Friday, October 17, 2014

Stitching Snow ~ RC Lewis (earc) review {@RC_Lewis @DisneyHyperion]

Stitching Snow
Disney Hyperion
October 14, 2014
338 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

I love, love good fairy tale retellings and Stitching Snow is a very, very good fairy tale retelling. Essie is living on the planet of Thanda where the idea of 'catching your death' from the cold isn't so far fetched. Living alone, she has figured out how to live with the men of the mining town she calls home and how to be valuable - by coding and maintaining her drones. It isn't an elaborate life she has carved out for herself but it suits her. And keeps her secret.

The crash-landing of a ship from another planet pulls Essie from her routine. After agreeing to help the ship's young, injured pilot with repairs, she discovers there may be more to his arrival tat he's letting on. The real reason could put both Essie and her secret in danger - even as it promises to free others.

When I started Stitching Snow, I had forgotten that first line of the official synopsis and I like where that put me for beginning the story. Essie is a great character and I love how we met her. She is a very strong character, both mentally and physically. Yet, when we hear her thoughts and what she says to herself, she has just the right amount of doubt, of vulnerability.We know, pretty quickly, that she is keeping a secret from those on Thanda, but not what that secret is.

She stands out in the mining town not only because she is a teenage girl surrounded by the miners, men, but because of the great character RC Lewis has created. Essie's stitching involves coding drones to work in the mines, repairing them when something goes wonky. She can work with and around both the software and the hardware. It is a great foundation for a character and as the story progresses and we see more of who Essie is, discover her secret, learn more of her past and see her deal with the present and future, she is an even more enjoyable character.

Essie is not the only one I love in Stitching Snow. When we're introduced to Dane, he is an okay character. As it isn't clear yet how much of a role he will play in the story, I liked that his character was not immediately super intriguing. As Essie helps to repair his ship and they have more conversations, he becomes much more appealing. It is clear he's keeping some secrets of his own.

With what he brings out in Essie and the questions he causes her to ask herself, they are two characters that are a great joy to read about. Later on, when we begin to learn some of Dane's story, I love his character even more.

This Snow White tale does not have seven dwarfs, it has seven drones. And I love them. They have the descriptive names that describe them (or as Essie sees them). Dimwit is clearly the standout drone character. Lewis has created an incredibly endearing, malfunctioning little drone.

Without being too spoilery, the latte plot of Stitching Snow is just great. From the very fully imagined world to the roles the different characters play even to the characters' pasts and their relationships with other, new (but old) characters. It is a complex tale of nicely done relationships, politics, science fiction and space. The mission the characters must undertake is one with real depth, consequences and danger. I loved Stitching Snow for its plot and its characters.

(Though, I do wish the cover had been a bit different. While it does fit with the tale, the filigree heart feels almost sweet for the story. It is a more complex and well developed story than the cover suggested to me.)

review copy received from publisher via NetGalley, thank you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Unmarked ~ Kami Garcia (earc) review [@lbkids @kamigarcia]

Unmarked (The Legion #2)
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
September 30, 2014
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** my review of The Legion #1 Unbreakable **

The heart-pounding sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller, Unbreakable, by New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures co-author Kami Garcia.

"A rare sequel that surpasses the original."--Ransom Riggs, New York Times bestselling author of Hollow City

He is here... and he could be anyone.

Kennedy Waters lives in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks among us–a demon she accidentally set free.

Now Kennedy and the other Legion members–Alara, Priest, Lukas, and Jared–have to hunt him down. As they learn more about the history of the Legion and the Illuminati, Kennedy realizes that the greatest mystery of all does not belong to any secret order, but to her own family. With the clock ticking and the life of someone she loves hanging in the balance, Kennedy has to ask the question she fears most: what is it about her past that has left her Unmarked?

I am in definite agreement with Ransom Riggs about Unmarked being even better than the first Legion book, Unbreakable.

We have already met the characters - Kennedy, Lukas, Jared, Alara and Priest - and both readers and Kennedy now know about the Legion and the supernatural entities they deal with daily. After Unbreakable we also know that things in the prison did not go how any of the teens planned. A demon worse than they could have imagined has been set free . . . now they have to stop him.

Unbreakable had a great ending that left me anxious to know what happened next. Unmarked answers those questions in the best possible way. It manages to both throw readers right into things and then, once you can't wait to find out more,  backups and takes a slower pace.

It's both incredibly frustrating and incredibly thrilling to know where things are headed, just not how they are going to get there. Garcia shows us the danger that's approaching and then takes you along on the characters' journey to that point.

We learn more about their characters, what they will all do for each other and about the world of the Legion. Unmarked not only has demons and the Legion, it has the Illuminati, too. Receiving a fuller picture of The Legion's world, of both the groups' and the characters' histories (all while finding out when what was glimpsed in the beginning will take place) will keep you turning the pages until you do reach the end.

In the first book, I liked Alara and Priest more than Kennedy, Lukas and Jared. In this second book, we get to see more of Kennedy's feelings, her doubts and her faults. She feels more human in this second book and I like her much more. I like the brothers, as well, but still want just a bit more of them. (Alara may still be my favorite, though.)

The Supernatural air that the first book had is present here, too. A fully original world and characters, it isn't a 'copy' of the show, but has a bit of the same feeling. Fans of the show should definitely give this series a read.

If you enjoyed the ending of Unbreakable, know that it has nothing on the ending of Unmarked. This second book has a great expansion of the world introduced in the first book with new characters, answers to questions and more backstory given. The character interactions and relationships are again great and only improve given the new characters and developments. I am incredibly anxious and excited to read Book 3.

read for review thanks to LBYR and NetGalley

Friday, October 10, 2014

My True Love Gave to Me ~ Stephanie Perkins, et al (earc) review [@naturallysteph @StMartinsPress @OfficiallyAlly @MyraMcEntire]

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
St Martins Press
October 14, 2014
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

First, the contents of My True Love Gave to Me:

  • "Midnights" by Rainbow Rowell (starts at 1%*)
  • "The Lady and the Fox" by Kelly Link (at 8%)
  • "Angels in the Snow" by Matt De La Pena (at 16%)
  • "Polaris is Where You'll Find Me" by Jenny Han (at 26%)
  • "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" by Stephanie Perkins (at 31%)
  • "Your Temporary Santa" by David Levithan (at 42%)
  • "Krampuslauf" by Holly Black (at 47%)
  • "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" by Gayle Forman (at 55%)
  • "Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" by Myra McEntire (at 63%)
  • "Welcome to Christmas, CA" by Kiersten White (at 71%)
  • "Star of Bethlehem" by Ally Carter (at 82%)
  • "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor (at 91%)
Even while I'm strongly lamenting the end of summer, My True Love Gave to Me remindefd me how much I love the holidays and got me excited for their approach. It will definitely get you in the holidays spirit. 

My True Love Gave to Me is a great collection of authors who write in an assortment of YA genres. The anthology may be the most diverse I have read. From the characters' religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or gender, to the holidays the stories center on, and whether they were paranormal or contemporary, there is something for seemingly every reader. (Which will make it a great holiday gift.)

I did not dislike any of the stories, but I did like some more than others. Ally Carter's, "Star of Bethlehem," and Stephanie Perkins', "It'a a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown," were two that I wish were planned to become longer length tales. Both were self contained and worked very well as short stories, but both had concepts and characters I really want to see more of.

Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Forman, Kiersten White Myra McEntire and Laini Taylor's tales worked really nicely as short stories. I really enjoyed meeting the characters (from a cat sitting college student to an orphan living in a magical world),  Jenny Han's story felt more like the introduction to something than a concluded short story. I really liked the idea and the character, though.

  • "Midnights" covers several New Years' Eve's between two friends 4/5
  • "The Lady and the Fox" a paranormal love story 3.5/5
  • "Angels in the Snow" the aforementioned cat sitting college student - but so much more 5/5
  • "Polaris is Where You'll Find Me" the girl adopted by Santa is all grown up 2/5
  • "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown" Christmas tree shopping, Tetris and two fantab characters 5/5
  • "Your Temporary Santa" a (Jewish) boy dresses up as Santa to help his boyfriend 4/5
  • "Krampuslauf" the more devilish side of the holidays - but with some romance 3.5/5
  • "What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?" an out-of-place college freshman 3.5/5
  • "Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus" a church fire, the Christmas pageant and an unlikely connection 4.5/5
  • "Welcome to Christmas, CA" a diner in 'census designated' Christmas, CA and some magical cooking 4.5/5
  • "Star of Bethlehem" switched tickets at the airport and Icelandic influences 5/5
  • "The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer" an orphan girl who discovers magic and love 3.5/5
My favorites were Stephanie Perkins, Matt De La Pena, Ally Carter, Kiersten White and Myra McEntire's tales but as a whole, My True Love Gave to Me is an incredibly enjoyable, incredibly readable collection of short stories by some great authors. Whether you want to get into the holiday spirit, want to read more from your favorite author(s) or are looking for a holiday gift to get or give, My True Love Gave to Me is it! (Or is you're in the UK and want something pretty to look at.)

*Based on percentages given with advance digital copy, may change/be different in final ebook

digital copy received for review from publisher, through NetGalley

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:
SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda

Date: February 12, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens

Alina Chase has spent her entire life in confinement. With the science of soul-printing now a reality, she is 'protected' for her own safety - and the safety of others - because her soul has done terrible things ...or so she's told. When Alina finally breaks out of prison, helped by a group of people with unclear motives, she begins to uncover clues left by her past life that only she can decipher. And she may not be as innocent as she once believed. Can Alina change her future, or is she fated to repeat her past and face the consequences?

I really enjoy Megan Miranda's premises and how science plays a part in them. I loved Fracture and am really looking forward to Soulprint.

What's your pick for this week? Tell me or link me to your post in the comments!
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