Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Pages: 263
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: April 1, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies. You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.

New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels . But with Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world—a world in which parents act like roommates, college men are way more interesting than high school boys, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once.

It’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be.

But Ruby has a darker side, a side she doesn’t show anyone—not even Stella. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal.

My Review:

This was a great contemporary novel that definitely feels like a real life situation. What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was focused on the relationship between the two girls rather than having a romance aspect to it.

Stephanie does a great job of writing the relationship between Stella and Ruby. She really focuses on the difference between the two girls. The differences is really what makes the friendship work in this story. They both need to rely on each other for different things. I definitely felt like Ruby was a character that helped Stella see things in a different light. I connected a lot with Stella and what she went through (minus the home issues). But I can definitely see a lot of teenagers connecting with this story in different ways.

I did wish there was a little more to the relationship between Stella and Mike. I felt like that part of the story fell flat for me. But I do understand it wasn't supposed to be a large part because the book is about the friendship between Stella and Ruby, but I thought there could be a little more with how long they supposedly dated, there were only very little glimpses.

I really wanted to learn more about Ruby and her background. This was something that was quickly mentioned and though I can understand there isn't much to talk about I was hoping for a little more feeling from Ruby. There was a lot more detail to Stella's life than Ruby's, and I found Ruby to be an interesting character that I wanted more of her life.

Despite these few problems, I did really enjoy this book and I flew through it. I really wanted to know what was going to happen next with these characters, and what kind of trouble would find them this time (because trust me, these two definitely get themselves into situations.)

I'm torn with how I feel about the ending, in a way I love that it closed a lot of things off that happened in the book, but it still left me with quite a few questions about the characters' future (especially Stella's). But all in all, I really enjoyed this book, a nice quick read, and definitely think this is a great book for teenagers today.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, where we can show off books we are really excited for.

So I haven't done one of these in awhile because they got very repetitive, but I had to do this one because I am really excited for this book!

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Doubleday
Synopsis:
Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. The New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse creates a stunning, near-future world where technology and humanity clash in surprising ways. The result? The perfect summer blockbuster.

As he did in Robopocalypse, Daniel Wilson masterfully envisions a frightening near-future world. In Amped, people are implanted with a device that makes them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of "amplified" humans. On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, twenty-nine-year-old Owen Gray joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as "amps." Owen is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumored, a group of the most enhanced amps may be about to change the world—or destroy it.

Once again, Daniel H. Wilson's background as a scientist serves him well in this technologically savvy thriller that delivers first-rate entertainment, as Wilson takes the "what if" question in entirely unexpected directions. Fans of Robopocalypse are sure to be delighted, and legions of new fans will want to get "amped" this summer.

So I absolutely loved Robopocalypse when I finally read it, and now he has another one coming out, I am so excited to see what Daniel Wilson is going to do with this. It sounds amazing! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: ReVamped by Ada Adams

Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Unknown
Received: Received from author

Release Date: February 20, 2012
ReVamped Website

Goodreads Synopsis:

A simple mission turned deadly.

Nineteen-year-old vampire Dawn has led a sheltered life within the confines of her father’s presidential headquarters. Upon being sent on a mission to revamp four goofy misfits into guardians of a peaceful little town of Angel Creek, Dawn believes that all her dreams have finally come true. What starts off as a simple task, turns into something unexpected, changing Dawn’s life forever and leading the action-loving, thrill-seeking vampire teen on a path of mystery, danger and intrigue.

When a human girl is kidnapped by a group of rogue vamps, Dawn discovers that there is more going on in Angel Creek than meets the eye. And it all connects to Ethan, the cute newcomer who seems too perfect to be true, Sebastian, the mysterious vampire with a turbulent past, and even Dawn herself. Dawn must not only succeed in revamping the troubled recruits, but must also prevent the vampire race from being overtaken by a malevolent villain who has a strange and obsessive fascination with her. As threat escalates, romance blooms, and ghosts from her past begin to surface, Dawn is sure of only one thing: her life will never be the same.

My Review:

This book was a lot of fun to read. I really found myself immersed in the story. It was a nice quick read and there were a lot of great light funny moments to go along with the action that was happening at the same time. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book going in, with all the vampire books that have been coming out, but I can honestly say that this is definitely a new twist on those vampire books.

Dawn was a really interesting character for me, and I found myself absolutely loving her. She was a strong character with an interesting history. I can't say anything about that without giving away spoilers but trust me, it was not what I was expecting.

I found that there were a lot of interesting twists put into this story with everyone, and I found myself wondering what would happen next in the story. There was definitely a great group of characters in this story and I found myself wanting a little more of the four misfits. The characters added a good amount of humour to an action book.

This book is nothing like other vampire books out there, it was interesting to see that vampires were actually out in the open and the public accepted them. It made for a different read, and actually made it more fun with some of the characters, because they get excited about knowing the vampires in their towns.

I really enjoyed Dawn, she was a strong heroine throughout the book, but she does show her vulnerable side quite often as well. I liked that she isn't a character that just deals with everything no matter how difficult. I like that you really get in-depth to her emotions and see how hard of a time she has growing up as the vampire president's daughter.

The ending of this book definitely clears things up and shows that everything Dawn has gone through in this story is done with and she will move on to more adventures in the future. I do believe that there will be more books from Ada concerning Dawn and her group of misfit vampires.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 564
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: April 3, 2012
Buy from Amazon / Buy from Chapters

Goodreads Synopsis:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?


My Review:

I have to start out by saying this book is absolutely AMAZING!!! I was finishing it on my way to work and almost missed my stop because I didn't want to stop reading it. This book is huge (since I had an eBook version I didn't realize how big it was), but I found I flew through it. Do not let the page count scare you away, every page is absolutely engrossing. This is already one of my favourite books of this year. I wanted to turn back to the first page and restart the book, that's how awesome it was in my eyes.

I was hooked from the opening of the story where the first line is:
"I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb." 
I love that it opens with the reader able to see such a personal side of Ismae. Where throughout the book she tries to hide this scar from everyone because of what it resembles.

Right from the beginning you see that Ismae has been dealt a crappy hand but that she does not just let everything happen to her, she fights for herself. And I love how strong she is, she is definitely a female character who knows what she is doing. From the beginning you can see that there will be quite a lot of action happening throughout the book, and Robin does not disappoint. There was a lot going on but it does not take away from the fact that Ismae is a "handmaiden to Death", she works her gifts in many ways throughout the book.

There is so much about this book that I fell in love with! I really felt relationship between Duval and Ismae grow as the spent more time together. There were a lot of cute and funny moments that made me laugh out loud. The great thing was having a female lead character who does not know how to act womanly, she is so used to fighting and sneaking around that she doesn't know how people normally act.

I found that there were a lot of interesting twists throughout the book that definitely took me by surprise. It kept me interested in what was going on, I kept wondering what would happen next. I also found that I could not figure out who to trust throughout the book. I definitely felt like I was Ismae, being in a place where I can't trust anyone, and don't know what is the truth.

I liked that the novel took place at the royal court. Robin has a great flare for writing, and I definitely felt like I was there in the court experiencing everything that Ismae was. I also really enjoy my historical fiction novels, and add in some paranormal magic to it, and you have me at a loss for words. This is exactly what this book has done.

I also really liked the ending, Robin leaves you with a lot of questions still to be answered, but it's not a jaw dropping cliffhanger. I'm excited to see what is next for Ismae and the rest of the characters.

I recommend that you all run out and buy this book when it hits shelves on April 3rd. I know I will be!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox (11)


In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren that lets us showcase some great books we've picked up. I haven't done an IMM in awhile, so I thought I should catch up on that, so I can put my books on their shelf, haha.

From Netgalley:

       
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (squeee!)    Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

     
Yesterday by C. K. Kelly Martin             Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

One Good Hustle by Billie Livingston

Won from Goodreads:
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin (So excited for this one!)

Received for review: 
So Close to You by Rachel Carter
The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo
(Thanks to Harper Collins Canada)

Under My Skin by Charles de Lint (Thanks to Razorbill)
The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (Thanks to HBG Canada)

Books I Purchased:
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow
Pages: 424
Received: Borrowed from Library

Release Date: September 20, 2011
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

My Review:

When I picked up this book I had only heard a few things about it, and they were all really good things. And with me getting into the dystopian novels lately I thought this one sounded like a good one to add to the list. I'm glad I did!

The one thing that I really loved about this book was the main character of Elisa. This is a main character that I find a lot of people can relate to more so compared to other girls. Elisa is described as a larger girl and not very pretty. What really got me with this book was that Elisa is not perfect, though she is the chosen one, she has to grow into her destiny. She has a lot of issues believing in herself, and she slowly comes to terms with things and comes to understand herself more.

There was one thing that made me nervous when I started reading this book and that was the religious aspect of the story. There was a very large religious aspect (with Elisa being the chosen one to have the "Godstone"). I have to say when I was done with this book I was really impressed with how Rae wrote this aspect in. It was not overdone or pushy, which is sometimes difficult.

It was interesting to have a main character that is not confident in herself. I liked being able to travel with Elisa and watch her come to terms with being the "Chosen One" and slowly gain confidence in what she must do (which no one actually knows until she finds out herself).

This book definitely had a good amount of action through it, but also had a bit of a political aspect to it as well, with the king making decisions for his country. What I really enjoyed is that this book did not end with a huge cliffhanger. How this book ends is that this part of Elisa's journey ends and a new one will begin in the next book.

I was very surprised with this book, and I'm really glad I picked it up, it is an interesting book with some very interesting twists throughout. It is also a great book to show that anyone can overcome issues and gain self-confidence. I definitely recommend this book to readers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Above by Leah Bobet

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Pages: 368
Received: Bought own copy

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

A gorgeous urban fantasy about dangers outside and in.

Matthew has always lived in Safe, a community hidden far beneath the pipes and tunnels of the city Above. The residents fled to Safe years before to escape the Whitecoats and their cruel experiments, and now Matthew is responsible for both the keeping of Safe’s stories and for Ariel—a golden-haired shapeshifter, and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.

But one horrifying night, an old enemy murders Safe’s founder, Atticus, and the community is taken over by an army of shadows. Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of friends escape Above. Now they not only have to survive in a sunlit world they barely know, but they must unravel the mystery of the shadows’ fury and Atticus’s death. It’s up to Matthew to find a way to remake Safe—not just for himself and his family, but for Ariel, who’s again faced with the life she fled, and who needs him more than ever before.

An urban fantasy and a love story, Above is the breathtaking debut of an extraordinary new voice.

My Review:

This book took me a little bit of time to get into because of the writing style, it was difficult for me to understand at first. But after reading a few pages I really found myself understanding the style, it was a kind of poetic style which I really loved! It's very unique and interesting for a story to be told in this way.

I really liked the setting of Above being in Toronto. I loved reading the story and being able to follow the characters through the city that I know (though I don't know if Leah intended it to be a more paranormal Toronto from what we know).

I was surprised to find that the story is actually told from Matthew's point of view rather than Ariel (which is what I thought, shows to never judge a book by it's cover). I actually enjoyed it more from the male perspective, and seeing how much he cared for Ariel instead of seeing the female perspective of the relationship.

The romance side was only a small part to the story, there was so much going on, especially with the fact that Matthew must work to keep everyone Safe while trying to solve the mystery of how it came to be unsafe for them. I really enjoyed that Leah uses the present and the past to solve this mystery, with each chapter you learn about the past of each of the characters and in a way this helps Matthew solve the mystery.

Leah does a beautiful job conveying this story, I found it to be an amazing take on conforming. The people in Safe are known as Sick, Freaks, or Beasts, they are trying to get by with how they were born. They avoid Above because the people from there are trying to make them 'normal' and fix them of their problems. I felt that this was an amazing commentary on the idea of conforming to everyone else (or in a way fighting against that conformity).

This book was very well done, and I am excited to see more from Leah in the future!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: The Bellwether Revivals by Benjamin Wood

Publisher: McClelland and Stewart
Pages: 428
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: March 20, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century, The Bellwether Revivals is a page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness; a stunning debut for fans of Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, and Lauren Goff.

The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.

In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.

My Review:

I found this book to be eerie in a good way. It was interesting and enthralling, I could not put it down whatsoever! From the opening chapter I found that it was bringing the reader into a mystery of sorts, opening with a body but not knowing what happened, or even who this person is.

I really enjoyed following the story of each of these characters through Oscar's view, especially that of Eden. He was an interesting character to figure out, and I really enjoyed his passion in his beliefs. It was also interesting to see how Eden gets by day to day with the belief that he is able to heal, and the story of how he came to believe this was an interesting one.

I can tell that Benjamin Wood did a  lot of research for this book, there is a large psychological aspect to this book that is very interesting to me. I studied psychology in school and this story really appeals to that side of me, with the way Eden acts. I really enjoy how Benjamin goes in depth into the psychological aspect, really bringing out the way that Eden could have a disorder and how his friends try to help him.

Benjamin also does a great job writing the differences between the classes, especially through the family dynamics. It was interesting to see how each family treated home life, and the idea of schooling.

The ending of this book also came as a huge surprise to me. After going through the whole story, I was expecting a completely different ending, but it was definitely powerful. I loved the big twist! This is an amazing debut novel from Benjamin Wood, and I see many great things to come in the future.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 531
Received: Borrowed from friend

Release Date: March 6, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

My Review

I'm really starting to get into angel books lately, and I definitely enjoyed this one. I do admit that it was a bit long and slow going for awhile. It seemed that not a lot was really happening and Haven was just going through the motions of a job. This book was a little daunting for me at first, clocking in at over 500 pages for a YA book is kind of odd, but I'm glad I stuck with it.

I found in the beginning it was really hard to get through this book, but once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. The Outfit is the epitome of evil, but dressed gorgeously. I really wanted to find out what the whole plan for The Outfit was and why these three teenagers were chosen (when that secret comes out I was really surprised!)

I really enjoyed the characters, especially Haven, who is the quiet high school girl (I definitely relate to her there). She definitely grew into her strength throughout the book which was an interesting process. I am definitely interested to know more about the book that helps Haven through everything. I enjoyed how Haven had someone on her side, and someone guiding her through the motions of what to do.

I also really enjoyed the friendships between the characters, mainly Dante and Haven. I just found Dante was hilarious. He was a guy that was all about helping Haven look the part for her new job at this classy establishment, and he is always up for a good time (basically the complete opposite of Haven). It was fun to watch the friendship go through everything. And then also watching Haven spark a new friendship with Lance was so much fun, he was an adorable character and definitely my new book boyfriend!

The ending of this book was really interesting, a lot of things are tied up and it seems like it could be a standalone. Though there are still a few questions lingering, I can't wait to see what's next for Haven.

I have to admit I have never read The Picture of Dorian Gray but I have heard this book has a lot of elements from that book in it (so I will have to pick that book up now as well). I definitely want to read books that are similar to this one, it was really interesting and I am really glad to have picked it up. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 352
Received: Borrowed from library

Release Date: September 21, 2010
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

My Review: *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

This book had a really interesting concept to it, but sadly I was not taken with how it panned out when written. I really enjoyed that the main character was a male (I don't see that as often, usually it is a couple). And there was no real romantic side to this story (well a little bit, but it was not the most obvious thing).

I found myself straining to finish this story because I found that nothing interesting was happening in the story. It seemed that everything did come out in the end, but it was a hard journey to get there. I went into this story thinking it was going to be a bit of a horror type story but didn't find that.

It was almost half way through the story before Mackie had to face any creatures and they were not what I expected at all. I was thinking there would be more action to it, but there was more trying to talk things out with one another.

The one thing I really did not understand at all about this book is that everyone in the town knew about what was going on. And to add on to that they were very indifferent to what was happening, they went around pretending that nothing was happening.

I did enjoy Mackie and his friends, it was interesting that this story was focused on mostly male characters. I found that there were quite a few humorous parts to the story that did keep me invested in reading it. Many of the characters were like high school boys, very sarcastic and amusing. I just wished that this story had a little more action and horror to it. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Place in This Life Tour Stop (Review and Interview)

Synopsis:

For Natalie Miller, it’s just another family vacation. For someone else, it’s the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

With only a single peck from a guy named Frank, Natalie’s anything but experienced with boys. But when Todd pops out of the water, says hi, and tells Natalie he has leukemia, all of that changes.

She’s never had attention like this from a boy, let alone one who’s a real charmer with sex on the brain and the experience to match. Drawn to Todd like a magnet, Natalie gives him her friendship, her love, and her body. Even when she’s tempted by gorgeous, healthy schoolmate Alex, Natalie’s desire to love and care for Todd pushes her to see how far love can go in spite of the potential for death of the relationship — and death of the one she loves.

My Review:

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I came into this book and I was really surprised. I found I could not put this book down at all as I read it. Julie did an amazing job bringing this story to life.

It had to have been difficult to take on such a heavy topic as she does here. This is not a light contemporary read, Julie really took on the emotional issues and the difficulties of what it is like to care for someone who is dying. I found myself crying throughout the book quite a bit.

Julie did a great job showing the thoughts of Natalie. This book will resonate with teenagers very well, in the way that Julie writes Natalie (she shows she really understands what teenagers go through). I really enjoyed reading as Natalie dealt with the different issues of a teenage girl coming into her sexuality (it was very real!)

I definitely recommend this book, Julie writes with a lot of heart, and shows her readers that sometimes you really can't help you fall in love with.

Interview with Julie:

1. This story is such a heavy topic, what was your inspiration for it, and was it difficult to write?
When I was 14, I went on a boat trip with my parents to a local island off the California coast. This is where I met the real Todd. I swear, he really did pop out of the water and tell me he was sick. He was a strong, vibrant character. Very dominant and forward, just like he is in the book. As for writing the story, it was hard because I had to revisit the relationship, re-read what I'd originally written about it, and think about it all. During the course of my writing APITL, I found out that the real Todd had died in a children's hospital a year after we'd met. That left me unable to write for days.

The beginning of A Place In This Life is more or less factual. The middle and end parts were from the depths of my mind.

2. Which of the characters do you find you connect with the most yourself?
Nally, because parts of her are me. I understand her obsessing, her worry, her lack of confidence in herself and abilities. She was easy to write because of this.

3. Do you have a specific writing process (do you just write when something comes to mind or do you set aside time)?
Story ideas come from my experiences and those of people I know or have known. There is something that triggers a memory. I withdraw it from my memory bank and build a story around it. I never sit and plot - I'm what they call a "pantser."

I try in vain to set aside time. I used to write from 8-9 p.m. when my son was little and went to bed at 7! Now it's a struggle to find the time. Mostly, I write at night when I'm tired and my eyes are puffy!

4. Your favourite book of all time?
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The way she describes thing like sugar and flowers, the smell of things, the appreciation of hard work and her family - she is the writer who inspired me to think about being one.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden

Publisher: Vintage Books
Pages: 503
Received: Own copy

Release Date: September 23, 1997
Buy from Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

My Review:

I have had this book in my TBR pile for quite awhile, so thanks to the TBR Reading Challenge I was finally able to get to it. This is a large book but I found it quite interesting (for the longest time I actually believed that this was a person's real memoir, ha!) I found that Arthur Golden really makes you feel for the characters throughout the story.

What I really enjoyed throughout this novel was how Arthur describes everything that happens. Arthur brought everything to life for readers, it was very easy to imagine everything that was happening. I felt that I could smell the things that Sayuri was smelling and see the images that she saw. I felt that I was truly in the story. 

The story is very long because we watch as Sayuri grows up and goes through all the motions of becoming a geisha. I really enjoy reading as she overcomes all the trials of getting along with others in the house. Arthur Golden uses a lot of descriptions throughout the story, which usually I don't like in stories (but interestingly, it works for this story, it does not seem to take away from what is happening).

This book was definitely not a light read, it goes into a lot of heavy topics. Arthur also describes some scenes in a way that gave me shivers, and I found myself a tad disturbed by some of the things that happens to the child. I believe though that Arthur did his research and wrote Sayuri's story very well. I am happy to have finally gotten around to this book. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Promise Me Eternity by Ian Fox

Publisher: Self-published
Pages: N/A
Received: Received from author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: January 2012

Synopsis:

Dr. Simon Patterson is a successful and well-respected neurosurgeon at Central Hospital in the town of Medford. Married, though without children, he keeps himself so busy that one day is not much different from another. Until, that is, he saves the life of the powerful mobster Carlo Vucci.

At a dinner in honor of Dr. Patterson, Carlo Vucci introduces him to his alluring wife Christine. Simon is entranced by her beauty.

Three weeks later, Christine shows up at the hospital, complaining of terrible headaches. Dr. Patterson offers to help her, but Christine did not come to see him just because of her headaches. A series of shocking events follow that turn Dr. Patterson’s life into a nightmare. Among other things, he finds himself in court being accused of murder in the first degree …

My Review:

I am a huge fan of mysteries and crime novels, so when I saw the synopsis this seemed like my kind of story. Sadly I was not taken with this book. Ian had a good story but this novel was a little too long for the idea behind the story.

I believe there were a few too many characters to be able to concentrate on the story. I found that the chapters were very short and we switched to a new storyline quickly. I felt that a lot of things were cut short to change to another character's story. This is a very long book and it seems that there are many scenes throughout that are not necessary and are added in just so there is more to the story.

I did enjoy Ian's writing, he does a great job writing his descriptions making everything seem very real. But at the same time the descriptions take over a little too much of the story. Ian has a habit of describing everything in the scenes, it makes it seem that the story is being told to me rather than me being able to immerse myself in the story and imagine things myself.

I really enjoyed the first chapter, the way Ian opens the story makes you very interested and curious as to what is going to happen. But from there it takes awhile to understand where the mystery is. I find that it takes Ian awhile to get into the story, and that he loads it more with backstory of all the characters.

I did enjoy that each couple had a strong submissive and strong controlling person. It was interesting to see how different people dealt with that situation. And it was also good to see that in the end everyone technically got what was coming to them in some way. All in all, Ian is a good writer but there does need to be some revising and editing of some scenes that are unnecessary.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cover Reveal of Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Today I am happy to be part of the cover reveal for Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein from Entangled Publishing.


Synopsis from the publisher:

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

What do you think of the cover? I love the dress! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 368
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Buy From Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

HER WORLD IS CHANGED FOREVER

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .

My Review:

This was definitely an interesting concept for a book and I was really excited to read it. This book started out really well. There was a good amount of action throughout the book, and I even found some of the book to be kind of creepy and weird.

I really enjoyed Callie, she was a strong character whose motives for going into Prime Destinations were very selfless. I enjoy that she fights for what she believes is right, and does anything to keep her brother safe. I really enjoyed the whole story is told from her perspective, and as you read along you find things with Callie instead of before her.

What I didn't really like about the story was the love interest of Callie. I felt that it was just added in, this is more a story about Callie and the starters, I felt like that aspect of the story was too forced. I didn't understand why Blake needed to be there, it just seemed like another character just so that there was a love story added in.

This is definitely a great dystopian, I really enjoyed Lissa's descriptions of everything around Callie, it made picturing everything really easy, and I found I could find myself right in Callie's place. The storyline was interesting, I really enjoy that Callie is able to wake up living the renter's life and getting to find out more about Prime Destinations. I also liked that the villain is actually more than just one person, it's whole company.

There were definitely a lot of twists and turns to this story which I really enjoyed. I found myself continually guessing at what would happen next. The ending was definitely a big surprise (I'm still not sure how I felt about some of the things that came out at the end, to be honest). I'm still definitely wrapping my head around some of the things that were revealed (I do enjoy a book that makes me think about it after I have read it).

I will definitely continue this series to see where Lissa Price will take Callie next.
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