Pingwing's Bookshelf

Canadian book lover and blogger at Fan of Supernatural, cookies, Nintendo, unicorns, nail polish, Diet Coke, and curling up on the couch with a good book.

The Program

The Program - Suzanne Young (3.5 stars)(From read some very good reviews of this book from fellow bloggers, and so put a hold on it at the library as soon as I could!SPOILER ALERTHere is the Goodreads summary:In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.I was really interested in this idea, but the book wasn’t quite what I thought/hoped it would be. Maybe I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I hoped the book would address this epidemic of teen suicide. I really wanted to know what that was all about, since it was supposed to be the reason The Program came to be. But this is, of course, the first book in a series, so I’m sure there will be another book that delves deeper into that.As for the characters, I have to admit that I didn’t really connect to any of them. I tried to like Sloane, I really did, but I just didn’t feel like there was anything about her that drew me into her story. And James came across as controlling and possessive. Maybe I misread something or am just really dense, but it was a bit much for me, almost creepy. And speaking of creepy, I just could not care for Realm. He was way too overbearing for me, and all those times that he and Sloane slept in the same bed, while she told him that she wasn’t into him romantically, were just strange. Is it just me?The only character I was super interested in was Lacey. I’m glad she was in the book more towards the end, and that she will likely be in the second book more, too.I think my main issue was that I struggled to get into the story at first. It was just such a heavy, sad book. Sometimes that really works for me, and in this case, it just didn’t. I think that’s because I kept waiting for things to happen, and so everything that came before Sloane’s encounter with The Program felt like a lot of set-up to me.I also struggled at first with The Program and its means of ‘curing’ teens of depression by removing memories. This just struck me as really odd and wrong, and pretty insensitive, but the more I read, the more I suspected that that was what Young was going for (especially since the treatment didn’t really seem to work). Once I started viewing it that way, the book really picked up for me, and I liked the second half a lot more than I liked the first half.So while it took a while for me to get into the book and it wasn’t one that I fell in love with, it really picked up for me about halfway through, and the ideas intrigued me enough that I am looking forward to reading the sequel!


Antigoddess - Kendare Blake (From Borrowed ARCI was soooo excited to read this one from the very moment that I heard about it! I loved Kendare Blake’s previous books (Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares) oh so much, and when I learned that she was writing a new trilogy, I knew I had to read it.Summary from Goodreads:The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.Old Gods never die…Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.The Goddess War is about to begin.I was a bit nervous going in to this because I’m really unfamiliar with mythology. I don’t remember any of it from school (I don’t even remember if I studied it in school, yikes!) and I don’t usually like to stop and look things up when I’m in the middle of a book. I feel like all of the important things that I should know to enjoy a story need to be in the book itself. I was worried that I’d need to take a break to look up who these gods were.But.I’m pleased to say that I found the mythology was explained enough for me to enjoy the story. Maybe you’ll get much more out of this book than I did if you are already familiar with the mythology, but I didn’t find my lack of knowledge to be an obstacle in any way.I really enjoyed the blending of the ancient mythology with the modern day setting. It gave the story such a broad, sweeping scope.The action and violence in some of the scenes were just what I’ve come to expect from Kendare Blake! Those elements of the book did not disappoint!As I mentioned, I love Blake’s Anna duology, and for that reason, I had very high expectations going into this book. I don’t know that any book could have truly lived up to those expectations, though. I really enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it or its characters the way I loved Cas, Anna, Thomas, and Carmel from the Anna series, but you shouldn’t take that to mean that I didn’t like this book or its characters. I just really really really love the Anna series!! (And if you haven’t read those books yet but are a paranormal/supernatural fan, you should get your hands on them asap!)I really liked this book from the start, and felt caught up in the story and the characters, but I felt that everything slowed down when switching from Athena’s parts of the story to Cassandra’s. Perhaps that’s just because I liked Athena a lot more than I liked Cassandra! I found many of the characters to be interesting and, in the case of Athena and Hermes, really likeable. They’re not perfect but they’re fascinating and the dialogue between them felt snappy and was fun to read. Others though, like Cassandra and Aiden, were less interesting to me. They weren’t unlikeable, but I kept finding myself wanting the story to turn back to Athena.Overall, I loved this book and think it’s another great story with some kick ass characters from an author I love! I absolutely cannot wait to see where this story goes next. I will totally be getting my own copy when this comes out, and then of course I’ll be reading the sequel!

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm - (From’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since I finished the first in the series, Shadow and Bone! Lucky for me, my wonderful BFF let me borrow her copy.SPOILER ALERT!Here is the Goodreads summary:Darkness never dies.Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.Well I’m just going to come out and say it: I loved this book. I was drawn in from the very first page and happy to be caught back up in Alina’s story. The story begins with Mal and Alina in hiding following the events at the end of Shadow and Bone, but it isn’t long before they’re caught back up in the Darkling’s plot.Speaking of the Darkling, I was really drawn to his character in the first book, but once I learned more about him, and after the events at the Fold, I am definitely not into him as a romantic interest for Alina! That said, I still find him a fascinating character, and although he wasn’t in the book as much as he was in Shadow and Bone, he did still pop up and each time, it seemed significant and majorly creepy!And then we are introduced to Sturmhond. What can I say that hasn’t been said about him already? I love him! He was dashing, mysterious, funny, intelligent and cunning…what a great character! I loved what the introduction of his character brought to the story.This story was exciting and unpredictable, and I loved that Alina was both drawn to her incredible power and also aware of the risk of losing herself to that power. I liked Alina in this book even more than I did in Shadow and Bone, perhaps because I am drawn to characters who aren’t necessarily clearly good or bad, e.g. the ‘good’ guys who make bad choices. I also love to read about a main character who isn’t perfect. Alina is not without flaws, and her struggle in this book with who she was, who she is, and who she could be was very compelling.My heart broke for a couple of characters in this book: Genya, because I still felt for her despite her betrayal; and Mal, because he was trying to find his place in Alina’s world and not having a very good time of it. I’m so curious to see what happens with Mal and Alina in the next book. Although there was some flirtation between Alina and Sturmhond, I really do believe that she loves Mal, and I want to see them pull through whatever comes next.And can we talk about that battle at the end? Holy cow! It was so exciting and frantic, and I loved it! It had me reading as quickly as I could, desperate to see what would happen next and who would make it out alive!I loved this book so much and I totally recommend this series! Now the wait begins for the next book!

Going Vintage

Going Vintage - (3.5 stars)(From is a book that I mentioned on my Top Ten Tuesday post about the ten books at the top of my summer TBR list. I was in the mood for something light and cute and this seemed to be the right book.Goodreads summary:When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List: 1. Run for pep club secretary 2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree 3. Sew a dress for Homecoming 4. Find a steady 5. Do something dangerous But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.This was a fun book, just what I needed at the time. The story starts with Mallory discovering her boyfriend Jeremy’s betrayal with a girl he met online. After coming across a to-do list that her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides that life was simpler before technological advances like Facebook and text messaging existed, and that she’s ‘going vintage’.I loved the premise. It was quirky and definitely appealed to me, as did the colourful book cover. It took a while, though, for me to really get into the book. I don’t know if it’s because I felt that I was in a bit of a slump and wasn’t really drawn to anything, or if it was something about the book itself, but by the time I got halfway through the story, I was really into it and finished it quickly after that.A lot of what I enjoyed about this book was seeing Mallory start to figure out her own identity, who she was outside of her relationship with Jeremy. Once she was single, she suddenly had a lot of free time to fill up. I also liked examining the way technology made people seem so connected – Mallory felt out of the loop after a weekend without e-mail, internet, or her cell phone – but what about the quality of those connections? I love my Twitter, some Tumblr, texting, the internet in general – but it was definitely interesting to think about, and in fact I experimented by trying to go out one weekend without my cell phone at all. Guess what? The world didn’t end when I couldn’t check my e-mail while in line at the grocery store! It really did make me think about how often I mindlessly reach for my phone when I’m already doing something, like reading or watching television, and I’m really going to try and do that less. It’s nice to sit back and disconnect sometimes!I found Mallory to be a very easy to like girl. She was quirky and really funny, and her sister was another great character. I was less interested in the goings-on of Mallory’s parents and their relationship troubles, but enjoyed the subplot involving Mallory’s grandmother.Oh, and Oliver! Jeremy’s cousin who helps Mallory start the pep club – I loved him! He was nice, funny, and seemed to get Mallory in a way that Jeremy didn’t. I totally crushed on him.I think it’s safe to say, without spoiling anything, that by the end of the book Mallory learns that teenagers in the sixties didn’t necessarily have things any easier than today’s teenagers. People always have problems, issues, obstacles to overcome, no matter what period of time they’re living in.Overall, this was a really fun book that popped onto my Kobo at just the right time! I totally recommend this if you’re looking for a quick, fun read with a happy ending.

This Is What Happy Looks Like

This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith (From stars)This book has been on my radar for a while, and I heard good things about it. Here is the Goodreads summary:If fate sent you an email, would you answer?When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?This was a nice summer read, and another contemporary for me! I was drawn to this book because I liked the cover, but also because it sounded like a meet-cute summer romance, and sometimes I need that kind of book in my life! I felt like I’d been reading some intense, heavy books and was looking for something different.I liked getting both Graham and Ellie’s perspectives throughout the story, via alternating chapters. I was especially intrigued by Graham’s superstar life, which turned out to be a lonely and difficult life at times.I also liked that Ellie wasn’t totally starstruck by Graham when he came to town. I think part of that was because she was a fairly down to earth girl, and part of it was due to the family secret she and her mother were keeping. Ellie’s mother didn’t want her getting involved with Graham and being photographed by paparazzi (I won’t spoil the why of it all), and I think that part of what Graham liked about Ellie once they met face to face was that she treated him like a regular person, not a megastar.And how cute is it that they met via a mixed-up e-mail address and became internet pen pals? Their early e-mails to each other were adorable – they were funny, flirty, sweet – I had a big smile on my face reading those.As for characters, I really liked Ellie and Graham. They had nice chemistry. Ellie’s mom was a bit up and down for me, though: she was very tough on Ellie about Graham, and I suppose I can understand, from her perspective, why she acted that way, but in so many other ways she seemed like a great mom, and she and Ellie seemed to otherwise have a wonderful mother-daughter relationship. I also had mixed feelings about Ellie’s best friend, Quinn. I think she could have tried to be more understanding of Ellie, and tried to listen more to Ellie’s explanation of how she came to know Graham (e.g. she didn’t know his name when they met via e-mail).I do wish that more had been done regarding Ellie’s relationship with her father, but I suppose I can understand why things were left the way they were.As much as I enjoyed this book, it didn’t really stick with me. I liked it but I didn’t love it. I didn’t feel emotionally sucked into this, but it was a pleasant reading experience. It was certainly a nice, light summer read, which was just what I was looking for when I picked it up, so I do recommend it.

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein (From Borrowed from Jessica of Read My Breath AwayHoly cow the reviews I read for this book…I don’t know how it could have taken me this much time to read this one, since I was dying to find out what it was about this story that seemed to really strike a chord with people!Here is the Goodreads summary:I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.We are a sensational team.I love historical fiction, and this story of two best friends in World War II drew me in from the first page. We learn about Queenie and Maddie, best friends who met during the war. We read as one character, captured by the Gestapo behind enemy lines, recounts her story for her captors. Beyond that, I don’t really want to say anything more than that about the plot. You really should find out for yourself!I’ve seen some reviews commenting on this book’s slow start, and I don’t totally agree with that. Or maybe I’m just not thinking of slow start the same way as they are? The book is certainly descriptive and detailed, but that helped me get into the character’s mind.I never really knew where this story was going to go, and I was constantly surprised. Some of these surprises were emotionally devastating, let me tell you. I grew so attached to Verity and Maddie, and even secondary characters that came in and out of the story.There isn’t a thing I can think of that I didn’t enjoy about this book. It was unpredictable, descriptive, full of fascinating characters and heroic (and not so heroic) deeds, set during a time period that I always like to read about, and I fell in love with Verity. Despite what she was enduring, her wit, humour, and spark came through her writing in full force.I wish I could say more but I don’t want to give anything away, and I don’t have many other ways to say that I loved this book! I definitely recommend this book!

How to Be a Woman

How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran (From’d heard a lot about this book before I finally got my hands on a copy (thanks Michelle!). I was eager to see what the buzz was about, particularly as I don’t read that much non-fiction, and was in the mood for something a bit different from my usual reading material.Here is the Goodreads summary:Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started this, only that I’d heard it was hilarious. As a Canadian, I hadn’t heard of Caitlin Moran before, but I was drawn into her story-telling from the first chapter, reading about her childhood and her family. Moran definitely has a way with words, and reading about growing up in her family was fascinating.This book is definitely funny. I wasn’t laughing out loud non-stop like I (perhaps naively) thought I would, but I did laugh and smile and nod in agreement throughout.I loved Moran’s notion of how to tell if you’ve encountered sexism: ask yourself, Is this polite? I loved its simplicity and immediately found myself applying it as I went about my day.The chapters that made me really sit up and pay attention were the chapters on why to have, and to not have, children. I have never really wanted children, and neither has my husband. I’m still fairly certain that I don’t want to have kids, but the older I get, the more I find myself thinking about it, wanting to make sure I’m making the right decision for me and my husband. Moran’s no-holds-barred account of parenting was refreshing. She said a lot of things I realized I’d said to myself, and that I wanted to hear from other people. I was almost in tears reading these chapters, because they spoke to something so personal and important – but something the public at large feels very comfortable asking women about. I have been married almost two years and am asked frequently when (not if) my husband and I will have children. These chapters alone made this book an incredibly worthwhile, rewarding read for me.This book certainly gave me a lot to think about! What does it mean to me to be a woman, a feminist, etc. I’m sure there are some very interesting discussions to be had with others who’ve read this! While I can’t say I agree with Moran on everything, I was still interested in her take on some of the issues she discussed.I liked this book but it wasn’t one I could read quickly, perhaps because it did give me so much food for thought that I had to walk away from it for a few days at a time and take it all in. Overall though, I enjoyed and recommend this one.

Masque of the Red Death

Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin (From was a book club book, but also a book that I’d wanted to read for some time.Here is the Goodreads summary: Everything is in ruins.A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.So what does Araby Worth have to live for?Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.First of all, I loved the setting. We talked about this a bit at book club, and I saw this as being set in some alternate history, rather than trying to place it within a specific time period. It felt like steampunk to me, and I don’t read much steampunk so I could be wrong, but I liked the book’s world and atmosphere. It’s totally bleak, but I was super interested in it.Unfortunately, I felt like the world-building was a bit lacking. I loved the descriptions of abandoned buildings, people dying in the streets, etc. (geez the things that appeal to me!) but I really wanted to know more. Of course, I know there’s a sequel that probably provides that information, but I was just hoping to learn some background, how things came to be this way.This story kept surprising me. Things were revealed that took me totally off guard, and I love when a book is unpredictable. SPOILERS: the truth behind Finn’s death, Elliott’s father being alive (and Malcontent), and the secret Araby’s mother was keeping are the main things that spring to mind. Honestly, I didn’t see any of those things coming, which was great! END SPOILERS.The love triangle was a bit ho-hum for me, to be honest. While I totally fell for Will, Elliott was not attractive to me in the least. He was an interesting character, and I’m curious about his motivations and goals, but I don’t like him as a romantic interest. There was enough going on in this book, in my opinion, without really needing to try and ratchet up the conflict by making a love triangle.One of the things that was mentioned at book club that I have been thinking about is that all the characters in this book are keeping secrets from everyone. Every character had something going on beneath his/her surface, and after learning their secrets, I thought over what I’d read so far and reevaluated what I thought of these characters. There’s just so much tension and conflict in this book, and I really liked that!I also liked Araby. I could understand why she went to the Debauchery Club – the world’s a mess, people are stuck living behind masks (if they can afford any), and maybe the only thing to do is try to forget it all for a little while. It’s not how I would choose to do things, but in this story, for that character, I could understand it. And that’s what made it better for me when Araby began to see something to fight for, and someone to fight against.I’m feeling a bit lazy, so while I initially wanted to say a lot more about the characters, I’m just going to wrap it up, haha.I am really looking forward to the next book, since the end of this book seemed to set things up nicely for a sequel. I think this is only a duology, so I’m really hoping that my questions about the world will be answered!
Pretty Little Liars #13: Crushed - Sara Shepard (From is the 13th (!) book in the series, following Burned. I was really looking forward to this book (see my Waiting on Wednesday and Top Ten Tuesday posts about it!) so no surprise that I finished it as quickly as I could.Here is the summary from Goodreads:It’s springtime in suburban Rosewood, which means iced soy lattes, fresh manicures in shimmering pastels—and prom. But while everyone else is flipping through the racks at Saks in search of the perfect dress, Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a different kind of hunt: They’re looking for A. . . .Hanna puts her campaign for prom queen on the back burner to volunteer at the burn clinic, where one of A’s victims is recovering. Emily digs into Ali’s past at the mental hospital with some very crazy consequences. Spencer contacts a private eye to help her stalk her stalker. But when their sessions get a little too private, they may forget to keep their eyes on A. . . . And Aria’s worried that A is even closer than she thought. When her dark secret from Iceland finally comes to light, she discovers that maybe, just maybe, the one person she’s been trying to hide the truth from has known all along.The liars are finally taking the fight to A. But no matter what they do, A’s always one step ahead, ready to crush the girls completely.Spoiler alert!I don’t even know where to begin with this review. These books are really fun, for me at least, but they’re also really predictable and definitely follow a formula. At this point, I think I’m only keeping up with the series to (eventually) find out who A is.So the girls’ main suspect this time around is Noel. Well obviously Noel is not A. I knew that so reading page after page of their suspicions and all of these things about Noel being uncovered that made them think he was involved was a bit frustrating, since I knew he’s just this book’s red herring.However, I loved that the girls were finally being proactive, banding together to make a list of suspects, making rules like using burner phones and trying to make sure their conversations couldn’t be overheard. And they finally picked up on the fact that A is likely two people this time around, something I’ve suspected for a while now.At this point, I have no idea who this ‘A team’ is. Kate, Iris, Mike, undead Mona or Ali or Courtney or someone’s parents…I just wouldn’t put anything past Sara Shepard at this point. But I am eager to see how she’s going to wrap this series up in a way that will make sense when looking back at everything. It will have to explain how someone(s) could be everywhere the girls were, even when they were separated, like Jamaica/Tabitha, the cruise, Aria and Hanna in Iceland, etc. How were these people everywhere at all times, able to see and hear everything the girls said and did, but remain unnoticed??? I’m dying to see how Shepard pulls this off.You know, even though this series is dragging on and, in my opinion, needs to come to an end, I totally can’t help myself: I love this series, I read each book as soon as it comes out, and I love Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily. I like seeing how they’ve changed over the series. Even thinking about them getting ready to move on from high school makes me nostalgic for the very beginning of the series! And I really want them to put this A business behind them before they graduate from high school.I thought the next book, coming out in December, was going to be the final book, but according to this Goodreads interview, Shepard is planning to end the series at 16 books. Oh boy!This series is totally a guilty pleasure of mine (except I guess I don’t feel too guilty about loving them) and even while I rolled my eyes, I loved reading this book. Obviously I’ll be reading the next one (and the next and the next…).

Quarantine #2: The Saints

The Saints - Lex Thomas (From copy received from publisher via NetGalleySummary from Goodreads:A cross between the Gone series and Lord of the Flies, Quarantine #2: The Saints continues this frenetically paced and scary young adult series that illustrates just how deadly high school can be.Nothing was worse than being locked in—until they opened the door…McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken.As a new group of teens enters the school and gains popularity, Will and Lucy join new gangs. An epic party on the quad full of real food and drinks, where kids hookup and actually interact with members of other gangs seemed to signal a new, easier existence. Soon after though, the world inside McKinley takes a startling turn for the worse, and Will and Lucy will have to fight harder than ever to survive.The Saints brings readers back to the dark and deadly halls of McKinley High and the QUARANTINE series.Spoiler alert!I really enjoyed the first book, The Loners, when I read it last year. I loved the action, the pacing, and the unpredictability of it. This sequel was one of my most anticipated books of this year, and I was so excited to read it.What I liked about this book was seeing how certain elements established in the first – each gang having its own territory, the brutal food drops, Sam and the Varsity gang’s domination – were shaken up here.We learn early on in this book that the life everyone inside McKinley has gotten used to is going to change, because of things going on in the outside world. I appreciated getting some information about things going on outside McKinley, which is something I’d been wondering about throughout the first book.A group of kids from a private school gain entry to the school, before it’s sealed up (I won’t spoil those details). These kids fill the McKinley students in on life on the outside for the past 18 months, and eventually are seen as a gang of their own, called The Saints. Their leader is charming, and seems to fill the McKinley kids with awe. His arrival and clash with Sam, the Varsity leader, sets off a whole chain of events, shaking up the hierarchy within the school.I missed David in this book, especially since his absence meant I was left with a lot more of Will, who was not a favourite of mine in the last book. However, because I got more of Will’s perspective here, I felt like I came to understand him a bit better. I definitely liked Will more after reading this book than I did during The Loners.I was very interested in Lucy’s transition from Loner to Slut. Yes, that’s right, she is no longer a Loner – but after the events early on in the book, there aren’t many left in their gang to begin with, and one by one, they all join different gangs and the Loners are no more. Initially I was really sad that the Loners were splitting up, but I grew to love the way the authors weren’t afraid to shake things up, e.g. killing off certain characters or disbanding the Loners.If there’s one big complaint I had with this book, it’s about the Will and Lucy romance. I just wasn’t feeling it, especially since she had been dating David. I don’t know, it just seemed like they were together just to have some romance in the book, you know? Or maybe I’m just biased because I like David better than Will. Who knows.In case anyone was wondering, this book is totally just as violent as the first. I personally liked that, but be warned, if you didn’t like the violence and brutality in The Loners, you won’t find this book any easier to read.Overall, I really liked this book. It was a good sequel and had the same excitement and intensity as the first. I don’t know how many more books are planned for this series, but I’m really looking forward to the next one!

Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers This is the second book in the His Fair Assassin series, following Grave Mercy (which I really liked). Potential spoiler alert.Here is the Goodreads summary:Sybella’s duty as Death’s assassin in 15th-century France forces her return home to the personal hell that she had finally escaped. Love and romance, history and magic, vengeance and salvation converge in this thrilling sequel to Grave Mercy.Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?I was really excited to read this book, since I enjoyed the previous one so much. This book, much to my surprise and delight, focuses on Sybella, who I may like even more than I liked Ismae in Grave Mercy.Sybella is such an interesting character. She carries around so much darkness and the horrors of her past were truly awful. Returning to D’Albret’s household seemed like a punishment to me, and I felt like I was on edge every second that she was there (and there certainly no lack of spying going on in that place!). Sybella’s growing doubt about Mortain, the convent, and its purposes was interesting to read about. I was, of course, also interested in the developments of the brewing conflict between the Duchess and D’Albret and their supporters.I was also happy to see the return of Beast, and loved watching the friendship and relationship between him and Sybella develop. The two of them seem so tailor made for each other!This book is so well written, and the historical elements are woven into the story in such a way that it all fits together; it doesn’t feel like reading a history lesson or that the setting threatens to take over the story. I know some readers find historical fiction dry or boring, but this book is full of action, and I for one loved reading the details of life in 15th-century France!While there is a third book coming out later, this didn’t feel like the typical second book in a trilogy – no ‘middle book syndrome’ here! I am eagerly anticipating the next book, which I believe will focus on Annith. I can’t wait! I think if you love historical YA fiction, this series is a must-read!(From
Tethers (The Tethers Trilogy #1) - Jack Croxall (From received from authorI was intrigued by the book’s premise, as the book comes across as a YA historical fiction mystery of sorts, which really appealed to me!Here is the Goodreads summary:In the wake of a cold Victorian winter, Karl Scheffer and Esther Emerson discover an anonymous journal filled with strange passages and bizarre scribblings.The journal soon draws them into a covert and sinister conspiracy, a conspiracy centred around an otherworldly artefact with the power to change everything …Karl and Esther have spent almost every day of their thirteen years in the quiet market town of Shraye. Stifled by their rural surroundings and frustrated by their unfulfilled ambitions, they find the allure of the journal’s mysterious pages impossible to ignore. The book seems to be beckoning them away from Shraye, away from their homes and towards the coast where an unsolved disappearance has set in motion a dark chain of events.The voyage the teenagers soon find themselves undertaking is one of desperate importance and true peril; it will change the way they see the world, and each other, forever.Overall, I enjoyed this book. I was instantly drawn in by the setting and the rapport between Karl and Esther, and as the mystery surrounding the journal started to unfold, I was intrigued.The story moved along fairly quickly, with new characters introduced who shed more light on the journal Karl and Esther had discovered. However, I did feel at times that these other characters were a bit flat. They didn’t seem as well-developed as Karl and Esther (or perhaps I just wasn’t as interested in them as I was in Karl and Esther!).I loved Esther’s feisty attitude, which was a great contrast with Karl’s more cautious demeanor. Their friendship carried the book, and it was refreshing to read a YA story about a boy and a girl who were just friends (for now…?). Honestly, Esther was my favourite part of this book and I would love to read more about her!The fantasy element (the mystery of the journal and the artefact that falls into Karl’s hands) blends really well with the historical aspect of the book. I was reminded of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series (a favourite of mine) in that regard: the two elements of the story worked very well together, rather than competing with each other. There was a lovely balance to this book.I also enjoyed the adventurousness of this book. Between the boats and the sword-fighting, it really felt like Karl and Esther had been swept up in a grand adventure, and it was pretty fun. Again, it was a nice change from some of my recent reads!I’m definitely interested in reading the sequel, for more of Karl and Esther’s story. The Tethers paperback should be out in North America sometime in the fall, and if you’re a fan of historical YA fiction, I definitely recommend this book.

The Elite

The Elite - Kiera Cass (From is the sequel to The Selection, which I read last year. I love the covers of these books!!Here is the Goodreads summary:Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.I enjoyed The Selection when I read it, and while I was looking forward to this sequel, I was also hoping it would improve on some things that didn’t quite work for me. For the most part, it did, and I am really looking forward to the next book.Part of what I liked more here was that there were only six girls left in the Selection, which made it a lot easier to distinguish the girls from each other throughout the story.I also enjoyed getting to know Maxon more. I think we got a better look into his life and the difficulties he faces with his father, the pressure to choose between the girls, and the dangers they face from the rebels. Maxon was a much more sympathetic character for me in this book. I also loved the scenes with America’s maids, and that her family was able to come and visit her. It was great to see them reunited, even briefly.I got more of the back story of Illea that I had been looking for too. I really liked getting a sense of the history of America’s world and seeing her realize that the history she believes to be true may be a lie.However, America still frustrates me. She makes a lot of assumptions throughout the book about other people and their intentions, and mostly assumes incorrectly. She also is so undecided throughout the book of her feelings for Aspen and Maxon, and whether or not she wants to be married to Maxon and be a princess, which irritated me.I was also occasionally creeped out by the fact that Maxon was making time with all of these girls, kissing them and dating them and all the while telling America how important she was to him. I know that the competition among the girls is like the backbone of the series, but if I stopped to think about it, it was a little icky.Overall, though, this was fun, entertaining, and a great read for a rainy weekend. I’m really looking forward to the final entry in the series! If you liked The Selection, I think you’ll enjoy its sequel.
Gone - Michael  Grant (3.5 stars)This is not a new series, and it’s been on my radar for a while, but it can be a bit daunting to jump into a long-running series.I knew I wanted to read it, but I also knew that if I liked the first book, I’d need to read the others (I think there are six books in the series). At a time when I’m trying to tackle the books I already own but haven’t read yet, I wasn’t sure that starting a new series was such a good idea, but I went ahead and did it anyway.Here is the Goodreads summary:In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents–unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers–that grow stronger by the day.It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…First of all, I would like to say that I kind of can’t stand the cover for this book. It just seems generic and kind of cheesy. But don’t let it put you off! The book inside is sooo good!First of all, a warning: there is some violence in this book and it’s pretty chilling. It reminded me of Battle Royale and Quarantine #1: The Loners, with the kid-on-kid violence committed. But trust me, it makes sense within the story. After all, the world has fallen into chaos with the disappearance of everyone 15 years old and up. Tempers flare, people compete for control, and food is getting scarce.Part of what I liked about this book was that there was a large cast of characters who seemed only loosely connected, if at all, at the beginning of the book but who are brought together by the end. For example, I loved seeing Lana’s story converge with that of Sam and the others in town.The premise intrigued me, and at times it was pretty scary. There’s a moment where someone wonders briefly about the pets and babies in homes that are suddenly adult free, and he allowed himself just a moment to think about their fate before putting it out of his mind.The mystery of where everyone else has gone had me guessing, and the bits and pieces of an explanation that I got were pretty satisfying. Of course, since this is the first in a series, there is still a lot that remains unknown, but I like what I’ve learned so far. It’s really different from anything else I’ve read.I liked the main characters, Sam, Astrid, and Edilio, and of course I didn’t like the villains. It was interesting to see, though, how some characters changed throughout the story so that some who I perceived as main villains at the start were something else by the end. And Sam has such pressure placed on him to lead that I felt for him. It’s such a heavy burden for anyone, let alone a 14 year old, to be placed unexpectedly in the position he’s in, knowing people are looking to him for guidance, answers, some sort of plan…and on the other end is Caine, who wants the power and control, and who sees what’s happened as a situation that he can take advantage of and exploit.The writing in this book is not the best – it felt a little bland and clumsy at times – but the story more than makes up for it. I couldn’t wait to see how it would end, and I wasn’t able to predict anything about this book, which I loved.This was a pretty exciting book. It took me a while to get through it, since I started it and then put it aside to finish some other books, but I really liked it. I’m definitely going to read the sequel.(From

The Cottage at Glass Beach

The Cottage At Glass Beach - Heather Barbieri (3.5 stars)Review copy provided by the publisher in conjunction with TLC Book Tours Publication date: May 15, 2012I liked this book. It was a nice change of pace from my recent reads. Here is the Goodreads summary:Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm.Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters–Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve–and takes refuge on Burke’s Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades–not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt’s friend Polly suggests, a selkie–a mythical being of island legend–summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own–a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.The writing in this book was really great, and this was a nice, leisurely book, perfect for summer reading.Nora was a sympathetic character, easy to like. I wanted her to figure out what to do about her unfaithful husband, who seemed to still want to come in and out of her life on his own time, and to put the pieces of her life back together. I loved Nora’s aunt Maire, who she hasn’t seen since she was a child, and her friend Polly. Polly was a hoot! They were excellent tour guides of the island for Nora and her daughters, and those relationships were really touching.Annie and Ella were interesting, particularly Ella’s relationship with Nora. Ella seemed to blame Nora for the troubles with her husband, and Nora was trying to shield the girls from the truth. It made for a tumultuous relationship, and I really felt for Nora, who I thought was being unfairly blamed for things beyond her control. As for Annie, I loved her imagination! She was great.There is some magical realism at work in this book, and I liked the way it was done. It wasn’t too over the top, and blended in very nicely with the rest of the book.The subplot about Nora’s mother, Maeve, and what happened to her was really interesting and I wish I had learned more about it! I was expecting Nora to start looking into her mother’s life much sooner than she did, but that was the most intriguing part of the book for me.Owen’s appearance complicated matters for Nora. She was drawn to him, but struggled with her feelings because of the state of her relationship with her husband. I liked Owen – he was kind, and got along with Maire which endeared him to me.I must admit that the ending confused me. There was a lot going on and I felt that I needed a bit more of an explanation as far as certain aspects go, but I did enjoy the story. I’m going to be checking out Heather Barbieri’s other books!(From

Mind Games

Mind Games - Isn’t the cover for this one so cool? Here is the Goodreads summary:Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.I read this for my May book club meet up, but it has been on my TBR for a while. I was intrigued by a story of sisters with some kind of psychic abilities, and so I was really excited when it became a book club pick.There were a lot of things I liked about this book, number one being the action! Fia is a totally kick-ass tough girl which I loved. Right near the start of the book, she takes out three men all on her own. It was pretty awesome. I also loved Fia’s methods for dealing with the Readers: shouting swear words in her head, singing annoying songs, thinking terrible things about the Readers or about their loved ones…it was pretty funny.Between the two girls, Fia was hands down my favourite. She was snarky, sarcastic, strong, and by comparison, Annie (or Blannie, as I thought of her) was such a downer. I felt for Annie, at least at first, but she was just the less interesting sister and I might have enjoyed the book more had it focused on telling its story from Fia’s perspective.The sister relationship was really interesting. They both loved and wanted to protect each other, but Annie and Fia were also keeping a lot of secrets and hiding things from each other. They both seemed to feel so guilty, and at times even seemed to resent each other somewhat. I wished they could have had a moment and been honest with each other but alas, it didn’t quite happen that way.At first, I did find that the way the story jumped around in time, and switched from Fia to Annie’s third-person narration, was confusing, but as I read on I felt less confused. But be prepared to be confused a bit at the start!Ultimately, I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I was left wanting to know more: about the world; the school; what drove Keane, the man behind it all; and to know more about the two love interests, Adam (who was nice but a bit boring) and James (the dangerous bad boy, and Keane’s son). I really wanted more background, more context, without which it was difficult for me to really get a sense of the danger the girls were in.I really enjoyed the book club chat on this one! There were some interesting discussions about James and Fia, Adam, the world building (or lack thereof)…good times!So while I didn’t fall in love with this book, I’ll definitely be reading the sequel. I recommend this for fans of the paranormal (although this is light on the paranormal element) and action, especially those looking for a quick read!(From

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