longer to get into this installment than the others.

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times – Emma Trevayne

18332010This cover kills me, it’s so pretty. It had a lot of elements that I really enjoyed – clocks and London and alternate universes, to name a few – and I would compare the tone to classic children’s books like Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz. The only thing that stopped it from being perfect was the slow-moving plot: stuff happened, but it took a while for it to really pick up.

Rating: 4.5 interrobangs

Vivian Divine is Dead – Lauren Sabel

18651963I got an ARC of this last year when I was interning at HarperCollins Canada and then sort of forgot about it until last week. It started out great, then kind of sputtered along in the middle, and the end was good in a soap opera kind of way. Now that I think about it, it’s probably similar to a really dramatic Hispanic soap opera. Decent, but not stellar.

Rating: 3 interrobangs

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean – Justin Somper

1721141This was a re-read. I know it sounds almost like a joke (vampires + pirates?), but it’s honestly such a good series, even if the second book is a little slow. Lorcan Furey is definitely one of my book boyfriends. And I know it gets better, especially when the badass lady vampirate shows up. Really, I was just glad to see it still held up after almost ten years!

Rating: 5 interrobangs

Why is This Night Different From All Other Nights? – Lemony Snicket

25229245I’ve been reading Lemony Snicket books for literally half my life, so you think by now I’d know that a series ending is just going to leave me confused. It was about as satisfying (that is, unsatisfying) as I expected, but still so Lemony Snicket (if you’ve read his books, you know exactly what I’m talking about). Loved the references to ASOUE characters!

Rating: 4 interrobangs

Whisky From Small Glasses and The Last Witness  – Denzil Meyrick

2482053222665422I liked book one more. It was well-paced and I could easily imagine the small Scottish town where it took place. It’s interesting because some of the characters, such as DS Scott had heavy Scottish accents which were depicted in the text (think Hagrid’s way of speaking x 1000). Book two was harder to get into for because the storyline was more complicated and DS Scott played a huge role, which made reading it a chore.

Rating (Whisky From Small Glasses): 4 interrobangs
Rating (The Last Witness): 3 interrobangs

Have you read any of the books on this list? Or do you have any recs for me now that I’ve read these? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!

Asylum – Madeleine Roux

Asylum – Madeleine Roux

19346469For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photographs from real asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Asylum is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

I’ve been meaning to pick this up for ages because it looked creepy and I’m trying to expand the amount of horror books I’m consuming (I’m better at dealing with scary things in books than I am with movies). Unfortunately, this did not satisfy me.

At first, I thought it would be promising, especially when I (belatedly) realized that the book includes photographs from real asylums. To be honest, the photos were the scariest parts. I guess I’m more of a visual person that way, because creepy photos (like movies) leave more of a lasting impression on me than words (I saw a photo of Rasputin in an Anastasia book when I was like 10, and 15 years later, it still haunts me. Real Rasputin was definitely not as creepy-funny as Christopher Lloyd’s version).

But I digress. This book, while interesting, wasn’t scary. It didn’t leave me looking over my shoulder or twitching when I heard a sudden noise. I wasn’t biting my nails out of anxiety for the characters. I certainly didn’t almost miss a bus stop like I did when I was reading The Hollow Boy (which was actually scarier because hello, poltergeists!). In fact, the only reason I didn’t read this at night was because the aforementioned photos appeared randomly, and I didn’t need nightmares of a room with a blood-stained gurney.

I also have to be honest and say I wasn’t particularly enamoured of any of the characters. Dan was okay, though perhaps a bit stupid – at one point, Abby asks him why they’re following the murderer’s instructions and going into a dark place where no one can hear them scream and I was like “no, seriously, why are you doing that? That’s actually the stupidest thing you could do.”

I didn’t really buy the Dan/Abby relationship, and I really wanted Dan to take a pill (he gets all angsty when he sees Abby – who he’s known for all of an hour – talking to Jordan. Until he finds out that Jordan’s gay). I found it hard to believe they were 16-17 when they came across as younger.

Despite my qualms, I still finished it in a couple of days (I’ll give it that – it was a quick read). I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, but I also wasn’t displeased, if that makes sense. I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels though.


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P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!

ARC Review: Hawthorn – Jamie Cassidy

Hawthorn – Jamie Cassidy

25627476A house on a hill.
A house filled with mirrors.
A house with eyes that watch their every move.

Learmonth village has a history, a past that they hold dear, superstitions that they cling fast to. Learmonth House, however, is governed by its own set of rules, its own past and Gemma and her family are about to discover just what those rules are. 

Learmonth has a pact with the darkness and the darkness is hungry.

Release Date: May 28th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I had conflicting feelings about this book – the first half was meh, but the second half was much better.

What I liked:

-the creepy factor was on point. I admit to feeling a little freaked out a couple of times and vowed not to read it at night because I have enough imagination issues without being scared of my full-length mirror. I love the idea of reading horror, even though I know it messes with my brain, so, while this wasn’t full on scare-your-pants-off, it was satisfying.

-I liked the multiple POVs for the most part, though I did sometimes find it hard to differentiate between who was talking, particularly in part one where I mixed up Gemma and Jules at least twice.

-I enjoyed that the family wasn’t “traditional” – Gemma’s parents were divorced, but her mother found love with a woman. Yay for LGBTQ representation! And I thought it was cute that there was such a big age gap between Gemma and her younger twin siblings (mostly because I come from a family with big age gaps too!).

-the faery-world reminded me of Holly Black’s faerie books which are excellent and among the first urban fantasy YA books I read (definitely some of the first faerie books I read).

-the second half of the book was written in a more disjointed way as Gemma struggled with her experiences and with the appearance of Night Mary, but I honestly would have preferred if the entire book was written that way – I thought it was much more compelling, even if it was confusing.

What I didn’t like:

-Gemma seemed younger than 16-17. There was something about her personality that made her seem more like a thirteen year old, especially when it came to her first “boyfriend”, Liam.

-I also didn’t agree with the way she griped about Liam tutoring the “slutty” girl at their old school. First of all, slut shaming isn’t cool. Second of all, double-standards aren’t cool either. It wasn’t okay for Liam to be helping another girl (even before they were “together”), but there was no problem with Gemma literally throwing herself at Sam and/or the other guy whose name I can’t remember. Uncool, Gemma, uncool.

Apart from laughing my face off when Gemma described Sam as “the love interest in a paranormal young adult novel” (in those exact words!! How does that help me imagine him??), the writing was decent – a good amount of description and great at creating a creepy atmosphere.

I’d be interested in reading some other books by these authors (Jamie/Amos Cassidy is the pseudonym for two people!).


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ARC Review: Saved By the Bell (Graphic Novel) – Joelle Sellner

Saved By the Bell – Joelle Sellner, Chynna Clugston Flores (Illustrator), Tim Fish (Illustrator)

25916650The classic TV series gets an update for today’s brand new high-schoolers as the coolest kids at Bayside High start their freshman year!

All your favorite characters – Zack, Slater, Kelly, Lisa, Screech and Jessie (and Mr. Belding, of course!) – are starting freshman year at Bayside High, trading in brick phones and mullets for iPhones and Twitter accounts. Does Lisa’s fashion show get on the air, and will Screech ever leave her alone? Will Jessie get that A+? And, most importantly, who’s Kelly going to go out with – preppy Zack or new star athlete A.C. Slater? It’s alright, ‘cause we’re saved by the bell!

Release Date: July 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I grew up watching Saved By the Bell and, because of my sister, was a Zack Morris fan (she loves Mark-Paul Gosselaar), so this graphic novel had me feeling like Jessie Spano on caffeine pills.

I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...scared.

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared.

What I liked:

-well, the whole concept, to be honest. I think it’s really fun that they “modernized” the classic TV show for the next generation. You don’t have to be a fan of the original show to enjoy the stories – they do a good job of introducing the characters, though, admittedly, if you’ve watched the show, you can imagine the characters’ voices.

-the art is cute and quirky. Maybe not as amazing as the new Archie comics (they’re adorable!), but it almost has a 1980’s quality to it that fits with the story.

-the stories are short but similar to the TV show – in fact, I think a couple of the stories even share episode titles – and they all have the “lesson” or “moral” at the end.

-Slater is still a tool. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but at least they didn’t try to change his character.

-I both liked and disliked that the stories focused on other characters, instead of just Zack. Since he was the protagonist in the show, I wouldn’t have minded having him as my “guide” through the graphic novel (I mean, really – they didn’t even make use of his ability to freeze time!!).



What I didn’t like:

-I have no idea why Kevin the Robot was such a major character when he played a minor role on the show. More than that, there were no upgrades to his appearance, so it was weird to have a very eighties robot in the middle of Bayside’s class of 2015.

It’s a quick read, light-hearted and fun, and it’s a great way to introduce a new generation to the magical world of Bayside High where the dudes are a notch above surfers, and the cheerleaders are BFFs with feminists, and Valley students are the enemy.


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ARC Reviews – July 2015

This round-up is a day late because I honestly forgot about it until late yesterday. Either way, this month wasn’t terribly productive in terms of ARCs, but they were all decent. It was also the first time I conducted an author interview, so that was exciting!

  • A Whole New World – Liz Braswell: “It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.” (3 interrobangs)
  • A Curse of Ash and Iron – Christine Norris: “I felt like it was lacking something. It was a decent story and it had some really fascinating elements, but my inability to connect with the characters made it a hard read.” (2.5 interrobangs)
  • The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee: “The writing continues to have a lovely lyrical quality to it, even when she’s writing descriptions of a massacre.” (4 interrobangs)
    • I also got the chance to interview the lovely Ishbelle Bee, which you can read here.
  • Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich: “I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale.” (3 interrobangs)

ARC Review: Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich

Placid Girl – Brenna Ehrlich

24465492Punk was created for the malcontents, something that loner and aspiring drummer Hallie understands all too well. Trapped in a boring suburban life – dysfunctional parents included! – Hallie drowns her angst in the angry songs of Haze, a masked musician who has not been heard from in five years. So naturally she’s surprised – and more than a little skeptical – when someone who seems to be Haze starts flirting with her via her favorite photo-sharing app. Is he who he says he is? What does he want from her? The questions only multiply when Hallie — along with bandmate Sarah and aspiring music journalist Steve — roadtrip to Haze’s comeback gig to unmask the reclusive musician once and for all.

Release Date: August 25th, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I requested this book because I heard that it was supposed to be good, plus I love reading music-related YA!

What I liked:

-each chapter starts with lyrics from one of Haze’s songs. They “sounded” real, so it was sometimes easy to forget that Haze doesn’t actually exist.

-as with most books that deal with music, I love any scene where they mention music. Whether it was the bands that Hallie used to listen to with her dad, or the feeling of being at a concert (either on stage or in the audience), those moments connected with me on a deeper level and helped me get into Hallie’s head.

-Bethany was probably my favourite character. You get the sense that she’s “seen stuff” and the drug use probably didn’t help, but she was interesting. I liked how she seemed to be a soothing presence for Sarah, who was so messed up.

-the last couple of sentences were sent a shiver up my spine…in a good way!

What I didn’t like:

-if you were paying even a little bit of attention, you could easily figure out who “Haze” was. It was fairly obvious, and yet, it took Hallie and Steve an extraordinarily long time to clue in to it. So that was annoying, but I suppose it made sense with their characters.

Also, their evidence for ZZZ being Haze was shockingly slim. Like, you really don’t think anyone else in the WORLD has that same bird tattoo? Or has access to masks?

-the writing style was super flowery. It reminded me of the my fifth grade teacher who insisted we inundate our writing with “figurative language”, a habit we then had to unlearn during the rest of our school career because teachers were like “just get to the point, and stop using so many adjectives”.

The similes were as numerous as the stars in the sky and they fell upon my eyes like the after-effects of fireworks while I undulated* like a snake in the grass.

*the word “undulate” was used at least four times and it was a tiny bit jarring, if only because the word itself isn’t exactly common.

-background information was lacking. I wanted to know more about Sarah’s family life, what exactly it was that was happening with her mom (it was implied, but mostly left up to interpretation). I want to know why Steve’s father was MINI SPOILER ALERT abusive, if he had always been like that, or if it was his way of dealing with grief (I don’t remember if that was explored at all).

-I didn’t really mind it (mostly because I could see it coming from a mile away), but it was almost too convenient how everything played out, and how everyone was connected.

Overall, I liked the concept, and I think it serves as an excellent cautionary tale. I don’t know how many of you keep up-to-date with this kind of thing, but musicians making inappropriate gestures towards their (young, usually underage) fans is unfortunately quite common.


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ARC Review: A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

A Whole New World – Liz Braswell

24397040Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I have such conflicting feelings about this book.

What I liked:

-the fact that it’s a twist on a Disney movie. That in itself is genius, and what a way to appeal to YA readers from a certain generation who grew up on the “classic” Disney movies!

-the genie was really well written, even if some of his jokes were taken straight out of the movie, and it was easy to imagine his dialogue in Robin Williams’ voice (RIP).


-Jasmine does have a bigger role in the book, compared to her mostly passive role in the movie, which is great. Plus there’s an intelligent thief, Morgiana, so yay strong female characters! Also, I’m glad they avoided the love triangle that they sort of hinted at.

-I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but it made me want to watch Aladdin (which I did, the day after I finished reading this, with my three year old niece).

What I didn’t like:

-the first quarter of the book is essentially a re-telling of the first quarter of the movie, including verbatim dialogue. The main difference is an expansion of Aladdin’s backstory (but I don’t remember any of the movie’s sequels, so I don’t know if his past is ever mentioned). It almost would have been better if it had picked up in the Cave of Wonders when Jafar takes the lamp off of Aladdin, because, really, who is going to read this book if they haven’t seen the movie?

-Aladdin and Jasmine’s relationship in the movie is cute and almost a side-plot. But in this case, it’s insta-love like you wouldn’t believe. It’s probably one of the worst examples of insta-love I’ve ever read, since Jasmine’s all “he’s the best thing in the world, I love him!” but she doesn’t learn his name until halfway through the book!!!!!!! It’s soooooo YA (in a not-great way).

-where the flock is Iago?! You get an explanation of his whereabouts approximately 70% into the book, but by that point, I had already complained to three people about the lack of everyone’s favourite parrot. What, I ask you, is the point of writing from Jafar’s point of view if you’re not going to include his sidekick??


-this is really nitpicky, but I couldn’t understand why they kept invoking God’s name (i.e. Good God, in God’s name, etc). Wouldn’t it be Allah? Didn’t the author remember the part of the movie when the Sultan says “Allah forbid you should have any daughters” to Rajah??

-formatting wise, there were an awful lot of italics which was really annoying to read every other sentence.

It’s YA, but it feels like the young end of YA – more 12-14 than 14-16 – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but don’t go in expecting something scandalous, even if there are some surprisingly violent scenes.


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