Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN-13: 9-781442-480612
Publication: October 2013 from Simon & Schuster BYR
Source: publisher
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.


Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is fantastic! The idea of a city that floats in the sky, on an island, not connected to anything or aware of the world below them? Crazy but wonderful. I highly enjoyed the mythology behind the city of Internment, and Morgan is a compelling main character.

Despite the method of their relationship, I enjoyed that Morgan and Basil are a stable couple, and Pen is an intense best friend. When the murders begin, the mystery surrounding the deaths, Judas and what can be found on the ground, below Internment, heats up. Morgan is swept up in events that are quite beyond her control. Morgan’s family has been through the wringer, and Pen has her own history that needs exploring. Lauren DeStefano does an awesome job in upping the suspense has Morgan gets deeper and deeper into the secrets of Internment, and in creating some interesting characters. The prince and princess of Internment are sufficiently creepy!

4 heart

Perfect Ruin manages to capture and maintain the reader’s interest through pretty great story-telling. I’m invested in these characters and want to know more about their backstories (Pen, I’m looking at you) and also what will happen next. I’m anxious for the sequel to find out what will become of Morgan and the rest of our cast of fugitives. There is so much potential for world building and character growth – I hope book 2 lives up to book 1!

ARC provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!


Review: Half Lives by Sara Grant

Half Lives Half Lives
by Sara Grant

ISBN-13: 9-780316-194938
Publication: July 2013 from Little, Brown BYR
Source: Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Seventeen-year-old Icie’s parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie’s only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what’s happening in the outside world or who has survived. But one day, Icie discovers a shocking secret deep in the bunker. Are they safe there after all?

Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie’s secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they’re ruled by a teenager…and they have surprising ties to Icie.


Where to start with Half Lives by Sara Grant. I can honestly tell you I had very little idea what to expect from this book, but I was hopeful, and it surpassed any expectation I could, or did, have. I was stunned and crying by the end of the book, and amazed at how Sara Grant managed to blend together two completely separate yet intricately linked story lines.

Icie narrates a good half of the book, telling her story of how she is given cash and supplies and told by her parents to find a mountain outside Las Vegas where an abandoned toxic waste bunker that was never used will hopefully keep her safe from an imminent viral attack. On the way, she encounters a cheerleader, Marissa; a twelve-year-old wanna be rockstar, Tate; and mysterious Chaske. Together in the bunker, with no idea how the outside world is faring from the attack, Icie and the others try to survive. Icie is so much stronger than she thinks. She goes through crazy heartache and horror while trying to keep herself and the others alive, and wait for her Mum and Dad to come find her as they said they would. And while she may be terrified and has no clue what she’s doing, she keeps it together and survives as best she can.

The other half of the book is narrated generations in the future, primarily by Beckett, the teenage leader of a society that lives on the mountain that Icie fled to, but also by a few other characters who help flesh out the action and Beckett’s story. Surviving on the mountain, Beckett’s people fear the terrorists of the outside world, the broken city they call Vega just on the horizon both helping them survive and a source of worry. Beckett is the direct link to their god, the Great I AM, who once walked the mountain and gave the society their Just Sayings, their Facebooks and the hope of one day that Mumanda will come to save them all. The chapters are interspersed with each other and I was always so excited to see something that Icie and the others did become the direct influence of the language and culture of Beckett’s society. By the end of the book I was a mess of tears at all the pain Icie, Beckett, Marissa, Tate and everyone went through, but also because of revelations that Beckett has that nearly broke my heart, and the hope Icie still held. I am just in awe of how the two story lines blended together, and how much I came to care about these characters.

5 heart

Half Lives by Sara Grant is a book about one girl’s journey to save herself in the face of impending disaster, and how choices she makes affect the lives of hundreds throughout the coming generations. It’s about finding strength in yourself to continue on, about making the hard decisions but also the right decisions, about confronting your fears and believing in your faith (whatever it may be). It’s about love, and sacrifice, about realizing what matters in the long run and discovering yourself through hardship. Half Lives is also about the threats we face every day through fear, weapons, secrets and lies. It’s about change and growth and the human need to survive and live. All tinged with an innate humour of how culture and language can change and reflect a caricature of words, phrases and things that what we have today in our society. Guys, I want nothing more than to dive right back in to Half Lives and live it again. I love this book like crazy, and I hope you do too.

ARC provided from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars small For Darkness Shows the Stars
by Diana Peterfreund

ISBN-13: 9-780062-006141
Publication: June 2012 from Balzer + Bray
Source: BEA 2012
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth – an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret – one that could change their society…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.


For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund smashed all my expectations to pieces. I obviously underestimated how much I should hope to love this book, because all I could do when I finished it was stare at the last page with that silly little grin you get when you’ve just been immersed in an amazing fictional world and now find yourself back in reality – but you don’t care because your time away was amazing and you know you’ll visit again.

Instead of a straight narrative, the regular chapters in For Darkness Shows the Stars are interspersed with letters back and forth from our two main characters, Elliot and Kai. And they are not in chronological order, either. Rather, the letters jump about in time (four years ago, one year ago, ten years ago, etc.) as they help explain the plot in current time. The letters give the background to Elliot and Kai’s relationship, Elliot’s life and even how this new society works. And speaking of new society, the world Diana Peterfreund has created is one in the future, after Earth and its population have been devastated by what seems to be a disease of some sort, brought on by human genetic tinkering. It’s intriguing in the fact that though we learn about the world as the story progresses, it’s still very incomplete. We only find out as much about it as the characters think or talk about, and I liked that. It was very real.

While it’s mostly Elliot and her relationship with Kai that is the focus of the story, there are numerous secondary characters that are wonderfully fleshed out. Elliot’s father is a real piece of work, very controlling and quite mean. Her sister is better, but still fairly awful. I enjoyed the other members of Cloud Fleet, and Elliot of course. She’s quite a strong character, though she has her doubts and insecurities. She makes the best out of what she has to work with, and honestly cares for the people around her. It is through Elliot that we the reader question how the Luddite society is run. Her letters to Kai highlight her curious nature and the events that unfold really take Elliot through a change of not only ideals, but her very faith.

5 heart

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is such a unique sci-fi in the fact that it doesn’t play out like what you would expect of a traditional science fiction story…no outer space, no cyborgs, no flying cars. Just a very interesting farming estate society with an underground idea and past of genetic modification and the experimenting that caused it to all change. The technology present is interesting and captivating, as is the slow burn reacquaintance romance between Elliot and Kai, the questions Elliot possesses about society and what is right, and whether or not humanity should play with genetics. It’s an intense, amazing read that I highly recommend to anyone.

Hardcover copy obtained at BEA 2012 through author signing.

Review: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

This is not a Test This Is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers

ISBN-13: 9-780312-656744
Publication: June 2012 from St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: purchased
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

What do you do when the line between the living and the dead is blurred?

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High, but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors.

Now seems like the perfect time to give up…

For Sloane Price, the end has never been something to fear. Six months ago, her world collapsed, and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

As the days crawl by, and the motivations for survival change, the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life – and death – inside.


This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is a beautiful showcase of humanity persevering through the apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse. With a memorable and complex cast of characters, Courtney Summers delivers a gripping story of one girls struggle with wanting to live or die.

The character introduction of Sloane in the beginning of the novel is wonderful. The reader immediately gets the sense of her home life, and that she’s a little bit broken – but tough. The time jumps from the beginning of the zombie outbreak to when Sloane and the rest of the group she’s traveling with find relative safety in their high school help speed the plot and yet still give glimpses into this newly infected world. The cast of characters is diverse; each one having their own issues, insecurities, strengths, hang-ups and interests. The actual interactions with zombies are few and far between – This Is Not a Test is definitely a character piece – but the attacks we see are intense and terrifying. As the future becomes more uncertain, their stronghold is breached, members of the group fight amongst themselves and Sloane’s apparent death wish is noticed, the tension and fear escalates. And then the dying starts.

4.5 heart

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is one of those books – zombie or otherwise – that has you holding your breath for the majority of the story, hoping that the characters you’ve come to care about make it through to the end. The development of the characters, especially Sloane, throughout the course of the book is staggering and a testament to Courtney Summers phenomenal writing. There are so many questions and uncertainty at the end of the novel, and yet…there should be. It’s a zombie book, after all, and those tales are not so easily wrapped up. There is hope, though. And who could ask for more than that.

Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

by Sarah Crossan

ISBN-13: 9-780062-118691
Publication: October 2012 from Greenwillow
Rating: 4 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe…

The world is dead.

A glass dome houses the survivors of the Switch, the period when oxygen levels plunged and the green world withered. A state lottery meant a lucky few won safety, while the rest suffocated in the thin air. Now Alina, Quinn, and Bea are leaving the dome, walking straight into the heart of danger. They have only two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks. What will happen on the third day?

Breathe by Sarah Crossan is a book that immediately grabs your attention with its unique, terrifying premise – what if the trees were gone? How would humanity survive, and would we be able to right our wrongs? Breathe takes the basic, learned-early knowledge that trees provide oxygen to a whole new post-apocalyptic level. Told through three points of view, the reader goes on a journey outside of the Pod (the domed city where the population who survived now live) and into the harsh landscape that our world has become. There are conspiracies, plots, battles and rebellion to be had.

Our three characters are Quinn (privileged son of a high government official), Bea (low-class, best friends with Quinn), and Alina (low-class, member of the rebellion). Through them we experience all aspects of life in the Pod and slowly learn the truth about the company Breathe and how/why they are running the Pod the way they are. The action and mystery start immediately and continue right up to the end of the story, and revelations come hard and fast for some of the characters. The outside world is bleak and Sarah Crossan does an amazing job with description and detail. The two leaders of the opposing factions in Breathe – the Pod Minsters and Petra, leader of the rebels – could not be more opposite. I found the Pod Minster to be a bit of a joke, and can’t help wondering what it is that keeps him in power – he’s drunk on both booze and power and I’m hoping his rise to power and continued rule is explained in the next book. And Petra I found incredibly intense to the point of harshness and brutality. The action scenes are very well done and Quinn has to make some tough choices in the end in regards to his loyalty to his father and family, or his sense of right from wrong (and what he would do for Bea, too). There was a moment of disbelief regarding the character of Jazz near the end (if you’ve read the book, or decide to read it, you’ll understand) that threw me out of the story for a bit, but other awesome elements to the story made up for it.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan is an entertaining and interesting book that will keep you reading from cover to cover. With relateable and well developed characters, no love triangle (at least not yet, and I hope never!) but a sweet friends-to-couple romance, and a disturbing concept for a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world Breathe is a very well done debut. Moments in the story will have you trying to catch your breath along with the characters, and wondering how everything will work out in the end when things seem so lost. Well worth the read!

ARC received at Book Expo America through author signing.