May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013: Ethics & Non-Fiction

This post is part of my week-long participation in Armchair BEA 2013.


I don't know a lot about the legality of what things you're allowed to post or not post (even with permission), but I do think I have a pretty firm grasp on ethics. To me it really boils down to asking: "Does this belong to me?" If it does, then use it any way you want. If it doesn't? Then you have to examine your options. For the most part, this means linking back to a website where you might have got a quote or information from. For images it's a bit trickier. For things like ideas? That's getting even more murky.

There are times when you might start up a feature or type of blog post and not even be aware that another blogger has done something similar -- this is legitimately possible, even if you do some Googling ahead of time. But if you do know that someone else has done something similar? I'd say it's always good to link back to that particular person, and even better would be if you let them know ahead of time, or even ask for permission to post. Just being conscientious will go a long way. Think about your own content and how you would feel if someone took it without permission, especially if they didn't give you credit.

I know there are far more specific and intelligent posts out there on this subject, so feel free to link me to those if you have a favourite. Otherwise, I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.


I was going to say that I can't even remember the last time I read non-fiction, but upon further reflection I do remember. I have a couple of fandom essay collections on my eReader that I've been slowly working through. Along similar lines, I reviewed the Friday Night Lights Companion back in 2011. So I guess the non-fiction that appeals to me the most is related to my interests (in these cases, essays that analyze TV shows and book series that I enjoy).

Besides those, though? I don't consider myself a reader of non-fiction. I was a history major in university so I read a LOT back then, but only what was required. I still love reading articles about historical figures and strange kind of pop culture events, but I don't tend to seek them out... I'll just click on links if I see them on Twitter or mentioned on someone else's blog.

I feel like I categorize myself as someone who reads to escape, and escaping to me is going into the life of someone fictional, experiencing their existence. But I know that good non-fiction can do that as well. I think I just prefer the form of the novel, rather than straightforward facts. To me the appeal of history was always the stories behind the people and events, not the memorization of dates and statistics.

One non-fiction book that I've always wanted to try is Devil in the White City, because the subject matter interests me, and I've heard that it reads like a novel.

While it might take me a while to get to it, I'd love any of your recommendations for more novelistic non-fiction.

May 30, 2013

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Pages: 336
Series: The Assassin's Curse
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.
My Thoughts:
I highly enjoyed the first book in this series, The Assassin’s Curse, and this second (and final!) installment didn’t disappoint at all. Ananna is an incredibly funny narrator; she’s a character you can actually imagine growing up around pirates and having a bit of a tough upbringing. You can’t pull anything on her, and she’s so contrary and yet sweet underneath. Basically I find her totally adorable, but I would never say that to her face.

As I mentioned, this is the second and final book of the series. I didn’t know that it was a duology rather than a trilogy or series, so that would have been nice to know upfront. While reading the book I was pleasantly surprised by how much action there was, and how much happened to wrap up the overarching plot. There is definitely closure in this volume regarding the three impossible tasks and the relationship between Ananna and Naji. I don’t want to spoil too much, but if you’ve been shipping those two like I have, you won’t be disappointed. However, the romance aspect is the one part I would have liked more clarification on from one side of the party. What happened seemed real and yet way too sudden at the same time. All that being said, I reminded myself that we're reading from Ananna’s POV, and she’s pretty unreliable when it comes to presenting herself, so it’s hard to say what existed between the lines.

What I love about these books is just how much fun they are to read. There’s action, adventure, and piracy, and then there’s the fantasy aspect as well. There’s magic and curses, and, as you can see by the cover, a manicore. This character brought a lot of comic relief and also craziness to the book. If you’re looking for a hardcore epic fantasy tale then this definitely isn’t the read for you, but if you want a somewhat whimsical adventure with a fabulous heroine, then definitely pick this one up. ‘The Pirate’s Curse’ was a perfect conclusion to this duology -- it tells a complete story with a concrete, and yet open, ending. There are no tidy ribbons tied or a supreme Happily Ever After, but there was still happiness and hope. I loved how there were no easy answers, but there were good ones nonetheless.

The Cover:


Find The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013: Genre Fiction

This post is part of my week-long participation in Armchair BEA 2013.

Genre Fiction

As an avid reader of YA, I tend to read a lot of different genres. YA is fabulous because it’s a category filled with books that are so different from one another. This is great because it tends to mean that YA is more open to cross-genre reads. Things aren’t put into genre boxes quite the way they are in adult reads, and this means that when I go looking for a great YA read I could end up with something contemporary, dystopian, paranormal, historical, or even some combination of those (not to mention fantasy, sci-fi, etc).

I know a lot of people hate the fact that YA books are so romance heavy. Personally I’m a big fan of romance, and that element of romance can keep me into a book where I might lose interest otherwise. That being said, I’m not a fan of romance just for the sake of saying your book has a romance. There are books that suffer from the inclusion of romance. If your love interest doesn’t tell you anything about the heroine or move the plot forward in any way, that subplot probably doesn't belong. There are tons of fabulous books about friendship and family that don’t involve romance (Code Name Verity, anyone?).

Within YA I read a lot of contemporary/realistic books. These are the types of novels I read almost exclusively when I was a teenager, and I still continue to enjoy them. I’ve also been reading a lot of adult contemp romances this year, as well as New Adult books (the quality and uniqueness of NA is a whole other post, but there are some good ones out there). Surprisingly I’m also a big fan of paranormal books. I say surprisingly, because up until a couple of years ago I basically wouldn’t read anything paranormal. Now if I’m going to read any adult books outside of contemp romance, I’m likely to pick up a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy title. I also enjoy YA series that are paranormal in nature.

I love how YA has opened me up to so many genres that I never really thought about before. Books like Graceling and Poison Study introduced me to the world of fantasy. Series like Vampire Academy and Morganville Vampires showed me that not only could I enjoy paranormal books, but I could actually love vampire books as well. The Agency books reminded me what I love about historical settings.

I’m planning on writing a post in the future of “Must Read YA Titles” so I’ll save my favourites list for then, but I do have a Favourites Shelf on Goodreads that you can check out.

Can't wait to see which genres are your must-reads and which titles you might want to recommend.

May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013: An Introduction

This post is part of my week-long participation in Armchair BEA 2013.

An Introduction

Welcome to Day 1 of Armchair BEA, everyone! Hello to both my regular visitors and to those of you new to Book Labyrinth. I can't believe it, but this is my 3rd year participating in Armchair BEA!! I always have a lot of fun finding new blogs and seeing what everyone else is chatting about.

Without further ado, here are the questions I chose to answer:

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
Hello! I'm Ashley, a 26 year old blogger from Ontario, Canada. I generally review YA, but I also delve into New Adult here on the blog. I've also been considering adding a few adult reviews here and there, as I've been reading a lot more non-teen books this year.

And here I'll crib from my own answer from last year: I've been blogging on Book Labyrinth since August of 2010 and writing reviews on Goodreads since January of that year. I started Book Labyrinth because I wanted a place where I could have bookish discussions with other people who enjoyed the same books as I did. What has kept me blogging is that connection with other book bloggers, because let's face it: no one else understands our book obsessions the way other bloggers do.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.
As mentioned, I'm from Ontario, Canada. To be more specific, Southwestern Ontario, basically equally distance from Port Huron, Michigan and Niagara Falls, New York. This means that despite all the Canadian stereptypes of igloos and the cold, I actually live in a place that's further south than about 1/3 of the States.

Something special about my location in regards to blogging is that I'm a couple hours from Toronto, which means that (when the timing works out) I get to attend a lot of great book events. There is also a large group of bloggers from the Toronto area, and it's been awesome to get to know them.

3. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?
Yes!! It's my 3rd year, as stated, which is pretty unbelievable. I think the greatest thing about Armchair BEA is the sense of community. We're all book lovers, and it's so cool to see all the responses to the great topics that the Armchair BEA team comes up with. I also love the Twitter parties and the chance for great prizes -- there's an exciting atmosphere throughout the whole event, which I think is great, considering a lot of people are sad they can't physically be at BEA.

4. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
At the moment I'm reading "How I Lost You" by Janet Gurtler. She's a fellow Canadian who writes fabulous contemporary YA titles.

To name only one favourite book of the year is impossible, so I'll list a few. Despite owning The Host since it was published I never read it until the beginning of this year. Surprisingly I really adored it. Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers was an amazing second volume to the 'His Fair Assassin' series. On a completely different note, Me Before You is a book that I can't stop thinking about. It's a tough and controversial read, but the emotions it evokes are crazy intense.

5. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
I was lucky enough to interview Marissa Meyer before her event in Toronto this march. I wrote about the event, and you can also listen to or read a transcript of the interview.

Then there was that time that Kelley Armstrong stopped by my house. (RIGHT??)

One post that I found interesting to write, and I think garnered some decent discussion was about favourite types of Book Swag.

Thanks for visiting, everyone! I can't wait to be introduced to all of you.

You can also check out some of my answers from the Armchair BEA 2012 Introduction.

May 27, 2013

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: K Teen
Pages: 301
Series: Elementals
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust…
My Thoughts:
I had a bit of a tough start when beginning Spirit, simply because I had a hard time remembering the big details from 'Spark' (book 2). It had been a while since I read it, so I couldn’t remember why certain characters were mad at Hunter, or what the motivation was from the “bad guys”. However as I kept reading I began to remember some of those details, and I was swept away by the story and the main characters in ‘Spirit’.

Hunter and Kate are intriguing characters, both of them extremely complex and not always likeable. They've been through a lot, they don't know how to trust (even when they should), and they both make a lot of mistakes. What’s interesting about these characters and their connection is that, despite their tough exteriors, both of them really just want peace and a place to belong. This book is very Hunter-centric, and he's still not trusting the Merricks, so it’s a bit of a step back from the family atmosphere of the previous books. That being said, there are definitely still some great moments with each of the brothers (especially with Michael), as well as with Becca and Hannah.

To me this was a book about Hunter finding himself and his place in the whole Elementals world. It’s a tough journey for him, and there are some terrible moments that he has to go through. 'Spirit' really leaves you in a place where the Elemental/Guide war is heating up, and you wonder how things will continue to spiral and how these guys will try to stop it. ‘Spirit’ was a big character journey book that examines wrong versus right, and the different sides of the Elemental conflict. I genuinely enjoyed this read, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

The Cover:
Unfortunately the awesome-ness of these books is not reflected in the covers.


Find Spirit by Brigid Kemmerer on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

Vote for your favourite Elementals boy, and the winner of the poll will be featured in a short story written by Brigid:

New to the world of the Elementals and want to try it out?

Kensington Teen is offering you Book 0.5 from the series for FREE!! Just visit the Elemental page on the Kensington site, add the book to your cart, and enter the promo code VCARD. Promo is active until May 31st, so get it for free while it lasts.

This review was posted as part of the Spirit Blog Tour, hosted by The Midnight Garden. Be sure to follow along for giveaways, interviews, and more.

May 24, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: 464
Series: Age of X
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.
My Thoughts:
‘Gameboard of the Gods’ is Richelle Mead’s latest adult release, but I’ve also seen it categorized as New Adult. It’s definitely an adult novel, but it does have appeal factors of New Adult and even YA. Justin is thirty-something, Mae is a bit younger, and then there’s also a focus on 16 year old Tessa. I think if you can handle mature YA with some adult content (read: sex between consenting adults), then it definitely works for all of those age categories.

Personally I was fascinated by all the little details that Mead snuck into this book, and how she world-built. It was super interesting to see genetic mixing and bi-racialism as the ideal, and to be in a world where genetic improvements and implants were commonplace for the elite soldiers. On the one hand you have these huge technological improvements and a highly tech based society, and yet there were also the “backwards” nations with low tech and lots of crime. Interestingly the “backwards” nations were the ones who hadn’t eradicated religion, whereas in RUNA (Republic of United North America) traditional religion is outlawed, and other types of religion are regulated. I was completely enthralled with all of these concepts coming up in the book; they’re all quite controversial subjects, and are related to things being talked about today (e.g. chipping people, messing with DNA, etc).

‘Gameboard of the Gods’ features interesting characters that got my attention right away. Justin is a playboy and an addict; he’s also charming and extremely intelligent. Mae is a super badass fighter who’s also vulnerable; she never wants to feel like someone's possession. Let me say that there is a hugeeee amount of chemistry between Justin and Mae. Justin can’t be with Mae because of a prophecy of sorts (so spoilers, it's talked about pretty upfront), which means the book has lots and lots of delicious UST. Tessa, the previously mentioned teenager, is Justin's ward and is trying to settle in to a school where most everyone sees her as backwards.

I’m sure you can tell from my thoughts that this book is very detailed with technology and how things work in every part of the country. I’m not the kind of person who normally enjoys this, but in this book it kept my attention well. Richelle Mead seems to be good at providing lots of information without making it seem too infodump-y. I also loved the contrast of the story: it takes place in a country that disparages religion, and yet the book is full of mysticism and gods/goddesses. There’s a great murder mystery aspect to the story with Justin trying to debunk real supernatural involvement, but this turns out to be difficult. The way it was all presented seemed like a natural progression for certain characters to start believing in more than just scientific fact.

It may seem like this book is ambitious and too busy with so many themes and concepts (murder, genetics, religion, secret sects, as well as issues of nationality versus culture and class structure), yet somehow it all worked for me. ‘Gameboard of the Gods’ is a sci-fi paranormal/fantasy set in a future that seems plausible. I found this book to be very enjoyable and interesting, and I can't wait to see where things go in book two.

The Cover:
Like it!

[Strong 4/5]

Find Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 23, 2013

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 257
Series: n/a
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
My Thoughts:
Daisy Whitney has a special way with words. The things that she writes just reach out and touch my heart. It sounds cliche, but I find her writing incredibly meaningful. I love how the themes in ‘When You Were Here’ (love, life, loss, finding meaning) are universal, and yet it felt like Danny's words were meant directly for me, for me to feel & experience.

This one stands out to me, first and foremost, because of the male narrator. Danny is a lovely character: so sweet and a little bit broken as he copes with the death of his mother. The book is sad, of course, because of the theme, but it was the type of sad that I can handle. It was bittersweet throughout, with a few bursting moments of hope and renewal at the end.

The book also features two main female characters, Holland and Kana, who are very distinct from one another, and yet I adored them equally, in such different ways. I really loved the platonic friendship between Danny and Kana. It just felt so perfect to me, that representation of an incredibly meaningful relationship between a boy and a girl that wasn't romantic.

‘When You Were Here’ is sad but hopeful, and I found it to be beautiful and moving. It has a great travel aspect with Danny going to Tokyo, and also features an incredibly sweet relationship between a guy and his dog. This book is just so lovely and I highly recommend it; my first thoughts after finishing it were: 'So. Freaking. Good.'

The Cover:
Really like it!


Find When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

(Legacy of Tril #2)
by Heather Brewer

Publisher: Dial
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

[SPOILERS from first book!!]

Sometimes you have to break the rules to discover the truth.

In this follow up to
Legacy of Tril: Soulbound, Kaya has learned that she is Soulbound to Darius, the Barron she secretly trained with at Shadow Academy. But he’s been sent away, leaving Kaya with questions about how he could be Soulbound to her and another Healer. Determined to find answers and prove herself worthy of fighting in the war against King Darrek and the Graplars, Kaya sneaks away, encountering a mysterious Barron named Gage in her travels. But Darius has shocking information about Gage—information that changes everything Kaya thought she knew about what it means to be Bound.
Add to Goodreads

I seriously enjoyed the first book in this series, Soulbound, and it feels like it's been FOREVER since it was released. I'm so looking forward to this second book!!

May 21, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Series: n/a
Review Source: Edelweiss

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear..
My Thoughts:
‘You Look Different in Real Life’ has a fabulous concept with filming kids every five years to see changes in individuals and in social groups. In the context of the book it becomes a real journey of who Justine is, what her passions are, and where she fits. Because of being on camera almost her whole life Justine has a real issue with who she actually is, versus how she expected herself to turn out.

Jennifer Castle touches on a lot of great issues in this book. There are friendships falling apart, and looking at whether you’ve truly grown out of them or whether they might be worth saving. As I said, I loved the filming aspect, and how this influenced how Justine saw the world and herself. My favourite part of the book was probably how Justine and Nate’s relationship progressed from zero contact to a type of understanding. Basically I enjoyed these characters, their relationships, and the role of the film and what it meant in their lives. This is another great YA contemp from Jennifer Castle.

The Cover:
Overall, I like it.


Find You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 20, 2013

A Random Good Thing (or that time Kelley Armstrong came to my house)

So, this happened today...

I was checking twitter this morning and definitely more than half-jokingly replied to Kelley's tweet. Then I was just eating my breakfast and reading my book and all the sudden I get a text from Avery that's all exclamation points (not a rare occurrence, actually ;)), and then another one saying something like "You have to see what Kelley wrote!"... so I go back on Twitter and see that I inadvertently started a contest. That in itself was a "woah!" moment.

Then all the sudden Kelley is DMing me and I get to email with her and oh btw she'll drop by about 4 pm. Like no big deal, I have NYT bestselling authors at my house all the time, right? Thankfully I've met Kelley a few times before, or else I think I would have been freaking out even more. My Mom was totally fangirling, haha, and she was like "We need a picture to prove Kelley's been to our house!" which is totally dorky, but also fun, and I'm glad she took one. We chatted for a few minutes, and I got Kelley to sign my copy of The Rising, since it was the only one I didn't have signed. All in all, supremely cool.

I guess the moral of the story is you should definitely just tweet random things, because you never know what will happen. The other moral is that Kelley Armstrong is awesome, and is so cool to her readers. I already knew that just from the amount of contests she has, and how she communicates with people on her website and tumblr, but this just proves it even more.


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