Friday, June 3, 2016

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest Post

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest Post

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest PostJulia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Goodreads

Julia Vanishes Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people's senses.

It's a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it's a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned--crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding--though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia suspects that there's a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she'd ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.

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CITY OF EX-BOYFRIENDS

A friend who read an early draft of Julia Vanishes asked me if a certain guy in the book was drawn from a certain guy in my (past) life. He isn’t. But a few days later I was drawing a map of Julia’s home, Spira City, and thinking about the character of each neighborhood – the dark, damp alleys and cellars of the Edge, the exuberantly subversive spirit of the Twist, the glamor and exclusivity of West Spira. That’s when I realized: I’ve dated each of these guys. I can think of at least one ex-boyfriend to correspond with each neighborhood, and if you’ve spent a few years dating, you probably can too.

Forrestal is the guy who seems plausible at first – he’s nice, he’s clean, he gets along with everybody – but you realize pretty fast that there’s nothing here for you. It’s too quiet, all the houses look the same, and all the streets seem to circle around, back to the same place. Go to a brighter part of the city, where garbage is blowing down the streets and you hear music and laughter from inside the bars. Push open a new door. Never think about him again.

The Twist is the guy who sweeps you off your feet, possibly on the rebound from Forrestal, with his energy and jokes and wildness. He is rumpled and drinks too much and he can never stay still for long. He’s a drummer and you’re surprised how good he is because he doesn’t strike you as very focused. He never seems to sleep. It will be fun, but it won’t last, because sometimes you do have to sleep, and while you’re sleeping, he’s going to find someone else to stay up with him. You’ll stay friends, because even if you don’t want to live here, you still want to visit sometimes.

Mt. Heriot is in your evening class on John Donne. He gives you rides home afterwards on his motorbike. He’s shorter than you but not insecure about it, he’s a vegan socialist who reads Hebrew fluently and writes very long poems that he won’t let you read. The relationship lasts a few hilarious, happy, confusing months until the class ends and he goes off to South America with a tiny backpack and his political idealism and for a while life seems very quiet. He will always be your favorite ex-boyfriend.

The Plateau comes to the café where you work on breaks from his construction job. He asks you out on his birthday. You say yes because it’s his birthday and he seems funny and smart and you like the way he looks covered in a layer of sawdust. He shows up for your date scrubbed pink and wearing so much cologne and hair gel that you can hardly breathe. He is sullen and monosyllabic all evening and then shoves you against a wall for a grope at the nightclub. The Plateau might at first glance seem like a respectable, practical sort of neighborhood – the Parliament buildings are there, and the train station – but Hostorak, the horrifying prison for witches, lies at its center, a dark, rotten spot at the core, and you just don’t want to go anywhere near that, really. So run.

West Spira asks you out while you are filling up his coffee. You recognize from the very first moment that this is the kind of man for whom everything is a transaction. You are nineteen and a waitress, and you know what your part of this transaction will be. Still, you say yes, because at this point in your life you are driven by curiosity more than anything else. He takes you out for dinner. He takes you out on his boat. He takes you skiing. One night he starts ranting about taxes and feminists, and you are done. After you break up, he writes you a livid e-mail detailing every cent he spent on you.

You wouldn’t date The Edge if you knew what kind of neighborhood you were stumbling into. You end up with him because you’re lost, and it takes a while to realize just how bad it is. How lost he is. You go a little deeper and it’s all gravestones and then impassable mountains. This is where you learn that you can’t save someone from themselves, but you’ll never feel as guilty as when you leave him behind.

The Scola is the guy who talks to you about books. The streets are well-lit. You can see where you’re going. It’s lively here, but it also feels safe. This is the guy you marry, but you’ll find that a marriage contains every neighborhood within itself, and that you are also full of unexpected corners and derelict neighborhoods. You learn to walk each other with care – to enjoy the familiar, the favorite bookstores and restaurants and wide open parks, to take delight in the surprises and discoveries, and to steer clear of certain streets at certain hours of the night. You think you can’t get lost here, and you’ve stopped carrying a map, but anything can happen in the city.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m definitely planning on checking out Julia Vanishes very soon!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | Review

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | ReviewIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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At this point I feel like I don’t even need to write a review for this book.  So many other bloggers have read it and reviewed it and I’m pretty sure they have all said everything that I am going to say in this review.  Oh well, you’ll get my review anyway.

Illuminae was one of the most buzzed about books at BEA this year and after reading it, I know why.  I’ve never been a fan of science fiction books and I didn’t think it would be any different with Illuminae.  Boy was I wrong.  I adored everything about this book, from start to finish.  If I had the time to reread it right now, I would.  If you’re like me and a bit skeptical, I understand.  Ignore your misgivings and read it anyway!

The format of Illuminae makes for a quick, easy read.  Although I have to admit, the blacking out of swear words didn’t really do anything except make me curious.  I kept trying to figure out what words would fit in the sentences.  I’m weird like that.  Other than that, the story is told through interviews, chats, schematics, journals, and other odd styles.  I loved everything about that!  I admit there were some parts that confused me a bit and I had to reread sections to make sense of everything but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was powering through the book.  I just wanted to keep reading and I probably read a little too fast.  I guess that just means I’ll need to reread the book to see if I missed anything.

I was a little worried that because of the style of writing, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters.  That was not the case at all.  Kady and Ezra were really easy to like and I truly loved their relationship.  They definitely had their issues but they were so good together.  Even their arguments were cute.  There was actually very little physical interaction between the two but that didn’t bother me.  I’m all for romance and sexy times in my books but the build up in Illuminae might have been even better than actual sexy times between the two.  Together, the two were awesome.  Separate, they were also awesome.  They were strong and smart and funny.  I went through the spectrum of emotions while reading their stories.  I laughed, I squealed, and I definitely cried.  Boy did I cry.  Just goes to show that an amazing story can be told in many different ways.

The story itself is pulse pounding and full of surprises.  I really didn’t know what to expect with this story and I think that was a good thing.  I had no expectations for Illuminae but even if I had, it would have exceeded them.  The story is so unique and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman did an amazing job with it.  And while things tie up pretty nicely at the end, there is clearly more to come.  I look forward to seeing what these two have in store for readers next.  I’m not sure anything can top Illuminae but I hope the rest of the series does.

Overall, Illuminae deserves every bit of praise it has received so far and I hope that it becomes a huge hit when it hits shelves soon.  Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are two authors that are new to me but I’m definitely going to seek out more of their work now.  Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.  You won’t regret it.

What others are saying about Illuminae:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “This is fresh and spectacular and clever.”

Book Blog Bake’s review: “There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.”

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “For real, this book took me on quite the journey and I do not know about you all, but when I come back from a particularly great trip, I have this disoriented feeling as I try to get back to business as usual.”