Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 306
Received: Received a copy from Ranincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 15, 2014
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

My Review:

I am recently getting more into the contemporary books, and I have felt that I absolutely needed to read a Miranda Kenneally book to really forge deeper into contemporary. So when the chance came up to get a copy of her newest story, I definitely decided to check it out, and I was in love. I flew through this book without even realizing how much I had read, I refused to put it down because I wanted more of the characters and to really see how Annie would get through.

I can say that I loved the characters Miranda created in this book, and the story of Annie really trying to work through her issues by training to run this marathon. I really loved the detail that Miranda goes into of how hard it is to train for something as big as a marathon for a non-runner, not only the physical part but the emotional as well. A lot of this book details Annie's training for the marathon, but a major part of the story is watching as Annie grows and learns to get over her loss and find her way back to friendships with other people.

Annie meets Jeremiah while training and he helps her through so many of her issues, she begins to trust other people. Jeremiah brings Annie out of her funk and even though he scares her, at the same time he helps her learn that sometimes you need to just live in the now and not be scared of what could happen. Not only is Annie going through a difficult time after losing the one person she really loved, but it is at the most difficult time as she is getting ready for college. Honestly, the way Miranda Kenneally wrote this book had me in love, and I want to go and read more of her stories if they are all like this one. If you like contemporary books with great heart to the story, I say check out Kenneally's writing!

Five Questions with Miranda Kenneally:

Q: Your main character, Annie, is training to run for a marathon.  You also provided a great deal of detail about how hard it is on your body to train for a marathon.  Did you do any background research for this?

A: Yes! In the past I ran a marathon and a half-marathon, so I used experiences from training for those races to write BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE. I also consulted "Runner's World" magazine and interviewed trainers at my gym. I also spoke to a few former pro-athletes.

Q: Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief.  What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?

A: I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone's healing process is different. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist.

Q: Recently, there has been a huge trend with dystopian YA novels. Why do you choose to write realistic fiction?

A: To tell you the truth, I would love to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I've never been all that great at world-building. I love reading write what you love reading.

Q: What are your favourite books so far this year?

A: I've loved A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, and THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkowski. Also, it doesn't come out until  2015, but I got a sneak peak at Trish Doller's next book THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, which is an awesome thriller.

Q: Your books take place in a small town. Is your hometown similar to the one in your books?

A: Yes, my books take place in Franklin, Tennessee, which is near where I grew up (Manchester, TN). I use real restaurants and landmarks from Franklin, Manchester, and the surrounding towns in my books. Only a couple of the schools I mention are real. Most of them are named after shopping malls in TN.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch

Publisher: Random House Children's
Series: Knot's Duology #2
Pages: 480
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sequel to the action-packed The Oathbreaker's Shadow by debut Canadian YA author Amy McCulloch.

Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.

In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realizing she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane?

Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.

My Review:

I loved The Oathbreaker's Shadow when it was published last year, and after reading it I was definitely excited to see where it would go. The Shadow's Curse was such an amazing sequel and a great ending to the story. I believe that Amy McCulloch created an amazing world with characters that really stand out to readers.

This book picks up as Raim begins his journey to find out about his broken vow, he learns that finding out about this will change his life. But his main focus is to save Wadi from Khareh and stop whatever disaster will happen with him in charge. The story follows Raim's journey as he tries to save Wadi from his friend and himself from his broken oath, then we also get to see Wadi as she travels with Khareh and readers see how things have changed for him so much since he has become ruler.

Amy really wrote a story that keeps readers intrigued and wondering who will become the single ruler of all of Darhan. There is a good amount of action, but you also get to know Raim more, and see what truly matters to him. The communication between Raim and Draikh are amazing, he is the one who keeps Raim going and helps him learn more about his abilities, Draikh is the friend that Raim lost in Khareh.

As I came closer to the end, I was getting sad to see how it would end, yet I was excited to see where the story would go for Raim, and I was very surprised at what happens. I believe that Amy McCulloch ended her series perfectly and yet leaves you wanting more from all the characters (in a good way). This book brings readers deeper into the world that McCulloch created in The Oathbreaker's Shadow, and really takes us more into Raim's history. If you haven't picked up either book yet, this is the time to sit down and read through both at once. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Publisher: Harper
Series: Queen of the Tearling #1
Pages: 448
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

My Review:

There has been so much hype around this book, that I have been a little nervous about picking it up, but so many of my good friends have recommended it to me that I couldn't shy away. And to be honest I am glad I didn't, this book was such a great read, there is so much to learn about the land of the Tearling and the history behind everything, that I found myself immersed and wanting to come back to this world that Johansen has created.

The characters are all so unique and I wanted to know more about some of them, but this is mainly a book about Kelsea coming of age and really growing up during a difficult time. She has been hidden away for years and trained to learn about the Tearling kingdom, because she is destined to take over. Readers see that Kelsea has a lot to deal with when she gets to the kingdom, so much has changed and she has a lot of work to make this kingdom better and bring a lot of change. Erika Johansen takes her time introducing everything and that is what makes this book such an amazing opening to a series.

Not only is there a lot of information, but there is also some great action mixed in with the story. Kelsea seems to be a sheltered girl with no knowledge of the kingdom but she has a team of guards to help protect her, and trust me, there is a lot of danger around her. Kelsea needs to prove herself and I love how her attitude really shines and she proves that she can truly be a leader. Not only does Kelsea have to learn to rule but she has her own life to figure out, she needs to learn who she is as a person now that she is in this new position and no longer in hiding. Kelsea is unsure if she is prepared for this job, but she will try to do her best, and I am so excited to see what things she does next to really take control of the Tearling.

I will say there were a few times that I felt I lagged while reading this book, but all in all I wanted to keep coming back to it and see what else Kelsea would do. I loved watching her change over the course of this book and really come into her role as a queen. I think if you are a fan of fantasy books, this is one that you should add to you pile, it has a little bit of everything but the story takes it's time and really lets the reader get to know everything instead of just throwing you right in the middle of the story. 
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