Monday, October 27, 2014

BR: Catalyst

by SJ Kincaid
Insignia trilogy; book III

Guys, I LOVE the Insignia series. Ever since I got tired of reading deep, depressing YA contemporary books, I've been looking for "quick fix" type books that are perfect escapes and full of action and humour-- and this series is exactly what I'm looking for. I was so thrilled to have won an ARC from the author and even more delighted to see what lay ahead.

Summary (goodreads):

**May contain SPOILERS for previous 2 books**

This exhilarating, explosive, and heartrending conclusion to the Insignia trilogy brings Tom and his intelligent, passionate, and brave young friends stunning tests and dangerous confrontations and through to an impossible future they could never have predicted.

Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. And when the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, the first step in a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if that means keeping secrets from his closest allies.

Then a mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. And when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.

My Thoughts

Gosh, I love this series. I don't finish a lot of series, but boy am I glad to have finished this one.

It's a bit slow to start, and it takes some time to get used to the characters, storyline, and terminology again... but it didn't take too long to get up and running again. I LOVED the way Kincaid has evolved her young, exciting action series into something more mature, thought-provoking, darker, and ominous. She went dark, man, I didn't expect it but I really appreciated it anyway. She managed to up the stakes and deal wonderfully with character development.

Although we saw less of Wyatt, there were a few significant moments that I thought were just perfect. She's always been an underdog favourite of mine, and I love her character arc. Blackburn was always a wild-card (though I'll admit, I have forgotten a lot about his role in the earlier books) but I loved that he's a really complex, ambiguous character that I couldn't pinpoint. Vik and Yuri's dialogue was once again pitch perfect; they were unique and so entirely them. And of course, Tom. Tom Raines, I can't say enough good things about you, you wonderful character. Infinite hugs for you. His storyline was just beautifully done, which is kind of difficult when you feel caught up in a Transformers-movie-esque action scene, but still. Harrowing and heartbreaking at times, his progression in this entire series is marvellous. Kincaid gave us a sympathetic character who had to grow into his own, and undoubtedly succeeded.

I liked the plot, although the ending was a bit too tidy for my liking, but the ride was so worth it. I had no idea how they'd get out of this mess, and the resolution was wholeheartedly satisfying. I liked how we ventured a lot further from the Spire and into the 'real world', away from pranks and into murders, villains, and the struggle for humanity.

It's an imaginative series with broad appeal that has great characters, writing, pacing, and heart. As a picky reader, I'm not easily impressed... I'll be sitting here urging you to pick this series up.

Thank you, SJ Kincaid.


Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: people looking for something fun, readable, Harry Potter-esque main character/vibe, a technology-heavy futuristic world

source: author
author website / twitter
goodreads for book 1, book 2 (seriously pick them up!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

oh, September

It's the last day of September so I guess I'll throw something up onto this blog.

First, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe this month, and IT IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE READ THIS YEAR. Granted, I don't read many books, but trust me, this one is such a gem.

Second, school is back and a-rolling. Good luck to my fellow uni friends out there, hang in there! I'm graduating in June so that's pretty...erm...terrifying. But I'm loving the majority of my courses, which is nice.

Third, I'm starting to feel as if I'm getting sick, which sucks :(

Fourth, if you look onto my left sidebar over there, I've updated it so it now shows my favourite book of each year. And yes, I do realize there's an inordinate amount of Melina Marchetta books on that list, I didn't even realize it until I was actually writing it.

Fifth, what TV shows are you guys watching?? I'm a TV fiend, I'm currently trying out some new shows-- Gotham, Scorpion, Selfie, A to Z, The Flash.. I'm doing my best not to get roped into too many new shows this year. I'm really curious about How to Get Away With Murder as well, but I'll probably wait until Christmas break and watch like ten episodes.

That's it! Hope your guys' Septembers were beautiful and full of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. May the pumpkin-ness infest your Octobers as well!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

BR: The Lies of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch
Gentlemen Bastards sequence; book I

The moment I saw the summary for this book months and months ago, I wanted to read it. Wait, scratch that. The moment I saw it described as Robin Hood meets Ocean's Eleven, I needed to read it. Patrick Rothfuss' glowing recommendations certainly helped, too, especially since I am quite unfamiliar with the genre and the gems within it.

Summary (goodreads):

The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a friend to the poor, a ghost that walks through walls.

 Slightly built and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves. The Gentleman Bastards.

 The capricious, colourful underworld of the ancient city of Camorr is the only home they have ever known. But now a clandestine war is threatening to tear it apart. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends are suddenly struggling just to stay alive...

My Thoughts

First, let me tell you, it's not really Robin Hood nor Ocean's Eleven.

But that's okay. Because it's freaking awesome.

There's two stories to pay attention to, the first is the present-day, where Locke and his gang of Gentlemen Bastards are about to pull off a con. And then the second, where you learn about how Locke got to where he is today. If I had one critique, it'd be how the beginning is pretty slow and it was hard to grasp what was really going on without itching to get to the exciting bits, but it's okay, just power through and you'll be dandy. Oh, and sometimes the pacing gets a little muddled and the descriptions a bit too much, but it's not too overwhelming.

In terms of writing, The Lies of Locke Lamora is not a breathless, fast-paced action book, but it's written in a style that makes you appreciate each sentence, should you choose to pay that much attention. Sometimes my brain stumbles ahead and just the general idea of a sentence will register, but Lynch is a talented writer who will reward those who read carefully, not by dropping hints but by employing lovely turns of phrase. I feel this isn't exactly out of place in most fantasy novels, but it is a welcomed change of pace, especially since it enhances the world-building ten-fold.

Which brings me to the world-building, and it is marvellous. Inspired by the renaissance era, Lynch has masterfully plopped readers into a setting that's endlessly entrancing, from the architecture to the unique set-up of the canals and the towers (again, rewarding careful readers*). I loved the descriptions of food, clothing, weapons, societal hierarchies, currency (I have a fondness of fantastical currency, I think), dukes, religion, and history.

And then of course, we have these wicked, witty, and loveable characters. Locke Lamora is kind of like Tony Stark, and pushes all the right buttons for me. He's too clever and too cocky for his own good, and that gets him into a boatload of trouble. But gosh, I adored these characters, and gosh, Lynch sometimes rips your heart out. I did not see that coming**.

I underestimated this book. I thought it would be in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, and it's not-- not really (well, if you try hard enough, you'll find some parallels). It stands its own, and it's exciting, has great twists, great stakes, crafts an immersive world and has a stunningly charismatic main character that you'll want to stick around to watch.

Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations
Recommended for: Fans of The Name of the Wind, those looking for an awesome fantasy book that feels a bit YA-ish but also has some adult crossover
Acknowledgements: 3/5


*I myself may not have fully absorbed the awesomeness, but I did recognize it as awesome when it was floating through my brain.
**you bastard

source: bought
author blog / twitter / website

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

happy Canada Day!

I know, I know, I missed the June blog post. ARGH. MY BAD.

Firstly, Happy Canada Day to my fellow humans! Canada is the true north strong and free and simply the best place to live ever ever ever. For realsies, why don't you believe me? If you don't believe me, believe Patrick Ness:

I always loved that tweet ;)

Anyway, while you're here, I might as well give you some life updates to make up for my two month absence.

I've started a new job at a lab for the summer, and it's going really well. The best part so far has been the fact that everyone (including me) is obsessed with the World Cup, so for the past two weeks, there's always been a game on and it's exciting, fun, and hilarious. I'm cheering for Argentina and France because I bet 5 bucks that they'd make it to the finals (before this year, I had no interest in soccer whatsoever, ha!). If you're in Canada, CBC has FANTASTIC coverage (huzzah, Canadians!), they streams all the games for free online and even on mobile/iPads/etc.

Which of course, brings me to the next point: the World Cup!!! WAY TOO EXCITING. WHEEEE ZERO PRODUCTIVITY! Huzzah for rain + white jerseys = distinctive abs ;)

I went skydiving on Saturday! It's a lot of fun, but I wish there was a more intense "freefall" sensation, because it felt like as soon as I jumped, the air resistance was pushing me up... I know this might be an unpopular opinion but I liked bungee jumping a bit more, just because there was more time of falling. Skydiving was a blast though.

I've watched a ton of movies last month, and I'd REALLY recommend Edge of Tomorrow, even if it includes Tom Cruise. It's entertaining as heck, has a great plot, character arcs (yes, they exist!), and excellent action. Definitely underrated but trust me, it's really good! How To Train Your Dragon 2 was also a bundle of fun (god, I want a dragon so bad), and 22 Jump Street was everything it promised to be. So yeah, if you're bored, go watch movies :) If you have any recommendations for movies that are out on DVD right now and are really good, I'd LOVE to know.

In terms of books read, I most recently finished Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. I think LaCour is an author I can count on for solid four-star reads-- there's nothing really detracting about the book, it's quite enjoyable but not quite on the favourites list. So yeah, recommended. The book I read before that was Raging Star by Moira Young, which sucked so bad it makes me angry thinking about it. And before that was We Were Liars by E. Lockhard, which was well written. I know, I'm so descriptive, right?

I'm not sure what I'm reading next, I want to get around to The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch but I haven't been in a fantasy mood recently. As usual, I'll say follow me on goodreads, it's where I update most frequently in regards to reading. You can also observe my failure to read a hefty number of books.

Courtney Summers is releasing an e-novella sequel to This is Not A Test!! It's called Please Remain Calm and I AM ANYTHING BUT.

My mum sent me pineapple cakes from Taiwan and they are delicious.

OKay, I think that's all for now. Again, apologies for not updating last month... oops. Life, am I right?

Friday, May 2, 2014

BR: Open Road Summer

by Emery Lord

I can’t believe I’m writing a review, I swear it is really only because Goodreads is down at the moment and I had a lot of thoughts.

Summary (goodreads):

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

My Thoughts

I’m not exactly sure what drew me to the book initially, maybe it was the Taylor Swift-ness, the promise of female friendships, or the very specific vibe set by the cover, but I borrowed it from the library and gave it a shot. And was very disappointed.

So like, 70% of it is an “it’s not you, it’s me” type of deal. Because while it certainly has many redeeming qualities I’ll discuss later, the biggest deal was that I just didn’t have the patience to deal with Reagan, the main character and narrator. It boiled down to me not giving a shit about her, to put it bluntly, so while her life escapades might be exciting (but I liked Dee’s more), I just wasn’t into it at all. The only reason I finished was because I’ve already read like 200 pages and I wanted to know how it would end.

I found the writing clunky and not to my taste, I remember a few years ago when first-person POV was my favourite because it made everything feel so much more intimate, so I’m not sure if this is an isolated case or I’ve “grown out of it”, but Reagan’s narration seemed really expositional and I just felt like I was constantly hit over the head with things I ought to know, like, I get it—you’re ~edgy~, please, do bring it up every 10 pages just in case I forgot. I can appreciate the how Reagan’s a girl with flaws, but it manifests in a way that I just find super annoying and shallow, her bitchy act and hate for other females was just grating and incessant.

Another thing— I felt absolutely nada for Matt, the love interest. So. Boring. Well, I'll give him a few points because I really like Bob Dylan and guys who are nice to their moms. BUT... boringly charming is how I’d describe it, the type of cookie-cutter love interest that just feels unrealistic, unattainable, and an amalgamation of what an ideal boy should be like. Bleh. And because of that, scenes between Reagan and Matt always fell into either the forced-sassy territory, or eye-rolling because of the “cuteness that unfortunately I did not find cute” area.

The bright spot was the friendship between Reagan and Dee, which I found hit most of the right notes and was more interesting to read about. The music lyrics were also cute in the rhyming department.

Rating in HP Terms: Poor
Recommended for: I dunno, One Direction fans? People looking for books about friendship?
Acknowledgements: 2.5/5

6.8/10 – because I had originally rated it a wee bit higher but writing this just made me realize that I really didn’t enjoy this book that much at all. The characters weren’t my thing, the narration was really not my thing, and the bright spots didn’t make the read feel worthwhile. So yeah, sorry for a mini-rant, blame the fact that goodreads is down. But some last words from this old hack—it’s a decent summer read and it’s got a pleasant vibe if you’re in the mood, so if that sounds like your thing, give it a shot.

source: library
author website / twitter