November 14, 2013

Love List (26) - November 14, 2013

That the date was:  11/12/13.
Hot chocolate.
Those surprisingly warm days in the middle of the cold months.
When daylight savings time ends.
Sing Sing by Mariannas Trench.
Tom Hiddleston.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Tom Hiddleston as a Disney prince.
My new lamp.
The One With the Rumour.
When my computer does not think my Canadian spelling is wrong.
Allergy medication.
Having something to look forward to.
Literature-Map [.] com
If I'm Gonna Fall In Love by A Rocket to the Moon.

This has gotten out of hand now.


October 14, 2013

Love List (25) - October 14, 2013

Today is a day where I really need a love list.  So, here it goes:

Mom's stuffing.
Books for school that you actually end up liking.
Fangirl.  (Look for more Fangirl themed loves down below. *points*)
Rainbow Rowell.
Seriously, have you met Rainbow Rowell?
The Walking Dead.
Vicious.  Vicious.  Vicious.
The 5th Wave.  (It's a book themed love list).
Fall Previews.
Days off.
When the essays are done and handed in and you can't edit them anymore.
Online shopping.  (I really do).
The Dream Thieves.
Ronan Lynch!
Simon & Baz.
Page 71 of Fangirl!
Writing my Vicious review.
Wrecking Ball.
Miley Cyrus' new album.
Sing Sing by Marianas Trench.
Waiting for Luke + Lorelai because they're totally worth it.
The fact the Katy Perry's new album will be out next week!

Ack, it's almost not the 14th!  *insert moment of panic here*

September 23, 2013

Early Book Review: Vicious

Title:  Vicious
Author:  V. E. Schwab
Length:  364 pages
Publisher:  TOR Books
On-Sale Date:  September 24, 2013
Format:  ARC paperback

Eli Ever and Victor Vale meet in college.  They are both brilliantly clever and curious kindred spirits, but everything changes when Eli’s thesis gets out of hand.  Eli chooses to study ExtraOrdinaries – people with superhuman abilities – and when the boys learn how to create an EO, they can’t help but try their hand at becoming one.  Victor and Eli obsess about nothing else, and then everything goes horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor and Eli are as far away from friendship as two people can be.  After all, it was Eli who landed Victor in prison.  Ten years is a long time; time for Victor to plan his revenge, and time for Eli to keep himself … busy.  Ever since Eli and Victor’s unfortunate falling out, Eli has been repulsed by the unnaturalness of EOs, and he has made it his mission to eliminate them all.
ExtraOrdinaries are not heroes.  Or villains.  Or lucky.  Or cursed.  They have been given a second chance … and they are fighting for their lives.
Now, Victor is coming for Eli, but Eli is not alone.
Can Victor stop Eli?

Vicious was wonderfully horrifying.

There were no true superheroes or villains in Vicious.  Every character held their own brand of darkness, some more twisted than others, just as every character tried their hand at being good.
No one was inhuman.  V. E. Schwab was very clear on making that point.  Not one character was truly, completely evil.

Victor Vale was not good or innocent or loving, but he was right and safer than his former friend.  I was surprised to learn that despite his questionable choices and dangerous actions, Victor was likeable, and he was a character I would miss if something bad happened.  His quirks had not changed from the time he was a student – before EOs and prison and Eli.  Regardless of all the strikes against him, Victor was a decent ally who cared about his accomplices.  Victor was someone who could hurt you, but he only really wanted to hurt Eli.  He was not a victim.  Victor’s crimes began as mistakes, and he did not deserve to lose everything.

Victor wanted Eli.  He wanted his friendship before he wanted his death, but now he was focused solely on ending Eli Ever’s existence.

Eli was intriguing.  You never really learned who Eli was before he became ExtraOrdinary, and his secrecy and all-consuming interest in EOs was enticing.  Eli had an appeal that was impossible not to be drawn to.  It was what lurked past the handsome, charming exterior that interested Victor.  Victor was the first to see something in Eli – something dark – and Eli’s own opinion of himself was wrong – distorted.  It seemed like Eli was in the right and he felt like the character you should like, and should be rooting for, but there was something off-putting about him that would make a reader hesitant to be on his side.

Victor and Eli had no idea how much they influenced each other.  In college, Eli fascinated Victor, and Victor wanted to be a step ahead of the boy who got everything – he wanted to be better.  When Eli became an EO, Victor did not think of the consequences in following the same path.  Now, ten years later, it was clear that Victor and Eli had shaped each other into what they were today:  killers, purposeful, and ExtraOrdinary.

Both men were similar.  They were strong-willed, and never explained themselves.  Victor and Eli would do anything – use anyone – if it gave them an advantage over their enemy.  They didn’t mind ­– liked – getting their hands dirty, and they saw killing as a necessity.  But in their similarities there were also differences, because Victor did not believe in God or a greater good, and Eli believed that ExtraOrdinaries should be removed.

Eli was not righteous, and Victor was not innocent.  However, Eli had every right to be mad, and Victor had every right to want revenge.  I didn’t like either of their choices, but I understood them.  Victor would stop at nothing to get to Eli and there was bound to be collateral as he executed his vendetta.  Victor and Eli gained unlikely accomplices, and these characters grew on you.  Mitch and Sydney and Serena; the bodyguard, the lost girl, and the girl you hated.

Nothing posed a true challenge for Eli, until her.  He could get away with anything, do anything, but now, she was the one in control, and he couldn’t get enough – couldn’t leave her.  Eli was the first person to fight Serena, say no, and not let her have everything she wanted.  And Serena saw right through Eli.  Her immediate attraction to Eli made sense, because she was sick of having power – of everyone saying yes.  You couldn’t know Serena until the second half of the book.  And she would surprise you.  She would keep surprising you.

I liked Sydney and Mitch; Victor and fate threw them together.  Mitch had the best intentions and could see what Victor’s vendetta would doubtlessly cause.  You wouldn’t think that Victor was a character who instilled unwavering loyalty, but Mitch stood with him.  Mitch and Sydney were incredible assets.  Sydney unexpectedly fell onto Victor’s side after Eli tried to have her killed, and she proved to be a formidable player and stronger than her twelve years would have you believe.

I found that I liked not knowing whose side I wanted to be on.  Victor and Eli were not easy to like or dislike, because beneath the anger and cruelty lay good intentions and other redeeming qualities.

I liked finding things out, like truths and stories, in little pieces.  And I liked being kept in the dark because the answers, when exposed, had a greater impact.  We wouldn’t have gotten the same story if it were told any other way.  It worked very well, and made the story even more gripping.

In the end, Victor and Eli were just boys playing at death, and life, and revenge.  In the end, they were both wrong.

Premise:  5/5
Plot:  4/5
Writing:  4.5/5
Characters:  5/5
Overall:  5/5

Disclosure:  I picked up an advanced copy at Book Expo America 2013.  This did not influence my review in any way.

July 26, 2013

Book Review: Pushing the Limits

Author:  Katie McGarry
Length:  392 pages
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
On-Sale Date:  July 31st, 2012
Format:  ARC paperback

Echo Emerson wakes up in a hospital bed, arms covered in bandages, with no memory of how she got there.  She remembers going to visit her mother, and then … nothing.
Noah Hutchins’ parents died several years ago, and he’s been bouncing from foster home to foster home ever since.  The only important thing left to him is family, and Noah will do anything to gain custody of his brothers.
Flash-forward a couple of months:  Echo is trying to put her life back together, and Noah is failing miserably at being responsible and is barely allowed visiting rights to see his brothers.
Seeing the new school counselor is a step in the right direction for both of them, and ultimately it’s what shoves Noah and Echo together; but can falling in love make any of it easier?

Pushing the Limits was heart wrenching and heartbreaking, and I would read it again in a heartbeat.

I fell into this book.  All I wanted was to completely immerse myself in Noah and Echo’s lives.  Echo’s voice grabbed me from the first chapter and I was sold as soon as I met Noah.  I was on their side from the very beginning; Katie McGarry created characters you cheered for.

Pushing the Limits was a love story that you couldn’t help but fall in love with.  It was Echo and Noah, two broken teenagers, mending themselves and each other.  It was beautiful, painful and felt very, very real.

This was one of the most emotional books I had ever read.  My heart lay in little pieces on the floor and was put back together as the story progressed.  Noah and Echo had been through so much, even before the story began, that you couldn’t help but ache for them.  Echo was broken in such a way that she didn’t know how to fix, while Noah was filled with doubt because of how he’d been let down.  Instead of giving up, with all the odds stacked against them, they fought for what they wanted:  normalcy, family, answers … and they also, unexpectedly, found love and comfort in each other.

Echo’s relationship with her family was dysfunctional.  Her mother wasn’t even present, but the damage she had caused in Echo’s life was permanent.  Echo’s relationship with her unstable mother was extremely painful, and it left a bitter taste in your mouth.

Echo was going through an extremely rough time when she met Noah, but he somehow helped her wade through it.  She was looking for answers, and when she found them, they changed her.  Although it was impossible for her not to be affected by the truth, at least she was no longer restrained by ignorance and lies.  Unfortunately, the hardest part was that Echo was forced to learn some completely unfair lessons that she would never get closure for.

Noah’s brothers were wonderful.  They brought joy to the story when it was shrouded in sadness, and being a good big brother was an extremely important facet of Noah’s character.  Noah’s entire future was driven by the desire to be a good brother.  He wasn’t known for being especially caring, but Echo brought out that sweet side of him that was usually only seen when he was with his brothers.

Noah and Echo’s relationship was tender and moving.  There were many unexpected aspects to it that were actually very, very, sweet.
The two became even more likeable because they faced insurmountable odds.  They were admirable because they didn’t give up when they wanted to; they made the difficult decisions, and most of all, they fought to make things better.  Moving past the bad choices, and traumatic experiences were not easy for either of them, but having each other made all the difference.  Anyone who called Echo weak would be wrong, and Noah would melt your heart when you gave him the chance.

I could spend ages examining the depths of these characters.  It was wonderful to peal off layers as I read, and uncover more about Noah and Echo.

Things were not always fair, and sometimes it was very difficult to bounce back from a painful experience, but Echo and Noah coped as best they could.  Pushing the Limits taught you that it was better to let go of the pain and the grudges and the anger, and that even though it was the hardest thing to do, it could be done.

I’m proud of Echo and Noah.

Premise:  5/5
Plot:  5/5
Writing:  5/5
Characters:  5/5
Overall:  5/5

Disclosure:  I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from the publisher.  This did not influence my review in any way.

July 14, 2013

Love List (24) - July 14, 2013

Teen Wolf.
The fact that all the Harry Potter movies are playing at a somewhat local theatre.
That the usher noticed and complimented my Gryffindor shirt.
Working together.
Seriously, Stiles.
How I Met Your Mother.
Despicable Me.
Jake Long.
Opportunities that allow me to write about books.
The new trailer for The Hobbit.
My own commentary during the City of Bones trailer.
I Waste So Much Time.  (It's a website).

This kind of seems like a horrible time to make a love list when so many bad things are happening in the world, but it's also a good time to remember the things we love.

June 14, 2013

Love List (23) - June 14, 2013

Every month I try to post, what I call, a Love List on the 14th of the month.  It’s something I started over two years ago now, and I think it’s always a good idea to be reminded of the things you love.

My love for NYC is always reinforced whenever I’m there … and I was there … two weeks ago.  I think I will forever love that city.
BEA 2013.
That I saw Darren Criss live in concert two days ago.
Darren Criss’ new songs.  Especially the last one he sang, which I will not quote for fear of getting in trouble.  But it’s about fairytales.  Seriously.
Stutter by Darren Criss.
That he still played the concert in Toronto even though he was sick.
Encores in concerts.
That I can magically guess when people are reading The Fault in Our Stars.
That John is releasing a second edition of the TFiOS audiobook where he’s narrating.
That tumblr knows all.
That I still don’t know how to take videos with my new camera even though I did somehow manage to take a video two weeks ago.
My quote door.
That Skype makes things easier.

This conversation:
Friend:  You look like a Terri, right?
Me:  Ummmm.  I look like a Terri with shorter hair.
Friend:  You promised you’d be recognizable!

Enjoy the things you love.  (As I do mine).

May 19, 2013

Author Interview: Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab, author of The Near Witch, was wonderful enough to answer a tremendous amount of questions about her second novel – The Archived.  This interview took place at the beginning of the year, and I apologize that it has not been posted until now.
Victoria is always a friendly presence on twitter and updates her blog on a regular basis.
We have a lot to look forward to from Victoria, and I’m sure there is more we aren’t privy to, because she is constantly writing (or editing).  Her first adult novel, Vicious, is due out September 2013, the sequel to The ArchivedThe Unbound, will be released in January of 2014, and a middle grade series is in the works, (no information as of yet).
Victoria couldn’t tell me anything about The Unbound at the time of the interview, (there is now some information about it on her blog), but she told me everything I wanted to know about The Archived.
I hope you enjoy learning about Victoria and The Archived as much as I did.

Read & Riot:  Coffee or tea?

VICTORIA:  Tea. Always. Only. A pot, please. I drink my tea the way others drink their coffee.
R&R:  One place you’d like to live that you haven’t yet? To visit?
VICTORIA:  Edinburgh. I've visited, and it is, to this day, the only place where my bones have been happy. I'm a restless soul, but setting foot there, it was like my silt had settled.
(R&R edit:  I'm even happier for Victoria, because has recently been in Edinburgh).
R&R:  Favourite way to spend a vacation?
VICTORIA:  Writing in a coffee shop in a gray city where no one speaks English, so the cafe chatter bleeds into a lovely white noise and I can think.
R&R:  Favourite way to spend a rainy day?
VICTORIA:  Reading in a comfy chair.
R&R:  Magazines or newspapers?
R&R:  Audiobooks or ebooks?
VICTORIA:  Neither. I tend to zone out when listening or reading too long on a screen. I need the feel of paper, the ability to truly turn pages.
R&R:  Facebook or twitter?
VICTORIA:  Technically both, and being an immediate-gratification-lover, both appeal, but Twitter is more fun and lends itself more to mischief and random conversations with famous people.
R&R:  Favourite TV shows?
VICTORIA:  Dexter, Vampire Diaries, Modern Family, Supernatural, Downtown Abbey, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who.
(Read & Riot loves Game of Thrones).
R&R:  Favourite (music) artists?
VICTORIA:  At the moment, Fun, Mumford and Sons, Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, Florence + the Machine.
R&R:  Favourite bookstore?
VICTORIA:  Any and every.
R&R:  Favourite season?
VICTORIA:  Fall. I love the chill and the smell of dying leaves and woodsmoke.
R&R:  Vampires or werewolves?
VICTORIA:  Vampires. Always.
R&R:  Who are some authors / writers that you admire?
VICTORIA:  Neil Gaiman, Laini Taylor, Holly Black.
R&R:  What’s your favourite thing about reading?
VICTORIA:  Getting out of my own mind.
R&R:  What’s one of your greatest dreams?
VICTORIA:  To change someone's life.
R&R:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
VICTORIA:  Be brave.

R&R:  I’m really curious how you came up with the idea for The Archived and what came to you first. Can you tell me?
VICTORIA:  The first thing I thought of was the location. Before I knew anything else, I knew I wanted to write about a family moving into an old hotel that had been converted into an apartment building, and then fallen into disrepair. Strange that in a supernatural book, the mundane came first.
R&R:  Has The Archived been something you’ve been working on for a long time?
VICTORIA:  Yes. Almost three years, in fact. Its first incarnation was very different, and had a different name, and I took the project down to studs and wrote it all over again.
R&R:  What was your favourite thing about writing The Archived?
VICTORIA:  That's a very hard question. It's a very hard book. My favorite thing to imagine was the world, a supernatural one set over the top, or rather behind the scenes, of our mundane one. My favorite things to write were Wesley Ayers's bits of dialogue, and the flashbacks between Mac and her grandfather that stud the book.
R&R:  The Archive has many parts to it. It encompasses places, people and objects, and it all fits so intricately together. Was it difficult to puzzle everything together?
VICTORIA:  Exceedingly.
R&R:  Which character in The Archived did you have the most fun writing? Personally, I’m fond of Roland, but I particularly enjoyed scenes with Nix.
VICTORIA:  Roland, Wesley, and Da. The main characters are always the hardest for me to get a handle on, but I have endless fun with secondaries.
R&R:  Mackenzie’s very curious, even though Keepers shouldn’t be. Is this a trait you two share?
VICTORIA:  Yes. In fact, looking at every character I've written so far, those you've met and those you will in the next couple years, I'd say I favor curious heroes and heroines.
R&R:  What would you say to Mackenzie if you had the chance to talk to her? And, would you talk to her before, during, or after the events of The Archived took place?
VICTORIA:  I'd talk to her after, and I'd tell her to be brave. It's only going to get worse.
R&R:  I think The Near Witch and The Archived could both be classified as scary stories. Do you like scary stories?
VICTORIA:  Apparently. Funnily enough I scare SOOO easily, but I guess it's different, when you're in control of the things that go bump in the night.
R&R:  Your first book, The Near Witch, was a standalone (for now). The Archived is a different YA title with a sequel to come. Before TA2 your first adult novel, Vicious, will be released. Nowadays everything seems to be a series, and your books are all very different from each other. You don’t fit into the standard “trilogy” mold. Is there a reason for this?
VICTORIA:  I don't like molds. I don't believe in writing to fit them. I write the stories as I think they need to be written, and luckily for me, my publishers have agreed (so far). The Archived, for instance, was always meant to be a series. The Near Witch and Vicious exist on their own, but with the potential for tangential narratives. The formats are different because the stories are different.
R&R:  You have a very active Internet presence. As an author, what’s your view on social media?
VICTORIA:  I clearly enjoy it, else I wouldn't do it. I will admit that it's becoming increasingly hard to find a BALANCE between writing time and internet time, because I LIKE being online and interacting, but at some point I have to be able to turn the internet off and write books. But my stance on social media, in the specific and the broader sense is that you should only do it if you enjoy it. A forced online personality isn't fun for anyone.
R&R:  What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
VICTORIA:  The ideas.
R&R:  What book or books are you really looking forward to reading? The Archived was on my list (and so was The Raven Boys).
(Read&Riot has since read The Raven Boys, and it was fantastic).
VICTORIA:  Even though it's a long ways out, I can't wait for Holly Black's THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. Also CLOCKWORK PRINCESS.
R&R:  If you could only pick one thing – What would you like readers to take from The Archived?
VICTORIA:  That nothing is lost.

I owe a huge thank you to Victoria for answering all these questions, (… there may have been more), and I look forward to seeing her at BEA in two weeks!

You can find Victoria on Twitter, and I recommend visiting her blog.

If you haven’t heard of The Archived you can check out my review!