Friday, November 30, 2012

All Covered Up: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Hey all!

Rachel Hawkins' released the cover for her Hex Hall spin-off series School Spirits! Here it is:
Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!
I absolutley love this cover! It's obviously similar to the Hex Hall series but it has its own spin and distinct feel. I think it's perfect and I'm so so excited to finally get to read it! What do you guys think?

School Spirits is out May 14th, 2013 from Disney-Hyperion!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (32): The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for! 

Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 12th, 2013

*Summary has minor plot spoilers for the previous Bloodlines novels*

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, the Bloodlines series explores all the friendship, romance, battles, and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive—this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone’s out for blood. (Summary from Goodreads)

It's hard to describe exactly how much I NEED this book. If you've read the end of The Golden Lily you will understand why. This series has brilliantly developed and loveable characters, and the plot is just so intriguing! There's tons of different levels and complexities to the story, and I love the world in which it's set.

I've been a Richelle Mead fan since I was fifteen, and have been obsessed about her series ever since (including her adult ones. Seth Mortensen? *SWOONS*). Bloodlines is no exception. I adored The Golden Lily (check out my review here) and I've been desperate to get The Indigo Spell ever since. Seriously, every time I think about The Indigo Spell I get all giddy and excited and feel like jumping. And although I'm beyond excited, I'm also petrified. Every third book in a Richelle Mead series is a game-changer, and usually a heart-breaker. Which means The Indigo Spell is going to make me cry. A lot. I'm going to be so emotionally drained after read it, but I cannot wait. I'll be there as soon as the book store opens, and will likely read it all day long!

I highly, HIGHLY recommend any Richelle Mead books and if you haven't read them, you need to get on that! (My advice: read Vampire Academy first. Bloodlines will spoil the ending of the VA series)

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: May 8th, 2012
Source: Purchased

My Rating: 4/5
What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

I will say this up front: I didn't really want to read this book. If you know me, you'll know I'm an absolutely huge Mortal Instruments fan (been reading them for five years, have lines memorized, recommended it to everyone I know, am obsessed). You'll also know that my love of the series dimmed after City of Fallen Angels. I didn't like it. I hate saying that. It actually feels like a stab when I say it but it's true. I didn't like City of Fallen Angels. And I didn't want to read City of Lost Souls because I didn't want to be disappointed again. And at first, I wasn't a fan. The storyline wasn't my favorite, and I was getting annoyed with my favorite characters. But, slowly and surely, Cassandra Clare won me over and now has me desperate for the finale.

The plot was constantly moving and involving in this book, but not always for the better. For a portion of this book I wanted to change the name from City of Lost Souls to Clary Fray Needs to Make Better Life Choices. Seriously, this girl was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome while wearing rose-coloured glasses. It was getting a bit ridiculous, and I wasn't such a happy camper. But, Clary Fray lived up to my high expectation of her in the end, and I went back to loving her with abandon. I understand that what happen had to happen, but it took a bit of getting used to. I loved the plot of the first three, so it's a bit hard to completely love this one. I can tell that this one is going to build and build and will end with a bang though, which is keeping me on edge.

I have an honest investment in these characters. I've loved them for years and truly CARE what happens to them! So, my emotions were running on high throughout the novel. Clary and Jace were just ripping my heart to shreds both in anger and in love.They've been through so much and I adore them as a couple. I get all warm and fuzzy whenever they have scenes together. They're fantastic characters with real depth and beautiful strength and I've loved watching them grow throughout the series. Then there was Simon and Izzy. I've always liked both of them, but this book made me want to sing there praises from the rooftop! They were absolutely fabulous. I couldn't get enough of the hilarious banter, undeniable chemistry, and those little glimpses of their uncertain sides of them. Isabelle is so fierce yet she has a soft fragile core that's been hurt over and over again. But she keeps fighting and I admire her for it. Simon makes me laugh out loud constantly but it was great to see the more serious and lost side of him. Magnus will forever be one of my favorite characters and he didn't disappoint in City of Lost Souls. Alec, on the other hand, caused my already iffy opinion of him to plummet. He just made poor decision after poor decision and I can't even feel bad for him. Finally (cause really, I could go on about the characters in this novel for days) there's Sebastian. You have to understand: I was a HUGE Valentine fan. Not in a "Woo Valentine! Destroy the Shadowhunters!" way but in a "Wow you are a brilliant entrancing villain and such a fantastic character" way. So, although I think Sebastian is much more sinister than Valentine (like, my skin crawls whenever he's in a scene) he isn't a character I am as interested in. That said, he's a great villain in general and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of havoc he brings to the story.

The things I will always bow down to Cassandra Clare for are her boundless imagination and perfect dialogue. Creativity she has in spades and she never fails to bowl me over with it. City of Lost Souls was very well thought out, interesting, and imaginative. Her dialogue was superb. Each character has their own unique voice and I feel like I can visualize them perfectly. Cassandra Clare is a skilled, skilled writer and she did fantastically with City of Lost Souls. She made me committed to the story. I was addicted at one point, staying up until the wee hours of the morning because I had to know what was going to happen. Even in the slower moments the story flowed well and I was always interested in reading it (even if I was angry at it).

City of Lost Souls restored my faith in this series, and I really did enjoy it. It made me feel all the emotions across the board which I think is an accomplishment. I'm happy I read it...although the wait for City of Heavenly Fire might just break me.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

P.S. If you haven't seen the City of Bones trailer should do NOW.

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters-Indigo | Goodreads | Cassandra Clare's Website 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blog Update: What's Been Happening, What's Going to Happen and What's Up

Hello my dear readers!

I thought I'd give you guys a bit of a head's up about what's been going on and what will be happening in the coming weeks! So first:

What's Been Happening?

Well, if you follow me on twitter, you will have probably seen my crazy excited tweets about getting a new job! Yep, I'm officially employed again, and this time it's at the place I've been dying to work at: Chapters! I'm only seasonal (although I'm hoping I might be able to stay on regular season) but I couldn't be happier! This means a few things for the blog. One: I actually am making money so there will be at least TWO giveaways that will be happening in the next few months! And two: I'm exhausted. All has not been right sleep-wise since I returned from Ireland and I just haven't been able to feel rested. So, blogging has become a bit difficult. I'm trying my best to push through, but some days the words just aren't coming. I'm going to work hard at it this weekend, and throughout the week but I apologize in advance if there's fewer blog posts up.

Another thing that has been happening at Casa de Ciara is Christmas! Yep, it starts in November for us and I've already got my tree up and decorated. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I absolutely obsess over it. Since I though I'd spread the love, I'll hopefully have a Christmas post up tomorrow (or sometime this week)!

What's Going to Happen?

Well, there's lots of exciting things that are going to be happening on the blog (if I can get my head together)! Some of it I can't talk about juuuuust yet, but will let you know soon (so make sure to stop by and see the announcement).

For the first week of December I'm going to have a "Best of" week! For each day, I'll have a different "Best of" category and will be talking about why it's the best to me! Later in December, I'll be having a giveaway thanks to an awesome sauce author! 

Now, for the thing I can't talk about juuuuust yet! I'll be making the announcement early in December and what I can tell you is that it's awesome (in my humble opinion) and it's co-hosted with a spectacular blogger friend! That's all I'll say, but I hope you guys find it as awesome as we do!

What's Up?

Well, I'm still trying to keep up with my backlog of reviews and books to read which is growing higher by the day (the perils of working at a book store). 

What has started is the Beautiful Creatures Series Challenge! If you haven't signed up, I would totally give you a virtual hug if you do! It's happening from now until mid-March and I'll be hosting a giveaway for it in the new year! It'll be lots of fun, and I'm hoping everyone enjoys it!

Well, I think that's all! Now you guys are all up to speed! Hope everyone is doing well, and if you need anything just send me an email or tweet!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

All Covered Up: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Author: Daisy Whitney
Release Date: June 2013

This is not a story about grief, cancer, or loss, or even the story of a mother and a son, or a boy and a girl. It’s a story about the two most powerful forces known to man – death and love.

Danny’s mother lost her battle with cancer two months before his high school graduation – the one day that she was hanging on to see. Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heartbreaking ex-girlfriend Holland for company. He hardly knows what she wants from him or what to say for his valedictory speech, let alone how to live and be happy anymore.

Then a letter from his mother’s friend in Tokyo prompts him to drop everything and travel halfway around the world to discover his mom’s secrets – to reveal why her final months were filled with so much joy. But yet he can’t find the answers, or escape the complexities of his relationship with Holland, just by crossing an ocean. Yet amid the cherry blossoms, temples and vibrant crowds of the neon city – and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl – Danny learns that maybe neither ancient magic nor mystical treatment kept his mother going. Kept her happy. Perhaps the secret of how to live lies in how she died. And how she loved. (Summary from Daisy Whitney's Website)

Okay, this book sounds as if it's going to tear me in two emotionally. Just the description gives me chills, and I'm sure the novel will be a tough yet gorgeous read. I really liked Whitney's debut The Mockingbirds, and have been looking forward to her next read for awhile. And When You Were Here sounds like it's going to be amazing.

This cover...sigh, this cover. It's just stunning. Simply, gorgeously stunning. Everything about it so utterly perfect. The simple things like the font and the tag line are amazing! The cover image itself is atmospheric (setting sun and all that) and I love that the light just obsurces the guy's face so we can only see the outline. I adore the blurred background image and the coloring. I just love love love it so hard. 

What do you guys think? Sounds like a good read? Love the cover? Let me know!

When You Were Here is out in June of 2013!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (31): Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for! 

This Week's Pick: Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: January 8th, 2012
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

I read and really enjoyed the Private series by Kate Brian and was excited when I heard about her new book! Sounds like it could be a nail-biter and a bit on the terrifying side. I don't think I've read something quite like this, and I'm interested to see what it'll be like! 

Also, I adore this cover! Striking and atmospheric, hopefully it'll reflect the book!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Title: Once Every Never (Once Every Never #1)
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: July 14th, 2011
Source: Won

My Rating: 4.5/5 

Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She's smart, but a bit of a slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker, but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid Blood Curse running through her veins.

Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there's still time literally maybe even get a date.

This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every never.

When reading a Lesley Livingston book, you can expect certain things. Hilarity is one. A crazy unique idea is another. And characters that you just want to squeeze cause you love them so much is a guaranteed one. Where in the world are you going to find a book with a sexy nerd, time traveling blood curses, ancient Celtic druids, and two hilariously adorable best friends? Only in a Lesley Livingston book and Once Every Never had all this in spades.

Clare was just adorable. A bit naive at times, but in such an endearing way. I loved reading the story through her eyes and learning all the history with her quips and humor. She was a bit of a recultant narrator. At the beginning of the story, she didn't even like or know anything about Celtic history. It was great to see her evolve and adapt and bring her own twist to history. And what would a story be without a hot nerd? Cue Milo! He was such a sweetie, and I loved when he went all geeky all the while looking like a Greek god. A spectacular combination! Clare, Milo and Allie had such chemistry together, it was hilarious to read. Speaking of Allie, she was probably my favorite. I loved her enthusiasm, her smarts and her loyalty. She was a great friend to Clare and the two of them were too funny. I couldn't talk about the characters without talking about the ancient Celtic princess Comorra! My goodness, how freaking awesome was she! Such a strong, independent gal that just wanted to save everyone. And then there was Connal. Oh Connal, why you got to go and break my heart like that? He was such a brave and intriguing character, but had a dark, intimidating edge to him. I was never sure where he was going, or what he would do next but I just wanted it to work out well for him!

The storyline was absolutely fantastic. I had learned the story of Boudicca in Celtic history class, so it was really fun to read an interpretation of it! It was also really cool to learn about the bog bodies, which I'd only vaguely heard of. This book has really perked my already keen interesting in history, and now I just want to learn more and more about it! I also really enjoyed that we weren't just learning about the history in the book, but being transportated back to the time period. Time travel has always been a concept I enjoyed, and I think Lesley Livingston did it fantastically! There were points in the book that had my jaw dropping, and others that brought tears to my eyes. And then there were moments where I was laughing out loud and smiling like a crazy woman. I was always interested in the story, and found myself desperate to know what happens next!

Once Every Never was such a genuinely fun story. I enjoyed every moment of it! If you're looking for a nice, light, hilarious and interesting story look no further than Once Every Never!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Goodreads | Lesley Livingston's Website  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (18)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which bloggers share the books they stacked their shelves with during the week!

Small stack this week, thankfully! I'm probably going to be cutting back on book buying since I, once again, have no money or room for more! Since my camera has become more and more annoying to download pictures from, I'm just using the general cover images this week!

- Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield (So great to meet Cheryl and get my book signed!)
- Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan (After much convincing (courtesy of my Gansey loving Chandra and Liz) and searching I FINALLY bought this!)

Bought (Thrift Store) (Thanks Mom!):

Bought (E-Books):

- Hana (Delirium #1.5) by Lauren Oliver 


- Bitter Blood (Morganville #13) by Rachel Caine (Thank you, Katie!) 

That's it for this week! What did you stack your shelves with?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (30): Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for!
This Week's Pick: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: January 8th, 2013

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. 

Gayle Forman is a beautiful storyteller. Her novels If I Stay and Where She Went are two I'm completely in love with. Gorgeous stories with impacting characters that break your heart and fill it with hope all at the same time. I cannot wait to see what Just One Day brings to the table! Shakespeare, passionate romance, and self-discovery, this book seems to have it all. I got chills just reading the description! I need this book. As soon as humanly possible.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Second Annual Ontario Blog Squad Meet-Up!

On Saturday November 3rd, the Ontario Blog Squad held their annual blogger meet-up at the Watermark Irish Pub in Toronto! I had been anticipating this event for months, and I still can't believe it's already happened!

The Friday before the event, us Ottawa Bloggers (consisting of Katie, Kathy, Meaghan and Emilie) and our insane amount of books squeezed into a car and started the road-trip to Toronto! The ride up there was tons of fun, although I could've done without all the Taylor Swift *looks at Katie*. We chatted about books, had a dance party to 90's boy bands and Sean Paul, and laughed so hard we cried. We were all pretty squished though and were pretty happy when we arrived in Toronto. Our hotel room was fantastic, although Megan had to squeeze onto a chair the first night!

The Ottawa Bloggers!
On Saturday morning, we all woke up early so we could get ready before the event! Between all the hair curling (thanks, Katie!) the outfit picking, and the book packing we were lucky the five of us made it out in time! We wanted to get there early, which was good since we got a bit turned around due to the construction. I was a ball of nervous energy when we arrived at the pub, practically bouncing up and down. As we lined up I heard my name called and saw my awesome sauce blogger friend Liz from Midnight Bloom Reads run up to me. We hugged and gushed about how happy we were to finally meet! We've been talking online for probably about four years and had never met before! It was so fantastic to meet her, and she was just as amazing in person as she is online! 

Liz and I!
Ottawa Bloggers plus Lesley Livingston and Elizabeth Miles

The Ottawa Bloggers (and honorary Ottawa blogger Lindsey) grabbed a seat in the exact middle of the room, right near all the action. The next little while was spent socializing with awesome bloggers, having gushing book talk with some publishers and chatting with amazing authors! There were nine authors in attendance: Lesley Livingston, Maureen McGowan, Elizabeth Miles, Grace O'Connell, Susin Nielsen, Joanne Levy, Brian Francis, Allison Baggio and Cinda Williams Chima. Although I didn't get to meet all of them, I want to say a huge thank you to them for coming! And I want to give another huge thanks to the publishers who attended! Loved getting to chat with them!

Jen & Wendy doing trivia!
I don't want to single out too many bloggers (cause I know I'll miss someone) but I was so ridiculously excited to meet some of them! Jen from Lost in the Library (one of the organizers), Chandra from Indigo Teen Blog (my fellow #TeamTodForAfterlife and Gansey lover), Avery from Avery's Book Nook, Ashely from Book Labyrinth, Michele from Just A Lil' Lost (another organizer) and Chrystal from Snowdrop Dreams of Books were just a few of the many lovely people I got to meet! I wished I could have met everyone, and I hope to meet tons more next year!

Me...and salad
After some mingling (which continued on throughout the day) food was served. The picky eater in me came out and I got razzed by my table mates for my messed up eating habits. I will say I loved the fish and chips and the ice cream was delicious! After the event was over (which I was so sad about! We stayed until the very end and I kept saying "I don't want to leave!") we headed back to the hotel. Meaghan, Katie and I took the subway, while Emilie and Kathy took a cab containing all our books back to the hotel. The sight of them squished by all our books was hilarious!

Meaghan, Katie and I at the bar!
At the hotel, we had some book exchanges and excitement over some of the ARCs we got. I love talking books with these gals, and it was so much fun to have three days of it! Katie, Meaghan and I decided we wanted to go out and took a cab to a local bar (hey, we're only in Toronto for one real night!) I could go on for so long about how much fun we had! It was so great to go out with these gals, enjoy the live music, and laugh all night. We grabbed a bite to eat after, and then headed back to the hotel.

The next day was a bit more subdued (partially due to this thing called a "hangover"). We all slowly got our stuff together and piled back into the car to head home. Overall, I had a beyond spectacular time! I love the Ottawa Blogger gals, and was so glad to be able to let my book nerd flag fly for an entire weekend (with people just like me)! I'm already looking forward to next year

As a final thought, I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to the organziers: Liz, Michele, Nicole, Wendy, Angel, Jen and Christa! You guys rock my socks

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

P.S. If you want to see my insane book haul check out Saturday's Stacking the Shelves post!