Monday, 26 December 2016

Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

by Erin Summerill
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: December 27th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

When I first came across Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill, my first thoughts before learning more about Britta and the plot were that of the name itself, and my growing curiosity in regards to it's backstory. My thoughts after reading the synopsis, additionally, completely hooked in me into adding Erin Summerill's first book in the Clash of Kingdoms series to my TBR list. I couldn't wait to step into the shoes of the young bounty hunter, get a feel for this new world Erin had created, and to journey along with Britta through her highs and lows.

Britta was an excellent female lead, one I greatly admired and found slightly familiar to Katniss (The Hunger Games) and Celaena (Throne of Glass). Being a high fantasy young adult title, Britta featured many of the, and I hate to say, 'cliched' personality traits I've come to know from several successful fantasy series', but Britta still, in my case, seemed to shine right through the pages into her own unique being. As a young girl who has lost her father, a legendary bounty hunter, to a mysterious killer, and who is also left to her own devices in the Ever Woods, I found myself being drawn and sympathetic towards her, not something I've always experienced with fantasy characters. Ever the Hunted, as a whole and plot-wise, served to be quite an entertaining and imaginative read, albeit a bit cliche in some aspects. I enjoyed the mystery and the chase behind it all and can say with absolute certainty that I will be staying tuned for the second in the Clash of Kingdoms series.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill, overall, was a highly entertaining YA fantasy with a promising start to a brand new series. I positively recommend the title to any reader with a hankering for a good fantasy and a need for a new world to explore. Erin Summerill will not disappoint!

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited without the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review: Fire in You by J. Lynn

by J. Lynn
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 28th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.

She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.

Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the past sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.

I've been a Jennifer L. Armentrout (J. Lynn) fan since the moment I popped open an ARC of her first ever title, Half Blood. I fell head over heels for her style of writing, her imaginative characters, and the immense drama she brought to life in each and every unique world she created. When the first in her Wait for You series arrived, I was instantly sold! I immediately fell for Cam and Avery and adored their story to pieces. Now in book 6 of the series, Fire in You finally gives readers the tale of Brock and Jillian, two characters we've been lucky to meet in previous titles, but have always wondered about.

"I loved you when I was eight. I loved you when I was twelve. I loved you when I was twenty, and I... I love you now."

What can I say about Brock and Jillian? Hmmm....Well I loved them! I'd have to be crazy not to fall for the duo. Jillian, almost immediately, resonated with me. I could identify with her insecurities in addition to her strong will power. She had a powerful and traumatic past, but I absolutely adored her independence, reliability, and overall willingness to also be on board to help her family and others. Brock, in addition, wasn't the kind of character I had initially assumed he'd be. He was hard to like at first, but as Fire in You progressed, I started to see him as one of the best male leads in the Wait for You series.

Overall, Fire in You was an excellent addition to Jennifer's Wait for You series. Highly recommended for contemporary, romance, and new adult readers, you'll certainly fall just as hard for this likable duo.

4 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

by Trevor Noah
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 15th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life. The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love

I've been a huge fan of Trevor Noah since his taking over of the Daily Show. The now 32 year old instantly captured my attention with his wit, humor, and his incredible and personable way with people. It was expected that I'd be on board with his first book, Born a Crime, the moment Penguin Random House of Canada announced it at one of their book lover meets at their HQ. What I didn't know, however, or expect rather, was how emotionally moving the series of personal essays would truly be, nor how life changing the experience would become.

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

Trevor Noah's Born a Crime follows the path and tale of a young man born in South Africa, one of whom who's mere existence was a criminal act. Being born to a white Swiss Father and a black mother, something that was punishable by imprisonment, Trevor found himself living in hiding for most of his early life, put under strict rules in order not to be discovered. In this time, we begin to get to know Trevor's young point of view during this trying time, his ups, downs, and even his mischievous side. It was a powerful and moving roller coaster of events, not only about a young boy trying to understand why his existence was so punishable by the law, but also about a mother who would do absolutely anything to protect her son, but also her irrevocable and un-moving unconditional love. It was a positively inspiring and empowering title and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all who not only watch The Daily Show, but to those who inspire to not only change the world but challenge racism and sexism around the world.

5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Fresh on the Shelf - December 2016 Book Releases + Giveaway

Happy December, Cupcakes!

Anyone else's Christmas wishlist FILLED with books? Forget everything else, I feel like I'm constantly eager for more and more titles, especially when it's time for Christmas! It's fair to say that A LOT of this month's upcoming releases will be on my wishlist, including the Red Queen and The Selection coloring books, not that I needed more coloring books.

So what's on your wishlist for Christmas? Anything you're particularly eager for? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below! Also, don't forget to bookmark or possibly even share (wink wink) this month's Fresh on the Shelf post. 

December 2016 Book Releases

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill
Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes
Black Moon by Romina Russell
Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter
Spindle by E.K. Johnston
The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
The Secret Life of a Witch by Jessica Sorensen

Rules of the Game by James J. Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Mind Games by Heather W. Petty
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
The Raging Light by Estelle Laure
What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass
Alterations by Stephanie Scott
Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

Giveaway - (International)

Giveaway is for one book from the above December 2016 releases to be awarded to one reader. Open to anyone who can receive shipments from The Book Depository. I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged books received. Please fill in entries accordingly for a valid entry. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reading!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

by Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 18th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

When I first received Scythe by Neal Shushterman in the mail, I screamed with glee, hugged it, and did a happy dance all the way to my reading nook. After hearing so much positive feedback from other bloggers and Simon & Schuster Canada, I was extremely eager to dive right in.

"Is that why you’re here?” Ben blurted “To glean one of us?”

My overall opinion on Scythe - It's the must-read dystopian fantasy of 2016! The intense and intricate plot and the overall realism of each and every character, including Citra and Rowan, was absolute perfection. Allow me to give you a quick drop on what Scythe is all about. It takes place in a world quite alike our own, however disease has been completely eliminated. The world is prosperous, however it's quickly getting overpopulated. The solution - gleaning - an act done by Scythes (professional reapers) who randomly choose and kill people in a means to keep the world from being as overly populated as it already is. However, Citra and Rowan, our main characters, are chosen to be Scythe apprentices, and then learn that their apprenticeship will lead them to be pitted against one another in a do or die fight.

I have to hand it to Neal Shusterman - Scythe's world was an intense and mysterious wonder. I was immediately hooked with Citra and Rowans tale and fell head over heels for the duo no matter the circumstance. Readers who are eager to find the next Divergent and Hunger Games are highly recommended Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Perfect for all readers over the age of 14, and in my opinion an excellent read for both men and women, it'll certainly win you over and have you immediately addicted to this series!

5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

by Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I believe I speak for everyone when I say Nicola Yoon's The Sun is Also a Star was one of THE most anticipated books of 2016. After falling head over heels for Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon's spellbinding way of telling a heartfelt and unique tale took the book world by storm. When I first learned about her 2nd title, I was pumped! I couldn't wait, and in fact was shaking with anticipation for that fateful email from Penguin Random House Canada in regards to ARCs. When said email arrived, it's fair to say I screamed, mildly blacked out, and then promptly replied back with a fangirlish fervor that could only come from yours truly.

“I didn't know you this morning, and now I don't remember not knowing you.”

The Sun is Also a Star was pure joy in paper form - an absolute wonder! The theme throughout The Sun is Also a Star is fate - destiny, kismet, all that jazz and more. It features protagonists Daniel and Natasha, both of whom I adored to pieces! This fantastically unique and diverse duo were exactly what I needed, a lovable dose of honest to god REALISTIC characters, with detailed backgrounds, feverent passions, and ridiculously adorable personalities. The entire title, and I mean the ENTIRE title, had me hooked. I was bewitched from the first moment I met Natasha all the way to it's delicious ending, The highs and lows of the title had me emotionally invested in a way no other book has done before, and I promise you that The Sun is Also a Star was NOT a title I had expected to completely wreck me. It destroyed me....but in the most amazing way, I promise. It was delicious and sweet, but fierce and tough at it's very core. Honestly, I have no other words that could ever possibly describe how positively riveting it was.

Readers - PLEASE read The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. I can assure you that you'll share the same experience I have, and that you'll be fan(girl/boy)ing all over the online bookish community about this title right into the following year.

5 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Fate of Flames Blog Tour - Review + Excerpt

Today, the Fate of Flames blog tour is making it's first stop here on A Cupcake and a Latte! I'm so excited to finally get to talk about this book with other readers, and I'm eager to see what everyone thinks of it when it hits shelves on November 22nd (TOMORROW!!) Below, you will find my review and an exclusive excerpt from the title. Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada for organizing the tour!

by Sarah Raughley
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Release: November 22nd, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement. But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy. Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

When Simon & Schuster Canada FIRST pitched Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley at one of their blogger meets, I was psyched!! At the time, Sailor Moon had made a HUGE come-back and the nostalgia was fresh. When I learned about Fate of Flames, it was pitched as a Sailor Moon-esque title with a cast of colorful and diverse characters. I couldn't wait to see if this was true, and to hopefully discover a new favorite series!

"You should know too, " Belle said, quiet as a grave. 
"None of us are really heroes."

Fate of Flames, as the first in the Effigies series, was a complete surprise. First and foremost, I hadn't expected to see so much world building immediately. Technically speaking, there was A LOT to absorb, a lot more than I had expected, but I overall enjoyed the unique aspects to the characters and world, and additionally enjoyed the subtle similarity to the Sailor Moon franchise. I also adored Maia, Chae, Belle, and Lake. The girls were vastly different, in fact their extreme differences at first felt overwhelming. However, in the end, I enjoyed their collaborated banter and scenes together. All across the board, I honestly felt a deep connection and found myself investing greatly in their growth and development, not only  alone, but with each other. I was impressed! As the first novel in the series, Fate of Flames, as a whole, felt well written, action packed, and promising. I am certainly eager to get my hands on the second book and can't wait to see what's next for the Effigies!

Overall, I enjoyed Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley. It was very "Pacific Rim meets Sailor Moon", which is an odd comparison, I know, but hits the mark just right!

4 / 5 Cupcakes


Exclusive Excerpt:


I gaped at the windows, my eyes locked on the sky-grazing tower that stood out against the Manhattan skyline.

The Needle. Like all the others in the country, it was a tall, sleek eyesore glimmering day and night with bright streaks of the most obnoxious metallic blue running up and down its length like little live wires. It was supposed to be some kind of high frequency . . . something-something particular disrupter. Okay, I’m not great with technical terms. The important thing was that it was more than just a tourist attraction.

Eyesore or not, it was the only thing keeping everyone in the city from being slaughtered very messily.

Blinking lights meant we were safe.

And its lights had just blinked off.

No one in my algebra class said anything. No one could. We were screwed.

“Okay, ch-children, just remain calm,” Mr. Whomsley shouted, though he tripped over his own feet trying to get around his desk. His sunken eyes darted around the classroom as if looking for one of us to tell him what to do next. Except we were all looking at him now, at his gaping mouth and his greasy forehead beading with sweat. I could tell he was nervous, no, terrified—terrified because the War Siren that hadn’t blown in some fifty years had just broken into short, quick pulses. 

The signal for a Category Three attack. 

It was all from the Hirsch-Johnson Phantom Disaster Scale. Four categories. Categories One and Two were already bad, with damage to infrastructure and physical injury expected to varying, awful degrees. But Category Three . . . large-scale destruction . . . city-wide terror . . .
And that was just the third level. 

Wait. Category Three?

Oh god. My nails grazed my desk. This isn’t happening.

“Don’t panic!” Mr. Whomsley shuffled the papers on his desk.

“Mr. Whomsley?” Janice Gellar sounded near tears. A lot of oh my gods harmonized with her whimpers in the background. My own included.

“I said don’t panic. Don’t panic!” He started grasping his tie, wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of his sleeve.

“What the hell are we supposed to do?” Rick Fielding roared from the back of the classroom.

Then Whomsley finally got his beady eyes to focus, probably because he knew as well as I did that another two seconds of waffling and there’d be a bloody stampede for the door. I could already hear the doors of other classrooms opening, students filing out, teachers crying out over the terrified din: “Okay, everyone, now just proceed in a calm and orderly fashion.”

Calm and orderly. Like we weren’t all going to die soon.

“O-okay, students, remain calm.” Mr. Whomsley readjusted his toupee and sucked in a breath. “Proceed to the shelter in a . . . a calm and orderly fashion.”

Right. The shelter. Just like the handbook said, going to the school’s underground shelter was the first thing we were supposed to do “in the event of an emergency.” ’Course, nobody really read the handbook anymore because we hadn’t had to in years.

So after that . . . what were we supposed to do?

As I stood from my chair, I tried to remember what those two military guys had said at that special preparedness seminar back in September—the same one they gave every year. Bits and pieces came
back to me:

In the rare case of a hostile attack, take only the essentials. Get to the shelter beneath the school within ten minutes of the first few warning pulses.

Ten minutes. Or was it five minutes?

Damn it, what had I been thinking, blogging instead of paying attention? I slung my tote bag over my shoulder and pushed my chair in. The feet groaned against the tiles, but I could barely hear it beneath the siren’s steady rhythm and my own pulse beating in my ears.

“Orderly fashion!” Mr. Whomsley cried when people started shoving. “Orderly!”

In front of me, Missy Stevenson was muttering deliriously under her breath, and I couldn’t blame her. New York had one of the most efficient APDs in the world. This wasn’t supposed to happen to us.

“The National Guard should be here in ten to fifteen minutes,” Mr. Whomsley assured us.

True. And if there was a base nearby, the Sect could get here a bit faster. That meant there was actually a chance we could make it down to the shelter alive before the big fight scene started.

I inhaled an unsteady breath and nodded. Everything was good. Everything was going to be fine.

Except . . .

Ten to fifteen minutes would be quite enough time for a Category Three phantom to raze Manhattan to the ground.

As we flooded out of the classroom and joined the long, silent death march making its way through the labyrinthine halls, I noted the terror hollowing out the faces of students and teachers alike, even those with the good sense to at least pretend to be calm and collected. Deep down, we were all hoping for the best, praying to be saved. But what if the cavalry came too late? What if nobody came to save us?

Then I would end up being the city’s only hope.

Oh god.

I let the thought sink in as I gazed down at my clammy hands. If people knew what I could do . . . if they knew who I was, what I was, especially now, then they’d ask me to save them. Beg me. And I knew I couldn’t.

But if I didn’t do something . . .

I squeezed my eyes shut, my heart rattling. What the hell was I supposed to do?
“Oh god, there it is!” Missy Stevenson shrieked, and it was like all of Ashford High erupted into chaos. She was pointing out the windows, up at the sky, its bright blue darkening by the second. Dead, gray clouds crackled with frantic energy, but nobody was expecting lightning. We knew better. 

We saw it instead. 

It was as if the clouds themselves were distended. A dark, twisting funnel slowly drooped out of the gray masses, but the farther it descended, the clearer its shape became.

I ran to the windows with everyone else, clutching the metal bars separating us from the glass. I’d never seen one before, not up close. It looked like a coiled snake detangling itself from a net, its long, thick body trying to shake itself out of the clouds. And as it slowly dipped into the stratosphere, I could see its body of gray mist hardening, an armor of black bones sprouting down its length, gripping its skin.

A phantom. A big one.

The metal bars bit into my palms, pinching the blood flow.

“Keep moving, students!” A teacher began shoving kids forward.

“Get to the shelter. Now!”

I wasn’t gaping at the sky anymore. My eyes were fixed on the chaos down below. The NYPD was doing a pretty crappy job of getting citizens off the street in a calm and orderly fashion, though a giant freaking monster appearing from nowhere probably made the task all the more difficult. Traffic had come to a full stop with too many cars going in too many directions. People were abandoning their vehicles altogether and fleeing on foot, though some multitasked and captured the chaos on their phones as they ran. It was bedlam down there.

Nobody seemed to notice the tiny girl who’d hidden underneath a parked Jeep.

“Keep moving, students!”

Just go to the shelter, Maia, I told myself. It was okay; the police would take care of it.

I managed to tear my eyes away from the girl, but they slid back again, helplessly. Nobody had noticed her. Where were her parents? Why wasn’t anyone helping her?

“Maia,” a teacher called me. Mrs. Samuelson. “Get moving!”

I clenched and unclenched my hands. No doubt they could all see me shaking.

 “Get moving, Maia!”

I wanted to. God, I wanted to.

But people’s lives were in danger. Neither the National Guard nor the Sect were anywhere to be found. And a horrifying monster was about to kill us all.

A deep, low cry, as haunting and pure as a whale’s song, vibrated through the streets, shuddering up my bones. The tail had broken free from the clouds, sharpening to a point, coiling its way down to Earth, dangerously close to us. When this thing landed, it’d take out a good chunk of Prospect Avenue for sure. A few streets later and Ashford High would be next.

June . . . if you were me, you’d do something, wouldn’t you?

A stupid question. I already knew the answer. I gritted my teeth. Meanwhile, Missy Stevenson finally just flipped out. Clutching chunks of her hair, she tried to run in the other direction, howling like a banshee, pushing her way through students, and swinging wildly at whoever was dumb enough not to get out of her way.

It was the distraction I needed.

In that one hectic moment, I stupidly took off toward the fire exit.


I couldn’t tell who was calling me, and it didn’t matter. I was too fast.

“Maia, get back here!”

Tears stung my eyes as I sped down the steps. I wasn’t ready for stuff like this: saving people, fighting things. It had only been two days, two days since fate crossed my name off the list of people’s lives to manhandle. I needed more time.

Then again . . . technically, this was what I’d always wanted, in a way. This was what I’d always dreamed of, ever since I was a kid playing in the backyard with June, the two of us acting out our dumb hero fantasies with bathroom towels for capes and stuffed animals to valiantly pummel to death.

To fight like one of them. To save lives like one of them.

And now I was one of them.

An Effigy.

Careful what you wish for, I guess.

Down three flights of steps and through the ground-level fire exit, I’d just rounded a corner when a crazed, bespectacled tax accountant type almost ran me over on his way inside Ashford High. He wasn’t the only one. People were rushing to find shelter; didn’t matter where. Ashford security stopped trying to reason with them altogether and started barricading the entrances. That definitely meant my teachers weren’t going to be following me any time soon, but the jury was still out on whether that was a good thing or not.

I stepped out onto Seventh Avenue and looked to my left. Several buildings down, beyond the street intersection, was the little girl, red hair cascading over her face in ringlets, curled up in the fetal position underneath a gaudy red Jeep. The phantom was taking its time unspooling its long torso from the sky, which gave me time.

Taking the thing on wasn’t in the cards. I was nowhere near the level I’d need to be to fight it. But if I could just get the young girl out from underneath the car and take her somewhere safe . . .

Preferably without dying.

This was easily the dumbest thing I’d ever done. Bracing myself for the worst, I fought through the crowds, gasping in shock when a car I’d thought was parked suddenly veered into me. Luckily, I rolled off the hood with minimal injuries. An Effigy thing, no doubt. I hadn’t really had much of an opportunity to test the full extent of what I could do, but now was as good a time as any.

Rubbing my left hip I slammed the hood with a fist. “What the hell, you jackass!” But the terrified man inside was too shocked to respond. I opened his car door. “Get out and run,” I said. “Now.” 

He didn’t argue. The more people ran for their lives, the clearer the street got, save for all those cars, motorcycles, and trucks. I went straight for the red Jeep, squeezing through the gaps between cars, jumping on hoods when it was faster.

“Hey, you! What the hell are you doing? You gotta get outta here!” a police officer was shouting from somewhere down the street. “Hey, moron!”

Asshole. Ignoring him, I sped to the Jeep and knelt down on the pavement.

“Hey.” I kept my voice soft and nonthreatening, but still loud enough to carry over the chaos. “I’m Maia. Maia Finley. What’re you doing all the way down there?”

The girl peered up at me through her red tresses, brushing strands out of her face.

“Come on, I’ll take you somewhere safe, okay?”

The little girl curled her bottom lip, obviously hesitant. Unfortunately, when the sky starts crapping out giant monsters, hesitant stops being an option.

“Come on.” I grabbed her hand, but the girl yanked it back. “Kid, I said come on.”

“I’m scared.” She tearfully rubbed her dirty arms across her face.

“Yeah, I know. We’re all sc—”

A crash. The street shook beneath my knees so violently I toppled over, my arm just barely cushioning my face. My head snapped up just in time for me to see it: a long, serpent-like tail of black bones disappearing behind a thicket of trees. The phantom had landed a few streets away, probably Prospect Avenue. But if it were slithering through the streets, we’d still be able to see it, wouldn’t we? I couldn’t. Where did it go?

 “Okay, kid, enough’s enough.” I pulled her out from underneath the Jeep. “You like high schools? Let’s go back to mine, okay?” Sweeping the girl into my arms, I started looking for a route back to Ashford. “It’ll be fun. There’s this really big shelter under . . .”

Underground. The phantom wasn’t on Prospect Avenue at all.

“Hey, kid!” The same NYPD officer. He yanked my arm with fat pasty fingers. “Come on, let’s go. You gotta get off the streets; there’s no time.”

“Wait,” I sputtered. “Wait. I think it’s—”

“Civilians are evacuating to the subway. Come on.” He started pulling me.

“But I think it’s under—I think it’s under—”

Rumbling. I swiveled around. The little girl clung to my neck. Each unsteady breath scraped my throat. Officer Friendly let me go immediately and joined me in staring down the street in absolute horror.

“It’s underground,” I whispered.

The phantom surged out of the street, leaving a violent torrent of rubble in its wake. Its body arched in the air, knocking off a traffic light, smashing through lampposts with a long reptilian head covered in a helmet of black bones.

It was coming for us.

“Run!” yelled the officer, though I could barely hear him, what with the little girl splitting my eardrums.

Run? Where? The phantom was yards and yards away, granted, but it was coming for us. There was no way we could outrun it. There was just no way. We were dead.

My arms started shaking so violently I thought I’d drop the kid altogether. Maybe my subconscious was sending me a message: Forget her.

I hugged her tighter against my chest. No one could move. It was coming. It was coming. My brain was screaming at me: Do something! You’re an Effigy. Set it on fire! Burn it to a crisp! Just do it!

I started crying instead, my feet cemented to the spot. We were about to die, and yet there I was, an Effigy, blubbering like a tool. We were going to die, and when we did, it would be my fault.


A quiet, forceful word delivered through the thick mesh of a French accent. I turned just in time to catch the delicate sway of the girl’s long blond hair. Those two things were all I needed to recognize her, because I was pathetically obsessed with this girl. Obsessed enough to know her by the defiant click of her boots against the pavement.

Belle Rousseau.

Oh my god, Belle. What was she doing in New York? The last I’d heard, she was in Moscow. I’d seen the pictures. Hell, I’d blogged about the pictures just last night.

Didn’t matter now.

My lips trembled into a small, shell-shocked grin. The National Guard. Sect troops. NYPD.

Guess New York didn’t need them after all.

“What’s going on?” The little girl, who’d burrowed her face into the nape of my neck, shifted just enough to stare at the tall, beautiful nineteen-year-old walking down the abandoned street.

“Just watch.”

By now I was half-crazed with a mixture of glee and pure relief. I was about to see with my own eyes what Belle Rousseau did best.

The phantom launched down the street toward Belle, knocking cars out of its path and sending them flying. The collision was inevitable.

The collision was glorious.

Belle dug her boots into the street to ground herself. Then she lifted her hands.

Her hands were all it took.

The phantom’s body crumpled, the force of the impact propelling it upward until it crashed against a lamppost, tearing it down. I was blown to the ground, but I cushioned the little girl’s head with my upper arm before rolling onto my back. Belle had been pushed back too, her knees buckling, her boots tearing the pavement as she slid across it, but she stood her ground.

Then, finally, it happened.

The air around me grew heavy and cold, so cold I could see my own haggard breaths dispersing into the atmosphere. I watched, awestruck, as frost crept from Belle’s fingers, still clenched around the bones of the phantom’s skull head. As she gripped them, the frost spread across the skull and down the phantom’s length, continuing, relentlessly, until its body was covered entirely in thick lattices of ice. 

“You’re done,” she said, and pushed.

Just like that, the phantom’s body shattered into a blizzard of ice and snow, blown away with the wind.

In that one haunting moment, I realized that I would never have stood a chance against the creature. That despite whatever insane, heroic delusion had compelled me to stupidly risk my life during a Category Three attack, there was just no comparison between the two of us. No comparison at all between Belle Rousseau and the ridiculous Maia Finley.

Even though we were both Effigies.



This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

by Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Release: October 4th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland was a title in which I was eagerly anticipating. After being introduced to the title by Penguin Random House Canada - a tale of unconventional love, it's ups and downs, and everything in between - I was eager to dive into it immediately. I was hoping to find a title that would be revolutionary when it came to contemporary romances in the YA genre, and in that aspect I somewhat find it to be quite true.

"Love doesn't need to last a lifetime for it to be real. You can't judge the quality of a love by the length of time it lasts. "

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland was a thought-provoking and, in my opinion, a title focusing on an important message - beauty and love isn't about the very little that the eye sees, but however has much more to do with the kind of person said individual is. In this day and age, it's tough to find a true contemporary title that focuses on the nitty-gritty, characters with truly ugly and imperfect pasts (not the typical tortured soul spiel to cast a spell over the reader), and in this very aspect, I found Our Chemical Hearts to be truly revolutionary in itself in the young adult genre. With that said, however, Our Chemical Hearts ultimately failed to win me over. Don't get me wrong, the premise was on point for me and I adored learning more about Grace, who by the way was a phenomenal character. It was Henry, however, that struck quite a few sour chords with me. He felt overdeveloped, almost a little too eager to convince me of what was true and false, and this too was true with his thoughts about Grace. He felt....melodramatic. Despite that, however, I quite enjoyed Our Chemical Hearts and would highly recommend it to anyone seeking a unique contemporary title for younger readers.

3 / 5 Cupcakes

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Heartless Blog Tour - Review + Exclusive Excerpt

IT'S FINALLY HERE! If you haven't had the opportunity to pick up your very own copy of Marissa Meyer's HEARTLESS, the title officially hit shelves yesterday morning, and the finished copy is positively gorgeous in person. I'm so excited that it's finally available for everyone to read, and I'm equally pumped that I'm part of Raincoast Books' blog tour for the title! Today I'll be featuring my glowing "5/5 Cupcakes" review, in addition to an exclusive excerpt on The White Rabbit. Be sure to stay tuned to the blog tour for more amazing reviews and excerpts. 
Happy Reading!

by Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
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 defineher own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

To state that I was only mildly anticipating Heartless by Marissa Meyer is an understatement. Having adored the Lunar Chronicles series, which first introduced Marissa's incredible knack for rewriting fairytales and making them something completely new and ultimately thrilling, I was certainly anticipating the release of her Alice in Wonderland retelling from the POV of the Queen of Hearts.

"Hearts was not safe. The Jabberwock was real and it was here and they were not safe."

Heartless by Marissa Meyer dove into a world that was all so familiar to this Lewis Caroll fanatic. Expecting something that was as trippy and as topsy turvy as the Alice in Wonderland classic that first introduced the much older and far more sinister Queen of Hearts, I was surprised to find a Wonderland not as crazed as I had presumed I'd find. I was also surprised to find how much I LOVED reading from Catherine's POV, having her be the future Queen of Hearts and the ultimate villain in Alice's tale. The normalcy of her personality, her wants, and her talents were all so real and added to my love of reading her perspective. She was a character in which I could relate, and the discovery of the truths in her past and her present, made knowing what the future held for her even more foreboding - I loved it!

"The white rose tree by the arches. I want it removed immediately."

In addition to loving Catherine's perspective, I also couldn't help falling for Jest and Cheshire, in addition to the White Rabbit, Hatta, and the King. Not only were their introductions phenomenal, but the parts they played in Catherine's story, in addition to their own personal growth, added an abundance of depth to Heartless, that not only made the tale overwhelming brilliant but additionally made it a personal favourite in the YA genre. Overall, it goes without further explanation, that I absolutely adored Heartless by Marissa Meyer. The characters, the world, simply everything about the title had me breezing through the title in a sprint to the finish. And that ending?! MAGNIFIQUE! I certainly hope to see more retellings just as Heartless in the near future, and furthermore I highly recommend the title to readers of all ages seeking an escape from our world.

5 / 5 Cupcakes

Exclusive Excerpt - The White Rabbit

THE WHITE RABBIT, master of ceremonies, stood at the top of the stairs with a puffed-up chest, smiling twittishly as Catherine’s father handed him their announcement card. “Good eve, good eve, Your Lordship! What a stunning cravat you’re wearing tonight, so perfectly matches your hair. Like snowfall on a balding hill, is how I’d describe that.”
“Do you think so, Mr. Rabbit?” asked Cath’s father, pleased with the compliment. He spent a moment patting his head, as if to confirm the flattery.
The Rabbit’s gaze darted to the Marchioness. “My dear Lady Pinkerton, I’m sure my eyes have never seen such rare beauty, such outstanding elegance—“
The Marchioness brushed him off. “Get on with it, herald.”
“Er, of course, I am your humble servant, my lady.” Flustered, the Rabbit stuck his ears straight up and raised a trumpet to his mouth. As the ditty echoed throughout the ballroom, he proclaimed: “Presenting Whealagig T. Pinkerton, the most honorable Marquess of Rock Turtle Cove, accompanied by his wife, Lady Idonia Pinkerton, Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, and daughter, Lady Catherine Pinkerton!”
As the Marquess and Marchioness descended the steps into the ballroom, the White Rabbit’s pinkish eyes skipped to Catherine, widening as they took in her voluminous red gown. His nose twitched with repugnance, but he was quick to mask it under another sycophantic grin. “Why, Lady Pinkerton, you look so … er. So very noticeable.”

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.