Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: The Vault of Dreamers

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Series: Untitled #1
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

I've put off writing this review (something I almost never do) because I'm really not sure what to say about this one. The ending really threw me for a loop and left me unsure of how to review this one. But here it goes:

The story takes place at the Forge school, which is a weird hybrid of fancy art school and crazy reality tv show. There are cameras everywhere recording each of the students and people can tune in online to watch their favourites. Students are all ranked based on the number of people watching their feed and their family get some ad revenue from their pages. To make things even crazier, they let in 100 first year students for the first two weeks, then cut half of them.

This is where we meet Rosie, our heroine. She's a film student fighting to make it into the top 50 and stay at the Forge school, but she's not doing so great. It was pretty easy to feel for Rosie, since she has it pretty tough at home. Her mom seems nice enough, but works a lot. Her step-dad is a dick and is also unemployed (technically on strike, but it's been over a year), so money is pretty tight. She also has a little sister named Dubbs, who she clearly loves a lot. Rosie has been placed on a crappy track at school that has her bound for, at best, a dead-end job. So clearly the opportunity at Forge is huge for her.

Another weird thing about the Forge school is that all students are forced to sleep 12 hours per day. They claim it boosts creativity. Rosie is a bit of a rebel and starts skipping her sleeping pill and wandering around at night. She sees some crazy stuff, but is in a bit of a tough spot, since Forge is her only chance out of a dead-end life back home.

There's also a boy (of course). I was a bit worried for a bit that a love triangle was being set up, but thankfully that was not the case. Linus seems like a pretty nice guy overall, although he occasionally gets pissed at Rosie and I totally understand. While he's not my newest book boyfriend, I could definitely understand why Rosie liked him.

But the ending! I still have no clue what happened. Like, I was mostly following until the very last page and then- I don't know. I think it's meant to be like that, but I don't even know. I guess it's enough to make me want to read the next book when it comes out, but a fair warning to anyone who can't handle endings like that.

Overall, I enjoyed The Vault of Dreamers for the most part, but the ending still has me majorly confused.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Cover Compare: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Another book coming up in my reading queue. Super excited for this one.


I don't mind the US cover, but I do prefer the German one! It's more colourful and less cluttered.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August 2014 Recap

So it's a little late, but I wanted to start doing monthly wrap up posts.

Books Reviewed in August:
A Study in Silks - 3.5 Hearts
Jex Malone - 3 Hearts
Sabriel - 4 Hearts
Madame Tussaud's Apprentice - 3.5 Hearts

Average rating: 3.5 Hearts

Incoming Books:

Sister's Fate
Dearly Beloved

Madame Tussaud's Apprentice

Giant TBR Challenge:

Previous TBR Total: 173
Incoming Books: 3
TBR Books Read: 4
Current TBR Total: 172

I had 3 books to add to the shelf this month, but I read 2 of them already, so I managed to still drop my total!

I can't believe it's already September. Where did the summer go?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Sister's Fate

Title: Sister's Fate
Author: Jessica Spotswood
Series: The Cahill Witch Chronicls #3
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Source: Purchased.


A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England. 

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

I'm going to miss this series so bad! After the huge ending of Star Curses, I could not wait for this book and it delivered everything I was hoping for.

I really loved Cate throughout the series, imperfections and all. I appreciated how much she did care about her sisters, despite everything that was going on. I also loved Tess. I really felt for her, with everything going on with the prophecy, but also with the more mundane struggle of growing up, especially with a big sister as protective as Cate. Maura drove me bit up the wall. I know she was opinionated and her opinions differed from Cate's, but she really was painfully stubborn and I have so much trouble forgiving her for the end of Star Cursed.

It was a bit tough to watch Cate and Finn, after the ending of Star Cursed. But I did enjoy the development there and I don't really want to say too much more for the sake of spoilers.

There is a ton of action in this one, which was to be expected in the final book of a trilogy. I loved seeing a bit of all of Cate's friends in the finale. I really loved Mei and Rilla, so I was glad they had parts in this story.

Overall, I'm sad to see this series end and I can't wait to see what Jessica Spotswood does next!

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Cover Compare: Salt and Storm

I've decided to bring back my Cover Compare posts. Yay! Salt and Storm is coming up in my reading queue and it has a few different covers to show off.


I think the US cover is my favourite for this one. I like the contrast, the simplicity and the colour. I really like how all of the covers have something nautical about them, whether it's waves, ropes or anchors. Which is your favourite?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice

Title: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice
Author: Kathleen Benner Duble
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.

In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king's brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves? From the hidden garrets of the starving poor to the jeweled halls of Versailles, "Madame Tussaud's Apprentice" is a sweeping story of danger, intrigue, and young love, set against one of the most dramatic moments in history.

I like a bit of historical fiction once in a while, partly because I feel like I'm learning something. This one was set in the French Revolution and focused on the life of Madame Tussaud, of the famous wax museum.

Our heroine is Celie, a young thief. Celie lost her family to the cruelty of the upper classes and definitely has an axe to grind there. At the start of the story, she is homeless in Paris, living in an alley with her friend Algernon and a bunch of other homeless, stealing to survive. However, Celie has a talent for drawing and a photographic memory, which result in her being saved my Manon Tussaud. Celie is obviously good-hearted, despite being a thief. However, she is very impulsive and I thought a bit naive for someone who lived on the streets.

Her best friend and giant crush is Algernon. This is where the story fell down a bit for me. Algernon didn't really appeal to me. I couldn't handle his hot-and-cold attitude towards Celie and sometimes he treated her really awful, mainly out of jealousy.

I enjoyed the historical aspect. I brought back a lot of my French Revolution history, which I haven't taken since high school. I especially appreciated the author's note at the end, explain what was historically accurate and what was changed or added to the story. I also enjoyed the parts where the process of making the wax figures was explained. I love learning how things are created.

Overall, despite my reservations about Algernon, Madame Tussaud's Apprentice was an enjoyable read that let me brush up on my French history.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: Sabriel

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 30, 1996 (first American edition - Originally published 1995)
Source: Gift.

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

I absolutely loved the world building in this one! I started reading this one as part of a read-a-long (which I totally failed at. AGAIN). I read this one a long time ago (junior high?), but I remembered hardly anything, so it was basically like reading a new book.

Sabriel is a likable character. It's really easy to feel for her and see where she's coming from. She knows so little about what she is supposed to do on her quest and her only source of information is a bit questionable and also often prevented from passing along information. She goes through so much and I really wanted her to succeed (the consequences if she does not are dire indeed).

The other characters are interesting as well. There are only two we get to see a lot of: Mogget and Touchstone. I loved Mogget. Probably because I have such a soft spot for animals, especially cats. But also because of the mystery surrounding him. And a few times we get to see another side of Mogget and I personally found it fascinating! Touchstone was just alright for me. He seemed trustworthy and dependable, but he has a lot of guilt, which translates into a I'm-not-worthy attitude that got a little grating.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved the world building in this book. The concept of Death is a tricky one, but I though Garth Nix handled it beautifully! It's really original and captivating and intriguing. The living portion of his world was also great. I loved the bizarre separation of the Old Kingdom and those across the wall and those caught between the two, like Sabriel.

The only thing I didn't love about this one was the romance. I found it to be rather sudden. Not instalove (thank goodness), but it appeared suddenly for me without much build-up. The romance by no means ruined the book, but honestly, I think the book would have been just as good without it. 

Overall, I did really enjoy this one. The world building was some of the best I've read and our heroine definitely did not disappoint. It's always great when a book is just as good the second time through!

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