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Vampires of Ottawa (Review)

Vampires of Ottawa (Tom and Liz Austen Mysteries #6)
Author: Eric Wilson
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pages: 101
Rating: 4/5



Excerpt: 

They'd put me in a cell on death row.

Thick walls surrounded me.  Cold light came through the bars, showing the mattress where I had to sleep.  My heart thumped painfully as I thought about the people who had waited in this cell for the sound of approaching feet.

 Feet that would lead them to the gallows.

 Unable to bear the thought, I sat down on the bare mattress to stare at my suitcase.  I felt so homesick.  What were Tom and my parents
doing right now?  Probably drinking hot chocolate and talking about what a great time good old Liz would be having in Ottawa.

 They didn't know I'd been condemned to death row.

"Feeling lonely?" a voice said.
 Looking up, I saw a teenage girl watching me through the bars of my cell.  She had large eyes, a wide mouth and a lot of fuzzy hair that spilled down over her shoulders.  With a smile, she opened the cell door.  “Feel like a tour of the prison?"
"You bet!"

 Anything was better than sitting in that cell alone.  Before the girl could change her mind I hurried into the concrete corridor.  Blue and green lights shone weakly from the ceiling, and our footsteps echoed as we began walking.  This place, called the Nicholas Street Youth Hostel, had once been a prison, but now is a place for travellers to stay.  I suppose it may be an adventure for some people to sleep on death row, but I'm not sure I recommend it!

My Thoughts: So I first read this novel in 5th grade, as part of a class assignment. It was one of our group reading assignments which eventually we had to fashion into a play for our class. I liked it then because there weren't a lot of books, popular books at least, that took place in Canada, in places that I might recognize. Through the Tom and Liz Austen Mysteries series, they travel all across Canada, mysteries taking place is many cities I recognize and as a Canadian, this is fun.

Vampires of Ottawa is not...quite how it sounds. It's less of a Vampire book and more of a Nancy Drew meets Mystery Inc tale. Complete with slight cheesiness that comes with the concept of a teenager investigating crime, it's still an intriguing tale.

It begins with Liz's accommodations, The Ottawa Jail Hostel where she is sleeping in what was previously, a death row cell. Know what's particularly cool about this haunted place? It's actually real! I stayed there on my own trip to Ottawa. At the time of initially reading this tale, I had no idea the Jail hostel was real, and even after staying there, I didn't make the connection under later on.

Part of what I love about Eric Wilson's stories, is that although the mysteries themselves might be far fetched, Terror in Winnipeg for example, they are surrounded by truth. Yes this hotel exists, yes this restaurant, or park is truly where he describes it to be.

He describes the tulips planted all over Ottawa in celebration of Holland's gift to Canada which is celebrated annually with the tulip festival, which surprisingly was also happening during my trip there.

Through reading these fun mysteries we learn about and are engaged in Canadian history. Plus Liz is also from Winnipeg just like me which I mean, come on that's pretty cool.



Reading these books was an inspiration to my writing not only because I got to read about places and things I was familiar with but because I saw that a fellow Canadian could succeed and with Canadian content!

Recommendation: If you like Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew type tales I definitely recommend giving the Austen mysteries a read, you might even learn something new!

Remember Me (1-3) (Review)

Remember Me (1-3)
Author: Christopher Pike
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 789
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Rating: 3/5 (for all of the books combined)

SynopsisShari Cooper hadn't planned on dying, but four floors is a long way to fall. Her friends say she fell but Shari knew she had been murdered. Making a vow to herself to find her killer, Shari spies on her friends, and even enters their dreams. She also comes face-to-face with a nightmare from beyond the grave. The Shadow - a thing more horrible than death itself - is the key to Shari's death, and the only thing that can stop her murderer from murdering again

My Thoughts: Okay so this was one of those books that I found while scavenging through second-hand shops as a pre-teen. I found the first Remember Me in 1999 at the tender age of 9 and was sucked into the story. It quickly became one of my favorites becuase it was nothing quite like I'd ever read before. I will say while Book 1 is still on my favorites list, the series as a whole was somewhat, disappointing, at least for me.

Years later when I was in my late teens I returned to the second hand store and happened (by chance) across Remember Me 2 and Remember Me 3 Who knew these even existed? Not me! So when it was re-leased as a whole I figured I would revist these storeis again as an adult to see if I still liked them.

Book 2 was also something neat and new, the spirit of Shari unknowingly takes place in the body of an 18 year old hispanic girl named Jean Rodrigues who otherwise would have died. Shari doing this actually improves Jean's life because even though she isn't aware of the change, Shari's presense begins to influence her. She volunteers, she gives up drugs and drinking. All of this is well and fine but the story sort of begins to get convoluted with Hinduism effect on the story. Shari, before she takes her place in Jean's body is going on a spiritual journey with a Rishi which is also know as a wise individual who after much meditation has access to great worldly truths that we could not imagine.

Hinduism is always greatly present in a lot of Christopher Pike's writing, where Shari had her Rishi, Site in The Last Vampire (Or Thirst) Series had Krishna. It's an intriguing aspect of the stories but, it doesn't enter into Remember me until the second one, and it feels, based on the previous story, somewhat out of place. 


Why I say that it is convoluted, or out of place, is because while elements of Hinduism are used, in the story, others are twisted, or replaced with other ideas. Here's where my studying of World Religions comes in handy. The term Wanderer (what Rishi tells Shari she can be) is not a Hinduism ideal, while similar to the concept of reincarnation, the books states that it is the duty of Wanderers to take over the body of another and find love and help others find love. 


Taking us back to the cast system, reincarnation meant that if you were a good person in life, you will be reborn as a better person and challenged to continue to improve yourself until you reach Moksha, or the release from the cycle (also know in Buddhism as nirvana). While reincarnation is a really interesting and cool concept, and Hinduism is an awesome religion to learn about, I don't like the way it was being used here, at all.

Initially, Shari's biggest fear in her afterlife was running from the 'shadows' that wanted to claim their spirits and it was entirely supernatural. Her friends were using a Ouija to contact her and she was wandering around our plane lost and trying to prove, with the help of another ghost, that she did not commit suicide.  It was just very much a paranormal ghostly story filled with regular teen issues, and at some point in the second book it shifted into this other tale.

The Krishna angle makes 100% sense in The Last Vampire where our protagonist Sita is an ancient vampire from India, in this tale it seems to come out of nowhere. Generally, I would like this angle in a story, but it this particular instance it feels like a misleading representation. If what I read in this book was my only exposure to Hinduism, I would be confused. Wait scratch that, even with my prior knowledge, I was confused.
 



 I liked the second book even still, not as much as I liked the first, but it was enjoyable enough. Then I got to the third one and I just couldn't. The ghost who helped Shari in the first book was a boy named Peter whom she had known from school and who had committed suicide (which was why he was being chased by the shadow). Turns out he and Shari kind of click in the afterlife and they were meant to be together. Cool, except we don't hear practically anything about him at all in the second book until the end. 


Peter gets to become a wanderer to so he and Shari's souls can have a chance to be together as humans, even if they have taken over other bodies. Cue Book 3!

Yay, romance, true love, all that. Except wait... in book three Shari or 'Jean' decides to write about her story and sell it as a novel, oh and now a movie. She's super rich and successful and then she cheats on Peter (or Lenny) with some clearly evil random. This is soul crushing for the true love train. SOUL CRUSHING.




Screw this, take me back to Book 1 I want their ghostly eternal love again.

What I really like: What I do like about these books, and Christopher Pike stories in general, is that while they have an aura of fantasy and paranormal aspects, they are not entirely unrealistic. As an author, he writes for, and with his audience rather than to us. I like that it approaches death in the way it does. The afterlife, the souls wandering and continuing on even though their bodies are gone. It truly makes you think about and appreciate your life and those in your life. It gives you a glimpse into the people you surround yourself with and whether or not they are worth your time.

Recommendation
: To be quite honest with you, I would only recommend the first in this series. It concludes itself well and did not really require a continuation. While some of the same characters are carried through I feel like the second and third novels were sort of their own thing.

The Forbidden Game (1-3) (Review)

The Forbidden Game (#1-3)
Author: L.J Smith
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 750
Release Date :June 8, 2010 (First Published 1997)
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: When Jenny buys a game for her boyfriend, Tom, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the guy behind the counter. There is something mysteriously alluring about Julian's pale eyes and bleached-blond hair. And when he places the Game into her hands, she knows their connection is something deeper.

But as Jenny and her six friends begin to play the Game at Tom's birthday celebration, a night of friends and fun quickly turns into a night of terror and obsessive love. Because the Game isn't just a game - it's the seven friends' new reality, where Julian reigns as the Prince of the Shadows.

One by one the friends must confront their phobias to win the Game. To lose the Game is to lose their lives. And that is only the beginning.

My Thoughts:  This book is Jumanji for adults, or teenagers I guess, except that instead of the game coming to life, the players get sucked into the world of the game!  Jenny's boyfriend Tom is super annoying, according to everything you read about him he is the 'perfect guy' but honestly, I can't stand him, but maybe that's just me. He is the 'win win win no matter what' guy and takes everything for granted, yet Jenny complete romanticizes him because they've been together since the second grade and it's so annoying, I feel immediately like, she could do better.

We start at the beginning where Jenny is walking around in a sketchy part of town cause you know, there's no way the mall could have board games, and she sees this door just conveniently appear out of nowhere with a sign indicating it's a game shop. WHAT? Convenient, of course I'll go in.

You know right away that this was a bad decision, but hey it was either get possibly attacked by these people following her or go into the mysteriously appearing shop. Life choices am I right?

So here she meets, weird, attractive, blond and creepy Julian. Literally, it says this on his name tag (No I'm lying). They instantly have a connection and he gives her this game called 'The Game'and the rest is history. Night starts off normally enough, you know, for a seventeen-year old's birthday party with friends. I'm a huge advocate for board games but man, whatever happened to bowling?


Anyway they start playing the game and some awaken a rune that brings the whole thing into play, weird things happen, everyone ends up stuck in this fake house that came with the game and each and every one of them has to face their biggest fears and make it to the top of the house before dawn in order to escape alive.

Geeze, I thought my Friday nights were rough. I won't spoil it but this is only the beginning of their crazy journey with Julian. This is actually a collection of three books, the above one being The Hunter, the next being The Chase and the final chapter being The Kill. All throughout the stories we learn why and how Julian became so obsessed with young Jenny, that he's been watching her for her whole life.

What I liked about this whole thing is that it doesn't romanticize it. Jenny is very much aware that this Shadow Prince is a total psychopath. Throughout the series, they find out how Jenny's family and her past is woven into Julian's existence and that of the 'shadow men'.  Each novel sends them on a new quest to save themselves and their friends and hopefully to destroy Julian once and for all.

This book. Unique. Intriguing. Captivating. I was immediately drawn into this world and the moment it ended I was so disappointed, I wanted more of this story, more of this world. I was already a fan of L.J Smith's The Night World series so when I picked this one up I figured that I would like it, and I was right

As a pre-teen I got most of my reading material from the second-hand store, so I grew up on the Teen fiction of the eighties and early nineties, so now that it's all being re-released it's nostalgic to read titles like this as it brings me right back.

That being said, you don't read this novel and feel like it's outdated, it's a clever concept that barely takes place in reality so there's very little to be distanced from. That landline though.


Overall it's a fun book, if you like the spooky, supernatural type of read. 

Recommendation: If you like paranormal stories and are a fan of books like The Vampire Diaries (another L.J Smith title) this is definitely a read for you. I really liked it. 





The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Review)

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Author: C.S Lewis
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 189
Release Date: January 2nd, 2008 (first published Oct 16th 1950)
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: They open a door and enter a world 

NARNIA...the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy...the place where the adventure begins. Lucy is the first to find the secret of the wardrobe in the professor's mysterious old house. At first, no one believes her when she tells of her adventures in the land of Narnia. But soon Edmund and then Peter and Susan discover the Magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. In the blink of an eye, their lives are changed forever.

Review: Now first off, I refuse to mark this book as #2 in the series because technically, it is #1. It was written first and long before The Magicians Nephew which is often hailed as first in the series. This is like, for me... saying that The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, is the first book in The Mortal Instruments series because it takes place before City of Bones. Simply not the case.

So, if you are a Chronicles of Narnia virgin, DO NOT reach The Magicians Nephew first, it holds the answers to questions you will only be able to ask once you have read this book.

Now. This book is pure magic. Welcome to England, WWII where the Pevensie siblings are being evacuated from London to a home in the country to live with strangers for their own safety. This is a particularly personal subject for me as this is precisely what happened to my Grandmother and her siblings so the more I read the book, I often imagine her, and what she must have been going through torn away from her parents and sent to a strange house in an unfamiliar place.

So we meet the four Pevensies, in order of age we have Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. It becomes clear, even in the beginning their roles in their group. Peter and Susan are the eldest and so they take on the parental roles that they are all missing. Edmund has classic middle child syndrome.


So we begin our story. Stuck in this scary unfamiliar home full of mystery the children begin to play hide and seek because it's raining outside. In this game, Lucy, the youngest and most naive, finds a hiding spot in an old wardrobe in an empty room. As she backs into the wardrobe she finds herself backing into a forest, and VOILA she's in Narnia!

What is Narnia you ask? A magical land full of witches, fauns, talking beavers, talking foxes, talking evil wolves and most importantly talking lions, Aslan.

Our resident TRUE KING and otherwise a 'myth' to the current people of Narnia. See, The White Witch, crazy kid, decided she wanted to take over Narnia for herself, so when Aslan took off, she took the opportunity and froze the entire kingdom! So it is Always Winter but never Christmas :( how sad. So Narnians have to suffer through this eternal cold while they wait for their King to return.

Oh yes, I should mention this book is obviously full of Christian imagery if you know the Bible any, but if not just a really great magical read.



Turns out Lucy is a human girl! or as they call her 'Daughter of Eve' which is part of a Narnian propechy.  That Two sons of Adam and Two daughters of Eve would come to Narnia and bring Aslan back. Huh, 2 sons and 2 daughters? The Pevensies have that!

 Oh man, don't you just love when you accidentally stumble into being the core participant of a prophecy you never even knew about?

I need to play more hide and seek!

So Miss Lucy, stumbles back to the lamppost that marks her wardrobe location, stumbles out to find that no time has passed at home! She had been gone for hours being nearly kidnapped by a sneaky faun drugging her tea and her siblings hadn't even noticed, now that's messed up.

She tells them what happened but when they go to check, whoops there is no forest in the wardrobe. They think she's lying, or making it up. Then, sneaky middle child Edmund wanders his own way into the wardrobe after following Lucy to check is she has really got nutballs. Surprise Edmund! She was telling the truth. Of course our bitter, selfish, middle child ends up running into the worst person possible, The White Witch. Now she seduces him with sweets and cocoa (Turkish Delight to be exact) and convinces him to bring his siblings to Narnia and she'll make him her heir.

Right about now is where you want to scream SHES GOING TO KILL YOU ALL EDMUND DON'T DO IT! but who is he to listen to you right? Here is where the journey truly begins as both younger siblings lure their older ones into Narnia and they begin their quest to fulfill their prophecy.

Favorite Quotes:

"I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been - if you've been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you - you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again" - Narrator

“He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."

“Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch. I was there when it was written.”  -Aslan

"Always winter, never Christmas" - Mr. Tumnus


Recommendation
: I truly believe that every must read this book at least once in their lives. It is full of magic, purpose, imagination and beautiful imagery. It is my favorite book of all time, the first book I truly LOVED and that is certainly saying something as I've read many books. I can read it over and over again and always find something new.

Angels of Moirai

Angels of Moirai (Book 1) 
Author: Nicole Salmond
Publisher: Victory Editing
Pages: Not Listed
Release Date: May 3rd, 2015
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: Since man first walked the earth, the Angels of Moirai have watched over them. Born human, they are taught never to feel, never to become attached, and never to become emotionally compromised.

Eighteen-year-old Lila Kingston is haunted by dreams of a mysterious angel. Suddenly the dramas of her broken family and the snobby rich kids at her school fail in comparison to the challenges she must face.

Hailing from the Angels of Moirai, James Taylor has been entrusted with the fate of lives from around the world for over a thousand years. His sole purpose is to ensure every mortal follows their designated path, but when Lila puts that very purpose at risk, he must make a choice—a choice that ultimately leads to the devastating consequences of a love never meant to exist.

The choice was never easy. Those kind of choices never are…





I didn't love this book, which made me sad because based on the description I really thought that I would.  We have our protagonist Lila who has been thrown into a life of luxury at the expense of her family, and her freedom. Her parents became obsessed with work, instead of being parents and she and her younger sister had been raised by Nannies ever since. Your classic poor little rich kid beginning, which is fine, or at least it can be.

In this case it was not fine. I was annoyed with Lila within the first chapter of the book. From reading this book it sounded like a girl just hating on people. Her own sister included. It read like a very silly girl who was going out of her way to complain, about girls at school, her parents, etc. It just felt unrealistic to me. Your parents bring you out to this super nice restaurant and okay, maybe it was a set up with a cute guy with good connections and maybe your parents have these unrealistic expectations of you or whatever but WELCOME TO LIFE.

The fact that she was not only snippy, but went out of the way to annoy her parents, was rude to the guest, blatantly brought up the fact she wasn't going to the school of their choice, in front of strangers. I was actually embarrassed for her. Like just stop, shut your mouth, eat your dinner and then go at your parents when you get home, don't scream, cry, throw a hissy fit and run home in the rain.


It's hard to sympathize with a character like this when they just come across as a brat. Half of getting sucked into a story for me is being able to relate/sympathize with a character.

Unfortunately, for me this book was not well written. I was not drawn into the story because there was too much repetitive description or dialogue, such as using 'said' too often where it could have been replaced with 'whispered, exclaimed, cried, snarled, muttered' and I could go on. Things were mentioned by name far too often in on paragraph and you ended up just giving up on it all together because you already knew what school they were talking about you didn't need to read the name 4 more times.

I couldn't enjoy the book. The love story might have had potential, but it just ended up being a creepy stalker relationship that rivals the obsession of Edward Cullen.

Recommendation: Check out other reviews if you're not convinced by mine, I didn't like it and I wouldn't personally recommend it to anyone but maybe, just maybe there's something in there for you.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (movie review)

Star Wars The Force Awakens (Episode VII)
Director: J.J Abrams
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Based on Characters of George Lucas.
Runtime: 135 mins
Release Date: December 17th 2015
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

Review:  So when I learned that Star Wars was going ahead with Episode VII I was ecstatic. I grew up in the era where the prequel trilogies were released, and while they have their flaws, they were still new and exciting to me, they also brought me, a new generation, into the Fandom I now love so much. So it's safe to say when I got opening night tickets I was enjoying my day more than a non-conformist storm trooper.


So last night I saw the much-anticipated film and aside from my few fangirl squeals (hello C3P0, I've missed you), I was a little (JUST A LITTLE) disappointed in the layout of the film. I think it did a great job of both introducing and making us like, even love, the new characters in the film, but my problem was that the whole story mirrored Episode IV A New Hope.

First we come across an orphan in the desert, named Luke Skywalker...oh no wait, this one is named Rey, and it's a girl. Totally different. Then a droid named R2D2 carrying vital information and an important message to help the resistance stumbles across her in the desert and they become best friends...oh no, wait this one is named BB-8 totally different again.

This orphan in the desert is a naturally gifted pilot, scavenger, and mechanic...named Anakin Skywalker..no wait that's the wrong movie again, now we're in Episode I.

 Are you getting my point yet?

Rey, and BB-8 befriend a reluctant runaway criminal/former storm trooper FN-2187 (or Finn as he's so fondly named by BB-8's daring pilot master Poe, and the man Finn helps escape from The New Order (Formerly The Empire).  While Finn is a unique character in his own right, with a struggle and inner battle of his own, he is somewhat resembled as the Han Solo of the new group, the criminal turned hero. The we have the Pilot Poe, who is already resistance and snarky, he is our Leia, with a Luke cross over.

When I saw this scene I was like OMG Luke! No...Poe?

Basically, if this wasn't a Star Wars film, it would be getting sued for Plagiarism. While I appreciate the references/connections that Abrams placed in the film paying homage to the original trilogy, it seemed to have a bit of struggle finding its own feet, instead of standing on the back of it's predecessors.

Everything plays out exactly as it did is a New Hope (with a few new changes here or there) and with reversed characters. The father/son bad guy/good guy fight is just reversed, now SEMI-SPOILER ALERT (skip ahead to characters quotes if you want) the bad guy is Han and Leia's Son, which by the way was revealed in a very nonchalant sort of way, there was no *GASP* moment, which was kind of disappointing.

This mysterious 'bad guy' that everyone but us seems to know so much about, just sort of goes 'Your father is here, Han Solo' and people actually GROANED in the theatre, like 'come on'. I agree because quite honestly, I had not suspected it myself, I knew there was an aura of mystery surrounding him, he was clearly a former Jedi trainee etc. but the fact that it was just... said so casually like that really ruined the discovery.

Also, the way the film ended (which I will not reveal because I am not that cruel) essentially hinted that the next film, is going to be The Empire Strikes Back... Version 2.0. Say what you want about Episodes 1-3 but at least they were their own stories.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this film and left wanting to see the next one, I was not blown away by this new intricate story as I had hoped that I would be. ALSO for those Star Wars fans who are familiar with the future generation stories in the comics, I was a little bit annoyed that names were changed, I mean our Character of Ben Solo, is actually Jacen Solo... so I'm wondering if Abrams is trying to combine Jacen Solo and Ben Skywalker into one character? I mean it would be one thing if they completely threw out the names and the old story all together and named him ...I don't know Tom Solo, but clearly there were trying to keep something.

I guess I will just have to wait and see?

New characters you will love:

BB-8 - R2 knock off or not, he is adorable, cute, funny and loyal. He moves fast and behaves a little like a puppy. His relationship with all the characters (but especially with Poe) is heartwarming. #1 best new character



Rey: She is kick ass. She can fight her own battles, she can fly, and is hella smart. While she is emotionally unstable (being abandoned as a child by a family you can't remember to be a slave on a desert planet will do that to you) she is loyal and cares deeply, quickly about those who come into her life. She has no trouble though giving Finn a piece of her mind when he keeps trying to take her hand.

Finn: or FN-2187. He is a brainwashed Storm Trooper who cannot shake the good in him. Yes, he is a little bit selfish sometimes, more concerned about saving his own skin than helping the resistance, that is until he finds people to care about and then he will do whatever it takes to save them (even if they can save themselves)

Poe: Our handsome, daring pilot, is equipped with an adorable sidekick BB-8 and a wit that just won't quit.


Favorite Quotes:

Poe: "Why Are You Helping Me?"
Finn: "Because It's The Right Thing To Do."
Poe:"...You Need A Pilot."
Finn:"I Need A Pilot."

*intense silence as Kylo Ren captures Poe and they stare face to face*
Poe: "so...how does this go? Do you talk first? Do I talk first?"

Rey: "Stop taking my hand!"

Finn: "Why Does Everyone Want To Go Back To Jakku?!"

Lor San Tekka: "Without The Jedi, There Can Be No Balance In The Force."

Recommendation: See this. What are you waiting for Star Wars fans, go now! Why are you even reading this?

Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might be Half-Dragon

Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might be Half-Dragon
Author: Rena Rocford
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Pages: 230
Release Date: November 23rd, 2015
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.

Review: I requested a copy of this book for review based on the title and the cover. The cover caught my eye immediately and the title was intriguing to me. So I started reading away once I got my copy from Curiosity Quills Press and I have to say it was a bit of a rough beginning. Before I get into my review, I will start off my saying I did actually end up really liking this book.

I say it was a rough beginning because the first chapter had me feeling rushed, confused, shocked, and annoyed, and not in a good way.

Within the first few pages of the story, Allyson's Half-Dragon heritage is revealed by her best friend just blurting it out to her in 'duh, didn't you know?' sort of way after their random mall trip is interrupted by trolls.


 I was hoping for a bit more mystery leading up to the revelation to the character instead of just having it spat out at her. Also, she seemed to take it a little too well.  For a teenager who just had an earth shattering revelation, she didn't seem too phased.  The whole discovery scenario felt way too rushed.

I would have liked to have a glimpse into Allyson's normal teenage life, more explanation of her friendship, her school life, her home life. I felt like it was all thrown at me with little explanation and I was expected to deal with it.



I did deal with it, but I was left with so many questions! If she had been living in this town for so many months now? Why was all of this only suddenly coming into play? If she could smell the trolls, why couldn't she smell her best friend? If she could smell the Unicorns at school the day after the troll attack, why couldn't she before? Had she just come into her abilities because of her age, because of the attack? Or have they been there all along? We don't really get an explanation... ever.

The one person who might have answers for Allyson shows up for her birthday, her Aunt, and you hope that maybe we'll get an insight into her abilities but then disappears just as quickly. So much for that theory.

A lot of people are missing. Allyson's Dad, Allyson's Aunt, Stephen the unicorn, it's a bit overwhelming. Still, it was at this point in time that I started to get sucked into the story. Two teenagers without a drivers license driving cross country. What could go wrong? Here is went I kind of just fell into the story. Things continue to happen a little too fast for my liking, but I was drawn into the story because I wanted to know what happened next.

Our Heroine is just your average insecure teenage girl with no real home or security. She has only her Mom and they move around the country ever few months so she has no real friends because she's rarely around long enough to make any. This had me intrigued and you do eventually get your answers, sort of, as to why she's on the run (without actually knowing that she's on the run).

What I liked: This story was completely unique in its own way. Sure it had familiar YA themes but most of our books do. I can honestly say I have never read a book quite like this one. Instead of your typical Vampires, Werewolves story we had Dragons, Trolls, Goblins and Unicorns hiding in our everyday life.

Aside from the rushed bits, it was pretty well written and sounded like a teenage point of view. I did feel like our Heroine was a bit uninformed. She finds out she's a dragon in the first few pages, realizes her aunts been giving her dragon statues her whole life and then is given a gift by her aunt who says to take really good care of it and she just goes 'what a piece of junk' and dumps it into the bottom of her backpack. COME ON ALLYSON! Obviously, it's important.


Recommended: Yes. I think you should read it. Once you get past the rushed discoveries there is a cute, unique story there and I will admit I am curious to continue reading about this world. Definitely give it a shot if YA Urban Fantasy is your thing. 

The Summoning

The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1) 
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 390
Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again. All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don't even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost - and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won't leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a "special home" for troubled teens. Yet the home isn't what it seems. Don't tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It's up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House... before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Review: So here's the story of my Darkest Powers reading life. I accidentally bought the entire trilogy in one book. I accidentally do a lot of weird things while reading, like that time I checked the sequel out of the library but then decided to go ahead and read it anyway.



"Who are you people? What is going on? What is this book even about?" that was a fun time.

Chloe Saunders is your typical out of place not yet developed teenage girl. I have to admit that I found her a little bit annoying, more often than not, but she's a kid so I just rolled with it. The book opens with what she calls her 'normal' life. Living in an apartment all on her own cause her Mom is dead and her Dad is some big executive that is never home. She starts the morning with a lecture from her housekeeper before heading off to her private performing arts academy.

She complains about being too skinny, hair too mousey and ginger, body too boyish. She gives herself red streaks in her copper hair to try and look more mature but the only person who seems to appreciate them, is her.

The book then starts out with the big red dot.

THE PERIOD!

 As comes with every young girls period are sudden insane illusions of people no one else can see. Wait... no, that's definitely not normal. So here's where things actually start to take an interesting turn! A perfect example of how science constantly misdiagnosis us with disorders we do not have, Chloe sees one ghost and is labeled as a schizophrenic. ONE GHOST PEOPLE. Geeze, do all Mediums have this trouble?

So she is sent to Lyle House a place for troubled teens where they say she will have a quick recovery... I wasn't aware that having a mental illness made you a 'troubled teen' but okay, also since when can you recover from schizophrenia? All of that aside, Lyle House is where the mysterious but awesome story really begins.

There are twists and turns, cute boys, and missing friends. It's where we discover the secrets about Chloe's 'disorder' and the secrets hidden beneath Lyle House the true reasons for its existence.

It's filled with funny, complex characters, wit and an OTP that doesn't quit (even if they both refuse to accept that they're an OTP). Who knew that mutual dislike could make for such a likeable pair.

 It ends for us, as all good series do, on a cliffhanger, which is super convenient for you if you accidentally bought the trilogy. The only real complaint I have about this book, is just that there wasn't enough of it.

Favorite Quotes:

"That's what we all want, isn't it? Power without price."

"Oh, for God's sake. Save your piss. Don't save your piss. It's all the same to me."
Simon peeked around the corner, brows lifted. "I was going to ask what you guys were doing, but hearing that, I think I'll pass.”

"If I was crazy, would I know it? That's what being crazy was, wasn't it? You thought you were fine. Everyone else knew better."

Recommendation: If you like modern paranormal, mysterious, YA fiction than read this book people. Do it up.

Blood Red Road







Blood Red Road (Dustlands: 1)
Author: 
Moira Young
Pages: 464
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: Saba lives in Silverlake, a wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms where her family scavenge from landfills left by the long-gone Wrecker civilization. After four cloaked horsemen kidnap her beloved twin brother Lugh, she teams up with daredevil Jack and the Free Hawks, a girl gang of Revolutionaries.

Saba learns that she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Saba and her new friends stage a showdown that change the course of her civilization

Review: So here's the story. I really WANTED to like this book, really, really wanted to. It was by a fellow Canadian author, a female one at that, and it was recommended to me by a representative at Chapters when I was shopping.

His exact words were 'If you like Hunger Games, you'll like this, it's way better'.

The tagline on the cover even said Better than The Hunger Games...this book will blow you away.

So I bought it, because come on? Better than The Hunger Games and by a Canadian Author? It seemed like a win-win.

Unfortunately. I didn't feel that way. It may be a really good story but as I read it I had the most difficult time. The way the characters spoke was one thing, it's okay for me, every now and again to have to read dialogue of someone going '>Fer what?' 'Ornery' or 'Yer everywhere'.

But when the entire book reads that way because it's written in first person?



I couldn't handle it. I pushed myself to read on my I honestly felt like crying. I couldn't understand half the book to begin with because I felt like my brain was constantly trying to process what was being said, never mind the story that was going on around them.

I'm not exactly the queen of Grammar (I'll admit to using Funner and stand by it) but I think there are different ways the setting could have been portrayed without having to suffer through those shorthand phrases.

The Story:  Okay, so here's my issues with the story (aside from the dialogue being incomprehensible to me). The Four Horsemen.... that seems self-explanatory, but here I go anyway. This is the most blatant placement of allusion without even trying to be clever. For those who might not know, The Four Horsemen of the apocalypse (War, Death, Pestilence and Famine). It could have been two horsemen, or one, or even an army, but there were four and considering this story is meant to be post-apocalyptic, it just seemed like an out of place but intentional reference.

The Dustlands - a whole Mad Max ripoff more or less in my honest opinion. This was not a unique concept in any way shape or form which can be fine, except that when reading you shouldn't be thinking 'Mad Max' the entire time (and this is from a girl who was raised post- original mad max era). Or if we're in keeping with the desert drought theme, how about Holes?

Fighting in a Colosseum, not an arena, not a pit, a cage, or a stage.... literally a Colosseum. Again blatant placement of what I can't even call allusion because it's just repetition. We all know it, Gladiator slaves were forced to fight in the Roman Colosseum for entertainment. Unlike in say...oh I don't know, The Hunger Games, there was no alteration or presentation of how these fighters were sent to their deaths.

In addition to the blatant placement. How the heck could Saba (the main character) be the champion. I get that they're threatening her with her little sister's life (I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!) but she has no real skills. She's a girl who grew up in a shanty in the desert hoping for rain. Yet suddenly she's Rhonda Rousey?

Recommendation: I always say I hate to be negative but in this case, I had to be honest. As much as I wanted to like this book, I did not, and it was only a few moments short of a one star review. The only reason I didn't give it one is because I can't help but wonder if the majority of the reason I didn't like this book was how difficult I found it to read.

Personally, I cannot recommend it because of the dialogue but if you find you don't have difficulty with that, then certainly give it a shot.

Prophecy of The Sisters

Prophecy of The Sisters (Book 1) 
Author: Michelle Zink
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Pages: 343
Release Date: July 1st, 2010
Rating: 3/5

Review: The tag line of this book caught my attention almost as immediately as the cover. I can't say why I picked this book up, only that I did and when I turned it over and read  An ancient prophecy divides two sisters--one evil. Who will prevail? I was hooked.

The books centres around twin sisters Lia and Alice who lost their mother at a young age and more recently lost their father. They, and their younger brother are now orphans and entrusted into the care of their aunt, their own late mother's twin sister. See, twins run in their family. If that weren't strange enough, so does an ancient
prophecy.

If I can't love an ancient prophecy than what can I love?  I read this long before I even started looking at the reviews because honestly, everyone is different. I will always take a glance over reviews but if I think that I'm going to like something, the chances are I probably will. That was the case here. I liked this story, a lot.

It was incredibly well written with vivid prose that erected a gothic literature setting. Usually, I have a hard time with what people deem 'slow books' but I did not find this to be slow at all. I loved the painted world of the Victorian era where this novel takes place. It had a familiar feel to those of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and smiliar stories with a fantastical twist.

The only issue I found with the books were relating to the characters themselves, while their lives and their worlds were vividly painted so that I could envision them, I felt that I got very little insight into the characters themselves. On the surface, Lia is kind and good, Alice is evil and mean. Very black and white in that regard and sometimes I can find that annoying.

The lack of reaction perhaps by Lia to the events of the novel may be an issue, there are a lot of things happening and the story is so focused on the prophecy that we loose a bit of the characters in there. I didn't have those OTP feels about Lia and James (though I ought to have) and none of the character's actions particularly shocked or enraged me in a manner I've become used to expecting from my novel escapades.
Perhaps it's because the characters are of that era and upbringing where feelings are meant to be bottled not shared, but when you are reading from the POV of a character you expect more inner struggle I think.

I did like it enough to go out and buy the second book immediately because I am truly interested in finding out what happens, I also shipped a copy to my best friend in Germany for Christmas because I knew she would like it (and she did).

However, I will say that as I started the second book I found that I placed it on my bookshelf for later.  It is still sitting on my shelf waiting for some more free time. While I have a desire to find out what happens in this story, it did now draw me in as strongly as I wish it had, otherwise I would be finished the series already.

Favorite Quotes: though it's not particularly 'quotable' in the sense I do have one I liked.

“I shake my head. "Remember, Mother. There are no mistakes."
She smiles through her tears, leaning in to kiss my cheek "No mistakes, my angel.”

Recommendation:If you like Gothic era literature with a air of mystery, that this book will probably tickle your fancy. You have to enjoy descriptive literature however or you may find yourself shying away from the story.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 431
Release Date: May 1st, 2009
Rating: 3/5













Review: I first read this book a long time ago as a school assignment and novel study where we read it as a class and broke it down in depth. I re-read it more recently and found that I still liked this book, but what I hate it ow it's portrayed in popular culture. It is not a love story.

This is a dark, sad and downright depressing story. It is a well-written timeless tale of missed opportunity and the psychological effects of abuse and neglect and the consequences of our choices. There is nothing romantic about it, it's not a romance. Also, this is sort of a completely unrelated side note but the version I purchased (and the only version they had in store) had a badge on it (see photo of cover) that said 'Bella and Edward's favorite book'.  Also goes so far as to include a twilight themes cover and caption itself "Love never dies...'



What the actual heck? Why is a piece of classic, beautifully written literature being marketed to a new generation through a sub-par sparkly vampire story? No, just no. There is something seriously wrong with us if this is going to make us pick up a book.

This being said. I am not hating on Twilight, it has its own... charms and I've admittedly read all four books. When I first read them I was drawn in and finished the whole series in a week, but after revisiting them, I started to question why I'd like them to begin with. I just don't think you should ever use one book to market another it just seems wrong.

Story: Catherine is a selfish opportunist who at the heart of things is nothing more than a mean girl who not only wants her cake, but everyone else's too.

Heathcliff is a sad man bent on revenge and cruelty towards others even though it will never make up for the things he has suffered, or the fact that he fell in love with a girl who turned into a total Regina George, without the redemption.

 I don't find it a particularly romantic story, not in any way shape or form.

I know there are those who do but in my opinion, it is not a story about two people who were kept apart, because the outcomes of the story were entirely the effects of their own choices, bad or not, and not the choices of others. This is not Romeo and Juliet, their families are not separated by an enternal blood feud.

They could have been together, if they'd really wanted to, but Catherine made her choices, and Heathcliff, instead of living with it, became vindictive and took what could have been a happy life for himself and made it miserable for him and everyone around him.

Life is what you make it no? I have never read a book that I liked so much, where I hated the main characters with such passion that I hate these two.

There are literally very few redeeming qualities about these characters, the only real sliver of empathy you can feel is for Heathcliff because of his beginnings and his treatment as a child, oh and the fact that the moment Catherine got some fancy attention she basically ditched him.



Favorite Quotes:

"I have not broken your heart - you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine"

"“May she wake in torment!" he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. "Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there—not in heaven."

"Honest people don't hide their deeds."


Recommend: I always recommend that people read this book, just to have it under their belt. It is, as they say, a classic. Even if I hadn't read this for school, I would have read it anyway because I like to be informed.

Divergent





Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: J.K Rowling
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 487
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
Rating: 3/5











Review: Okay so I read this book a while ago, for those who may have already read my The Name of the Star review I did go over my reading experiencing with this series that pretty much ended up with me going.





However, I was recently tagged on Instagram to do a first of a series photo, so I figured I may as well do up a review to go along with it! So I can't really remember why I picked up this book to be honest with you, I think because it was just one of those books that was floating around out there and it was talk of the YA community.

Now three stars means I liked this book. Liked it enough to binge read it, and then binge read the second as well, before discovering I was stranded in Rome with no wifi connection and without the third book on my Kobo (refer to above gif).

I do have to say I don't like that people think that every dystopian novel is trying to rip off the hunger games. The Hunger Games trilogy was great, but certainly not the first successful dystopian story, maybe just the first successful one of our generation.

Divergent, in my opinion is completely its own story. The only similarities are the fact that it takes place in the future after the civilization as we know it has fallen apart and been replaced by a new governing system (again not a unique concept or owned by anybody in particular)

This book was about a girl (Tris) and her journey into discovering herself and fighting to become who she wants to be (and hiding the secret of what she truly is). I think the point of this story is to help us to find ourselves. To see that we are beyond our labels, no one is any 'one' thing.

Not to quote the breakfast club or anything but....well, I'm gonna quote the breakfast club.

"You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case....a princess...and a criminal."


This is essentially the concept of the Divergents. These people who have a bit of everything, are a threat to a perfectly labeled society, because without labels they have nothing but chaos. 

Story: So over all I enjoyed the story. The action, fight and death scenes were very vivid and well written. What I did have a bit of trouble with was the romance. Don't get me wrong, if I had a Four & Tris 4ever shirt I would proudly wear it, but I think there was something inbetween that was missing. Once they are together they have this great connection and understanding of one another. However, the lead up to this all just seems very abrupt.

He is her superior in a sense so there is somewhat of a moral dilemma, and it seemed like the main focus of the story was on the fighting and glosses over the fact that they just suddenly boom, are together and are soul mates. 



The villains in this story though. I mean, come on. Eric? You love to hate him. Peter? He's just so selfish that you don't even know how to handle it and yet he has so many hilarious moments and truly becomes a main character of this series. He switches allegiances when it's convenient for him and hey (everyone for themselves right?)

I feel like this story wrecks with your emotions in a lot of ways. You never know who you can trust and that's part of the reason I like it. However it is sort of a glimpse into a world of 'what happens when teenagers are in charge' Because seriously, Eric and Four are both eighteen and they are essentially leaders in their faction.

What do we do for training? Neurologically damaging laser tag, and zip lining. HECK YEAH. It sounds like a lot of fun (you know except for being zapped in the training game). WHERE ARE THE ADULTS. Is my question, even Dauntless adults have to have some sort of concern over their children's well-being, no?

Favorite Quotes:

"People tend to overestimate my character," I say quietly. "They think that because I'm small, or a girl, or a Stiff, I can't possibly be cruel. But they're wrong"

"We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."

"Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it."

Recommend: If you like high action, dystopian stories then yes! Do not however, read if you think it's going to be another hunger games because fact is, it's not.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
By: J.K Rowling
Pages 247 | October 6, 2015| Bloomsbury
Rating: 5/5

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!



 "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." Is the sentence that shaped my entire world. That one hook line that I like to refer to as the 'gateway' into the fandom world. The line that respectively catapulted me into the world of Fantasy reading. I have read this book several times since I first finished it in 1999. This however, was a new and amazing experience.

It has never been difficult for me to immerse myself into the world of Harry Potter. The beautiful illustrations that accompanied this version of the story made me feel like a part of it. From the Cupboard under the stairs, to finding the perfect wand. It was almost as though I were experiencing all of these things for the first time.


Reading this book is once again joining Harry Potter as he discovers things about himself that he never knew. WE ARE HARRY POTTER. We were born and raised in the muggle world. As we read along in the story we too as experiencing Diagon Alley, Gringotts, Ollivanders, Hogwarts all for the first time. We go along with Harry as someone who never knew any of this existed. I wouldn't say that I had forgotten what it felt like, but it had been a while. While the movies were an immersion all their own, the book always held the true magic for me. This new edition was the reminder that I needed to bring it all back to life!

If you have not read Harry Potter yet, what are you waiting for? It is not a 'kids book' it is a book, a series that inspired and formed an entire generation! This new edition is also the perfect starting point to inspire the upcoming generation. I cannot wait to see if they continue to release illustrated editions.

I was part of the generation that got to wait in line for hours, just to attend the midnight release for the books. It was amazing, I only hope others, and future generations get the same experience.

 I didn't think it was possible to take one of my favorite books and make it better, but that's exactly what happened. Fantastic!



Favorite Quotes: 

"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure"



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