Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 320
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 29, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee. Everything changes when you’ve looked at the world through . . .

ANGEL EYES

Brielle’s a ballerina who went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She’s come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can’t seem to shake.

Jake’s the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what’s going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons—and Brielle—can perceive.

My Review:

Angel books seem to be what everyone is writing about lately (a nice change from all the vampire books). But I am just starting to get into them, I haven't read many (I don't really want to get into the habit of getting bored with the new books coming out). This book definitely caught my attention though, and I'm glad I picked it up. I did find when reading this book that there was a strong religious tone to it, but I easily got past that and into the story of what was happening.

I did find that the beginning of the book was a little slow, and it took a bit of time to get into the story of the angels and how everything fit into the story. But stick with the story and it is quite interesting. With all the angel books out there I feel that Dittemore took a different turn with her story and with the angels. What really got me was how she incorporated fallen angels into her story.

I really found the characters in this book captivating, they are really the reason that I kept on with this book despite the religious tone. Brielle was a character who is easy to connect with and sympathize with what she has to go through. Brielle really struggles with the grief of her best friend's death which takes a toll on her life.  The gift that Jake has was not what I was expecting at all, I found I was surprised with a lot that happened in the book in the fact that I was expecting one thing and it would come out to be something different.

There were a lot of different POV's throughout the book, which took away from the story a bit because I felt I was moving around so much, but a few of the POV's were few and far between and only came at what I see as important parts. It was nice to see a POV from the evil side as well as the protectors side and then from the normal characters (who take up most of the story).

The ending of ANGEL EYES gives a nice resolution to readers. There is a part to the ending that makes you want to come back to see more, but it's nice to see that the new book in the series will be a continuation of their journey together. Check this one out, if you're interested in the angel books.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Silver by Andrew Motion

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 404
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 29, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

July, 1802. In the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames lies the Hispaniola, an inn kept by Jim Hawkins and his son. Young Jim spends his days roaming the mist shrouded estuaries, running errands for his father and listening to his stories in the taproom; tales of adventures on the high seas, of curses, murder and revenge, black spots and buried treasure - and of a man with a wooden leg.

Late one night, a mysterious girl named Natty arrives on the river with a request for Jim from her father - Long John Silver. Aged and weak, but still possesing a strange power, the pirate purposes that Jim and Natty sail to Treasure Island in search of Captain Flint's hidden bounty the "beautiful bar silver" left behind many years before. silver has chartered a ship and a hardy crew for this purpose, whose captain is waiting only for the map now locked away at the Hispaniola.

Making haste from London, Jim and Natty set off in the footsteps of their fathers, their tentative friendship growing stronger day by day. But the thrill of the ocean odyssey gives way to terror as the Nightingale reaches it's destination, for it seems that Treasure Island is not as uninhabited as it once was...

Featuring a cast of noble seaman, murderous pirates, and stories of love, valour and terrible cruelty, Silver is a worthy sequel to Treasure Island - one of the greatest adventure stories ever told - and a work of extraordinary authenticity and imaginative power from one of England's greatest writers.

My Review:

I absolutely loved Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson when I read it in university. It was full of action and it was just so much fun to read. So when I got the chance to read a sequel to Treasure Island I had to jump at the chance. Motion did a great job recreating the story in a different time.

This story had the exact same feel as Treasure Island did when I first read it. Motion wrote in the same style as Robert Louis Stevenson did for Treasure Island, I felt that I was reading the same author at times. It has been some time since I read Treasure Island, but you definitely don't need to read it before reading this one. Motion also gives a very quick recap into what happened to Jim Hawkins at Treasure Island. There isn't much detail, it was about a two page recap, which will be nice for readers who want the refresher.

I did find that there were a few points in the story where it moved a little slow, and I found it took me a little longer to get through those sections. But I am very glad I stuck through those parts, the action scenes that you get to are fun and definitely worth the read.

I also really enjoyed the characters that are introduced throughout. There is a wide range of personalities found in the book, it makes for a fun adventure. It was also enjoyable having the children of Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver take on this journey, if you know Treasure Island you can see similarities and differences of the characters. Plus as an added bonus you get to see some characters return in this novel as well!

I recommend this book for fans of Treasure Island, as well as fans of a great adventure into the unknown!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: The Talisman of El by Alecia Stone

Publisher: Centrinian Publishing
Pages: 364
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 20, 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE?

One Planet.

Two Worlds.

Population: Human ... 7 billion.
Others ... unknown.

When 14-year-old Char­lie Blake wakes up sweat­ing and gasp­ing for air in the mid­dle of the night, he knows it is hap­pen­ing again. This time he wit­nesses a bru­tal mur­der. He's afraid to tell any­one. No one would believe him ... because it was a dream. Just like the one he had four years ago - the day before his dad died.

Char­lie doesn't know why this is hap­pen­ing. He would give any­thing to have an ordi­nary life. The prob­lem: he doesn't belong in the world he knows as home.

He belongs with the others.

My Review:

I love books that deal with mythology, and this one definitely satisfied that aspect of my love of books. This book has more than just angels and demons to it, there were all different characters. It was definitely an interesting book. Alecia definitely did well with the mythology aspect, it felt like she put some research into what she was writing.

This story was packed with action, it is always nice to see a YA book that is non-stop action. I definitely felt that I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book. I will admit there were a few spots where it seemed to slow down and I found myself losing interest at parts. I found that at points the book seemed to jump from one point to the next, which is what took away my interest. There were some difficulties with the flow of the story.

What really interested me about this book was that the main character was a male who was going through all these changes and he is the one that deals with the supernatural. It's been some time since I've read a book with the MC being a male and everything being told from his POV. I also enjoyed that there wasn't any romance happening in this, Alecia focused on the action (it was alluded to happening though).

The characters were a good mix, all coming from different backgrounds. I really enjoyed the friendship that sparks between the four main characters, it's a lot of fun and really makes you want these kids as friends yourself.

Alecia adds in a good amount of humour and sarcasm from the characters as well. This coincides well with all the action happening and does make for an interesting read. Though I had some issues with this book, for a debut author Alecia did well with her story. I do think this story reads a little more like a middle grade book than a YA book, though I can still see older teenagers reading this as well. I am a little interested to continue on with this series to see where Alecia will go next.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Academie by Susan Dunlap

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 368
Received: Borrowed from library

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eliza Monroe-daughter of the future president of the United States-is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when-ooh, la-la!-she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn't take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies-and that she's about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe's imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.

My Review:

I love historical fiction books and this one caught my eye because it was different from a lot of the ones I have read in the past. This book deals with the Napoleonic era, which really interested me, I am in love with learning more about the French and everything that happened. This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I did enjoy the story.

I liked the writing style that Dunlap has here, you get to see so many different points of view. Usually I am not a fan of this many different POV's because I feel that I can't connect with the characters but it seemed to work well for this story. I found that I got to spend enough time with each character to understand their thoughts and feelings. It was interesting to see how all the characters connected with one another as well. All these characters are from different backgrounds and yet each has something in common.

I was expecting a little more history to come in to play in this book, but sadly there wasn't very much. This story focused more on the girls and their lives at school. Though we did get to see some of Napoleon and his army, I was hoping it would have more of an impact on the story. I was happy to see that some of the French history was incorporated into this story. All these characters were real people which made for an interesting read, I liked knowing that Dunlap had to have done some research, but it would have been nice the story followed history a little more closely than it does.

This was definitely a great coming of age novel during hard times in France. But it was great to see these girls grow up in a time like this. This was a fun read but not as historical as I was expecting.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Magnified World by Grace O'Connell

Publisher: Random House Canada
Pages: 352
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 29, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

A beautiful New Face of Fiction debut from a stunningly gifted young novelist about what it means to be a daughter, a patient, a lover and a human being who can carry on after a massive loss.

What's a girl supposed to do after her mother kills herself by walking into the Don River with her pockets full of unpolished zircon stones? Maggie removes the zircon stones from the inventory of the family's New Age shop and opens up for another day of business. Then her blackouts begin, as do the visits from a mysterious customer who offers help for Maggie's blackouts and her project of investigating her mother's past in the American South. Is Maggie breaking down in the way her mother did, or is her "madness" a distinctive show of grief? Nobody really knows, not her father, her boyfriend or her psychiatrist, and especially not Maggie, who has to make some crazy decisions in order to work to feel sane again. A vivid look at the various confusions that can set in after a trauma and an insightful, gently funny portrait of a woman in her early twenties, especially relatable to readers who grew up in the eighties and nineties, Magnified World dramatizes the battle between the head and the heart and the limitations of both in unlocking something as complicated as loss.

My Review:

This book caught my attention right away with the synopsis, and being a Canadian book (I can't get enough of them!). I will admit it took me some time to get into the book, I was confused with the pacing of the writing, but as I kept going, I'm glad I did, I fell in love with this book! The one thing that I found hilarious was everyone Maggie encounters seems to be writing a book about something. I also really enjoyed that this book was set in Toronto, I loved following Maggie around on her adventures and knowing where she was. 

Maggie was a very interesting character, and I really enjoyed seeing everything from her point of view. Dealing with the loss of a family member is definitely heart breaking, and slowly we see how Maggie felt about her mother and how close her connection really was. You really get to see the family dynamic through Maggie's eyes, by going back through her journal entries. I really enjoyed that the journal was such an integral part of the book. 

I really enjoyed that this had an interesting aspect of mystery to it. You follow the book trying to find out about Maggie's mother and what her life was like. I was completely surprised when I found out some things near the end of the book. I wanted to know more about Maggie's life and I was enthralled by all the characters that she runs into throughout the book. Gil being the most interesting character for me.

There was something about Gil that kept me wondering, and kept me going to find out more about him. Who was this character that showed up at the most interesting times of the book. Trust me when I say, when you find out who this character is, it definitely throws you! I was shocked and yet at the same time I saw something like this coming.

This book is funny at times and yet definitely still heartwrenching with everything Maggie goes through. This is a book about her journey through loss and her grief and how she comes out in the end. I could relate to a lot of what Maggie went through wondering what would cause someone to kill themselves like that. Maggie's story is an interesting one. This is definitely a new author that should be watched in the future because I believe she will come out with more stories that will keep you glued to the pages!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 324
Received: Received from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves  that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk.

My Review:

The cover of this book really caught my eye, I absolutely love the colour and the writing of the title. This is one that just caught my attention. I haven't read any mermaid books and I was really taken with the idea of this story, a girl who can communicate with fish, it sounds so interesting.

This book opened up showing that Anna writes with a great amount of humour. I found that Emma was a great character, and I loved her sarcasm throughout the book. Anna does a great job with her characters, I instantly felt connected with them (especially Emma). Throughout many of the situations I found myself feeling embarrassed for Emma.

I did find there was a few inconsistencies throughout the book. The biggest one that bothered me was that Emma describes herself as being the sweet girl but then throughout the book she has an attitude towards Galena and his family, and at one point actually throws a character through a window. I just felt that Emma should not be described as sweet and be able to pull off a lot of the things she does in the book.

The one other thing that made this book a little difficult for me to read was the change of writing style when the POV changed from Emma to Galen. I am a big fan of different POV's in stories because you get to see a lot more that you wouldn't see from one person's (especially in a story like this where Galen travels back to his family at times). But I found that when the story was in Galen's POV it seemed like the writing changed to third person and Emma's POV was in a first person narrative. It made for a few difficulties in reading.

Other than that, I did enjoy this book, there were a lot of great moments throughout. And I absolutely love Emma and Galen, the chemistry between the two is adorable. I also really enjoyed that Anna incorporated the history of Triton and Poseidon into the story as well. This was definitely a great story with an ending I did not see coming. I'm excited for what Anna comes out with next.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Review: The Cranes Dance by Meg Howry

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Pages: 384
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 15, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

I threw my neck out in the middle of Swan Lake last night.

So begins the tale of Kate Crane, a soloist in a celebrated New York City ballet company who is struggling to keep her place in a very demanding world. At every turn she is haunted by her close relationship with her younger sister, Gwen, a fellow company dancer whose career quickly surpassed Kate’s, but who has recently suffered a breakdown and returned home.

Alone for the first time in her life, Kate is anxious and full of guilt about the role she may have played in her sister’s collapse.  As we follow her on an insider tour of rehearsals, performances, and partners onstage and off, she confronts the tangle of love, jealousy, pride, and obsession that are beginning to fracture her own sanity. Funny, dark, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, The Cranes Dance is a book that pulls back the curtains to reveal the private lives of dancers and explores the complicated bond between sisters.

My Review:

I was instantly attracted to this book when I read the synopsis. I haven't seen many books out there that have a background story dealing with dance and this one seemed like it was going to be amazing. And I was definitely not disappointed in the slightest!

In a way I kind of feel like Meg wrote this book to make the story feel like a dance itself. This book has those dramatic moments that keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as those light moments that it feels like you're gliding along. As I was reading this book I could imagine the different music that would go along with each scene.

The writing of this story was very interesting, Meg delves deep into the lives of professional dancers and the issues they deal with day to day. It was nice to see a book that really understands dancers and the hardships they go through. I also enjoyed how the narrator of Kate explains each dance performance and what the story is for those who don't know or understand, Meg is trying to get readers interested in other things as well. It shows that this book is more than just about dance. This is a book about friendships and family as well.

This story also touches on mental illness as well, showing how Gwen breaks down from the pressures and slowly we see Kate go through the same thing. I really connected with Kate more so than Gwen just because she is the voice of the story and you really begin to sympathize with everything she has gone through and how she has been the one who has taken care of Gwen which becomes a hardship for her. I definitely felt emotional through this book, always wondering what would come up next.

I connected with this story in ways I don't often connect with books because I am a dancer myself (obviously not a professional one like these characters). I understand how difficult it is to do a lot of things because you don't want to hurt yourself right before a performance, and how much harder it is to take care of things. Dance takes up a lot of your time, especially when you need to remember steps to so many different dances. For me I absolutely loved this book, I felt a connection with it.

This book was a lot of fun, but still got to your emotions as well. I recommend this book for those a little interested in the dance world. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 339
Received: Received from Random House Canada in exchange for honest review

Release Date: May 15, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Code Name Verity is a compelling, emotionally rich story with universal themes of friendship and loyalty, heroism and bravery.

Two young women from totally different backgrounds are thrown together during World War II: one a working-class girl from Manchester, the other a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a wireless operator. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors.

My Review:

I hadn't heard much talk about this novel but when I read the synopsis I was really intrigued, I love historical fiction novels and this one sounded like it had a great storyline to it. This was a gripping story and I loved the characters. Elizabeth's writing is beautiful and she really captures the emotions of these two girls.

I found the writing of the story very interesting. It was difficult to follow at first because the writing is in letter format, but the way Verity writes is in a story of the past (to how she got where she is) but she includes information about what is happening to her at the moment as well. After I caught on, I really fell in love with Elizabeth's writing, everything felt so real.

This is a story that is emotional and shows off the friendship of these two characters, it didn't seem like it was a fake friendship. Every time these two characters were together in a scene I could picture these girls for real just being together. This story had an amazing backdrop to it as well, I love historical fiction novels (and though this wasn't focused on the historical aspect, it was very interesting). I really enjoyed how there is all this information about piloting and the many different types of planes found throughout the story (Elizabeth is a pilot herself, which influenced her story).

The story is told in two different parts, you get to see each girl's version of events, and what they are going through following the mission gone wrong and how each thinks about the other one. The second part you get a lot more of what is happening in the now, with a few glimpses of how the other character sees the past. Elizabeth has an amazing talent with her storytelling, I loved following the girls on their adventures and watching as they come together time and time again.

I definitely recommend this book, it is an amazing story that will capture your heart from the beginning and keep you guessing about the truth behind everything written.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Revived by Cat Patrick

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Hatchette Book Group Canada in exchange for honest review

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.

My Review:

This book drew me in with a gorgeous cover (I love the greenish-blue to it) and a really interesting synopsis. I knew I had to read it! The beginning really draws you into the book and makes you understand the importance of "Revived".

This book is one that is about life and death brought together and it really deals with the emotional side of things throughout. The book opens up with Daisy dying (again). It is a very interesting set up to start out with death when this is a book that is really about life. I really enjoyed Cat's writing, she really connects with all the characters in the story.

Personally going into the story I was expecting a little more action and drama to happen throughout but it read a little more like a contemporary novel, with scientific aspects added in to make it a little more dramtic, along with other things that happen (which I can't say without spoiling it). It was surprising but still very well done. There were still a few dramatic parts that really get you to jump up and wonder what is happening.

Cat shows how with everything Daisy has been through she decides to live differently and try to connect with new people and make new friends. I really loved the character of Daisy, she learns to question what is actually happening and she takes control to find things out. She has this drive to do what she believes is right.

It was interesting to see how Daisy changes for herself and really grows through everything. After everything that happened I felt that the ending was a bit of a let down for me. I felt that the there is still so much more to Daisy's story, almost like Cat could have written another book to follow. Despite all that, this was definitely an interesting book, and I flew through it. I wanted more of Daisy, Matt, and Audrey (especially Audrey).

This was an emotionally charged book just because of how you see Daisy deal with death after dying herself so many times. I recommend this book for sure!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Streamline Blog Tour Review and Excerpt

Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Pages: 460
Received: Received from AToMR tours

Release Date: March 27, 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seems like Leo Scott has it all: looks, brains, and athletic talent. He’s captain of his high school swim team with a bright future in college and beyond. But Leo has secrets. His mother’s crippling car accident has devastated his family and left Leo to deal with his father’s abuse, battered and alone.

Leo’s girlfriend Audrey Rose is poised for her own share of success. As one of Florida’s top high school swimmers, Audrey dreams of college swimming stardom. But there’s an obstacle to her glorious rise to the top. Her number-one supporter--her father--is in prison for murder.

Part murder mystery, part tale of young love in a military family, this gripping story takes readers on a journey from Pensacola to Annapolis. Leo and Audrey must band together to rise above the adversity they encounter and find their true selves in the process. When everything’s on the line . . . streamline.

My Review:

In the beginning it took me some time to get into this story because it is told from so many different perspectives, but as I got further along it became more interesting and I was excited to see how another one of the characters would think of certain situations. I found this book a quick read because each of the chapters were short and I found myself flying through to see what would happen next with each character.

This is a great story that delves deep into the many different relationships of the characters. Jennifer Lane also really shows how abuse affects everyone differently. I found myself drawn more and more into the story as things progressed and I wanted to see what would happen when everything finally blew up.

I really enjoyed how Jennifer added in a little bit of a mystery to the story as well. Audrey's father is in prison for a murder, but some people don't believe he actually committed the crime. It was really interesting to find out what really happened, I did kind of see it coming but at the same time was still a little taken back.

I felt that I could connect with the characters in this story (which for me makes a great novel). I felt that Jennifer really connected with the emotional side of Leo, which is great because you don't see that a lot in books, a male character showing off their emotions. That was another thing that was enjoyable about the book, the main character was a male (though there were some points where you get Amy's perspective). It was nice to see all the characters connected to one another in different ways.

Jennifer adds a lot of different ideas to her book. It was interesting to see how she added in swimming and the army to the lives of the characters. These were large parts of the book as well and added a lot to the personalities of the characters.

This was an interesting book and very quick to read, but it definitely deals with a difficult theme, Jennifer really hits the emotional aspect in her writing.


Excerpt:

After practice Leo met Audrey in the hallway outside the locker rooms. They were both freshly showered but still wreathed with the scent of chlorine. Leo, for one, was thrilled to smell like a walking swimming pool again.

“Why are you wearing a tank top and shorts?” Audrey asked.

“Wanna join me for a run?”

“Ugh.” Audrey looked like she’d eaten something sour. “I’m dead from practice. How can you even think about more exercise?”

“I’m dead too, but I have to get back in shape.”

“Leo, don’t overdo it.”

He grinned. “I’ll be fine. Will you tell my mom I’ll be late for dinner?”

She nodded.

He snuck his hand around to the small of her back, drawing her close. “I’m glad we’re back swimming together. I missed our post-workout kiss.” He tucked a few strands of wet hair behind her ear, caressing her face.

Audrey gazed up at him.

Leo closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “You smell like coconut.”

“Mm-hmm.”

He leaned in to brush his lips across hers, and Audrey surrendered in his arms. They shared tender, lingering kisses as his hands explored the finer points of her physique. He luxuriated in the warmth of her skin as her lithe body molded against his.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blog Tour for The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 336
Received: Received from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for honest review

Release Date: April 27, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Katherine Shaw—Kate—is happy with her life. She has supportive friends, a glamorous magazine career, and a love of all things Jane Austen. But when she loses her job, her beloved grandmother falls ill and a financial disaster forces a sale on the family home, Kate finds herself facing a crisis that would test even the most stalwart of Austen heroines. Friends rally round, connecting her to freelance gigs, and presenting her with a birthday gift— title to land in Scotland—that’s about to come in very handy. Turns out that Kate’s first freelance assignment is to test an Austen-inspired theory: in the toughest economic times is a wealthy man the only must-have accessory? What begins as an article turns into an opportunity as Kate—now Lady Kate—jet-sets to Palm Beach, St Moritz and London where, in keeping company with the elite, she meets prospects who make Mr. Darcy look like an amateur. But will rubbing shoulders with men of good fortune ever actually lead her to love? And will Kate be able to choose between Mr. Rich and Mr. Right?

My Review:

I was asked to read and review this book after there was a poll on Twitter about people who love Jane Austen (I still continue to reread her books). When I read the synopsis for this book it sounded so cute I just had to read it. I have to say Kim Izzo definitely delivered in this story. It was such a cute and funny read, but there were also a lot of emotional parts to the book (I actually found myself crying at parts). I definitely felt like this book was a modern day Pride and Prejudice, which made it that much better in my books.

Kate was an interesting character, who definitely went through a lot of hard times before coming on to this opportunity to write a very interesting article. Kate is a character that many readers can connect with in different ways. Watching as she goes through disaster after disaster (I definitely know that feeling myself), Kate does what she can to keep herself and her family afloat. (I also enjoyed that Kate uses books as an escape from her life, seriously the best thing to do!) That was the thing I adored about Kate, she doesn't go looking for her "Mr. Darcy" purely for selfish reasons, she wants to help her family through the tough times as well.

Kim made this book so much fun to read. Not only was there an abundance of humorous situations throughout the story but there were a lot of emotional situations placed throughout as well. I definitely connected with those emotional situations. It made the book seem more real to me as a reader. I could feel myself blushing for Kate at some of the scenes, knowing how much I hate being in the spotlight and her having everyone's eyes on her as she tries to come up with stories. The character of Kate definitely has quite an imagination and it's amusing to she her come out of everything.

What really made this book work for me was that it was like watching Kate finally grow up (even though she is 30 when the book starts). Readers really get to watch as Kate grows up in her own way, she learns a lot about herself and learns that not everything necessarily revolves around money (though it's nice to have). Kate definitely becomes a different person by the end of the book.

I also really enjoyed that Kate got to travel the world to learn her lesson. You follow Kate from Palm Beach to Switzerland and to England. I love books where you get to see different places, I feel like I was travelling with her to these different locations.

This is a book I recommend for those who enjoy a fun, light read (and quick). Also for those who enjoy a great chick lit novel (great cute romance throughout).


Interview with Kim Izzo!

Welcome Kim, and thanks for stopping by! What is your favourite Jane Austen book?
K: Thank you for inviting me! This one is easy, Pride & Prejudice!

Who was your favourite character to write?
K: I would say Fawn Chamberlain, the 50-something rich woman with a heart of gold and a purse with even more gold! She was fun.

Where is your favourite place to write?
K: It depends on my mood! I have a large picture window next to my desk in my home office. It overlooks green space which is lovely and my desk is antique which inspires me. But I also like to take my laptop to my sofa and stare out the window from there.

My favourite question, what is your favourite book of all time?
K: This may surprise everyone but it is Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara

You can follow Kim on Twitter
Or on Facebook
Check out her website as well here: http://kimizzo.com/wdp/

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review and Giveaway: The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 295
Received: Received from Hatchette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

Happily ever after is a thing of the past.

A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.

When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.

Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope—and to love—once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.

My Review:

I was very taken with the synopsis of this book, Princess who fights to avenge her family. It sounded like it would be a great read with lots of action in it. I can say that I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

I did like that the setting of this was a post-apocalyptic England. I've never been to England but did feel like I was there in a way with the descriptions of Buckingham Palace and the land around there. I love books about princesses and royal families.

Right from the beginning of the book Galaxy shows that this is a story that is full of action, and it is definitely non-stop fighting and running. I really love books that are paced full of action. Galaxy does a great job with her writing bringing all these scenes to life. Many of the scenes are a tad gruesome even (beheadings, people digging their own graves). There was a lot of violence throughout this book, some of it was even a tad unnecessary, like it was there for more action.

The book was very fast paced and moved from one event to another without stopping. I found that because this was happening I didn't get a chance to connect with Eliza's character. I felt that at one moment Eliza was losing her family and the next she had joined the enemy forces, and just as quickly  is running away from them. Everything just went really quickly that I didn't get enough time in one place.

What mostly disappointed me while reading this book was the world building. I found that nothing was truly explained in the book. Eliza kept referring to the Seventeen Days, but I did not find a full explanation as to what happened during those times. I found I wanted more of an explanation as to why England was in the state it was in.

There was also romance added in, but that felt almost forced. This is a book that is supposed to be about Eliza surviving the loss of her family and going in for revenge, I felt like the romance aspect should not have been there, it didn't fit with everything else happening.

All in all, this book had a great start but I just couldn't get myself into it because of the fast pace. This is a book for people who are into more action and not much story.

*GIVEAWAY*

Up for grabs is a finished copy of the book (US/Canada only) Just leave a comment with your email. Giveaway ends June 1st! Good luck :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 416
Received: Received from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: May 15, 2012 (US, previously released in Canada)
Buy From Amazon.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

My Review:

I have been hooked on Catherine McKenzie books lately, they are all so much fun, and I definitely need to support the great Canadian writers out there! This book definitely has everything that I love about Catherine's writing, great characters, a hilarious storyline, and the cute ending.

Throughout the story we get to see Anne's relationship issues and what really makes her dive into getting an arranged marriage. She's coming on in age and is ready to settle down and none of her past relationships seem to have worked for her. What person doesn't want that fairy tale relationship, I definitely do, which is why I loved this book so much, I can relate to Anne in that way.

I do find it awesome that Anne is named after Anne of Green Gables and her brother is Gilbert (what Canadian does not absolutely love those books). In a way this book took me back to my childhood because Anne Blythe is an adult version of Anne of Green Gables and it definitely made the book that much more fun, and hilarious to read.

I loved the character of Anne, readers really get to learn a lot more about her because of the mandated therapy sessions she must go through to determine that an arranged marriage is really what she wants and right for her. Though I do have to say my favourite part of the book is Anne realizing what she has just done and figuring out how she will tell her family/friends and how they will react.

The whole book is funny and has that chick lit that I absolutely adore. It's one of those books that you love even though you can sense what is coming. I'm happy to say that I'm a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie (keep it up!) And for those who love to delve into those fun chick lit novels, this is one to pick up.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 354
Received: Received from publisher through Netgalley

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

Goodreads Synopsis:

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

My Review:

The synopsis was very intriguing and I was really interested with the idea of Peculiars. Sadly, this book was not what I thought it would be. I was actually quite disappointed with the story, and had some troubles finishing it (almost DNF-ed it but got through it).

The story had a very interesting idea to it, I enjoyed the Peculiars and why they were unacceptable to society. What was difficult was that it was not explained throughout the story as to why exactly Peculiars were hated in society or how they came about. Is it just a birth defect or is there something more to it? I wanted more of an explanation.

I found that the story was very slow going, it didn't seem that much was really happening throughout. I also found that by the time the story got into things it all of a sudden just ended. I just found that everything dragged on. The ending also went along with everything in the book, it wasn't much of a surprise ending and it just seemed to be just like any other part of the story.

I also found I couldn't connect with any of the characters especially Lena. I wasn't a fan of how Lena acted throughout the book, for someone who is 18 she seemed to have an attitude of a very young girl and didn't seem to know much about what was going on around her.
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