Waiting on Wednesday – Week 171

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

September 13, 2016 ● Goodreads

I'm pretty ashamed to say that I still haven't read a book written by the absolutely fabulous Gretchen McNeil. People have raved and raved about her works, but nope–I'm still pretty stupid and haven't taken the chance to pick one of hers up. Well, hopefully that changes with this one! I like that the trope of manic pixie dream girl is being slightly ridiculed after being romanticised and all sorts of -cised via the media and through books. No more! Hopefully this one provides a lot of laughs. Can't wait!

What are you waiting on?

The Power of Dark by Robin Jarvis

The Power of Dark by Robin Jarvis

Release Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher: Egmont
Series: The Witching Legacy, Book 1
Rated: MG/YA 12+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Something is brewing in the town of Whitby. To best friends Lil and Verne, it just seems like a particularly bad storm. But Cherry Cerise, the last of the Whitby witches, fears that ancient forces are at work, reviving the curse of a long lost magical artifact.

The legend goes that the Nimius was created by magician Melchior Pyke, with the assistance of a young witch known as Scaur Annie. But they were both betrayed by Pyke’s villainous manservant, Mister Dark, causing a feud that has survived even beyond death.

As Mister Dark, with his horrific winged familiar, arises to mastermind Whitby’s very own apocalypse and take the Nimius for his own evil purposes, can Lil and Verne join with Cherry to quell his plans and save their home?

When I received The Power of Dark in the mail, I had no idea what to expect. I'd never heard of it before, but it looked really interesting. The cover and synopsis screamed "fantasy," and because it's been a while since I'd last picked up a fantasy book, I decided to jump right into it. It actually took me a while to get into it, not gonna lie. Not because it wasn't good–this one was actually really great–but I was otherwise distracted and would often not be able to read huge chunks in one sitting. I finally did make it through, practically inhaling the second half of the book, and, overall, I found myself pleased with the book.

While the characters were a little younger than what you'd typically find in a young adult novel, I did enjoy reading their adventure. Verne and Lil (very suitably named, as well) were fantastic characters, and I enjoyed reading about their own personal conflicts in the midst of the larger problem they both come to face. Cherry was absolutely hilarious and I came to love the magical hippie. At first it was confusing when the narrative jumped to the histories of Annie and Pyke, but the two stories come together and form the foundation for the start of an exciting new series.

It was such an interesting concept–magic against machinery. It's truly a gothic novel that harnesses both, and pits them against one another. I really enjoyed the history behind Whitby and the reason for the brewing war between the two sides. It seemed quite strange, the modern-day setting infused with something brought to the present from a few hundred years ago, but it worked well. The climax was a titchy bit lacking in climactical momentum (aka a big WOW moment), but by the end of the novel I wanted more.

The Power of Dark reminded me so much of the fantasy books I used to devour when I was younger. There's a magical tone–that special spark–that many fantasy novels don't have, but I'm glad to say that this one definitely did. Robin Jarvis is a talented storyteller, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 170

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming books that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own. 

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

October 11, 2016 ● Goodreads

This one has been on my to-read/wishlist shelf for ages, but I had no idea that it was by Megan Shepherd! I'll read anything by Shepherd. While I haven't read her latest series The Cage, the Madman's Daughter trilogy was AWESOME (read my reviews for book one, two and three). I'm so excited that she's written a middle grade novel, and it's one that sounds really different. Can't wait!

What are you waiting on?

With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Release Date: June 9, 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Wish you weren't here…

When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn't just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn't the one to blame?

I've been in a mood for thrillers this summer, so it's no wonder that I picked up Eileen Cook's latest novel With Malice. I've always wanted to read one of Cook's books–Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, Unraveling Isobel–because she's a really well-known young adult contemporary author, and all her books sound amazing. I'm just really glad I got the chance to review this one. It had a slow build up, but damn–I was on the edge of my seat with this one.

Jill started out kinda meh, but she grew on me. I didn't completely like her, but I like that she was flawed. I would have totally hated being friends with Simone though–she sounded super bossy and like she controlled everything. I liked the whole unreliable narrator thing, because even though Jill is pretty clueless it's interesting to see the different accounts of her personality through the flashback narratives.

We as readers are not clued into anything from the get go, and we know as much as Jill's character does. The testimonies, interviews, etc. all portray the events, but as Jill finds them out too. This is probably why despite the slow pacing of the book I stuck in their till the end, because I HAD to know what happened. That being said, I was pretty happy with how the book turned out...until the very end. I mean, what? WHAT WAS THAT ENDING. The last chapter just threw away a perfectly good twist, in my opinion. The penultimate chapter was haunting, but nope–the book carried on as if nothing happened. Again, it's a whole deal with the unreliable narrative, but still. I was hoping for some closure, and I didn't really get it.

Other than my confusion at the end, With Malice was a slow thriller that keeps you hanging on until the shocking final reveal. Eileen Cook knows how to spin a fantastic story, and her latest book will keep readers on their toes, eager to know the truth.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 169

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming books that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray

After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident. 

A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too?

August 2, 2016 ● Goodreads

The Gilded Cage's absolutely beautiful cover is, of course, what first caught my attention. Judging by the dress, I knew it was going to be a historical fiction, and if you know me you'll know that I LOVE historical fiction, especially within young adult fiction. This one sounds like a gothic thriller too, so that's an exciting bonus! I can't wait.

What are you waiting on?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Release Date: January 17, 2012
Illustrated by: Patricia Castelao
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rated: MG 11+
Format: ARC
Source: Found
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

It's kinda weird how I found an ARC version of this book–it was in my school's bookfair bin! Well, it was pretty unexpected for me. I grabbed this one because I've heard a lot about The One and Only Ivan, and Katherine Applegate's books. I caught a glimpse of her at ALA2013, and then I found out that she was married to Michael Grant, who I did meet! This was the first time I've ever read any of her books, and this one was fantastic. It was a pretty short read, and it was absolutely adorable: I finished it in one sitting and enjoyed it immensely. Well, "enjoyed" kind of indicates that it was all fun. You guys, this one made me feel things. A lot of it was just so sad! I hate it when animals are mistreated in circuses or facilities that restrict them. Reading about how a group of animals are pushed into being spectacles just made me really angry and sad.

Ivan was such a great character–it was interesting reading a book from an animal's point of view. I certainly learned a lot about gorillas! Stella, Bob and Ruby were fantastic characters as well. There are also quite a few human characters prominent in this story, some of them good, and some of them not so good. It really helped to build some tension towards the climax with the barrier between human and animal understanding.

There's honestly nothing bad I can say about this book–The One and Only Ivan was a delightful read, and Katherine Applegate truly is a wonderful author who can craft an equally wonderful story. Read this one–you won't regret it!

If you like this, try...

  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo Goodreads

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Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Seventeen-year-old David Sullivan’s life is about to change—all because of one tiny, priceless item found in the murky bottom of a Brooklyn water tower.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the more expensive—and the greater the improvement.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is worth millions, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.

I was offered a review copy of Will McIntosh's young adult novel, and I couldn't turn it down. The book sounded like it had a touch of fantasy, and I was eager to read it. However, I put it off because school work got in the way, which is why I only got to it now. Burning Midnight wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I, for some reason, was expecting a world not like our own, and kind of resembling the flea markets found in post-apocalyptic worlds and so on. Instead, I found something else. This one wasn't what I would call fantasy, but leaned more towards science-fiction, but not futuristic. Anyway, it was an interesting read from start to finish.

I really enjoyed the diverse characters in this book. First off, Sully! A male protagonist! In young adult fiction! YAY! It might just be me (or not really) but there is a lack of male main characters, so coming upon one is kinda rare. For me at least. It might just be my taste in books. Any-hoo, Sully was a great character, although I wish that the narrative got in touch with his emotions more. I get that it's from a third person limited view, but it wouldn't be too bad to show us how he feels every now and then. Hunter was such a kickass female character–I liked her backstory. Dom was just a lovable best friend, and so was Mandy. I only wish that Mandy was featured a bit more because it seemed like she was always lagging behind the other three characters by just a titch. Holliday was a pretty interesting villain, and he kinda works well with our world today with all them billionaires trying to buy out smaller sellers *shakes fist at Wall Street*. But yeah anyway–diversity! Hunter is partially Puerto Rican! Mandy is Asian (although the generality of being labelled "Asian" kinda angers me) and a lesbian! This book was wonderful when it came to characters and representation–other than the generality of being called "Asian," of course. 

As I mentioned before, it was kind of weird finding an alternate version of our world set today. It threw me off a little bit because I had no idea what to expect. Was it exactly like our world just with the weird spheres and people with enhanced abilities? Were there groups divided by ability? I mean, I got a better understanding as it went on, but I never really got the whole picture. What I took away from it is that there is some sort of class structure thing going on, that kind of mirrors our own, except it's based on how many abilities you have–which you display via clothing. Otherwise, the world is pretty much the same. I even remember Kanye West and Taylor Swift mentioned in the book, so it definitely has be set in our present.

While I did enjoy the story for the most part, the last quarter of the book was a little bit silly. Butttt...Burning Midnight was still an entertaining read. All in all, the story grabbed my attention from start to finish, and it was an original and quirky science-fiction novel that young adult readers will love. McIntosh seriously knows how to spin a good story, and I'm really looking forward to reading his next young adult book!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Cassie by Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Release Date: November 6, 1939 (ed. Mar. 1, 2003)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rated: Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

'Ten...' Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious 'U.N.Owen'.

'Nine...' At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

'Eight...' Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by an ancient nursery rhyme counting down one by one... as one by one... they begin to die.

'Seven...' Which amongst them is the killer and will any of them survive?

After finishing Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train, I was dying to read another thriller or mystery. And who did I turn to? The Queen herself, Agatha Christie. I normally stick to reading Poirot's mysteries, because the other books didn't seem to carry the same charm for me, but I decided to give this one a go. My sister has raved and raved about this book, claiming that she always gets the endings to Christie's books well before the reveal, but this one stumped her. So, of course, I decided to dive into this one, and WOW. I'm telling you: I've read several of Christie's novels before, and they're all amazing, but I can see why this one is regarded as the best of her books.

The story kind of shifts between the ten different characters, and the perspectives start to narrow down as more of them are killed off. The thing with Christie's standalone books is that you don't feel a particular attachment to any of the characters because they're all just players in a game, and you're waiting to see who comes out on top. That being said, while it was interesting to see why each of the characters were guilty, it was far more interesting to see the manner in which they died. There's a poem (or rhyme) that goes along with the novel:

Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; 
One choked his little self and then there were Nine.

Nine little soldier boys sat up very late; 
One overslept himself and then there were Eight.

Eight little soldier boys traveling in Devon; 
One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.

Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; 
One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.

Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; 
A bee stung one and then there were Five.

Five little soldier boys going in for law; 
One got into chancery and then there were Four.

Four little soldier boys going out to sea; 
A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.

Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo; 
A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.

Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun; 
One got frizzled up and then there was One.

One little soldier boy left all alone; 
He went and hanged himself,

And then there were None.

—Frank Green, 1879

Rather haunting, isn't it? The only nuisance with this one is that I had to keep flipping to the front to find out what the rhyme was to figure out the manner in which they died...and how the next person was going to be killed off.

The ending actually had me confused, despite it's brilliance (of sorts). I had to discuss it with my sister to understand it, and only then I had a clearer answer of the motive behind the murders. Watching the 2015 miniseries (trailer below) actually helped, because not only did it pretty much stick to the original story, it gave a visual answer as to how everything happens and why. It's a fantastic adaptation as well, so I definitely recommend it to those who are fans of this novel or are in for a thrill!

There's absolutely no doubt from me: And Then There Were None was excellent. An excellent mystery written by an excellent author. I wholeheartedly think that this is the best one she's written–her masterpiece. If you haven't read this one, or any other of Agatha Christie's mysteries...you're seriously missing out.

If you like this, try...

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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 168

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming books that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

November 8, 2016 ● Goodreads

I've read Marissa Meyer's Cinder, but for some reason never continued with the series. Which is ridiculous, because I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Aside from that being need to be remedied–I love retellings...and what I love even more is retelling of books that I've grown up reading. Alice in Wonderland is a classic that I've loved reading over and over again, and I can't wait to read this prequel of sorts. It's bound to be amazing and incredibly well-written!

What are you waiting on?