Friday, 30 September 2016

Review: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night
by Sarah Porter
Publisher: TOR Teen
Release Date:September 20th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

I LOVED THIS BOOK! It's going to be fairly tough to describe why without a whole bunch of fan girling, but I can assure you that readers are going to adore Vassa in the Night to itty-bitty pieces!

I was first introduced to the title during a Raincoast Teensread preview event not long ago. The cover art was gorgeous and prominently displayed while early praise was being spoken, and I was immediately eager to read it. As fate would have it, I would that same day receive a copy in my swag bag, and the rest is history. Diving into the title, I found it was as promised, an enchanting fairy tale re-telling with a magical twist. Not being familiar with the original Russian tale, I took it upon myself to look it up several chapters into Vassa and became intrigued even more. In Vassa in the Night, Vassa lives in an enchanted world where magic and the unusual thrive freely. She lives in a world knowing that her next outing or last breath could possibly be her last, but she continues to thrive on with the help of her mouthy friend Erg.

As the novel progresses, readers begin to learn more about Vassa and her strange and unusual world. Curses by witches, a race against time, all-night parties, and an ever-growing night become prominent to the plot's development, and Vassa begins to grow fiercer and more knowledgeable as a protagonist. Furthermore, I not only adored Vassa's strong development as a character, but also adored her bickering with Erg. Additionally, I strongly felt the presence of Sarah Porter's past creative writing experience throughout the title. I felt that Vassa in the Night, in comparison to other titles, was far more careful in description and possessed far more depth in plot than I've experience in a long time in other fairy tale inspired titles - it was bliss!

I'd compare Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter to the likes of The Night Circus and the Winter series simply due to the fact that it feels like pure magic between the pages. Readers with a hankering for fairy tale inspired stories are highly recommended Vassa in the Night. It will hook you immediately and Sarah Porter's world will positively enthrall you.

4.5 / 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, 29 September 2016

Review: Overdrive by Dawn Ius

by Dawn Ius
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date:September 13th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Gone in Sixty Seconds meets Heist Society in this edgy novel about a crack team of teenage criminals on a mission to learn to trust, build a life, and steal a wish list of exotic cars.

Jules Parish has screwed up.

After three years of boosting cars, she got caught. She’s too good to get caught, but she let her (ex)-boyfriend talk her into a questionable job. And now she and her little sister, Emma, will be kicked out of their foster home, left to survive on the unforgiving streets of Las Vegas alone.


Eccentric, wealthy Roger Montgomery wants to open up his mansion to Jules and Emma. The only catch? Jules must steal seven of the rarest, most valuable muscle cars in the world…in seven weeks. Even worse, she’s forced to put her trust in three complete strangers to help her do it.

First there’s Chelsea, the gorgeous redhead with a sharp tongue and love for picking locks. Then there’s Mat, who hasn’t met a system he couldn’t hack. And finally there’s the impossibly sexy car thief Nick, whose bad attitude and mysterious past drive Jules crazy.

With nothing in common and everything to lose, can Jules and her amateur crew pull off what could be the biggest car heist in history? Or will things spin out of control faster than a Nevada dust devil?

Having never picked up a Dawn Ius book in the past, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from her in Overdrive. Pitched as, what I assumed at first, to be a teen's version of The Fast and the Furious, I was eager to dive into the title as soon as possible. Fast cars, talented teens, and some promising action - how could I possibly resist?

"He smiles. It's a beautiful smile. The kind that burrows it's way under my skin and sucker punches me right in the chest."

Overdrive by Dawn Ius features characters Jules and Emma, two sisters who haven't had the easiest of lives. Jules, the older sister, was pulled into a world of boosting cars and grand theft auto but a dreadful ex, but when she's eventually caught, it brings trouble for her and her little sister. Facing a fate that could quite possibly mean living off the unforgiving streets, Jules and Emma are offered a room at the exceptionally wealthy Roger Montgomery estate - but the offer comes with a price. Jules must steal seven of the most valuable cars in the world.

Not being much of a Fast and Furious or muscle car lover, I wasn't sure Overdrive was going to be my kind of read. I'd mainly given it a shot based on the incredible reviews Dawn's previous titles have received. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I did run into a few plot snags here and there, but I overall enjoyed Jules and Overdrives' well written supporting characters. It was a breezy read that was both thrilling and intriguing, and I'm certain other readers will find enjoyment in it as I did.

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.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Review: The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

The Swan Riders
by Erin Bow
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date:September 20th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Greta Stuart has become AI. New transmitters have silvered her fingerprints. New receptors have transformed her vision. And the whole of her memory has become one book in a vast library of instant knowledge. Greta is ready to rule the world.

But the new technology is also killing her.

Greta is only sixteen years old, but her new enhancements are burning through her mortal body at an alarming rate. Of course the leader of the AIs, an ancient and compelling artificial intelligence named Talis, has a plan. Greta can simply do what he’s done when the time comes, and take over the body of one of the Swan Riders, the utterly loyal humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.

First though, Greta will have to find a way to stay sane inside her new self. Talis’s plan for that involves a road trip. Escorted by Swan Riders, Greta and Talis set out on a horseback journey across the strange and not-quite-deserted landscape of Saskatchewan. But there are other people interested in Greta, people who want to change the world…and the Swan Riders might not be as loyal as they appear…

Around this time last year, I was positively amazed and stunned by Erin Bow's release of The Scorpion Rules. The first title in the series, which can be read as a solid standalone, features protagonist Greta Gustafsen Stuart - the Duchess of Halifax, Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, and a child of peace. She was taken from her family, like many others, as an assurance that her family will keep peace. If not, and they choose to declare a war, her life is to be utterly forfeit. As luck would have it, things don't go according to plan, especially when a new hostage arrives at the Precepture, and the entire world Greta grew up knowing is turned completely upside down.

When Swan Riders was announced not long after Scorpion's release, I was thrilled! Although The Scorpion Rules could be read alone, I was eagerly anticipating the next in Greta's story, and couldn't wait to get to know more of Erin's fabulously diverse characters. In Swan Riders, Greta is now AI, and is following a different path than she originally preconceived for herself. Always believing she would die young as a hostage of peace, Greta now finds herself coming to terms with her change, and begins working towards taking her rightful place beside Talis, the ultimate AI. However, with Greta's new path set in motion, the people she grew to care for, have taken it upon themselves to take her down.

The Swan Riders was positively PHENOMENAL! I feel like a 5/5 goats stuck in a tree rating doesn't suffice when it comes to this title. Not only is the writing, world building utterly captivating, but Greta continues to awe and inspire me from chapter to chapter. I'm certain this series will please any reader who chooses to pick it up, and I'm desperately hoping Erin isn't done with this series yet!

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.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Review: The Art of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Leah Gallo

The Art of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Leah Gallo
Publisher: Quirk Books
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Tim Burton’s adaptation of the Ransom Riggs novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of the most anticipated films of the year—and this lavishly illustrated companion offers a thrilling behind-the-scenes look. Written and designed by two of Burton’s longtime collaborators, this book chronicles every step in the making of the film—from script development and casting to concept art, set design, costumes, visual effects, and much more. Filled with exclusive interviews, on-set photography, and special introductions by Tim Burton and Ransom Riggs, this deluxe hardcover volume is a terrific gift for peculiars of all ages!

The Art of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Leah Gallo is the perfect must-have for fans of Ransom Riggs' phenomenal debut series! A stunning visual title, in a gorgeously packaged hardcover, the title gives readers an in-depth behind the scenes look at the filming of the highly anticipated Tim Burton title, interviews with the cast, concept art, set designs, costumes, and more.  Being an all-time fan of the series from the day the first title was first distributed to book bloggers, I was obviously not only eager to watch the highly anticipated film but to also have an early sneak peek of what was to come. I'd also easily pictured the title turning into a big screen phenomena, but additionally (and surprisingly) pictured that only Tim Burton would be capable of bringing this well-written cast of characters and world to life. Going through The Art of Miss Peregrine's not only solidified my earlier opinion on the matter, but the sneak peek at the costumes, the characters, and their interactions with each other has built me up irrevocably with suspense on the film. I positively can't wait for September 30th!

Perfect for movie goers and fans of Ransom Riggs' stunning debut series, The Art of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Leah Gallo is an absolute collector must-have!

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.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Labyrinth Lost Blog Tour - Review + Q/A

I'm thrilled to be having the Labyrinth Lost blog tour stop by A Cupcake and a Latte! If you haven't picked up this title yet, I urge you to do so! Filled with magic, action, and an incredible female heroine, I'm positive readers of all ages will fall for Labyrinth Lost! Today as part of my tour stop, I'll be featuring my review on the title and an exclusive Q/A with author Zoraida Cordova. Be sure to follow along with the blog tour for more Q/A's with the author and for more buzz on Labyrinth Lost!
A big thank you to Raincoast Books for organizing the tour, and to Zoraida for doing the Q/A!

Labyrinth Lost
by Zoraida Cordova
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date:September 6th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, the first in her Brooklyn Brujas series, is a title I've eagerly anticipated for months! Having first come across it at this year's earlier Teens Read Preview Event hosted by Raincoast Books, I was immediately eager to dive into it. Having loved her Vicious Deep series early on, I was interested to read her tale of witches, magic, and a strong female heroine.

"Nova and I run through the maze. The hedges try to shift, try to trick me, but I barrel forward."

Labyrinth Lost was positively enchanting! Addictive and thrilling, I was immediately fond of protagonist Alex. She is , by far, one of the most fascinating characters I've ever read, and her deep love and commitment for her family melted my heart. One of the things that first called me to read Labyrinth Lost was it's diverse cast of characters, mythology, and the promise of a land as topsy-turvy as Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. In that aspect, Labyrinth's characters played a big part in my overall enjoyment of the title, and turned this enchantingly magical title into a heartfelt coming of age story. Furthermore, I found Alex's personal struggles, with not only herself but with her future as well, mirrored my own and made her relatable even more so. Additionally, the world of the brujas, which was inspired by Zoraida's research and knowledge of Latin American mythology, religion, and traditions, was vividly detailed I couldn't help completely falling into her world!

Overall, Labyrinth Lost, the first title in the Brooklyn Brujas series, was an absolute ride! Alex was amazing, Zoraida's world building was not only intricate but vivid, and the chase to get Alex's family back was a thrill from beginning to end. I highly recommend Zoraida's latest!

5 / 5 Cupcakes

Q/A with Labyrinth Lost author Zoraida Cordova

Q: Zoraida, I've read and LOVED your Vicious Deep series and I was positive I, too, would fall in love with Labyrinth Lost, your first novel in the Brooklyn Brujas series. It was a thrill to dive into this world of magic, featuring a fierce and inspiring heroine. The history and attention to detail I found page after page was highly addictive! My question is: How did you transition between writing a series featuring underwater mythology to one strongly inspired by ancient magic, summoning, and the Latin American culture? 

It wasn’t a transition at all. Labyrinth Lost is urban fantasy, and takes place in a magical brooklyn. It’s the same Brooklyn as The Vicious Deep. My MCs in both books actually attend the same school because I wanted to link my universe. Like The Vicious Deep, Labyrinth Lost has a strong otherworld fantasy element. Though in Labyrinth Lost I spend more time in this other realm. Los Lagos has nothing to do with Latin America, really, except that the magical language is Spanish. I think that my first series and this one have a lot in common. The magic I’ve created in Labyrinth Lost co-exists with the one in The Vicious Deep. The most Latin thing in this books is the idea of family as identity, and the usage of Spanish and Spanish-like words to cast spells. I love having these books be a part of the same universe. Who knows? Perhaps there will be some crossover in future installments.

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, 12 September 2016

Darktown Blog Tour - Review + Excerpt + Giveaway

Today I'm happy to be featuring Darktown by Thomas Mullen as part of a blog tour organized by Simon & Schuster Canada. Below you will find my full review and an excerpt on the upcoming adult thriller. Be sure to follow along with the blog tour for more reviews!

by Thomas Mullen
Publisher: Atria
Release Date:September 13th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Responding to orders from on high, the Atlanta Police Department is forced to hire its first black officers, including war veterans Lucius Boggs and Tommy Smith. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers; they aren’t allowed to arrest white suspects, drive squad cars, or set foot in the police headquarters.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up dead, Boggs and Smith suspect white cops are behind it. Their investigation sets them up against a brutal cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood as his own, and his partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines. Among shady moonshiners, duplicitous madams, crooked lawmen, and the constant restrictions of Jim Crow, Boggs and Smith will risk their new jobs, and their lives, while navigating a dangerous world—a world on the cusp of great change.

Let me start my review with the fact that Darktown by Thomas Mullen is not (and I repeat NOT) a book I would have whimsically wandered over to the Fiction section and picked up. That's no offense to Thomas Mullen nor Darktown, but more as a clarification that you would almost never find me in the Fiction section of a bookstore or library. Not for lack of trying, but I've always found myself to be a YA, NA, and Romance reader rather than being someone who would take a good ol' fashioned crime thriller over fluffy pink unicorns. I've always been a fan of fluffy books, the fluffier the better, however there was something hidden deep within the synopsis of Darktown when it was first pitched to me by Simon & Schuster Canada that beckoned me to read it. Was it the mention of strained race relations in a postwar 1940's Atlanta? Was it the intriguing murder mystery, or even possibly the promise of a smart and well-written thriller? Let's just say it was all the above!

Darktown was INTENSE, to put it simply. The horrors of violence, discrimination and corruption within the community throughout the title were a bone-chilling dose of realism that added quite a stir to my overall reading experience of Darktown. The title was immediately compelling from page one, and I was instantaneously hooked onto it's gripping characters, fascinating twists, and hard-to-swallow truths. Thomas Mullen's latest was incredibly gripping, exceptionally well-written, and is without a doubt one of my favourite adult Fiction/Thriller titles yet. I highly recommend it, especially for readers whom, like myself, are not often readers of the adult fiction genre. Darktown was a welcome change of pace, a wonderful way to explore my bookish horizons, and I certainly hope to dive into more from Thomas Mullen in the nearby future!

4.5 / 5 Cupcakes

Excerpt of Darktown by Thomas Mullen

If the above window does not work, please click here for the excerpt. 
Follow the Blog Tour!

Giveaway (Canada Only)
Simon & Schuster Canada has generously donated a finished copy of Darktown for giveaway! Just comment below for your chance to win! Open to Canadian residents only. Ends September 17th.

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.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Recap: Winter + Spring 2017 Teens Read Preview Event

Quite possibly one of my favourite events to ever happen, the Teens Read Preview events held by Raincoast Books are always an incredibly fun occasion filled with bookish talk and goodies. On Saturday September 10th, Raincoast Books held their Winter and Spring 2017 preview event for their highly anticipated upcoming Young Adult and Middle Grade titles. Bloggers were invited to attend the event in person in Vancouver and Toronto, or through Google Hangout. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I had to attend the event via Google Hangout (work, gahhhhh!!)  I can't say I personally enjoyed being so far away from my fellow book bloggers, having attended every event in the past in person, but found the tweets from everyone to be very reassuring that I wasn't quite as alone as I initially felt.

After striking up some conversation via Twitter, I settled down with a tall latte, some delicious goodies (aka ALL the cupcakes), pulled out my preview catalog, and began to take note of every title that immediately caught my attention. To be fair, it was pretty much all of them, no kidding! Melissa, Fernanda, Michelle, Meagan and Brooke  presented their highly anticipated titles, pointing out some incredible key plot points, some neat facts, and some very high praises from early readers.

My Highly Anticipated Winter/Spring 2017 Titles:
Under the Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Freeks by Amanda Hocking
The X Files Origins: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia
The X Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry
Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Douglas Holgate
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene
To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure
Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
True North by L.E. Sterling
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey
A Court of Thorns and Roses #3 (untitled) by Sarah J. Maas

Other Winter/Spring 2017 Titles:
Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
Genius: The Con by Leopoldo Gout
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland
The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
The Playbook by Kwame Alexander
The Doll's Eye by Marina Cohen
The Pants Project by Cat Clarke
Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank
Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by David Weisner
How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees by Paul Tobin, illustrated by Thierry Lafontaine
Secrets & Sequences by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Homes
Journey Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst
The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
Get It Together, Delilah by Erin Gough
The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler
Things I Should Have Known by Claire Lazebnik
Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

After going through Winter/Spring's highly anticipated titles, and making our personal wish lists (wink wink), Mary E. Pearson, the author behind The Remnant Chronicles, made a special guest appearance, which positively thrilled me! She discussed her titles (they are amazing, by the way) and answered a series of questions from this year's preview event attendees. The experience was phenomenal, and I certainly hope to meet Mary in person someday!

After the Q/A, readers broke up into groups for a discussion regarding next year's upcoming titles.

What book are you most anticipating?

It's so difficult to pick just one, however I'd have to say it's Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer.  I'm still not over her Lunar Chronicles series, and this extra story in graphic novel format is icing on the cake!

What book are you reading now?

I'm currently reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, one of my most anticipated titles of 2016 thus far. I can't say much about what's going on so far in the title (because spoilers), however I will tell you that I'll be getting zero sleep because EXCITEMENT!

What are your favourite books of the year so far?

Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and With Malice by Eileen Cook have been a few that came to mind immediately.

Thank you, Raincoast Books, for hosting yet another incredible and informative Teens Read preview event! Although it breaks my heart that I couldn't attend in person, I'm glad I was still able to participate in another way. Readers, be sure to check out the lists above for some seriously amazing upcoming titles. Be sure to let me know if any catch your eye!

Happy reading,

Friday, 9 September 2016

Review: And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And The Trees Crept In
by Dawn Kurtagich
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date:September 6th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
A stunning, terrifying novel about a house the color of blood and the two sisters who are trapped there, by The Dead House author Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt's home, it's immediately clear that the "blood manor" is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too--the questions that Silla can't ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that's appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

With the Halloween season right around the corner, I was eager to get my creepy-read on with a new delicious horror story. When I came across And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich, it felt like a god-send. A tale about two sisters who are trapped in what can only be described as a cursed home, I was eager to finally dive into it's countless promised twists and turns, and couldn't wait to find out how it all began.

Having never read Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, another of her spooky titles, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from her. Some authors like to slowly introduce their readers into the world they've created, however others enjoy plunging the reader head-first in an added twist of thrill and suspense. Dawn Kurtagich did the latter, and I actually quite enjoyed the added thrill! Getting a feel for Silla and Nori proved difficult as first, but when the mystery and suspense grew thicker the further I moved into And The Trees Crept In, I felt more consumed on what to anticipate next. With that said, however, I felt that And The Trees Crept In hit a few sour notes for me. I, regrettably, lost interest with about a quarter of the title left, however found the title and it's conclusion to be quite satisfactory. Even so, I strongly feel that other readers of the horror genre should give it a try.

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.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Review: Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands

Mark of the Plague
by Kevin Sands
Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date:September 6th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this follow-up to the Indie Next pick The Blackthorn Key, which was called a “spectacular debut” by Kirkus Reviews in a starred review.

The Black Death has returned to London, spreading disease and fear through town. A mysterious prophet predicts the city’s ultimate doom—until an unknown apothecary arrives with a cure that actually works. Christopher’s Blackthorn shop is chosen to prepare the remedy. But when an assassin threatens the apothecary’s life, Christopher and his faithful friend Tom are back to hunting down the truth, risking their lives to untangle the heart of a dark conspiracy.

And as the sickness strikes close to home, the stakes are higher than ever before…

There aren't many middle grade titles I'm instantly eager to pick up as their releases approach, but I believe Kevin Sands has me under an instant-buy spell that is certain to last an eternity. With his phenomenal debut in The Blackthorn Key, a title that features the witty and intuitive Christopher, I was instantly enamored by the action packed and adventurous lifestyle of the young apothecary's apprentice. With the addition of a series of murders, puzzles, and the appearance of the world's greatest Pigeon, The Blackthorn Key immediately became one of my go-to middle grade recommendations that readers of all ages could enjoy.

"I'll say this: Hedgehog fur really burns."

In Mark of the Plague, readers are re-introduced into the dreary and depressing setting of London in the midst of The Black Death. As the quick spreading disease makes it way through the town and country, a mysterious prophet appears and predicts the city's untimely doom. With this new prediction, however, comes a promising lead that a cure could be created, and people begin to seek Christopher out in order to prepare this miracle cure.

Mark of the Plague was, without a doubt, twice as adventurous, intense, and thrilling as it's predecessors. The puzzles are ever as tricky, it's sneaky villains exceptionally more villainous, and the ever growing dark conspiracies far more sinister than one could ever imagine. Mark of the Plague offered Christopher the outstanding opportunity to finally grow into a far more confident, cunning, and inspiring hero all readers are certain to love, and his friendship with Tom grew into a stronger partnership that I'm certain readers will grow to adore. Without a doubt, I'm over the moon for Mark of the Plague! I can only imagine the sinister twists and turns that await me in upcoming Blackthorn Key titles. I still have countless questions that MUST be answered, and I'm certain Kevin Sands will not disappoint with his next installment in the series.

Readers of all ages are highly recommended The Blackthorn Key series by Kevin Sands. Not just a series for younger readers, it has the ability to hook you immediately from page one and make a devoted reader out of you. It's brilliant!

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.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Review: Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

Under the Lights
by Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date:August 23rd, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
In the follow-up to Abbi Glines’s #1 New York Times bestseller Until Friday Night—which bestselling author Kami Garcia called “tender, honest, and achingly real”—three teens from a small southern town are stuck in a dramatic love triangle.

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.

I simply adore Abbi Glines! I've followed her every title and I've fallen for every couple she's beautifully brought to life. With that said, it was an instant MUST to pick up and read Under the Lights, the second title in her highly anticipated The Field Party series. If you've yet to read Until Friday Night, be sure to check out my review. I'm positive readers of the contemporary/romance genre will adore it to pieces!

"I want more than that. I want you. I want to be able to kiss you anytime I want."

Following immediately after the events of Until Friday Night, Under the Lights focuses on the story of Willa, Brady and Gunner, three characters I was especially eager to get to know. Bad decisions, a rough past, difficult fights, fracturing friendships, and a whole lot of emotional drama is involved in Under the Lights, but I found it oddly addicting. It was the most "coming of age" like title I've read by Abbi yet, and I couldn't resist rooting for each and every character as they came to terms with what it meant to face their poor decisions, take responsibility for them, and to even begin to forgive themselves and each other. It was very heartfelt, tender, and almost thrilling. It is by far one of my favourite titles by Abbi yet, as it was exceptionally well written, and had me under Willa, Brady, and Gunner's spell almost immediately. I'm not typically the kind of reader to grow so deeply attached to characters in mature YA titles, however Willa (especially she) spoke so strongly to me and struck a cord that had me easily connecting and sympathizing with her - it was wonderful!

Readers who are looking for an emotionally realistic coming of age story with a delicious dose of romance are highly recommended the second title in the Field Party series, Under the Lights. It's thought-provoking, focuses on the meaning of true friendships, growing up, and paints a beautiful picture of what it feels like to fall in love.

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.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Recap: Fan Expo Canada 2016

Fan Expo Canada 2016 - another year, another almost empty wallet for THIS fan girl. Just kidding! I actually managed to stay BELOW my budget, which is the first time it's ever happened, and it happened because of my super bargain price snooping, but I'll get to that a little later.

Unlike last year, you can click here to read my full recap post, the Fiance and I chose to attend the con Friday through Sunday, as apposed to just one day (or rather two, in last year's example). Earlier on as the celebrity guests were announced, we had planned to attend several panels and purchase quite a bit of photo-ops, but as the dates grew closer, and the guests we'd anticipated meeting grew smaller by the number, we both decided to purchase one set of celebrity panel tickets and additionally chose to purchase two photo-ops. I was by far the most disappointed by Matthew Lewis' cancellation, but certainly hope he attends a future con.

(Pictured: An overview of the North building floor on the calmest day of the event, fun at the Mr. Robot booth, some chocolate poke balls, some amazing mech Pokemon suits, Batman striking a pose at the Supergirl booth, and a Star Wars photo-op.)


We didn't manage to make the con until about 3PM. We weren't in much of a hurry as the main reason we wished to attend the Friday was for that evening's ticketed panel (Jay and Silent Bob Get Old) and to get a majority of our Fan Expo shopping out of the way. After making our way through Arist Alley (one of my favourite parts of the con) I was pleasantly surprised to find Sakami-Chan, one of my favourite artists EVER, at her own booth. Although I've been aware of her being present at other cons, I've always somehow missed stopping by to purchase some prints. This time I managed to not only meet her, but managed to snag some amazing signed prints of a few of my favourite pieces by her. You'll probably most likely recognize her artwork from her viral gender-bent Disney character pieces. Of that particular collection, I picked up the male version of Cruella De Vil.

(Pictured: My purchases from Sakami-Chan's booth. Included are prints of Cardcaptor Sakura, Spider Gwen, Gender-bent Cruella De Vil, Jack Frost/Elsa, Harley Quinn/Catwoman/Poison Ivy, and Queen Serenity.)

Moving from the South building to the North building, and vice versa, proved to be especially easy to navigate on Friday, which surprised me. Usually both Fridays and Saturdays are the most packed, but I was surprised to find that it was one of the easiest days to actually browse through booths and do some shopping. Additionally, I was actually pretty surprised to see how low many items and collectibles were priced. One of my most desired Funko POP sets (The Hogwarts Train Set featuring Harry, Hermione, and Ron) cost me a measly $50, which was a STEAL considering I'd seen them at many booths retailing significantly over $30 each, the most I'd spotted being $45.99. Fair to say, I was one of the lucky few to snag them at that bargain price. I was also surprised to find many of my coveted pops priced at 2 for $20, and additionally my exclusive Starfire as The Flash being priced at $20! (gasp) Fair enough to say I was very pleased with the surprising savings!

(Pictured: My exclusive Black and White Sketch edition of the Harley Quinn Bombshell figurine, and my Hogwarts Express trio purchase.)

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old

After purchasing a few goodies, and stepping out of the Metro Toronto Convention centre to grab something to eat (mmmm Wahlburgers...), we made our way back to the con after close for our one highly anticipated panel - Jay and Silent Bob Get Old. Two of my favourite funny men under one roof was a hard to miss event, and the Fiance and I were rightfully excited! The event took place in the large theatre on the lower level of the convention centre, and was at maximum capacity. The evening was absolute perfection and filled with hilariously inappropriate jokes, stories, and were a positive reminder of how witty both Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith truly are. With that said, it's fair to say that the evening was very R-rated, so I'm still not quite sure how two parents managed to sneak in their 9-13 year old daughter into the event. Weird!

(Pictured: Photos from the Jay and Silent Bob Get Old event.)


On Saturday I chose to do a sort-of cosplay-ish version of Belle in her peasant dress a la Beauty and the Beast. My version consisted of a gothic-lolita style look-alike dress that was both super poofy and frilly - I adored wearing it! It felt pretty weird being stopped for photos, or being told that people adored my dress, but it was an exciting and positive experience and has me wanting to do more in the future. =D In fact, I've already started planning for Comic Con in March!

(Pictured: Angemon cosplay, Deadshot cosplay, selfie with Mech suit armor from Batman vs Superman, a photo-op with a Squirtle/Ninja Turtle mashup cosplay, panel with PJ's of the 90's, Star Wars cosplay, a photo-op with a Pidgie, and Pikachu.)

Moving along, I had an exciting time browsing, snapping photos with fellow cosplayers, and catching up with friends on Saturday. Not much had been planned for the day, other than attending the YTV PJ's of the 90's panel which was hilarious and had me reminiscing my childhood.  No shopping was done this day, which was a relief due to the poofy dress, however the Fiance and I took advantage of the countless photo opportunities throughout the con at several booths, my favourites being the Outlander and Supergirl booths put together by Show Case.

(Pictured: Photo-op at Show Case's Outlander booth, and Mimicyu cosplay.)


On the final day of the con, I chose a simple Slytherin outfit, being free of the previous day's extremely poofy but fun to wear Belle dress.  The main focus of our Sunday visit to the con was for our highly anticipated Stan Lee and Christopher Llyod with the Delorean photo ops. Hoping that this year's photo op process would be less chaotic, we took extra precaution in arriving twice as early to both to ensure we weren't juggled around from one area to another when the crowds came a-running. Luckily enough, I felt that this year's photo op process (or maybe rather just Sunday's?) was extremely smooth. The wait was nearly non-existent, and it was as simple as lining up, doing a little bit of waiting, snapping the photo, and picking it up. Easy peasy and a super stress-reliever!

(Pictured: Photo-ops with Christopher Llyod and the Delorean, and Stan Lee during his final Canadian appearance.)

Further into the day, we managed to squeeze in a DBZ panel and managed to do some last minute shopping due to lowered vendor prices on the last day.  I'm pleased to say that although this year we chose to do 3 days, including one of the busiest days of the con to that equation, that it was fairly pleasant, stress-free, and an absolute blast! I look forward to doing it again next year!

More Fan Expo Goodies!
(Pictured: A Pikaro (or Totochu) plush I instantly fell in love with. Also pictured, the expo show program and tee.)

(Pictured: more expo goodies that were handed out to passers, and an adorable tee from the Glitch booth featuring Pokemon in Ghostbuster outfits!)

 (Pictured: My plushie purchases, including the Totochu, my Shiny Vaporeon, a Vulpix, and Gatomon. Also pictured, the Fiance's purchases at the con.)

(Pictured: My POP purchases of Starfire as The Flash and Batgirl.)

(Pictured: My POP purchases of Surf's Up! Batman and Toothless.)