[New in Review] A Fool’s Errand

Author: Maureen Fergus

Publisher: Penguin Books

  • Imprint: RazOrbill Canada

Date Published: October 2013

Format: Advance Reader Copy

Source: Received from the publisher

Synopsis:

More action. More romance. More intrigue. Get ready to dive into the exciting follow-up to The Gypsy King!

In the final moments of The Gypsy King, a truth was revealed to Persephone and Azriel – one that could change everything forever. For her. For him. For them. For the entire kingdom.

But trapped in a windowless castle chamber with soldiers battering at the door, it seems impossible to believe that they’ll even survive. Indeed, they are a heartbeat from death when Azriel boldly bargains with the Regent Mordecai: release them and they will seek out the mythical healing Pool of Genezing. Mordecai agrees but warns that if they do not return with proof that the pool exists, he’ll make those dearest to them suffer – and he’ll start with King Finnius.

Persephone has never needed Azriel’s teasing warmth as much as she needs it now, but she is finding out there is a price to pay for having broken past promises. Together, they set off on a journey that will take them into the farthest corners of the kingdom.Danger will ever lie ahead and behind them; they will battle men and beasts alike. Will Persephone and Azriel survive these perils? And will this quest see their romance grow cold – or will it burn hotter than ever?

Number of Days It Took to Read: 4

Cover:

I liked this cover it was a greater improvement from the copy of The Gypsy King.

fool

The Writing Score: 3.5 out of 5

Recommendation: Casual Perusal

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review:

While it took me awhile to really get into The Gypsy King, I didn’t have the same issue with A Fool’s Errand. The plot and story were very interesting, and Fergus has really grown as a storyteller from her previous book, The Gypsy King. A Fool’s Errand was an even more thrilling read with an even bigger cliffhanger ending that left me dying for the next book to come out.

A Fool’s Errand was also a quick read although there was so much more stories packed into it. I liked how Persephone really came into her own in this book. She really grew as a person and I love how independent she was while at the same time still be caring towards those she holds dear. Speaking of people she held dear, I really enjoy the developments and progress in the relationship between Persephone and Azriel. As we get to see them interact more with each other in this book, it becomes clear that they are a good fit. Still it is Persephone’s relationship with her brother that I truly enjoyed reading about, even though they are not together for most of the book it is partly her love for her brother which leads her to make the journey to find the Pool of Genezing.

As mentioned before in my review of The Gypsy King, I absolutely adored the animal characters in the book and that is one thing that hasn’t changed while reading A Fool’s Errand. The animals here are even funnier and more loyal to Persephone that they endeared themselves to me even though I’m not much of an animal lover in real life. I really enjoyed the setting and the world building in this book especially learning more about the gypsy culture, mythology and their way of life.

Overall Fergus has done a great job with this book; I really started to care more about what happens to the main characters which is a good sign. A Fool’s Errand was a thrilling, emotional rollercoaster ride of a novel which made it a very strong follow-up novel to its predecessor, The Gypsy King. I look forward to reading the final book in this young adult fantasy trilogy by Maureen Fergus.

– Linh

The opinions expressed in this review are my own; I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review. I am currently accepting young adult fiction and adult fiction books that have a crossover appeal to young adults for review. If you have any questions or would like for me to review your book feel free to email me at lxlnguyen21@yahoo.ca.

New in Review: A Taste of Heaven

Author: Meg Tilly

Publisher: Penguin Canada

  • Imprint: Puffin Canada

Date Published: February 12th 2013

Format: Advance Reader

Source: Gift from the awesome Ardo

Synopsis:

Madison Stokes leads a pretty average life: average mom and dad, average looks, average grades—well, maybe her little sister is MUCH brattier than average—but nothing out of the ordinary.

All that changes when quiet, secretive Alyssa Hawkins moves to town. When Madison takes Alyssa under her wing, the two girls quickly bond over chocolate-chip cookies and become best friends. Amazingly, Alyssa doesn’t even mind Madison’s bratty sister!

But there are some things Alyssa still won’t share. Why won’t she talk about her family? And why is she so reluctant to have Madison over to her house? She’s harbouring a secret that could put their treasured friendship in jeopardy—and when Madison finds out by accident, Alyssa makes Madison promise not to tell anyone, not even Madison’s parents.

But should Madison tell them anyway? When is it all right to tell a little white lie… and when should you come clean with the truth?

Number of Days It Took to Read: 1.5

Cover:

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Though the cover doesn’t really fit the story as a whole it does stand out visually and I think it would appeal to its target audience, (middle grade girls).

The Writing Score: 3 out of 5

Recommendation: A Causal Perusal

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review:

For many young girls their best friends meant the world to them. Sometimes to the point of putting their friends before their family. That’s not to say that it’s not the case when we grow up it’s just that back then it was just a different kind of special. At the heart of Meg Tilly’s A Taste of Heaven is a cute story about love, friendship and family. The story follows the friendship of two young girls, Madison Strokes and Alyssa Hawkins who bond over their love of chocolate chip cookies. I really enjoyed reading about their friendship as it is so pure and innocent which I felt was very fitting considering how old both girls were.

I also loved Madison’s family as they were just like any ordinary family; no matter what happens or how much they fight they are always there for each other. The fact that her mother had to be the sole breadwinner while her father was out of a job is not an uncommon occurrence nowadays given the present state of our economy. I especially love how Madison’s father took up the role of being a stay at home dad while stills searching for a job, he really was there for his daughters and family. One specific example I loved was the secret agent game he played with his daughters whenever they went shopping for groceries it really does sound like it would make shopping for groceries more exciting especially for kids.

The main reason that this book was such a quick read was because of the writing. The language used was cute and simple, a perfect fit for the young female narrator. So while I normally don’t read middle grade books and I probably won’t read any more in the future I did find this book to be quite enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this book to girls from age 8-12 as I think they would probably be able to relate to the characters more than I did. Overall this was a touching and charming short read. Oh and on a side note, the authour of this book has had a bit of an interesting life and I think she incorporated some of her own life experience into the plot which makes it more interesting when you read the book knowing how it personally relates to her life.

– Linh

The opinions expressed in this review are my own; I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review.

Bringing YA to YOU

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here’s your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy–and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)–and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you’re there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books–TEN signed books in total!

Here’s why the YA2U Team should come to MY hometown! 
I live in the beautiful city of Toronto which should be reason enough to come! Toronto is a multicultural city where you can find people of all walks of life including fans of these cool authors. It’s a city that inspires and you can always discover something new about it despite how long you’ve lived here. It would be great to have this event at a new venue in the city rather than the usual suspects like Yorkdale or Eaton Centre. Most importantly, this city has ME living in it and I’d LOVE to see these authors. So come to T.O. and experience the city I love!
Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown? Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!
And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest! Click here to enter

You Read What? Book Review: Dark Star

Author: Bethany Frenette

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Date Published: October 23rd 2012

Synopsis:

        Audrey Whitticomb has nothing to fear. Her mother is the superhero Morning Star, the most deadly crime-fighter in the Twin Cities, so it’s hard for Audrey not to feel safe. That is, until she’s lured into the sweet night air by something human and not human–something with talons and teeth, and a wide, scarlet smile.
Now Audrey knows the truth: her mom doesn’t fight crime at night. She fights Harrowers–livid, merciless beings who were trapped Beneath eons ago. Yet some have managed to escape. And they want Audrey dead, just because of who she is: one of the Kin.
To survive, Audrey will need to sharpen the powers she has always had. When she gets close to someone, dark corners of the person’s memories become her own, and she sometimes even glimpses the future. If Audrey could only get close to Patrick Tigue, a powerful Harrower masquerading as human, she could use her Knowing to discover the Harrowers’ next move. But Leon, her mother’s bossy, infuriatingly attractive sidekick, has other ideas. Lately, he won’t let Audrey out of his sight.
When an unthinkable betrayal puts Minneapolis in terrible danger, Audrey discovers a wild, untamed power within herself. It may be the key to saving her herself, her family, and her city. Or it may be the force that destroys everything–and everyone–she loves.

Number of Days It Took to Read: 3

Cover: It’s a nice cover. I think the blue and pink pairing helps it a lot. I’m not a fan of the girl on it. Her expression kind of freaks me out actually but it might just be the doom and gloom brought on by the talk of super storm, Hurricane Sandy.

The Writing Score: 2 out of 5

Recommendation: Nah…I’ll pass.

Memorable or Forgettable: Forgettable

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review:

Okay. This wasn’t a superhero book.

I expected a superhero book but this wasn’t it. Now, to  be fair, this book is marketed under the genre of YA urban fantasy. What is YA urban fantasy? The best example would be Cassandra Clare’s series, the Mortal Instruments, which is a series that takes place in a city-like setting with something paranormal in nature incorporated into it…oh, and it’s written for young adults. That’s what this book is and, without the mention of superhero in the synopsis, that would be fine…kind of.

Let’s begin with the plot. This book took too long to get to the point or action of the story and if you cut out some scenes and chapters or fused some scenes and chapters, it would actually be too short. You know Patrick Tigue? The dude mentioned in the synopsis that you assumed would be one of the main focus’ on the book? The first mention of him can be found more than halfway through the book. He was, in fact, a minor character but was only “major” in name only and not in an actual role. This story spent most of it’s time discussing Audrey’s inability to handle the unfathomable idea of demons (despite the fact that her mom is super strong and has super healing…).

No, seriously. Audrey is probably one of the most annoying heads to be in. The writing is such that her feelings are told to us (not shown!) over and over and over again to the point where I just wanted to scream and say, “WE GET IT! YOU’RE AFRAID AND CONFUSED BUT PLEASE GET OVER IT SO I CAN ENJOY SOME ASS KICKING…” I understand that not all characters can be bad asses but even Clary in Clare’s the Mortal Instruments (Books 1-3 to be more specific) is a lot more helpful than whiny. Even when Audrey does go out to help, she does so without a plan and she’s almost always rescued. Also, the climax was anti-climactic and it might be due to the fact that it took too long to build Frenette’s world or that there was no significant build up to the climax at all.

The dialogue and exchange between characters fell flat for me and therefore creating 1 dimensional characters. I didn’t genuinely care about or like anyone. Leon had his moments when he’s not constantly coming in when it’s convenient for the plot and then leaving just as abruptly. I did like Morning Star – Audrey’s superhero mom and the scenes with Detective Wyle. I feel like the story should have been about her as a teenage instead (that would have been a really cool story from what it sounds like when discussing her past). Kind of like the beginnings of a reluctant superhero since she’s just fighting Harrowers at first and was deemed a hero by the public. Just add in the occasional crime fighting outside of Harrowers (like a hostage situation in a bank or a super villain…) and you can have a nice balance between a superhero book and an urban fantasy.

Overall though, this book was an effort to read. I feel that, even if you’re okay with the whole “it’s not really a superhero novel”, it’s still not a well put together book for whatever genre it was intended for.

I’ll write a later post why this wasn’t a superhero book because I think that needs to be cleared up but, in the meantime, here are some actual superhero books you can check out (The Black and White series by by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge. Dull Boy by Sarah Cross. Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman).

A. A. Omer
The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

You Read What? Book Review: Destroy Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date Published: October 2nd, 2012

Format: E-book

Synopsis:

Perfect for the fans of Shatter Me who are desperately awaiting the release of Unravel Me, this novella-length digital original will bridge the gap between these two novels from the perspective of the villain we all love to hate, Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.
In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.

Set after Shatter Me and before its forthcoming sequel, Unravel Me,Destroy Me is a novella told from the perspective of Warner, the ruthless leader of Sector 45.

Number of Days It Took to Read: 2

Cover: Beautiful. HarperCollins changed the cover of shatter me so that it could match with Destroy Me (the novella) and Unravel Me (the sequel). All three books are gorgeous and really pop alongside other books.

The Writing Score: 3 out of 5

Recommendation: A Casual Perusal.

Memorable or Forgettable: Forgettable

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review:

I feel like a bunch of stones will be hurled my way for this review. I didn’t like the novella as much as I thought I would. Warner was an intriguing character in Shatter Me because of his obsession with Juliette and cleanliness and…well…the guy has his obsessions. Do I think he should have his own book (even if it’s a novella)? Eh, sure. It gave fans a look at Warner from more of a sympathetic perspective. It gave us a glimpse at his past and his relationship with his father. With that said, I really didn’t like the writing style.

WHAT? BUT YOU LIKED IT IN SHATTER ME AND IT’S KIND OF THE SAME.

Yes but that was the POV (Point of View) of a different character. The writing style is more  telling than showing which can get annoying at times but it worked for the character of Juliette since she was isolated for almost a year. Plus, it appears the telling vs showing issue is more prevalent in this book than the last because Mafi is trying to get out as much info on Warner as possible in a short amount of time. Do I feel more sympathy for Warner? Sure but that’s more because I’m supposed to rather than actually having genuine sympathy and that might be due to the whole telling vs showing. There really isn’t a plot to discuss since it’s mostly about Warner as an individual. His father as a character wasn’t scary at all. Just a guy on a power trip who will have a brutal death mostly likely…

It was still a nice read but it’s definitely fallen from the grace that Shatter Me laid out. The novella also offers a sneak peak into Unravel Me which was really good from the few pages I read.

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.