Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

28554825Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Thomas Allen & Son
Publication Date: September 15th 2016
Publisher: Holiday House
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale-Retelling

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BLURB:

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut. Continue reading

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Review: Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom

278829301Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Received: Scholastic Canada
Publication Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: Graphix
Point of View: Masculine
Recommended Age: 9+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy

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BLURB:

Ben has a problem. When he sleeps he dreams, and when he dreams, they’re all nightmares! But he can also jump into other people’s dreams. So when his friends start falling victim to an evil dream-monster that prevents them from waking, Ben knows he has to help them. Easier said than done when dreams can shift and the monster knows his way around the ever-changing landscape of the mind! With help from a talking rabbit-companion who has a mysterious past, Ben might just be able to defeat the monster and save his friends . . . if he can figure out how to use the power within him against his enemies. Continue reading

Review: The Light Fnatastic by Sarah Combs

28814848The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received:Publisher
Publication Date: September 13th, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Point of View: Various
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Murder

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BLURB:

Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can’t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins’ machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink—and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption. Continue reading

Review: If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz

28110860If You’re Lucky by Yvonne Prinz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Thomas Allen & Son
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Mental Illness

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BLURB:

When Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe that Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating Lucky’s girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: Did Fin murder her brother in order to take over his whole life?

To uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. But as her suspicion grows, her mental state becomes more and more precarious. Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled? Continue reading

Review: Threads by Ami Polonsky

28620390Threads by Ami Polonsky

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 9+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Child Labor, Family

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BLURB:

To Whom It May Concern: Please, we need help!

The day twelve-year-old Clara finds a desperate note in a purse in Bellman’s department store, she is still reeling from the death of her adopted sister, Lola.

By that day, thirteen-year-old Yuming has lost hope that the note she stashed in the purse will ever be found. She may be stuck sewing in the pale pink factory outside of Beijing forever.

Clara grows more and more convinced that she was meant to find Yuming’s note. Lola would have wanted her to do something about it. But how can Clara talk her parents, who are also in mourning, into going on a trip to China?

Finally the time comes when Yuming weighs the options, measures the risk, and attempts a daring escape. Continue reading

Negative Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

28963881Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Mystery, (Bad) Romance, Contemporary

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BLURB:

Seventeen-year-old Day Baker views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she pictures and the truths she believes-neatly captured in black and white-begin to blur.

Julian is not the “armed and dangerous” escapee the police are searching for, but his alibis don’t quite add up, either. There is more to his story. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture . . . whatever it reveals. Did he? Or didn’t he?

Day digs deeper into the case while Julian remains on the run. But the longer her list of facts becomes, the longer the list of questions becomes, too. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels for him. Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

Laurie Faria Stolarz is a master of suspense and romance. In this page-turning thriller, Stolarz tackles dark truths with a powerful, contemporary voice. Shutter will keep readers guessing until the very end. Continue reading

Review: Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

24033058Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: October 25th 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Science Fiction, (Bad) Romance

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BLURB:

Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.

But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take. Continue reading